Protecting your gear – It’s No Accident!

pelicancase1Recently a Pelican case containing a Canon T4i DSLR camera kit left Studio 300 in near-perfect condition. It came back bruised and battered after having been in car accident-actually ejected from the vehicle! Fortunately our patron is fine, but our beloved camera equipment took quite a ride.

pelicancase2To our collective amazement, the equipment appeared to be completely intact!  After fully testing it, we confirmed that nothing inside the case was damaged in any way!  And other than the superficial road-rash, the Pelican Case took the beating like a champ and was found to be in good working order.  Click the photos to see the damage. (These photos were actually taken using the T4i camera in question.)

It may seem like an expensive addition to the cost of already fairly expensive equipment, but adding a solid case will really protect your investment and perhaps save a disaster!

New Gear! Universal Audio LA-610

analog_la610mk2Studio 300 recently beefed up our audio arsenal with the addition of the Universal Audio LA-610 MkII tube recording channel. This vintage-style tube preamp and opto-compressor channel strip opens up a whole new word of recording options.

From the Universal Audio website:

The LA-610 MkII combines an all-tube, vintage mic preamp design — heard on classic albums ranging from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to Van Halen I — with authentic Teletronix T4 opto-compression circuitry. This classic channel strip design, with its warm preamp tone and smooth, natural-sounding compression, is updated with modern, user-requested features like true compressor bypass, larger metering, increased output, and an auto-switching power supply.

The LA-610 MkII is based on the legendary console modules developed by Bill Putnam in the 1960’s and recreates that musical character and warmth. The unit boasts much lower noise specs versus vintage models. Elegant and highly popular “Black on Black” cosmetics complete the package. The LA-610 MkII offers tone, quality and character at an accessible price. In use you get tremendous sonic versatility and is an ideal approach to working with today’s modern recording software.

Keep an eye on our program calendar for upcoming training classes (vocal recordingguitar/bass recording) dedicated to using this wonderful new gear!

Wonderful Font Resources

dafontOne distinctive and yet often overlooked way to transform, update, and change the look, feel, and mood of a project is the font you select. Media creation software usually includes dozens of classic and popular typefaces. But when ‘Times New Roman’ or ‘Garamond’ just won’t do, turn to these resources for finding, building, downloading, and then using new and exciting fonts.

  • Dafont.com is a user submission-based font resource with thousands of free fonts ready to download at the click of a mouse. Its friendly design lets you instantly dive into the seemingly endless sea of fonts. They have themed categories to narrow down your search and a ‘New Fonts’ area that lets you see the latest submissions.   You can even submit and preview your own custom text in each font which is a good way to help you select the perfect font for your project. Each font has its own usage permissions, set by the owner/submitter, so take note of any restriction as you download and use them.
  • 1001freefonts works similarly, but gives you a different selection of fonts along with the ability to ‘pin’ your favorites. This lets you browse for hours (don’t say we didn’t warn you!), choose the ones you like, and recall all the pinned fonts when you’re finished.
  • Know the look of the font you need, but can’t remember its name? Or maybe you have a small sampling, but still are unsure? Identifont has a database of popularly used and recognized fonts and some more obscure choices. Search by name, by looking at similar fonts, by publisher or designer, or use their unique quiz method to narrow your choices.
  • Whatthefont is ideal for times when you have a graphic sampling (jpeg, gif, png, etc.) but can’t identify the font. This often happens with logos. Its easy upload process scans, separates letters/symbols, and finds the font that fits closest to your submission.  whatthefontTheir database will find the best match and will give you a list of alternatives and links to where you can purchase and/or download each typeface or font family.  Of course there are some restrictions to the file you choose to upload, however Whatthefont is surprisingly accurate.

Studio 300 equipment – handle with care!

From the latest iMac computers and top shelf microphones to state-of-the-art video equipment and more, there’s no doubt that Studio 300 is loaded with great gear.  However, even with the latest and best, each piece of gear has its physical limitations.  While it may seem that some gear, such as mic stands and cables, can withstand repeated heavy use, every piece has its breaking point when given the right circumstances.  Care should be taken when using all of the gear.

audioexpresshpjack

We’ve recently found some damage to one of our audio interfaces.  Here is a picture of the circuit board and the inside of the headphone jack.  The jack itself is cracked and broken as if the headphones had been struck while plugged into the interface.  While the exact circumstances aren’t known, this is something that could have been avoided with proper care and handling.

Here are a few ideas ensure that the equipment in Studio 300 will last for years to come:

  • Plan on taking time in your session for setup and tear-down.  Rushing while handling gear is a recipe for mishaps.
  • Educate yourself and your group about the gear you’re using. Ask the staff if you don’t understand.
  • Make sure to run microphone, power, and patch cables so that they are not in danger of being tripped on.
  • Secure mics and cameras on their stands and tripods and extend the stands and tripods correctly so there is no risk of tipping.
  • When using studio monitors and headphones, turn volumes to a low setting during initial setup to prevent harm to your the gear and your ears!
  • When equipment is not in immediate use (such as digital cameras and handheld camcorders) keep them in their protective cases.
  • Use care when plugging in power cables, as they are fragile at both ends and prone to cracking and fraying.

Follow these tips to keep the equipment collection in top working order so every person gets an opportunity to use it.

New MXL USB.009 Condenser Microphone

Studio 300 would like to introduce our newest microphone acquisition:  The MXL USB.009.

009usbmic

Before we obtained this mic, Studio 300 patrons would typically use a setup that required not only a pro-quality mic, but a cart full of gear that is required to allow that mic to work.  USB mics, however, have been designed to include everything needed to plug in and interface with a computer very simply.

The USB.009 is a large diaphragm condenser mic, like many other world class recording microphones.  Where it differs is that it will plug directly into both our Mac computers (or Windows, too) via a USB cable.  Because it is an all-in-one setup, the mic features its own gain control, input/output mix level, as well as its own headphone jack and headphone volume.  All that is needed is a computer with an audio recording software program, a pair of headphones, and the mic itself.   For patrons who are looking to do voice overs, podcasts, or simple audio recordings, this setup is perfect.  Come in and try it out today!

Logic Pro training comes to Studio 300

logicBecause of the ever-growing popularity of its audio capabilities, Studio 300 will soon expand its programming to offer software training on Apple’s powerful audio software Logic Pro.

Logic Pro is state-of-the-art digital audio workstation software that combines full recording capabilities with virtual instruments, sequencing, and digital effects processing.  Since its earliest versions in 2004, Logic Pro has evolved into an industry standard in recording studios around the world.  Its layout and design allows users to jump into a project quickly and easily, while offering endless amounts of editing, manipulating, and mixing capabilities producing top-notch results.  Users are at a special advantage if they are familiar with Logic’s sibling, GarageBand, and its simpler, user-friendly face. Many functions, features, and even hot-keys are shared between the two programs.

In late November, Studio 300 will begin offering programs on Logic Pro that will teach not only the general layout and function of the software, but getting students involved by creating their own projects.  Students will be challenged by recording, editing, and mixing audio, then sharing what they create in this hands-on class.

The Logic Pro programs will be offered on Monday, November 25 at 6:30pm and Friday December 6 at 3:00pm. Sign-up begins 21 days prior to those dates. Meanwhile, you can checkout our popular Making Music in Studio 300 classes (featuring GarageBand) in September and October.

Teens learn 3D modeling and printing

Earlier this month, Studio 300 presented their first 3D Design & Printing for Teens class.  Students eagerly took over the studio computers and dove into the exciting and complicated new world of designing objects in a virtual 3 dimensional world and bringing them to reality with our 3D printer.

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The class began with discussion about the fundamentals of 3D design and possible uses for 3D printed objects.  Everyone had their own ideas – from jewelry like necklaces and earrings, to scale models of buildings for use in architecture and design, to scale models for prototyping.

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Other questions were asked that sparked discussion about the essentials of 3D design.  What can be printed?  What cannot?  What kind of designs could be constructed that would print best?  Large objects (over 5in x 5in x 11in) certainly would be impossible for even our modest Makerbot, while very small intricately detailed objects are also a limitation of the printer.  The material that is being printed has other limitations such as sensitivity to heat and pressure, and an inability to flex also inhibits some designs.

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The class then learned about some of the software (most of it free!) that can be used to create 3D models, and began learning a free downloadable software called SketchUp made by Google.  The basics of the software’s workflow were learned, as well as the tools to create and manipulate objects.  The learning curve for design in 3 dimensions is a bit steep, but these tech-savvy teens picked it up, ran with it and were creating objects in no time.

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The students were then given a task – create their idea of a dream house while keeping in mind the structural limitations of the Makerbot printer.  after only 45 minutes, these teens had created amazing and fun designs, from cylindrical silos and contemporary country estates to abstract minimalist apartments and biohazard arch-villain hideouts!

greenprinting

Printing a 3D model made by teens in Studio 300.

silver

A completed model

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Another finished teen ‘dream house’

July Studio 300 Programs

DigitalTransfersSummer is in full swing at Studio 300.  Patrons continue to take advantage of all the creative technology we have available in the lab.  We’ve helped patrons build websites, make short videos, record music, and more.  Photo scanning and VHS to DVD conversion continue to be quite popular.  There are a lot of memories being preserved and shared thanks to Studio 3oo.

Interested in learning more about the technology available to you in Studio 300? Sign-up for one of our free July programs:

Orientation

All patrons wanting to take full advantage of the equipment and spaces available in Studio 300 need to attend our orientation session for an overview of Studio 300 procedures.  Limit 10 per class.

  • Mondays and Saturdays 10:30am-11:00am
  • Wednesdays 6:00pm-6:30pm
  • Fridays 4:30pm-5:00pm

Digital Archiving

VHS to DVD: convert and share old videos in digital formats.  Limit 6 per class

  • Thursday 7/11 at 2:00pm

LP/Cassette to CD/MP3: Transfer your old recording to new formats.  Limit 6 per class

  • Thursday 7/25 at 2:00pm

Photo/Slide Scanning: Copy existing prints, negatives and slides to digital formats.  Limit 6 per class

  • Thursday 7/9 at 7:00pm

Voice-overs and podcasts

Learn to record and edit spoken word audio projects in this hands-on workshop.  Limit 6 per class.

  • Thursday 7/25 at 7:00pm

Basic Photo Restoration

Learn how Photoshop helps eliminate scratches, dirt and general image problems along with its other repair tricks in this hands-on session.  Limit 6 per class.

  • Wednesday 7/24 at 1:00pm

Video Editing Made Easy

Discover how to arrange videos, add pictures, titles and music then share your project online in this hands-on iMovie session.   Limit 6 per class.

  • Wednesday 7/24 at 1:00pm

Discover Studio 300 Macs and Software

Learn about our Mac computers and what you can create with all the software available in Studio 300.  Limit 6 per class.

  • Monday 7/1 at 3:00pm
  • Wednesday 7/10 at 7:00pm
  • Monday 7/15 at 3:00pm
  • Wednesday 7/24 at 7:00pm
  • Monday 7/29 at 3:00pm

Planning & Producing a mini-documentary

Need to share a story about a person, event, cause or other aspect from your life? Learn the basic steps needed to produce a short video.  Limit 8 per class.

  • Tuesday 7/16 at 7:00pm

Take Better Vacation Photos and Videos

Follow these photography tips to better document your journey.  Limit 10 per class.

  • Tuesday 7/2 at 7:00pm

Making Music in Studio 300

This hands-on session uses Garageband and Studio 300’s instruments, microphones and recording equipment to help you create your own music.  Limit 6 per class.

  • Monday 7/8 at 7:00pm

Build your Vacation Photo Scrapbook

What to do with all those pictures and souvenirs?  Craft a digital scrapbook and share it with friends and family.  Limit 5 per class.

  • Friday 7/12 at 11:00am

Remember you can sign-up for any program up to 21 days in advance.

Why doesn’t my print look like the project on the screen?

If you’ve ever created a colorful masterpiece of a graphic project only to feel deflated after seeing how it prints out, you may have fallen into the common RGB vs CMYK trap.  Knowing the difference between these color modes can save your project when displaying on screen and on paper.

RGB and CMYK are two of the most common color modes you can choose from when using programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.  Knowing when to use each mode will help your project be as true to life as you intend it to be.

RGB is an acronym for the color mode that includes Red, Blue and Green.  It is an additive mode, which means that as each of the red, blue and green colors are added together, they combine to form white, as seen below:

rgbRGB_illumination

This mode is used when displaying for television or computer screens, mobile device screens, scanners, digital cameras as well as some stage lighting fixtures.  If your project is going to be displayed on screen (web design, for example) RGB mode should be used.

CMYK is, in many ways, just the opposite of RGB.  It is an acronym for the color mode that includes Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and ‘Key’ or Black (in most cases).  It is a subtractive color model, which means that as you add color, you take light away.  when all colors are combined, black will be the result.  This model acts just as if you were to physically add different colored paints or inks together.  An example is shown below:

CMYK-color_model

If your project is to be printed, such as making invitations, flyers or business cards, CMYK color mode is what you’ll want to choose.

Will RGB print?  Sure it will.  You don’t have to convert it.  Behind the scenes, the computer will convert the color mode to CMYK in order to print it.  However, it won’t always look like what you’re seeing on the screen.  Here’s an example.

beachcmyk

beachrgb

The two images above are of the same beach scene, however the top image was saved in RGB mode, and the bottom in CMYK.  Notice the difference?  You’ll see that some of the colors don’t seem to have changed at all, while some are a bit more dramatic.  The blue hues in the sky (especially the clouds) and the greens in the water seem much more subdued in the CMYK version.  The red hues of the sand in the shadows area are also not as rich, because of the subtractive properties of the color mode.  The lower image is a more accurate version of what will come out of the printer.

When it comes to saving an image for an on-screen application, what you see on your monitor will be pretty much what you get.  However, if your intention is to have a hard copy version of your project, using CMYK as early on as you can will display a better representation and save you from some unnecessary headaches down the road.

Makerbot achievements

Now that we’ve had a solid 3 weeks of noodling with our new Makerbot Replicator 2, we have some shiny new objects to show off!  From fun and silly tchotchkes to practical useful tools, we are constantly experimenting with different designs, concepts and ideas to bring to 3-dimensional life.

makerbotitems2

Something as simple as a small container:

makerbotcup

To a complex series of moving parts, such as this planetary gear set:

makerbotgears

Practical objects like this nut/bolt set:

makerbotnutbolt

To these fully functional pliers, complete with interlocking teeth!

makerbotpliers

Now it’s your turn. What will YOU create?