Category Archives: release video

GNOME 3.26 is here

..and I did a video! (click the picture below to watch it)


Activity on the GNOME 3.26 Release Video

You might notice by comparing to the 3.24 release video that I’ve been considerably less active on this cycle’s video. The biggest factor playing into this is that I have moved to Brisbane, Australia where I will be staying for the next few months (it’s lovely btw!) with less time to contribute. Secondly the time span between GUADEC and release has been considerably shorter which has pressured this cycle’s release material a bit. An unfortunate consequence of this is that translators have very little time to translate the video.


The GNOME 3.26 Release video in Blender’s VSE.

To make the video efficiently I have skipped much content in the animation step. The manuscript has been tailored to only concern the screencasts which has meant that I could focus my time editing everything together in the Video Sequence Editor. This limits what I can do creatively, but I also learned that for some aspects of the video, simple is better too. I was initially working with Simon on music, but he unfortunately found himself ill prior to the release so we have this time used a nice soundtrack from the Youtube Audio Library.

My plan for next time is to start earlier and try to get a collaboration going with developers about screencasting as soon as new features land. Having fellow contributors helping me screencast really saves me a lot of energy and time – which I in turn can put into making a better release video. Acting earlier should hopefully give me a better opportunity to write the manuscript and send it off to Karen for voice-over production, so we can have timing in place as early as possible. This should give me and Simon better room to closely collaborate on audio and visuals and have the video translated in as many languages as possible before release.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped me with this video, you know who you are! :)

3.26 Release Video in the Works

3.26 is sneaking up on everyone and last week I started working on the release video which process you can follow on the wiki, I will keep it updated as I move on. I plan to be doing major work in the green screening, animation areas and video editing myself but others are contributing with soundtrack, writing the manuscript and recording videos. There are plenty of things to do here and we are working on a pretty tight deadline (Wednesday the 13th September), so feel free to chime in or grab hold of me by e-mail. The tight time schedule is an interesting challenge and im taking the opportunity to test a new workflow. As a matter of fact, I have already “produced the first iteration” of the video using placeholder content to get an idea of the structure, timing etc. Now it’s just about getting the real high quality material in there.

Insights into the GNOME 3.24 Release Video

What a month! 3.24 is out, the revamped newcomers guide is out and I’m still trying to catch my breath here. This blog post will go a bit behind the scenes of the 3.24 release video.

First, here’s a closer look at the process of making a release video. These videos are a big effort from me but they are made possible thanks to many others. Of course this is just an approximate visualization of the time spent and how the processes are laid out. In reality much of it intertwine a lot more, as the video and its assets are created in several iterations.

The process


Time spent on the release video.


Visualization of the release video creation process

First, highlights from the new changes to applications and developer tools are chosen in the draft release notes. From this a manuscript draft is created and sent to the engagement list. Once the structure is approximately in place we can start recording footage. Much of the footage of the applications was this time provided by developers and application contributors. This meant I could spend extra time working on the animations themselves and I really enjoyed that part! A large majority of the time I was livestreaming my work on my twitch channel. Recording footage might sound like something trivial to do, but this actually normally takes up a large amount of time for me because:

  • The recordings require the latest unstable application version. This can be either super easy or very time consuming if the application doesn’t build, doesn’t run or isn’t up to date in flatpak, rawhide, JHBuild.
  • The application needs to be in a state which exposes what needs to be recorded. There are typically a few cool features which require special hardware (fx touchscreen, drawing tablets), need to be populated with some sample data (content applications).

So to all the developers and maintainers helping me with the special cases, thank you very much! I hope you don’t mind if I ask of your assistance again sometime in the future.

Once the manuscript is in good shape, it’s ready to be sent to Karen and Mike who help with the final revision and voice-over. On the sideline I have been working with Simon (@TheBaronHimself) who has produced the music for the video. This has been going on since the manuscript was still being written and having music produced from scratch for the video really upped the quality! The music is designed to work together with the content in the video, take for example how the music is timed to sound different when we talk about new developer features.

Mid-march Simon sent a draft of the music and I had a draft of the video which we then synchronized. This marks the editing freeze, which freezes the timing of Karen’s voice, this time 7 days before the release of GNOME 3.24. This is a new constraint that I put on the editing process in order to give translators a chance to translate the release video so as many translations of the subtitles are available as possible at release.

We managed to release the video a day after the release of GNOME 3.24. The slight delay was partly because timing the music proved quite difficult due to the editing freeze, but me and Simon now have some experience dealing with this, so we will come up with a better approach for the next video.

Source files

The manuscript is available here. I have also uploaded blender source files to this public git repository.

I’ll end this blog post with showcasing a few animations, some of which gave some new learning opportunities and some which were of the fun things I worked in this video:

a lock object with a constraint copying the rotation and noise from an empty with animated influence.


an array and bend modifier with f-curve offset.


many smaller animations, that I had fun with making to represent our teams in GNOME.

Thanks to translation team, design team, engagement team, all the developers helping me recording footage, karen and mike for the voice-over and Simon for producing the music. These videos could not be possible without help from all these people in the GNOME community. :)

This video was made using Blender, GIMP and Inkscape. It is satisfying to know that I can produce all of this using a free software pipeline.

Behind the GNOME 3.22 Release Video

Every six months GNOME 3.22 releases and for the past six releases I’ve produced a release video to accompany our release notes.

Click to watch the release video on youtubeClick the image to watch on youtube. Also available as download (Ogg Theora).

Schedule-wise a number of things were different for producing the video. I started later than usual this release. The voice-over was also produced later in the production phase than usual. In total I spent 18 days working on the video.

322time-spent

This is less than usual. The time saving mostly stems from spending less time recording for the release video. At first thought you might think recording would be a breeze but it can be one of the most frustrating aspects of making the videos. Each cycle the GNOME community lands improvement a wide set of GNOME’s applications. So before each release I have to find some way to run a dozen of applications from master. I do this either by:

  1. Running the application in Fedora Rawhide with a NoDebug kernel.
  2. Attempting to build the application with JHBuild.
  3. See if a nightly flatpak exists of the application and attempt to run that.

Even then, I might run into boring problems. The rawhide packages may not be up to date or the application might not build or run. In these situations I usually attempt to get in touch with maintainers/developers but in this particular cycle I had little time on my hands to handle these issues. This unfortunately means that I had to skip including some awesome applications in this video such as properly showing GNOME Games, GNOME Builder’s profiler support and the revamped keyboard settings. Which is frustrating of course! If things went smoother with recording, I could maximize my spending time better on editing and with much more energy to do so too. In the past I have asked maintainers to record new features. This might be a nice time-saving approach since maintainers usually have their applications built and know how to showcase the new improvements. On the other hand I also know that maintainers can be just as time constrained as myself at this point in the release cycle. If you are maintainer, let me know: If I gave you a tarball with everything you need, would you be willing to spend time recording the new features you developed if I asked you?

The voice-over finished two days before release which had some interesting side-effects. By then I had already finished most of the video material and so it allowed the manuscript to be tested and modified extensively. Some sections of the release video now goes into more detail about the changes than in previous videos. The changes are also covered at slower pace and more in-depth. A big downside is that a late voiceover delays the subtitles translations tremendously due to the way the translation tools work. After submitting subtitles it’s not possible for me to change the timing, so subtitles would have to be made at a point where I can freeze the timing of the voiceover. This is unfortunately one of the last steps in the editing stage. However, thanks to the hard work of our translation teams who translated exceptionally quick this cycle, making the video available in 16 different languages 48 hours after release.

New developments in this video

Even on a tight schedule I had room to experiment with a few new things. I had some fun working on Jakub Steiner’s wallpapers in an attempt to animate them. You probably barely notice it in the video (that’s on purpose), so here’s some separate videos showing them (click the thumbnails below).

Adwaita-morning animated, click to watch on youtube
Adwaita- morning Overexposed, click to watch on youtube
Adwaita-day, click to watch on youtube

In one case I needed to change the same settings across 20 strips which blender usually can do using a “Copy to Selected” operation. This particular case was on changing a property inside a noise modifier inside a keyframe on an F-Curve for a strip – which Blender didn’t seem to support, hmm. Fortunately blender makes scripting some python easy and with the help of the internet I did so. Yes, very specific use case but very convenient if you work with noise modifiers and dont feel like manually editing 20 noise modifiers.

screenshot-from-2016-09-26-10-51-36The top left is the python script, top right is the preview, bottom right are the overlayed image sequences and bottom left shows the opacity F-curves with noise modifiers applied to them to change color randomly over time.

This cycle I put more of the work into the VSE instead of the 3D view which both saved me some time and cost me some time. One one hand it means less in-between render steps and this saves time if what I want to do is something simple animation-wise anyway. On the other hand it prolongs the final render time which can be cumbersome if you just want to render a preview of the video. The key probably is to find a balance here.

img_20160921_004700Rendering the release video (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Thanks to Karen and Mike for working on the amazing voiceover, the GNOME Design Team for providing graphical assets, the translation team for translations, the engagement team for feedback and Jonathan Yamoty for the background music. And thanks to everyone who contributed improvements to GNOME this cycle! For me, making the release video and is not only about promoting the new version but also about celebrating the awesome contributions by the community. This is my contribution to help giving everyone renewed energy and make next release even better.

Behind the GNOME 3.20 Release Video

It’s a little more than two weeks since GNOME made yet another release. Having a release video to go alongside with it is almost a tradition by now. I’m slightly frightened and super excited about it at the same time. (-:

gnome320video-thumbPress the picture to watch the video on Youtube or download it here.

time-spentA crude approximation of my time distribution while working on the GNOME 3.20 release video.

Doing those videos is some work. Since my GSoC internship on Polari, my motivation has shifted heavily towards the realms of interaction design and involving new contributors to GNOME in general. That and a want to create videos beyond just during every release has encouraged me to look into creating release videos more effectively. Yet despite that mindset I’m still very satisfied with the outcome and I feel I have evolved yet again from last cycle’s video.

Screenshot from 2016-04-10 00-51-49The final release video as edited in Blender VSE.

Animating empties

By animating empties rather than the objects themselves, I’ve managed to create a collection of animations I can reuse at any point in the future. Not only does this save me time, it also means that objects in two different scenes can share animation and have consistent timing.

Camera Imperfections

As an experiment I played with adding camera imperfections to the video such as grain, slight vignette and dispersion. The aim here is to let the virtual camera feel more “real” – adding to the perceived quality (it’s something that we subconsciously expect). If everything went well, hopefully these effects should have gone unnoticeable through. It is definitely something I want to study further.

Applied Film Theory

Last semester I had a course in Screen Media, which introduced much useful film theory to me. For the GNOME 3.20 release video in particular I’ve been more aware of the rhythmic relation between the music and the editing. Cuts and animations are timed to the pace of the music giving the video a more natural feel.

I also had the chance to play with the use of ambient sound – you may have noticed the sound of an ocean in the background. The purpose of the ambient sound is together with the picture to cue the viewer of a location, season and time of day. I thought the ocean would be a fitting choice with the music to put the viewer in a calm mood.

There’s definitely more to explore within film theory that I can applying to future release videos – I got 47 pages of notes from Screen Media to practice. (-:

Kudos to the team behind Blender for such a powerful tool I can use in my Free Software pipeline. Same goes to GIMP, Inkscape and ffmpeg.

I have Karen Sandler and Mike Tarantino to thank for providing such a professional voice-over. Good sound has incredible influence on the perceived video quality. With help from Petr Kovar and the GNOME Translation Team the video is also avaiable in 13 different languages. The Engagement Team gave feedback and coordinated the release. The GNOME Design Team has made the vast amount of visual assets that I use. Finally, a big pad on the back to all the developers and contributors in GNOME! Every cycle we advance free desktop technology further and that’s an important message to send to the world.

I’d like to credit the following authors for their assets which I have used:

The GNOME 3.20 release video is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and can be downloaded here. The source .blend file can be downloaded here. To keep the file size down I’m not including any animation assets.

The release video of Gothenburg

GNOME 3.18 is out, it’s so exciting! Let’s have a look at the release video:

YouTube Preview Image

It has been an interesting process and a tad more difficult this cycle. Initial thoughts were laid into the video back in July but I have been doing the bulk of the work in September as can be seen from the rough activity schedule below. This is not really optimal of course – in comparison my activity on the GNOME 3.16 release video was much more scattered.

time-spent A total of 22 days spent on the GNOME 3.18 release video.

The main reason for the dense September activity was due to the fact that I was focusing on wrapping up my Google Summer of Code internship on Polari during most of August. Another part of the reason was that I faced some interesting challenges of recording the new features in 3.18 which I had not anticipated.

First, to record the new automatic brightness feature in GNOME, I needed to get hold of an ambient light sensor. Second I had some trouble recording the firmware update system. Fortunately, in both cases Richard Hughes was there to the rescue. :)

ambient-light-sensor Richard lended me an ambient light sensor and helped me by fixing bugs and providing rawhide builds for fwdmgr.

Another interesting challenge I faced was that the Chromebook Pixel I am gratefully borrowing from GNOME Foundation had trouble keeping a decent framerate (24fps) under GNOME 3.18. Then I found xrandr – which means I can now use screen record in hi-dpi using any type of monitor. Furthermore, I got help from Zeeshan Ali, Debarshi Ray and others to record some other features that was hard to come by such as Google Drive support and the list view in Boxes. This was possible because I have made a screen-recorder-tarball providing instructions, which should work on Fedora, Arch Linux and probably any other distro too (you just need to have xrandr installed). Perhaps for the next release video we can have more contributors help with screen recording – if you are up for it, you are very welcome to participate.

IMG_20150908_154716 My office. Left: My big “renderslave” laptop. Middle: My new XPS 13″ connected to a new monitor for editing. Right: Chromebook Pixel setup for screen recording.

The release videos are all made using a free software pipeline. FFMpeg offers me great performance for shooting the latest release of GNOME on Fedora Rawhide. Blender, GIMP and Inkscape gives me the tools to create, animate, composite and edit. And the newest tool to my collection, Syncthing is ensuring that I can work across three computers on the same instantly synchronized files in parallel.

I want to begin having the sources for the release video publicly available. To start out, I have uploaded the *.blend source file for the release video to the Engagement Team’s Assets Owncloud. External assets are not included, but the vector geometry is and so are the animations, should you be curious how they are made. This will make do, until there is a place with 15GB space I can utilize for storage. (:

High fives to the gnome-design-team for providing a vast amount of ressources I can rely on to produce a GNOME video of this quality. Fistbumps to the engagement team for bringing feedback in the process and especially to Karen and Mike for creaating a great voice-over. Hugs to Petr Kovar and the translation teams for making the GNOME 3.18 release video available in 9 different languages. And many sweet lullabies to the hundred of GNOME developers who have contribute their time to making free software amazing.

Another release, another release video

GNOME 3.16 has been out for a week by now and so has the GNOME 3.16 release video. It’s always a great feeling to publish a production after having it in work for a long time. Spread over 3 months I have spent approximately 30 evenings in total on this thing and I will gladly do that again! I learn a lot from making them.
01-04-15 time-spent

During this period the engagement mailing list has given me valuable feedback on everything from manuscript to animation. Karen Sandler and Mike Tarantino has also been a great help, providing amazing voice-over for this release video. High-five!

You might find a few new things in this release video compared to past release videos:

  • I have focused more on making the content shine and only utilize on animations when they can compliment the content. A big thanks goes to GNOME for letting me borrow a HI-DPI screen to make this possible.
  • I was out early with the first draft of the release video, which meant there was some time before release available for the translation team to create translated subtitles for the video.
  • 01-04-15 subtitles

  • Another nice touch is that I had time to make a custom thumbnail for this release, so the video appear nicely on social media.
  • 01-04-15 thumbnail

There’s been some nice hype around the release. I’ll share a few opinions with you:

Most polished and nicest looking desktop on Linux. Period.
-tjpld

GNOME 3.16, I wanna kiss you.
-Lucas Zanella

Would like to congratulate the +GNOME folks and everything else who has contributed to the project for this fantastic 3.16 release. It has become a tradition for every new Gnome release to be a lot better than the previous one and 3.16 continues it.
-Ozon

Oh, and there was some cool guys on youtube who featured the GNOME 3.16 release video in their show.

Huge credits goes to the GNOME Design Team for awesome assets, Anitek for the awesome music, engagement team for the awesome feedback and translation team for the awesome subtitles. Also thanks to everyone who helped me by fixing visual bugs early so I could record the new improvements. GNOME 3.18 will be amazing.

GNOME 3.14 – The movie

Video time!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p8Prlu3owc
09-24-release-vid-snapshot

3.14 is out and holy gnome it is awesome. Even though I came under a bit of a time pressure in the end, it has been such a pleasure to create a video surrounding this release. I’d like to thank GNOME Foundation and Alexander Larsson for providing me the Chromebook pixel, which made room for some awesome animations this cycle. Furthermore, Karen Sandler and her husband Mike has once again created an outstanding voice-over, taking the video to a whole new level. Lastly, the GNOME Design team deserves huge credit for all the assets I use in my videos. Making them myself would take have taken me ages!

Do come with feedback. I’d be particularly interested in your thoughts on the new animation experiments I’m making. Happy release day!