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2015

2016 will shortly start rolling around the globe, so I wanted to quickly get in a last minute summation of what’s happened in 2015 and an update on what’s to look forward to on this site in the new year.

Firstly, I want to thank all of you for reading and subscribing to this site, and for using and buying my software over the years.  I very much appreciate the support and feedback, which encourages me to find new ways to create useful tools and features that open up new creative possibilities.

Painting With Light has had quite a few new features added to it over the year, including audio playback support, a built-in video sequencer, new layer blending modes, more advanced mapping controls, and layer masking.

Over the year, I used Painting With Light to create art installations, including a live video mapping performance at the inauguration of Serre Numérique in Valenciennes, France, and running workshops.

Fugio was announced, which is a project I’ve been working on for a couple of years that provides a high-level visual programming interface to low-level coding, including Oculus Rift support, DMX, OSC, and a powerful timeline system.

I’ve been using Fugio to create art installations, including a permanent interactive artwork at Eden Project in Cornwall, and a Virtual Reality experience at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London,

I initiated a Fugio beta testing program to get some feedback on the software before I attempt a public release.

What’s next?

Early 2016 is already shaping up to be rather busy, including workshops and talks on the west and east coasts of America, as well as many UK activities being finalised.

I’ve recently added (but not yet released) HAP video support to both Painting With Light and Fugio, allowing for playback of more HD video streams simultaneously, with synchronised audio.

There is also native support for high DPI screens in both applications, such as Retina displays on OS X.

There are also plans for a new mesh tool in Painting With Light to address situations that aren’t currently addressed with the existing tools.

I’ve got Fugio compiled and running on Raspberry Pi (although the OpenGL rendering is still giving me a few headaches), with the aim to be able to create live digital artworks that can be physically installed without leaving valuable computers around.

So, with so much talk about Fugio, the question that is most asked is regarding when it will be released.  To answer this clearly, we need a bit of context.

Hard Fail

I started Fugio as a timeline project to control PWL, and synchronise lighting and audio for a theatre performance back in 2014.  As the project developed I started to see great new creative opportunities with being able to finely control the timing of media playback coupled with live interaction.

Close to its initial release, I tore the whole thing apart and rebuilt it as a node based visual programming system so that I could reconfigure the components as needed.  This system now forms the core of my art projects.

Once I had amassed a certain level of functionality, I decided it was time to get some more eyes on the project and ran an open call for beta testers.  The feedback came in slowly and was pretty crushing.  As well as the expected level of early bugs, no one could see how to use it, it wasn’t clear to anyone what it was for, or what everything did.

In hindsight this was all very valuable, though I’ll admit after working on the project for over a year at that point, I felt like I’d just ploughed a lot of time and effort into a stupid failure.

It’s taken me a few months to recover and regroup from that experience.  I had a good amount of travelling to do in that time, and fortunately had the opportunity to sit on the hot sands of Laguna beach in California, stare out to the Pacific, and do some soul searching.

Guru Meditation

Where I got to, and the reason I can relate all this publicly, is that my priority and passion is making art.  Sometimes, when I get all caught up in the excitement of coding, I seem to forget this and seemingly form aspirations of running a company selling software.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m very thankful for the money that comes in via sales of Painting With Light and my plugins.  It really helps justify spending more time adding features and fixing bugs.  But turning it into a larger commercial organisation just isn’t where my heart lies.

With this new found clarity, I began to re-evaluate my original aims for Fugio and what I want from it.

While a full discussion of this subject would at least double the size of this already weighty post, the core decision came down to one of ‘when’, not ‘if’ to open source the project.

Open Source

I talked to a whole bunch of people about this including a kindly Mitch Altman who talked with me about it and ended with saying “go for it”.

I feel a heady mix of fear and excitement at the prospect of being on show that much, of releasing almost two years work into the public realm, of giving up the money I might have made by selling it, of no-one caring, of no-one understanding…

I choose to do this because I want to make the best art that I can make – the software is, and will always be, secondary to that.

So, this is how I greet 2016: with blood pumping from adrenaline, riding fast into the night with the headlights only illuminating the road a short way in front of me.

When, then?

I have one main feature to add, which is the ability to group nodes into components that will make organising, reusing, and handling large patches infinitely better, I’m aiming for a February/March release on GitHub.

I wish you all a very happy new year!

Painting With Light 1.5.1160 BETA

Painting-With-Light-1.5.1160

Following feedback from the Toy Hack Digital Metropolis workshop over the weekend, I’ve addressed a few requests and bugs:

  • NEW: Supports animated GIF’s!
  • FIX: Fixed video output bugs
  • FIX: Line Width wasn’t being enabled correctly
  • FIX: Issues where shape handles were difficult to grab have been fixed
  • FIX: Sometimes textures would appear in 3×3 mapping

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1160 for Windows

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1160 for OSX

If you have any suggestions, comments, or bug reports, either send them directly to me via the Contact Page or post them on the Facebook Page.

New Painting With Light installations

This weekend I set up a new Painting With Light audio/visual installation at Watermans Arts Centre in London using the new audio playback features in the 1.5 beta.

I also ran a workshop with Exploring Senses through a Brighton Digital Festival Education Award for thirty 13-19 year olds who hacked toys, built a cardboard city for them, created animations about them, and finally used Painting With Light to bring everything together into a digital metropolis!  And all in just 7 hours!

And finally, I was featured on BBC News 24 and BBC Global World News talking about the My Robot Companion art project that I’ve been working on in collaboration with Anna Dumitriu as part of my ongoing artist residency at the University of Hertfordshire.

Alex-May-BBC-News

Painting With Light 1.5.1145 BETA

PaintingWithLight.2015-09-16.10-27-41

What’s new in this version:

  • NEW: border_red.mp4 loop!
  • CHANGE: Sequencer always jumps to another clip on random (never loops)
  • CHANGE: Layer blending only occurs when there is some data in the new layer
  • CHANGE: New Image asks for confirmation if changes not saved
  • FIX: Slow video playback when using more than four textures
  • FIX: New Picture/Load wasn’t properly clearing Sequencer textures
  • FIX: Various minor Sequencer fixes

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1145 for Windows

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1145 for OSX

If you have any suggestions, comments, or bug reports, either send them directly to me via the Contact Page or post them on the Facebook Page.

Painting With Light 1.5.1128 BETA

Painting-With-Light-1.5.1128-OSX

What’s new in this version:

  • NEW: OSX version now up to date with all 1.5 beta changes
  • CHANGE: Layer blending is now compatible with OpenGL 2.1 (was 3.0 in 1.5.1110)
  • FIX: Textures don’t show fringing at edges now
  • FIX: Fixed recent mapping issues on all line tools
  • FIX: Fixed a crash in 1.5 when some videos looped
  • FIX: Fixed a crash on exit

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1128 for Windows

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1128 for OSX

If you have any suggestions, comments, or bug reports, either send them directly to me via the Contact Page or post them on the Facebook Page.

Painting With Light 1.5.1110 BETA – AUDIO!!!

Painting-With-Light-Audio-Plugin

The second 1.5 beta is now available for testing.  Only for Windows at the moment as I’ve just moved house and I forgot where I put the power lead for the Mac monitor…

This update features some very exciting new features and improvements to the editing environment:

  • NEW: Audio playback!
  • NEW: Layer mask editor!
  • NEW: Reworked layer blending with 24 new modes!
  • NEW: Drag textures and brushes onto shapes in the work area
  • NEW: Duplicate selected shape by pressing Ctrl+D
  • NEW: Delete selected shape by pressing Delete
  • NEW: Switch to and from edit mode by pressing Space
  • CHANGE: Spout 2.004
  • FIX: Fixed several media loading bugs

Download Painting With Light 1.5.1110 for Windows

If you have any suggestions, comments, or bug reports, either send them directly to me via the Contact Page or post them on the Facebook Page.

Toy Hack Digital Metropolis

Toy Hack Metropolis

Toy Hack Digital Metropolis – Free Young People’s Workshop and Public Event (Brighton Digital Festival Education Award Project)

Phoenix Brighton
Friday, 18 September 2015 at 19:00 – Saturday, 19 September 2015 at 21:00 (BST)
Brighton, United Kingdom

Click here to book a free place for this workshop

Alex May and Exploring Senses will work with young people to design and construct a stunning cardboard cityscape bringing it to life with video mapped projections using May’s accessible software Painting with Light, and populating it with ‘toy hack citizens’.

The event is curated and hosted by Phoenix Brighton. May is an internationally known digital artist working with code and video mapping technologies. Exploring Senses are a not-for profit community arts organisation based in Brighton, who explore learning creatively through play, and working with local communities and young people. Phoenix Brighton is the largest artist led space in the South East and known for creating high quality education activities and exhibitions

Young People’s Workshop
The young people’s workshop is free and open to a limited number of participants aged between 13 and 19. It runs 7:00-9:00pm on Friday 18th September 2015 and 1:00-5:00pm on Saturday 19th September 2015 and participants may attend either or both sessions. Please book via eventbrite to join the workshop sessions and provide a contact phone number and name for the parent guardian.

The event is supported by a Brighton Digital Festival Education Award and is part of Phoenix Brighton’s flagship Artistic Learning Programme.

Public Opening Event
The final installation will be open to the public from 6-9pm on Saturday 19th September 2015. All welcome, no need to book.

Painting With Light workshop: Brighton, March 2016

Video Mapping Workshop Phoenix Brighton

I’m doing another Painting With Light workshop at Phoenix Brighton in March 2016.

Click here to book your workshop place now

Last time we had so many people sign up I had to add an extra date, so even though it’s a while off, do please book up and we can schedule further dates if necessary.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Painting With Light 1.5 BETA

PaintingWithLight-1.5

A new beta version is available for testing that features the following major changes:

  • A brand new plugin that does texture sequencing
  • Compiled under, and tested with Windows 10

Download

Painting With Light 1.5.1000 BETA for Windows

Painting With Light 1.5.1000 BETA for OSX

As this is a beta, I haven’t written up the Sequencer plugin just yet, but here’s some basic instructions.

The sequencer automates switching between textures.  This can be done manually (by double-clicking on column headers and individual textures) or automated based on time duration or number of times the texture has been played.

  1. Open the plugin window via the Windows Menu -> Sequencer
  2. Click on Texture: Add to add a new texture
  3. Click on Column: Add to add a new column
  4. Drag textures from the Textures window to the rows and columns of the sequencer
  5. Select a sequencer texture by clicking on the header where it says ‘Tex 1’, ‘Tex 2’, etc…
  6. Draw with the normal drawing tools

Rewind Action

When a texture is activated, you can have it:

  • Just play normally, as though you’d selected it manually
  • Rewind to the beginning, if it isn’t currently being used on any other shape
  • Always rewind it

Exit Action

When a texture has finished playing (reaching either its set duration or play count) you can have it do the following actions:

  • Nothing
  • Clear – removes the current texture
  • Jump to next – advances the current texture to the next column (or wraps around to the first column)
  • Jump to previous – moves the current texture to the previous column (or wraps around to the last column)
  • Jump to random – jumps to a random column
  • Jump to column – jumps to a specific column (use the drop-down underneath the action to choose the column)

There are also options for controlling all the rows at the same time.  The ‘All to …’ actions do the same actions as above but for all textures.

Other Controls

  • Double-click on the column header to change all the textures to that column
  • Double-click on a texture to activate it
  • Select one or more cell with the mouse and change the duration and/or play count
  • If you set the duration to 4.5 (for instance) the selected textures will play for 4.5 seconds and then perform the action.
  • If you set the play count to 0 (zero) the texture will loop infinitely.  If you set it to 1 it will play once and then perform the action.
  • Select one or more cells and click on the Clear button to remove those textures

Painting With Light 1.4.970

PaintingWithLight.1.4.970

There was an unexpected change in the ecommerce software that Painting With Light uses to control its registration resulting in licences being made invalid.

  • NEW: Edit Tool that can move any shape (including Brush and Roller) and edit shapes by double clicking on them
  • NEW: Mesh subdivision supports linear and bezier interpolation
  • CHANGE: Vertex mapping is now supported on Bezier, Polygon, and all line tools
  • CHANGE: Using the mouse wheel, you can now zoom out even further
  • FIX: Cursor wasn’t always hidden when mouse left the window
  • FIX: The mapping window wasn’t handling output rotation properly
  • FIX: The registration system broke due to a change in the ecommerce software

Click here to download and read the full change log.