Sampletank 3 and iRIG MIDI 2


Sampletank 3

IK Multimedia

I’m working on a mini-opera at the moment for Other Cinema fall season and I need full orchestration. Strings, brass, the works. IK multimedia Sampletank 3 brings me the samples I need. Miroslav Philharmonik is one of the finest collections of orchestral sounds out there.

The ability to bring forth an entire orchestra for a musical piece or instrumentation whose complexity and richness would only a few years ago been associated exclusively with expensive recording studios is possible now with products SampleTank® 3. The industry term for this type of product is ‘workstation’ and this one has a 33 GB sound library containing over 4,000 instruments.

A good way to think about how programs like sample tank work is the metaphor of wine and bottles. If samples like brass instruments – horns, trombones and saxophones from the philharmonic collection in the sample tank library are the ‘wine’ then the ‘bottle’ is the sample tank program itself. The program organizes the samples into tracks which in turn are organized by the composer into musical pieces.

Such is the quality and variety of the samples, and so simple and direct a tool sample tank to use that the combination, once mastered, enables the novice to become an arranger of music that only 10 years ago would have required very expensive equipment to create.

I can say that I am working on a mini opera as my output is indistinguishable, virtually from that of a composer who uses actual orchestral instruments. The same goes for non-orchestral instruments also though, such as virtual synths, which number in the hundreds, virtual pianos, organs, the list goes on.

SampleTank 3 comes with 55 effects including Chorus1, UniV and TapeEcho which greatly enhance keyboard, guitar and bass samples.

Pricing and availability:

SampleTank 3 is available now from music and electronics retailers worldwide and from the IK Online store until September 30, 2014 at introductory prices as low as $149/€119.99 for SampleTank 2 XL or Miroslav Philharmonik full users; $199/€159.99 for users of any other paid IK software, hardware or app; and $299.99/€239* for new users. Afterwards, the final price will increase to $199.99/€159.99, $249.99/€199.99 and $349.99/€279.99 respectively. The boxed version will be shipping in the second half of August 2014.

I’ve been using the Sampletank 3 samples with the iRIG MIDI 2 device which plugs directly into my legacy keyboard or MIDI controller and lets me play these samples on my mac no problem. These allow for full MIDI functionality and connectivity with any MIDI-enabled device: keyboards, hardware synthesizers, software sound modules, drum machines, drum pads, DJ controllers, pedal boards, DAW interfaces and more. iRig MIDI 2 has two blue LEDs that enable monitoring of the MIDI data passing through the IN and OUT sockets. IK make some great MIDI devices, and this new one has been pared back to 2 basic MIDI standard ports, and a collection of chords to connect to PC/iPad/iPhone or USB. It draws its power directly from its host device, which removes the need for bulky power supplies. Lightweight and durable, it features a rubberized enclosure built to withstand the rigors of travel.

For more information, please visit

Thanks to Starr Ackerman for the assistance with Sampletank3 and iRIG MIDI2 review materials.

Atemporality – Old and New Forced Together.


By David Cox

Associative diagrams, data, space, and play find common expression in user interface design, videogames, and urban planning in contemporary culture—all those floating 3D displays in movies, the gamification of mundane daily tasks, how stores look more and more like the touch screens that are replacing them.

Bruce Sterling talks of “Atemporality.” Atemporality is the feeling you get when you experience the old and the new forced into a singular moment. Like a 3D printout of an object designed in the 13th century. Or a Babbage difference engine made with the latest materials and computer-controlled design and manufacturing techniques. These are impossible objects in the truest sense that they stand outside time. Outside of history. They are a-temporal. It’s a feeling you get when you look to the West these days, particularly San Francisco, and particularly around the edges of that city. It’s in places like the Musée Méchanique where very early 20th-century coin-operated entertainment machines sit happily next to quite recent arcade computer-games.

The collapsing of old and new find expression in notions such as the Terrative. This neologism is the hybrid of territory and narrative and has emerged from the world of locative media. This is media that self-consciously and deliberately takes into account where the user is as it presents audiovisual and computer-generated content to them. Often locative m edia is combined with augmented reality. So place and story meet real and virtual.

Many contemporary films and videogames show scientists and specialists manipulating data in 3D as holographic fields of information. Floating, glowing holograms of the solar system, say as in Promethius. The terrains of Pandora in AVATAR, displayed for military and scientist alike. The head-up display is a product of the military fighter cockpit, and is installed in many recent model cars and passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 787. It combines the real world with information about that world simultaneously.

Augmented reality apps abound for the tsunami of Chinese-made touchscreen devices; sensor-studded, Wi-Fi enabled, the modern data user is attuned to her environment much like a pilot, or a sci-fi movie or game character. After thirty years of AR in pop culture, from ROBOCOP to TERMINATOR to HALO to the windows-within-windows of every GUI you ever used. It’s commonplace now to say that your games console can see you. Patents are fought over for who can profit from devices that identity if “too many” people are in the room to view a movie for the rental price. As Guy Debord once famously argued “The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people mediated by images.” Today the spectacle sends sensor data into your living room and bills you for the privilege.

This ironic conflation of real and unreal, dynamic and static is at the epicenter of our current kind of modernity.Pinball machines are flat surfaces on which balls move that the player keeps in motion by way of flippers. The playfield is the area that pinball-machine designers call that flat surface. Most videogames have the equivalent of this playfield.

Urban design has long since taken its best ideas from the controlling impulse behind theme parks, with their dominant points of attraction (usually tall dominant structures distributed around the park), and paths to channel people to and from these nodal points. The management of time and space reaches no better apotheosis than at the Disney parks, where the science of extracting time and attention from people has reached a fine art. Gamifying the playfield of life is a neat extension of the theme-park pinball approach to city planning and urban development. Everywhere we go in contemporary cities involves passing through a nodal point of some kind where data is transferred. The New Aesthetic Archive is a great compendium of this type of material in Tumblr form.

Think of the symbol used in orthogonal 3D programs—it looks like a three-pointed 3D weathervane. Point your first finger forward, your thumb up, and your ring finger to the left. Here you have a right-handed approximation of the same symbol. The X, Y, and Z axes of the Euclidean space. A universe made up of primitives: spheres, cones, cubes, cylinders. N ow this world is spread before us, and texture mapped and rendered in real time. It is festooned with colored overlays. And all the code that can be written is dancing behind it to make the physics happen. The skybox above shows a late afternoon. The long shadows, but a figment of the level-designer’s imagination. Those floating health and status bars above showing how much energy is left. They remind us, that our game world is much like the real one.

David Cox is a writer and teacher based in San Francisco. His films include PUPPENHEAD, OTHERZONE, and TATLIN. His books include Sign Wars: the Culture Jammers Strike Back, published via LedaTape.

GoAnimate – Fast Team-Based Animation with Much of the Work Done for You


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 1.56.13 AM

GoAnimate – Fast Team-Based Animation with Much of the Work Done for You

GoAnimate Animation Resource, Web Delivered

By David Cox

First published in

GoAnimate is a new product that enables you to animate sequences on the web as an individual or in groups using a range of pre-made template type vector graphic 2D objects or to import your own such objects.

It uses a asset-list, timeline and project window format, much like a simplified version of Adobe Flash or After Effects, and among the types of items you can choose from are characters, backgrounds, props and a series of pre-made animated moves.

Animations can be shared as can the numerical information about how those animations are made up. The target market is mainly web content providers who want to add motion to their pages to attract visitors who are more likely to stay and watch if there is some moving content than if if the visuals are static.

Audio can be added via microphone, prerecorded audio or via a text-to-speech capability built into the browser interface.

GoAnimate uses a subscription model, much like a stock photo library, so you pay for it on a regular basis, and from then on can use the supplied content. Custom content can be provided by arrangement also. The vector graphic look of GoAnimate eventually can be eventually exported as an mpg4 file for delivery on the web. This means that these can thus work on iOS devices. The fact that multiple people can work on the same production online means that variations on the one file can take place and that larger productions can be done using the same assets piecemeal.

GoAnimate would be ideal for use as a storyboarding tool for TV and film productions, or in the games industry where a linear sequence needs to be communicated quickly and easily to all involved in cast and crew. Because it is easy to use, the GoAnimate user interface can be learned quickly and shots can be modified by someone with little to no animation experience. So a sequence of shots can be re-ordered, framing modified, even sound and dialogue manipulated by different members of a team, and each version saved as a different file for consideration by all.

Schools would benefit from GoAnimate by enabling it to assist with storytelling classes, or adapting it to work with theater, film or even existing animation classes as a storyboarding resource. As a design tool it could help create what are called ‘design fiction’ narratives – essentially ads for products that are not built yet but for which stories about their use need to precede the process of making or designing them.

GoAnimate would be ideal for the electronic greeting card market also – a business making custom business cards or greeting cards could revolve itself entirely around GoAnimate, as could a cartoon satire show done once a week commenting on events in the news or current affairs ready for YouTube, the blog or both.

The pre-make animated moves for characters, backgrounds etc are simple, anything more complex that involves the 12 principles of animation would be better done in Flash but for a quick animated result to visually improve a website, or to generate a vivacious looking snappy moving graphic to illustrate an idea for a client, or to advertise a product, GoAnimate is the solution.

You pay by the year or the month for different plans, each with different screen resolutions. The Full HD “Gopremium” plan costs $79 per month or $599 per year. Another plan, the “Goteam”, allows multiple users at $250 per month, or $2000 per year for 3 users or more, with escalating volume discounts and up to 1080p screen resolution. Given the advantages the system could bring to a production, these costs are minimal. On many cable TV shows, this would be the cost of catering.

But such subscription services using cloud storage and databases of assets are becoming the norm today when animated content is finding expression in more and more contexts where screens are found. I have a feeling that GoAnimate is one of those solutions to situations that problems have yet to be found. Its uses will really become better understood with use over time.

As web developers, film makers, game makers, bloggers, cartoonists and others start to see the potential of GoAnimate, the product will really start to come into its own.

Try it out. Nade a simple animation. Add some sound. Publish it.

Visit –

iRing, the first motion controller for iPad, iPhone, iPod


By David Cox

First Published in

IK Multimedia pioneers affordable motion-tracking technology

to control music apps using iOS devices with simple hand gestures

May 8, 2014 – IK Multimedia, the innovator in mobile music-creation apps and accessories for iPad and iPhone, is proud to announce that iRing™, the first motion controller for music apps and more, is now available from music and electronics retailers worldwide.

First presented at CES 2014, iRing is an affordable, wearable technology system that gives users a new level of gestural control over their favorite music apps, in real-time, using hand positioning for unprecedented music expression.

The iRing system consists of two double-sided “rings” to wear comfortably on the fingers along with a series of apps that are able to detect the iRings’ accurate positions in space using the device’s camera. Through the recognition of the dot patterns printed on the rings, the device’s camera picks up the movement and translates it into MIDI information. Users can then interact with music apps by simply moving their hands in front of their device through the precise reading of the ring position, which is converted into music commands or MIDI control messages to operate various app parameters without touching the device.

iRing includes two identical double-sided ring controllers plus two free apps for various music applications designed for everyone from music lovers to knowledgeable DJs and musicians: iRing Music Maker and iRing FX/Controller.

iRing Music Maker is a free app that gives music lovers and DJs a fun new way to create music and grooves using hand gestures, no matter what their skill level. iRing Music Maker utilizes music “loops” that always sound good together and can be remixed in virtually limitless combinations by simply waving the hands with the iRing controllers in front of the device’s camera. Users can change beats, control rhythmic elements, play synth parts and control effects providing hours and hours of quality musical entertainment. Plus, iRing Music Maker also includes lead and bass synths with respective pattern players that can be independently operated for hours of error-free musical improvisation. Creating music has never been so much fun!

iRing FX/Controller is the app for skilled musicians and DJs that is both a real-time audio effects processor and a MIDI controller with fully assignable parameters. It can be used as a touch-less outboard audio effects processor, or can be fully configured to send multiple simultaneous MIDI parameters; such as control changes, notes or any other MIDI messages.

As an effects processor, iRing FX/Controller uses the analog or digital input of the device for processing external audio sources. FX/Controller can also be used with Audiobus and Inter-App Audio compatible apps to process the audio stream from music apps running on the device to add stunning and brilliant audio effects. The iRings can control up to six effects parameters at a time. iRing FX/Controller operates two simultaneous effects, selectable from up to 16 powerful and creative effects, including: Delay, Stutter, Phazer, Flanger, Compression, Fuzzy, Reverb, AutoWah, Crush, Twist Up & Down, Brake, Spin and Tail.

As a MIDI controller, iRing FX/Controller can transmit MIDI messages to other Virtual MIDI compatible apps running on the device or to external devices using compatible MIDI interfaces (like IK’s iRig MIDI). iRing FX/Controller can send out the complete set of MIDI messages (control change, notes, program change, pitch wheel, aftertouch, MIDI system real-time, and MMC, MIDI Machine Control) with up to 3 assignable parameters corresponding to the X, Y and Z axis positions for each of the 2 detectable rings for a new level of touch-less control. Additionally, MIDI messages can also be sent to a computer application via Wi-Fi (using MIDI network). Users can configure the app to control effects, filters, notes, patches and more for creative and dynamic “never before seen” performances.

iRing computer vision technology is also directly incorporated into the entire line of IK Multimedia DJ apps like Groovemaker® and DJ Rig™ and will soon be included into other popular IK apps such as AmpliTube®, SampleTank®, VocaLive™ and more so that DJs, guitarists, vocalists, bass players, producers, keyboardists and engineers will have a new level of control to deliver powerful and unique performances.

For third-party developers who want to incorporate and implement iRing technology directly into their apps, IK is offering a free SDK (software development kit) and licensing program which makes it easy to take advantage of this new breakthrough technology. iRing can also be easily utilized beyond music for a wide variety of applications including gaming, health & fitness, utilities and more. Developers can take advantage of the technology and improve the functionality of their apps by contacting IK via the link provided on the iRing product page.

iRing features

Advanced motion-tracking technology provides remote control of iOS apps using hand positions and gestures

Includes two identical, double-sided reversible rings allowing for numerous control combinations and control of up to 6 effects’ parameters simultaneously with two hands

iRings are unique looking, light, comfortable and provide a universal fit

Free Apps are available on the App Store: iRing Music Maker app, which gives the ability to make music using hand gestures with no previous musical knowledge, and also the iRing FX/Controller app, which lets musicians and DJs create custom MIDI control setups, plus add and control audio effects, using compatible apps or external devices

iRing computer vision technology can be licensed and incorporated into other third-party apps including gaming, health & fitness, utilities and more

Pricing & Availability

iRing controllers cost only $24.99/€19.99 (excluding taxes), are available in three colors (white, green and grey) and are now shipping from music and electronics retailers worldwide and from the IK Multimedia online store.

iRing FX/Controller and iRing Music Maker apps are available as free downloads from the App StoreSM.

For more information about iRing™ for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, please visit:

To view the iRing video playlist, please visit:

For more information about the free iRing development kit and licensing program, please visit:

YouRock2 Guitar – trigger any sound with fretboard, neck and ‘strings’ faster!


By David Cox

First published in

It is an uncanny thing to have grown up with a solid split between the worlds of keyboards as input devices for MIDI sounds, and guitars as exotic means to do the same thing. But times have changed, and guitars are now as capable a means of MIDI input as keyboards ever were. The YouRock2 guitar is a great thing to play having enjoyed the generation 1 YouRock guitar prior for several years. The greatly improved Radius Midi fretboard with its standard fret spacing and 22 frets is also a great addition to the setup also. It feels more like a regular guitar fretboard, and its response time in relation to the onboard processor is quicker.

The YouRock Generation 2 guitar has many upgrades from its predecessor, most notably a refined pickup system for more reliability and consistency. Gone is the subtle latency which broke the spell of triggering those big samples from before.YouRock2 has an Ableton Control launch pad at the top section of the neck and the fretboard can be split into zones and layers which means that those that make heavy use of the ’tap’ function (playing by tapping the fretboard rather than plucking the ‘strings’) can enjoy the idea of the fretboard as a kind of guitarists keyboard, with different areas serving as different instruments: bass for one side of the fretboard, organ for the other. One player can thus be a whole band. Especially when the built-in backing tracks are supplying the music backing.

The latest Firmware version is V1.580. If the players wishes to adjust the YRG to her playing style she can download the Control Panel application for MAC or PC and make adjustments to your guitar from there. Its all pretty amazing stuff. I can still remember the days when a guitar synth was something you paid money to go see someone like Andy Summers play as he was likely one of the few who could afford the mega-dollar dedicated guitar synth rigs (with thick industrial cables connecting massive multi-pin connectors to the guitar and interface boxes that looked like robot control panels from a car factory) in the early 1980s that could make the kind of sounds that are packaged right out of the box with YRG, and better.

I’ve been playing guitar on and off since 1975 and I’ve been looking for a guitar that lets me trigger my keyboard samples for a while now and the YRG2 could easily be it. I can sit and play the guitar, yet at the same time be invoking symphony orchestras, mellotrons, combo organs, or even other string instruments like banjos, mandolins etc. Its all about that response time and not having latency, and the YRG folks have been putting their energies into resolving the biggest issues that dog the MIDI guitarist – the simple sense that the sounds are not being triggered fast enough. Liquidating latency, as in the gaming world, is the holy grail of MIDI interface design, for obvious reasons.

It still takes time for the onboard sounds to load IF you rely only on the onboard sounds. Punch in a number, wait several seconds for the sound to load…The truth is, most of those who use the YRG2 in studio contexts will hook it up to virtual instrument boxes and thus use it as an alternative to a keyboard, so thought of as a “keyboard you play like a guitar” that won’t break the bank, it works best on this level for say, mid-size studio scenarios. So onboard sounds not being used by those who use the YRG2 as an input device only, will not matter. It is simply a MIDI controller.

Go get a YRG and play some samples, onboard or your own.

Here’s me messing around with it on sound cloud

The official YouRock website

The Roku2 Streaming Media Player


Roku2 Streaming Media Player

First published in

By David Cox

There are so many ways to stream media onto a screen these days.The great advantage of streaming media players today is that they offer a means to bring the increased number of channels into the home to the modern HDTV set which for all intents and purposes today is essentially a glorified computer monitor. But many people still use regular standard def TV sets and even non-television display systems like data projectors and head mounted displays.

Media players and set top boxes are basically devices that act as gateways to these subscription-based streaming services, and that enable the provision of an increasingly dizzying array of to-the-set media that via the players is fast outstripping linear media alone. The Roku3 for example now offers a range of games to play with its motion control Wii-mote-like remote control. I’ reviewed the Roku 3 back in November 2013 and it is a very solid system.

The Roku 2 is a dedicated streaming device that as would be expected, does not perform quite as well as the Roku 3. It could not be expected to, its processor being slower. It is just as satisfying to use as a streaming media player. It is not as quick to respond to remote button actions, events take slightly longer and this is noticeable after using a Roku 3 for while. But the inclusion of the headphone socket in the remote of both the 2 and the 3 is an innovation that sets this device apart from the others in general, including the AppleTV, bar none. Its a small design touch, but one that takes into account the intimate nature of shared streaming viewing and the simple fact that usually not everyone wants to hear the sound of “Columbo” reruns at 3 a.m.!

Roku2 does not have the motion control feature on the remote which is only an issue if you are playing games, Wii-style. The Netflix user interface has changed recently and the older Roku2 does not support it, but this is not something that affects my use of this one service particularly. The Roku 2 lacks the 3’s USB socket, which is not such a big deal if all you are doing is streaming media online, and it also lacks the 5X processor of the Roku3 which is demonstrably faster in most instances, but once a stream is running, the differences are negligible.

Unlike the Roku3 which has only HDMI out, Roku2 sports both HDMI and composite outputs which means it can be connected via an HDTV or a standard definition TV. This is a bigger deal than it sounds when you consider what we used to call in the games business ‘the user installed base’, or ‘the number of people out there with the equipment to actually use the media that earn the money’. There is no YouTube channel with the Roku2, but depending on your views on this service, this may or may not be such a bad thing.

The composite line out signal means, for example, that I can use the device with such pre HDMI legacy display systems such as an old head mounted display I have. I can watch Netflix via my Virtua IO glasses (bought for $800 in 1998 at the height of the LAST VR boom!). Forget Oculus Rift, or Project Morpheus! THIS is the real deal!

So there are advantages of using the older Roku2 over the Roku3 if the speed of the response time of the interface is not such a concern, and you have a standard definition TV and not an HDMI.

I really like the idea of being able to use the device with an older TV set, or to plug the device into something that is not purely digital even (like VHS video recorder, assuming the content is copyright free of course, as much indeed is!).

In this regard, it shares with the original Nintendo Wii a sense of the reality that many people still own TV sets that have the red, white and yellow RCA sockets in them, and that this is a legitimate section of the community who still deserve to be able to watch streaming content without having to use what are, let’s face it, oversized computer monitors.

The Roku 2 Official Website

7D Experience Ride


First published in

by David Cox

Since the earliest days of cinema, movies have fallen into roughly two categories: ‘drama’ in which a story is told and the screen stands in for the ‘stage’ of the play or bindings of a book. And the ‘ride’; a visceral sensation-based thrill, closer to the roller coaster in which the idea of seeing the film is to experience a dangerous event vicarously. George Miles provided the narrative ride-fantasies of films like “A Trip to the Moon” while the Lumiere Brothers provided documentary thrill rides like “A Train Pulling Into a Station”.

In the early 1960s, Morton Helig developed “Sensorama”. The Sensorama was a machine that is one of the earliest known examples of immersive, multi-sensory (now known as multimodal) technology. Morton Heilig saw theater as an activity that could encompass all the senses drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. He called it “Experience Theater”. The Sensorama in being able to display stereoscopic 3-D images in a wide-angle view, provide body tilting, supply stereo sound, and also had tracks for wind and aromas to be triggered during the film anticipated many of the ride films of today.

In 1989 I remember going to Disneyland to see the then brand new “Star Tours” exhibit. Using hydraulic seats that synchronized the movement of the auditorium bleachers with the motion of the onscreen “Star Wars” based ‘ride’ film, this type of ride/movie was new for its day as outside of commercial flight simulators, on which the technology was based, this type of themed ride/movie had not been seen & felt by many people at all.

TrioTech of Montreal, Canada and Alter of San Francisco today offer the 7D Experience at PIER 39 in San Francisco which is a 7D an interactive simulation ride featuring synchronized motion, projected 3D graphics and real time environmental special effects. As you ride and watch the 3D movie, feel wind in your hair, you battle enemies with your laser blaster and compete against fellow riders for the highest score. Its a combination of ride, movie and videogame.

The Zombie game/movie offers a ‘Walking Dead’ type scenario. The 3D movie opens with a helicopter shot flying over a ravine at night, lightening and thunder crashing. Cut to the inside of a cop car as you adjust the radio, when (of course) a Zombie jumps onto the hood of the car. The car steers off the road, down a hill into a cemetery where more zombies appear. After blasting these, you end up on a road having to shoot them off other cars, from bridges, and in rivers. Its great fun.

In addition to the 3D visual effects, riders will be immersed in an environment with wind machines, strobe lights, rapid motions seats, and personal laser blasters, where everyone interacts with the ride and competes for the highest score. I found myself getting extremely caught up in the action at times, especially during the moments where the vehicle I was in suddenly “drove off a broken bridge” 300 feet into a ravine. Some part of my brain set aside to respond to such events kicked in to warn me things were indeed quite bad. If anything the action is over all to quickly, with the audience wanting more. 20% more of the ride might help placate the sense that the whole thing is over before it starts, but I suppose the economics of the ride are balanced against the need for steady throughput of clientele. Its the old fairground adage: Roll up, roll up, and keep ’em moving!

Cinema returns to its origins with such experiences; right back to the beginnings of the days of the Lumiere brothers, even the Ringling Brotheres, Milies and (later) Helig.

Sensorama indeed!

GoPro Hero3+ Camera


The HERO3+ Black Edition Camera – A Kino-Eye for Today

First Published in

By David Cox

The Hero3+ is a unique kind of product. Marketed as an action camera, it is in fact a whole new type of personal device as it enables a different set of possibilities in terms of the relationship of person to their environment, Wi-Fi and all.

These cameras are marvelous additions to everyday life and provide hours of footage that can be turned into professional film productions. You can also shoot stills – 12MP stills at up to 30 frames per second—for fast-action sequences. There is also a time lapse mode that enables automatic photo capture at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 second intervals. The “Continuous Photo” mode lets you capture full-resolution stills at a regular 3, 5 or 10 frames per second by holding the shutter button down continuously.

The first thing that strikes you about it when you open it up is the elegant and solid packaging. The camera comes mounted on a hinge-based platform that is also its display and packaging case. This transparent box can itself be used as a weatherproof housing for outdoor shoots. Thus an air of pragmatism, practicality and ‘action’ accompanies the device from the minute you unbox it. Inside there is a small remote control, ruggedized with rubber and a nifty lanyard for use when doing sports that lets you turn the camera on and off should it be mounted where you cannot easily get at it. This is charged as is the camera with supplied USB cables.

Footage is recorded directly onto microUSB flash cards which are inserted under a removable panel in the side, where a standard USB socket lives. This panel, being removable would be easy to lose, which is probably why a replacement is provided. Why not make it a sliding panel instead? Just a thought. The footage itself, due to the screen resolution involved is often of high frame weight, so the transfer times can be lengthier than I had expected. A 2 hour concert performance at 1280p took almost as long to transfer from flash memory to computer hard drive as it did to film, and some kind of hardware acceleration device to assist this would be useful.

The lens can be capped, and probably should be most of the time. A fixed ultra-wide angle, virtually fish-eye affair, the field of view favors the intended market’s ‘selfie’ video-while-doing-extreme-sports shot. The wider the angle the better for any moving shot, but should you need to un-widen a sequence, a downloadable software package for mac or PC allows you to do just that, though some loss of the frame information inevitably results from the width and height frame transformation – the image has to be stretched from something that looks like it covers a ball to something that covers the side of a shoebox, so some bits are lost, but the GoPro software is very easy to use and works well.

What makes the Go Pro camera so elegant from my point of view as a film maker is its very high-quality construction, its ease of use, and its beautiful but simple user interface based around a basic LCD display. A camera this small cannot have realistically have a display bigger than that supplied which is reminiscent of a small LCD watch. The menu-based interface is navigated by both the ‘choose’ and ‘record’ buttons on the front and top of the camera respectively. Evocative of the navigation of the menus of pre-smart phones, this process becomes surprisingly easy to master after a while, where actions such as setting still or video, video resolution, sound effects on or off etc become second nature. I like this aspect of the Go Pro the best, as it has enabled the camera to be no bigger than a matchbox, yet obtain shots that could quite literally be shown in an IMAX theater.

In the 1928 the Russian film maker Dziga Vertov made a film called ‘The Man with a Movie Camera’ about the new possibilities opened up by cinema. Cinema, he argued was not only for the world of entertainment and science but for life and society itself. He even wrote a manifesto called ‘Kino Eye’ in which the very act of recording life was the same as creating it. His movie shows he and his brother carrying a large camera everywhere they can carry it. To the top of massive chimneys, under trains, on motorcycles, on airplanes. If Vertov were around today, he’d ditch his hand-cranked 35mm cameras for a suitcase full of Go Pro Hero3+ cameras for sure.

Using the Go Pro Hero for several months has shown me the possibilities as a film maker of using sports action cameras as adjuncts to everyday life. I’ve used a lot of cameras since the late 1970s, and have developed a sense of which cameras work best for films about everyday life. Thirty years ago I carried a battery operated Canon super8 camera small enough to carry everywhere in my pocket. I could shoot short bursts, and this was my style of film at the time. More recently I’ve been using clip on cameras, 808 type keyfob cameras, iPhones, generic mp4 cameras from China that also let you play games. The rise of the H264 compression system and .mp4 has meant a massive increase in chipsets that record amazingly high quality video. What you pay for is the lenses and the CMOS, and the GoPro configuration is among the best, not the least due to the state-of-the-art battery technology and housing and mount system.

High-resolution, high-frame rate 1440p48, 1080p60, 960p100 and 720p120 video modes result in professional quality footage and allow for liquid-smooth slow motion playback. 4Kp15 and 2.7Kp30 enable ultra high-resolution, cinema quality capture.

Some technical specifications on video capture:

Video Format:

H.264 codec, .mp4 file format

Advanced Video Capture Settings


Video mode that captures the world’s most immersive wide angle perspective. Allows you to capture more of yourself and your surroundings in the shot, and provides full widescreen playback.

SuperView Settings

SuperView Mode Video Resolution

1080 SuperView 1920 x 1080

720 SuperView 1280 x 720

The Go Pro device is also sold (thankfully) with a waterproof housing. You can drop the camera in the water and it will record you & others swimming, surfing etc. The same housing is a rugged case that protects the camera from impact as well. The Go Pro is not just a camera but a whole family of brackets, mounts, and interlocking hinge based mounts and clips that enable the user to attach the camera onto any smooth surface for filming on the go.

The main market for the Go Pro is of course the extreme sport set but using it as a kind of regular video camera I have found that it makes a solid device for everyday use. If you treat it like a point and shoot, it will work in the same way, you can un-stretch those shots later; if indeed you want them un-stretched – the fish-eye shots take on a certain appeal of their own after a while.The lenses unscrew and are interchangable but this is by no mans a trivial or straightforward process, and lenses are often not sold along with the brackets and mounts in most of the stores I’ve visited and need to be ordered online.

The extreme wide angle lens that the camera comes with out of the box which is fine for surfboard shots or skateboard action or skydiving when you want to be sure that you are included in the free-fall sequence along with the surrounding environment. A Wi-Fi connection enables video preview as well as photo and video sharing with the downloadable GoPro App and also enables communication with the supplied remote control.

Jake Read flies quadrocopters and mounts Go Pro cameras on them and the greatest advantage for him of the Go Pro is the size and scale. The devices are small and lightweight enough to be mounted onto most flying platforms, the heaviest element being the (thankfully) removable rechargeable battery.

The screen resolution and frame rate options are very considerable for a device so small, and if anything possibly rather daunting to the newcomer, and in particular the availability of cinema-quality 4K resolution is welcome, enabling footage to hold up well on the big screen should it need to.

GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition is not only a camera. It is a whole personal video production family – mounts, extensions, lenses, housings.. It is a system of sports visualization tools and it currently dominates this one section of the market. It can be used in more ways than it is being sold for and it pays to think of it as more than simply a helmet camera for the adventurous, but a kind of mini-camera for everyday use. A kino-eye for today.

RRP $399.99

Click here to go to the website

Gold in the Carts – Vintage games consoles


By David Cox

It feels strange to have lived and worked through a time in video gaming history which is old enough now to seem vintage and collectable. This does not have to be that long a time in this industry. But to me the N64 is a platform from not so long ago.

To see N64 consoles behind glass in stores that sell exotic phone cases and strange gaming accessories for hipsters is both amusing and sentimental at the same time.

It makes sense that cartridges should be valuable. I remember at Beam Software in Melbourne working on games and burning them to EPROM chips. Games would have gone through lengthy testing processes; testing, revision, iterative tuning, modification etc for weeks and weeks until finally ready to to be committed to chips that would be then played on tester’s versions of consoles.

The collector is not the same thing as the media archeologist. The collector is concerned with completing a collection, with having something perhaps valuable to accrue in commercial resale, or to simply impress friends with. Core gamers like to show off, and having a copy of Bomberman 2 and a working N64 console to play it on would definitely fit the bill.

To have this alongside an original Atari 2600 console and a good selection of games, and a super rare vector graphics driven Vectrex even better. I bought a Pong console from a yard sale for $5 and use it in my classes.

I also have an admiration for those all-in-one direct-into-the-TV consoles that somehow using batteries and a single chipset fit all the arcade hits of say 1983 onto a single joystick shaped device enable a player to experience something fairly close to a game that would have cost 25c to play 30 years ago.

So next time you are at a yard sale or a thrift store and you see an old video game console, go ahead consider buying it and the games it comes with. Even it if has no resale value, you can consider yourself something of a media historian, preserving something of the legacy of medium that one day will disappear for good.

Roku3 The Versatile and Affordable Media Streaming Player



I remember when I was 19 and our first VCR was brought into the house back in 1982, a large Toshiba with a remote that had a cable connecting it to the unit. The controls were simple: play, stop, rewind, fast forward, and record.

It was heavy, it was expensive, and it took VHS tapes. The very idea of the VCR was tied directly to the notion that television was the main form of entertainment. Television came to the house via the airwaves, and the VCR let you record those events and watch them later. Rented tapes let you augment the broadcast experience. Making your own entertainment with porta-paks (VCRs with cameras attached, basically) was another form of entertainment, as was connecting a computer like an Acorn Electron or a Commodore Amiga to the back of the VCR with a cable was another. Today, the Internet is the source of entertainment for more and more people. Could it be that the ‘net is the source of entertainment for MOST people now?

The internet took time to develop as such a a dominant and ubiquitous form of entertainment. It began as a non-commercial form of exchange between government officials and scholars who wanted to annotate documents. A noble aim. As compression technologies and bandwidth have increased since the early 1990s, and accelerated in the past five years, now over half of the internet traffic, some have argued, is taken up by Netflix and Youtube. Video streaming is demanding on bandwidth, and there is massive demand.

Part of this demand is the rise of the dedicated set-top-box media stream player. Such a player is the Roku3.

The Roku3 media streaming player works right out of the box. I was surprised at first by how small it was, expecting anything that connects to a TV to be much bigger.

Roku players connect directly to your TV and to your high-speed Internet service via your home network.

1. A TV

2. HDMI cable for high definition.

3. Broadband Internet connection with a Wi-Fi router.

There are no recurring fees for using our players, and every player is packed with hundreds of free channels to enjoy right out of the box. While we don’t charge a monthly subscription, some the Roku partners do. You choose what you pay for and what you don’t. You access your existing subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu Plus or MLB.TV, all the usual providers.

Pandora, SOMA FM and Spotify are there, as is a useful USB player app that lets you play directly from any compatible USB drive, effectively turning the ROKU3 into personal media player.

I recommend the ROKU 3.

Here is the link to the Roku3 website