VisualSpinner traces Poi and Arm Paths – get it now free!

Posted on August 29, 2014 by


Artist: Glenn Wright Photo: Jim Fitzgerald

Artist: Glenn Wright
Photo: Jim Fitzgerald

If you are based in the Bay Area and have been to a bunch of Fire, Fotos, Footage and Fun jams, you’ve likely either seen Glenn Wright there or have seen one of his home made props lighting up the night. Glenn has a habit of tinkering with LED lights and putting together bright and unusual props he then brings to the jams, sharing them with the others in the community and creating some really fun things to play with that look great too. Glenn also appeared in the 2013 Fire Dancing Expo in a rope dart duet.

Since then, he has found some time to create an incredible application that helps artists visualize the path the prop takes when creating patterns, conveniently called the VisualSpinner. Before he left for the playa, Glenn took a little time to share with GlitterGirl in this interview about his new flow toy learning aid.

GG: Who are you and what do you do with your life?
GW: My name is Glenn Wright.  I’m a health care data programmer for a living, and a Maker, Burner, and fire spinner after hours.

VisualSpinner Screen ShotGG: What got you into poi initially? What has kept you there since?
GW: I was a hooper before I got into poi.  When I first moved to the Bay Area, I didn’t know anyone, so I would accept any invitation I got.  Someone at an East Bay Burners happy hour invited me to a fire-hoop-making workshop, and the rest is history.  I first spun poi about three years ago, but I have taken it seriously for only a little more than a year.  What keeps me spinning is that there is always a new challenge to overcome; that, and the expressions on peoples’ faces when I tell them I spin fire.

GG: What is the official name of the visualizer?
GW: I have been calling it “VisualSpinner” , but that’s kind of a boring name.  Any better ideas?  I’ve been thinking about changing it to “Renegade3D”

GG: What inspired you to make the visualizer?
GW: I started the visualizer back when I was learning to spin flowers.  I wanted to understand how the timing worked for different numbers of inspin or antispin petals, so I wrote a simple program to visualize them.  Then I wanted to understand CAPs, so I programmed those in, too. When I started learning stall chaser variants, I decided to rebuild the code entirely to make it as generalizable as possible. The final big step came when I released the demo version and Lorq Nichols insisted that it had to work in 3D.  I also took quite a bit of inspiration from Ben Drexler, Charlie Cushing, and Pierre Baudin’s videos on prop-spinning mathematics and theory.

GG: How does it work, on a general level?
GW: There are two basic things: Props and Moves.  Props have several sets of coordinates – most importantly, the prop radius and angle and the arm radius and angle – plus some instructions for how to draw the prop based on those coordinates.  Moves come in two flavors: MoveLinks, which have simple instructions for how fast, how long, and in what direction to change the coordinates; and MoveChains, which are built up from multiple MoveLinks.  So a multi-part move like a CAP is a MoveChain composed of several MoveLinks.  You can even build up an entire routine or sequence by chaining multiple MoveChains together into a more complex MoveChain.

VisualSpinner author Glenn Wright

This move is not yet implemented in VisualSpinner!

GG: For our programming geeks out there, can you share a little more about the program and how can they access it and modify it?
GW: The program is written in JavaScript with an HTML5 Canvas interface, and the repository is available at GitHub.  Or you can simply right-click and view the source or save the page to your desktop; it runs just fine even without an internet connection.  “index.html” has the code for the interface, “visual-spinner-engine.js” defines the core logic for Props and Moves, “visual-spinner-moves.js” is a library of all the moves I have encoded so far, and “visual-spinner-renderers.js” describes how to draw various kinds of props on a 2D or 3D HTML5 Canvas.

GG: What do you see coming in the future of the visualizer?
GW: The engine – “visual-spinner-engine.js” – has capabilities that go far beyond what you see in my app, and it’s available under GNU Public License 3.  So if you want to make a screen saver, an interactive build-your-own-move tool, redo the graphics for a different environment, or whatever, you should feel free to reuse my engine code.  Please do!  It took a long time to make, and it’s flexible enough to handle almost any move or sequence of moves you can imagine.  There is even a “grip” element that would let someone encode contact poi moves; I was just too lazy to write any graphics for it.  I don’t foresee doing much more work on it myself; I might improve the comments, fix bugs people find, and fine-tune the

GG: If our readers have questions, how can they contact you?
GW: You can find me on Facebook or email infinite DAWT perplexity ATT gmail DAWT com.