Silent Film Director now less silent

Just a quick update, the cool old-timey movie mak­ing app for iPhone (and yes, it does run on the iPad too) just received an update that brings the num­ber of avail­able sound­tracks up to 8.

And yeah, it’s a pretty cool app, espe­cially if you’ve been want­ing to play around with movie mak­ing on your iOS device — Silent Film Direc­tor (in the iTunes Store).
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Free photo app Instagram just got better

iglogo.jpgThe free and popular instant photography sharing app for iOS, Instagram, just pushed an update through — and it’s a nifty little update too!

Aside from some bug fixes, two new filters were added in the 1.0.7 update;

Walden
walden.jpg

Hefe
hefe.jpg

And one has been retrieved from the cutting room floor after a bit of a populous revolt;

PopRocket
poprocket.jpg

I love the filter upgrades, but the app upgrade didn’t go off without a hitch.

In my case, Instagram lives on my iPad, which I use for post-production editing and sharing of my photos. I like to think of it as my iPad Darkroom.

And this update to Instagram had me worried for a moment — it wouldn’t read any images from my photo roll or photo albums.

But after a full shutdown and restart, whatever database issues it had seemed to clear up, and I’m happily playing in the darkroom again.

iOS devices seem to be the most prolific when it comes to mobile digital darkroom apps, for now. I’m thinking that once more developers get busy working on the other devices, there’s going to be a whole lot more awesome photography happening out there… and I can’t wait!
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Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, proposals, reports, reviews, email…you get the picture. Often times I end up creating new documents that share similar format or content, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into newer ones. But I’m lazy, and always looking for easier ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learning how to save time and keystrokes by using text expansion software. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basically, what you do is create a database of commonly typed words, phrases or layouts and assign unique key triggers to each snippet of text. For example, I usually sign my email thusly:


Brad Grier

———-
Brad Grier Consulting
Lifestyle Technology & Community Media

Lots of characters and formatting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email signature was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The software did the rest.

Another example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be emailing me to say that most common email programs have a place for a signature, and it’s automated whenever you compose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s another.

Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you use common CSS or HTML snippets. It’s a simple matter to add this code to the database, and call it with a few keystrokes. This Lorem Ipsum layout text block, for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc mattis arcu sed quam tincidunt et lobortis nunc volutpat. Phasellus lacinia nulla quis lectus molestie in commodo mauris blandit. Nullam in vestibulum velit. Donec libero est, volutpat non accumsan ac, rutrum vitae odio. Curabitur pretium mauris non nisi vestibulum tincidunt. Aenean tristique quam sapien, vel dapibus ligula. Maecenas commodo faucibus pulvinar. Donec eleifend ante eget purus luctus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feugiat dui. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adipiscing ipsum id massa luctus vel suscipit metus elementum. Morbi venenatis mauris eget metus tincidunt luctus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam pharetra luctus vel ut tortor.

That was generated by me typing ‘.lorem’ and hitting the Tab key. Much easier than pasting it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snippets directory.

As well, text replacement software can easily automagically enter other dynamic data such as the current date (.d) [ Thursday, October 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Software
On windows, I’d recommend the free Texter program, created by LifeHacker editor Adam Pash. And lookie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use TextExpander Touch. Same features, with a few extra bells and whistles such as application integration.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s computer :smileyhappy: But TextExpander Touch has a counterpart (called TextExpander, of course) that runs on OSX and others consider it the ‘benchmark’ for Mac text expansion and scripting tools.

texter.jpgSaving time?
One other thing, Texter actually tracks the keystrokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report showing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy printable chart of all your replacement macros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replacement application? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or perhaps a favourite replacement macro you use often.



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.


How to easily edit home video with free software from Microsoft

Back in the day I used to be a news videotape editor. This was before cameras were digital — think back to the days of VCRs, Beta and VHS. Yep, that was the media of the day to record music and video. That was called Analog.

The reason I bring that up is because editing on tape, is significantly different than digital editing. The whole workflow for Analog editing is, well, analog. You start at the beginning and work to the end. If you need to change something you’ve already completed, on tape you have to redo everything from the change point forward, so things tended to get planned out very very carefully. And mistakes tend to take a long time to fix.

Today, the workflow is different. I’ve never professionally edited digitally, so the workflow I use is likely not a best practice, but it gets the job done for me.

And one of the tools I’m starting to use is Microsoft’s Windows Live Movie Maker. You’ve likely seen the I’m a PC commercials with the kids making videos — well I’m about the same speed as those kids, so yeah, the tool is easy to use 😉

Editing is pretty intuitive. Drag clips into a pallet. Trim them to include only the bits you want. Place them in the proper order. Insert some transitions, maybe some titles off the top and credits at the end, and you’re done.

It took me maybe 2 hours to load, edit and publish my video to YouTube. The second one, below, took maybe 30 minutes — the hardest part was selecting the edit points and transitions.

Cue the cute puppy video.

Of course, what took the most time was transcoding and publishing the video to YouTube. Then the version processing on YouTube takes time too, but it’s automated so you’re doing something else while your movie is getting polished 🙂 But back to the software.

Microsoft Live Movie Maker comes full of all sorts of bells and whistles, some are pretty advanced too.

I’ve just started down this road of video production (as you can tell by the home movie quality of that video), so yes, I’ll be trying other video editing software in the coming months.

But for now, for me on my simple home PC, Live Movie Maker is what gets the job done.

And here’s the bonus, it’s free from Mcrosoft.