Audio, Video, and Creative Code Tutorials Review
All of my previous projects have come to a dramatic halt these days while I spend more time educating myself with some real programming skills.
Not having a lot to show for the past couple months, I thought I’d simply share my opinions on some of what I believe are the best book/tutorials available for those looking to dive headfirst into computer programming, creative code, and/or interactive media installations.
First off, the book that is essentially responsible for allowing me to think that I have any business whatsoever writing any kind of code:
Learning Processing by Dan Shifman
All of the information in this book is so clearly laid out. For those who aren’t familiar with a programming language yet, this is probably the best resource to get you started. Even though the book is specific to Processing, for beginners it provides a very solid background in the most important aspects of the writing code, minus the hassle of learning lower-level languages.
I should mention that most of the books available on Processing are worth the read, however Learning Processing seems to be especially geared to explaining programming to beginners.
Currently, I am working my way through:
Programming Interactivity is a book meant for designers not computer programmers. It’s focus is more concerned with seeing your interactive design ideas come to life rather than being a crash course in oF, Arduino, and Processing. I enjoy how the author presents some theoretical ideas on the theme of each chapter before getting into the nuts and bolts of the associated code, as well as some transcripts of interviews with some creative code pioneers.
If you have previously read, and fully internalized, Learning processing, most of the Processing Examples will seems like review, however, this comes in pretty handy when looking at the oF and Processing code side by side.
Sometimes reading a long explanation of what one line of code accomplishes seems exhausting. I found it much easier to grasp the oF syntax through looking at an example of the same program written in Processing first.
I must point out here that I am aware of many major difference between the two languages and this type of side by side comparison is not always possible, or even the best way of understanding what is going on. Maybe it is just my weird learning style, but when possible, I found reading the processing code first, then looking at the some program in oF was the quickest way for me to grasp what was going on.
If you plan on reading and following the examples in Programming Interactivity, do go ahead and bookmark the errata page. There are more than a few mistakes, which is really the only criticism that I have for this book. If you are completely new to programming in general, as I am, it also is worth your time to look at some basic tutorials on oF as a supplement to the book itself. Particularly, one by Zach Gage, who has created some of my favorite iPhone apps.
For graphical programming languages,
I’ve had much more experience working with Max/Msp than PD, and on this blog I have often linked to one of my favorite Max/MSP resources, a set of tutorials by Peter Elsea which has helped and inspired me quite a bit. These tutorials were written for Max4 and are starting to look a bit dated, but the amount of knowledge they contain makes them well worth the read.
The Cycling 74 website also has an amazing tutorials section, which relatively recently got a nice makeover. I would highly recommend checking out the series of tutorials by Gregory Taylor on using LFOs as midi pitch generators. Once your finished with those, check out my versions of his patches, and then go create something awesome of your own!
Learning how to put Pure Data to better use has been a task that I can’t seem to pull of the back burner. There are a few good reasons for using PD as opposed to Max/MSP. Other than it being free, a knowledge of PD will allow you build RJDJ scenes, which was what made me decide to finally give it a try.
The sample chapters that you can view for free should give you plenty to work with, and even though the book deals mostly with PD, the concepts involved will help anybody interested in computer audio. There is even a wiki page dedicated to re-creating the examples from his book in SuperCollider.
I’ve posted quite a bit of projects on this blog using Max/Msp and TouchOSC as a way of creating nice looking iPhone interfaces for a variety of purposes. This is a pretty good solution because it frees me from having to learn Objective-C and creating my own UI interface, but it also leaves many things to be desired.
- Max/Msp is expensive and many people prefer PD, SuperCollider, or other programs
- Not everyone wants to run a program in the background just connect route the TouchOSC messages properly
- Native Apps are always more desirable
As a result I’ve begun to look into iPhone programming and so far there’s been a few good resources that I’ve found. There is a great new site on the Envato network, MobileTuts+, which also has some tutorials on Android devices as well. AudioTuts+ is my favorite and highly recommended so I am expecting a lot from this new site. I haven’t gotten too far with Objective-C so far, but I recently got a copy of Learning iPhone Game Programming: A Hands-On Guide to Building Your First iPhone Game (Developer’s Library), which has been a good introduction. It’s a little off subject since it deals with developing games for the iPhone, but its simple approach has been quite informative for me, and fun.
That’s about everything that has been keeping me awake nights recently. If there are any other great books or tutorial resources that you feel should be mentioned, then please leave a comment. I hope that everyone can find something new here to keep them busy and learning new things.
June 28, 2010