Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'animation'

Paul Sladen

In the year 2000 IBM showed off the WatchPad, a computer on your wrist, but one perhaps ahead of its time and still needing a little bit of design-love. Of course, we love highlighting beautiful design when it does finally come along, and in the last few days the beautiful Pebble smartwatch has appeared over the horizon.

As well as being “just a watch” with a long-lasting e-paper display it has a Bluetooth wireless connection, opening up all sorts of possibilities for expansion; particularly showing notifications, SMS messages, or status and calendar updates without having to check a mobile phone directly. Once it’s on your wrist the possibilites are there for all sorts of apps (not just fancy clocks!).

In under one week they’ve raised $5 million in pre-orders from 35,000 individuals—taking the Kickstarter record for the largest amount raised through crowd-funding. A finished product does not just happen by itself, it requires lots of expertise; industrial design for the water-tight casing, ergonomics to make sure it fits on your wrist, electronics layout design for the battery, buttons and e-ink screen …and some firmware (embedded computer software) to make it all work.

Andrew Witte (second from the left in the dream team) is the Lead Engineer working on the firmware and an Ubuntu fan. Andrew’s desk on a typical day has a sprawl of cables, a Lego car, some low-level JTAG programmers, USB prototyping cables, several half-finished Pebble boards …and, in the middle is Xubuntu (Ubuntu running with an XFCE desktop) for the development and debugging.

Lots of open source is also being used to make the watch tick. The firmware development toolchain is CodeSourcery GCC for compiling, OpenOCD for working with the JTAG, and GDB (the GNU debugger) for finding all hard to solve bugs. One of the main parts of the Pebble is the Bluetooth interface for talking to smart phones, for which many hours have been spent testing with Ben Lam’s Python-based ‘LightBlue’ framework and utilities like hcitool. If that’s all getting a bit technical, Andrew notes that The Gimp and ImageMagick (both in the Ubuntu Software Centre) are used for processing the bitmaps and pictures before they are sent to the Pebble watch prototypes.

The race is on for the first person who can get a prototype in August 2012 and integrate Ubuntu’s libnotify-osd work with the Pebble watch, in time for Ubuntu 12.10 in six months time! For those with a pre-order, it will be possible to vote on additional-colour in addition to Artic White, Cherry Red and Jet Black. We’re hoping that Ubuntu Orange wins!

The Pebble Kickstarter campaign runs until 18 May 2012. To vote later for a colour (such as Ubuntu Orange!) you need to pre-order in the colour-Pebble category ($125+shipping).

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Iain Farrell

Last night I watched “Press Pause Play” which in it’s own words is a film about fear, hope and digital culture. If you’ve not heard the talk surrounding the movie one of the trailers is below and we’ll catch up once you’ve … well … caught up :)

Good huh? The interesting thing about Press Pause Play is that it speaks to people who are out in the world creating interesting things and discusses what the brave new world of powerful computers, amazing tools for creation and sharing of content and ideas instantly means for the creative arts. For better or worse anyone can be a film maker now or a photographer or web designer or musician. Install Ubuntu from a USB key, plug that computer into an internet connection and “Ta-Dahhh!” you’ve got instant access to tools which allow you to create amazing things. Or functional things. Or mundane things. Or robots … seriously … people are making robots and they’re using Ubuntu to do it.

The film is extremely good and I’d urge anyone interested how people make stuff today, music, art, film all that “stuff” to watch it. I also think there’s a lot in there for people passionate about free and open source software. The way that we create software, these tools, this approach, it’s helping people who’ve never met to collaborate and produce all sorts of things.

I found it an inspiring watch and best of all it’s available for free from www.presspauseplay.com just download, grab a cup of tea and enjoy. I had jelly babies too but don’t eat too many, you’ll be sick.

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Iain Farrell

Some of you may have already seen our new 11.10 video. For those who haven’t, we’ll catch you once you’ve enjoyed it :)

Made in Ubuntu using only open source tools – indeed only an open source font! – I’ve made the source assets available so readers of the blog and beyond can make their own versions to promote Ubuntu. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started.

1. Download the assets files from my Ubuntu One share by clicking this link.

2. While that’s downloading you can also install Pitivi, the video editor I used, which is easily found in the software centre.

3. Uncompress the zip file and take a look at the contents.

The Assets folder contains, as the name suggests, all the video and PNG files I used to create my video. The what’s new .xptv file is the file that Pitivi uses to pull all the assets together and make the video and the template.xcf file is the GIMP file I used as a template for the text slides that appear in between the video clips.

4. Open the What’s new 11.10v2.xptv file and you’ll have to tell Pitivi where all the assets have gone. Just point it to the Assets folder and it’ll do the rest reconstructing the video.

At this point you have two choices. You can either reuse my video assets and just translate the text panels that come up in between the videos or, if you’re feeling really daring, you can use mine like a storyboard and re-record the videos.

Translating the text panels is the simplest route, simply open the template in Gimp and then save copies as PNG files with the same names as I’ve given them. Once you hit render Pitivi will pull in the new PNGs and, boom, you’ve got a video with translated text panels. Simple!

Recording your own videos is a little more time consuming. The way I did it was using a command line tool called recordmydesktop, available again in the software centre, which I found was pretty straightforward to use. It allowed me to specify what area of the screen to record from and could be launched either in the terminal or, when I didn’t want the terminal in the launcher, using ALT-F2 and then killing the process once I’d recorded the features I wanted to share.

The only other things I did while recording was make sure that any time you’re showing the clock it’s set to 11.10 and that the wifi and volume are always at maximum and bluetooth is always on.

We’d really like to translate this into as many languages as possible and Paolo, long time Ubuntu supporter in Italy has kicked us off with Italian translation of the video and we’d love for you guys to try translating it into your own languages, maybe even go and record your own videos. Paolo’s video is below, thanks again chap, we’re hoping you’ll inspire others!

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Iain Farrell

At UDS in Budapest we held a session on the idea of a toolkit for community members. It would allow anyone excited enough to show off and celebrate their use and love of Ubuntu. As you can see from the notes there were a lot of ideas and one of the first activities was to create a YouTube channel celebrating Ubuntu.

Last week we did exactly that and you can now head over to www.youtube.com/celebrateubuntu right now! Go on, head over. I’ll be here when you get back … that was quick ;)

Related to this as part of the 11.04 release I worked on a video for Ubuntu.com with our web team. Intended for the features page it shows off some of the new goodness that has made it into this release. I should also say a special thanks to Jason from the Novacut project who stepped in and helped right at the end. We couldn’t have done it without you chap! Thanks!

This video and the toolkit conversation got us thinking. Everyone has their own favourite aspect of Ubuntu. The thing that makes it great for them. The thing that makes them smile when they use their computer. The thing that makes them wonder why anyone would use anything else!

So make us a video that tells the world what your favourite part of Ubuntu is.

Step 1: Come up with your ultimate Ubuntu feature and how you might make a video of it. What’s the story? Will a viewer “get it”?

Step 2: Make your video and post it up on your favourite video sharing website/ Ubuntu One/ anywhere you can put the file send it to me!

Step 3: Just like any internal design project we’ll get our Brand Lead Marcus Haslam to have a look and the ones we think make the grade will be posted on our channel for the world to see!

We’ll be looking at these throughout the Oneiric cycle, blogging and promoting the ones we think are great so there’s no deadline as such.

Get creative, enjoy and together let’s celebrate Ubuntu!

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Iain Farrell

Introducing Ubuntu screen grab

Almost all of the design team are in Orlando this week taking part in UDS. As well as getting ready for the summit in the last few weeks we’ve also been working on something we’re really excited about. You may have already seen this video we’ve commissioned which explains a little bit about what Ubuntu is. It was made for use by some partners of ours in promoting open source and in particular our favourite distro. As well as the video we’ve also produced an HTML5 based framework which will play the video on a loop. Not only does this play video but it can display anything you tell it to. Create some images or videos, edit the HTML and you can easily create a simple rolling demo with lovely transitions.

This is obviously great for us and events that Canonical goes to but we’ve also already open sourced this and put the project on Launchpad so that loco teams and other groups can use it.

We think this could be a really handy promotional tool so we’re really excited to share it with you and see what people try to add to the framework that accompanies the video. The animation is silent as it’s designed to be shown on a screen in a busy and noisy environment but the assets you choose to put in there could include sound, more images, all sorts of things!

What is Ubuntu? from Canonical Design on Vimeo.

We look forward to seeing how you guys take this forward!

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Mat Tomaszewski

The recent Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase competition produced some good work. Lots of great photos and plenty of interesting music tracks were submitted.

But only four videos

This made me think. Why only four? Was it because we didn’t talk about it enough? Or maybe there’s just not that many Ubuntu users interested in video and animation? Or… maybe it’s simply too hard to create a nice video piece on Ubuntu?

To answer this, I set myself a challenge:

Create a short animation to promote the competition, using only free software on Ubuntu.

To be more specific: only a GUI software, no scripting or programming allowed.

Artistically, I’ve set myself some interesting constraints, too:

  • only two colours can be used: Ubuntu orange and white,
  • all visuals must be built using only one element – a circle.

You can’t get more Ubuntu than that, I thought.

Being familiar with many proprietary animation packages, from Flash to AfterEffects and 3dsmax, and having some experience with GIMP and Inkscape on Ubuntu, I estimated five days of work for a 50-second animation with music.

And here’s the result:

Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase – animated intro from Mat Tomaszewski on Vimeo.

Also, check a hi-res OGV.

The Making Of

After some initial sketching using the ancient tools of Pen and Paper, I knew what I wanted to achieve. The animation would consist of three parts, introducing Music, Video and Photo part of the competition. The background music would be (of course) the winning track from the 10.10 edition.

Since the whole animation was to be made of dots (circles), the package had to support timeline-based animation of multiple objects, I thought. That rules out tools like Processing, as they require coding.

Something like, say, Flash or AfterEffects, just Free and Open Source and running on Ubuntu.

This was the first hurdle. Neither PiTiVi, nor kdenlive or any other package I tried could do that.

Fortunately, there was Blender.

Blender’s great. Not perfect, but getting there really fast. It’s very powerful and the UI is logical and consistent, even if initially some things (like right-click to select) may seem counterintuitive. One introductory video tutorial (loads of them on YouTube) was enough to get me through the initial learning curve.

To create the effects you see in the video, I mostly used the array modifier, which can be animated using controller objects, like a path (which lenght controls the count) or an Empty (to create rotation or scale effects). Again, many great examples and video tutorials are available online.

Once the three parts of the animation were ready (each one in a separate Scene) I used the Sequence Editor to put them together.

I then used Audacity to trim and fade the soundtrack (no problems there), Inkscape to create the credits and finally rendered to MP4, using the Blender’s native renderer. To convert to OGV, I used kdenlive, which again was very smooth.

Problems? There were a few. By far the biggest of them was lack of sound in Blender. I ended up googling for solutions, but the command-line magic I applied didn’t help. I’m still not sure what was wrong, and it slowed me down quite a bit, as I had to preview using the rendered movies, rather than instant preview within the app. If there was anything that would stop me from using Blender professionally, it would be that.

Otherwise, I had some really great time. :)

Oh, and if you want to start blending right away, here’s the source file for the animation. Enjoy designing on Ubuntu!

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Iain Farrell

It’s _almost_ there. Happy “so close to release I can almost taste the Ubuntinis” Day everyone! And if you’ve not tried an Ubuntini, well you should. The next release of Ubuntu releases on the 10th October but the release candidate is out there now and as I write this the final release meeting of the cycle is happening on Freenode in #ubuntu-meeting.

It’s been two weeks since your last update from the design team, so what have we been up to?

smiley face emoticon

Well, for one thing the smiley fella above was born and has started appearing on the design blog. More on him and his siblings from Otto in a later post ;)

Probably the biggest news is that the new Ubuntu font family have made their first appearance in our desktop release and those of you running Maverick will now also notice that the Ubuntu and Canonical websites make use of the regular font as well as this very blog.

The new type face at work in the desktop

You can also read some more thoughts on the type face in Mark’s Blog.

It’s very exciting to see this in the wild and it seems like a good time to say thanks to the people who’ve helped us get here. Thanks to Bruno, Lukas, Amelie, Malcolm and Shiraaz at Dalton Maag who’ve designed the font, Paul Sladen for managing the bugs and liaising with the community and also Ken Vandine and Dan Holbach for helping us package the files, Robbie Williamson for approving exceptions that meant we could get it in after deadlines had passed and finally Scott Kitterman for finally hitting the approval button.

We hope you like it, it’s part of your desktop so get involved over on the project launchpad page. More enhancements are coming so stay tuned for more in the coming months.

So now that our Meerkat is grown up our attention turns to a particularly Natty Narwhal that will need our love and attention before they’re released into the wild about 7 months from now. That’s what we’ll be focusing on and we’ll be sharing more of our ideas in the coming weeks as we prepare for UDS.

And finally, a video treat for you to the end the week with. Those lovely people over at OMG! Ubuntu! reminded me that the Blender Foundation have been working on a new short film called Sintel and they’ve released it online for you to enjoy.

A scene from Sintel

The particularly exciting thing about the work they’re doing is that once it’s finished they’ll share their output with the world not only as a video but also all the source files will be released under a creative commons license meaning that they can be used by others to learn from. You can find out more about the project and the Blender Foundation on their website.

Have a fantastic weekend and here’s to our launch parties in the next week or so!

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