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ICT archive at Aus Mac Ed

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Archive for the 'ICT' Category

Blender 2.46 - new version of freeware 3D app

I spent some time in University making videos in 3D - a laborious process in Strata Studio Pro in 1997 where renders would take up to 36 hours for 30 seconds of footage. Such time did the G3 266GHz PowerMacs take to render that my team would take turns sleeping in the lab trying to make sure renders were complete.

With Kahootz 3 out around town and freeware like Blender 2.46 kicking around too, there has never been a better time to get into 3D if your a school student. The 3D and CG industry is booming worldwide. And not just for games - in industry too. In WA 3D companies are commanding high prices for their immersive works.

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Version 2.46 of Blender supports a new particle system with hair and fur combing tools, fast and optimal fur rendering, a mesh deformation system for advanced character rigging, cloth simulation, fast Ambient Occlusion, a new Image browser, and that’s just the beginning. Check the extensive list of features here … have fun!

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Radiologik freeware for school radio stations

Radiologik is a freeware DJ tool that would be of interest to teachers and students alike. I remember when my students produced three CDs of music in GarageBand for the school International Food Day.

Radiologik

This would have been a great way to broadcast interviews with the creators of the “world music” themed tunes in between the tracks.

Radiologik is a set of two programs that seeks to address the specific needs of radio broadcasting in an accessible and focused way.

It is being developed for LPFMs, online streaming radio stations, and school radio stations and it should grow to support commercial operations over the next year.

The DJ portion is ready for prime-time now and along with the scheduler (now in public beta testing) you can have a fully-automated station.

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ReelBean media player + convertor

ReelBeanAnother for the toolkit is ReelBean. Handy if your students are using their mobile phones to capture video. The .3gp files can be converted to other formats with this and converted back for moblie phones. The ReelBean website details:

ReelBean is a movie converter and player offering many features that are normally only available in expensive pro video applications. Most of ReelBean’s features are available for free.

ReelBean allows you to export your videos to many different video and audio formats, edit videos, extract sections of audio and video into separate files, and displays detailed video information and properties panels. It can be used to extract the audio from a movie and export it directly into iTunes. Individual frames or image sequences from movies can also be saved as image files.

Screenshot

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Film Festival open to Aussie kids

Every year as a part of Universal Children’s Day Graeme Johnston of Coomera Primary School organises the fantastic “Dream A Better World” film festival. So get your iLife suites warmed up and get creating! From Graeme via the MacEd list:

DABW graphicJust a reminder that the 7th annual ‘Dream A Better World’ Film Festival for Australian Primary Schools is on again in 2007 - 2nd December at Dreamworld.

Just enter a 3 min film made by your class, with some teacher guidance, on an environmental or humanitarian theme and enter it in the festival.

Great prizes on offer from our sponsors and also a great way to showcase your kids skills and talents. All levels of “experience” welcome. By the way most entries are made on macs.

More details and entry forms at
http://www.coomerass.eq.edu.au/filmfestival.htm

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Apple video competition:

Apple has an interesting project going where students can produce a video using clips of the quite famous band Modest Mouse. This may be of interest to students of Media Production. Via the Apple EdCommunity website:

Modest MouseHere’s what we’re looking for. Modest Mouse want a video for their new single “Missed The Boat”. They know there are tons of talented fans and video directors out there who have what it takes to put it together. So that’s where you come in.

Thanks to http://applemacs.edublogs.org/ for the hot tip.

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A little widget magic

“Now you see it,. Now you don’t.” Give your mac a little magic!

Abracadabra for OSX is a widget that gives you the ability to make files and folders on your computer appear to disappear before your very eyes. Files that are dropped into your magic top hat are hidden from users searching for them in Spotlight as well as most other applications on your Mac.

The hat is password protected, so when you’re ready to view your files again you can pull individual files or all of the files inside out. The magic hat’s menu can also be password protected to keep spying eyes and stray white rabbits from getting inside :-)

This is not secure protection, but efficient privacy ‘on the fly’. A great report from LifeHacker.

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InstantShot

instantshot.png

Do you often use screenshot software and feel that something is missing? Don’t you feel like they’re not so efficient and that they are way too complicated? Tired of long menus? If you answered “yes” to one or more questions, InstantShot! is the software for you!

Mac OS X only: Freeware app InstantShot is a menubar app that takes screenshots of your Mac desktop, windows, or selection, and saves them in one of three formats.

Macs come with decent built-in screenshot capabilities (Cmd-Shift-3 for fullscreen, Cmd-Shift-4 for selection), but it’s relatively limited. However, InstantShot’s different outputs (.jpg, .tiff, and my favorite, .png), its pixel-specific selection tool (i.e., you can see how large your output will be), its timer mode, and its multiple shots at intervals are all features that are missing from OS X’s default tool. If you’ve been looking for that sort of functionality, the free, Mac OS X only InstantShot should do the trick.

From Adam Pash at LifeHacker.

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iPhones in education

The big question is - will schools be buying them for Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) access during excursions and outside work? You bet - at least those with money will. It wasn’t until I came across this video, I understood what the web community is so amazed about. Kindy kids will be able to understand and operate that GUI! This montage from Rojo sums the combination up for a visual spatial learner like me:

iPhone new

Unfortunately, being able to access rich media via the school WiFi network changes the boundaries for school ICT resources yet again. With the new wireless capabilities of hubs like AirPort Extreme digital portability enters yet another dimension - can our school infrastructure and systems keep up? This sort of change in expectation displays the need for scaleable network and storage solutions. Instead of portable notebook trolleys will we see racks of iPhones in the library? I’ll check back on this post in 2008 to see where we are at.

Update: Lot’s of other bloggers are thinking about the gaping hole iPhone could fill in education:

Chalkface Project predicts:
“that the iPhone, and its descendants and imitators, will replace desktops and laptops as the workhorse educational computing device.”

Electronicportfolios.org’s Dr. Helen Barrett hypothesises:
“Online simulations, games, learning objects, widgets, blogs, a built-in digital camera to collect images; the capabilities of this device could far exceed the way Palms are currently being used in education today. I could imagine many ways that this device could become the next 1-1 platform for learning. I also see a tool that will support the many stages of ePortfolio development, including collection and reflection.”

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Turn MacBooks into a video camera

The Huckleberry mirror is a nifty tool for any MacBook or MacBook Pro doing the same as many educators have been doing with their iSight cameras. The MacBook screen effectively becomes a huge LCD with an Intel processor.

MacbookConsisting of an acrylic mirror and two durable plastic mounting brackets, Huckleberry for MacBook is placed above the screen to reflect the built-in camera’s field of view. Instead of filming yourself, it will now film what’s in front of you! The new Huckleberry II for MacBook Pro uses two mirrors to provide a full 180 degree change in camera direction.

Educational uses For Huckleberry:
Capture movies direct iMovie HD.
Create stop-motion/clay-mation video in iStopMotion.
Scan your media with Delicious Library.
Take pictures in Photo Booth.

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Flip Clips - for the web2.0 tool-belt

Flipbooks This online service called FlipClip takes short-video clips and transforms them into small flip books traditionally the domain of quirky gift shops. This is an interesting way to share and preserve short clips your students make in the physical world - great for clay animation made with iStopMotion or for clips with subtitles in iMovie. Basically you upload 15 or 30 seconds of video to the website and select a book size. They print out several frames from your video and assemble a book which animates when flipped. Check out a short video clip here. Surprisingly they aren’t very expensive considering they are personalised. Pricing works out to AUD$11 per book, and $13.40 for postage. A bulk order of 25 books can be sent for the postage price of AUD$34. Some technical info from the FlipClip website:

The ideal resolution for a FlipClip is 640×480, and there are some great cameras available now that will record movies at that resolution or higher. Although FlipClips can be printed from any resolution video, short clips (under 30 seconds) at 320×240 or 640×480 are optimal. Frame rates aren’t as important, so you can safely record at 10 or 15 frames per second and still have a great looking FlipClip. FlipClips.com currently restricts the size of file uploads to 25 Megabytes, so you may want to edit your video’s length and, if possible, compress it before uploading. FlipClips are intended to be used for movies, where flipping the pages reveals the motion.

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