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    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Flash based DSLR Tutorial...

    A simple flash based application to teach users the basics of DSLR photography. This was the brief I was given for a recent assignment on my course. I've been promising for a while to show you a preview of the application, as the hand-in date has now come and gone, I'm free to show you what I've been working on. The best way i guess is to make a little demo video, so thats what i've done. You can see it below (don't forget to hit the 'HQ' version for a higher quality video)...



    It'd be great to hear what you think of this, let me know in the comments section. I'm still working on this and hope to eventually upload it somewhere for people to use!

    Thats all for now!

    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    Dropbox


    Hey Everyone,

    Just a short post from me tonight, I want to tell you all about this new service called Dropbox. There are only a million or so users, so it's pretty new. I've just discovered it and it seems very nice indeed. It is essentially a free online file syncing application which integrates into your Mac, PC, or Linux operating system very nicely (see screenshot below).

    To start with you get 2GB free file storage, more if you invite more people! But the thing that has amazed me about this so far is the speed with which it syncs. Say you're in uni or at work and make a few changes to a work document, it will instantly be backed up online, and as soon as you turn on your home PC, providing you have the client installed it will instantly download the file to your PC.

    What's more, it has an iPhone web interface. Which is great, you can check your files on the move, and even re-arrange and re-organise files. This service is just perfect, say if you had a netbook for taking notes in lectures, you could save them to your Dropbox file, and instantly have them on your home PC. No need to worry about external drives or USB pens, or file syncing programs.

    I highly recommend you download this, there is no reason not to, even if you just end up using it for a simple online backup service.

    - Download Dropbox Now

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Music Technology at Bournemouth University - Radio Jingles

    Hey Everyone,

    It was assignment hand in day today, which means I can now upload my latest work for you to have a look at. Our Assignment was to create two advertisements / jingles to fit in with two different genres of radio show to advertise our course. For those who don't know, I'm doing music technology at Bournemouth University. Well you can click the links below to download my radio jingles, i chose to make an acoustic and a rock jingle...

    - Acoustic Jingle

    - Rock Jingle

    Well thats all for now really, I have another hand in on friday for my flash based tutorial for new users of DSLR cameras. So watch the blog over the weekend, hopefully i'll find somewhere to upload that for you to look at!

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    BBC Reveal new superhero!

    It looks like the BBC have decided the time is right for a new super hero to be unleashed onto the world. I made this shocking discovery just the other day, right on the BBC News home page. Take a look for yourself...

    Can't see it yet, well I took the liberty of enlarging the image for you. Specifically the part containing the new super-hero's name and mugshot! See for yourself...


    Behold... ALLERGY BOY!! Surprisingly though, the BBC have decided to reveal our new heros one weakness. The humble banana!

    On a more serious note, I would like to mention that this post is in no way meant to cause offence to the aforementioned individual. However it is meant to highlight the shocking way in which the BBC have stereotyped this young man, firstly referring to him as the singular masculine 'boy', and secondly affixing the determiner 'Allergy' to the front of it! Surely this is not quite PC as they say nowadays!?

    On an even more serious note, I am back to university this sunday, and have a few assignments due in next week which means that I will be able to upload some of my work. Including (finally) my flash based tutorial for new DSLR Camera users, as well as a couple of radio advertisements made for my course!

    Anyway, thats all for now. I hope you'll excuse my random outburst about Allergy Boy, but i felt something needed to be said!

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Pro Tools vs Cubase

    This is a topic I've been meaning to cover for a long time now. So far I have held back because I felt that I was not experienced enough with Pro Tools to make a fair comparison. This is a short post about the differences between two popular pieces of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software; Digidesign's Pro Tools and Steinberg's Cubase. There are many other DAW software for you to choose from, for example Logic Studio (Mac), Audacity (PC + Mac + FREE), Ableton Live (PC + Mac), Garage Band (Mac + Free), and more. All of these systems are good at slightly different things. The reason I have chosen Pro Tools and Cubase is because these are the two most significant systems new music technicians are likely to come across.


    Cubase is used quite a lot in the education system, this is because it provides a fairly advanced set of features and will run 'fairly' well on a relatively cheap PC (for smaller recording tasks!). Pro Tools is regarded as the industry standard and is used in most professional studios. A few days ago I discussed the differences between Mac and PC for music technology, well both of these systems can be run on either Mac or PC, however Pro Tools tends to be run mainly on Mac, whilst Cubase tends to be run on a PC.

    The interfaces look very similar (Even more so since the Pro Tools 8 Upgrade), as you can see below...

    Pro Tools 8 running on a Mac


    Cubase 4 running on a PC

    In fact the differences can really be summarised in one sentence. Think of Pro Tools as audio recording software with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) built in, and Cubase as a MIDI sequencer with audio recording functions built in. Whilst this may be changing considerably in the near future with the release of Cubase 5, for now Pro Tools certainly is a more comprehensive piece of software for audio recording purposes.

    Cubase makes it really easy to plug in a MIDI device, and route it through a VSTI (Virtual Studio Technology Instrument) of your choice to create a MIDI track. It comes pre-installed with many different VSTI's as well as other VST plugins, like reverberation, noise gates, compressors, and more. Pro Tools also comes installed with a multitude of VST plugins however these are almost all focused on manipulating audio files, rather than MIDI input. It is worth noting that there are literally hundreds of VST plugins available from third party companies, ranging from thousands of pounds, to free. An interesting point here is that there tend to be less free plugins for Mac users running Pro Tools, as these plugins tend to be geared towards the professional market and are often of a much higher quality than some of their PC counterparts.

    Then comes the issue of cost, and inevitably licensing issues. Cubase requires an external USB dongle to act as a registration key before the software will open. In a similar way Pro Tools will only run when connected to certain sound cards. You can buy sound cards by Digidesign (The company behind Pro Tools) or you can buy a special version of Pro Tools to run on certain M-Audio sound cards. I find Pro Tools is more advanced in this respect because (depending on which sound card you have) it actually uses the sound card to process some of the VST plugins, rather than depending totally on the CPU in the computer.

    If you buy a sound card from Digidesign, you get a copy of Pro Tools LE for free. This is all that most home users and students will require. I personally recommend the Digidesign Mbox 2 Mini as it can be brought for around £200 . Cubase comes with its own protection dongle and will run on almost any sound card, a single licence for Steinberg Cubase 4 Essential will cost around £125, but it is worth noting that this is not the most recent edition. You will pay around £320 for Cubase 5, the latest edition of the software. It is up to you to decide whether you really need the latest and greatest features.

    Essentially, both these systems perform the same tasks. If you are looking to get into the recording industry, then i suggest you get familiar with Pro Tools. If you are just looking to record a bit of stuff at home and play around with MIDI, then cubase is the way forward.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Spotify the future...

    In my last post I talked about the differences between Mac's and PC's on a music technology basis. Now I'd like to talk about a revolutionary new way to distribute music, available for both Mac and PC.

    Introducing Spotify, a free Ad based music system. The idea is simple: don't buy music but don't steal it either. Spotify is a totally legal way of listening to any music you want on your computer for free. Spotify has an iTunes like interface as you can see below.

    Spotify's main interface

    The creators of Spotify have signed deals with all the major record labels, which means pretty much all mainstream music is available. In addition to this, searches for some very obscure music have also been successful. Spotify is available for free, or with several paid options. The only difference is that the free version is Ad supported, and you will get a 10 second advert played for every 6 tracks you play on average. This is how Spotify generates income to pay the royalties and costs to the record labels.

    The reason I'm blogging about this, is because as a future music technician my job will rely on the music industry, and at the moment the industry is being torn apart by music piracy. Spotify is the perfect example of where i think music distribution should be going. The industry needs to realise that whilst profits are important, there are modern ways of distributing the content to end users, and these should be used more!

    Spotify is similar to last.fm but has the advantage of being a standalone program, so you do not need a browser window open to listen to the music and with Spotify you are able to create playlists of specific tracks, rather than simply based on a certain genre.

    An obvious limitation of Spotify is that you must be online to listen to the music, and that you cannot download the tracks to put on your iPod or other portable media player. There are rumours that a Spotify iPhone app is in the works which will allow users to stream music from Spotify on their phone, but as with the recently released Skype iPhone app, it is likely that this will not be allowed to utilise the 3G network.

    Spotify started as an invite only service, but now anyone from the United Kingdom can sign up for a free Spotify account. I strongly urge everyone to use this service, because the more people that listen to the adverts, the more money the music industry will get, and as a result maybe they will look at other ways of distributing music, that are cheaper for us as the final consumer.