New media applications for Sound design.

February 28, 2008

All aspects of new media involving sound require sound design.  Video game sound design is probably one of the biggest fields, as web designers are normally on a much smaller budget and will use whatever sounds they can find.   I have been doing Sound design unprofessionally as a hobby for a few years now, and it’s amazingly fun and great way to enhance your senses. (or sense in this case)  Sound design has been around since the “old media” days.  Music, TV, and Radio all incorporate sound design.  Way back when radio shows that sounded an awful lot like today’s TV shows aired,  they had Foley artists.  Foley artists were the precursor to modern sound designers.   They would manually produce the sounds live for the show and had no means of editing or manipulating the sounds other than how they made it.  If they wanted a door to rattle the would hit a large piece of wood.  I’m not saying that those were the good ‘ol days, Infact they were horrible.  I like my modern Sound Editors and DaWs like Audacity, Nuendo, and Goldwav.

My Experiences with the Source SDK.

February 21, 2008

One of the most interesting aspects of the Half life series is it’s wide range of mods and even with Half-Life 2; a free modding system to those who have purchased the HL2 game.  I cannot say for sure whether or not Half-life 1 had this amazing component but I’m pretty sure it did not as i have just purchased Half-Life 1 through Steam and no SDK for it has appeared in my tools category unfortunately.  I do believe however that a version of hammer exists for HL1 as i have seen it along with many third-party modding tools for HL1.  While this may be a Valve product, it is not an SDK all by itself (hammer is just a map editor).  I’ve even seen a third-party model viewer for HL1 which would not be necessary if there was one with HL1.  The Source SDK has three main components- Hammer editor, Model viewer and Face poser.  Face Poser seems to be made for making cut scenes in your mod, but I could be wrong.  It allows you to manipulate a characters face and make them talk even, so that’s my logical conclusion- despite having never needed it.  The Source SDK also has links to some very helpful programs and places.  SoftImage XSI seems very useful if I could get out of my NURBS modeling mindset (I’m proficient at Rhino 3D) and move onto polygons and other programs’ versions of NURBS (nothing seems to have the same NURBS interface as Rhino 3D despite the fact that they also support the same NURBS standards).  What I’m talking about is 3D modeling and making your own objects for Half-Life 2 (just felt I needed to clarify as I was throwing around what might seem to some as technical gibberish).  It even allows you to edit your own set of the source code, but that requires Microsoft Visual Studio 2003/2004 which i cant afford and cannot seem to find a trial of anymore (they’re on to 2008 which i would download but in 5 years things can change drastically).  Anyway, in the meantime I’m happy experimenting with my own maps and trying to figure out if I even want to make something on the large scale.

Class notes 2/14: Writerly Vs Readerly, Technology and Narritives.

February 21, 2008

One of things about our technology discussion that made a large impact on me was the idea that technology is an extension of us and the five senses we have. Sticks, when used properly, are technology and are an extension of our arms and our tactile senses. The teachers tried specifically to state that the common misconception that “technology is electric is false”, without alienating us from the fact that most electric items are technology (would be all electric items less we forget lightning). One humorous way that they worded this was that, “TV images do not come through the plug.” Next up in my notes are the ideas about narratives and how “Everything is a story.” It always starts with the introduction of the protagonist. Like how in Star Wars IV you have “hero, then conflict.” And then the Conflict is eliminated by some means. Then the story reaches a climactic point when Luke uses the force instead of his computer guidance systems to destroy the death star with a laser or missile of some sort. One interesting thing about the writerly texts is that it makes the reader a producer of the texts, like in a CYOA. this is in contrast to the statement made about readerly texts that says, “It is what it is,” it, being a static text.  The key difference between these two texts appears to me to be interactivity.

Mapping Space of the New Tunxis Library

February 21, 2008

The new Tunxis Library is quite large and dense yet it still manages a flow of movement with freedom in directional choice. There are three entryways to the main hall of the library much like different links to access it through a web page. While they all start somewhere different (south, east, or west end) they all end up at the main library entrance. Interactive chairs and tables in the main hall are fully modular and can be arranged with ease. As one enters the library they have two main options, current floor or top floor (basically the equivalent of another web page). You can also notice the shelves on the walls are modular as well, along with less modular floor shelving units for holding the data or more specifically books. Even the stairs have interactivity as they twist away to both sides of the upper level from one main staircase, giving you more freedom of direction. There are reservable discussion rooms for the SGA that seem to represent topics on a talk page or forum. Also, even the floors and walls of this building show modularity as they are covered with a selection of topics ranging from Black History Month to Information on the Library. as one leaves the library they may notice one or two areas still under construction. I am unsure what function one will serve, but the other is clearly a mini food court. This is particularly useful as the nearest vending machine is about 250 feet away.

Flash 8: the holy grail of animation software, Part 2.

February 14, 2008

I remember way back when i first got into Flash. It was back in the MX days and the first year (I believe I was 14 then) was confusing as hell. Today, I make about two animations per month (I prefer not to make short tests). I’ve even helped out much more famous animators with things like 3D and sound effects (i.e. Terkoiz, Viggo, Miccool) most of which must be made and then imported to Flash. Although one thing that always irked me about flash was the lack of a built in autosave or other expanded file saving features. For example say you have a Flash X file on your computer but your computer doesn’t have Flash X. Your computer has Flash X-2. You have to get Flash X and Flash X-1 just to save to Flash X-2. this is because flash can only save back one previous version of it’s current installed version. In fact Flash is a combination of the words Future and Splash. The original Flash 1.0 was futuresplash before Macromedia bought it. Thanks to Andrew Kendall you can still download it here (it’s at the bottom of the page). It’s interesting how quickly Macromedia noticed this new amazing program. It didn’t even have a chance at a later version. Of course it was a barebones version of the flash we use today i still wonder how far the original company would have taken it.

Flash 8: the holy grail of animation software.

February 14, 2008

I’ve tried tons of animating software in my lifetime but none have ever been nearly as good as Macromedia Flash 8. Flash CS3 serves no real purpose for me as I don’t know how to code in AS3 ( AS2 is complicated enough, thank you) and that was the only real improvement besides a new layout which I find hinders animation progress for those of us who have been animating with the old designs in Flash MX to Flash 8. I’ve tried many other animation software, some built completely around movement joints (Pivot) some built around inverse kinematics (Anime Studio) even some that feel like a rebranded and much more complicated version of Flash 8 (Toon Boom Studio). But none of them surpass the flexibility of flash 8. AS2 is perfect for those who want to put simple yet effective preloaders into animations, and don’t need the increased speed of AS3. The interface allows easy use of all the tools and doesn’t hide some under others like CS3 does to save space. It has a lovely filter/blend set (which has not increased in AS3). And best of all, it’s not specialized. This means you can tween (have two key frames which Flash computes the movement between) and you can draw every frame individually as well (known as frame-by-frame animation). In fact flash is so easy to use that even when I was just begging I was able to make a five minute tweened animation in only three months ( which is amazing because at 30fps that’s 9000 frames, and it had nearly 500 layers).

Laptops and increasing mobility

February 7, 2008

Why is it that Computer makers suddenly feel the need to make everything smaller?  Reducing the size of components is a good way to afford higher capacity and/or speed by having more components in the same amount of space, but when I see a subnotebook or UMPC as they’re abbreviated (ultra mobile personal computer) with a screen size under 10″ I die a little inside.  Why?  Flooding the market with hundreds of UMPCs sporting the processing power of a Pentium II or at best, III, cannot be good for improvement of general computer systems.  What I’m saying is that making things smaller and less fast and/or with lower storage then current generation (or even in this case a few generations) is not productive toward advancing the technology of computers.   It’s all about marketing it to the “mobile” youth who are extremely computer literate and demand entertainment whenever  they’re bored.  Even the macbook air makes me sick.  The plain old macbook outperforms it, and costs $700 less.  It’s .75″ thin and they tell you that that’s a good thing.  my current laptop is about 2.1″ thin and it’s already too thin and fragile.  Probably the worst aspect of the new UMPCs is that the boot up times and lag with everday tasks is terrible.  Most likely due to the fact that they run Vista and Leopard on  what could be desribed as outdated hardware.

A New Media exploration of Bioshock.

February 1, 2008

I may be a little late to the Bioshock trend, but frankly the game sounded scary and I’m a wimp. In this story-driven console and PC video game you follow a silent protagonist who finds a lighthouse after a plane crash. Oddly enough, the lighthouse is in the middle of the ocean and contains a submarine-like transport that takes him to an under water city – or what’s left of it. A s you fight many genetically mutated humans called splicers and big daddies who look like hulking hunchbacks in armored diving gear, you learn of what happened to the undersea metropolis known as Rapture. The game contains all five parts of new media that Lev Manovich wrote about. It is entirely represented by numbers as it is a computer program. It is modular as the in game models and environments are separate files that are combined along with sound files to replicate the sights and sounds of rapture. The game engine automatically places the in game models and sounds where and how they belong – hence automation. You even get three endings, determined by your actions, that show variability. You can interact with the residents of Rapture showing transcoding. It also contains interactive sight, sound, text, and motion. One of the most interesting aspects of Bioshock is tactics and choice. The arsenal of weapons, genetic enhancements available to the player, and environments make it so that no two players play the game the same. I’m currently on my second play through and I’ve noticed that I am not even playing it the same as my first time. This shows variability in video games on a whole new level.

Update: 2/06/08

I have unfortunately broken my Bioshock disc and nothing seems to work.  I placed my disc in my laptop and while in transport the disc was scratched to hell.  Because of how the laptop is carried in the backpack (vertically) and how it was when it started running the disk (horizontally) the change in alignment made the disc fail to run ever again.  It’s funny how it still let play one last time as it had already verified the disc before the failure (Bioshock keeps all files on the local hard drive and only makes you insert the disk as an anti piracy measure).  I plan to contact tech support soon, as I wish to play the game to completion with all three endings and not just one.  Also, the game is just a damn good waste of time because it’s amazing.