I had a fun and rewarding day friday serving on a portfolio review panel for the Digital Media Arts program at Bellevue College. We saw some really good work, and I am very impressed with the continually increasing quality of that program! It’s wonderful to see so many students with strong portfolios who are ready to get work.
In February I had the great honor of being the lead instructor for a 3D Game Development program presented to 50+ students from 3D College in Grenaa, Denmark. The program was facilitated by Experience America, and held on the University of Washington campus.
We presented new material in the mornings, and ran lab time in the afternoon where students worked on game development projects. This was a really skilled, high energy bunch, and they produced a lot of very good and entertaining work! I can’t wait to see all the great things they do as they transition into careers and continue to hone their craft.
I was assisted when instructing by Alan Diekfuss and Josh Prigg, without whom I could not have pulled off such a memorable month. And Drew Cady, Leah Verre and Henk Dawson all contributed greatly to the program through guest presentations to the students. We all shared countless wonderful moments that led to powerful human connections I’ll never forget. I am very grateful to have been a small part of these students lives.
Last October we ran a similar program, also at the U.W., for Danish students visiting from the Game I.T. college, also in Grenaa. It was equally exciting and moving!
In the last few days I gave myself a crash course in ScreenFlow, the screen capture and editing tool from Telestream. Overall my first impressions are very positive, though there are a few drawbacks to using it over my old approach.
For all of my previous video tutorials I used Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro X, and edited in Final Cut Pro X. But video tutorials often need something like a certain part of the screen zoomed up, a single area focused on, etc. FCP is certainly capable of all this, but ScreenFlow makes these tasks much quicker and easier. I also wanted to capture video from multiple streams all at once, which Snapz Pro X doesn’t do. ScreenFlow lets me grab both the screen and the video from the iSight camera on my iMac at the same time. It also claims to simultaneously capture external camera sources that are hooked up via usb/firewire, which is something I want to include in some upcoming projects.
I’ll be using ScreenFlow fairly extensively for the online class I’m teaching this month at Indie Game School, so I will have put it through all the paces and can give a more detailed review later this month. But for now, here are some pros and cons that jumped out right away.
- Capturing multiple video/audio streams at once is saving me a ton of time.
- A single file for each capture/project contains all the various media it uses, making it easy to move and backup.
- In ScreenFlow I can begin editing immediately after capture. When using Snapz Pro X I always had to wait for several minutes, even when saving the capture without compression. This alone has at least doubled my productivity.
- ScreenFlow was really easy to learn and use. I was product with it within minutes.
- The app is actually fun to use!
- Limited ability to choose output settings from inside the app. But it does allow you to export a few uncompressed formats, so it could be bounced through another app like Compressor for more refined control over output format.
- ScreenFlow is fairly “non-pro” in it’s approach to editing. You can’t directly adjust volume on the timeline via an automation line. And instead of “setting a key” for various parameters like opacity and scale, you create “actions”. Actions seem to be regions with built in fades for a collection of parameters. It works, but it makes some things a bit easier and some things a whole lot harder, all at the same time.
- It’s a bit buggy! I’ve had a handful of cases where the program freezes and gives me the spinning beach ball of death. Luckily, the project file wasn’t corrupt after a force+quit.
- ScreenFlow is somewhat clunky. There are a lot of small usability issues that build up when you are trying to work quickly for several hours. For instance, there are many times when I need to click on the background canvas somewhere before I can re-select the play head. Or when adding an action or callout, the inspector does not automatically show for that specific thing, so the user has to manually select it before adjusting settings. And some settings will cause the play head to snap to the beginning of the action, but others won’t. Little things like this are really annoying and take me out of the flow of editing the presentation. But some cleanup in this area would really make this application shine!
Overall I am quite satisfied with ScreenFlow for most of my current and near-term needs, even with it’s drawbacks.
Starting this week I am teaching a new online class at Indie Game School about how to build an FPS in Unity3D using the Playmaker plug in! The class is presented as a series of videos that cover the course material, with a new set being released each week. Students can post questions and discussions on the Indie Game School web site where I and other students will give feedback on the course material and their work.
The course started yesterday, but enrollment is open throughout the whole month so you can work at your own pace. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
For more info, or to join us, head over to indiegameschool.com.au.
From March 2011 to November 2013 I owned and operated a little company called Well Played Games LLC. I started it with the intention of having a vehicle to use for making some small iOS games and growing it into larger products with bigger teams. But along the way a variety of different opportunities came up for me. Some were professional, some were personal, but they were all very rewarding threads to pull on for a while. I made a lot of video tutorials. I taught game design in colleges, online, and even overseas! And I had the privilege of being involved in various behind the scenes ways in many diverse projects, both in and out of the game industry. And I learned a ton about running a small business.
Now I find myself in the position of having a lot of avenues for continuing to help and work with other people on shared goals. To keep Well Played Games running would require me to devote most of my time and resources to it in order to be successful, and close off all of those other opportunities. So it makes sense to let go of Well Played Games in order to better focus on those more compelling things at this time. This also leaves me far more open than I was before to new partnerships, contracts and gigs. It was a good run, I had fun and learned a lot, and helped a few people along the way, so I’m counting it as a win. You can be sure Well Played Games will not be the last company I create!
So am I done with games? No! I am currently partnering on a demo for a game that would be larger and more engaging than the smaller projects I was working on before. I’m also devoting a lot of my personal time to creating music again, and I will be sharing that in the weeks and months to come. And of course, I’m still going to be very involved in education. I’m actively generating new video content for multiple sources, and continue to teach classes and programs on game development to students in classrooms.
If you were looking for the tutorials I made through Well Played Games about Playmaker in Unity3D for Hutong Games, you can still find them all here, and of course at the Hutong Games YouTube Channel.
And of course, feel free to contact me any time, and you can follow me here at christopherorth.com, which I will be actively using as the hub for all my future ventures.
This morning I was a member of the panel for a Bellevue College Digital Media Arts portfolio defense. It was a small group this time, but I’m really impressed at the rising quality of work coming out of this program! I’ve sat on panels at BC numerous times, and there are always students who are ready to work professionally right away. Great work by everyone all around.
In the interest of being honest with myself and everyone else, I’ve been struggling a bit with what content to put on my blog. I’m one of those people who can do several things pretty well, which seems like a benefit until you realize that it really means I want to do several things at once! I know multi-tasking is a lie, but I won’t give up the various passions in my life. So as of late I’ve mostly been working out an effective and enjoyable way to balance the things I am most interested in, and let go of everything else.
So what’s left after the big clean out? Making music, making games, my family, and yoga.
And that’s where the struggle came in for me. Those topics don’t really seem to go well together on one blog. But then again, they do go really well together in my one life, so there has to be a way to make them work in a blog too. After way too much pondering and experimentation, I finally realized the only way forward is to simply be honest, do what I love, and share the best parts of it. So that’s what you can expect to find here from now.
It feels great to have that cleared up so I can move forward. Thanks for sharing in it with me!
I took the leap and upgraded my Squarespace 5 site to a Squarespace 6 site! So far I'm really impressed with the improvements and additions to the content management tools. The templates are a lot more attractive and functional than the previous versions, and will be great starting points to build from over time. The import process was mostly painless. It brought all my content and blog posts over, but it did not import my image galleries. That really just gave me an excuse for a long overdue update to them!
But there is some flaky behavior too. The content editing tools will just vanish every once in a while. Exiting that page and returning gets everything working again. Sometimes changes to text and layout simply don't stick when leaving the editor. Image colors can shift slightly between edit mode and live, which caused me me to briefly think the background color of an image was getting shifted in Photoshop for some reason. Also, images can simply vanish from time to time. They appear in the editor, but not on the live web page. The only solution I found was to delete them and create new image blocks. Easy enough to do, but still annoying.
Overall I'm very pleased with the update, and am looking forward to working a lot of the new things into my site as time allows. If you are on the fence, I'd say it's worth updating. And if you are still doing your web sites the hard way by spinning the HTML yourself, it's high time you let that go and let something like Squarespace free you up to focus entirely on your content!
I have completed a new video tutorial covering how to get started using the MonoSQLite database plug in for Unity3D! It covers everything you need to know to get up and running. I also give examples using the visual scripting plug in, Playmaker.
I'm currently producing a whole series on this great new plug-in from Monosapiens. We will be releasing them regularly over the coming weeks. I've also produced an Introduction to MonoSQLite video, which is available for free on YouTube, and embedded here below:
I spent yesterday afternoon with a class at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, introducing them to the Unity3D game engine and all you can accomplish with it. It was a lot of fun, and very cool to see the students start to realize that all things are possible. I've rarely seen software inspire people to action the way Unity3D does.