Campus Party Brazil - maddog's challenge - multimedia and Free Software


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jan 04, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Campus Party is going to be held January 19th to 25th in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I have been asked to create a "challenge" for the attendees.

I have long had a fascination with automated musical instruments (player pianos, player reed organs), and while I sometimes struggled with higher mathematics while attending Drexel University, I have developed an appreciation of how math, music and computers fit together, so I decided to anchor the "maddog challenge" around digital multimedia.

This year the challenge will be to create a one or two minute video or audio "advertisement", suitable for displaying on the web in sites such as YouTube and others, but captured, edited and otherwise produced using Free Software. To keep things fair, the topic of the advertisement will not be revealed until the first day of Campus Party. Of course all of the final output will be in open formats, under a Creative Commons License.

I decided to do some research to make sure that there was enough Free Software out there to make this a feasible topic for the challenge. Of course I knew about Blender and Audacity and some other Free Software offerings, but I felt there needed to be a bit more. I was pleasantly surprised. Below is a series of Free Software projects and compilations that I found by searching a little around the web. It is by no means extensive, but I did try to capture both audio/video and audio-only tools. I also took the "borrow when you can" philosophy, so while a lot of these descriptions are cut from the projects own web pages, but I tried to find the most descriptive parts I could. While some of these packages run only on Linux, others run on a wide variety of operating systems. If you see one that you would like to explore, I encourage you to go to their web pages and see if they have a copy for your favorite operating system.

This is only the first of the "maddog challenges" for Campus Party. I hope to duplicate this multimedia effort at other Campus Party locations around the world.

Warmest regards,

The first three listings are actually compilations of many programs on either an installable live-CD or capable of being put onto a thumb drive to run live:

Dynebolic ( - dyne:bolic is shaped on the needs of media activists, artists and creative people as a practical tool for multimedia production: you can manipulate and broadcast both sound and video with tools to record, edit, encode and stream, having automatically recognized most device and peripherals: audio, video, TV, network cards, firewire, usb and more; all using only free software! You can employ this operating system without the need to install anything, and if you want to run it from hard disk you just need to copy a directory: the easiest installation ever seen! It is optimized to run on slower computers, turning them into full media stations: the minimum you need is a Pentium1 or k5 PC 64Mb RAM and IDE CD-ROM, or a modded XBOX game console - and if you have more than one, you can easily do clusters. Can run live off a CD/DVD or USB, using docking and/or nesting.

pure:dyne ( is an operating system developed to provide media artists with a complete set of tools for realtime audio and video processing. pure:dyne is a live distribution, you don't need to install anything. Simply boot your computer using the live CD and you're ready to start using software such as Pure Data, Supercollider, Icecast, Csound, Fluxus, Processing, and much much more. You can boot pure:dyne from usb stick, CD or DVD. All you have to do to get started is download pure:dyne, put it on your preferred medium and boot your computer. Without installing anything you'll have the full system at your disposal, including all the software that comes with it. pure:dyne is optimised for use in realtime audio and video processing. Both the system and the software are tuned especially for low latency and high responsiveness. pure:dyne is based on Debian and Debian Multimedia. All packages provided by pure:dyne can be used if you are running these flavours of GNU/Linux.

UbuntuStudio ( - A multimedia creation flavor of Ubuntu. Ubuntu Studio is aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast as well as professional. We provide a suite of the best open-source applications available for multimedia creation. Completely free to use, modify and redistribute. Your only limitation is your imagination.

Individual packages and programs:
Aeolus ( is a synthesised (i.e. not sampled) pipe organ emulator that should be good enough to make an organist enjoy playing it. It is a software synthesiser optimised for this job, with possibly hundreds of controls for each stop, that enable the user to "voice" his instrument. First presented at the 2nd LAD conference in Karlsruhe, end of April 2004. Main features of the default instrument: three manuals and one pedal, five different temperaments, variable tuning, MIDI control, stereo, surround or Ambisonics output, flexible audio controls including a large church reverb.

Ardour ( - Powerful Multi-track DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) - Rivaling applications such as Pro Tools and Nuendo, Ardour is an elegant full featured recording application.

Audacity® ( - is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

Avidemux ( - Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks.It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities. Avidemux is available for Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows under the GNU GPL license.

Beast ( is a powerful music composition and modular synthesis application released as free software under the GNU GPL and GNU LGPL, that runs under unix. It supports a wide range of standards in the field, such as MIDI, WAV/AIFF/MP3/OggVorbis/etc audio files and LADSPA modules. It has excellent technical abilities like multitrack editing, unlimited undo/redo support, real-time synthesis support, 32bit audio rendering, full duplex support, multiprocessor support, conditional MMX/SSE utilisation for plugins, precise timing down to sample granularity, on demand and partial loading of wave files, on the fly decoding, stereo mixing, FFT scopes, MIDI automation and full scriptability in scheme. The plugins, synthesis core and the user interface are actively being developed and translated into a variety of languages, regularly assimilating user feedback.

Blender ( - Blender is the powerful free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems. Can create animated films or game animation.

Bristol ( is a synth emulation package for a diverse range of vintage synthesisers, electric pianos and organs. The application consists of a multithreaded audio synthesizer and a user interface called brighton.

Campware ( is a platform for open source solutions for independent news media organizations in emerging democracies. The initiative is coordinated by MDLF's new-media arm, the Center for Advanced Media--Prague (CAMP).

Canorus ( is a free extensible music score editor. It supports note writing, import/export of various file formats, MIDI input and output, scripting and more! Using a Qt4 framework Canorus offers a fast and modern GUI and cross-platform. Canorus runs on Linux, Windows and MacOSX.

Celtx - ( - Celtx is the world's first all-in-one media pre-production software. It has everything you need to take your story from concept to production. Celtx replaces 'paper, pen & binder' pre-production with a digital approach that's more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share. Multi-Media FriendlyCeltx helps you pre-produce all types of media - film, video, documentary, theater, machinima, comics, advertising, gaming, music video, radio, podcasts, videocasts, and however else you choose to tell your story.

Chuck - ( - Strongly-timed, Concurrent, and On-the-fly Audio Programming Language

CINELERRA ( - Unleash the 50,000 watt flamethrower of content creation in your UNIX box. Cinelerra does primarily 3 things: capturing, compositing, and editing audio and video with sample level accuracy. It's a movie studio in a box. If you want the same kind of editing suite that the big boys use, on an efficient UNIX operating system, it's time for Cinelerra. Cinelerra is not community approved and there is no support from the developer. Donations to community websites do not fund Cinelerra development.

Cinelerra-cv ( - CV stands for Community Version. This website is meant to be a community home page for Cinelerra. They try to complete the amazing work of Heroine Virtual Ltd. (HV) offering also a place for collaborative development and community help. This website is primarily focussed on the Cinelerra version that is downloaded via their repository.

Csound ( is a sound design, music synthesis, and signal processing system, providing facilities for composition and performance over a wide range of platforms

Denemo ( is a music notation program for Linux and Windows that lets you rapidly enter notation for typesetting via the LilyPond music engraver. Music can be typed in at the PC-Keyboard, or played into a microphone plugged into your computer's sound card. Denemo itself does not engrave the music - it uses LilyPond which generates beautiful sheet music to the highest publishing standards. Denemo just displays the music so you can enter and edit the music efficiently.

Fluxus ( - A rapid prototyping, livecoding and playing/learning environment for 3D graphics, sound and games. Extends PLT Scheme with graphical commands and can be used within it's own livecoding environment or from within the DrScheme IDE. Builds for Linux (and sometimes OSX), and released under the GPL licence.

Freej ( - FreeJ is a vision mixer: an instrument for real time video manipulation used in the fields of dance theather, veejaying, medical visualisation and TV. FreeJ lets you interact with multiple layers of video, filtered by effect chains and then mixed together. Controllers can be scripted for keyboard, midi and joysticks, to manipulate images, movies, live cameras, particle generators, text scrolls, flash animations and more. All the resulting video mix can be shown on multiple and remote screens, encoded into a movie and streamed live to the Internet. FreeJ can be controlled locally or remotely, also from multiple places at the same time; it can be automated via javascript to be operated via MIDI, Joysticks, wiimotes, mices and keyboards.

Frinika ( is a free (licensed under GNU GPL) complete music workstation software containing sequencer, midi support, soft synthesizers, audio recorder, piano roll/tracker/notation editing and more. The goal of Frinika is to be a complete platform for making music with your computer, using the versatile Java platform to be able to run on several operating systems, and being open source to be able to embrace the best open source technology being available at any time.

GStreamer( is a library for constructing of graphs of media-handling components. The use cases it covers range from simple Ogg/Vorbis playback, audio/video streaming to complex audio (mixing) and video (non-linear editing) processing. Applications can take advantage of advances in codec and filter technology transparently. Developers can add new codecs and filters by writing a simple plugin with a clean, generic interface.

Hydrogen-Drums ( - Virtual Drum Machine. Professional and simple pattern based drum programming. Excellent drum machine utilizing the best features of well known software applications and hardware devices. Similar to Fruity Loops in software and the famous MPC drum machine in hardware. Hydrogen is the perfect hybrid of both. The addition of a graphical user interface or GUI with the ability to view a 'mixer' with effects and utilizing 260 real time plug-ins, Hydrogen starts where others stop. Hydrogen's 'graphical' nature allows it to become both a powerful sampler and a step recorder / sequencer.

Icecast ( the project, is a collection of programs and libraries for streaming audio over the Internet.

Kdenlive ( is an intuitive and powerful multi-track video editor, including most recent video technologies. Kdenlive is a free open-source video editor for GNU/Linux and FreeBSD, which supports DV, AVCHD (experimental support) and HDV editing. Kdenlive relies on several other open source projects, such as FFmpeg and MLT video framework. Our software was designed to answer all needs, from basic video editing to semi-professional work. The project is Free Software. Do not hesitate to join our community of developers, translators or enthusiast users.

LADSPA ( LADSPA is a standard that allows software audio processors and effects to be plugged into a wide range of audio synthesis and recording packages. For instance, it allows a developer to write a reverb program and bundle it into a LADSPA "plugin library." Ordinary users can then use this reverb within any LADSPA-friendly audio application. Most major audio applications on Linux support LADSPA.

LilyPond ( prints music in the best traditions of classical engraving with minimum fuss. Don't waste time on tuning spacing, moving around symbols, or shaping slurs. Impress friends and colleagues with sharp sheet music!

LIVES ( - LiVES mixes realtime video performance and non-linear editing in one application. It will let you start editing and making video right away, without having to worry about formats, frame sizes, or frame rates. It is a very flexible tool which can be used by both VJ's and video editors - mix and switch clips from the keyboard, trim and edit your clips, and bring them together using the multitrack timeline. You can even record your performance in real time, and then edit it further or render it straight away as a new clip ! For the more technically minded, the application can be controlled remotely or scripted for use as a video server. And it supports all of the latest free standards.

Midish ( is an open-source MIDI sequencer/filter for Unix-like operating systems (developed and tested on OpenBSD and Linux). Implemented as a simple command-line interpreter (like a shell) it's intended to be lightweight, fast and reliable for real-time performance.

Mixxx ( Virtual DJ Software - Feature rich DJ software application similar to Serato's Scratch Live or Stanton's Final Scratch. 2 virtual turntables, beat mixing, song sync, multiple CODEC recognition for headphone 'cuing' and easy to use interface makes Mixxx a valuable and practical piece of software.

Open Movie Editor ( - Open Movie Editor is a free and open source video editing program, designed for basic movie making capabilities. It aims do be powerful enough for the amateur movie artist, yet easy to use.

Pd (aka Pure Data) ( is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. It is the third major branch of the family of patcher programming languages known as Max (Max/FTS, ISPW Max, Max/MSP, jMax, etc.) originally developed by Miller Puckette and company at IRCAM. The core of Pd is written and maintained by Miller Puckette and includes the work of many developers, making the whole package very much a community effort.

Processing ( is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain. Processing is free to download and available for GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

Qtractor ( is an Audio/MIDI multi-track sequencer application written in C++ with the Qt4 framework. Target platform is Linux, where the Jack Audio Connection Kit (JACK) for audio, and the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) for MIDI, are the main infrastructures to evolve as a fairly-featured Linux desktop audio workstation GUI, specially dedicated to the personal home-studio.

RecordMyDesktop ( -desktop session recorder for GNU/Linux

Rosegarden ( is a well-rounded audio and MIDI sequencer, score editor, and general-purpose music composition and editing environment. Rosegarden is an easy-to-learn, attractive application that runs on Linux, ideal for composers, musicians, music students, and small studio or home recording environments.

RTcmix - ( An Open-Source, Digital Signal Processing and Sound Synthesis Language

RTmix - ( - RTMix is an open-source (GPL-licensed) software application designed to provide stable, user-friendly, standardized, and efficient performance interface that enables performer(s) to interact with both the computer and each other in the least obtrusive fashion. What this means is that RTMix offers an array of visual stimuli that can be utilized on-stage in order to coordinate various performing forces utilizing diverse media.

Stopmotion - (
Stopmotion is a free application for creating stop-motion animation movies. The users will be able to create stop-motions from pictures imported from a camera or from the hard drive, add sound effects and export the animation to different video formats such as mpeg or avi.

SuperCollider ( is an environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition. It provides an interpreted object-oriented language which functions as a network client to a state of the art, realtime sound synthesis server.

Veejay ( - With veejay, you can play the video like you would play a piano. While playing, you can record the resulting video directly to disk (video sampling), all effects are realtime and optimized for use on modern processors, Veejay likes the sound of your video’s as much as their images: sound is kept in sync ( pitched when needed - trickplay) and delivered to JACK for possible further processing. You can cluster to allow a number of machines to work together over the network (uncompressed streaming, veejay chaining)

VLC ( cross-platform media player and multi-cast streamer
qsynth ( - Qsynth is a fluidsynth GUI front-end application written in C++ around the Qt4 toolkit using Qt Designer. Eventually it may evolve into a softsynth management application allowing the user to control and manage a variety of command line softsynth but for the moment it wraps the excellent FluidSynth. FluidSynth ( is a command line software synthesizer based on the Soundfont specification.

Finally, there are libraries that are useful in encoding/decoding and distributing the multi-media streams:

Xiph ( - while Xiph does not have any "end-user" software, its libraries of royalty-free codecs allow people to create royalty-free media

MPEG4IP ( - MPEG4IP provides an end-to-end system to explore streaming multimedia. The package includes many existing open source packages and the "glue" to integrate them together. This is a tool for streaming video and audio that is standards-oriented and free from proprietary protocols and extensions. Provided are a live MPEG-4/H.261/MPEG-2/H.263 MP3/AAC/AMR broadcaster and file recorder, command line utilities such as an MP4 file creator and hinter, and an player that can both stream and playback from local file.


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