29 June 2011

Blogging Lesson 1

OK, so with my eagerness to start a blog I overlooked a simple process that any written work should go through. Proofreading! Now I am not saying that I have made many spelling mistakes if at all any in my previous blogs. However it is not just about spelling mistakes, it can also be about the structuring of your words, perhaps what you intend to communicate as a writer may not actually be the message that a reader receives. I learned this from my previous post that my girlfriend picked up on, no need to go into details, however she had a point and that is why I am writing this post.

Basically this is a fundamental process any creative should go through, I mentioned proofreading in this case but double checking your work should apply to all forms of publishing in whatever medium that may be, digital, paper, graffiti, correspondence to your bank manager etc. It is something I naturally do in my professional life, perhaps the fact that I am publishing on the web via a blog  made me lazy for a moment? And this is an important question! Do people get lazy and careless when blogging, emailing, sending a text message, basically sending any digital message because they feel perhaps they are not talking directly to another human because the interface has changed? The interaction between human and human has has become more and more through the interface of a screen. Is there a danger here? The reality is we are all responsible for our actions as individuals, groups, communities, organizations etc as much on the web as we are in real life human interactions. There is a very serious issue that could be tied into this topic which is not exactly what I am talking about, however it is an extreme illustration of what we put on the web can affect real life too, I am referring to cyber bullying.

I don't want to go off topic here, all I wish to say is that we have responsibilities in the messages we create in whatever medium or forum we choose. For me it was a simple lesson that I overlooked but was a reminder for me that even on this very simple level what I write here in my blog may actually have an affect on someone in a way that was not intended. And on a larger canvas these small details that we may overlook could have consequences that we did not intend or foresee in the future.

Visit my professional website at http://iamliamroberts.com

27 June 2011

The Decision To Immigrate To Canada

So, picture this if you will! You have been on holiday/vacation to somewhere nice, you have enjoyed the culture, the people, the sights and sounds, the lifestyle, you feel energized and now you are packing your suitcase back up, gathering your memories of your trip soon to be heading to an airport. Soon you are up in the air for a period of time with nothing much to do but contemplate the time you have just had on holiday and that voice creeps in your head saying, 'Why am I going back?'.

Well, the second time I left Canada after seeing my girlfriend who lives here in Canada I had that voice in my head and right there mid way over the Atlantic ocean I decided to apply for immigration to Canada. I know what some of you are thinking, 'It is a different thing visiting a place to living in a place'. I know this, but you can live your life with 'what if's', but the only 'what if' that I would regret is what if I didn't try this?

The fact that my girlfriend was in Canada simply was my decision to apply for immigration. It was an easier decision for myself, single, mid 30's, no major commitments in the UK such as property, loans etc, compared to maybe uprooting a family, sell a home, pay loans, find a school for kids etc. There are many factors that some people would need to consider, however there are plenty of families that have done this not just to Canada but to other places, and likewise some people have done this to move to the UK. For me it was a fairly easy decision, but for others it maybe not so straight forward. But if you do make that decision, be ready for a long drawn out process, nothing difficult, but a lengthy one.

There are many ways to immigrate to Canada, but I can only speak of my approach which was to apply for a skilled worker visa. Your first port of call must be the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. Perhaps more important as a starting point would be to check online if you have the appropriate general points that will indicate if you are eligible to apply. You can check this using the self assessment test for skilled workers, remember this is the process I went through, there are many other ways to apply for visa's in Canada.

The CIC website gets updates on a regular basis as the government changes their policies regarding immigration and so you should check the website on a regular basis. I know that in 2010 that they were limiting the number of applications that they were processing, this was due to the backlog of applications they were dealing with and the goal was to reduce processing times. It is worth pointing out here that if I had left my application for another year I probably wouldn't have been successful, also my National Occupation Code (NOC) was no longer on the list of trades that was needed in Canada. I am not sure how long the government will keep this cap in place but details can be found here.

The one thing I will say about the process of immigration to Canada under the skilled worker visa is that it is not difficult, nor is it too costly compared to other countries. There are plenty of agencies out there that will do all the paper work for you, but seriously the paperwork is not difficult and these agencies will cost a fortune for what I have done myself, which is not a lot just a lot of waiting! Just over two years for myself from initial application to actually landing in Canada.

I guess my point is this with regarding to emigrating to anywhere is that if you find yourself on that plane hearing that voice asking, 'Why am I going back?' then maybe you should act upon that voice. Stop putting it off for another year as in my experience that could have been a year too late!

Visit my professional website at http://iamliamroberts.com

24 June 2011

Initial Thoughts of Apple Final Cut Pro X

I know I said in me previous post that I would talk about my experience with immigration to Canada, but I have been sidetracked with some new software I have been having a play around with. This software I mention is Apple's new Final Cut Pro X, the software that has the film editing professionals talking, but are they talking about this software in good favour or something else?

I have spoken to a number of professional film people about this development and they all seem to be in hot debate with it. As loyal users of previous incarnations of Final Cut Pro the outstanding point that keeps coming out is that this new version is a bloated version of iMovie! But what does this mean? Well dig a little deeper and arguments that have substance are that FCP X has reduced features for editing than previous versions, doesn't support industry standards, isn't industry standard, has less hidden details that the film professional is accustomed to in the modern industry. Do a search on Google about this topic and you will find many stories and horrified professionals condemning this move that Apple has made.

But what about MY experience with it? I am not a professional film editor, I have played around with old versions of FCP, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Moviemaker etc, but I would never consider myself a professional in this field. So what would I consider myself in order to give this review a benchmark? OK I am not new to computers at all, as I have said I have opened and played around with other video editing software's, I am a designer by profession and I have taught many software's to groups especially in the Web Design area, so the Adobe software's are not a stranger to me, I like film and photography, I have an interest in design, I own a Mac. That probably sums up my background and knowledge base to quantify this review. But remember I am not a professional film editor, this is where the line is drawn and the arguments start regarding this new software. On a side note however, recent comments have suggested that Apple will be releasing updates to this new Final Cut Pro, that MAY include some of the features that the film professional is apparently missing in this version. This is to be seen of course, but I digress from the purpose of this review.

I have included a link to a video I created in a few hours which included processing, rendering, colour adjustments, cutting, shifting, slicing, adding sound, editing sound all at 1080p resolution on a MacBook Pro 4gb Ram i7 processor. Don't judge me on the design or planning of this video, it was for experimental reasons only. Oh and please excuse the transitions, I will come back to them in a moment. Click here to view the video.

So overall performance was pretty good, a few glitches here and there but remember working at 1080  resolution and it did crash I think twice. The interface is fairly intuitive again bearing in mind I have looked at other film editing software, it has features above and beyond the capabilities of iMovie etc. One thing I did notice was that the colour corrections I made in the preview window did not match the final exported movie, not sure why that was, I did fiddle with it to see if I could find something in the preferences but I could not as yet find a solution to that problem. There are lots of built in effects and transitions including the one I used in this movie, however in order to edit these transitions you would need to purchase Apple's Motion software, which I have yet not done. Export options are limited to the new Share menu which allows quick sharing to the likes of Facebook, Podcasts, DVD, Blu-Ray, Vimeo, or export at current project settings. This is all well and good for the social media person, or people producing quick online news feeds etc, but in order to have more control in this area you will need to also purchase Apple's Compressor software. This is something previous versions and users of FCP will find irritating. I would have embedded the video directly inside this blog however the export options didn't really allow me to do this.

Overall I enjoyed using the software, again I am not a professional film producer but it suited my needs giving me more options and capabilities than say iMovie, but keeping the accessibility and ease of use of iMovie. For professionals maybe this is not for them, but again maybe Apple will introduce the features these professionals are used to in time, but as it stands, probably not the option. Of course these users can continue using older versions of FCP, but eventually Apple will stop support for this software and maybe we can consider this software a skeleton on which Apple will build in more professional options.

For me this software is in a way ideal! And if you are interested in film producing, for family, for yourself, as a semi professional, as a wedding video producer etc then this is great, for the professional, perhaps not, or should I say, perhaps not YET! Of course there is always a knee jerk response from the industry towards the new, and yes it does have an effect including a economic effect when converting to a new standard. Professionals have suggested that Apple have shunned the 'industry standard' approach to this software and may move towards Adobe Premier or Avid, which is ironic as before Apple FCP came they were the standard, maybe it was the elitist approach of users that made them move to Apples FCP in the first place. With this software Apple have opened a fairly technical area of film production to the masses, allowing new people, hobbyist, people like me with creative interest in film access to some intuitive and visually impressive film production techniques and application.

On a personal note as a creative and someone who has delivered instruction on many creative softwares, this reaction from the industry is something I would have done myself a while ago. I would have had the elitist opinion on these softwares saying things like these creative softwares are only for the professional etc. But the more I look at the industry who develop these softwares and allow more accessibility and usability to the masses a saying springs to mind:
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"
Basically what I am saying is that you can teach someone the tools of any software, in particular creative software, but what a person does with that software is what sets a person outside of the masses! Creativity is the way forward and its very difficult to teach that with a manual, or with software training, it is something that is absorbed and nurtured through experience. So the knee jerk reaction from the professional film persons in this case is something they should not fear.  Final Cut Pro X does not mean you are out of a job just yet!

Visit my professional website at http://iamliamroberts.com

22 June 2011

My First Post

Hello and welcome to my Blog! I have been putting this bogging off for some time now, however I have given in to the idea now and here I write my first post!

I currently have emigrated to Canada Manitoba from the UK where I used to teach media in its many guises. I have a website which shows examples of work that I have been involved in over the years that can be found here.

I DJ as a hobby, it kind of helps me relax, I play Progressive, Trance and Techno and a link to my podcast can be found here. However since moving to Canada and not having all my equipment here as yet there is limited updates on there.

I was talking to my girlfriend last night about starting a blog but I was wondering what should I blog about? She suggested to me, 'Why don't you talk about your experience of applying for permanent residence here in Canada?'. That is not a bad idea, so I guess that is where my blog will start after this post!

First of all I have to get this blog kind of looking how I want it!

Visit my professional website at http://iamliamroberts.com