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”