Thursday, April 25, 2013

iPad app: Entrepreneurship Essentials course

ADLCRobots and Pencils, and GoForth Institute have developed an iPad app that teaches Entrepreneurship Essentials. Through the simulation of running a lemonade stand, it uses gamification principles, text slides, videos, and auto-graded quizzes to deliver the content for five one-credit CTS courses (ENT1010, 1020, 2010, 2020, and 2030).

It is fairly well designed, certainly better than most LMS-based online courses. Students will still need to be somewhat self-motivated to make it through, but the badges, notifications, and challenges should help.

From what I hear, schools that register students in this "course" can receive all of the CEU funding if they have a teacher assigned to do the "marking" and tracking, or they can receive 3/5 of the funding if they get ADLC to do all of that.

There has been some media coverage by CBC News and the Edmonton Journal. If you're interested, check out more information and an introduction video.

At any rate, I'm certainly going to recommend it to high schools that have students interested in entrepreneurship and/or interested in trying a different method for getting CTS credits. Information about registration is here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

things I've learned about Source Filmmaker

I've been playing with Source Filmmaker a bit lately, and I wanted to document some of the things that I've learned.

The best source of information is the official SFM wiki.

There are also numerous video tutorials available on YouTube, including the official ones.

The up and down arrows take the playhead to the beginning and ending of a shot, respectively.

Audio should be in WAV format. And I recommend using a nice USB microphone for recording audio.

More models and props can be downloaded (subscribed) from the Steam Workshop. I was particularly interested in models with facial animations for lip-sync, and there are a number available there.

Attach a prop (e.g. a hat) to a character's head by locking it to the bip_head control in the character's animation set. Drag the character's bip_head control on to the hat's bip_head (or rootTransform) control, then select all of time in the Motion Editor (if it's not all green already), select the Body animation set of your prop and then under Procedural drag the Default control from left to right. You may need to adjust its position a little, especially if you used rootTransform because there was no bip_head.

Attach a prop to a character's hand by locking it to the weapon_bone under Unknown in the character's animation set. Similar to the above process.

In order to render 1080p videos, you need to start the program with the argument -sfm_resolution 1080 (either from your Steam library by right-clicking it and choosing Properties then SET LAUNCH OPTIONS... or by editing the desktop shortcut). This isn't recommended until you're ready to render, since working in 1080p makes things a little slow. Rendering 1080p videos takes a long time too, on my i7 desktop it took almost an hour and a half to render a one minute clip. If you're really adventurous you can render at 4K with -sfm_resolution 2160 but you'll need a decent computer a lot of time.

The basic process I go through to create videos (like the one below) is:
  1. launch Source Filmmaker
  2. name your session (or open an existing session)
  3. set the Framerate to 30 (although the default 24 is fine too)
  4. right-click the black part where it says "No Map Loaded!" and choose Load Map...
  5. decide where you'd like to film
    • you can move the camera around by holding down the mouse button where you'd just loaded a map (the viewport) while you use the keys WASD and ZX
  6. click the + sign right underneath Animation Set Editor to Create Animation Set for New Model
    • look in the categories player and survivors for good human models
  7. move the model to the appropriate place by selecting its name in the Animation Set Editor, the move tool  (near the bottom right of the map window) and either the Motion Editor (F3) or the Graph Editor (F4)
  8. add a camera by pressing c on the keyboard
    • or click the down arrow on the right of the active camera button (below the viewport), click Change Scene Camera, and click New Camera.
  9. click the + sign to Create Animation Set(s) for Existing Element(s) and choose camera1 so that you can animate that camera
  10. add any props and position them how you'd like
    • the same way that you added a new model in step 6
    • if you want them to move with a character, make sure you lock them to that character (e.g. their weapon_bone or bip_head)
  11. add your recorded voice clip by selecting the clip editor (F2), right clicking on Dialog (near the bottom), and choosing Add Clip to Track or Record Narration
    • when you are adding a clip to a track, any WAV files that are in the ...\steam\steamapps\common\sourcefilmmaker\game\usermod\sound file will show up
  12. to have your character move their lips along with the voice track, select the Dialog track, the character's Lower Face (and Tongue) in the Animation Set Editor, right-click in the Animation Set Editor, and choose Extract Phonemes
  13. I usually animate the camera by moving it around rather than using the fieldOfView control
So that is a very brief overview of some of the things I've done in Source Filmmaker so far. Here's an example of one I did recently:

Monday, April 8, 2013

installing Red5 in Ubuntu from the command line

First install the requirements for Red5:

sudo apt-get install java-package openjdk-7-jre openjdk-7-jdk ant subversion

Next download and untar Red5:

tar xvfz red5-1.0.0.tar.gz

Rename the folder:

mv red5-1.0.0 red5

And then run Red5:

cd red5

After scrolling through a lot of verbose information about the startup of Red5, you'll know it's running when you see the line that ends with Installer service created.

If you're browsing from the computer that it's installed on, you can see if the Red5 server is running by going to http://localhost:5080 .