Future Media/Future Media Topics

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The product I have chosen to write about is Google Docs, which is an online variation of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The products, Documents and Spreadsheets, were originally created by Upstartly and name Writely and Spreadsheets, which Google bought out in 2005. Google combined both of these products on October 10, 2006. Then they acquired a online presentation software, along with the related technologies, from Tonic Systems, and rolled it into Google Docs on September 17, 2007. This product allows for the online creation and storage of text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. By doing this, you can retrieve your information from any computer in the world, regardless of operating system. It also allows for you to share documents in real-time with people via the internet, and therefore make collaboration easier.

This product is important, because it is challenging the established leading computer software writer, Microsoft. Google Docs is basically an open-source software package available over the internet. Its competition, OpenOffice which is made by Sun Java Systems, is not as popular, but is just as widely available. The reasons for the popularity of Google Docs is because it is created and promoted by Google, Inc, the easy accessibility to all your documents because they are stored on Google's servers, and they are cross-platform compatible.

Google Docs use as project management is feasible, but only on a small scale because of the limitations built into the software itself. In reality, the only group of people who would find it useful as project management software would be: students, self-employed business owners, and small business owners. When it comes to large companies, or those who have the need for security with their projects, Google Docs is not feasible.

The are several reasons why Google Docs is not feasible to use as project management software. The first reason is security. The only time that any of the Google packages signs in securely, using HTTPS, is at the sign in page, after that the entire site uses normal HTTP for passing information. This would allow for someone, if they knew how to accomplish it, to use a cross-browser attack to compromise Google Docs. For this reason, any project that dealt with confidential information could not use Google Docs. Secondly, Google Docs is not written to handle all possible situations involving a large project. Small projects that only required the use of one or two spreadsheets and a couple of text documents are the most that are feasible by this package. Another reason for not using Google Docs as project management software is because there seems is way to check documents in an out, so in essence edits could be made on the same document at the same time and end up with two completely different documents.

For more information concerning Google Docs, please check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_docs.

The WikiBook

First off, let’s look at the history of Wiki’s and the technology behind such an apparent revolution in the cyber world and technological field – especially on the development side of these areas. The word "wiki" comes from a Hawaiian word for "quick". Wikis were invented about 10 years ago by Socialtext advisor and friend Ward Cunningham. However, the creation of the first wiki website only became possible with the development of the hypertext protocol of the WorldWideWeb (1991) and graphical web browsers such as the Netscape Navigator (1994). Wikis became the collaboration tool of choice because they are simple and flexible. Cunningham's first wiki met with immediate success, and quickly spawned "wiki clones," alternative versions of the wiki software. The use of wiki websites was rapidly adopted by communities of free software developers, but at first remained confined to these specialised groups.

The knowledge of Wikis was not widespread known except in the areas of programmers and software developers till up to approximately 2001. The breakthrough that really cast Wikis into the limelight was through the success of the free content encyclopaedia Wikipedia introduced wikis to the general public. After this monumental occurrence in the WorldWideWeb arena, the number of Wiki websites and the varieties of wiki engines (software implementations) increased exponentially. There now exist thousands of wiki websites and hundreds of wiki engines.

A Wiki is a collaboratively-edited website which many people also view as an anarchistic publishing tool. The distinguishing feature of wikis is that they typically allow all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors. It is used in many different areas of life, and the demand for more and more Wikis has increased over the past few years. Some of the areas that use Wikis are banks, telecommunication companies, small businesses, hospitals, universities, software companies, and many more.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Wikis may include:

    1.	No need to install HTML authoring tools; minimal training may be needed.
    2.	Can help develop a culture of sharing and working together (cf. open source).
    3.	Useful for joint working when there are agreed shared goals.
    4.	In addition to the text on the page, any type of digital file can be uploaded to and shared by linking to them from the wiki page. 
    5.	Can be open to the public for viewing and editing, or limited to specific individuals for viewing only or viewing and editing.

Disadvantages of Wikis may include:

    1.	There is not (yet) a standard lightweight Wiki markup language.
    2.	It may be difficult for Wikis to gain momentum.
    3.	The simple design of the wiki and the need to keep formatting simple (so as to enable those unskilled in html to edit pages) limits the complexity of the documents that can be created in a wiki.
    4.	Even though nothing can be destroyed in a wiki (as it can be retrieved from the wiki history), the original formatting is lost, meaning that it can be time consuming to recreate what was deleted.
    5.	It is not always obvious what has been altered (unless users each agree to use a different colour font, but this requires coordination of effort that can stifle the ease of use of the wiki.

Wikis require shift in thinking about the whole notion of ownership (of what is written). Thus wikis that are open to a wide audience should not be used if author(s) want to retain control and credit for what is created. There may be copyright and other legal issues regarding collaborative content. Important not to use wikis when the exact wording of original content needs to be retained (e.g. not appropriate to post transcript of podcast in a wiki).

Application in Class?

    1.	Very easy to create and edit with no understanding of html or web page design.
    2.	Efficient method of students sharing and organizing information. 
    3.	Students can collaborate on assignments without having to meet synchronously.
    4.	Avoids having one person assume responsibility for entering each student's contributions into the group paper/project.
    5.	Students can build on each other's ideas
    6.	Reduces the likelihood of having "free riders" who contribute little if anything to a group project, since the instructor (and other students) can refer to the wiki history, and see exactly what contributions were made by whom.
    7.	Also using the page history, instructors can identify which students may be struggling with different concepts as well as which students are assisting those who are struggling.
    8.	Students can use wikis for peer editing and peer feedback prior to submitting final assignments.
    9.	If a wiki is public it enables students to have their work seen by others and gives them an authentic audience.

Wikis can enable students to receive feedback on their work if users insert comments at relevant places within the document. However, since it is difficult to use the history feature of wikis to compare the revised version with earlier versions, it is best to have students share their work in Microsoft Word and use the "track changes" feature so that the suggestions and changes are embedded in the relevant portions of the document without changing the original content.

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The final project in the Future Media class required the use of a variety of software including After Effects, Live Type, Photoshop, iWeb, and Final Cut Pro. Final Cut Pro being the most used of the bunch. The class had to film themselves reciting a script, which they than brought into Final Cut and added all the attributes that made the videos sparkle. Final Cut gave the class the ability to edit their movies with professional software, without the professional training. Which is the beauty and attraction to this product; it has all the tools needed to edit everything from Christmas at grandma’s house, to a full length feature film. Final Cut Pro came on the scene in the 2000s as Apple’s response to the PC editing software Avid. Avid has been the Hollywood standard for film editing in the past but that standard is now being threatened with the easy usability and cost effective Final Cut. Final Cut has always been preferred for independent film makers but has started grabbing the attention of film industry professionals. Movies such as 300, Jarhead, Letters to Iwo Jima, and Academy Award Nominees Cold Mountain and No Country for Old Men are among the feature films edited with this software. As with the Hollywood editors, some of the tools used by the Future Media class included the razor tool for cutting out unwanted material, the audio settings tool for bring down the music where voice over was prominent, and fading in and out between scenes. The class movies were of course, at a beginning stage compared to the amount of effects Final Cut is actually capable of. What makes this software so popular is that it puts in the hands of beginners what professionals are using to make multi-million dollar films. Not only is it packed full of all a novice film maker could hope for, but it also plays well with other software. Final Cut is compatible with QuickTime and accepts video formats such as DV and MPEG-4. It also is ideal when one is working with Adobe’s product After Effects or Apple’s Live Type, both of which were used in the final project for this class. In keeping up with the trends of media, Final Cut has also been HD compatible since the release of the third version and Apple is currently on Final Cut Pro 6. Apple has also been releasing Final Cut Studio, which includes helpful products such as Compressor, Color, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro, and Motion. Each of these products aid in different areas of composing a deceit project; for example, Compressor is used in shrieking file sizes, whereas DVD Studio Pro is used for burning one’s project to a DVD. Soundtrack Pro serves as the audio editing software and Motion as the graphics part of the package. With all of these components being included in one lump sum it’s just another reason the industry should continue to take a more serious look at this product. Though there is still a debate as to whether Final Cut or Avid is better for full length films, one could absolutely say Final Cut is the better choice for beginning film makers. As with most Apple products, Final Cut is user friendly, without sacrificing quality. It provides easy access to powerful editing software that takes the idea from the film makers head and places it on screen. It transforms any class project into something a viewer might actually want to take time to watch, making Final Cut Pro a great solution for beginning film makers and editors.

GarageBand[edit | edit source]

Part of the iLife suite, you can not buy GarageBand by itself. It comes free on new Macs or for under a hundred dollars Mac users can purchase it outright. GarageBand is an application focused to help the average person create music at an easy level. You can plug in a keyboard or guitar to your computer and mix your own recordings or use one of the many synthesized instruments included with the package. There is no doubt that composing in GarageBand is fun. It allows you to record in real time and you are able to monitor special effects while recording is taking place.

GarageBand layers its structured interface with levels of tracks. It supports drag and drop importing of audio loops from anywhere on your Mac. You can bring in your own loops or choose one of the many pre-made ones that Garageband offers. There are three kinds of tracks offered in Garageband: real instruments, software instruments, or you can import MIDI tracks. Real Instruments are supported by plugging an instrument directly into the computer or using a microphone to record the instrument being played. The other type of track is Software instruments, which are instruments already in the software. The supplied instruments vary from good to excellent. While you get enough to get started, there’s not nearly enough for serious loop composition. However, you can import loops to get more from your mixing. And for those who want a larger collection of sounds GarageBand also offers JamPacks which include more than 2,000 additional Apple Loops, 100+ new Software Instruments, and 100+ additional effect presets.

After creating your music the next big thing is to turn it into a Podcast. Making Podcasts is simple, and can be inter-graded into other applications such as Final Cut Pro and Quick Time Pro. You can easily use all of GarageBand’s synthesizers and effects to spice up your composition and export a Podcast to iTunes to share with family and friends.

Whether your a newbie or a professional working on a short project GarageBand is a wonderful way to start. It makes the job of recording music in real time more fun and easy to use. Things in the music world can get complicated, but Garageband is a refreshing application that is simply built for music making on Macs.

Livetype[edit | edit source]

By: Carolann Merchant.

The greatest way to get quick, professional looking text graphics is through Apple's Livetype. It allows the user to choose the typeface they want, add a number of animations to the text, and create text entrances and exits to and from the screen. Livetype also offers background graphics, still or animated that compliment its library of text animations. It is an excellent tool that gives movie quality results in the time it would take to watch a movie. The class was introduced to Livetype during the time allotted to the final project. The project, a 30 second to one minute movie over the class, required students to create an introduction with Livetype as the suggested tool. Great results were accomplished in just a short class period supplemented with a brief demonstration by the professor. Most professional animators would choose to use After Effects, some might even use Motion for less sophisticated projects. A project done in After Effects may take several hours depending on its nature, however similar results can be achieved through the simplicity of Livetype. Livetype enables text to glow, fade, zoom, and much more. Effects can be timed and edited by the user who is nearly given full control of the effects due to the elegance of the program and the options available. Effects can even be layered and combined to create original and unique features in any animation. Livetype uses keyframes and a timeline for its editing layout. The functionality keeps the user organized and the eyes focused amidst the potential chaos that comes with editing and animating on a computer screen. It would be an ill advised decision to use Livetype on a professional project that would be running in mainstream culture. Most people in the profession would recognize a basic Livetype animation and this would be considered uncreative, amateur, and low-rate. Livetype is good for the average YouTube user, small projects for school, church, etc... or just for fun!

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