Pixel Player

Back in June 2014 I wrote how that in 2013, after visiting The Cyborg Foundation in Barcelona, I became interested in exploring sonification. My experients at that stage culminated in the production of the Pixel Waves Pure Data patch, which allows the sonification of images based on the colour/RGB values of individual ppixels.

I spent the following months building and refining an update to the Pixel Waves software, with a focus on allowing multiple images to be played simultaneously. In a way, I wanted to create a sequencer but for images. After many months I’m happy to formally announce the release of the Pixel Player.


This software operates in a similar way to Pixel Waves, but with a focus on playing multiple images simultaneiously. Instructions on getting started:

  • Create the GEM window
  • Click on the red button to load an image. Supported file types depend on your operating system, but generally jpg, gif and png file formats are supported
  • Click on the green start button and the pixels will start to be read
  • Drag the orange horizontal slider up to increase the master volume
  • Drag the orange vertical slider up on each pixel player to control its volume
  • Turn the knob to scale the pitch of the audio

The currently displayed/sonified pixel for each channel will be synchronised from the first channel. For this reason it is recommended that all of the input images used are the same dimensions.

This may sound like a lot to do but it becomes easy after a few attempts. To make things easier the loadimage.pd patch has inlets that you can use to control each channel with a midi controller, keyboard, or any other device. To expose the inlets increase the canvas size of the patch by around 10 pixels.

The software includes a video display output, which shows the current pixel colour. This can also be shown on the patch window by clicking the red display button. Flashing lights might not be to everyone’s taste, so this can be turned off. Due to this patch relying on [pix_data], the GEM window needs to be created, even if the pixel display isn’t used.

Enough yapping, what does it actually sound like?! Here’s a small demo, made using a combination of 40×20 images made in Inkscape and images modified using the Combine script by James Allen Munsch (made for Archive Remix. Remember that project?).

Please do give the patch a try and let me know what you think!

dev8d 2010

From February 2th6 to 27th I was in London for dev8d. It describes itself as:

Dev8D is 4 days of 100% pure software developer heaven. It will be intense. It will be exhilarating. It will make you a better programmer.

• Learn to use unfamiliar languages (such as Python, Ruby and Clojure)
• Team up with other developers and build rapid development projects for tech prizes
• Take part in lightning session discussions with industry experts
• Swap skills and ideas with other developers

It was indeed like some kind of heaven! I arrived later in the week on Friday, but I still learnt quite a lot. I spent a lot of my time in the Expert Zone and at GB’s Arduino workshops.

Think of the Expert Zone as a more relaxed Pecha Kucha or Ignite. You get 15 minutes to talk about or promote whatever you want. I gave a short presentation on hackerspaces, with particular emphasis on fizzPOP, and why you should either form one or join one.

The Arduino workshops, led by fizzPOP regular GB, were really fun.

img_7101.jpg (by benc)

I’ve had an Arduino ever since the Howduino event last year but I’ve never really played around with it. Being around lots of people who are in the same position really helped me to make a move in learning it. In the end I got lots of LED’s flashing and a little buzzer to play some music. A small achievement to some, but a massive leap into the world of electronics!

Being at dev8d (and at the GNOME Hackfest, which I’ll write about another time) really taught me a lot about software development. It all starts with an idea, but taking that idea and turning it into a reality I feel is best achieved in a group setting with those who can contribute ideas and skills.

Congrats to the dev8d and devCSI team for putting on a very successful event. I’ll definitely be along next year!


As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve decided to exclusively use open source software for my work. I’ve recently been messing around with Inkscape to see if it can offer similar or better ways of working.

So far I’ve found Inkscape to be quite powerful but missing some functions that I use regularly:

  • I would have usually hid objects using alt+3 and then reveal them later. There’s no simple shortcut for hiding objects and, unless you enter the xml editor there’s no easy way to reveal any hidden objects.
  • You can’t apply a brush as a stroke. You can quite easily manipulate an object to follow a path and that is quite an amazing feature. However it’d be great if there was the option for the manipulated object to then become the other objects’ stroke.
  • You can’t copy objects simply by dragging them and holding alt, you have to copy then paste them in place of the old object.
  • I want to turn the damned bounding box off! I would’ve sometimes used this but sometimes I want the object to be the only thing that’s highlighted, not the box around it.
  • Gradients need to be much easier to edit. The gradient editor is quite powerful and it’s awesome that you can adjust the alpha settings of the current colour, but I I’d like a more visual editor, rather than one that requires a lot of button pressing.
  • Usually when I create artwork I create the objects and apply lots of different layer blends (especially Overlay). Word on the street has it that previous versions of Inkscape allowed you to apply this to every object. Now you can only do it to different layers. Oh, and Inkscape doesn’t assign each new object to its own layer. humpf

    The Filter Effects tool is quite awesome… well, at least it has the potential to be. It allows you to create your own filters and apply them willy-nilly. However, I can’t get Multiply, Screen, Overlay etc to work in a way I’d expect. Still, it can be really awesome at times!

I’m still going to continue using Inkscape as it has a lot of great features, especially for those willing to mess around with lots of numbers.