The best video apps for your smartphone

Magisto

It’s all well and good being able to record great footage, but what about editing it to look slick and enjoyable? Magisto is an editing tool that gives the user the ability to create professional looking vids, in a short space of time. The app offers a great choice of music, cool graphics and effects. Best of all, it’s quick and easy to create your own footage.

FX Guru

Movie FX Director is one of our favourite apps for Android. With FX Guru you can create your own blockbuster movies using state-of-the-art special effects, which will let you create alien invasions, a T-Rex attack and even a giant robot that destroys its surroundings. There are over 24 cinematic filters that allow you to shoot your own footage and incorporate the aforementioned effects, so you really do have a lot of scope to experiment and discover what works best. FX Guru is fun and easy to use, and the results are simply outstanding.

Cinefy

Similar to FX Guru for Android, Cinefy brings special effects magic to iOS. There are over 100 effects to choose from, which all look fantastic and are easy enough to use. The intuitive software allows you to edit like a pro in minutes; just drop in your clips, add music and pick the effect you want. Hey presto, your movie is packed with great special effects!

 

Compression

Compression is the process of reducing the dynamic range between the loudest and quietest parts of an audio signal. This is done by boosting the quieter signals and attenuating the louder signals.

Compression is mainly used on vocals, however can and should be used across the board of mixes, to ensure full control of the final mix.
Compression should be enough to control the mix, and whenever using the effect it should not be obtrusive – this is all how your own ears perceive the sounds however.

Parameters of Compression:

Threshold – How loud the signal is before compression is applied.

Ratio – How much compression is applied. For example, if the compression ratio is set for 6:1, the input signal will have to cross the threshold by 6 dB for the output level to increase by 1dB.

Attack – how quickly the compressor starts to work.

Release – how quickly after the signal drops below the threshold the compressor stops.

Knee – sets how the compressor reacts to signals once the threshold is passed. Hard Knee settings mean it clamps the signal straight away, and Soft Knee means the compression kicks in more gently as the signal goes further past the threshold.

Make-Up Gain – allows you to boost the compressed signal, as compression often reduces the signal significantly.

Output – allows you to boost or decrease the level of the signal output from the compressor.

Other Types of Compression:

Side-Chain Compression – Compressor uses the input signal to determine how strongly the compressor will reduce the gain on it’s output. Can be used by DJs for Ducking (E.G. Lowering the volume quickly for when they talk!)

Multi-band Compression – Compressor that allows you to change the frequency bands, ensuring you can change the compression levels of certain frequency bands rather than the full bandwidth. Multi-band compression is good for mastering.

Equalisation

EQ is an abbreviation for Equalisation. It’s main purpose is to manipulate tone and we have all used it at some point – even without realising. EQ is found on our iPods, in a Car Stereo and in a guitar amplifier – for example; and it is likely that we’ve all had a basic grasp of what EQ does and how to use it.
However, when it comes to applying EQ to add definition and clarity to an individual track of a multi-track recording, it’s a completely different matter. In order to achieve this, you will need a working knowledge of EQ theory.

What does EQ do?:

  • EQ essentially allows you to increase or lower the volume of selected frequencies within the audio spectrum of a sound.
  • The use of EQ is quite subjective and each person will have different views and different ways of using them. However, EQ remains highly used by many in popular music.
  • It adds clarity or crispness to tones/signals
  • Creates particular ‘sonic effects’.

It’s great to recognise what EQ does, however it is very sensitive and can easily mess up a recording rather than enhance.

Synth-Pop Synths

In celebration of our sister magazine Classic Pop running an 80s Synth Pop Special and the news of a new ARP Odyssey coming out later this year, we’ve decided to round up the ten synths (and two samplers) that made 80s synth pop.

ARP Odyssey
Like the Prophet 5, the Odyssey came in three revisions, increasing in reliability with each one. Each version was designated several different model numbers – the Mk2, for example, comprised five different models, the first of which is arguably the most sought-after. The Odyssey was released as a cut-down, simpler and cheaper ARP 2600 and as such it won a huge number of fans. In fact, over the years this two-oscillator analogue synth has reached legendary status, so the news that Korg is remaking it had many a middle-aged geek – well, me, anyway – going weak at the knees…
To buy: More common than other synths but you are looking at anything between £1,900 and £2,700 to snap one up.
Selected 80s synth users: Ultravox, Gary Numan, Tangerine Dream, John Foxx, Vangelis

ARP 2600
Regarded by many as one of the finest analogue synths ever produced, the 2600 semi-modular was also seen by others as a bit complicated to use. So, look down its list of users and you’ll find a small but experienced bunch of some of the biggest pioneers in synth music, although not necessarily synth pop music (although Vince Clarke arguably IS synth pop). There are several models, which all got progressively more reliable but less great in terms of their sound quality, so like others here it’s a case of the best-sounding being the rarest.
To buy: You’re having a laugh! As rare as unicorns and rumoured to fetch over £10k when they do show up.
Selected users: Brian Eno, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Vince Clarke

Roland Juno 106
We could quite easily have gone for the 60, but this has the same sound engine plus added MIDI and patch memories. It has six voices of polyphony and a very straightforward interface, mixing up slider controls from the analogue past and slightly ‘digital-style’ buttons from the future. It’s therefore very easy to use and won fans from not only the synth pop wave of the 80s, but also the next wave of electronic dance music from the 90s.
To buy: You’re looking at close to £500 for a good-condition one.
Selected users: The Blue Nile, Covenant, Pet Shop Boys, a-ha, Depeche Mode, Vangelis, Erasure

#MoCo360 kicks off!

Heloukee: EdTech and Digital Culture

#MoCo360 is an umbrella term/collective (Mobile Collaboration all around you, geddit?) designed to aggregate mobile film co-creations and collaborations across the globe. Involving the usual suspects from the #ELVSS international mobile filmmaking collaborations, along with the welcome additions of Anthony Nevin and Dave Cowlard, #MoCo360 is the social aggregator for various mobile filmmaking projects and collaborations involving staff and students from NZ/FR/DE/CO/UK, including ELVSS (the BIG one), 24 Frames 24 Hours, Shoot Me Now, Shoot Your Egg, and #marmw.

We wanted to find a way to sustain our global collaborations and mini-projects, especially when diverse student numbers and shifting semester dates work against us, while still retaining a sense of community across space and time. Hopefully #MoCo360 will give us a bit more flexibility; by connecting under the #MoCo360 banner we can still work together – hopefully all year round in an #iCollab sense –…

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Useful links and resources from the #SkepTech 2 security panel

Skeptical Software Tools

Skep Tech 2 Logo Today in Minneapolis I was on a panel with Neil Wehneman of Secular Student Alliance and Jason Thibeault of Freethought Blogs. It was moderated by Sean Wurgler . The panel was frankly titled “ How to protect your shit online ” and this was the summary:

Even “real life” activists have to navigate online spaces–online activists obviously more so. Unfortunately, the power that online activism can lend can easily turn against activists. How do we protect our content from hackers, spammers, and trolls? How to we maintain security while simultaneously engaging in online activism–an act that requires us to put our content out into the interwebspaceplace? Expect conversation on basic content protection measures, DDOS attacks and how to subvert them, and beyond.

In this post I will attempt to gather up the links and resources we mentioned during the panel and closely related ones as well. Feel free to chime in…

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Sound Inspiration, Sound Designs

Longwood Gardens: Behind-the-Plants

Historically, the students in Longwood’s Professional Gardener Program were given plots to design and maintain at their residences, so that they could be responsible for every aspect of garden design–from concept to implementation. But since last summer, the students have been creating new, unique gardens, named the Student Exhibition Gardens, for Longwood’s visitors to enjoy.

Design Sketch for the 2011 Student Exhibition Gardens

In conjunction with Longwood’s exhibit this year, Notes from the Forest (open through October 16, 2011), we were given the exciting and challenging task of creating 4 distinctly different garden spaces that incorporated the theme of sound.

Our creative process began to take shape last summer under the direction of instructor, landscape designer, and former Professional Gardener student, Dan Maffei. We were given the tools to begin the process. As with any new design concept, we met with our client, which in this case was Longwood Gardens. This valuable opportunity allowed the client to express…

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