Master and Margarita

“Master and Margarita” is an audiovisual adaptation by Video Jack (André Carrilho and Nuno N. Correia) of Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece of the same name. The adaptation is not a literal one, but an audiovisual collage inspired by the book.

From November 2008, the project has been presented as an audiovisual performance. In December 2009, a web version was released. Other presentation possibilities can be explored in the future. The project uses the same software engine (InGrid) as previous Video Jack project “Heat Seeker” (2006), but the atmosphere and graphical style are substantially different.

The visual style of Video Jack’s “Master and Margarita” brings together a graphical collage of photographic and drawn elements into interactive animations, influenced by Soviet-period imagery. The surreal, almost demential, universe of Bulgakov is captured graphically. In sonic terms, the references are Igor Stravinsky, Kurt Weil, Can, Tom Waits, Einstürzende Neubauten, Pan Sonic and Vladislav Delay.

Master and Margarita was previewed in November 2008, Electro-Mechanica Festival, St. Petersburg. The premiere of the full project was in April 2009, at PixelAche Festival, Helsinki. Master and Margarita won a Honorable Mention award at Future Places Festival, Porto, 2009.

About the book

The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, as well as one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order. (from Wikipedia)

About the Writer

Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov (May 15 [O.S. May 3] 1891, Kiev – March 10, 1940, Moscow) was a Russian novelist and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for the novel The Master and Margarita, which the New York Times Book Review has called one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

Past Presentations

About the InGrid Software Engine

The InGrid software engine, used in “Heat Seeker” and “Master and Margarita” was conceived by Video Jack and programmed by Nuno N. Correia (using Adobe Flash). This software manages different types of vector animations. Combining user-interface elements; drag and drop functionalities; keyboard combinations; the user can create dynamic, multi-layered visuals.

The effect is similar to directing a music video in real-time. The actions of the user directing the video are apparent to the viewer. Thus, the cursor is present at all times, revealing the editing choices of the user.

For the online version of “Master and Margarita”, the InGrid engine was updated, in order to incorporate audio-reactive graphics (and other user interface enhancements).

Master and Margarita Online – Instructions

With MMOL, you can activate and manipulate animations and sounds.

The main menu presents you with a choice of “chapters” inspired by book chapters from Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”.

Once you select a chapter, the interface of MMOL is composed of buttons and sliders around the edges of the screen; and buttons on the corners.


  • Top – main animation and color buttons (1.)
  • Right – curtains buttons and slider (2.)
  • Left – masks buttons and slider (3.)
  • Bottom – icons buttons and slider (4.)

Icons have sound controls. (5.)
The middle (bigger) button on each edge turns off the respective animated element.


  • top-left – back button (takes you back to menu, where it becomes a forward button)
  • top-right – fullscreen button (once fullscreen, becomes a “normal screen” button; note that fullscreen might affect the performance of MMOL)
  • bottom-left – random icons button (6.)
  • bottom-right – grid button (turns grid on and off)
  • bottom-right edge – Video Jack logo (link to Video Jack page; credits on rollover)


1. Main animation and color buttons (top)

These buttons activate main animations, or they fill the background with a color, if the colored buttons are pressed. Selecting an animation disables the color fill. Stopping an animation enables color selection. Selecting the black color disables masks (3.)

2. Curtains (right)

Curtains are large animations which are placed on top of the main animations, usually with transparent areas so that parts of the main animations can be seen. The opacity of curtains can be controlled by dragging the vertical slider.

3. Maks (left)

Masks are large animations, similar to curtains (2.). When the black background color is selected (as in the beginning of each chapter), masks behave like curtains. In this situation, if both curtain and mask is selected, the last one to be selected will overlap the other. There is a vertical slider to control opacity.

If a color different from black, or a main animation, is selected, masks will “mask out” the main animation or color area, based on the shape of the mask. Black is shown outside this shape. In this situation, the vertical slider will disappear.

4. Icons (bottom)

The icons are small, draggable animations which are reactive to sound. Icons are shown on top of the other types of animated elements. There are 4 different types of icons per chapter. By default, there are 4 icons (one of each type) already on the screen in the beginning of a chapter.

Clicking an icon button in the bottom edge generates another icon of that type, and brings that type of icon to the top. Clicking or dragging an icon brings it to the top.

Icons are draggable to different positions on the grid, to which they snap (even if grid is not visible). Placing an icon on the middle of the grid will increase its size to the maximum icon size.

Double clicking on an icon deletes it. If that deleted icon was the last one on the screen, the respective sound stops.

The stop icons button (mid-bottom of screen) deletes all icons and stops all sounds.

Please be aware that generating a large amount of icons might affect the performance of MMOL.

5. Icon sound controls (middle of each icon)

There is a sound loop allocated to each of the 4 types of icons, per chapter. Each icon has a sound control button in its center, which plays, controls, and stops a sound, depending on its state.

When a sound is stopped, the icon displays a play button (>) (icon 1 in image). Pressing the play button starts a sound loop, and the size of the icon (and other icons of that type) will be affected by the amplitude of the sound. The control button will then change to a options button (+) (icon 2 in image).

Pressing the options button activates a square draggable pad, and the control button will change to stop (x) (icon 3 in image). Dragging the pad in the horizontal axis will increase the size of that individual icon. Dragging the pad in the vertical axis will change the volume of the sound, and the opacity of icons of the same type. Moving the cursor out of the pad hides the pad.

Pressing the stop button will stop the sound, and the control button will revert to play.

6. Random icons button (bottom left corner)

By default, the random icons button will display numbers “1/2”. By pressing the icon buttons on the bottom, these numbers will change, reflecting the last 2 selected icon types.

Pressing the random icons button deletes all icons currently on the screen, and places a random number of new icons (between 2 and 5) on the screen, belonging to the 2 icon types indicated in the button. Sounds currently playing belonging to other icon types will be stopped.

The position of the new icons is random, within grid points. The size of the icons is random, but the random size interval can be narrowed by moving the horizontal slider in the bottom.

By using “press and hold”, new icons will keep showing up. Releasing the button outside its area (“release outside”) will generate a “press and hold effect”, which you can stop by pressing again the button.


Master and Margarita is a Video Jack project, by André Carrilho (design / animation) and Nuno N. Correia / Coden (programming / music).