* VLC now supports 360 video and 3D audio.
* Can stream to Chromecast devices.
* Can play Blu-Ray Java menus.
Did you download Google Earth Pro when it became free, a while back now, but haven’t updated it since? The latest Google Earth Pro 7.3.1 update brings “new 64-bit support, performance improvements”. There’s no auto-update in the software, it seems, so you have to go fetch the new installer manually.
Possibly of interest to readers who use Google Earth to find terrains that can then be extracted from datasets for use with 3D landscape software such as Vue and Terragen. Or those who donate 3D building models to Google Earth.
There was once an excellent desktop software package called FontLab, which was the best professional tool you could get for creating new Windows fonts or tweaking old ones. Now FontLab has finally been updated, indeed completely overhauled, and released as FontLab VI. Regrettably the new cost is a glyph-curling $689, but if you purchased FontLab 5 (way back when Windowsaurii roamed the steaming primeval swamps of the Interwebs) an upgrade is a more feasible $199.
A free open-source video editor, Shotcut. New to me, but currently at version 18 and thus quite polished. It has a set of Tutorial Videos which also come in German-language versions. It has a less-than-inspiring website, but according to the reliable WebUser magazine it’s a good choice…
“Its interface feels instantly familiar and is very easy to use, and it offers nearly all the editing features you could wish for. … simple enough for beginners to master, but it also has plenty of advanced features” — WebUser magazine, end January 2018.
Interesting 2017 statistics from the booktrade journal Publishers Weekly (19th Jan 2018), giving a snapshot of the print book market for 2017. They’re summarising the industry-leading NPD BookScan data, which tracks 85% of print bookstore retail in the USA. So comparative digital/online trends are missing, but I did note a couple of interesting things:
1. After surging wildly ahead for two years, print sales of graphic novels in bookshops slipped back a little…
“[they had] an 11% increase between 2015 and 2016 — the second biggest gain in adult fiction in that year — [but] saw sales fall 5% last year.”
I’d guess the dip was somewhat due to much-cheaper 10″ digital tablets, such as the new Kindle Fire HD 10″, which is ideal for reading graphic novels. Also, Marvel are having a hard time on sales at the moment, due to their editorial policies in the monthly comic-books.
2. Interest in the fad of adult coloring books has (predictably) collapsed, though it had a good run. Sales of History/Law/Politics and Reference books are now surging, presumably on both sides of the political divide. Book sci-fi for adults seems to have slightly declined, possibly partly due to the depressing / pessimistic nature of most of the ‘serious sci-fi’ novels being released. Fantasy for adults seems to be running at about the same level too, with its apparent strong surge in 2017 nearly all down to Neil Gaiman selling 265,000 print copies of his Norse Mythology. But such broad stability is encouraging for print, in the face of piracy and a continuing slip over to digital and audiobooks rather than print. Much of the ‘serious sci-fi / fantasy’ audience is getting older, and so audiobooks and tablets with scalable ebook fonts will appeal more and more, thus one would expect that trend to cut into print sales.
3. Various cultural trends are evident on looking down the book sales tables. It seems to me that if you want to reach a sweet spot in the 2018 mass market, then you would release the following ‘ideal’ product — which would aim to hit multiple mass-market growth areas at once:
Juvenile: Historical Animals, with their story set in a specific and distinctive Place. (On the flipside of such furry historical fiction, trends in music suggest that ‘boy bands’ and nerd culture may be two hot ‘real world settings’ for 2018).
Adult: Detective Horror set in a very well-researched and detailed historical setting, with a dash of the Fantastical. Light on the Romance.
Non-fiction: The huge success of Gaiman’s Norse Mythology may have opened up a follow-on market for the myths and stories and spirituality of the North?
I also note that steampunk comes through in Hollywood movies set to be released at the end of 2018, and the genre will get a strong marketing/awareness boost due to that. There’s also a major Tolkien biopic movie, though if that will be any good or not remains to be seen. But the middle of the year should see some sustained establishment-media attention for Tolkien. Rocketing sales at Games Workshop also suggests sustained interest in Tolkien-like fantasy at the other end of the age spectrum, as the ‘new baby boom’ kids establish their first out-of-home no-parents interests.
Of course, that’s all “mass market”, which can be heavily skewed by where the marketing money and talent goes. There are plenty of strong genre niches too, made ever more accessible by crowdfunding and new indie distribution platforms.
Cisco reveals Multiple Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities in Blender.
Blender’s response, after a lot of blather, seems to be boil down to: we’re not going to fix them, even though this huge list of vulnerabilities is now public and exploitable by hackers.
The Poser sale is still on. Upgrade even a very old Poser version to the latest Poser Pro, for $49.95. Looks like Smith Micro can also ship you a physical disc in the mail, which could be rather handy if you’re in a remote place with weak or no broadband.
Vital Kinect accessories are officially discontinued by Microsoft, and the technology downplayed. If you rely on Kinect for your body-tracking / motion-capture workflow, now might be the time to hop on eBay and grab a couple of replacements for some vital components.
Poser 11’s 11.1 update is now available, via your Smith Micro Download Manager.
If you run a 64-bit instead of a 32-bit install of Poser 11, then you need to make sure to un-check the 32-bit check-box when the installer runs. Otherwise it may look for both 64-bit and 32-bit installs of Poser, and may then get confused when it can’t find the 32-bit.
If you don’t yet have 11, the Smith Micro site currently has a load of discounts on Poser 11. Including on upgrades from older versions.
After the regular run of Service Release patches for Poser 11, Smith Micro has just announced a free Poser 11.1 update. It’s due later in December.
There are “many improvements” and even a few new features. For free, which is nice. The additional features announced, so far, are:
* 3D Animation Path – “create and manipulate a 3D path on the project scene and have an object travel that path while animating it at the same time”.
* Animation Palette – “group keyframes by categories and/or themes and easily identify the existing keyframes within each group. Additionally, the Animation Palette now shows the number of keyframes that a group contains at any given frame, and also allows for management and assigning of categories to keyframes”.
* Paul v2 and Pauline v2. These are the flagship male and female characters which ship for free with Poser.
I’m not likely to use any of those, but it’s good to see that hard work is being done by the new team on progressing Poser.
Just announced, Amazon Sumerian. It’s Amazon’s crassly-named new tool for building 3D in virtual and augmented reality. Judging by the cringe-inducing 2002-style picture it looks like they’re anticipating organizations will be using VR for the same-old “Death by Powerpoint” presentations, but done in a way where you can’t look away… because you have huge goggles strapped to your head.
Perhaps you’ll at least be able to close your eyes, and thus have a snooze without anyone in the room knowing, though I guess there will also be all sorts of prompts and audio pings that will try to prevent that. Horrible. Why would anyone want to work for an organisation which inflicted such horrors on staff, at a time of near-full employment (at least here in the UK).
But one hopes that employer fears of lawyered-up claimants — claiming motion sickness / eye-strain / headset-allergies / ‘unfriendly to disabled people’ etc — will put the kibosh on this before it starts.
And it that doesn’t do it… nodes. Nodes with adjustable spaghetti wires. Ugh.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – Expanded. A limited edition soundtrack of 3,000. Released on 12th September 2017. Edward Shermur’s classic soundtrack for the classic valvepunk movie, with a whole hour of additional tracks over the 2004 release. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this movie, must be 20 times at least. It could never be made today, the studios would dilute it to death before it even got started.
Amazon UK and USA both report that Brian Haberlin’s graphic novel Anomaly: The Rubicon is shipping. It’s made with Poser + digital overpainting, and those who have enjoyed the earlier Anomaly will need no introduction.
Listed as 244 pages in the UK, and 264 pages in the USA. I hope that’s a mistake and there’s been no censorship of the graphic novel for the UK market.
Wowzer, I didn’t think the new Amazon Fire HD 10″ 1080p tablet + Alexa would get lower than the standard £150 UK retail, but it is! £109 and free delivery. Nice. It’s included in Black Friday on both Amazon UK and USA.
Amazon must have decided they want to take a big loss on the hardware, to get the eventual income from ongoing content sales.
Things to bear in mind:
* It’s not really going to be the sort of ‘digital painting tablet’ that a 10″ iPad + Apple Pen can be. But then… it’s a fifth of the price.
* Amazon has their own equivalent of Google Play. The Fire 10″ can’t access Google Play without some workarounds, and even when it can it runs an older streamlined version of Android and thus may not play nicely with some Google Play apps.
* If you find you really don’t like Amazon’s mis-targetted ads and “your tasteless friends also brought…” on the lock-screen, you can do a unofficial workaround to remove them. Or just pay Amazon £10 later on their website, to have them removed.
* It has a 16:10 screen, eminently suitable for movies and showing your widescreen artwork — because no “black bars” above and below such content. Also good for comics and graphic novels and magazines. Shows 104% of the sRGB range, and has good blacks.
* Alexa hands-free voice assistant. Apparently it works well, and it always listening.
* Mediocre camera.
* Apparently it’s going to be rubbish in sunlight, re: reflections etc. It’s an indoor tablet for lower lighting situations.
* Reviews say it’s ugly. But I checked out a model on display in my local Tesco store and it looks fine to me. It looks even better at £109. 🙂