Rank #1: Nodevember With Jonas Dichelle and Luca Rood
Jonas Dichelle and Luca Rood are a delight. They’re such fun to talk to… especially when it comes to a cool event that they organize, Nodevember. It’s an annual event (in its second year) where artists celebrate the awesomeness of nodes throughout the month of November. Think of like Inktober—or maybe bettter, NaNoWriMo—but for art generated with nodes.
Of course, to be a part of Nodevember, it’s probably a good idea to understand what nodes actually are. A lot of digital are familiar with a layer-based approach to work, as you may find in GIMP, Krita, Photoshop, or sheets of acetate. Layers are great and over the years, they’ve gained more and more functionality in digital applications. However, they’re still limited by they’re stacked-style organization. A layer at the top of the stack necessarily affects all of the layers beneath it.
Nodes work differently. Instead of having a block of data that automatically affects blocks below it (like layers), nodes systems can have multiple inputs and each of those inputs can run through a series of logical operations en route to one or more outputs. And the really cool thing is that this way of working is entirely non-destructive and procedural. Not only does it mean you can easily change how your art looks without irreversibly changing your input material. It also means you can more easily change and animate.
Nodes can be used in all manner of artistic applications, from 3D and VFX to audio and game design. To get an idea of what can be done, just have a look at the #nodevember hash tag on Twitter or Instagram. It’s really incredible stuff.
Of course, Nodevember isn’t the only thing we talk about. After all, the whole event was born at the 2019 Blender Conference. Both Jonas and Luca are active Blender users, so we also took some time to talk about Blender, open source development, and how so many developers of creative open source applications started as artists who needed a feature.
I had a lot of fun talking with these two, and I’m excited to where they go with their event in the future. In the meantime, were still in the month of November as I write this, so head on over to Nodevember.io and see if there’s a prompt that you find interesting!
Nov 12 2020
Rank #2: HDRI Haven (And Friends) With Greg Zaal
It’s been too long since the last episode. However, we’re definitely not done. This time around, I got to talk with Greg Zaal about all things HDRI. In case you weren’t aware, an HDRI is a “high dynamic range image”. And in the context of what Greg does, we’re specifically talking about full 360° panoramic images with high dynamic range. In Greg’s words, it’s a means of “copy/pasting” the lighting from a given environment so you can use it in your 3D scenes for realistic lighting. It’s a fantasticly informative talk and his workflow for capturing and processing HDRIs is worth taking notes on.
In show-related news, commenting on the site has returned! I finally got everything up and running with Isso. I also managed to migrate all of the old Disqus comments over as well. So hooray for that!
Also, in this rather largish break between episodes, I managed to be a guest on two other podcasts that are much bigger than mine, The Survival Podcast and FLOSS Weekly. So if you’re coming here from either one of those shows, welcome! I hope you enjoy yourself here.
And now… back to the show.
Oct 30 2020
Rank #3: Design and User Experience With Máirín Duffy
Mo is a delight to speak with and her example is one of the best rebuttals to any notion that a person can’t work professionally using open source tools. Because that’s what she does, and has been doing for 15 years at Red Hat. In this episode we go over what’s involved with her work, and how she gets it done with tools like Inkscape, GIMP, and a host of other applications.
Of particular note, I really appreciate her “actually interact with people” approach to interaction design. It really struck a chord with me because I think it really applies anywhere we discuss design… or even art, for that matter. Regardless of the medium, we produce creative work for an audience. Why wouldn’t we take the time to find out more about that audience? I’m definitely going to look for ways to incorporate that mindset and approach into my own work.
There’s a bit of background noise and rumble in the audio that I couldn’t easily reduce, but even with that, the show’s a great one for your brain bits.
Sep 03 2020
Rank #4: Community and Photography With Pat David
Pat David joins us this episode to have a wide-ranging discussion about making creative work using open source software. And he’s a great one to talk about it since he’s been kicking around the community for a good long while now. His interest in photography (and doing it with Free and open source tools) has gotten him involved with all kinds of open source image editing applications. Most notably among them is GIMP. Although not a developer on the project, he’s an integral part of the very small development team that manages that enormous project.
Another big topic we cover is that of communities. Pat launched (and still works on) PIXLS.US, a community website and forum with a focus on photography with Free Software tools. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in photography and image editing in general, serving as both a support channel and a showcase for the great work that can be created with the tools we know and love. And that community continues to expand. They’ve even added sections for compositing with Natron and astronomical image processing with Siril.
On of the highlights of our discussion was Pat going through his workflow when shooting and editing photographs. There’s definitely some fantastic take-aways from that and I’m certainly going to be thinking of this interview the next time I point a camera at anything.
It really is a wide-ranging conversation that’s a lot like sitting down over a cup of coffee and having a great talk with very few filters. Of course, speaking of filters, I have to apologize if you watch the video of this. I’ve recently set myself up with some new gear and I’m still tweaking the best way to set it up. In particular, I’ve migrated from my ancient Logitech C270 webcam to using my phone with DroidCam. The DroidCam mobile application isn’t open source, but the client for connecting to it is and it works really well. The only catch is that I turned off the auto exposure and auto white balance on my phone… and then the sun went behind some clouds while the show was being recorded. So there are some moments where my video looks really dark.
I also got a new audio interface (a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2) and a mic arm. Both work great, but the original mic I’d ordered was back-ordered, so in the meantime, I’m using a very old Audio-Technica stick mic. The sound quality should be acceptable, but it took a bit of post processing to get it to that point.
In any case, I hope you enjoy the show.
Aug 20 2020
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Rank #5: Open Source Ecology With Marcin Jakubowski
Marcin guests this episode and talks about Open Source Ecology and their “Blueprints for Civilization”, which is a list of 50 different machines that they’ve determined are essential for a self-sustaining, distributed society. Really interesting stuff. The machines themselves are pretty cool and they’ve got prototypes of a lot of them already. Of course, I’m just kind of drooling over the cool stuff that could be made with these tools. Build my own furnace for melting steel? Yes please! And you can help contribute to finalizing and improving these designs because they’re all released under a Creative Commons license and the designs are produced in FreeCAD.
We also get into licensing and the value of trying to accomplish “big things” in a very short amount of time, like developer sprints, game jams, the 48 Hour Film Project, and the Extreme Enterprise event that they’re planning on doing next summer (2021).
- Visit FOSSdome. She’s doing some really interesting things for planetarium work with open source creative tools. Definitely worth a look.
- I was a guest on another podcast! If you’re interested in people talking about fun Linux-related things, give a listen to mintCast.
- This show is now available in more places:
- Have a look at my books and merch if you’re interested in supporting the show.
And that should do it! Talk to you next week!
Jul 30 2020
Rank #6: Making Things to Make Things
This week’s episode is born from some listern feedback from Romain Marteau. He suggested that I spend an episode talking about the rotating mount I designed to help me carve my bent wood rings. Because of that, this show is a bit more visual than any of the ones I’ve done in the past. I show the actual mount as well as walk through the
.blend file a bit and show a bit of the print prep in Cura (the website doesn’t mention it, but it is open source, as evidenced by their GitHub page). I try my best to describe things for those of you who are audio only, but this one is really best for watching.
And, as promised at the end of the episode, I’ve published the
.blend file and exported STLs for printing under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license over on Thingiverse for you to print and modify yourself. If you do build it yourself, you will need to get a couple additional parts (affliate links):
- Square 3" Lazy Suzan Bearing
- 20-pack of 608-2RS Ball Bearings (you only need two, but there are all kinds of interesting things you can make with ball bearings. At the currently listed price, it doesn’t hurt to have a few extras lying about)
So… what do you think about these show-and-tell shows? More importantly, what kind of projects are you doing with open source tools to help you make things? Flag me down and let me know!
Jul 23 2020
Rank #7: BlenderNPR Follow-Up With Bong Wee Kwong and Miguel Pozo
In this episode we get a bit more clarity on not just the BlenderNPR community and the BEER Development Campaign, but the talk goes really in depth on the BEER renderer itself. Bong and Miguel give a lot of detail on how it works and the vision for how it’s planned to integrate with the rest of Blender. The show does get to be a bit technical in parts, but that’s OK. An artist really ought to have an understanding of how your tools work. That’s how we get under the hood and get to make really interesting and novel work.
They also give a lot of really cool examples of NPR work in various media. I wasn’t able to get them linked here in the show notes, so you’ll just have to listen to hear them.
What’s your favorite example of NPR art?
EDIT: Bong was courteous enough to compile a list of links to the various works he referenced in the show. Here we go…
3 NPR elements:
- Slime Rancher
- Tetris Effects
- Civilization VI
- A Short Hike
- Untitled Goose Game
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Spider man: Into the Spiderverse
Other BlenderNPR and BEER links:
Jul 08 2020
Rank #8: All About BlenderNPR With Lee Posey
So we have an episode of firsts here. Not only is it the show’s first interview with a guest, but it’s also the first episode that’s been recorded with video! In this episode, I talk with Lee Posey all about the BlenderNPR community, as well as non-photorealistic rendering in general. Blender is actually quite adept at helping artists create non-photoreal artwork, but some of the tools and workflows could be better refined to support NPR artists. And this is why they’ve started development of the BEER rendering engine and have launched the BEER Development Campaign to raise money for its development. They’re actually already almost halfway there.
Other highlights of the show include:
- We share our enjoyment of the art produced by POKEDSTUDIO.
- I totally blanked out on the name of LuxCoreRender. Oops.
- Lee shared Pixelorama, an open source tool for creating pixel art (and it has tools for animation, too!). From what I can tell, it’s built on top of the Godot game engine.
- We nerded off a bit about open source business tools like OpenProject and Invoice Ninja.
- The whole interview was recorded using Jitsi.
Of course, there were a few questions in the interview that we didn’t have the answers to. Next episode, the brains of the BlenderNPR project will fill in some of those gaps and clarify points we may have glanced over. In the meantime, you should definitely head over to the BlenderNPR website to see some excellent NPR artwork and back the BEER Development Campaign.
Also, what do you think of having videos and interviews of the show? As ever, email and social media are the best ways to get in touch with me. I’m definitely interested in hearing your opinions. So share ‘em, if you don’t mind.
Until next time!
Jun 30 2020
Rank #9: Learning How Open Source Works
Here’s the deal. With the various things like Epic’s megagrants and some of the accelerated development action happening around projects like Blender and Krita, some creatives who haven’t been exposed to how the rest of the world does open source might mistakenly convince themselves that something has shifted fundamentally with how open source developers are handling things.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The fact of the matter is that successful open source development models rely heavily on an actively participating userbase. And when I say “participating” I don’t mean just using the software or mouthing off on a forum or social media. It’s about becoming a material part of the development process, typically with either developer time, or money to fund developer time. Also, when I say “userbase”, I also include commercial companies.
See, in the rest of the world where open source is used, companies join in with the development process. Like individual developers, they “scratch their own itch”, but they do it by hiring programmers on their team to extend and maintain open source code for their needs (and, like good citizens, push general code back upstream to the main project). The world has operated like this for years (I daresay decades), but it seems like only within the last couple of years has the various entertainment industries that use creative software gotten themselves clued in to how this works.
Unfortunately, even if the companies are starting to get it, some of our creative colleagues maintain an inaccurate understanding of the changes that have been happening. With any luck, this episode (rambling as it may be) can help straighten them out.
That’s the idea anyway. Share it around. And certainly give me a shout directly to let me know what you think about this. I’d love to share some listener feedback.
Jun 18 2020
Rank #10: Catching Up
Three years is a long time to wait between episodes. For anyone still subscribed to this show through your podcatcher (that’s still a thing, right?), thanks for sticking with me and not dropping me from your list. For those of you just now discovering this show on its relaunch, welcome to the party. You’ve got a strange, awkward host, but he talks about some pretty cool things. Stick around. This is going to be fun.
This episode is a catch-up episode. I get a bit rambly, but here’s a quick rundown of what I talk about in this show:
- Blender 2.8 was developed, released, and now the 2.83 release is imminent.
- With furthering usage of Blender in larger studios, they’re piloting a long-term support version of Blender.
- I released the 4th edition of Blender For Dummies, chock full of updates on the new 2.8 series.
- Microsoft Loves Open Source (also, they bought GitHub)
- Epic has been issuing megagrants to help the development of quite a few open source creative tools.
- I started making wooden rings.
- I’ve been de-Googling my various websites, so I’ve started using a self-hosted install of GoatCounter to capture some basic site analytics.
- I’ve migrated mailing list stuff to phpList. You can sign up for the list for this show on the contact page.
- And I made a funny t-shirt and mug.
Also, I talked a little bit about the future of the show and what we can do with it. I’m not recording it while driving any longer. That means there are now things I can do that were either impossible or generally unsafe before. Things like live recording, video, and interviews (I’m definitely doing those). But, to do any of that, I kind of need to know your thoughts on the matter. What would you like to see on the show? Who should I interview? Are there shows were I should be a guest? Give me a shout and let me know your thoughts on the matter.
Also, should I bother with fixing the comments on this site?
Anyhow… the show’s back and I’m having fun. I’m looking forward to talking with you more.
Jun 02 2020