CreativeJS tour – extra NYC date added!

[UPDATE] Tickets on sale now!

My NYC CreativeJS workshop sold out in a matter of hours* – yay! So I’m pushing my luck and setting up another one on the 11th and 12th October.

Tickets go on sale Monday at noon. As usual you save $300 if you’re a freelancer (or sole proprietor) with code INDIELOVE.

There are also a few tickets left for Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and DC, can you help spread the word? Let me know!

You can get more information and buy tickets on my training page.

* despite PayPal’s best sabotage attempts – more on that later.

CreativeJS Training US tour

I’ve barely got my breath back after FOTB and my recent workshops, and now I’m taking my CreativeJS training on tour to the US East coast visiting NYC, DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday at noon (EST) but they usually sell out fast. If you register your interest you’ll get access to the first batch of tickets 24 hours before anyone else.

New York, NY 13-14 Oct Creative JS & HTML5 (2 days)
Washington, DC 17-18 Oct Creative JS & HTML5 (2 days)
Pittsburgh, PA 20 Oct Intro to CreativeJS (1 day)
Philadelphia, PA 24-25 Oct CreativeJS and HTML5 (2 days)

CreativeJS training – Click here for full information and to register your interest

PixelPhones – a huge display made with smartphones


It’s been a massively intense few weeks getting my PixelPhones project ready in time for my presentation at FOTB. I’ve been coding day and night for months, and I was up until 4am the night before making sure that I’d thought of everything.

The worst part was that I had no idea if it would work – it’s kinda difficult to get hundreds of phones together to test it. But it did work – and the results were better than I could have hoped for!

thanks to Momo for the amazing video

PixelPhones is this crazy project where I turn each phone in the audience into pixels in a large display. It runs in your phone browser so you don’t need to install an app.

Built with openFrameworks in C++, the app sets up its own WebSocket server and phones connect straight into it over the local wifi network (although in future I hope to get this working over 3G).

Of course socket connections are two way so I couldn’t help but take this chance to involve the audience too – I made a game where Nyan Cat runs from screen to screen, and whoever catches him fastest wins! (partly inspired by Rob Davis’ Cat on Yer Head game)

The tricky bit was figuring out where the phones are – GPS just isn’t accurate enough. I was inspired by the Junkyard Jumbotron – it puts markers on each phone, then you take a picture of them all. But in my app a marker would be way too small so instead I use a unique sequence of flashes.

It uses OpenCV to find the flashing objects, read the pixels, and decode the sequence.

Latency was also an issue, even on the fastest networks the packets arrive at slightly different times. And when you want super fast smooth animation, unpredictable timing is unacceptable. I solved it thanks to Jobe Makar’s excellent method of syncronisation outlined in his ActionScript multi-player gaming book.

I’m so happy and relieved that it worked so well and the timing was split-second perfect. The next day I put myself through the whole ordeal again, this time with a larger audience and only 10 minutes to demo (at the FOTB Jam session). Over 220 devices connected and I could have handled more but we ran out of time.

This is just the start, and I have many many ideas that I have yet to try. I’ll also be open sourcing this code when it’s finished – I can’t wait to see what the rest of you do with it! Both sessions were recorded in full, I’ll let you know when they’re uploaded.

FOTB recap and live podcast

Mark Burvill‘s final message to FOTB (made with his new found skills from my CreativeJS workshop)

FOTB was awesome this year, and it looks like this will be the last, at least in this guise. I’m sure that John will do something just as awesome next year 🙂

It was an intense time for me as I had a full day of CreativeJS training, and then I had to frantically finish my PixelPhones presentation (blog post coming VERY soon!). As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, Iain and I recorded a live podcast featuring interviews with Lee Brimelow, John Davey and Keith Peters!

Creative Coding Podcast
Me and Iain cross-examine Adobe evangelist Lee Brimelow. Photo by Marc Thiele

And despite my busy-ness I still had time to see a few sessions.

My favourite Texan Jared Ficklin pulled out all the stops with some amazing physical interfaces, including this array of smoke rings.

I also caught Josh Davis – I haven’t seen him speak for a while, and it was nice to see his approach and influences. He also spoke about the IBM Watson visualisers he produced with Brandon Hall.

There were so many highlights though, Eva Lotta-Lamm‘s creativity session, Keith Peters talking about tools (no sniggering at the back!) and Gmunk‘s insane trailer for the conference with contemporary dance and computer controlled LED lights!

The elevator pitchers were as amazing as ever, the one that particularly stands out was Mike Cobb‘s beautifully presented physical interfaces.

It was also nice to see some of my friends from outside the Flash world in attendance, shaggy web designer Elliot Jay Stocks, JavaScript guru Remy Sharp and UX-pert (hehe) Sarah Parmenter (who’s running courses in NYC at the same time as me).

There’s such a friendly vibe at FOTB and there aren’t any other conferences quite like it. The location, speakers and just general atmosphere is so fun and welcoming. That’s the best thing about the Flash community and I hope we can retain that into whatever this becomes. But if anyone can do it, John can. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next year.

Angry Birds in 30 minutes at Update 2011

The angry exorcist and ghost graphics by Jonathan Clapham

Yesterday was Aral Balkan‘s Update conference as part of the Brighton Digital Festival. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference where organiser sings a song to open the event! (with a full live band I should add!)

It was a really fantastic and enjoyable conference with a great mixture of different presentations, panels and musical interludes. Although I found Aral’s musical number a little cringeworthy (sorry Aral!), I admire the guy – and why can’t he have a little fun at his own conference? 🙂

Anna Debenham kicking arse at Update, photo by Jeremy Keith

I presented a session about Corona; a mobile development platform for iOS and Android that is really good at making games and simple toys. In my session I built an Angry Birds clone – “The Irritable Exorcists” with graphics made by my nephew Jonathan.

I love Corona – like any simple accessible platform, it has limitations, but if it can do what you need, you can produce excellent results very very quickly indeed. It’s very good at moving bitmaps around (with GPU acceleration) and has Box2D built in, so it’s perfect for an Angry Birds type game.

UPDATE – video now online.

I know the session was recorded – I’m not sure what Aral will do with it. But you can download the code and assets here. You’ll also need the Corona SDK to try it for yourself.

It’s naturally pretty rough around the edges. Click and drag the exorcist back to play the game. Oh and you need to run it in the iPad simulator. (Select iPad from the drop down of devices when you open the folder).