May 29, 2009

Treasure Islands

Last week, I took part in the SenseStage workshop at the Hexagram BlackBox in Montreal. It was a workshop designed to bring together people from different disciplines (dance, theatre, sound, video, light) and cooperate in a collaborative environment with interactive technologies.

During the workshop, there were tons of sensors – light, floor pressure, accelerometers, humidity etc. – all connected to little microcontrollers which in turn were all wirelessly connected to a central computer that gathered all the data and sent it forward as OSC to any client conected to the network.

Basically, we had 5 days to complete an interactive performance sequence using the data gathered by the sensor nodes. This is what our group came up with.

We call it Treasure Islands and it’s a bit twisted interactive performance/game where a girl finds herself in a weird world where she is floating on a donut in the middle of the ocean with a mermaid talking in her head. She has to travel to all of the different Islands around her, and collect sounds from them in order to open a portal into this strange dream world for all her friends. Sounds like a good concept, doesn’t it? Check out the video and you’ll see that it actually makes sense.

There was a lot of sensor data available, but we ended up using just the pressure sensors on the floor and camera tracking. With a bit more time we could have evolved the world to be more responsive to the real world, but I’m pretty happy with the results we were able to achieve in such a short time. Our group worked really well together, which is not always the case in such collaborative projects.


Sarah Albu – narrative, graphics, performance
Matt Waddell – sound, programming
Me – animation, programming

And I guess I need to include some more technical details for all the people who check my site for that kind of stuff (I know you’re out there).

We used camera tracking with tbeta to track Sarah and used that data to move the doughnut and to make the environment responsive to her movements. All of the real-time animation was done in Animata, which really is a perfect tool for something like this, because it allows me to animate things really fast without compromising in quality. Max was used as the middle man to convert the TUIO messages and the OSC from the sensor network into the kind of messages Animata needs to hear.

sense hat
We sewed some IR LEDs on the hat to help with tracking in a dark space.

Each island is an instrument that you can play with. Stepping on a certain area would trigger loops, add effects to your voice etc. Matt could explain the sound part better than me, but the video should make it pretty clear. it doesn’t reproduce the effect of the quadraphonic sound system we used though. Some visual clues were also triggered in the animation based on her movements on the sensors.

That’s pretty much it. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

April 8, 2009

Product Placement

I tracked down some people who work or used to work in the advertising industry.

This is what they had to say about advertising today.

Watch in HD at Vimeo

Download the QuickTime movie (1280×720, 320MB)

The audio interviews were recorded by The Anti-Advertising Agency.

My workflow in creating ths animation was pretty unorthodox. Almost all of the character animation was recorded real-time with a custom setup involving Max/MSP and Animata. I created a patch in Max to control animation in Animata with the sound of the interviews. I also had some sliders and buttons to trigger things like blinking and arm movements. I used After Effects for compositing and for some additional animation.

Check out my tutorial to see the basic setup for connecting Max or PD to Animata.

December 15, 2008

How to Control Animata With OSC from Max/MSP and Pure Data

NOTE! I am moving my website over to The commenting has been disabled on this site. You can find this same article with commenting and everything by clicking this link:

If you haven’t heard of Animata yet, you should head over to and educate yourself. Download the software and go through the tutorials. I also recommend reading through the mailing list, it has tons of useful information.

Controlling Animata with a mouse and doing real-time animations is pretty cool by itself, but Animata really shows its true potential when you control it with OSC. Then you can start doing something like this:

There is a Processing example available from the Animata site that controls Animata with sound input.


Unfortunately, the Kitchen Budapest guys are busy improving the software and there isn’t really good documentation available about the OSC messages needed to control Animata. I’ll try to go through all of the available messages and give you some examples in Pure Data and Max/MSP

I assume that you know something about OSC, Pure Data and Max/MSP, because I don’t want to write a huge post explaining everything from the beginning. I’m also assuming that you have spent some time learning the basics of Animata.

One more important thing. I’m using revision 35 of Animata compiled from the svn repository. NOTE! YOU WILL NEED TO COMPILE ANIMATA FROM THE SOURCE CODE TO MAKE THE /LAYERPOS MESSAGES WORK. IT IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE BINARY VERSION ON THE ANIMATA WEBSITE. All the other messages I’m showing here do work with Animata 003 that is available from the site. OK, let’s start.

DOWNLOAD MY EXAMPLES. Contains the Animata Scene + Max and PD patches.


All incoming messages to Animata must be sent through port 7110. The “name” in the message refers to the name of the joint, bone or layer.

Moving a joint, x and y are float values:

/joint name x y

Control the length of a bone, value is a float between 0 and 1:

/anibone name value

Switch on and off a layer, on_off is 0 or 1:

/layervis name on_off

Set the transparency of the layer, value is a float between 0 and 1:

/layeralpha name value

The next two messages require the svn version:

Moving a layer in absolute mode, x and y are the position coordinates as float values:

/layerpos name x y

Moving a layer in relative mode, x and y is the amount of pixels you want the layer to move from it’s current position:

/layerdeltapos name x y


I’m not really comfortable with Pure Data, but I was able to get all of the messages working except /layervis. I believe this is because Animata is very picky and is looking for real boolean values and Pure Data is sending integers when sending 0 or 1. This was just fixed by the Kitchen Budabest guys. The /layervis message works now. I have updated the code so please download the .zip again. You need to compile Animata again from the svn for this to work.

Pure Data to Animata

Pure Data to Animata with OSC from Matti Niinimäki on Vimeo.

There is a little problem, because Animata needs float values in the messages and Pure Data doesn’t have a separate number box for floats, so have to make sure the number you are sending is never an even number. I did this by multiplying the values by 0.999. If someone knows a better way, let me know.


It’s pretty much the same deal with Max/MSP. The /layervis doesn’t work here either. This was fixed in the svn version (>36). My Max-patch has been updated so please download again.

Max to Animata

Max/MSP to Animata With OSC from Matti Niinimäki on Vimeo.

I didn’t add the /layerdeltapos to the example patches, because it’s really easy to lose your layers somewhere outside the window.


There is also an option to send OSC messages from Animata. For this you need the SVN version. It simply works by clicking on the small OSC tick box on the Skeleton tab. The messages are sent through port 7111. The message format is: /joint name x y

Send OSC


I’ve made a plugin for Quartz Composer that makes it really easy to control Animata from Quartz Composer. Check it out over here.


Basically, any software or programming environment that is able to send OSC messages should be able to communicate with Animata.

Processing works perfectly and you can download the Sound Input example from the Animata website that will get you started. I’ll see if I can find the time to do a similar sample file for Processing also.

I’ve also had luck testing OpenFrameworks. Download the FAT version of OpenFrameworks and modify the oscSenderExample.


Whatever you want! Hook up audio input, MIDI controllers, sensors or computer vision to control real-time animations.

Check out my Mickey Mann project for an example on how to control Animata with an Arduino.

Here is the source code download link one more time.

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Filed under: Animation,Programming,Tutorial,Video — Posted by: Månsteri @ 3:46

December 3, 2008


I have always liked the voice of William S. Burroughs and I’ve always wanted to do something with the Origin and Theory of the Tape Cut-Ups clip.

Now I have. It’s still missing some parts of it as I had to meet a class deadline for this. I will have to finish this later.

If I haven’t uploaded a new version with the missing parts in a couple of months, feel free to send me angry emails with the subject: Get Your Lazy Ass Up and Finish That Animation!

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Filed under: Animation,Video — Posted by: Månsteri @ 6:35