Lightning projects take home TWO awards!

After 5 years of working with lasers, it seems that I have now been accepted by the wider laserist community! The International Laser Display Association (ILDA) have honoured me in their awards ceremony in Montreal, as part of their annual conference.

My awards are in their Innovative and Art category, second prize for Lightning Catchers and first prize for Lightning Strikes!

It’s obviously a huge honour and I’m looking forward to working with lasers some more in 2019 🙂

Margate Games residency kicks off

2014 is off to a great start and my first project is an artist’s residency in Margate in the run up to the Geek Festival.

I’ll be working on it over the coming weeks and writing up my progress on the Margate Games blog.

I was considering reviving the PixelPhones project but now I’m wondering about something a little bit new. I’ll keep you informed of my progress. 🙂

Yes! I have a podcast!

Creative Coding Podcast logo

I’m always astonished how many people I know don’t realise that I have a podcast. So to address this, and also to celebrate our new half-hour weekly format, I thought I’d post about it!

In the last 4 weeks we’ve had some spectacular guests : Brendan Dawes, Jer Thorp, Stacey Mulcahey, and Clare Sutcliffe from CodeClub. We’ve also started broadcasting our podcasts live through Google Hangouts, and the videos end up on this YouTube playlist.

Jer Thorp on the Creative Coding Podcast

Our most popular episodes have had over 30,000 downloads and we have a 5 star rating on iTunes – you can join us live on Friday 3pm GMT, when our special guest is Eben Upton, co-inventor of the amazing Raspberry Pi.

The Creative Coding Podcast – or subscribe in iTunes

Goodbye Plug-in, and good luck!

Around 10 years ago I set up a company. It didn’t seem like a big deal. In fact, it was merely a tax entity for my freelance career. I had this idea that I could sell a customisable web site service where you could choose which options to “plug-in” – hence the name Plug-in Media.

I never really planned for it to expand any more than just me but things started to take off when I partnered up with the creative genius Dom Minns. Ours was a highly fruitful collaboration – with his imagination and creativity, and my technical background, a period of high quality productivity ensued.

Later we were joined by kids’ digital specialist Juliet Tzabar and her skills and experience led to the project that won our first BAFTA – Big and Small for the BBC.

I was involved with some really fun projects but as we became more and more successful I was spending more of my time doing “business stuff” – meetings, accounting or managing people, and less of my time actually building things. It was becoming harder and harder to do the things I loved – my side projects, blog posts, writing tutorials, open source libraries and travelling the world speaking at conferences and sharing things that I have learned. I was becoming unhappy.

So over the last few years, I’ve been gradually less involved with the business. As our work diverged and we began moving into slightly different areas, I felt I had become less useful to them. So last week I finally sold my remaining shares back to them, and now I am no longer part of Plug-in Media.

It’s quite a strange feeling, but not a bad one. Separately we are both flourishing. They’re busier than ever with amazing projects for clients like the BBC, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and now have 3 BAFTAs, the most recent for the Psychoville website. And I’m really enjoying my new found career as a digital artist, along with the increasingly ambitious projects I take on, like PixelPyros and Lunar Trails.

I’m proud that I had a part in creating such a great company, but it’s no longer mine – their success is now entirely due to the hard work of their current directors.

So I wave goodbye to my friends at Plug-in Media. Good luck, and I wish you every success on your onward journey.

My review of the year in .net magazine

It’s been quite a year, so I was really pleased that .net magazine gave me the chance to talk about everything that’s happened in the world of Flash and CreativeJS, my other projects like PixelPhones, and my plan to teach more designers and artists to program.

I hope to do a full review of my crazy year here (probably in January if previous years are anything to go by!) but in the meantime you can check out the interview here.

Flashageddon – the aftermath

If you’re wondering about my thoughts on the recent turbulence at Adobe, you could do worse than check out the Creative Coding Podcast, where myself, Iain Lobb and Stacey Mulcahy try to make sense of the current situation.

As always with these off-the-cuff discussions, there were several points that I forgot to make, but on the whole I think it’s pretty balanced. I’m planning another blog post to discuss the future of the Flash Pro app and how I’d like it to support other technologies (not just HTML5). It’s still brewing though. 🙂

Creative Coding Podcast Episode 16 – Flashageddon with Stacey Mulcahey

Happy 5th birthday, blog

It’s been 5 years to the very day since my very first post, and I must admit, it seems like a very long time ago. Now I want to hear from you – my dear readers. But first, please indulge me this short retrospective.

A picture from FlashForward 2006. Yes, that’s how good mobile phone cameras were back then.

My first post was right after my first professional speaking engagement at FlashForward Austin 2006. I spoke twice at that conference. And thank goodness I did – my first presentation was about my 3D work in Flash, (all AS2 and way before Papervision3D) but I got nervous and finished way too early.

Thankfully the second session about particle effects went much better. I realised that I didn’t have to appear professional, I could just be myself, stupid jokes and all. That’s probably the best advice I have to any budding speaker: don’t take yourself so seriously!

And thank goodness I got that second chance – I was delighted and amazed that I got the highest feedback rating of the whole conference. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve recreated that particle presentation many times, in AS3, Processing, oF and most recently JavaScript. There’s just something about it that is great fun to teach. Accessible to designers but visually stimulating for experienced programmers.

But I digress. There are now over 250 posts here, and it’s quite a random collection. A lot are out of date but many are still relevant. Despite the fact that I now have many outlets – the podcast,, Twitter and Google+ – I’ll still post here from time to time.

This will be where I talk about my projects like PixelPhones and Pyros to the People. And I’ll be talking a bit about my various travels and the incredible people I meet.

I also really wanna hear from you – apparently I get 30-40K monthly uniques and 2,500 subscribers to the RSS feed, but with all the changes in the industry, I don’t feel like I know that much about you! What’s important to you? Do you get anything out of these random mumblings? Is there anything else you want me to talk about?

Leave me a comment or email me privately ( and here’s to the next five years!

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).