Le Biniou - User's manual

Basic concepts

Le Biniou is made of a set of plugins (nearly one hundred), that produce various graphic effects, depending on a source input (usually, your soundcard).

There are several types of plugins:

These plugins can be selected and organized in a particular order, forming "sequences".

Sequences can be created by the user (in the interactive mode), or by Le Biniou's Artificial Intelligence (in the automatic mode).

Le Biniou has an integrated On Screen Display (OSD), that shows you what's going on, and acts as a User Interface to select, organize or reorder plugins when you're in the interactive mode.

By default, Le Biniou starts in automatic mode, without OSD.

Le Biniou can randomly pick between many different colormaps and background images, allowing evolving rendering effects.

There are also three "auto-modes", that will randomly change the current sequence between user-defined and/or Le Biniou-generated ones.

Keyboard controls will be shown like this: "Hit the [SPACE] key".

Note: This is just a quickstart guide, for a full list of keyboard controls, please refer to the man page:

$ man lebiniou

Starting Le Biniou

Le Biniou can be started by:

Using the command line, you can set specific options, like the display mode (window size, full-screen, etc.), the input source to use, which On Screen Display mode to activate, and more.

Please refer to the "Command line options" section for more informations.

Options can also be set with a user-defined configuration file.

Note: You can create a shortlink to your ~/.lebiniou folder, so it is easily accessible:

$ ln -s ~/.lebiniou ~/Desktop/LeBiniou

Essential keyboard controls

Automatic Modes

When started, Le Biniou will create a new sequence regularly using it's Artificial Intelligence engine. Stop this mode by hitting [ESCAPE].

If the OSD is activated, a progress bar on the right will show you the time remaining until Le Biniou creates a new sequence.

Interactive Mode

At some point, you may want to create your own sequences. We will show you how to do this with a complete example.

To create new sequences, it is recommended to set the OSD in full mode (so that you can see the sequence, the plugin list and their description), and of course to turn Automatic Mode off (using [ESCAPE]).

Essential keyboard controls



Your first sequence

To start from the begining, use [Shift-z] to remove all the plugins, and [n] to clear the screen.

Note: In the top-left part of the OSD, the sequence will have the name "(none)".

  1. First, add a plugin: find the "rotors" plugin in the list and add it to the sequence.
  2. Use [UP]/[DOWN] to navigate through the list, and [RETURN] to add or remove the plugin.
  3. Use [PAGEUP]/[PAGEDOWN] to scroll faster in the list.
  4. Now, add a filtering effect: find the "blur2" plugin and add it. New plugins will be added at the end of the sequence (except a few plugins, like the "clear" plugin, that will be added at the front).
  5. Then, change the colormap (using the controls described before) to one that pleases you.
  6. Finally, add a plugin that reacts to the sound, for example, the "X oscillo stereo" plugin.

You can save your newly created sequence using [Ctrl-s] (will include colormaps and images information), or [Ctrl-Shift-s] (will only save the plugins list). From now on, the sequence will have a name (the timestamp you saved it), for example: "1300821622". It will be saved in your "~/.lebiniou/sequences/" folder under the name "1300821622.xml". Later, you can rename this file to a suitable name, e.g. "My cool sequence.xml". This new name will be displayed in the OSD.

You can update an existing sequence using [Ctrl-u] (full sequence), or [Ctrl-Shift-u] (only the plugins).

When you have several sequences, you can cycle through them using [Shift-LEFT] and [Shift-RIGHT], pick one at random using [BACKSPACE], and use them in the Automatic Mode. Use [Ctrl-p] to select the most recent sequence.

Reorganizing the sequence

You can change the plugins order in the sequence:

Example sequences

Example sequences are available, install them by issuing the following command in your home directory:

$ tar xvfz /usr/share/doc/lebiniou-data/examples/sequences.tar.gz

Advanced topics

Lens mode

Some plugins don't propagate their result to the next plugins, to avoid video-feedback. These are known as "lens plugins":

Some plugins (e.g.: cth_[xy]roller, taquin) give nice results when allowing them to video-feedback.

You can switch the "lens mode" on/off on any plugin with [Shift-l].

Layer modes

You can control how a plugin effects are melt with the previous one by controlling it's "layer mode" (think of merging layers in the GIMP):

There are 6 layer modes available:

Select the next layer mode using [Shift-y] or reset to it's default using [Alt-y]

Configuration file

You can permanently set options in a configuration file (~/.lebiniourc), install this file by issuing the following command:

$ cp /usr/share/doc/lebiniou/examples/lebiniourc ~/.lebiniourc

This file is self-documented, and comes with suitable default values.

Using your own images

Images must be in PNG format, without comments (see below for how to strip them).

Images are organized as "themes", that is, by directory.

Put your images under ~/.lebiniou/images/<my_theme_name>.

Then start, using the "-t" switch with your theme name, prefixed with a "~":

$ lebiniou -t ~my_theme_name

Or a comma-separated list of themes:

$ lebiniou -t ~theme1,~theme2

Use the images from lebiniou-data package by removing the leading "~":

$ lebiniou -t biniou,~theme1,~theme2

You can also set this in your ~/.lebiniourc configuration file. For example:

Themes = biniou,~theme1,~theme2

To remove comments from a PNG file

Assuming you have the "convert" command (from the ImageMagick package):

$ convert -strip iamge.png image.png


You can bind sequences, colormaps and images to the function keys to organize and quickly activate them. You are given 12 "banksets", each bankset contains 12 "banks" that can be mapped to sequences/colormaps/images.

Note: Banks are not saved to disk until you use [Ctrl-b].
Note: They are stored in your "~/.lebiniou/banks.xml" file.

Command line options

$ lebiniou -h

Environment variables

Some options can be configured through environment variables:


$ LEBINIOU_WEBCAM=webcams:1,device:/dev/video,hflip lebiniou


$ LEBINIOU_SNDFILE=/usr/share/sounds/alsa/Noise.wav LEBINIOU_SNDFILE_LOOP=true lebiniou -i sndfile

3D plugins

Some plugins (e.g.: the "galaxy" plugin) operate in 3D.

Making videos from your sessions

If you need sound, the easiest way to record is to use some a screen-recorder (e.g. SimpleScreenRecorder, vokoscreen).

Nevertheless, there are two output plugins you can use:

  1. mp4 plugin. This plugin will create a video in your "~/.lebiniou/videos/" folder.

Example: Assuming you have your track available in a format readable by libsndfile:

$ export LEBINIOU_SNDFILE=/path/to/track.wav
$ lebiniou -i sndfile -o SDL2,mp4
  1. diskwriter plugin (legacy). This plugin dumps all frames to your "~/.lebiniou/screenshots/" folder, so that you can reassemble them to a video using e.g. ffmpeg. Note: Dumping to disk may slow down your system. To avoid this, put the screenshots folder on a SSD drive, or a RAM-disk. Or better, use the more recent mp4 output plugin.


$ lebiniou -o SDL2,diskwriter

Miscellaneous keyboard controls