Audiogames

Jeremy’s posted a nice simple definition come description of audiogames. Of course I immediately think I’d like to do this with students except it would be a videogame, and it takes a few moments before I realise that this is sort of one of the generic titles for gaming. A doah moment. Still, the abstraction implied in audiogames is something I do like, and would be interested in thinking about developing in QuickTime with students

Van Gogh Two

I’ve added a sound track to the Amsterdam vog, Van Gogh, creating a new vog under the original title of Van Gogh Two. It is structurally identical to the first one, except that now there is a soundtrack. The sound has been added as child movie, so that its duration does not have to be the same as the video track.

Second How to Research Blog

Today I ran the second intro to blogging for a group of postgraduate research students. The introduction is technical more tha

Van Gogh One (“Look She’s Yawning”)

This is a new vog, Van Gogh One. Similar in structure to the other European Holiday vogs (maybe I should start using categories in the vog blog?), it is a single continuous uncut bit of observational video, goes for around 1 minute 50 seconds. The video has been split into two panes, this was just to play around with some cropping (mousing into either of the video panes has exactly the same effect on the movie, the sprite track covers everything, it doesn’t discriminate between either video pane), and so that some text could appear in the ‘split’ towards the end of the video. Mousing in to the video panes triggers the 20+ jpegs (all snaps from Amsterdam), clicking the movie removes the jpeg and you can again see the video as it plays.

Like the earlier vogs it is a quick solution to combining still images with video where they are neither in concert, collage, nor collision. It is a film that simply contains both stills and video and is about three days in Amsterdam in January.

Blog workshop

This week I ran the first of two intro to blogging workshops for a small group of postgraduate students. They’re all doi

Getting Started with QuickTime

This is a new page from Apple that provides a front end to all the QuickTime programming documentation. As I’ve been mentioning recently, QuickTime is not just an authoring and delivery platform. If you’ve got the coding skills you can write an application that does just what you want using QuickTime, which means including things like audio, stills, video, Flash, MIDI, QTVR, sprites, Real Time streams, and so on.

Creative Industries and Creative Computing

A thought for the day (rare moment that). At my university a recent observation come policy suggestion from a top level committee noted, in passing, that too many workstations were too customisable by students. In the creative industries that my students enter, eventually, the majority will work in small businesses with no dedicated IT staff. Many will be self employed, freelancing, or will attempt to establish their own small business. In most of the cases IT skills will be distributed amongst the group, and are self taught (and not particularly good).

I believe that the computer skills that students learn at university ought to prepare them for this. It also should prepare them for being creative users of computers. That is not the same as being creative on a computer (how many collages in Photoshop can you make?) but creative with computers.

Large (very large) organisations, like universities, employ specialised IT staff and managers. The managers largely see their role as about delivery of service, and some combination of network maintenance and network security. This is also the model that any graduate will meet if they work for a major company. It is not the model they will meet in all other employment contexts. I think that university IT staff confuse network security and provision as being synonymous with quality of service and therefore quality of teaching. That if the computers are ‘locked down’ then they’ll be working most of the time so that you can teach your content. But what happens if your content is process? What happens if part of that process is the computer as a creative environment? What happens if part of that process is the computer as a creative network? What happens if part of that process is learning how to be literate enough to use your computer properly?

For example, every student should know what an IP address is, what it is for, and how to set it. Not thinking that that is important is no different to thinking that you don’t really need to know about telephone numbers (what they are, where they come from, how to get one). Yes, I really do think it is that simple. So, I’m drafting the (provisionally entitled) Manifesto for Responsible Creative Computing. If you’ve got suggestions for what ought to be on it, let me know.

capital to design intensive

Well, I’m slowly writing an essay on blogs and vogs, and at the moment I’m writing a pragmatic definition of blogs. I know there are lots of definitions out and about, and I’ll refer to those, but I want to avoid, if possible, a nomenclature war by identifying the things blogs have in a pragmatic manner. They seem to have these things, at the moment. Anyway, while discussing the importance of Content Management Systems (CMS) to blogs I teased out this.

In relation to print and screen writing and dissemination we have moved from a model where publishing was capital intensive (paying for printing presses, people to drive them, maintiain them, etc) to one where it was technology intensive (setting up a server, learning HTML, learning CSS, coding issues for images, etc) to one where it is now design intensive (the look and feel of your blog, and of course what and how you write in your blog). What has also happened is that we moved from objects made up of many parts (books) destined for mass audiences, via smaller objects (homepages) destined for narrow audiences, to objects made up of many parts destined for variable audiences (blogs). One is like broadcast, the other narrow, and the next is middlecasting.

MPEG4 compression

Since I’ve started using Apple’s MPEG4 codec I’m running into some technical problems. My usual form of work is to capture, cut, export as uncompressed QuickTime, then slice and compress using various presets I have done in Cleaner. However, with MPEG4 I’ve sliced the QuickTime uncompressed, then compressed into MPEG4, largely because slicing and compressing at the same time didn’t appear to yield decent results in relation to compression and quality.

However, slicing then compressing into MPEG4 is not very good. The settings that QuickTime provides for exporting to MPEG4 don’t go down low enough for sliced up video (works fine for video at 160 x 120 or 320 x 240, but not at the smaller resolutions I use) work, so I can get fine results if I leave the video as a single pane but when sliced the files are just too big. At this point I don’t know if this is an Apple MPEG4 problem, something I might be able to fix if I upgrade Cleaner from 5 to 6 (I’m a version out at the moment), or I’m going about things the wrong way. Let me know if you have any suggestions?

poster movies and hrefs

Most of the recent vogs I’ve been making I’ve been placing poster movies on the web pages. A poster movie is a one frame movie that you embed, and when clicked on, it then retrieves the actually movie. The advantage of poster movies is that if you have a page with 12 videos, then all the client (reader/viewer/browser) is downloading are the poster movies, say 20kb each, rather than all the video, which could total a heap more than that. Now, with the poster movies I’ve been making I’ve been embedding the href attribute in the poster movie itself, so that when you click on it it goes and retrieves the url that it points to.

You can also use the href attribute within the embed tag that QuickTime uses to achieve the same thing. Now I can be slow about somethings, but I’ve just realised that using ecto I can write the embed tag and publish this to the vog site, and as long as I’ve uploaded the video then everythings fine. So I guess the next thing to check is if I can use ecto to upload the video, though how would I upload two video files, the poster movie and then the video file? And what about with childmovies and stuff?

Oh, one nifty thing about poster movies and and href attributes, the href is relative to the location of the poster movie, not the web page. This is really useful, because I can put the poster movie and the video file in the same directory, so the href attribute then simply needs to contain the name of the video file, and it will work no matter what the url of the html page that embeds the video. Means you can keep the videos in one place, write a tag that will work from anywhere. In vogging this is very important because the video needs to appear on the homepage when published, then on any archive and category pages that you may also have.

In case you’re wondering, the embed tag with the href attribute would look like this:
<EMBED SRC=”/pathwayto/poster/oster.mov” WIDTH=”320″ HEIGHT=”256″ AUTOPLAY=”true” CONTROLLER=”false” href=”nameofvideo.mov” target=”myself” PLUGINSPAGE=”http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/”><br /></EMBED>

Louisiana vog

Well, after all the house hunting, applications and so on I found a bit of time to finish another of the holiday vogs. This one is Louisiana, the stunning modern art gallery just out of Copenhagen. When Anna and were there in early January it was the last day of a major Lichtenstein retrospective, and so in the spirit of his pastiche’s I simply filmed three postcards against the window of where we were staying (the view is over Copenhagen Sound). And you weren’t allowed to film in the gallery…

Like the other holiday vogs this has a video track with a series of intertitles and photographs. Mousing into the video pane is counted and controls the sequence of graphics that overlay the video. The structure is serial, one intertitle, one photograph, and they are always in the same sequence. Clicking on the video pane turns ‘off’ the graphics so you just get the video. Mousing back in returns you to the intertitles and photographs, from where you left off. There is a soundtrack which, technically, is a childmovie track, since it runs for 6 minutes and so by having it as a childmovie track it can have a duration and timeline that is independent of the video track.

The photographs were taken while we walked back from the gallery to the station, along a sliver of forest along the railway. I’m wearing the hat and winter coat that I bought in Paris, and I’m carrying the souvenirs that I bought (a poster, notepad, a book on Deleuze and cinema, and a square folding leather thingo to keep your change in). One of the things that struck me about the gallery was the very Scandinavian thing where nature and culture appear quite close together (I would provide a link to the architecture page of the museum site but the javascript navigation menu doesn’t work in Safari or Internet Explorer on OS X). They’re always kept apart (which is one of the things that makes it culturally different to Australia) but also very close. There is a lot of nature, it is nearby, and in the architecture of Louisiana one folds into and embraces the other. Hence the walk in the forest post American pop pastiche.

Having written all that, I’m left wondering why I don’t just include something like that as a commentary track in the vog, even set it up as a second soundtrack. mmm. I think I’ll try that for the next one.

Busy Fortnight

Well, been a flurry of activity in chez Miles. First of all I’ve moved house. A big move, north of the river into a new two bedroom home where there is actually room to swing a cat. (No cat to swing, but there is serious lobbying for a rabbit.) Then RMIT’s 2004 semester has started, so I’m the end of the second week of teaching where a raft of new courses and completely new curriculum is being introduced. Big changes. Then in the middle of that my youngest child Jasper started school, and my first child Sophie changes schools. Conveniently they’re both going to the same school, but what with new home, new semester, new schools, it’s been a fortnight of boxes, packing, unpacking, organising, throwing out, and what not. Now it is time for the rest of my life to begin.