Reviews

Reviews

Video editing with Blender VSE: "It's complicated"

Coming from Kino, Blender's "Video Sequence Editor" is a huge step up. Most people don't think of Blender when considering video editing tools, but in fact, Blender contains a very good one. This is not a separate application but an editing mode within the Blender application. It can work directly with animated scenes created within Blender or with video footage from other sources. Evaluating it is a little tricky because of this unique niche.

Bach's Goldberg Variations commissioned for Public Domain Release

One of the responses to my earlier post about the MusOpen symphony recording project mentioned a project I had overlooked: the Open Goldberg project has created new public domain scores for the Bach's "Goldberg Variations" using the MuseScore free software musical notation software and is commissioning a studio recording of piano soloist Kimiko Ishizaka performing the pieces, also for public domain release (with

Libre.fm: A music sharing site just for free-culture works

You've probably heard of "Last FM", a music playlist site that allows users to track their favorite bands and listen to music streamed over their mobile devices. But you may not have heard of Libre FM, a recent free software project and free culture web application intended to serve this purpose exclusively for free-licensed musical works.

Book Review: Blender 2.49 Scripting

Python scripting in Blender seems like a natural interest for me, as I'm interested in both Blender and Python. I really enjoyed reading this book on the subject, and the examples were certainly interesting. However, there is one small problem that I didn't realize until after I had read it: Blender's Python API changed a lot in the major re-write that accompanied the transition from Blender 2.4x to 2.5x. This unfortunately is going to make this book dated a lot sooner than you might expect. So, while I do think it's a great book, I might have to recommend waiting for a version updated to Blender 2.5x.

Disaffection with Jamendo among artists

Jamendo has been one of my favorite sites for finding free-licensed music (i.e. music licensed under Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses) for projects. So, it's very sad for me to find out that it has had a flagging reputation over the last year or so. I first noticed earlier this year that some artists were disappearing from the site.

Motion-Tracking comes to Blender with Project Mango

The Blender Foundation has started a new "Open Movie" project called "Mango", and this one is of particular interest to me for Lunatics, because of the technical goal: motion tracking. Motion tracking is principally about putting animated 3D objects into real footage so that it matches the background "plate" (i.e. the original footage).

MusOpen.org is Commissioning the Prague Symphony Orchestra this January

It looks like 2012 is going to be a great year for free culture. Possibly my favorite development is that MusOpen has organized its planned symphony recordings for this January. In September, 2010, the free culture organization raised over $68,000 (several times their $11,000 goal) through a Kickstarter campaign, with the intent of commissioning a "internationally renowned orchestra" to perform the Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky symphonies.

Book Review: Sakai: Free as in Freedom written by Charles Severance

Sakai: Free as in Freedom, written by Charles Severance (the first Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation) is a personal view of the history of Sakai. The book is a thorough description of how the project and its software evolved. This is not a book about software configuration; it is a book that describes how a community emerged from the actions of individuals.

Book Review: The Book of Audacity by Carla Schroder

Audacity is one of my favorite free software applications, and it has really improved over the years. This book covers the latest features in the 1.3.x series, which is expected to lead directly to the version 2.x Audacity. The book covers more than just Audacity, though. In the process of covering several different uses, it also discusses everything from hardware equipment selection to copyright and business problems that may come up in a project. Overall, it's a good read and a good introduction to Audacity, audio recording, and audio processing.

Book Review: Blender 3D 2.49 Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery by Allan Brito

Most examples of modeling with Blender make a number of assumptions that are a very bad fit for architecture: that you are viewing a convex model from the outside, for example, or that measurements can be rough or "organic." It's really very hard to find good information about drawing with precision constraints, keeping floors level, or making doors, windows, and walls work right. It's not just of use to architects -- anyone designing a large interior space whether for architecture or film production will find this book very useful.

Review: Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering, by Aaron W. Powell

Sometimes the best book on a subject is the shortest. This is a very concise book, focused very much on a single narrow, but important, subject with Blender: which is how to light your subject, create colors and textures, and generate the final 2D render from the 3D scene.

Review: Making Software, Edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson

It's an old joke among programmers that questions of the efficacy of programming languages, abstraction models, management models, or other fundamental ideas of software engineering are simply "religious wars" -- i.e. conflicts impossible to resolve, because they are based on faith and superstition rather than any kind of objective evidence. And yet, a lot of important decisions are based on these ideas. So it's refreshing to see a book that attempts to apply real scientific rigor to the questions of programming and software engineering, and that's what "Making Software" gives us.

Book Review: Foundation Blender Compositing by Roger Wickes

Hardly anyone realizes that Blender even is a video compositing and non-linear editing tool (in addition to its modeling, rendering, and animation capabilities). There are few, if any, books available on how to use it for that purpose, so Roger Wickes' book is much needed. It contains an enormous amount of very useful information.

Book Review: Crafting Digital Media by Daniel James

Daniel James is the director of the Studio 64 GNU/Linux distribution, which serves as a basis for professional music studio mixing installations, as well as an experienced writer and editor. Thus it is not surprising that he should create an excellent book on music mixing. What did surprise me was how well he covered visual arts as well -- photography, drawing, animation, and video production.

Crafting Digital MediaCrafting Digital Media

Book Review: The book of Inkscape: The definitive guide to the free graphic editor by Dmitry Kirsanov

Inkscape is a mature SVG vector graphics editor. You can run it on a number of platforms including GNU/Linux and Windows. It has a rich set of features and is popular and actively maintained. The Book of Inkscape: the definitive guide to the free graphics editor, by Dmitry Kirsanov is a comprehensive guide of 476 pages that describes in detail the various parts of the software. The book also includes six chapter-size tutorials that emphasis the manipulative power of this feature rich editor.

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