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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!