ISF from Silvia Fabiani

One of the best parts of open specifications for file formats is that artists can create visual generators and FX for one piece of software and share their creations with others, regardless of what tools they use.

A few months ago we received an email from Silvia Fabiani asking if we could provide any tips for how to get started with remixing and writing her own shaders, and with a few links covering the basic ideas, she was ready to go. Over the following weeks we noticed that she had posted some of her own compositions on the ISF sharing site and we thought it'd be a great story to bring to the blog for an interview.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am a former schoolteacher (I graduated in literature at the University of Geneva), now an independent movie-maker. Five years ago someone requested me to create images to project during a show of Grand-Théâtre of Geneva (it was Prokoviev's Ivan the Terrible). Ever since I created animated image mapping for several dance performances, theater shows and live concerts. I used several graphic tools and (for the mapping) Millumin software, then Millumin 2. You can find a non-exhaustive but still quite rich photo-gallery on my website:

Photo from Dédoublement, credit Murielle Gerber

Photo from Dédoublement, credit Murielle Gerber

2. Why did you start learning GLSL? What resources did you find useful?

I was not fully satisfied with my activity, because I would have liked to be able to transform the images in real time,  and not only work with pre-recorded movies. I dreamed of  making images reactive to music, or making them interact with movements of dancers; plus, I'd like to do it in a personal way and not just by imitation of things I had already seen. I visited some computer scientists (too expensive for me!) and high-school students, hoping they would be interested in developing something, but it didn't seem to be the case.

I learned a little bit of TouchDesigner which is extremely interesting and rich but still not exactly what I was looking for.  Then  I had a closer look at the "Shaders" section inside Millumin2 software and thought that I was silly to look so far for things I was already holding.

3. Did you start off by writing your own shaders or by remixing others?

My first attempts consisted in remixing  2 beautiful shaders I found on the ISF website, one called "TunnelVision" by Thedantheman and the other "ParticularVortex" by Mojovideotech. I actually did nothing but add colors and maybe slightly modify a couple of parameters; I never used these shaders in public performances. Then I started to work with "The Book of Shaders" which I find fantastic; following the instructions of the Book I managed to produce a certain number of shaders; now I go on working daily. I will soon run out of exercises and am looking forward to further sections of the Book (simulations, 3D graphics...).

Mojovideotech version, Vortex

Silvia remix, Vortex V2

4. Tell us about any new projects you are working on!

New shader from Silvia in development

I have a project I am very fond of. I met some scientists and obtained from them the authorization to view the data resulting from their research. I tried to insert these data into the source code of a shader: not only is this procedure  possible, but also  produces very interesting results from the aesthetic point of view. I showed the draft to the scientists who were very interested. Now I am exploring the possibility to do a similar experience with data pertaining to different fields of science. Nowadays, many research institutes are eager to find interaction between science and the world of art and culture; on the other hand, shaders and GLSL are not very well known yet, so people are very curious. My dream would be to set up a performance about this theme; I know I will have to work a lot to realize it.

We can't wait to see what other creations and visuals Silvia makes in the future and be sure to visit for more shaders!