Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Halloween

I've been playing around with reelDirector a video editor on the iPhone. I'm impressed even though it doesn't do a whole lot at this point. It basically let's you add a title and transition between clips, but it's fast and works. I'm looking forward to updates!


So anyway, this is my second pumkin carving ever! I'm getting better, I think... Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I would love to share a piece of art with you all. This piece has not been seen by anyone other than friends and family since 1977. Anyway, this painting is a little special because it was created by a local artist named Lee Csuri.

Now maybe you don't know who she is but you may have heard of her husband. Her husband was Charles, or Chuck, Csuri. Charles played football at the Ohio State University but that's not what he is most noted for. Charles Csuri is known as the pioneer of Computer-Based Art! You can read his full biography at the csuriproject web-site. He also has a blog but it does not really mention Lee, and the posts stopped in March.

I have looked for Lee on the internet but really haven't found much about her. She has art around town I'm sure, but the only peice I've been able to find other than the one my parents own is the "Sky Women" sculpture that lives at the Inniswood Metro Gardens. This statue was stolen and returned, which got it into the headlines.

"Sky Women" sculpture


I do not remember the title of my parents painting but here it is. Enjoy it, it's a beautiful painting, very earthy, and has a hell of a message. You can hear it gently in the air when you look at this painting, "just get along".




A little detail



Click for bigger, 800x600... Please forgive the photography  but this was taken in a dark room with an iPhone camera...


If anyone has any information on Lee, any images of her work or display locations, please leave me a comment.Charles and Lee are still actively creating art and I hope to be in contact with them soon. I will post details as I get them.

Open and Free Video Editing Tools

I decided to look for some free WIndows and Mac video editing software recently since the last time I ran Windows I was pretty well disappointed with what was out there, at least as far as open tools are concerned.

The free editing software I did find for Windows is simply "still bad" and the choices haven't changed much. I was disappointed with just about everything I tried. Mostly the interfaces were just not good. Some of these were ported from Linux/Unix so there are a lot of bad editors there also. I was amazed that after a few years these products haven't become better or more alternatives haven't popped up.

Avidemux is still pretty good for some editing tweaks. I've had decent luck with it. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. ZS4 isn't too bad either so take a look at that. ZS4 runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux and will do most of what you'll need to get done. On Linux I would recommend Lives or OpenShot. OpenShot is written in Python, my programming language of choice.

For Windows Wax is still the way to go. You can use it stand alone, but it will plug into the big guys, like Adobe Premier, as well as Microsoft's Movie Maker. It also plugs into VirtualDub if you feel the need for it. I had to convert mov to another format though. I use Format Factory to convert mov to avi. This tool is the best and a must have if you want to convert any multimedia format to another, including audio and images; make sure to uncheck the Ask.com crap when installing.

For a little more power and learning curve, Jahshaka and the editor included in Blender 3D rock as well! I will highly recommend them both.

There were a couple of Windows projects I found that seem to have died. Shame really, but people get busy and I imagine video editing software is a major undertaking. The little bit of code I've done over the years leads me to believe this. Maybe these can work for you so I'll link them. Positron and Vivia, both appear to be non-linear editors.

OS X is a different monster, considering you can run some x11 applications you can actually use some Linux software with a little know how. Fink or MacPorts will give you access to some of these programs with little trouble. Not sure how well Lives would run, if at all, on Mac OS X, but if you can get it and it works well, you will likely not be too disappointed.

Some other tools that work well are MPEG Streamclip. Good for conversion and minor edits on Windows and Mac OS X. As a Linux user I've spent many hours on the command prompt using FFMPEG! It will do just about anything video! You can get FFMPEG on Mac OS X, which is absolutely brillant, or on Windows; everything you need is here.

Sometimes you need to draw directly on or edit an individual frame. For this you will want to grab a copy of CinePaint! Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Really is a nice tool and is based off of The Gimp. If I were to compare this tool to anything, I'd compare it to Photoshop, only for movies.

Of course we have some tools that were not available a few years ago, which is web based editing, and it's pretty damned good. I was using JayCut's editor and it kicks ass! Not only can you edit without installing anything, but you store your movies there as well so you can share them. I really wasn't looking to review on-line tools, but I felt they are worth mentioning. For more tools and insight read this article. I'm just amazed the on-line tools are actually better than most of the tools I installed. There are even conversion tools like Zamzar.

I guess if you're serious about doing major video editing you should consider spending the money and buying Final Cut, Adobe Premier, or Sony's Vegas line. It will cost you, but you get really good tools. If you're really on a budget on Linux you can run Cinelerra, which is free, and you can even use it without installing Linux if you wish (see the list of Live CDs on their site). It's a decent, but not without headaches, professional editing environment.

If you're like me and just want mid range editing and the ability to share with family, the on-line tools work well. If you're simi-professional or learning, the tools I mention will get you on your way.

As for authoring here are some dvd tools, check out:
DVD Flick Windows
HandBrake Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
DVD Author Mac OS X, Linux
transcoder-redux Mac OS X
DVD Styler Windows, Linux

Also look at Apple iMovie and Microsoft Movie Maker included with your OS.

A tools collection I maintain at my web-site.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ancient Apple Wallpaper

I created an iPhone wallpaper awhile ago and the other day got a request for a desktop version. I created them last night and they can be downloaded here. The file includes most standard sizes, which can be sized down if needed, and I also included an iPhone version. The original iPhone wallpaper can be downloaded here.

Let me know if they look alright, I haven't viewed them at every resolution.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Free Game Development Resources

Last night my friend asked about easy game design and he doesn't have time for my first suggestion, Python... I would simply develop using PyGame, TwistedPanda3d or Crystal Space . I'd use tools like Blender, Freyja , The Gimp, Inkscape, Pencil for design/animation and Kristal, Hydrogen, and Traverso for sound. These tools are all free or open ;)

That's way too much and all he really wants to do is create a RPG with as little programming as possible. I found this, RPG Maker XP , which looked cool, but it's missing a dll so I turned my attention elsewhere. I also found a resource page anyone who would be interested in this will find useful, which contained some commercial apps like Blitz Basic, which I played with when it was first released years ago. http://www.ambrosine.com/resource.html

Some that I personally liked an may even give a try I listed below, all free or open. I went through the resource to save you all time... Aren't I a nice guy? 

Adventure Game Studio  Create your own point-and-click adventure games, similar to the early 90's Sierra and Lucasarts adventures.

Byond Create or play free multiplayer games. 

Clean Game Library Complete development system for 2D games (platform games, side scrollers), using the functional language Clean.

Dimension3 3D game "without content." Create 3-D games by changing the engine, Mac.

Legendary Tales Engine and Editor, two Windows programs for creating and playing state of the art text based fantasy RPGs.  

Reality Factory In conjunction with other tools - allows you to create 1st and 3rd person perspective games without programming!

Wintermute Engine Development Kit is a set of tools for creating and running graphical “point&click” adventure games, both traditional 2D ones and modern 2.5D games (3D characters on 2D backgrounds).

 As always, have fun!

iPhone for art

I've been evaluating all of the more expensive drawing applications on the iPhone and honestly, most are just glorifed sketch apps that are only worth .99 cents, but three really stood out and have actually been fun to draw in.



To truely be productive I found myself using three apps. Each tool has it's weakness, but using the three made these issues less important.

The three applications that are the best in my opinion are SketchBook, PhotoForge, and Photogene. SketchBook has a gallery for your work and really nice brushes. The interface is also really good.

PhotoForge is more of a photo editor, but it does have a smudge tool for blending, clone stamp, and nice color tools and filters.

Photogene is another photo editor and it let's you place text and borders with a lot of flexability and options.

Inspire would have made it, but the brush strokes are blocky to me, but given time this may end up being my favorite.

In my screen shot there are two apps missing, one is Petite Peinture and the other is ZeusDraw. Petite Peinture I have tried and it worked ok, it was also a little blocky like Inspire and the interface simply didn't work for me. It's also a little cheaper than the rest. Most of these apps are $4.99 this one is $1.99. Of course that can change at anytime.

Zeusdraw is $10.00! Considering my luck with all these apps, I'm just not willing to sink $10.00 into it. If you have, feel free to weight in.

One last tool for the mobile artist that is just a must have. Drawing with the finger is tedious and a pain in the ass really, and I have small hands! There is a stylus, called the Pogo, for the iPhone/Touch and I recommend it as it's not to expensive and it gives you a little more control over your drawings. You can get it here.

I leave you with a little ten second sketch done in SketchBook...

Make Human

I've been waiting for an open source Poser and a Z-Brush like sculpting tools. Now that Make Human is here we have them both!

Sharp Construct came out awhile ago and ended up being included into Blender 3D. This gives you the ability to sculpt a 3-D mesh like you do in Z-Brush. Simply amazing and powerful.

Make Human is similar to Poser 3D. You can edit, pose, and render the human form. Also see Daz Studio, it's not open source, but it's free and really nice.

If you need to quickly create the human figure or organic models on a budget, these may come in handy.