Film school:Software reviews

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Filmmaking Software Review for Narrative Film Production
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Software reviews

Here is a list of interesting software for filmmakers. Some of the programs are free and some are proprietary. Naturally, you should start with the free software.
Review by Robert Elliott
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Free Filmmaking Software

  • Bryce 5.5
Bryce 5.5 costs $70 if you buy the boxed set but it is now free if you can download it. Over 130 Megs. Your Instructor:Robert Elliott

A fun paint program for kids. It has the added advantage of using rubber stamps and creating matte paintings easily. Has the unique feature of doing rough storyboards with special storyboard artwork. Also useful for learning about matte painting at Wikiversity Film School.

A simple and fun artistic painting program. Feels very natural. Extremely useful. If you need any kind of digital painting with traditional artist materials, this is your first choice. This is the free version which is fully working but more limited than the full version which is also very inexpensive.

This is the most educational program for filmmakers. A simulation of a movie camera and a movie set with digital actors. Teaches you all about lenses and image composition for motion pictures. The demo version is almost fully working for 20 uses. Highly recommended. (So far, no one has downloaded this. Is there a problem?) 20 uses.

An interesting program because if the extremely high quality orchestra sounds it produces. Requires you to know notation. No manual! (I ran out of time before I had completed the review of this program.)

For posing and rendering Poser figures. At times, the human interface is stupidly awkward. More like a beta version. But a good way to learn about digital puppets. This program (or Poser 7 which is not free) will be required for the 3D animation course to be offered next winter. Also an useful alternative for doing 3D storyboards using Poser figures.

A paint program comparible to Adobe Photoshop. Surprisingly mature program but not to the level of Photoshop. Requires X-11. If you do not have Adobe Photoshop 4 or later, this program is absolutely necessary for some of the classes at Wikiversity Film School.

A illustration program. Surprisingly mature program. Requires X-11. If you do not have Illustrator or Freehand, this program is useful. Only the text features are weak.

Useful utility for working with audio and converting audio to OGG files.

Very interesing. Very challenging. For anyone who wants to sketch in 3D. To be revieweg. This is the free version of the new Pro version of Google SketchUp.

This is a paint program which works with motion pictures. Used in film studios but still too awkward for use at Wikiversity Film School. Look at GIMP instead.

So far, I have not find a use for this program.

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Commercial Filmmaking Software

Replaces the old Macintosh. A ten fold improvement.

GarageBand is free with all new Macintosh computers. Otherwise, it is sold in the bundle called iLife. Very basic, mostly simple, extremely useful for filmmakers who need to create film scores. Needs orchestra sounds (such as Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra.)

While GarageBand is free, you still need this to get orchestra sounds for film scoring.

An alternative to Jam Pack: Symphony Orchestra. To be reviewed shortly someday.

To be reviewed shortly someday. Boxed version not available yet.

This is a replacement for PageMaker and Freehand. Surprisingly useful. Some limitations. Free 30 test.

Digitized Film Dailies ready for editing

Required for the first editing lesson at Wikiversity Film School. This is not free but you can pay for this with the points you earn at Wikiversity Film School.

Required for the second editing lesson at Wikiversity Film School. This is not free but you can pay for this with the points you earn at Wikiversity Film School.

Required for the third editing lesson at Wikiversity Film School. These disks are not free but you can pay for them with the points you earn at Wikiversity Film School. To be reviewed shortly. Note: Currently, these disks are the only digitized unedited scenes ready for practicing dialog editing.

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Film School Preparitory

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WikiU Film School magazine

The first issue of Film School magazine will be published in 2008. Students will be able to download a free copy from Wikiversity Film School.

The Intel Macintosh PC
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Which computer to buy

By March of 2008, if you want to purchase a Windows computer, you might as well purchase a Macintosh and get the best of both worlds.

Understand The Macintosh

Understanding Apple is not easy. Perhaps this will help:

1. The Original Macintosh
In 1984, Apple Computer, Inc. invented the Macintosh computer with its unique operating system which was a forerunner of Microsoft Windows. The operating system is what gives a personal computer its personality.
2. New Operating System
In 2001, Apple stopped making the Macintosh Operating System. Apple replaced the Macintosh operating system with Unix which is a computer operating system for nerds. This particular version of Unix was developed by NextStep. However, Apple still calls its NextStep Unix operating system "Macintosh OS X".
3. New Computer Hardware
In 2005, Apple stopped making the Macintosh computer. Instead, Apple has switched to making only Intel PCs. However, Apple continues to call its Intel PC computers "Macintosh". (Note: It will take a while for the old Macintosh programs to be able to run on the new Apple Intel PCs using Apple's Unix operating system so wait until March of 2008.)

Which Model To Buy

For beginners, I recommend the iMac with the 20 inch screen or a laptop computer: either the MacBook or the MacBook Pro. The Mac mini is an interesting option but it costs the same as a MacBook. Note: You need to buy a complete hardware package. This can be a bit confusing... so get help from someone who really knows. This includes extra disk drives and lots of RAM. I do not recommend the wireless keyboard for your first keyboard.

Help wanted
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Wanted: Software reviewers

The Wikiversity Film School needs people to review software.
We need people who can communicate. Communicating with other people is the most important skill needed by filmmakers who must collaborate with hundreds of people. Write me!

Most Interesting
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Things to buy

Good gifts for young filmmakers
Young filmmakers will find these extremely interesting:
  • BackStage West - Trade Paper - The printed newspaper/magazine called "BackStage West" is a weekly newspaper for actors. Purchase single copies if you are in LA. Note there is a website with the same name and almost the same price which is not what I recommend. (BackStage West Print edition is listed as Back Stage Print which is a "Weekly delivery of Back Stage magazine, providing national & local news, plus interviews, reviews and career advice.")
  • Cinefex Magazine is more than a collector's item. It is very informative for people who want to work in Hollywood.

Coming soon!
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Future reviews

We might review some of the free programs which were used to make w:Elephants Dream.
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What do you recommend?

Free programs can give you the start you need learning the many different subjects you need to know to make motion pictures. If you have any recommendations, please email me. Robert Elliott

Contact your instructor

Your instructor for this filmmaking class is Robert Elliott. You can email me by clicking here. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png