Report of Libre Graphics Meeting 2014

For the second year, Aryeom and I (Jehan) were present at the Libre Graphics Meeting, once again invited by GIMP.

Our (late) report in 3 words: it was great!
Our experience in an image:
Libre Graphics Meeting in Leipzig

So there are obviously two sides to it, right? First one, the talks! Second, the fun!

Talks, Workshops

The Known Topics

Well many interesting talks. I was looking forward the talks related to color management (Chris Murphy and Richard Hughes), because that’s a topic I’m trying to understand (though with great difficulty); I appreciated the Magic Lantern presentation, which was already installed on my own Canon DSLR camera, a project I’m following more or less closely; as well as the Entangle one, for tethered camera control, and which we have tried lately for stop-motion animations in particular (actually I had already contributed a few patch to the project and did encourage its maintainer to present it to LGM); and many others. But these are projects I already knew of, more or less. The great part is always discovering new projects!

The Right Way to do a Workshop!

In this “unknown project” category, my big favorite was Steve Conklin, first for his “Knitting machine hacking” talk, but even more for his corresponding workshop about “The basics of reverse engineering: How and Why?“. Well he prepared some home-made hardware, two cards plugged together, one with sensors and joystick; the other with some digital display, and the goal of the game was to understand how the card with sensors would work and the kind of data it can send, then remove it, plug our computers instead directly to the display card, and send the discovered commands.

Aryeom tinkering with the devices to hack during the Reverse Engineering Workshop.
Aryeom tinkering with the devices to hack during the Reverse Engineering Workshop.

Let me tell you: you won’t magically be able to reverse engineer your knitting machine directly after this workshop, but it gives a very good idea of the kind of work involved. And this was very enjoyable. Every workshop should be as well prepared.


Then another interesting project I discovered was Natron, a compositing software, graph-based, mainly developed in a research context. One of its main selling point was that it was able to use any OpenFX plugins. If I got it correctly, OpenFX is a Free Software, which works only on Windows, with a huge set of plugins, most of them developed by third party and proprietary. The Natron developers therefore regretted that we missed on the opportunity and their compositing software was there to fill the gap. The demo was great and it looked promising.

I only regretted the fact that I felt they could have contributed to improve Blender instead, by giving it the ability to use OpenFX plugins as node operations. Their main argument was unfortunately a misunderstood license issue, which was not a real issue. There is no law against using proprietary plugins on a GPL software on the user side. As long as you don’t distribute them, a user getting access to the software and the plugins separately is perfectly allowed to run them together.
Moreover there exists also this trick implemented by many software to diminish even more any risk: any plugin engine should be developed in a separate process, and this particular process is licensed differently, under a more flexible license, for instance LGPL.

Well it’s ok. It’s still an interesting software, and hopefully development will be going further. Let’s keep an eye on it!


A workshop intrigued me, as well as many of the other GIMP and GEGL developers: “GEGL is not GIMP – creating graphic applications with GEGL”. Someone, named Manuel Quiñones, that we never heard about was using GEGL for a 2D animation software named xsheet. Of course that was to intrigue us and so we went to his workshop.

Well one good point for GEGL is that, when people totally unrelated to a project start using it, it’s a good sign it reaches a stable status. And that helps improve the library itself.

Also more personally, this obviously grabs our interest because we also do 2D animation. It turned out the software was definitely not in any usable state yet. It was just a skeleton of what it could become in the future. But this is still interesting to see new experiments to do 2D animation on Linux. We’ll keep an eye on it.

GIMP meeting(s)

LGM is every year the occasion for a GIMP meeting, and so was this year, though I feel we did not discuss even half of what was planned, which saddens me. Well we discussed quite a lengthy bit about the relationship between developers and designers. I won’t detail this part.

GIMP meeting in Leipzig, LGM 2014
One of the GIMP meetings in Leipzig, LGM 2014

We still managed to list the remaining major checkpoints to deal with in order to be able to release GIMP 2.10, which is a good step forwards.

Also another part I am happy we discussed, though we did not get time to go deep enough, was the release process. And in particular I was proposing to pass to a rolling release system, at some point in the future. The fact is that we often have features, ready for years, in our development tree. Yet these features are blocked in the grand scheme of the major/minor release system.
Well what about being able to release single features, or even a single bug fix, if needed be?! The good news is that this idea seemed to have been globally well received. The bad news is that we probably won’t get to it until at least GIMP 3.0. And that’s a long long time in the future. So the discussion just happens to be pushed back to later for re-discussion.
The main problem is that before the GTK+ 3 port (happening for GIMP 3), having rolling release would mean developing things both for GTK+ 2 and GTK+ 3. Well I personally don’t mind. I think that in most cases, the overhead would not be that huge. But most were not ready to take the step forward. In any case, I still hope this will happen some day. I will keep pushing. 🙂

The Fun

Patrick David

Well no that’s not a project name. This is a photographer, Patrick David, major GIMP user. He was definitely everywhere this year, taking photos with strange DIY apparels, using salad spinners (or similar) and university whiteboards to make light his own. We went to a photo walk with him, the day before the talks started, and Aryeom went to his workshop.

Photo walk with Pat David: everyone searching for the right photo?
Photo walk with Pat David: everyone searching for the right photo?

It is definitely interesting to see someone enjoying one’s art so much. And so he deserved well his own point in my report. 🙂

Leipzig’s Museum of the Printing Arts

The day before the actual event starts, we went to the Museum of the Printing Arts, and that was very cool. I recommend this visit to anyone passing through this town.

A font forged, in front of our eyes, during the museum's visit.
A font forged during the museum’s visit.

A very interesting fact was that the various machines were actually working and in use, by any locale artist wishing to try one’s art with older printing technics. Just too bad we did not stay longer, Aryeom has really wanted to try lithography for a very long time now.
I wonder if such access to old printing machines exist in other cities, and in particular in Paris. Anyone knows?

Movie Night!

The first day of talks ended with a movie night, and this was the occasion for visioning various short films under Free licenses in a cinema. And there were definitely interesting films, many made — it would seem — in school context.

I would like to find again these films though. Unfortunately I cannot find the list of projected movies anywhere on the LGM website, and the organizers don’t seem to answer my many emails. ;-( If anyone reading this has this list, I would really appreciate you copying it in the comments. 🙂

Auction Sale

For helping the GIMP project, Aryeom had this awesome idea to paint an actual Wilber — nothing digital, with actual acrylic paint on canvas — and to auction it, donating all the money to the GIMP project. Well we could have organized this better, but we still had nearly a dozen bids and the paint got sold to a nice locale fellow living in Leipzig.
We unfortunately have no good picture of the paint, but here is one that Michael Schumacher took before it was sold.

Wilber Offline, Autumn
Wilber Offline, Autumn (Acrylic on canvas)

Note: if you ever follow us, you might have recognized that this was inspired by a digital painting that Aryeom did earlier on GIMP.


And the most important for the last! The food! Well we had a lot of bier, some schnaps, and some sausages, obviously. A lot of potatoes cooked in all sorts of manner!
One of the highlight of the stay was definitely Auerbachs Keller, a historic very old restaurant that Goethe used to go to, and which is featured in his famous Faust play. Well there are actually two restaurants, one small and expensive and a big, more like a family canteen, cheap, but just as awesome. Just go to the cheap one. It’s definitely worth it. 🙂

Brunch at the GIMP apartments, after the last day of LGM
Brunch at the GIMP apartments, after the last day of LGM

And to end the two week in a firework, we found a place where they would serve Schweinshaxe, a typical Bavarian cuisine. Well that was not completely locale then, but for some compelling reason, Aryeom really wanted to try this, and the awesome fellows of the GIMP team searched and found a very nice restaurant.
So here is a small animated Schweinshaxe (the one Aryeom ate! Well I helped her at the end… :p) to end this on a tasty note: