Aalto Studios 2017

Time to move on.

We have packed up our Arabia facilities on December 16th 2016 and joined Media Centre Lume in building a new, ambitious initiative and facility at the Aalto campus in Otaniemi during the next years. While this was made public some time ago, we didn’t yet have a name to go by. Now we do.

We call ourselves Aalto Studios.

To stay up to date, make a note of studios.aalto.fi, where we’ll build up more information on what we are aiming for, and how we’re starting to plan it together with you.

And be sure to like our New Facebook Page to get the latest behind-the-scenes view on our relocation and reignition for 2017!

Report from the Open Knowledge festival 17.-21.9.2012

Aalto Media Factory has been one of the main co-organizers of the Open
Knowledge Festival 2012, which took place in Helsinki last September, in
the Arabia Campus of the Aalto University.

The 2012 edition of Open Knowledge Festival was the first event of its kind to address open knowledge on such a large scale and its overwhelming success has marked a significant push forward for open knowledge movements both in Finland and abroad.

The Festival has been documented with over 355 hours of recorded video footage from seven simultaneous life stream recordings of OKFestival 2012 sessions, workshops, satellite events and receptions, and hundreds of Flickr photographs.
The After OKFest page contains many more links about videos, photos, press reviews, blog postings. Here you can see some pictures taken by Veikko Kähkönen.

The OKFest 2012 Final Report (pdf, 43 pages) has been published online here.

Here is some data about the OKFest:


1054 registered participants from more than 50 countries
1200 OKFest satellite event participants
Representatives of 442 organisations: 68 universities and educational units, 74 government agencies or public sector institutions, 176 associations and foundations, 124 corporate or private sector employers


134 sessions including 306 individual presentations
67 hours of hackathons and 61 hours of satellite events
Altogether 484 hours of programme designed by 100 Guest Programme Planners


200+ features in mainstream and indie media
12 572 live video stream views
17 951 tweets between 14 June and 1 October

OKFest 2012 was a great boost for the local open knowledge scene and we are right now preparing the OKF Finland Convention (8-9 Feb, http://fi.okfn.org/).
In 2013, the Open Knowledge Foundation will continue the legacy of this event by holding the next Open Knowledge Festival in Geneva with local organisers who produce popular annual LIFT events and the Open Knowledge Foundation Swiss chapter in Switzerland. The event will occur in mid-September 2013, and is already in its initial planning stages.

One of the many legacies of the OKFestival 2012 moment is The Open Book. The Open Book (currently in progress) is a multi-author publication, inspired by OKFestival 2012, which is intended to contextualise the international open knowledge movement in the words of those who are helping to build it today. The book will be published in February 2013 by the Finnish Institute in London in collaboration with the Open Knowledge Foundation in the “Reaktio” book series. More information can be found online here.

We hope to see many of you in Geneva at OKFest 2013, and remember that the city that will host OKFest 2014 can still be proposed!

Report from the Power to the Pixel Forum

Power to the Pixel is a cross-media forum that is held yearly in London. The sixth edition, 16 – 19 October 2012, gathered together nearly 400 media professionals and digital experts from all over the globe. The first two days of the forum were open to the public; on the first day the stand was reserved to the pioneers and experts of the cross-media field such as Sean Stewart, Founder and Head Writer of Four Wall Studios (USA), Ingrid Kopp, Director of Digital Initiatives of Tribeca Film Institute (USA), Loc Dao, Head of Digital Content and Strategy of National Film Board (CAN) and Wayne Fletcher, Innovation Partner of McCann Erickson (UK). The audience was given a short description of the current situation in cross-media production and distribution of films, games, mobile apps, books and web.

On the second day of the forum audience had a chance to see how eight cross-media productions were competing for the best pitch. Each team had 10 minutes to present their projects with a further 20 minutes given to feedback and comments from five jury members who can potentially partner on the project. Continue reading

Juhannus seminar 2012

On June 21st Aalto Media Factory organized a Juhannus (Midsummer) seminar. The idea of the seminar was to have a look at the ongoing academic year. Speakers of the seminar were Dr. Akira Sano from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Kyushu Sangyo University in Japan, as a keynote speaker, professor Philip Dean, director of Department of Media and Media Factory, Dr. Lily Diaz, professor at Media Lab, Department of Media and Dr Antti Raike, who works as a senior advisor at Aalto University Vice Rectors Office.

Creating Real-Size Augmented Reality Content without 3D Modeling Skills

Dr Sano presented his latest research, how real-size augmented reality (AR) content is possible to create without 3D modeling skills. “The knowledge (of dimensions) is not enough, you must feel it”. The size of an artwork, for example, has significant meaning. It is totally different to stand in front of a painting sized seven meters by three meters than to see the painting in a book or even see a miniature from it (SIBS – Seeing Is Believing System). Continue reading

Co-Designing Media Factory


During the past year we have been busy establishing our premises and currently we are finishing the building of Aalto Fablab. But at the same time we also want to look into the future and develop Aalto Media Factory (AMF) to the next level beyond what we are already. For this purpose we decided to ask our stakeholders how we could serve them better. To get answers to this question, we put up an open questionnaire and organized two co-design workshops for Aalto personnel.

For the questionnaire, we received total of 62 answers, of which 38 were from Aalto employees, 19 from Aalto students and 5 from outside organizations. The results are reviewed in detail in this pdf document. Continue reading

Defining Open Design

Massimo Menichinelli

by Massimo Menichinelli
Producer in Fablab activities
Aalto University Media Factory

On November 30th 2011, the Aalto University School of Economics hosted the first Open Knowledge Foundation meetup in Helsinki (you can read a report of that day here and watch see some videos here).

During that event we proposed to focus on Open Design, since it’s an emerging field that is finally booming and that needs a lot of reflection. We proposed to have another meetup in order to build the local presence of the Open Knowledge Foundation (the ultimate goal is to build the local chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Finland) and to focus it this time only on Open Design. This second meetup took place in at Aalto Media Factory on January 28th 2012 in the morning, while in the afternoon we hosted a meetup of Alternative World Design Capital 2012 (for a report of that meetup, you can read this review).

You can have a look at all the pictures of the event here and here on Flickr. I also wrote a blog post about it on the Finnish Institute in London blog here.

For the meetup, I prepared a presentation that gave an overview of the history of Open Design, its current status and the situation regarding a formal definition of Open Design at the moment. Briefly speaking, there is no real Open Design definition, the Open Hardware definition is quite new and design itself is quite a tricky concept to define (since it can refer to a process, a representation of a project, the realization of a project). You can see more about this in the presentation below. Continue reading

Aalto Fablab – the first Finnish Fablab

Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop for digital fabrication, started by MIT. Fablabs typically have a few digitally controlled manufacturing machines: larger CNC router for furniture and house-sized objects, smaller precision CNC milling machine for making cast molds, engraving different materials or printed circuit boards, laser cutter for cutting and engraving wood, plastic, fabric and other materials, vinyl cutter for making signs, stickers and flexible circuits, video conferencing system to be in continuous touch with other Fablabs, and in many cases also a 3D printer and scanner. This basic set of manufacturing machines enables you to ‘make just about anything’ – this may be a prototype of a product, work of art, and can even contain electronics.

There are now about 50 Fablabs all around the world, with plans for many more on the way. Fablab blueprint dictates the commonalities between labs: standard inventory of machines, work processes, communication pathways and access policies, but each lab can and has interpreted the blueprints to suit the needs of their local community. As peer to peer learning in the way of mutual support in learning to work at the space is at the core of Fablab philosophy, community needs can really shape how an individual lab turns out.

We are currently putting all the pieces together to start the first Finnish Fablab here at Aalto Media Factory: finding local suppliers for the machines and raw materials, designing the space to fit our needs, building the website, educating ourselves about Fablab practices and mingling with other maker-minded groups in Helsinki region (there’s quite a bit going on now that the World Design Capital year is almost at hand). Most of the machines should have arrived by early January, and the grand opening is planned to take place around the beginning of February 2012. Continue reading

Stimulating afternoon with Clip Camp presentations

Clip Camp event was held in Media Factory’s new space on 16th of June, 2011. The event format merged open sharing events, such as BarCamp, with online video culture. We had a nice time sharing and discussing video clips and research related to online video.

Marjo Mäenpää (Aalto University Department of Art and Media in Pori) started the afternoon with a presentation on her “Co-curated Mobile Narratives” project. The idea of the project was to “research how separately filmed mobile videos from the same event or experience could form dramaturgically intensive story”. The videos were machine-edited utilizing predefined theme tags in a web based story generator called MoViE.

Using this method, remixes were made about a Jazz-festival and Christmas celebrations.

The Clip Camp crowd responded to Marjo’s presentation with further examples of participatory remixes, for example Life in a Day Movie Trailer, The Johnny Cash Project and:

Star Wars Uncut http://www.starwarsuncut.com

It was noted that many of these crowd-sourced videos rely on a given template. For example in the case of “Star Wars Uncut” the template is the original Star Wars movie, which is chopped in 15 second pieces and these pieces given to the crowd to be re-enacted. Thus the resulting video has the well-edited (and well-known) structure of the original film. Continue reading

What can a century of no innovation teach media technology?

Risto Sarvas

Risto Sarvas
Helsinki Institute for Information Technology

Typically the designers and engineers working with high technology do not look back. Why bother with history when everything is changing and when technologies such as the internet have never existed before? What can, for example, the invention of consumer film cameras in 1888 teach social media designers and developers of today?


In the past three years I dug into the history of photography to find answers to questions such as above. During my studies I have found myself a stranger among technology researchers in looking back at history and not solely leaning forward into the future. This Spring my work reached a milestone when a book co-authored by me was published: “From Snapshots to Social Media: The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography” (Spinger 2011). As the title suggests, the book spans the history of domestic photography from the past, to the present, and looks also into the future. By domestic photography I mean the kind of personal snapshot photography ordinary people do; not professional photography or photography for artistic purposes. Continue reading

Computational photography as artistic approach

Markku Nousiainen

Markku Nousiainen
Aalto University Media Factory

Computational photography is a new concept in digital photography, referring to the use of algorithms to retrieve, modify and select data from an imaging device in order to expand the possibilities of visual expression. It is still possible to just ‘take pictures’ but the means of visual expression go beyond what is commonly understood as photography.

The digital camera has become increasingly a tool for programming instead of merely recording images. In the very nature of algorithms is their ability to be easily modified, a characteristic that with some do-it-yourself spirit opens up the concepts of image, camera, and picture-taking to redefinitions.

With the creative misuse and hacking of algorithms and camera hardware, it is possible to question not only our visual conventions but also the increasing manipulation of our visual environment that already takes place either with in-camera filtering, or the digital retouching taking place in image editing softwares. Even more obvious manipulation of reality can be seen in features such as Sony’s ‘smile shutter’ function originally introduced in 2007 – the camera detects when people smile in the picture and releases the shutter at that moment.

Cameras are also equipped with sensors that retrieve location and position data thus giving rise to expanding the visual realm to location-aware, multisensory and embodied expression.

With an artistic mindset, camera and picture-taking are perceived as concepts that can be modified in do-it-yourself spirit and are therefore open to discussion, redefinition, and hacking. This approach to the field of computational photography differs from how the term is understood in the camera industry where the focus is on features that serve typical photographic purposes in consumer or professional cameras. Continue reading