From Wannabe To Legend

Published Date
01 - Jun - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2006
From Wannabe To Legend
The gob-smacking success of Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit movies is probably the strongest argument for anyone to try their hand at their own home-made creation at least once, especially now that you have technology on your side. Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "Ooh I want to do that!"

Recent advances in technology, and more importantly the increasing affordability thereof have given us a gaggle of options to showcase our creativity. Fancy yourself as the next big movie director or special effects artist? Grab that shopping basket!

Starry, Starry Eyes
In the beginning, there was the VHS camera. It sat upon the shoulders of the strong, weakening them, and the shoulders of the weak, near-killing them. Then Sony said, "Let there be the HandyCam!" And there was still the VHS camera, but at least now you could hold it in one hand without crippling yourself. And thus began the age of the Home Movie. Suddenly dwellings went from being just house to art house, and everyone loved the camera, even if it hated them.

As all things analogue were doomed to, video went digital too. The big DV (that's Digital Video) has invaded our lives in a bigger way than VHS could ever have hoped. For one thing, you can store movies from your DV camcorder onto your PC, and thanks to Windows XP, you can even turn to small-time movie editing using Windows Movie Maker which comes free with XP.

The Sony HDR - HC1
No video enthusiast can resist the temptations of High Definition (HD) video. The size, the crispness, the capability to kill entry-level PCs, mmm…

Sony's HDR-HC1 is the world's smallest and lightest HD camcorder, and as with all Sony camcorders, this one is very drool-worthy. Weighing in at just a tad heavier than their lightest camcorders, it captures video in all its vivid glory. Of course, if you're going to edit the movies this one creates, you'd better juice up your PC-editing HD will take a big bite out of your system's resources.

Price: $1,999 (Rs 85,000)

While nearly all camcorders come with the ability to take still images as well, they still pose no threats to our much loved digital cameras. When digital photography was first introduced, it tried hopelessly to match up to the quality of the traditional film camera, and no real photographer would admit to even touching one. All that's changed now-with 8-megapixel cameras littered all over the markets, digital photography has finally given film something to worry about, to say the least.

High end photography is finding its way into our mobile phones, too. Samsung has been quite aggressive in this area-they showed off a 7-megapixel phone when 1.3 megapixels were a big deal, and at CeBIT 2006, they unveiled the SCH-B600-a 10-megapixel camera-phone!
The Cybershot DSC-R1
Sony's DSC-R1 is the perfect meeting ground between the digital SLR and the point-and-shoot camera. It gives you a real-time preview of the shot you're taking, unlike other digital SLRs, and sports a 10.3-megapixel CMOS sensor. A 2-inch LCD lets you frame your shots nicely, and its considerable weight will ensure that your arm muscles are always finely toned.

Price: $999 (Rs 43,000)
Playing God
For a long time, the idea of being able to create movie-style 3D graphics and imagery was quite preposterous. The average home PC couldn't take the load, and there weren't even that many commercially available tools for those who itched to bring their fantasies to life. The statement was clear-this was the domain of big studios who worked on expensive and powerful Silicon Graphics workstations.

Then came tools like 3D Studio Max, which ran on most respectable PC configurations and were so easy to use that one could become something of an expert just sitting at home! Specialised tools such as MetaCreations' (then Corel's and now DAZ Studios') Bryce let you imitate nature and create ultra-realistic landscapes or bizarre fantasy worlds in minutes-even if you didn't know the first thing about 3D

The Big Gun:
Autodesk Maya 7
The leader in creating special effects for movies (Spider-Man 2, for example), Maya is to 3D graphics what EA is to gaming. Designers cower in humility before it and even say a little prayer of thanks every time they work with it. Its powers are truly awe-inspiring, if not downright frightening. Capable of creating uncannily realistic images, Maya has all the features you could possibly need to get started with your own creation. To get a true sense of its power, take the "Fake or Foto" test: eng/etc/ fake_or_foto.

There was considerable paranoia when Autodesk, the makers of 3ds max, a close competitor to Maya, took over Alias|Wavefront-the developers of Maya; loyal users wondered if this rang the final bell for their favourite design tool. Thankfully, Autodesk seem committed to taking Maya further, so it will carry on as the industry's darling.

Price: Rs 3 lakh, but you can start learning Maya by downloading the Maya 7 Personal Learning Edition free from www.autodesk. com. Maya isn't easy, though-you'll require plenty of patience.

Capable of creating uncannily realistic images, Maya has all the features you could possibly need to get started with your own creation

Home building comes home
Google has brought 3D graphics even closer to the home user with their new Google SketchUp, which makes designing houses and other buildings as easy as puffing your cheeks. Build your dream home or remodel your current one-thanks to its clean, intuitive interface and ridiculous ease of use, it'll be just minutes before you've mastered the art. More importantly, it's free, and you'll find it on this month's Digit CD!

Rock On
Peoples' fascination with creating their own music has led to many popular games such as  Guitar Hero for the PS2, Nintendo's Donkey Kong and Namco's Taiko Drum Master. There are also plenty of tools that let you mix and create your own compositions-you can read about them in this month's Fast Track.

Fear My Virtual Axe
Want to be a rock god but can't handle a guitar to save your life? Students at the Helsinki Institute of Technology have developed Virtual Air Guitar, which translates those silly air guitar moves into actual sound! It uses a Web cam to watch your hand movements and throws out sound accordingly.

They're also working on a version that can work with our everyday Web cams, so now you don't need to jump on your bed looking like a nincompoop-you can sound like one too!

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