Saturday, March 8, 2008

What are you learning? Here's my list...

It's looking like a nasty windy day here in the Triangle, a perfect day for kicking back and doing some learning. I'm definitely in learning mode, and thought I would share some of what I'm exploring.

I'm wanting to learn how to make machinima. I will be doing them in Second Life. Here are the tools I'm learning:

  • Final Cut Express (FCE) - I've had this software for five years, and did some basic stuff with it several years ago. I just upgraded to version 4 and plan to spend a lot more time getting proficient. I've already been through all of the tutorials on the Apple page, and I have my first One to One lesson at the Apple Store today. I have 52 total lessons, so I'm thinking I might be pretty good at this before I'm done.
  • Livetype - I pretty much have this tool down. It's used for making animated titles and graphics. I learned most of what I needed to know watching these tutorials at Livetype Central. The secret to Livetype is to get some more interesting fonts than the defaults, and some templates already designed to do what you want to do. No reason to reinvent the wheel. This application came free with FCE 4.
  • MachinimaCam - It didn't take me much studying to figure out that controlling the camera was the key to making Second Life machinima. The default views just don't cut it. This tool comes with all sorts of camera angles and movements. MachinimaCam cost me $7000 Lindens (approximately $26 US). I've played with MachinimaCam enough to make it work. This isn't so much a learning challenge as it is an internalization issue-- remembering which function keys do what. I don't need to study this I just need to use it more.
  • ScreenFlow - this is a new screencasting application for Mac OS X. It cost me $85 US with my educational discount. (Normally $100). I purchased it because it has some incredible screen capturing capabilities. It also does some sophisticated editing and effects. Where I'm mostly using this to capture, and then taking the clips to FCE, I'm thinking I need to learn how to use this program's more advanced features too. (But not this weekend. Just using it to capture this weekend.)
That's is it for what I'm learning around machinima. I'd be curious if anyone has some suggestions for other tools that I might also find useful? I was trying to find a tool for distorting voice, but from what I've read it looks like I can do that using the audio capabilities within FCE.

When I need to take a break from the video I plan to turn my attention to making an OpenSocial widget. Google has some really nice OpenSocial tutorials. I started going through these the other day, but was stopped when I didn't have access to the Orkut sandbox. I got my invite yesterday so I'm ready to dig back in. I think I already know how to do everything to make a widget, although my skills may be a tad rusty. I don't really have an idea for a useful widget to actually build. I'm mostly just playing. That's what I do.

My last piece of learning for this weekend involves studying data formats for creating visualizations using the R statistical analysis program. In particular I'm interested in the social network analysis routines. I've played with R a lot in the past, but today I'm needing it for some real stuff. I need to get back up to speed with reading and writing large datasets. I'm saving this for tomorrow.

I love this stuff. To me, this is shaping up to be the almost perfect weekend. My DW is out of town, it's raining and windy out (i.e. no bike riding), and I've got nothing to distract me.

What are you learning this weekend?


Bud said...

Screen Flow looks like a great app. Why not use Snapz? I'm going to give Screen Flow a shot.

Kevin said...

I have Snapz as well. I'm not sure I know enough just yet to discuss the advantages/disadvantages too much.

A few things I have notice so far: 1) the video editing, etc is built into ScreenFlow. Not sure that is a huge advantage in that it isn't so hard to just use iMovie with Snapz captures. 2)It's a tad easier. You don't have to select windows and size them. 3) It seems to be more efficient. The codec doesn't seem to be a drag on the computer. (I have not looked at the activity monitor to actually compare. I should do that.)

floyd said...

Well, I'm learning about what you are learning... and I'm doing some reading.

The OZ Principle
Here Comes Everybody

Unfortunately, I'm a slow reader.

Also, having my son explain some of his MMORPGs.