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”