Jodorowsky’s Dune


LOGLINE: The story of legendary cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s staggeringly ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel DUNE.

SYNOPSIS: In 1974, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12 year old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including H.R. Giger and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever.

“For me, Dune will be the coming of a god. I wanted to make something sacred, free, with new perspective. Open the mind!”
– Alejandro Jodorowsky

Finally got to see Jodorowsky’s Dune recently (with long-time fan, and comic-book genius, Gregory Mackay, who is is great for detailing the sordid history of sci-fi illustration). It’s an incredible story of an incredibly audacious and film…. and although that feature never got completed, the documentary shows how lots of the creative energy involved was rewarded elsewhere later.

Jodorowsky’s Dune – plays at the Melbourne Film Festival in July 2014.


Alejandro Jodorowsky : “I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs. The difference being that when one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill.”

El Topo – a metaphysical western.. ( see also, ‘acid western’ ), catapulting Jodorowsky into the cult director spotlight…

Holy Mountain – another quest for enlightenment, with vast and ambitious set designs… thanks to an increased budget of $1million from a Beatles business associate (John Lennon was a huge fan of El Topo).

Following the success and acclaim for Holy Mountain… his next wish was to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune, as a psychedelic space opera, a spiritual film for transformation…  And in 1974 French producer Michel Seydoux offered to finance the start of it.

Amongst the formidable artistic army gathered to make Dune :

So the world’s greatest ‘psychedelic space opera’ never got made…  but director Frank Pavich did a great job of teasing out the possibilities, ably assisted by the subtle storyboard animations of Syd Garon (director and animator of Wave Twisters, yo!). More importantly though, the director was able to reunite producer Seydoux with Jodorowsky (after 30 years!), and Seydoux not only co-produced Jodorowsky’s Dune, but also went on to produce Jodorowsky’s first film in over 20 years: Dance of Reality (another incredible film!).

by j p, May 27, 2014 0 comments

Desert Cinema Interludes @ WOS 2014

Coming soon to WIDE OPEN SPACES, MAY 2-4, ALICE SPRINGS, 2014.

A series of short live cinema interludes – (5-10 minutes each & performed during band changes, twice per night on Friday, Saturday and Sun.)

Each live cinema piece will explore footage and soundscapes from one particular landscape, juxtaposed with a range of audio-reactive animated characters and objects, mixed and mutated live.

Float briefly in the ambience of luscious forests, lunar-like New Zealand volcanoes, underwater coastal life, and the desert (from footage shot during WoS 2013).

(See also: Pattern Machine AV performance @ WOS 2012, Desert Engines AV performance @ WOS 2013 (with Suckafish P Jones)

by j p, March 27, 2014 0 comments

March 1: VDMX Masterclass @ ACMI with David Lublin, Vidvox, NY

Am delighted to be helping host an ACMI workshop on March 1st – with David Lublin (Vidvox co-developer for VDMX).

((UPDATE: video workshop was archived on youtube, and is viewable at the bottom of this page))

David will be delivering the workshop from New York, with high bandwidth streams of both a video-conferencing computer and his VDMX video output for workshop attendees to view. ACMI will be providing laptops with VDMX pre-installed, although people are welcome to bring their own.

This is an incredible opportunity to hear about VDMX from a core developer, and get inside knowledge about real-time video manipulation.

Tickets are limited for the workshop, +pitched at a video-artist friendly $25. Book via ACMI.

(Drop a line if they sell out, we can reserve you a spot if you bring your own laptop.)

The workshop will also be youtube streamed and later archived online (See link at bottom of page):

Comments can be left by online viewers, and there will be a dedicated section at the end, where online questions will be answered by David.

(12-3PM A.E.S.T. – online viewers, check your time difference)

12-12.30  Introductions / background
12.30-2 “Video fundamentals taught with VDMX” – by David Lublin (via NY)
2-2.30 Questions + Answers / with workshop attendees + questions from online viewers.
2.30-3 Workshop discussions / experiments / troubleshooting /feedback

Pre-workshop advice: have a browse through the extensive range of VDMX tutorials that’ve been published in the last 6 months, there’s a real wealth of VDMX knowledge available: introductory tutorials, arranged by topic // and a full list of tutorials including lots of novel uses and recent enhancements. See also: VDMX developer blog / VDMX online forums.


Bonus Round: Check out  David’s midi dogs + game of phones).

The Archived Video
See below – or click here to view in youtube, and read the comments contributed by the 50+ concurrent viewers.

by j p, February 6, 2014 1 Comment

Boinga Bob’s Temple in Warburton


- Photos from Boinga-Bob's Temple.

Scattermish and myself recently tackled the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail,  a 40km stretch of bushland cycling, an hour outside of Melbourne.

Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. Rail trails link big and small country towns and meander through scenic countryside just as railways did in the past.. Railway engines have always had difficulty climbing hills. The steepest grade of a railway line is never more than 1 in 30.. no sharp rises and no sharp bends, just sweeping curves and gentle undulations.. abandoned rail lines make superb pathways for walking and riding.” – Rail Trails Australia.

The ride itself is awesome – it’s a gorgeous, mostly tree-shaded ride, with plenty of great views, though Warburton has no station, so you need to plan for an 80km round trip from Lilydale. The Warburton end makes it all worthwhile – with the cute bicycle themed Cog Bike Cafe greeting riders at the end of the ride, and just nearby… jutting out from the trailside foliage – the temple of Boinga Bob, a sprawling marvel of DIY architecture and evolving artwork installations.  I’ll let the temple photos speak for themselves.

Boinga Bob was home at the time, and is quite the interesting character. He happily entertained a few guests with tales of his extensive adventures on various islands and mountain tops over the years. Currently though, he is facing a battle with the local council who want to destroy his temple. Drop him a line if interested in helping, or join the Facebook group to save Boinga Bob’s temple.

Below, a 5 minute interview with Bob about his temple:

Next up: The Great Victorian Bike Trail.


by j p, February 2, 2014 0 comments

Audego Motion Graphics Medley

Audego Motion Graphics Medley
from jeanpoole on Vimeo

Above – a motion graphic medley made from clips I created recently for each song of Audego‘s latest album, Beneath the Static and the Low. It’s pretty gorgeous music, listen for yourself – bandcamp / soundcloud / itunes. The Audego brief: ‘retro-abstract motion graphics we can project behind us while we play’.

This was the first time I relied Quartz Composer so heavily for making motion graphics – it’s great for prototyping ideas and developing them quickly, and can be recorded in realtime too (with syphon recorder). I also used:

VDMX – for real-time clip triggering, compositing and effects
TV Paint – for generating some animation textures
After Effects + Premiere – for compositing, effects and editing.
Madmapper – for arranging projection of motion graphics onto surfaces
Canon 7D – for filming of above projections.

(See also motion graphics for Audego’s previous album, Abominable Galaxy.)

by j p, November 19, 2013 0 comments

Right Here, Right Now: Interactive Installations @ RMIT

Over the past three semesters I’ve had the pleasure of co-steering a studio elective with Caroline Vains, for Interior Design students within the school of Architecture and Design at RMIT. Loosely – we’ve been exploring the intersection of video projection, built objects and interior design.

Most interior design students are already highly visually literate, great at quickly visualising their ideas in many ways, and unlike most video oriented people I know – are fantastic at working with materials and constructing models. As well as adapting very quickly to the world of projected video, they also bring along considerable materials testing, research and construction skills.

This semester though, we added interactivity as a requirement. In addition to learning video editing, video composition, animation, and projection mapping – they needed to think about how they would include some simple lo-fi interactivity in their projects. It’s quite satisfying to report that they responded wonderfully to that challenge, and I’m happy to share some of those efforts below.

Right Here, Right Now (Sem 2, 2013 – elective studio with Caroline Vains and Sean Healy – Interior Design, RMIT.)

(Course Document  (PDF) and readings / 12 weeks of related blog posts).


Pictured above –  the crowd-pleasing bicycle powered installation by Jimmy Liu, David Dai and Nick Hsu. (‘Team Brothers!’ ). A series of reflective gears were connected to pedals and a bicycle seat, causing the carefully mapped projections to reflect around the space. This was a nice evolution from their earlier experiments which included tight geometric mapping sequences, and three dimensional arrangements of laser-cut paint splashes.

Part of the pleasure with this studio – is seeing how different skills and ideas merge, and evolve, over time. For example, Hexin Bi used his experience from scuba diving as the inspiration for his audiovisual installation, rigorously analysing the rhythm of his underwater breath…



.. while Jacinta Birchmore explored repetitive forms and texture, beginning with the intricate model below, before iterating through other shapes and surfaces.


Together for their final piece – they continued to explore scuba diving, but took it in a new direction, creating a breath activated installation. Their structure featured a layer of styrofoam balls which obscured the projector light from shining through, unless someone blows through the mouthpiece – which scatters the balls and enables the animation to bounce around inside their mirrored space (a process accentuated by a breath-powered spinning reflector ).  Guest blower: Ramesh Ayyar.


Tisha Sara Dewi, Jing Yang and Ranqi Liu created a beautifully made cone structure, to be viewed from underneath:


Michael Kuo and Ting Jiang played with precision modelling, mapping and hand activated rotations:


Another blending of approaches: Stacy Rich’s topographies and Danielle Bird’s organic textural work..


.. later combined to produce a quite beautiful structure (which unfortunately had a few interactive / mechanical problems).


Tahlia Landrigan produced an intricate response to the music of Nicholas Jaar…


and Fenella McGowan’s structure built from cotton buds responded to projection beautifully, as did Nikita Demetriou’s tissue-paper hangings…


Together that trio diligently combined their efforts to produce a wooden bicycle work – which featured a pair of revolving wooden cylinders, each with precision cut holes, and a bicycle wheel on top for spinning the cylinders, altering the light patterns being emitted from within.


Aside from the prowess with construction, another trait interior design students seem to share – is a flair for dynamic documentation, very comfortably playing with formats and materials to best express their projects. Below, a couple of examples by Stacy + Jimmy.


Below, the projects grouped as part of the final exhibition … (note the bicycle pedals for activating the ‘Team Brothers’ piece at the top of the page).


And finally, studio co-ordinator Caroline, wondering where the semester has gone to…



Thanks to Caroline and the entire studio for a great semester!

by j p, November 18, 2013 0 comments

DARK MOFO 2013, Festival of Light in Hobart


Let There be Light..

Winter in Tasmania isn’t an obvious time and place for a festival, but MONA isn’t your average museum / gallery. And so began in 2013, MONA’s DARK MOFO (Jun 13-23), an annual festival that riffs on the idea of winter solstice with pagan celebrations of light ( + art, fires, lasers,  feasting, etc..). This included:  the Red Queen exhibition  @ MONA,/ performative chefs, Skywhale (a sculptural / sky-breasted hot air balloon by Patricia Piccini), Robin Fox laser performances, and a whole host of other light and projection related artworks…

Oh, You Mean *LIGHT*..

… All of which were made irrelevant by Ryoji Ikeda‘s 5KM HIGH BEAM OF LIGHT INTO THE SKY ( aka ‘Spectra‘).

Simultaneously over at the gallery, Ryoji exhibited his Datamatics work. Really enjoyed this more than expected. It’s a very well documented and promoted work, but none of that captures the oddly calming oceanic presence it has.

Elsewhere, Batgirl battles Ryoji in animated GIF format.

Claustrophobic, Stroboscopic, Light…

The Beam in Thine Own Eye exhibition gathered together a range of works exploring the limits of perception. Zee by Kurt Hentschlager was the most spectacular of these, an intensely stroboscopic smoke filled room, that came with pages of warnings, had medical staff on standby, and completely blurred the capacity to distinguish between what was happening in front of or behind your eyes. There’s a great interview with Kurt here. Other standouts:

Ivana Franke – “We Close Our Eyes and See A Flock of Birds” -A cyclinder shaped room, with central seating, facing out against LED covered curved walls, which proceed to strobe and flash their way through a range of sequences.

Anish Kapoor – “Imagined Monochrome” – An artwork experienced one at a time – because it involved laying down and having your *eyeballs* massaged by a professional eyeball masseuse. I missed getting an appointment for this, but apparently it was fantastic.

.. And Dark (Faux Mo).

DARK FAUX MO, the festival club –  is what I was there for – projection mapping a disused double-storey theatre space each night. Performers included Miles Brown, Super Wild Horses, ZOND, My Disco, Zanzibar Chanel, Mixmasters ( who cooked soup + dumplings on stage while they DJ-ed some tracks), Andee Frost, Rainbow Connection DJs and more. It was a wild space, delightfully decorated, with lots of roving performers – so it came up great in photos. (Eg collage at the top of this post – or see flickr photo set)


MONA FOMA 2013, the summer edition.. held in a Hobart laneway, where I projection mapped animations onto a 4 storey fire escape (painted white).

by j p, November 7, 2013 0 comments

Visual Composition with Quartz Composer


“There’s a lot of wonderful possibilities for real-time visual compositing with Quartz Composer. Most existing QC learning resources though, tend to emphasise the generative graphics capabilities of QC. For those with a post-production, animation, motion graphics or VJ background – QC’s composition potential can be difficult to unleash.”

Hoping to make the transition to Quartz Composer a bit easier for the above kinda folk – I’ve gone and made a page  which documents how various animation + post production techniques and processes can be recreated inside QC…

(eg Composite multiple video sources, Image Masking, Pre-framing video into compositions, Working With Layers from Photoshop, Nesting + Pre-composing in AE, Inverse Kinematics, camera paths.. etc).

I’m planning to slowly add to this ‘Compositing with Quartz Composer‘ page over time.. with the hope that it’ll  –

  • help non-programmers with video compositing ideas, adapt to QC more easily
  • help me wrap my head around QC better (the page features many questions…)
  • encourage more experimentation with visual composition effects in QC (alongside the current popularity of using QC to generate graphics)

Would love to hear from anyone with questions (about something that isn’t clear) – or suggestions ( how to clarify a concept better, or other animation concepts that could be included etc ).





by j p, October 14, 2013 0 comments

Book Review: Learning Quartz Composer

Learning Quartz Composer: A Hands-on Guide to Creating Motion Graphics with Quartz Composer


“Whether you dream of live visuals, interactive installations, Cocoa apps, dashboard widgets, or extra awesomeness for your film and motion graphics projects, Quartz Composer will enable you to develop beautiful solutions in amazingly short periods of time…”

“….To make up for all the gaps in video tutorials and forum posts scattered around the interwebs we wrote a book…”

– Graham Robinson (aka Shakinda) + Surya Buchwald (aka Momo the Monster)

A Quartz Composer book has been long desired by the real-time video community, given the combination of its unique capabilities and severely undercooked documentation online. Hats off to Graham and Surya for rising to that challenge, and helping expose QC’s potential for visual artists of many flavours.

These days a book inevitably also means an accompanying DVD of video tutorials (which can also be accessed online by those who buy the PDF, book code needed), and an extended support website (ILoveQC).

Who Should Read This Book?

According to the authors – Maker types /Motion graphics designers, film makers, VJs, artists, interactive programmers, and Cocoa developers. If that’s you – this book will help – “…even the unsophisticated user into creating art projects, visuals for a band or party, wild Preface screensavers, and RSS-powered trade-show kiosks. For anyone with a programming background, the material quickly opens up a new world of visual potential”.

Who shouldn’t? “Advanced Quartz Composer users looking for detailed knowledge about using GLSL and OpenCL, or creating your own plugins in Objective-C..”

How’d that work out for me?

To give some context of my QC understanding – previously I’d been asked by Graham to write a few words about how I use Quartz Composer and VDMX:

“Coming from a non-programming background, I’ve found some of the concepts and structural logic of Quartz hard to grasp, and the engineerish manual doesn’t help much. and the QC mailing list – seem helpful, but also populated by mostly advanced discussions – which tends to stifle introductory questions and beginner problems. So I found myself trying to learn QC by forcing myself to explain what I was learning about it as I explored it.”

This scattered learning approach lead me to writing up these QC tutorials…

Part 1 (Intro and overview of resources available)
Part 2 (Making a split-screen effect)
Part 3: DIY Anchor Rotation FX for VDMX
Part 4: 3D Objects With Video Textures in VDMX
Part 5: Using Twitter Hashtags + RSS feeds in VDMX (now outdated since Twitter changed its RSS feed mechanism.. )

What I found myself really craving was a learning resource that broke down the structural logic of QC, and which explained some of the principles in ways that related to how I wanted to use it as a compositing tool. And this, the ILQC book mostly delivered – using deliberately plain and simple language, and making no presumptions about animation or programming knowledge. A quick glance over their contents page, gives an idea of the book’s scope:

  • What is Quartz Composer and Why Should I Learn it?
  • The Interface and Playing a Movie
  • Adding Visual Effects
  • Using LFOs, Interpolation and Trackballs to Move Stuff
  • Debugging
  • Particles
  • Mouse Input
  • MIDI Interfacing (Getting Sliders and Knobs Involved)
  • Interacting with Audio
  • Lighting and Timelines
  • Replication / Iteration
  • Modelling Complex Environments ( 3D Cities )
  • Create a Cocoa App
  • Create a Screensaver
  • Secret Patches, Core Filters, and GLSL

(‘glance inside‘ / book preview at amazon )


– The examples are well chosen, and build up on skill levels as the book progresses
– The book examples and video tutorials correspond really nicely to see each other
– There’s a good emphasis on concrete examples, while explaining the principles that make it possible
– That said, found myself wanting some more explanations of underlying concepts occasionally
– Gaps? Would’ve liked some more advanced exploration of:

  • how ‘timelines’ and ‘queues’ can be utilised within patches
  • ‘structure’ and ‘multiplex’ related patches
  • ‘render in image’ and ‘rendering’
  • the composition process in QC, explained relative to composition software such as After Effects… giving a bit more of an explanation of how the overall 2D / 3D possibilities work, and how they could be utilised / explored in many directions..

This book fills a great gap in learning resources for Quartz Composer.. so hopefully rumours of QC’s gradual demise stay that way, and some of the recent flourishing of QC activity ( as an interactive prototyper / and as discussed on the very active Quartz Composer Facebook group ) continues on.

by j p, September 24, 2013 0 comments

Creation Cinema @ Melbourne Museum


Ok, ENESS – you had me at ‘projection mapped kinetic sculpture’. The Creation Cinema  – seen above, is now installed at the Melbourne Museum as part of First Peoples, an exhibition celebrating ‘the history, culture, achievements and survival of Victoria’s Aboriginal people.’ It’s a gorgeous installation, located inside a circular room, which is in turn enclosed by intricate layers of wood. Once inside – the sublime smoothness and grace of motion immediately captivates. It’s something that animators strive for with onscreen movements, but is so much more satisfying to witness with moving physical parts. Within that darkened egg of a room, the sounds, video and slow relentless movements of the wing fragments all add up to quite sublime effect. Fantastic installation, and viewable for the next 10 years!

Other projects by ENESSA Tilt of Light (cleverly adapting a seesaw), an interactive skate-ramp for the TRON sequel.

by j p, September 23, 2013 0 comments

2013, Year of the Swiss Tasmanian Tiger Monkey


The slow fade out of Melbourne’s summer = an opportune time to re-spark the skynoise engines. It’s also likely I just miss writing things longer than 140 characters. Especially since I’m just about to finish reading a 3000 page novel ( The Baroque Cycle, Yo!). Regardless of the roots….. expect some fruits..  scattered across the next few months – riffs about visual culture, and likely some weirder tangents too. That’s what ma bones are saying. And sooner than that – some long overdue reviews:

Below – the summer that kept skynoise drooling on its pillow:

Dec 2012:
Stereosonic –  Touchscreen video booth installations for an energy drink tent. (photos got animated, projected and sent online.)
Sampology at Falls Festival Dec 30 ( Marion Bay ) + Dec 31 ( Lorne ) ( Mixing camera sources with Sampology’s live video).

Jan 2013:

MONA FOMA Projections on a 4 storey fire escape stairwell, and custom animations for the FAUX MO cinema. Fun was had. Some keywords to throw in a blender: Chicks on Speed, No Zu, Digital Primate, Soda Jerk, a sequined ninjaMONADavid Byrne’s reflections about MONA, and Richard Flanagan’s New Yorker article about MONA founder, David Walsh – the professional gambler responsible for “building a private art museum in Tasmania dedicated to sex and death”. MONA museum is also famous for ‘The O‘ – “the mobile device given to all visitors who walk through Mona’s doors… there are no labels to be found anywhere on the walls of the museum.. these devices provided access to information about the art.”

Feb 2013:

Developed an audiovisual performance with The Swiss Conspiracy ( Moses Iten from The Cumbia Cosmonauts, and Christoph H. Müller from Gotan Project ) , which was performed at The Swiss Festival. The show ended up featuring footage shot at Alpenrail, the largest Swiss Alps railway model replica in the Southern hemisphere ( gopro train tunnels! ) and goats from a Swiss goat cheese farm SW of Hobart.

Rebirth of A Firebird – Helped out with some live projections for a couple of sequences for a ‘hip-hop sci-fi’ short film being made by Alan Nguyen (aka 2 Pants Rotation – in his giant monster rapping mode).

Mar 2013:
Cumbia Cosmonauts
At the Adelaide Festival – did live video for The Cumbia Cosmonauts at the fun pop-up venue, Barrio. The theme for the night was ‘Animal House’ – which meant there was a camel, piglets and geese nearby, as well as dog masseur doing live demonstrations on a table.

And Then It Was Now:
– Developing an audiovisual performance for Wide Open Spaces, a wonderful desert festival held out near Alice Springs in May. Longtime collaborator Suckafish P Jonez is back from Barcelona, and we’re excited to be exploring AV again. Weekly rehearsals!

Am co-hosting a studio elective at RMIT within the design faculty, looking at video production, projection and installation – from an interior design perspective (which tends to include a lot more materials and building related research / development). It’s a fun studio, which uses mapping processes, and comic / graphic novel storytelling techniques to help inform video installations.

– Am slowly rolling out a series of updates to the page, finally uploading documentation from a range of projects… including the snippets below, developed for 360 last year.


I PREFER VIMEO ((Better quality encoding/resolution/interface/community comments etc))
OTHERS PREFER YOUTUBE:  ((More eyeballs. And clients sometimes want it here.))

FACE IS THE PLACE : ((Finally succumbed – click – for all your Zuckerborgian messaging / subscribing / liking needs)).

More words soon! *I, promises.*

by j p, April 2, 2013 0 comments

Cumbia Cosmonauts Music Video

Above : more proof that Space Is The Place…. at least when it comes to Mexi-Australian tropical bass genres.

That’s the fruits of a few quick projection and filming sessions with the Cumbia Cosmonauts, featuring custom graphics made by the CC VJ – Martin Hadley (I especially liked his spaceship control deck!). I’d like to think if there’s ever a Mexi-Australian space program, that it looks something like this… ie has that Ed Wood in space vibe about it, maybe with styling by Lee Scratch Perry & Sun Ra.

The Cumbia Cosmonauts are a Melbourne band who are celebrated around the world with their take on Mexico’s cumbia music, and so fittingly, they release their new album, Tropical Bass Station, on the Berlin label, Chusma records, on Nov 23, 2012. The track ‘Our Journey To The Moon (And Back)’ comes from that album.

(Other recent video projects)

by j p, November 21, 2012 0 comments

Dr Seuss + Elefant Traks At The Sydney Opera House

Dr Seuss meets Elefant Traks at the Sydney Opera House

4 days later, and am still buzzing from the Elefant Traks vs Dr Seuss show at the Sydney Opera House.

Developed and performed for the Graphic Festival – it was an audacious project – inside a tiny time frame, create 18 songs and animations to reinterpret or remix the books of Dr.Seuss for the stage. It never felt like enough time – and yet, the amazing zoo / crew at Elefant Traks pulled it together and nailed a dynamic audiovisual smorgasbord (that apparently had some of the Seuss publishing folk moved to tears!).

My role was to develop and live trigger the animations for the show, which was akin to developing a feature film in 6 or so weeks.. while liasing with around 20 different musicians… “hey man, I’ve got this new idea for a beat / I’ll get you those lyrics soon.. etc etc” – so I wasn’t surprised to find myself still rendering out clips on stage, right up to the last minute.

I’m going to put up some more animation info later, over at, but for now, while still floating, I wanted to put out a huge thank you to:

– Jono ‘Dropbear‘ Chong + Darin Bendall, who did an amazing job, animating half of the tracks between them.
– Urthboy – who oversaw the crazy production, as well as performed throughout the show
– Unkle Ho, who helped tie together the visual production, and developed his own flash-based interactive visuals for the show, AV jamming on a wii-board to Green Eggs & Ham, with Jim from Sietta + Angus from Hermitude.
– Luke Snarl Dearnley, who did a stellar job as technical producer, keeping the whole show smooth as butter.
– Owen Field, who covered all the logistics with grace and calm…

And that list could go on and on – there were endless Elefants who who were such a pleasure to collaborate with…

Some Elefant clips:

X-Continental, a clip I did for the Herd back in 2001.
Urthboy, Ozi Batla, Solo, The Tongue and L-FRESH: Cipher at the Opera House
and below, Dropbear’s fantastic animation for ‘And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry st’, which was performed as the first track of the show, by Urthboy, Jane Tyrrell + Angus from Hermitude. Ozi Batla had just given his show-intro in an aviator costume, and hooded Urthboy came on to do a quick rap about Dr Seuss, before pulling back the hood as the lights came up, the decks started up, and MCs roamed the stage with this as backdrop:

by j p, November 15, 2012 0 comments

A Tribute to Runwrake, 1965-2012, RIP

Runwrake RIP


I cried last night, upon reading that John Wrake, aka Run Wrake, has passed away.

I’d first learned of his cancer diagnosis a few months ago, after wandering once again to his youtube page, and noticing a short and simple message underneath his most recent short film:

Run Wrake youtube
Down With The Dawn, is Run Wrake’s usual virtuosic animation, but knowing that this 8 minute short film was his response to being diagnosed with cancer, made it quite confrontational viewing. I was shocked then, but somehow presumed he was turning things around, he was on the slow path to recovery, that although tragic, everything would be okay.

Award-Winning “Rabbit” Director Run Wrake Dies, 47
The Most Talented Dude You’ve Never Heard Of
A Genius Gone Too Soon. British Animator Run Wrake Loses Battle With Cancer.

“It is with incredible sadness that I have to let you know that our darling Run passed away very suddenly at 5am on Sunday morning as an end result of his cancer. He had spent a beautiful Saturday with his two children Florence and Joe, his sister Fiona and myself. We left him at 7pm doing what he loved best- drawing and animating with peg bar and paper.
I was with him for his last moments. We love you Run.
Lisa Wrake.”

runwrake screenshot medley

Above, hard-drive snapshot of some of my favourite RunWrake animations.

I first learned of Run Wrake around 10 years ag0, through his compilation Gas DVD, “Dinnertime”. Somehow it had laid unwatched in a pile of media for a few months, until late one evening I spied it again and lazily inserted, then pressed play. What followed was dizzying and overwhelming – that mix of exhilaration and exhaustion when discovering an artist so consistently good, so relentlessly inventive, and so utterly prolific that you’re left wondering if they exist under different laws of time and space.

A few years later, I was thrilled when Run Wrake agreed to an interview (published in 3D World magazine, as well as skynoise in 2006).

A snippet below:

Where did ‘Run Wrake’ come from? 
Actually a nickname earned whilst keeping wicket particularly badly during a game of cricket aged 11. A friend was sent in for sarcastically shouting ”Run”, as the ball went thru’ my legs for four.

With so much animation under your belt, what has it taught you?
It’s taught me that I’m very lucky to have the desire and ability to scrape a living doing what I enjoy, and that you will never make a piece of work with which you are entirely satisfied.

To what extent do you storyboard your clips? Or how do you approach narrative?
”Rabbit” is the first film that I have rigorously boarded, with a view to telling a story, and I thoroughly enjoyed the discipline.

Any desire for feature films, or longer works?
Absolutely, watch this space*.

(*As of 2012: Wrake was devel­op­ing an ani­mated fea­ture, The Way to a Whole New You, with writer Neil Jaworski for BBC Films.)

One of my questions was whether Run Wrake had ever animated a skateboarder, and Run Wrake was kind enough to add a note at the end saying that he’d done an ad featuring a skater, and that he’d attached a little quicktime movie of it for me. One of those wow moments – a favourite artist sending me something they’d made?? Below, a screenshot sequence from it, which demonstrates one of his trademark ‘perpetual zoom outs’…

Runwrake skateboarding

runwrake dvd

A glimpse at his biography (have you seen a more delightful online CV?), showed some of how this was all possible. Run Wrake had gone through the Chelsea College of Art and Design, and the Royal College of Art, before achieving a breakthrough with his 1990 student film Anyway on MTV’s Liquid Television. With Anyway, several strengths were already evident – an eagerness to playfully deconstruct form, an ability to adapt and incorporate many kinds of media and animation styles, and an incredible capacity for fluid transitions – smoothly morphing into wildly different scenarios or character transformations.

The DVD documents the development of all those strengths, as well as introducing others  – a highly attuned sense of animation rhythm and pacing, and a flair for visualising sound and loops. That kinship with music was partially nurtured over time with his job as an illustrator for NME magazine,  (the DVD includes a virtual gallery of these illustrations, narrated by a flying turtle-armed boy.), but is most evident across his trajectory of music videos, most notably those with long-time collaborator, Howie B.


Some favourite moments?

The alarm clock sequence within ‘What is that?’

How he plays with loops, one minute into Music for Babies by Howie B. (At time of writing, vimeo had just made the clip a ‘staff-pick’, in honour of Run Wrake’s passing.)

The intro sequence to ‘Jukebox’ – no, actually, just all of it…

The ‘Buttmeat‘ clip for Howie B. (All those liquid visual transitions!)

Music video directed by Run Wrake for Spacer’s 2001 single ‘The Beamer‘. (Love the scene transitions, and the disregard for time/space conventions).

And below – a sequence transition from Lessons in Smoking (this video link showcases it better),- produced by Run Wrake  for his compilation Gas DVD, “Dinnertime”.

runwrake lessons in smoking

With all that under his belt, it’s easier to understand how he gets to describe his career highlights as including…

“my first job, commissioned by an Elvis suited Jonathan Ross to make a title sequence…making Jukebox, my first animate! commission, a two year slog…meeting and working with Howie B, initially on a short film to accompany the release of his album Music For Babies, and subsequently on a series of freeform promos…presenting storyboards to Roy Lichtenstein in his New York studio for U2′s Popmart Tour visuals…and the critical acclaim for Rabbit, a short film completed in 2005.”

runwrake rabbit

Less easy to understand is why Run Wrake wasn’t better known, even amongst animators. Even though he worked on U2 tours, and Rabbit won plenty of awards, it still felt that there was an animation giant walking amongst us, and not enough recognition of how much terrain his work covered. That was at least partially remedied, earlier this year, with a Run Wrake Retrospective at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, with the title referencing one of his favourite characters:


Runwrake meatheads

Below, artwork recently donated by Run Wrake –  as part of CEL: an online fundraising project to keep the Animate Collect online, ‘On The Brink of Manhood’.

Runwrake on youtube
Runwrake on vimeo
Runwrake reworking personal home movies for live Audio Visual sets. ( Yes, he VJ-ed occasionally! )
A video interview with Run Wrake about his animation process.

RIP Runwrake…. thanks for adding your splash of colour to the world.

by j p, October 27, 2012 1 Comment

VDMX 5 Review

VDMX 5 interface

(Above, a messy example VDMX interface of mine. Click screenshot to see full version)

Here’s a review brewed since I got my review copy back in 2005 (when VDMX first turned 5, says the Vidvox software museum*). Now that it’s 2012 and we’re at Beta version, it seems as good a time as any to declare VDMX 5 ripe and ready. Let’s do this.

What is VDMX 5?

VDMX 5 = A ‘modular, highly flexible realtime performance video application‘ developed by

What does that even mean? The six word executive summary by @Protostarrr :
A hipsters version of After Effects‘ is cute, but misses a crucial difference – VDMX is software built for real-time usage – ie no waiting around for rendering, it means live adjusting, manipulating and sequencing of video clips and video parameters – during a theatre performance, while musicians play on stage, within an installation, or to create some hybrid of what might be called live cinema. Just as hiphop and electronic music producers have long been playing live with audio samples, we now have the ability to shift from a studio production mentality, towards using video samples in a live setting.  This means VDMX must be capable of letting it’s users adapt and respond to any unfolding events – and the importance of having that flexibility is reflected with how Vidvox define their software:

“VDMX5 is a program that lets you assemble custom realtime video processing applications. This is an important distinction- instead of being stuck with a fixed processing engine and a static interface, it gives you the freedom to assemble not only whatever custom processing backend you desire, but it allows you a great deal of creative control over how you wish to interact with your backend.”

VDMX interfaces

(Example search for ‘VDMX interface’ )

So what can VDMX 5 do? 

– Trigger separate clips for playback across different projectors ( a desktop with multiple outputs, or an external graphics card for laptop is also needed)
Mix several clips together to create layered collages and compositions (multi-blend mode options / compositing options / cross-fade options / customisable quartz transition modes)
Map separate video layers onto physical objects (VDMX5  has basic perspective mapping functions, or can send video layers via syphon to other mapping software)
Organise video layers into groups (which allows composition or FX parameters to be adjusted per layer or per group)
Re-route any video layers into other layers / compositions (enables easy creation of visual feedback loops, or addition of more organic complexity with FX)
– Adjust or control any video parameter or Fx parameter easily with an onscreen slider or button – and in turn, control these by various data sources (eg mouse / midi / audio analysis from built-in laptop microphone / LFO oscillators and wave values / midi + OSC controllers / wii controller / iOS or android controller etc ), and these values can be flexibly refined by using a range of in-built math behaviours ( eg invert values, smooth values, multiply values etc).
– Build Control Surface Plug-ins – which are ways to consolidate various controls into a a customised interface ( eg have 4 meta sliders, each of which may control any number of other parameters, when activated )
Capture camera inputs, apply effects to these. Can also record and playback camera samples in real-time.
Capture the visual output from a window of any other application running, and re-route this through the VDMX signal chain (eg mix in a live webcast from a browser, bring in a photoshop sketching window, bring in a skype window etc )
Record your clip-triggering and visual FX experiments to disk (Fast and reliable, records directly into a VDMX media bin for immediate re-triggering / remixing / recording and etc etc )
– Use a built in step sequencer for arranging clip-triggering or FX over time.
Save and trigger presets in extensive ways (global, per layer, per FX chain, and per slider. And more recently, we can cut and paste parameter settings between sliders. Very useful for quickly copying refined parameter and interactivity settings from one effect to another.)
– Tightly integrate customised quartz composer patches and FX, including customised interface elements – where each of these can be controlled by the various methods described above. (It’s hard to overemphasise how useful and powerful this is).
– Use flash, text and HTML files, as well as Freeframe FX.
New : send DMX (Artnet) data – to control / interact with lights / lighting desks… (I’m yet to play with this, but it’s a great addition. Requires a computer to DMX box such as the Enttec ODE. )

There’s much more, but you get the idea – it’s flexible, and can be adapted to suit your project by project needs. These open ended possibilities are both a strength and weakness of VDMX – it’s fantastic being able to make your own customised interface to suit a particular workflow or project, but first time users tend to find can be daunting to approach for first time users.

Below, an example of 3 layers being mapped to suit particular shapes. (The canvas controls can be enlarged for easier mapping / alignment, with pixel increment adjustments on corners, available by pressing arrow keys )

VDMX 5 interface

Understanding the VDMX Workflow

With the above multitude of options, getting to know the ropes is pretty important. Here’s a few learning pathways:

1. Plug N Play… aka ‘explore’ : Even within the downloadable demo software, VDMX5 comes with built-in template projects that can be accessed through the topscreen menu. These can be easily modified and used as a foundation for your own projects. Playing with each template will show some of the features and variety on offer.
2. Vidvox Wiki : Extensive, detailed listing and explanation of the progam’s various parameters. Read over, then go back to step 1 and play some more.
3. : In-depth video tutorials from the pixelated horse’s mouth.
4. VDMX forums : Over time, I’ve probably learnt more about the program here than anywhere else – as with any software of depth, the possible solutions to any particular problem posed, are multiple and varied, and am regularly learning new ways to use VDMX through the discussions here. The developers also contribute frequently, debugging problems, clarifying how various aspects work, and helping point beginners in the right direction.

Some Example VDMX Projects

Aka – here’s some links to material I’ve used VDMX for.

– Compositing video for 3 different projections and walls at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. ( Pattern Machine, at Underbelly performance )
– Generating and recording audio-reactive visual textures (with VDMX and quartz) (Visual backdrops for Audego)
– Generating textures and audio-reactive elements, then mapping these to suit physical shapes I’m projecting onto  (Mat Cant music video)
Triggering live video onstage with Gotye (so the right part of each animation happena when the live musicians reach the chorus etc )

VDMX Elsewhere:

How to set up the VDMX basics.. 
Learning VDMX at the Audiovisual Academy, Videos – Part IPart II and Part III.
A 32 minute intro to VDMX (via visual-society)
Iso50 overview of how he uses VDMX …
Connect VDMX to Madmapper (via official Madmapper blog)
How to send multiple outputs from VDMX to Madmapper… (via destroythingsbeautiful)
(Actually, Destroythings is destroying things for VDMX (mostly VDMX ready-quartz patches )
Making loops live with the Wii and VDMX ( 4 video tutorials via moongold)
VJ Kung Fu: AV Sequencing with Live + VDMX + Monome
Using VDMX to create stop motion animation – by synchronising video projection playback with the sequencing of time lapse photos. (by Zealousy )
How to use a window from any other mac software, within VDMX (eg for live photoshop painting etc / via 1000errors)
How to create a 16 frequency graphic equalizer for Ipad Lemur to use sound for controlling various FX in VDMX. (via 1000errors)
Creating a Sound Visualizer with VDMX + Unity 3D (via creativeapplications)
Experiments with Quartz Composer patches in VDMX (via Goto10 at vimeo)
Telecommuting the mix: VDMX, Syphon, CamTwist, and Skype (via noisepages)

Requirements :

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor
  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • NVIDIA or ATI Graphics Card
  • 4+ GB of RAM
$349US  – Refreshingly, this licences the user to run VDMX on up to three different computers for personal use. On one level it’s a very generous licence – but on the other, it’s merely acknowledging the likely practices of most digital artists (across many workplaces, home, venues, installations, multi-screen set-ups etc). At any rate, very handy.
Educational pricing = $199
There’s also a ‘Starving Artist Discount’ – ‘Put your skills to work helping out the VDMX community and you can get a license of VDMX5 for only $199 USD.’


While VDMX 5 is overkill for some people, and others might prefer the complexities of say of MAX/MSP or coding their own software, for me it strikes a great balance of depth and accessibility. Complex results and interfaces are possible, with relatively little mental investment. Once that initial learning has happened, it’s a very versatile tool, easily refined to suit each project (eg for this gig, let’s make the playback timeline fill the whole screen, so we can fine tune tiny little loops more easily – or let’s create 3 media bins so it’s very clear which samples to trigger for each of 3 stage characters – or let’s emphasise the FX palette here.. etc etc). VDMX 5 has evolved over many years, taking on board much user feedback, as well as introducing users to better ways of approaching video signals and introducing all manner of nuanced interface elements and processes. There is a lot of significant functionality in the program, but it’s in the nuanced details of those features, that the merits of VDMX 5 really come into play. Take it for a test drive….


[[*VDMX software museum visitors and yesteryear software interface fetishists might also like: VDMX 2 review (2002) or VDMX 4 review (2003) ]]

by j p, September 20, 2012 6 Comments