What Glitch? scripts

For the What is Your Glitch? videos I wanted to build up on some of the extensive work that has already gone into the documentation, deconstruction and glitching of file formats. Rosa Menkman has already done a great job of documenting some of the more well-known file format glitches in the Vernacular of File Formats, which I recommend you all read. For this exercise I wanted to explore some of the more obscure file formats. Using open source software and Ubuntu has given me access to a wealth of programs that can still generate obscure file formats, such as pcx, pix and sgi. Through these experiments I also found inconsistencies in the way that different programs generate files, which is evident through my decision to use GIMP to convert files rather than Imagemagick in some of the scripts. Enough chit-chat, download the scripts!

Code hosted on GitHub

The method of glitching used in most of the scripts is the much-documented find and replace method. If you take a look in the scripts – and I encourage you to do so – you can change the characters that are being searched for and replaced. I’ve simply chosen characters that are sure to get results and are less likely to completely destroy the file.

Required Dependencies

Each script has its own set of dependencies, but to ensure you can run each one you’ll need the following:

  • Sed
  • GIMP – I use 2.71 beta available for Ubuntu from this ppa. Other versions remain untested
  • Imagemagick
  • GlitchSVG
  • Mplayer
  • WebP

Basic Usage

1. Make the file executable: In a terminal type chmod+x [name of script] (e.g. what_glitch_webp.sh)
2. Run ./what_glitch_webp.sh in a terminal window
3. Drop a video file into terminal window and press Enter
4. Get a cup of tea


  • The scripts have only been tested on Ubuntu 10.10. If you are able to get them working with other operating systems please feel free to share your techniques
  • These scripts seem to work best with avi video files that are 24 or 25 frames per second. Files that are 30 frames per second get out of sync with the audio
  • Make sure the name of the directory containing the video to glitch doesn’t contain spaces e.g. “untitled_folder” instead of “untitled folder”
  • The video needs audio order for this script to work. If you know what you’re doing you can edit parts of this script for it to work on files that have no audio
  • As these scripts processes each frame of a video file it will take a very long time to complete. It is recommended for use only on small video clips!

These scripts by no means even begin to cover all of the image file formats available. There were a few formats that were not as easy to batch-process or were simply too large to process, such as xpm and xbm. For these you’ll have to do it manually or explore other ways of batch processing. They’re also not the most efficient of scripts. Some way into processing 400 video frames the script would slow down a lot. I welcome any bug fixes or suggestions on fixing this 😉

There’s still plenty of undiscovered glitches out there in the wild just waiting to be hunted down and exploited. I encourage anyone, everyone and their mother to pick from this long, but by no means complete list of image file formats and to find a way to glitch them!

Blending Inkscape and Blender

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to work on an image in a 3D environment but then export the resultant image to an svg. Being the open source nut that I am my main weapons of choice are Blender for 3D work and Inkscape for vector. These programs have their advantages and their disadvantages. The main advantage they have over many similar programs is that they’re open source and free. They’re very capable products and are used quite widely and are being actively developed. In fact, Inkscape is getting ready to release version 0.47 (I’ve used a prerelease and it’s awesome)

For my task of exporting 3D models to SVG Blender falls slightly short because it doesn’t natively support this. There are a few plugins that have attempted to offer this and do well, but sometimes crash or give unexpected output. That, and for some users going through the hassle of finding the plugin might be too much.

The disadvantage Inkscape has is it’s handling of lots of nodes. The moment you hit around 10,000 nodes the program begins to noticeably slow down. For most simple logo work this isn’t a problem, but when you come to illustration and highly detailed artwork it gets in the way. This was the main thing stopping me from using the SVG that can be generated from Blender. To test it yourself, import an SVG into Blender and then export it as an SVG using either Pantograph or VRM. You’ll notice that it is now made up of about several hundred smaller shapes.

Before Import to Blender: 11 Objects, 124 nodes

Before Import to Blender: 11 Objects, 124 nodes


After Blender import: 2264 objects with 6792 nodes

This makes colouring or modifying the shape really hard. Sometimes, in Inkscape you can just highlight all of the shapes, go to Path > Union (Ctrl + Shift + +) to combine them all but sometimes it makes it all disappear.

Luckily there is a technique to get this to work. If you import an SVG be sure to apply the Ninja Decimate modifier to the shape and drag the Ratio slider down (thanks to heathenx for this tip). Please note that this only work if you shape is a mesh, so hit Alt + C and convert your shape to a mesh.

If you’re working with text you may notice that after you’ve applied the Decimate modifier and dragged the slider down all of your text looks… crap.


This is because the modifier is treating the text as a whole shape and thus reducing the face count of the whole combine shape rather than treating each character as an individual shape. You need to separate them. To do this, in Edit mode (hit TAB to get there) hit P (don’t do this in normal mode. It runs the Blender game engine and will most likely crash Blender).

Separate menu

Separate menu

From the Separate menu choose All Loose Parts and now each character is an individual shape. Now, if you run the Decimate modifier on each individual character you have a lot more control over its final appearance.

After Modifications: 324 objects, 972 nodes

After Modifications: 324 objects, 972 nodes

I exported the text to an SVG using VRM but you can do so using that script, Pantograph or the 3D Polyhedron extension in the Render extension menu in Inkscape. Here’s another render showing exactly why you might want to go through this procedure:

70 objects, 36601 nodes

70 objects, 36601 nodes

After basic modification (text from an upcoming project)

After basic modification, 4042 nodes (text from an upcoming project)

The Decimate modifier has its limits. Where a human would simply combine two big triangular faces into a rectangle the modifier sometimes misses this and just over-complicates things and sometimes completely destroys a shape. This is where I ask the Blender community for assistance. Is there a script to easily reduce the face count of an object?

I think native SVG export is something that Blender should work towards in the future. There’s just too many possibilities and opportunities!