19 December 2009

The tools for the commons are ready.

When getting ready to launch BULL SPEC, there were a lot of questions about the tools available to use in producing the e-books and audiobooks. Could I afford top end audio recording software, professional desktop publishing software, vector graphic software, and so on; were the open source versions really ready?

The open source tools are more than ready.

When I first tried using Audacity some years ago, it was not. (At least it didn't play nicely with my Firewire DAW hardware and recording stereo tracks the way that higher-end software did.) Faced with the choice of having used up my month of evaluation of the quite excellent Reaper and either registering or being a jerk to their licensing wishes, I decided to give Audacity another good try. Having just laid down a few test tracks with Audacity 1.3.10 I'm amazed at how far this software has come. I don't come close to pushing the edges of it (I don't use any transforms, plugins, etc. as this is handled mostly in hardware for me) but it handles my narration needs like a champion. And, thanks to recent updates, it even handles my multichannel recording needs (guitar L+R, voice, synth, etc.).

When I started working with the printer for the magazine version of BULL SPEC, they gave me a list of settings for Adobe inDesign. Now, I haven't used desktop publishing since Pagemaker. The original Pagemaker on the original Macintosh. (Shout out to the other editors of the Marion High School student paper!) I told them I'd like to give Scribus a try. They'd never heard of it.

Scribus was a bit rough around the edges in places in past versions, though solidly functional it zigged where inDesign zagged. Lots of things have changed for 1.3.5, and while some of the terminology changes (templates to "Master Pages" for example) make following the tutorial a bit challenging, 1.3.5 is ready for prime time, with the features I needed most and outputting in the format my printer needed. (Bleeds, crop marks, embedded fonts, specific color scheme, etc.)

I've used CamStudio (GPL screen recording software) with great success both in professional and amateur capacities.

Inkscape is an amazing vector graphics tool.

And I have never even used Blender or Gimp yet. Blender is up next. Video interviews and reviews podcasts? Yeah. I'm insane. No way I have time for this.

1 comment:

montsamu said...

Would love if anybody has suggestions for a "step down from Blender" as far as a video editing choice. Something with as few features as "Windows Movie Maker" for example. Blender can do it but the UI there is a bit above my pay grade so far.