ITP Camp 2016

Using OpenGL in Max

Session Leaders: Joshua Goldberg

Tags: #max #msp #jitter #openGL #realtime #generative

Created By: Joshua Goldberg

Cycling \\'74\\'s Max software toolkit is a hugely powerful and venerable environment for making A/V applications, installations and performance interfaces. The OpenGL implementation in Max holds enormous creative potential for campers interested in using node-based programming to build creative coding experiences.

The session will start with a quick and dirty introduction to Max itself, and move quickly through the following topics as needed:

  • The structure of an OpenGL world in Max
  • Basic object drawing and manipulation
  • Generative shape creation with
  • Texture manipulation with Jitter Gen
  • Flocks of shapes with
  • Exporting to Syphon (and thus the world)

On the way, there will be some work with generative audio, a lot of attention to visual feedback, some bizarre controllers and a great deal of profanity.


Hello everyone! I am looking forward to tomorrow’s class.

Four hours is a drop in the bucket when it comes to this stuff. I want to hit the ground running, and move fast. So here are a few ways that we can grease the wheels.

1) Download and install Max. Don’t think, just do it. Make a Cycling74 account so you can register the demo. This will, no joke, save us fifteen minutes at the start of the session. If you have already popped the Max demo and it has expired, do yourself a favor and drop $13 ($10 if you’ve got an academic ID) on a month’s license. You’re going to want the 64bit version of Max 7, appropriate for your platform. Please note that those of you using Chromebooks or some other kind of non-OS X ‘nix flavor will not be able to play along. Sorry!

2) Play with it. Really! Open some tutorials, get a sense of Max’s workflow: top down, left to right. I’m going to work on this a little, but I guarantee it will take a little bit of time to click. Be confused; it’s the first step towards understanding.

3) Bring a sensor. Those of you with Arduino projects will want to bring them. Those of you with weird sensors in hand that have some kind of driver that works with your machine will benefit greatly from this session. If it’s Mac-compatible, I’ll even work it into the session if it’s weird enough.

4) Bring patches you’ve built that don’t work. I’m happy to spend the last hour of the session as a Max clinic, working with the patches that campers bring in.

5) Bring questions. I’m going to run out of pre-prepared material around the end of hour two; this is deliberate. I want this to be as useful as possible, and merely going down my own rabbit hole will do little of value for campers who are stuck in holes of their design.

In general, be prepared to speak up and complain if you don’t understand something. If you’ve really downloaded and launched and registered it, after that there are very few questions that will annoy me. I’ve taught this stuff for a long time and I’m happy to answer any and all questions once you’ve passed the initial hurdle.

I’m very excited for this session and humbled to have thirty RSVPs. Let’s make it amazing!


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