Programmes named here can be really expensive. In the Free- and Shareware circuit some of these software programs can be found. Freeware means you cab download a programme for free. Shareware can be a free 30 day trail, or you only have to pay if you use the programme regularly. See for example downloads.com. Surfspot sells programs with student discounts. Furtermore, it is cheaper to buy a whole package tha buying every programme separately.
The colour, shape and size of photos and illustrations can be corrected using image editing programmes such as Photoshop or PaintshopPro. Several photos can be combined into a single, totally new image as well. You can then draw on this new image too. The best-known image editing programme is Adobe Photoshop. This programme offers an almost infinite range of possibilities. Moreover, a variety of software developers design plug-ins that can be installed in Photoshop to create even more options.
Mouse or pen
An electronic pen and a graphics pad are the best instruments to use for making a drawing on the computer. A mouse is less comfortable and causes RSI.
Pixel and vector
Photoshop is a pixel-based image editing programme, as distinct from vector-based programmes (see below). A pixel can be compared to the grain of a photo. In Photoshop and other pixel-based image editing programmes the colours of the pixels can be manipulated.
Vector programmes do not use pixels, but surfaces and lines that can be manipulated. The formula used describes the form, the colour and the place on the surface. The advantage of using vectors is that the files stay very small. Another advantage is that vector drawings can be infinitely enlarged or reduced in size without any loss of sharpness.
Vector programmes are older than pixel programmes and are still used for technical and construction drawings. A variant for the creative users among us is the vector programme Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe Indesign. Gradually, pixel and vector programmes are beginning to overlap in their functionality. Vector programmes can be used to make pixel drawings and images, and the other way round.
You can make videos with a mobile Phone. Expensive film- and editing equipment is not needed for all purposes. Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and Windows Movie Maker are the most common video editing programmes. Video files are very large and require a lot of storage capacity on your computer.
After the short film has been edited, it can be exported to a format that is easy to use. Avi or QuickTime files can be read by a lot of computers, but there are many more formats.
To make the film suitable for the Internet, the resolution has to be reduced. This causes a loss in the quality of image and sound. For downgrading, as it is called, you should use codecs. A codec is a piece of software or hardware that allows you to code/decode or compress/decompress data. There are codecs available for coding sound or images in a manageable format whilst retaining a high level of quality.
Examples of video codecs are: DivX, Xvid, MPEG, WMV.
Examples of audio codecs are: MP3, MP4, WMA, Ogg, PCM (uncompressed) as used in the WAV format, for example.
Burn the film on a DVD, or onto a CD ROM if it is no bigger than 700 MB. Now it can be seen on other computers as well. If you want to play the film in a DVD player you will have to make an options menu. You need a special programme for this, such as the Nero CD burning programme, Adobe Premiere Pro, iDVD or DVD Pro.
Architects, product designers, game designers and people who make animations use 3D programmes. Architects, for example, use the Autocad programme to design buildings. During, or after, the building has been designed the programme calculates the costs of materials and staff which would be necessary to erect the building. The programme also uses the calculating function to show the building in 3D on the screen. In this way, the building can be examined from all sides, and one can (virtually) walk though it. This calculation function is called rendering.
3D programmes can be used to make objects that can move and be modified in an environment designed by you. By adding the dimension of time, films can be made. The combination of 3D and film is a popular method nowadays. 3D programmes allow you to make all kinds of different effects and stunts for films.
Well-known 3D programmes are 3D-StudioMax, LightWave 3D, Sketchup and TrueSpace, to mention just three. The Poser programme is specialised in making animated human figures, whilst Brice is specialised in landscapes. Such programmes are not cheap, and some are only within the budget of the film industry.
Animations are certainly not always made in expensive 3D programmes. Drawn animations can also be made in 2D programmes: Adobe Flash is the most popular programme in this area. In Flash you can make animations using a timeline and a set of drawing tools; it is a vector-based programme, but it can also handle photos, video and sound. These animations are also very suitable for use on the Internet. Specialised programmes also exist, which can be used by animation studios, but most of these are too expensive for private use.
Nowadays, thanks to new technical possibilities most musical compositions are first made on the computer before they are performed live. This enables the composer to hear the music beforehand.
Imitating the sound of real instruments on a computer requires complex technology which is still being developed. This is because some of the sounds of instruments just cannot be reproduced by the computer. In many kinds of music, however, the sounds of synthesizers and computers can be used and combined with a single analogue instrument or a voice. Thanks to the myriad possibilities offered by the computer, it has become a fixture in the creation of music. The house music culture, for instance, was only made possible thanks to computers and software.
Using input devices such as keyboards, electronic drums and microphones in combination with the appropriate software, you can set up an (affordable) desktop sound studio.
Cakewalk and FruityLoops are well-known programmes for composing music. Many types of synthesizers can be installed on these programmes as plug-ins. Apart from music, you can also edit sounds, for example, with the Adobe Audition programme.
The sound equipment is easy to connect to the computer. Connect a splitter wire (Stereo Off) to the sound card, and a stereo extension wire ([to] the AUX input) to the amplifier; that is all it takes to set up the coupling. When switching on the amplifier, select the AUX input, and your (self-composed) music will sound even more impressive.