Alloy 2 (Review)

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Alloy 2 gives filmmakers and sound designers seven stellar tools to shape and form audio, arguably one of the most important and yet most ignored parts of a film. Assuming a basic knowledge of mixing, users will love Alloy’s user-friendly interface, wallet-friendly price tag and reliable performance. If you take Alloy 2 for a test run, be sure to pair it with a trial of Ozone 5 and let these products speak for themselves.


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Photoshop Elements 11 (Review)

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Instead of a magical “instant fix” in the Quick path where there are few choices, or an overwhelming list of options in Expert, the new Guided Edits path lets the creative side of the user flow as you do things like add depth of field or a high key effect to a photo. In the Guided area, you are led step-by-step through each phase of adjustment, using your eye and goal for the project. What you get is rather impressive, even if you are an amateur photographer using a point and shoot camera.


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Balance (Review)

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When Propellerhead announced the release of Balance, I knew this audio interface would push the bounds of innovation, and, indeed, they have created a noteworthy and easy-to-use product with some vital features like Clip Safe. As you do your research on your next audio interface, give Balance some attention, understanding that the extra money you will pay over and above the competition goes towards special features like Clip Safe and the reliability associated with Propellerhead.


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Premiere Elements 11 (Review)

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However, PRE11 seems to be much cleaner and faster. There is very little lag in response time and my old problems of dropped frames, uneven pans, and errors have vanished. To get an accurate preview of the edited video you have to render the Timeline, which used to be a slow process and not always successful. Now the Render tab is on the top of the Timeline and is much more responsive and effective. The preview plays accurately and there are no unpleasant surprises by the final product during publication.


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Reason 6.5 (Review)

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Hailing from Sweden, Reason 6.5 is a music creation program for the Mac and PC. Reason supplies users with everything necessary to create film scores and sound effects from scratch—everything from synthesizers and sampled pianos to drum kits and orchestral strings. Unlike SonicFire Pro, the ability to write music is a prerequisite for this program, and those familiar with playing a musical instrument (preferably the piano) will find this program much easier to navigate. The quality of the sampled instruments is quite good for the price, and the possibilities to create new sounds with digital synthesizers are endless.


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Audition CS6 (Review)

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For those who are unfamiliar with the software, Audition allows you to view an audio file as a waveform and trim, edit, and apply a vast array of effects to create the desired output you’re seeking. In addition to radio and broadcast television which I’ve spent a lot of time in, those in film post-production looking to sweeten, restore, or add subtle sound effects to their audio tracks as well as those in the music production industry seeking to perfect a mix will be pleased to know that Adobe has actively sought to simplify and speed up…


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InDesign CS6 (Review)

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One of Adobe’s established programs has become even easier to navigate, giving novice and advanced users alike the ability to create the marketing pieces they need to professionally sell their products. At first glance, InDesign may seem like a program only for creating print pieces such as flyers, magazines and books. But InDesign CS6 is so much more.


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Litepad Loop (Review)

We tested the Rosco Litepad Loop in a new interview for a Gothic group. (Leslie Jenkins featured.)

Having attractive fill lighting is something that can really separate the pros from the amateurs when it comes to cinematography and photography. Close, soft light is most ideal, especially when filming and photographing women (where harsh light and shadow demarcations are undesirable), but the security mirrors which are the human iris have a tendency to reveal artificial shapes in distracting ways. Thus, circle or ring lights are the preferred way to get closeups, as the circles of illumination reflected in the liquid-coated human iris seem natural and organic.


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Dreamweaver CS6 (Review)

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Dreamweaver CS6 is another solid, stable and innovative release from Adobe. While there certainly isn’t a major jump in new features when upgrading from Dreamweaver CS5.5 to CS6, fluid grid layouts and the ability to integrate PhoneGap and Business Catalyst will be enough from some viewers to spend the money on the upgrade. If you have never purchased Dreamweaver, now is as good of a time as ever to enter the world of web design and app development (Dreamweaver has now made these two creative endeavors one in the same).


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Gimp 2.8 (Review)

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A new feature with version 2.8 is the single window mode. Found as a toggle option in the Windows tab, the single window mode allows for a more cohesive, less cluttered, working environment. Open images appear as thumbnail tabs top center, with dialog boxes affixed to the left and right of the main window. I found this option to be an improved working environment.


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The Location Sound Bible (Review)

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Going one step further – you should only hire the sound guy. Sound is more important than the image. Repeating: SOUND IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMAGE. Why? There are many, many films out there that could be deemed “artsy” – from the closing scenes of 2001 a Space Odyssey to the long one-take shots from the film Children of Men. Bad acting, bad directing, bad set direction pale in comparison to bad sound. If the sounds in the above mentioned films were terrible – people would have been running for the exits.


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Hollywood Brass (Review)

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Hollywood Brass, EastWest’s second installment of their Hollywood series, is a stellar release. Many companies have attempted to make sound libraries like this collection, but EastWest’s brass samples are second to none for the price. With dozens of articulations and instrument choices, this should be a go-to orchestral library for filmmakers on your next project. If you can spare the hard drive space and the time required to begin to master skills of virtual instruments, consider looking into purchasing Hollywood Brass.


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Hollywood Strings (Review)

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Nothing evokes emotion like a string orchestra. The rich sustain and powerful swells of these instruments have been resonating in the human soul for centuries. And strings have been the bedrock of motion picture films for decades—regardless of a film’s budget. In fact, the presence and placement of these instruments have a direct result on whether or not the filmmaker is successfully able to tell his or her story.


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