Since animation is being used more and more heavily to build highly interactive web 2.0/3.0 interfaces, I thought folks might be interested in a series of videos I am creating for the 3D animation classes I teach at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The videos are on Vimeo.
They feature Autodesk Maya, which is by far the most popular professional quality 3D modeling, animation, and rendering application. Each short video focuses on one specific concept and they are very much meant for raw beginners:
As of today, January 29, 2012, there are five of them:
The entire set of videos can be found in my Vimeo account.]]>
I teach information systems and 3D animation at the University of Colorado at Boulder. For my animation classes, I like to record my in-class lectures to that later, when students are trying to remember how to do something with an infinitely complex application like Autodesk Maya, they can look at the demonstrations on the videos. I use Camtasia (they have both a Mac and a Windows application) to create desktop/voice recordings and have found it to be a great product.
Finding a tool to quickly build a simple website.
The problem I ran into had to do with posting these videos for students to download. The site I built and where I used to host videos (http://3dbybuzz.com) turned out to be a pain to maintain because of the large number of videos I post on it. The videos are also very long. So I decided that I would make a fresh set of much shorter videos and have them hosted on a paid Vimeo account. All that works fine.
Extending an application with plugins.
Now, the Mac-based web design application I had been using is called Sandvox and it is a very elegant, intuitive tool. I think it’s the best in its class in terms of ease of use. But it’s a little short on functionality. So, I followed the advice from the Sandvox site to check out plugins made my another (completely unrelated) software vendor. I bought five of their plugins and they worked great. I used them on 3dbybuzz.com. So, I naturally went back there to see if they had Vimeo plugins.
A problem with service for the plugins.
Which they do. But their site seemed to malfunction. I could log in to my account, but not access anything I had paid for. The site would not let me post a service request. I couldn’t find an email address or phone number on their site. (Remember, this is NOT the Sandvox folks; this is a separate company that supplies plugins.) I managed to dig up an email address for the vendor by poking around the Web. I sent a message asking to help. I tracked down one of the lead guys in the company on Facebook and left a polite request, saying their plugins are great but their site is broken.
I never heard back. Period.
Finding a different tool to build a good website.
So, I have switched to RapidWeaver, which has a very large community of plugin suppliers. It’s also a very powerful app. I also bought three plugins. One for a RapidWeaver extension that provides a new kind of webpage, called Stacks, to the RapidWeaver application and two from another plugin vendor that give Vimeo capabilities to Stacks pages. They work great. I find that the combination of the Stacks webpage and the wide variety of plugins it can support to be a very clever way of extending RapidWeaver. First, you install Stacks, which allows Rapidweaver users to add a Stacks page to a website and then you choose plugins to provide capabilities to Stacks pages.
It’s really too bad…
I’m a teacher and a researcher, not a business person. But tying yourself to a plugin supplier that does not provide timely customer support seems like a bad business decision to me. But, honestly, Sandvox and the five plugins I did buy from that vendor are all extremely good pieces of software, in terms of their functionality and their usability and the appearance of the resulting webpages.]]>
We’re in a series of postings relating to editing sound.
See the previous postings on cleaning audio, selecting an audio editor, and a couple of basic audio editing principles. We have also looked at the interface to a popular audio editor, Amadeus Pro, and at basic editing in Amadeus Pro. We looked at a free audio editor, Audacity, and how one of its effects can be used to remove noise. Most recently, we looked at the way that VST and AU plugins add power to sound editors, and then at the difference between audio editors and digital audio workstations.
Today, we look at a few popular audio formats and compare them.
If you want your sound to be as close as possible to the original sound captured in the real world, wav and aiff are two very popular choices. The problem is that these uncompressed sound formats can lead to very large files.
But wav and aiff are important for capturing sound in a “lossless” way, meaning that the digital media contains all the information that is captured by the recording equipment. They serve as very good archival formats for permanent recordings that might later be edited and used in a variety of other formats.
By the way, wav, which is short for Waveform Audio Format, is a Microsoft standard. And aiff stands for Audio Interchange File Format and it was developed by Apple.
Perhaps the most popular compressed sound format is mp3. It is used heavily on the Internet. It is a proprietary format owned by the Motion Picture Experts Group, and its full name is MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. It is highly compressed in that an audio recording in wav format might be reduced by 80 or 90% when converted to mp3.
This sort of transformation is called “lossy”, in that information is removed during the conversion process. But what is removed is for the most part not missed by the human ear. The idea is to remove frequencies not heard by people and to remove soft sounds that are drowned out by other, louder sounds.
The end result is good enough for high quality music.
A competitor of mp3 is wma, which stands for Windows Media Audio, and is also proprietary. And yes, Apple promotes mp3.