Book Review: Cinder Creative Coding Cookbook

Cin­der is a widely used C++ com­mu­nity-deve­lo­ped, free and open source library for pro­fes­si­o­nals coding mul­ti­me­dia appli­ca­ti­ons. Cin­der Cre­a­tive Coding Cook­book is all about get­ting star­ted with Cin­der. The book was writ­ten by Dawid Górny and Rui Madeira and published by Packt Publishing. It comes as a more com­prehen­sive fol­low up to another book published by Packt about get­ting star­ted with Cin­der.

This book has 352 pages divi­ded into 12 chap­ters, pro­gres­si­vely cove­ring from the most basic to the rela­ti­vely advan­ced.

It will not teach you how to pro­gram, it will not do your pro­ject for you, it will not turn you into the uber cin­der guru. What it will do is get you acquain­ted with the cin­der deve­lo­per envi­ron­ment, and give you a good insight on how to get the most out of using it. In short, if you’re a pro­gram­mer loo­king to deve­lop an inte­rac­tive mul­ti­me­dia appli­ca­tion with one of the hot­test fra­meworks around this book should be more than enough to get the ball rol­ling for you with a small amount of time.

If you’re an advan­ced user of cin­der loo­king to expand your kno­wledge you can find some solid exam­ple code refe­ren­ces. The book inclu­des plenty of exam­ple code and clear expla­na­ti­ons of what does what. The chap­ters often include “there is more” sub-sec­ti­ons, poin­ting to addi­ti­o­nal infor­ma­tion for advan­ced use.

I can tell you as an advan­ced user of cin­der that this book does not cover all of the pit­falls and small annoying quirks, you will still have to put your foot in the hole and look them up on the online forum. But it does do a very good job at it’s main goal: being acces­si­ble and clear for the new user.

Some spe­cial fea­tu­red sub-chap­ters like the Maya­Gui, OSC, OpenCV, Syphon inte­gra­tion are quite use­ful for folks who are inte­res­ted in set­ting up those spe­ci­fic modu­les.

Nega­tive men­tion to chap­ter 11, after rea­ding the book des­crip­tion and con­si­de­ring how there were even a few chap­ters about get­ting OpenCV wor­king with Cin­der, one would expect some dee­per exam­ples on the topic of camera inte­rac­tion. The exam­ples are good, but the topic was har­dly well cove­red, com­pa­ring for exam­ple with how well par­ti­cles were. Simi­larly, regar­ding the Kinect, des­pite being a keyword on the book des­crip­tion, it’s only bri­e­fly cove­red in two exam­ples, both of them using the offi­cial Win­dows SDK, igno­ring all the work that has been done with OpenNI on multi-plat­forms before Micro­soft laun­ched the offi­cial SDK.

Posi­tive men­tion goes out to the par­ti­cles chapter(s) which are quite com­prehen­sive. It inclu­des both basic and more high level infor­ma­tion, cou­pled with expli­cit exam­ple code, which you’ll find use­ful regar­dless of your prior kno­wledge on par­ti­cles.

Ove­rall i genui­nely beli­eve new peo­ple wan­ting to get invol­ved with Cin­der will find this book use­ful.

AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo


The AZ Labs resi­dency at Espaço do Tempo in Mon­te­mor-o-Novo is sadly over for now. Folks have been wor­king hard to finish things up for the proto exhi­bi­tion of pro­jects we had on Satur­day.

A few pro­jects were shel­ved or aban­do­ned for dif­fe­rent rea­sons. Not sta­ble enough, not enough time, no right mate­ri­als, not enough beer. In the end were left with 9 pro­jects.

AR Cubes — André Sier deve­lo­ped a few expe­ri­ments with cubes glued with prin­ted aug­men­ted rea­lity fidu­cial mar­kers. Dif­fe­rent mar­kers trig­ger dif­fe­rent effects. You can play with them to make dif­fe­rent com­bi­na­ti­ons of objects and lines inte­rac­ting with each other.


Trac­king Head — Tiago Serra, Andrea Ino­cên­cio and Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins wor­ked on a mane­quin head res­cued during a dumps­ter diving ses­sion. They equip­ped a box with IR leds and use a camera with fil­ters to track the move­ment of the box. With these values they send rota­tion infor­ma­tion to a servo motor equi­ped in the base of the mane­quin head. The same values are also sent to a soft­ware that selects a cor­res­pon­ding angle photo which is pro­jec­ted in the mane­quin. This sys­tem makes the fre­aky mane­quin head rotate in the direc­tion of the object.

Tal­king Head — Next to the Trac­king Head we have a spe­a­ker box equip­ped wih an arduino, an ir recei­ver and a wave shi­eld. When the box han­dled by the user aims at the spe­a­ker box it trig­gers ran­dom sam­ples from a sam­ple pool, giving the illu­sion that the head itself is tal­king. Mau­ri­cio, André, Filipe, João and Rita wor­ked on this pro­ject.

Trac­king Boids — The floor of the Trac­king Head space is cove­red with small light spots flying around. These boids, pro­gram­med by André Sier may look like ran­dom disco lights on first glance but when some­one moves into the camera they flock towards the user.


Micro CNC — Tiago Rorke had been wor­king on a Micro CNC pro­ject, pie­ces prin­ted with the Maker­bot. Tereza Car­doso gave him a hand making a pro­ject out of it by taking pho­tos of the atten­ders of the resi­dency, down­gra­ding them to vec­tor for­mat and having the micro cnc sketch them. They are drawn on the walls of the resi­dency itself, along with qr code lin­king to video inter­vi­ews tal­king about each per­sons invol­ve­ment with the dif­fe­rent pro­jects.

Paint Video Sig­nals — Andrea Ino­cên­cio recor­ded some short videos of red blue and black paint being applied to dif­fe­rent mediums (water, paper, table). Filipe Cruz did a lit­tle pro­ces­sing sketch to extract midi values from a grid of pixels in the video and send them to reak­tor. Some gene­ra­tive sound tests were recor­ded and mixed into a video dvd.

Blip Blop Blir Boxes — André Sier and Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins wor­ked on a few small boxes pac­ked with an Arduino, IR sen­sors, LEDs and spe­a­kers. Boxes poin­ting to each other make the LEDs change their color. A third box poin­ted to the pre­vi­ous boxes makes them give out some blips and blops sounds.


O mundo é em cada ins­tante o que ele não pode não ser.” — A pro­ject con­cei­ved by Patri­cia Pro­ença con­sis­ting of a hand drawn ani­ma­tion of a tree growing being pro­jec­ted into a wall. The ani­ma­tion is trig­ge­red when a wate­ring can equi­ped with a cellphone is til­ted into an alien plant object. Tiago Serra gave her a hand with the tech­ni­cal imple­men­ta­tion.

Trail­chi — Gui­lherme Car­taxo and Sónia Mala­quias been wor­king for while on their pro­ject invol­ving long expo­si­ons to tai chi ses­si­ons per­for­med in the dark with a sword and suit equip­ped with 12 LEDs. The cap­tu­red ani­ma­ti­ons makes some beau­ti­ful light trails art. Also helps analyse the motion of the ses­sion.

AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo

Day three is alre­ady upon us at the AZ Labs Resi­dency. Folks still hap­pily hac­king away day and night.

Run to the local chi­nese store brought back some hac­ka­ble goo­dies like color­ful balls, a giant rubik’s cube and some woo­den boxes. Andrea Ino­cên­cio was assig­ned to dril­ling duty after finishing up with the mane­quin head. Ricardo Web­bens left behind his radio loca­tion arduino cir­cuit pro­toty­pes for me to test.

César Coe­lho took the time to learn some new soft­ware stuff. Tiago Serra is cur­ren­tly trying to make the kinect and the arduino talk with each other and make some annoying sinus sounds. André Sier spent the after­noon hac­king with Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins pro­gram­ming the ardui­nos with ir detec­tion to give some ran­dom blips and blops.

Tiago Rorke is almost finished with prin­ting and san­ding the hard­ware of his revo­lu­ti­o­nary Micro CNC. Ricardo Lobo tried des­pe­ra­tly to get the other Maker­bot wor­king. Pedro Ângelo sec­clu­ded him­self to code some kinect stuff for Play With Fire. Filipe Cruz spent some time tes­ting new ver­si­ons of kinect libra­ries and ran­dom iPad deve­lop­ment.

Ivo Andrade drop­ped by to enhance his pro­ject of the boy sit­ting on a metal cube. Patri­cia Pro­ença sket­ched some con­cept art. Other folks were also wal­king around loo­king busy and dis­cus­sing ideas. 7 more days to go.

AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo


AZ Labs are back in resi­dency at Mon­te­mor-o-Novo. This time we are trying to have a con­nec­ting theme for the cre­a­tive tech­no­logy hac­king insa­nity. The plan for the next 10 days is to brains­torm, con­cep­tu­a­lize and pro­totype pro­ject ideas for tan­gi­ble objects that can inte­ract with each other and the envi­ron­ment.

We have folks atten­ding with all sorts of back­grounds: com­pu­ter sci­ence, plas­tic arts, per­for­mance arts, elec­tro­nics, indus­trial fabri­ca­tion, graphic design, sound design, sta­tis­tics, soci­o­logy. We barely had time to intro­duce our­sel­ves to the first timers and new ideas are alre­ady brewing. Plans for infra­red com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Aug­men­ted rea­lity envi­ron­ments. Radio sig­nal tri­an­gu­la­ti­ons. LED boards and cubes. Mul­ti­ple kinect abuse. Let us wait and see into what these ideas will mature into.

Right now it’s 2 am, some folks alre­ady went to sleep while others are hard at work on per­so­nal pro­jects. Using one of the Maker­bots to print parts to build a Micro CNC. Trying to get the lar­ger CNC wor­king again. Hac­king mal­func­ti­o­ning audio adap­tors to cre­ate con­tact micropho­nes. Imple­men­ting some tan­gi­ble inte­rac­tion with the kinect. Tes­ting out some things with Ardui­nos. Fai­ling to ins­tall ofxP­TAM. The list goes on.

True hac­king knows no sleep.

AZ ready for world domination

It took us a while, but prac­tice makes per­fect, and we’re now much clo­ser to ridi­cu­ling Jus­tin Bie­ber than we’ve ever been before!

You might have noti­ced what deri­ved from our Resi­dency @ Espaço do Tempo, a dozen pro­jects from seve­ral folks spread over the 3 labs explo­ring the robo­tic, the inte­rac­tive, the sen­so­rial, the tan­gi­ble, the gene­ra­tive, the audi­o­vi­sual, the aug­men­ted, the pro­vo­ca­tive, the per­for­ma­tive and a few other of all those dirty lit­tle words you so much secre­tly love hea­ring about. Don’t be shy now. Nothing wrong with get­ting a lit­tle tan­gi­ble now and again. 😉

We even par­ti­ci­pa­ted in a lit­tle exhi­bit last month at Pavi­lhão Atlân­tico to pre­sent these and a cou­ple other works. And now we’re back with more wea­pons of mass des­truc­tion. And now, this very wee­kend we’re mee­ting up again for some holi­day hac­king fol­lery at LCD to show some more of our pro­jects and do a few mini-sprints. Feel free to join us. Lock up your geeks, we’re coming for them!

Con­ti­nue rea­dingAZ ready for world domi­na­tion”