A friend has a laptop that is like a tablet, the screen rotates around and sits on the keyboard. There is pencil like pointing device that is pressure sensitive. First thing that came to mind was PAINTING, and there's an Open Source tool for that. Surprised?

    MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters. It lets you focus on the art instead of the program. You work on your canvas with minimum distractions, bringing up the interface only when you need it. MyPaint runs on GNU/Linux as well as Windows

    Instead of explaining all the cool features and power of MyPaint lets just look at some screenshots and finished paintings.

This is a screenshot of MyPaint running in Ubuntu 11

This screenshot is taken in an older version of Linux
Screenshot of adjusting some brush settings in MyPaint

Another screenshot taken in Linux

Instead of listing the technical aspects of MyPaint let's look at some finished paintings. These are found at deviantart

    For Windows users MyPaint is available at MyPaint, there are also extra brushes and a gimp plugin for download. There is a tutorial for people who've never used MyPaint, Basic Usage Tutorial. After going through the basic usage tutorial check out the wiki to learn more advanced tricks MyPaint Wiki.

    See MyPaint in action with a timelapse. This was posted in 2009.
Kristen Stewart, portrait in MyPaint approximately 1 hour into lees than 10 min

Build a 3d Printer

    As an Open Source and enthusiast, couldn't be more pleased to introduce the RepRap 3d printer. The RepRap is an Open Source hardware project under a larger initiative called the Open Source Ecology project aka Global Village Construction Set. Being an open source project the RepRap can be built by following a set of free blueprints from, and anyone can submit improvements to the blueprints or build process. One of the key features to the RepRap is that it can print itself aside from a couple processing chips, so you'll print out some for your friends, who hopefully will print ones for their friends and so on.

This device was printed out using a 3D printer. No assembly required!
Brain Gear - Download and Print

This puzzle contains almost 1000 moving parts.
The Petaminx - Download and Print

Build instructions for the simplest RepRap, includes a parts list and videos of the setup process

    It works by heating and extruding a thin plastic wire that is purchased as large spools - PLA Clear 1kg spool 3mm. The material that is printed can actually be made from a plant material that would set the way for using broken items as compost. The two common materials used for printing are ABS and PLA. Both are easily purchased but the one I'd recommend is the PLA as it is the material that is made from plant starches and is biodegradable. While the PLA can be home grown the purchased spools are going be stronger.

    The fact that PLA can be biodegraded, and re used to grow more PLA makes it much more attractive for me. One of the main problems with traditional plastics is the fact that they do not biodegrade easily.

    The third world, and manufacturing centers like Taiwan and China are covered in plastic garbage that does not decompose and does not go away, and can not be recycled into quality goods. If switching to PLA will reduce that even a little bit, I think it would be a huge advantage.

    ABS is the stuff legos are made out of  and PLA is made from corn.

TED Talks - We Can Recycle Plastic ( if you just have to print with ABS this should make you feel better)

    Aside from just printing plastic parts the RepRap can print out metals that allow it to print circuit boards, but not processor chips, there are other types of adapters that are in the works though.

This is the man that started the RepRap, Adrian Bowyer

Watch the RepRap print a simple part and listen to the info about the RepRap.

    Having an awesome 3d printer wouldn't be quite as awesome if there wasn't a library of free files to download and print at anytime. There is the RepRap Object Library which is a good place to start for beginners. It has objects available to download and print, but also contains learning resources and links to get going creating your own objects to print. Another place to get free files to download and print with the RepRap is Thingiverse, which is a great site.

Here are some examples from Thingiverse
Vogal The Dragon

A Printable V8 Motor           

    Where the RepRap project scores over large scale manufacturing is the ability to promote quick innovation and "Distributed Thinking". An example of that is on the website Thingiverse any item uploaded, can be altered by another user and re-uploaded, and Thingiverse shows this. The website let's users say that their object was derived from so and so, and will also display that it has 13 variations of it's own and so on.

Screenwriting Software

    Screenwriting software helps the user with creating, and organizing projects which can include but are not limited to screenplays, films, videos, stageplays, audio plays, documentaries, machinima, comics, games and podcasts.

  One of the best open source screenwriting programs would have to be Trelby. Trelby focuses on providing a simple, uncluttered interface to writing screenplays. It is a rebranding of an older screenwriting program called Blyte. It currently runs on the Windows and Linux platforms, with a Mac OS X port in the works.

    Blyte was a commercial screenwriting program written by Osku Salerma in 2003, and was maintained as such until 2006, then the code was open sourced under the GPL license and not found until 2011.

Features of Trelby

  • Screenplay editor: Enforces correct script format and pagination, auto-completion, and spell checking.
  • Multiplatform : Behaves identically on all platforms, generating the exact same output.
  • Choice of view: Multiple views, including draft view, WYSIWYG mode, and fullscreen to suit your writing style.
  • Name database: Character name database containing over 200,000 names from various countries.
  • Reporting: Scene/location/character/dialogue reports.
  • Compare: Ability to compare scripts, so you know what changed between versions.
  • Import: Formatted text, Final Draft XML (.fdx).
  • Export: PDF, formatted text, HTML, RTF, Final Draft XML (.fdx).
  • PDF: Built-in, highly configurable PDF generator. Supports embedding your chosen font.
    Another piece of open source screenwriting software is Celtx. Celtx helps you produce all types of media  film, video, documentary, theatre, novels, machinima, comics, advertising, video games, music video, radio, podcasts, and however else you choose to tell your story.

Celtx includes five dedicated industry standard editors for writing:
  • Screenplay
  • Stageplay - International and US standard
  • AV scripts - including documentaries, music videos and advertising.
  • Audio Play - including radio plays and podcasts.
  • Comic Book

   Celtx is a great program with a good wiki, and is a good example of a profitable open source model. The code, program, and tutorials are free but Celtx offers a service worth paying for that doesn't effect the use of the program if a user doesn't pay. The payment is for online sharing and storage features.

    Celtx offers a web service called Celtx Studios for advanced project collaboration and online file storage. Celtx Studios provides users with a way to work with others online in a simple way and improve the collaboration and workflow process.
  • Share projects quickly and easily.
  • Store every project, every version, and every file.
  • Manage team workflow.
  • Sync scripts with your iPad/iPhone.
  • Access projects from any computer.
  • Privately preview projects on the web.
  • Chat online with other Studio members.
  • Personalize your studio with logos and backgrounds.
  • Celtx Studios are priced to be affordable for everyone - including individuals, production teams, schools, and non-profits.

    As this article is about screenwriting software, Trelby would have to be the best choice. For those that are not writing a play or novel Celtx is great for  all sorts of multimedia projects and would recommend it to anyone that is creative, it is a good program for keeping your thoughts organized.

Digital Makeup with Blender

    Can we afford some actual makeup artists, who will turn our actors into some jaw dropping visual effects characters who are covered with gore, blood, bolts, cables, jelly or whatever is required?
Or can we do that all digitally?

     The basic idea for digtal makeup is easy, as long as you do not think about it too long. Just have a digital double, track the head, body, limbs or whatever, apply the textures, props or clothes to that digital version of your actor and composite it over the actual footage of your actor. Here’s an example from Sebastian König:

Digital Makeup in Blender from Sebastian König on Vimeo.

Second Face Deform Test from Sebastian König on Vimeo.

     As seen in the example Sebastian used object markers for tracking various points on his face, but doing it this way can lead to problems with tracking when a character makes turns a certain way, or has hair in there face, or even a fast movement could mess up the tracking. There will soon be another method added for tracking that will address this issue. We don’t have a kind of tracking called planar tracking yet, but our awesome libmv developer Keir Mierle has something in the pipeline called “affine tracking”, which might help in this case. So with some luck we can do digital makeup without object-tracking.

Intro to New Blender Features

    The release of Blender 2.61 is a pretty big milestone with some really impressive new features that will likely draw in a torrent of new users. The feature that long time blender users are most appreciative for would have to be the new Cycles render engine. The feature that will most likely draw new users would have to be the motion tracking, which let's users put 3d objects in movies.

Cycles Render Engine
     Before Blender 2.61 when rendering a 3d scene that was indoors or most scenes for that matter, the render lacked certain light elements that left the scene looking blan and not real. With the Cycles render engine the lighting is handled completely differently and it shows as the renders are allot more realistic. Another feature of cycles is that it features OpenCL and will use graphics cards for rendering where possible.

In this tutorial from Andrew Price of Blender Guru you will discover:

  • The difference between the internal renderer and Cycles
  • Some of the cool features of Cycles
  • How to create your very first Cycles render
  • Using lights, materials, textures and bump mapping
  • How he made the donut scene

Motion Tracking
    Blender as a video editor is a pretty powerful tool, and with the new motion tracking features things just got serious. Mixing people into 3d scenes had been doable for a long while now, but with motion tracking we can now put 3d objects into movies.

A small 10 second example

A quick run through of setting up motion tracking. In this video the ground has already been mapped and the object is getting mapped.

    The other new features for blender 2.61 include ocean simulation, dynamic paint, camera sensor size and presets, 3D mouse color wheel editing, and more translations to other languages. New Addons in this release are an Adobe After Effects exporter, an Acclaim and C3D motion capture importers. Not to mention the 108 bug fixes and improved methods for new developers to make addons.

Blender is a free and Open Source Software get it at
Release notes for Blender 2.61
Demo files to that open in Blender's to try the new features