Seb Lee-Delisle on creative coding

.net: Looking at your workshops that you've taken around the world, the Creative Coding Podcast, which you launched and co-host, and, I think it's fair to say that 2011 was the year of creative JavaScript. Why has it taken off so much?
Seb Lee-Delisle: It really has, right? It's gone crazy. Of course it's partly due to the new browser capabilities like canvas and WebGL, and the execution speed of JS.

But I think the main reason is because the community is so excited about it, JavaScripters are discovering creative coding techniques, experimenting, and then sharing their discoveries. That's the great thing about web technology – you can just post your work online and visitors can view source. It's the sharing that creates the momentum and the excitement.

.net: What are the biggest challenges it still has to overcome?
SL: Canvas is becoming pretty well supported across browsers but WebGL is still getting shunned by Microsoft, and there are also quite a few older GPUs that are blacklisted. Reliable audio playback is still an issue, particular across mobile (the Android browser didn't even
bother implementing HTML5 audio!). The lack of DRM video is a problem for the publishers.

I'm hopeful that these things will improve over time. There seems to be a lot of motivation from the browser vendors to solve these problems.

.net: What kind of projects have you worked on this year? You've ditched clients completely, haven't you?
SL: I'm in a massively fortunate position now where I can survive on the income from speaking at conferences and training, so I rarely have clients these days, apart from some consultancy work and bespoke training.

I haven't had any client production work for over a year, although that may change in 2012 – there are a couple of large scale installations I'm interested in helping with.

The biggest project I worked on this year was PixelPhones – a system where you can turn every phone in the audience into a single pixel on a massive display. It took about three months to get to the prototype stage.

It's going to be open source once it's stable – there are so many potential uses for it, realtime lighting at gigs, audience voting, interactive games, or just making gorgeous patterns. And I would rather let other people experiment and find more ways to use it than I could ever imagine. That to me is way more exciting than turning it into a business.

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