Motion Canvas Helps Get Your Point Across

Generating videos for projects can be difficult. Not only do you have to create the thing, but you film the process and cut it together in a story that a viewer can follow. Explaining complex topics to the viewer often involves a whiteboard of some sort, but as we all know, it’s not always a perfect solution. [Jacob] was working on a video game and making videos to document the progress and built a tool called Motion Canvas to help visualize topics like custom shaders. A few months ago, he decided to release it as an open source project.

Since then, it has seen quite a few forks and GitHub forks with a lively showcase on the community Discord. Looking at the docs, it is pretty easy to see why. The interface allows you to write procedural animations using the async semantics of TypeScript while still offering the GUI interface we expect from our video editors. In particular, the signal system allows dependencies to be defined between values. The system runs in Node, and the GUI runs in your browser locally while you edit the files in your terminal/notepad/IDE. CSS and Flexbox are available as the video is rendered to a web canvas and then compiled into a video via FFMPEG. The documentation is quite extensive, and it’s a great example of a tool someone built to fit a need they had going on to become something a little more fantastic.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed how to share your projects with the world, and we’ll freely admit we have a bit of bias toward encouraging folks to document their projects.

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TEGA: Typescript Embedded Game Boy (Macro) Assembler

[Francis Stokes] has a real love for the original Game Boy, suggesting that owning this machine pushed him along a certain path that many of us would recognize. Developing Game Boy games isn’t particularly difficult from a hardware point of view, as you can easily buy special cartridges that have an SD card slot, allowing custom code. [Francis] had the idea of easy software development by producing a typescript hardware abstraction library, TEGA (or TypeScript Embedded Game Boy Macro Assembler). This provides a safe environment in which to play with the code, which can then be run inside an emulator such as BGB, before being deployed onto actual hardware.

The video embedded below — which we warn you now is a long one — goes into extensive justification and technical explanation of how [Francis] leverages typescript to create lots of nice features to produce safe code, whilst handling many of the Game Boy’s architectural restrictions, as well as the weirdness of the Sharp SM83 processor that powers it. We particularly liked the built-in support for on-the-fly asset compression, since every byte matters in the meager 32 Kb system, it’s nice not to have to think about it all the time! After discussing TEGA, the Game Boy hardware, the ins and outs of a demo game Block Jump, and then how to debug with BGB, we’re pretty confident many of you will be in a strong position to bust out a Game Boy application in the future!

As an aside, we did also stumble upon a new hardware guide provided by Finnish programmer and Game Boy superfan [Joonas Javanainen] which will help frame some of the topics [Francis] was talking about.

You may recall a little while back, the same author targeted the RISC-V using code written in typescript. After all, when you’re comfortable with a tool, you can shape it to do practically anything.

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RISC-V In… Typescript?

We are accustomed to seeing RISC-V implementations in Verilog or VHDL, but [Low Level JavaScript] has one in TypeScript. Before you dismiss it as a mere emulator, know that the project relies on gateware-ts, a conversion between TypeScript and Verilog. From there, you can actually put the CPU on an FPGA. You can see the launch video below and there is one development video as well as, presumably, more to come.

We aren’t sure if many FPGA designers will be willing to switch to TypeScript. But if you are comfortable with it, it might open up FPGA development without having to learn as much of a new language.

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