Sunday, September 23, 2007

Talk About Tools - MEDIA TOOLS


There are millions of tools in the modern world. Some of my friends tools. Some people call Dalton McGuinty a tool, but that's another conversation altogether. Instead, I'll discuss the media tools I used this week. Mind you, I didn't access my PC much this week due to the rigors of university life (cooking, laundry, groceries, and all that other fun stuff). Nevertheless, here's the list.

I'll begin with my adventures in everyone's favorite social networking site, Facebook. "Facebook doesn't count as a media tool,' you may be thinking. If, in fact, you were thinking as such, you would be partially wrong. For Facebook is now the home of user-made applications, and some of these applications are media tools. Take the Graffiti application, for instance.

Graffiti
Gaffiti is a facebook-authored application that allows user to create pictures, Graffiti style. The options are very basic, which makes it user-friendly. The options are as such: save, undo, start over, line width, line opacity, and color. It's generally used for handwriting messages to friends, but this week I was a little more creative with it.

Here's a sreenshot of the application in "creation mode." Note that once a peice is saved, it can never be modified again. Not by Graffiti, anyways.



Here's 2 other peices I created. Graffiti recently included a 'playback' option, which lets you watch the peice being formed, stroke by stroke. So I filmed the playbacks, too.


Peice 1: HEY


And now, the video version.


video


Peice 2: Guitar

(The perspective and proportions of this peice are all wrong, I know.)

video



So you may be wondering what I used to capture this (somewhat blocky) video. Well, I accomplished it with the magic of...


Hypercam
Hypercam is a desktop video recording program. The version I used was a free trial of version 2. It's a handy tool for capturing video on your desktop, as there are few other programs that can do this for free. As you may have noticed, the frame rate is rather limited. It has a maximum capture rate of 10 frames/second, so fluid motion isn't acheivable. But aisde from that, it works perfectly.

Here's a collage of the toolbox functions.

Hypercam is a great tool for recording desktop games, such as Runescape. This is an old Runescape music video I made months ago.


video

(there probably won't be more to come)

I edited this movie using...

Windows Movie Maker

Over my high school years, I mastered this simple video editing program. It's a good program for novice video editors (especially since it's free), but it lacks much. For example, it only has one secondary audio channel, and the transitions are primitive.

Here's a layout of the program:


I've made many videos with Windows Movie Maker, but I'm more than ready to try new software, such as Final Cut. Anyways, this week I made a short film (below) from some old video clips from high school. I made it for a friend, so I apologize for any inside jokes.


video


Thus ends my week of media usage. Later folks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Media Review - Bioshock



Today, I picked up a new PC game known as Bioshock. Considering I'd just purchased a new desktop, I figured I should break it in with a 1st-person shooter. So far, it's been worth every last penny of the 50 bucks I shelled out for it.

OVERVIEW
Bioshock is a first-shooter game for PC and Xbox. It takes place in an underwater city that has been torn apart by civil war. As the player progresses through each gory level, he makes discoveries about the city's past as he tries to escape. He also gains special genetic powers, made possible by the genetic experiments of the past.

GENRE
My experience of the game has so far been mixed. The gloriously realistic graphics were a problem for my graphics card, so I unfortunately had to tone down the settings to keep the game running smooth.


The gameplay itself is different than other typical shooters. It uses the standard 'ASDW' keyboard configuration, with a few alterations. The weapons range from the good old wrench to machine guns. However, the selection doesn't end there. Bioshock adds a new element, Plasmids, to the gameplay. Plasmids are genetic alterations that give you elemental powers, such as electricity and fire. Although I enjoy the inclusion of these plasmids, I must say that they aren't original to the world of games. Even the telekinesis plasmid reminded me of the Force powers seen in almost every Star Wars game.

GRAPHICS
The biggest attraction of Bioshock is its graphics. Superb graphics can make the simplest of games very complex appearing. Bioshock is an example of this concept. In fact, the graphics almost overshadow the gameplay, because it has tremendous artistic value.

The introduction was great, and I actually thought that the beginning of the game was part of a cutscene. The shading and texture is completely detailed; there wasn't a single aspect forgotten.



But once you got used to the rich detail, you realize the simple nature of the game. Most of the artistry went into the disturbingly gory corpses, which are found in every corner of Rapture.

GAMEPLAY

Bioshock is also limited to storyline mode,
and story mode can be finished rather quickly. The advertisements say that "no two players will play the game the same way," but there is much room in the game to play it 'your own way.'

I would have appreciated a multiplayer element to the game, so that the game isn't useless after finishing story mode. If you're looking for more playing time from your game, I'd recommend an MMOG over Bioshock any day. However, if you live and breathe hack-and-slash games, there is no way that I could deter you from buying Bioshock. So if you're still looking for a cheap copy, email me.

BOTTOM LINE

Pros:
- incredible graphics
- interesting storyline
- new 'weapons': plasmids

Cons:
- only story mode available
- quickly beaten
- graphics are mostly gory

Rating: 3.5 / 5