Getting Started with openFrameworks

Unless you have been snoozing for the last five years, you might have noticed openframeworks popping up in all kinds of interesting guises. The purpose of this post is to act as an aggregate for various tutorials and how to walk thru’s as we work our way through getting started with openframeworks!

The openframeworks site now has a neat little series of tutorials that get you up and running, thanks to the oF community.

Have a look at the intro and getting started sections for a quick overview.

It looks like they might be starting to compile information to write a book, so some of the sections are missing content at the moment – keep checking back as I’m sure the be update process will be ongoing.

For now, the first interesting exercise is the building a particle system. Another great tutorial for particles is on Stephen Braitsch’s website, and a spinoff, but equally fun tututorial on Silvio Paganini’s site. Further readinga dn ideas and tutorials can be found on Willy Chyr’s site.

Greg Borenstein and James George have created a really useful ‘one stop shop’ to house all the latest addons for oF (yay!) with the sole focus of making oF more accessible. You can read about how it came about on Urbanhonking, and check it out in person at There’s even a neat little section covering how to create your own addons!

This post is an ongoing post and will be added to as we work through the various sections of the class.


Painting with Light Stencils

Here is an excellent tutorial from on how they do their light stencils. There are lots more examples and ideas in the light junkies flickr page.

You can have a lot of fun with making light stencils, and whats really cool about them is that they are like graffiti, only an environmentally friendly version!! Eco Graffiti! Whats not to like?

Using Light stencils you can add graphic elements to long exposure shots, and pimp up all kinds of shots. How it works – it is essentially fired in the frame while the shutter is open during a long exposure. Magic and science combine to make sure your graphic remains while the person holding the box stay completely invisible!

Check out the video (by fiz-iks) andhave a go at making a box as just like this one. Using online/open source illustration programmes like gimp and inkwell, you can create a logo or design and then print it out onto fine grade paper – a bit heavier than regular printing paper. Its a good idea to print 2 out and paste them together – but make sure they are perfectly lined up by holding them up against a bright light source, otherwise you’re going to get a seriously trippy effect – which might not be all that bad! To be extra extra sure, you can laminate it so that your design can be reused over and over and not end up ripped and trashed after lots of use.

Start of by setting the flash to 1/8 and see where you go from there – its all about experimenting! Just keep taking test shots to find out what your stencil exposure should be!

Now go out and have some fun! Happy shooting!

Three Fun Animation Tools Online

Here’s three of my favourite online animation tools! All three are easy access and cross platform, which makes them great for youth groups and workshops in schools, which are often limited by the inability to load software before sessions!

There are many comic and video editors available on the web, but not many that combine the two so well. Once registered you can either create videos online or download ‘State’, their offline video editor (PC only). Xtranormal provides the user with a vast array of different characters, backgrounds, music, effects and pre-made animations that you use to create your movie.
What is especially good about this tool is that you can control the camera as well as character movements and reactions by using the pre-recorded items in the editor. The editor is divided into three main sections which together make up the final movie:
Direct the Action – camera movements, animations, expressions, reactions
Write the Script – decide on a single or two characters and then type what you’d like them to say
Design the Scene – change set, music and background noise
If you want to create a quick movie and you’re not to fussed about camera angles (you can even get the characters to look into the camera – I love that bit) then you only have to select the ‘Magicam’ which sets up auto camera angles for you.
Once the final movie has been rendered you can send it to colleagues, share it on the most common Social Networks and embed it on your school blog or website – it also embeds well on most Learning Platforms. There is also the option of downloading it as a movie file so you can edit it using your favorite video editor.

Create talking avatars that can be embeded on the Learning Platform or Department website. This clever tool can enhance the learning experience for pupils and can be used in a variety of ways:

Characters welcome visitors to an area on the Learning Platform
Avatars explain tasks to pupils who are working independently from home or in lessons
Great for creating Thinking Skills mysteries where Voki Avatars give pupils info bursts which together complete the mystery
Fantastic for improving listening skills – ask pupils to listen to the character and answer a series of tasks
Give pupils a range of images which they have to describe or explain using their own Voki avatars.
Pupils use their Voki to talk about a book they just read

Go Animate!

There are many good WEB 2.0 tools that provide possibilities for students and teachers to create comic books of various kinds, some of which I have already mentioned in other posts for example ToonDoo, Pixton, Memoov and Pikikids. GoAnimate is slightly different as it provides the user with the possibility of creating talking characters as well as full animations. This tools is as featured-packed as Xtranormal but uses more comix-styled graphics.

Circuit Bending Labs

Circuit Bending Labs by Shari Baker

Small groups, piles of junk, and an afternoon of tinkering. Learn how to bend circuits, and hack toys to make some pretty unusual new music instruments! No need to know electronics, or soldering – circuit bending is about breaking things… creatively!

If you’re interested in hosting a Lab Session, please get in touch and lets make it happen!

Shari Baker is an artist, tinkerer and maker of things, she messes with time and space, using video, sound, photography, animation, projection and interaction narratives. Through time based media she develops multi-sensory experiences for performance, installation and online media. Her research, and practise, focus on engaging individuals and groups in imaginiative, inspiring and creative play, while stimulating inquiry and dialogue.

Human Beat Box!


Spent the afternoon at Temple Newsam, hacking toys and bending circuits for the launch of the new Phys-Cap playground at Temple Newsam on Thursday 30th!


Sat 2 July 11-4pm
Farsley Farfield Community Cafe

Here’s how it works. You pedal the bike and interesting things happen as a result. If you pedal enough, you’ll power up the smoothie maker & taste the results. If you don’t, you’ll be eating raw fruit. Come and see just how much human energy it really takes to power a blender, a scalextric and how much puff you need to keep the music playing.

The Human Powered Shed is on the road, in Farsley for the Great Big Community Pizza Party on Sat 2 July, which is the official launch of the pop-up Community Café and Farm Shop. Make your own pizza in a special outdoor oven, and dip your crust into the free crafty condiments on offer; music, arts and crafts, storytelling and circus skills.

More details here

The world’s oil and natural gas supplies are running out too fast.

The vast majority of electrical power generation is entirely dependant on fossil fuels, coal, gas and oil. The world’s natural gas and coal are running out too.

As we burn up the world’s dwindling fossil energy we also unleash catstrophic damage to the natural environment.

Only a small percentage of electricity production is from renewable sources.

Renewable energy is generated from natural resources such as sunlight (solar power), wind power and water (hydro power) and of course YOU!!

Come and explore our HUMAN POWERED SHED for some crazy ideas on how you can reduce the energy consumption in your home and learn just how much energy is needed to do the smallest things!

Air Rockets over West Leeds

How to make a simple Air Rocket!

1x length of hosepipe – approx 2 metres long
1x 2 litre milk carton (plus extras when the main one gets squished!)
1x Drill + wooden block (to drill on to)
1x magazine (for making rocket fusilage)
Sticky tape
Cling Wrap
Card (for making tail fins)
1x Pliers – easier to force the hosepipe in to the hole in the cap

Instructions for launcher
1. Drill a small hole in your bottle cap using a hand drill. Wiggle something like a pencil in the hole to make it a little bigger!
2. Using the pliers, fold and squash the end of the hosepipe to make it as thin as possible and man handle it into the hole in the bottle cap. Once through, pull hosepipe through about three inches.
3. Screw the bottle cap onto the milk carton (with hosepipe end now inside bottle).
4. Affix the hosepipe to your shed with piping clips, gaffer tape, wire or whatever is at hand!

Making the rocket
1. Take a piece of pipe the same size as the hosepipe and roll several pages torn out of a magazine, around the pipe to create a hollow tube. Tape down the sides and slide off carefully.
2. Affix tape to the (top) end, poke your finger inside a little (to form a little cradle inside the tube).
3. Using cling wrap, scrunch up a ball and stick it into the ‘cradle’, then tape over the top with a second piece of tape to secure the ball head. (This forms a soft weight for the nose)
4. Cut out and make 2x tail fins using thicker card. Affix to rocket sides.
5. Pop the rocket over the end of the rocket launcher, get everyone to stand clear. Count down from five, and Sstomp in the MIDDLE of the milk carton.

Wooo! Look at her fly!

Original inspiration and more ‘teacher freindly’ step by step instructions!