Seb Lee-Delisle


ST4i – extra dates for my Internet of Things workshop

[UPDATE] Brighton dates sold out – more here
New workshop : 23/24 Feb, tickets on sale Weds 11am

I’ll admit it – I was worried about selling my new workshop, but it turns out my worries were unfounded. Both batches sold out within minutes!

So I’ve been frantically working to get another workshop together and more supplies ordered – I’m pleased to announce the new date is :

23-24 February in Brighton UK

Tickets on sale next Weds As ever, leave your email on my ST4i page and I’ll email you a reminder.

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2014 – the year of the laser

It’s New Year’s Eve as I write this, the perfect time for little reflection on the departing year. And although my blog has been a little neglected, the annual reviews are still coming – this is the 8th I’ve done so far.


My overriding memory of 2014 is that of variety. Whereas 2013 was mainly taken up with the juggernaut of the PixelPyros tour, 2014 was made up of a series of smaller projects.
Continue reading

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Stuff That Talks To The Interwebs – my new IoT workshop

A handful of super-early-bird tickets for my new workshop on sale for one hour only on Thursday at 11am

Still calling it the Internet Of Things? Well that’s OK, but I’m calling it Stuff That Talks To The Interwebs or ST4I from now on, just to be contrary. 🙂

And I’ve put together a brand new course that teaches you everything you need to know about making IoT… I mean ST4I prototypes! And for one hour only on Thursday at 11am, I’m selling a handful of super-early bird tickets.


I ran it for the first time last week for the lovely folks at Clearleft, and it seemed to go really well – everyone seemed very excited about the cool kit of stuff worth over £150 which has loads of sensors, motors, lights, buttons and an Arduino Mega and Adafruit wifi shield. Basically all the kit you could possibly want to make your connected prototypes.

Super Early Bird Tickets start at only £349 for freelancers – and that includes the kit! Happy Christmas! For a reminder email, give us your email address on the ST4I page.

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At last – Online CreativeJS workshops!


My workshops in Brighton are brilliant fun and I love running them (just two tickets left for my next ones!) but the fact is that many of you just can’t physically get here. I’ve long been thinking about how best to put them online and now I have a plan!

I’ve teamed up with my friends at Smashing Magazine to set up small bite-size CreativeJS workshops, and there are currently 2 workshops available, and each one is a highly digestible 3 hours long.

And the best part – they’re only €69 each!

CreativeJS Bite-size : Graphics and Animation

In this 3 hour online workshop, I will demonstrate a variety of beautiful visual effects using JavaScript and HTML5 canvas. You will learn animation and graphics techniques that you can use to add a sense of dynamism to your projects.

More info and tickets

CreativeJS Bite-size : Interaction and Animations

And in this 3 hour online workshop, I’ll show you how to make graphics that respond to user input with fluidity, naturalism and beautiful motion. You will learn the maths behind quality animation to help you create slick user interfaces or even games.

More info and tickets

And if you’d like to hear about future workshops, sign up to the mailing list. The online workshops are a bit of an experiment but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. See you there!

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CreativeJS workshops back and updated for 2014

After a super fun but busy year on lots of new projects, I am pleased to announce a couple of new Brighton workshops.

Firstly, the original CreativeJS workshop, updated for 2014. It’s a really fun way to improve your JavaScript graphics and animation skills and explore HTML5 canvas techniques and tricks.

And secondly, back by demand, CreativeJS for Designers for creative people with absolutely no JS experience whatsoever. In my view it’s the best way to learn to code – each coding construct is represented with graphics examples.


Both workshops will be run in Clearleft’s gorgeous new studios on Middle Street.

They go on sale on Tuesday at 11am – if you want a reminder email, register your interest on the training page.

To hear about future workshops sign up to the mailing list.

If you’d like me to come to your company for in-house training, drop me a mail.

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How to ask to get paid to speak

Spoken Nerd

New speakers often feel awkward about asking for a speaker fee, and some conference organisers take advantage of this by not offering you one. Some don’t even offer reimbursement for your travel costs.

They’ll continue to do this as long as we still accept it – so here’s my advice for making sure you’re properly remunerated for your time and effort.

First of all – here’s how I would respond to someone inviting me to speak at a conference :

Hi xxxx,

Thanks so much for inviting me to speak at xxxx conference, it looks like a great event and I’d love to be a part of it.

My fee for 2014 is £xxx, plus travel and accommodation, with payment in full 14 days before the event. If that works for you then let me know and I’ll book it in.


Sometimes they’ll come back saying that they don’t have budget, or make you an offer. It’s at that point that I ask, very directly, usually in one sentence.

What is the capacity and ticket price for the event?

I usually don’t even put any niceties around this question, which may come across as a bit mean, but I like to think it makes me sound confident. Some simple maths will then enable to you figure out if they can really afford you or not.

Bear in mind that conferences are very expensive to run. That said, spending £100k on a venue and then not paying speakers is a choice, not a lack of budget.

Trying it on

Many, many conferences will put pressure on you to accept a lower fee, or no fee. They’ll tell you that it’ll be a great opportunity for you, or ask if your company will cover the costs. Please do not accept this. Any professional conference should be able to pay their speakers.

Some are so cheeky that they’ll tell you that you’re saving the price of the entry ticket. Like you would ever pay for a ticket if you’re a speaker! This is guaranteed to make me mad.

How much to ask for?

This is probably the hardest question. I think an absolute minimum would be around £200 – at this point it’s more an honorarium than anything else and it’d probably cover your extra expenses – airport transfers, meals, incidentals etc. So you’re still not really getting paid.

Any decent conference should offer all of their speakers around £500 – £1000. Higher profile speakers can get £2000 – £5000 (I’m somewhere in this range). So-called ‘web celebrities’ could get more than this, maybe up to £10,000. And famous people (like Wozniak) could get many times more than this.


Some organisations are non-profit events, running reasonably priced conferences. I’m much happier to negotiate down or even waive my fee for those events. But always ask about the nature of their non-profit status.

Some conferences are run at a loss by a company that is none-the-less gaining huge benefits and exposure. You can be pretty sure that the organisers are getting their usual salary – so why should you do it for free?

And look out for events that have major corporate sponsors.

So check the ticket prices, nature of the organisation, and what happens to the profit if there is any, then make a judgement on that.

Community events

Some conferences are genuine community events that are run by passionate people and low ticket prices. Often they’ll be able to at least cover your expenses, but sometimes in exceptional circumstances, I’ll support these events by paying my own way.

Reaching out

Naturally most of this assumes that the conference has contacted you, and this does put you in a stronger position. If you have to reach out to events, then you may have to sell yourself a little harder, and compromise a little more. But having the confidence to ask for a fee is also part of marketing yourself and makes you look professional.

You are the product

Please remember that you are the product that conferences are selling. So it is more than fair that you get some of that income for the considerable time and commitment that you are investing.

Just say no

When I was starting out I would do any event if my costs were covered. I think I did 50 events one year! These days I insist on getting paid for my time so I speak at fewer events – I have to refuse bad offers. But that’s OK, it’s a natural filter.

There are really really nice ones

Please don’t think that all conference organisers are horrible – there are probably just as many really well-run friendly conference organisers.

Speaking is a fantastic chance to share what you’ve learned and meet your peers. I absolutely love it and would recommend it to anyone who likes to talk. Good luck!

[UPDATE] Also check out this great post by Jenn Lukas on how to set your speaker fee.

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Margate Games : Lazer Arcade video and photos

Now that the Margate Games residency is over it’s time to take stock and document the project.

Lazer Arcade draft edit from Seb Lee-Delisle on Vimeo.

To my great relief the system worked really well and Lazer Arcade proved to be a huge hit – there were constant queues throughout the GEEK festival.

So what did I learn?

Well the big surprise was that out of all the games I made, the simplest was the most popular. It was just a target and I made it in a couple of minutes as the first game to test with. But I had accidentally hit upon a few playability features.

It was easy to get some kind of score, even if it was by hitting the outer edges of the board. This is important when you only get six shots. And by making the bullseye difficult to hit, it meant you had to come back and try again. I gave the bullseye a score of 50 points (the outer rings got 10 and 5 points) so you’d be guaranteed a high score if you got one. I think the highest score of the weekend was 180 (which requires 3 bullseyes!).

Adults enjoyed the 80s aesthetic of Asteroids but it was completely meaningless to most of the kids. The coconut shy was really hard to even get one coconut, but I guess that’s the same as the real life ones.

The Nerf guns proved to be a bit problematic too – they kept jamming up. I think I’d probably work on some modifications to the guns if I ran it again. The smaller kids in particular had a bit of difficulty with them.

But all in all, it was a hugely enjoyable experience. It was great to meet and hang out with the other artists who all made great games. Thanks to everyone at GEEK, especially Rhianna, Stefan and the other volunteers who basically spent hours loading and picking up sponge darts.













This post first published on the Margate Games blog February 28th 2014

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Margate Games : ready to play?

It’s been an intense week of troubleshooting calibration – but I finally got it working today! It’s still a bit fragile so I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up over the festival but fingers crossed.


There have been so many things to fix – just one was the vibrations from the floor so I bought this massive lighting stand from Amazon and strung up the board on bungees – this has isolated it from the surroundings.


Of course with all the craziness I’ve barely managed to make any games, but I hurriedly put together a target practice game today, and just now finished an Asteroids style game.

Emma Coopers photo of the Target Practice game – she got a high score of 80!

All set for the official opening of Geek tomorrow, where I’ll be on a panel talking about the project.

This post first published on the Margate Games blog February 21st 2014

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Margate Games : calibrating LazerArcade

Today was my first day on site in Margate and setting up the LazerArcade system at full size. I’ve had a tiring day trying to calibrate and I can’t seem to get it quite as accurate as it was at home. And the microphones pick up all the vibrations on the floor so I can only imagine what it’ll be like with thousands of people walking around!

I have some more things to try – I’ve panic ordered a large lighting truss from Amazon that’ll arrive tomorrow and I’ll be hanging the board from that with bungee cord to try to isolate it from the sound in the hall.

For a board this size I probably need more than 6 mics too, but tomorrow I’m going to try moving the mics closer together and see what happens. Check out the video below to see more.

This post first published on the Margate Games blog February 18th 2014

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Margate Games : research on Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

Yesterday I was researching on Brighton Pier to see if there were any shooting / throwing games that I could steal, or in art-speak, “draw inspiration from” for my LazerArcade project.

It’s always interesting the current crop of characters from popular culture converted into plush toys. Last year it was Angry Birds, the year before that it was Stewie and Brian from Family Guy, but now it’s the minions from Despicable Me.

Tin Can Alley

There were wall-to-wall penny drop games then a mish-mash of games based on franchises – Deal or No Deal, Guitar Hero (with specially fortified guitar controllers) and even a Fruit Ninja on a giant touch screen.

I found a few shooting computer arcade games, one based on Terminator with glowing plastic rifles, several with zombies – I suspect I’m not the only one who prefer my games to have non-human targets.

Shooting Game on Brighton Pier

Eventually, there were a couple of manned side-shows that had real physical missiles – the rather dull Tin Can Alley (£2 for 3 balls!) and then a more interesting one with a bow and arrow – the targets were balls floating on a stream of air. I watched for a full two minutes as one player kept dropping the arrow. I felt for the underpaid assistant who had an air of resignation as he explained again and again how to grip the bow.

I ran into a local friend and began to ask what he was doing on the pier but I knew the answer before he told me – “friends visiting from out of town”. Locals rarely go to the pier of course! I enigmatically told him I was there for “research”.

View From Brighton Pier

As I walked back to shore the sun was setting and I was reminded of the original purpose of the pier – a promenade that makes you feel like you’re out at sea. The noise and spectacle has its energy but it feels a means of extracting money from you in the most efficient way possible. And for fun fairs, that’s nothing new, and I guess if you’re having fun it’s a fair trade.

This post first published on the Margate Games blog February 17th 2014

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