Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lab Reservations, Jan 31 & Feb 1

The lab is closed on Wednesday, Jan 31 from 4:30pm - 6:00pm for a class, and again on Thursday, Feb 1, from 3:00pm -4:30pm. Please try to plan around these reservations, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to save your work so that the classes can start on time. Thanks!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Video Mashup Contest

You've probably seen these now-classic trailer spoofs:

Well, at long last, you can create your own! The University is sponsoring a "Mashup Contest", encouraging Penn students to create their own trailers (no more than 4 minutes total, so it shouldn't be too hard putting one together) parodying a well-known film. Faculty will judge the entries, and prizes will be awarded.

Top prize is a Digital Video Camera! 2nd and 3rd prizes are an iPod Shuffle.

And the best part of all is that we're here to help you get it done! After all, that's what this lab is all about. All you need to do is pick a movie and decide how you want to spoof it. (Browse the library's video catalog for ideas) We'll sit down with you and show you how to use the software in the lab to turn it into the final product.

Entries are due by 9 pm on March 12th, 2007. There are more details about the contest here: http://prp.library.upenn.edu/06/mashupcontest.html

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lab Reservations, Thursday, January 18

Just a few reservations you should know about if you're working in the lab today (thursday). All 3 flatbed scanners are reserved from 2:30pm-4pm for a class. You're welcome to continue working on your projects, but please be aware that the scanners won't be available.

And tonite from 6pm-8pm, the entire table of computers on the far wall of the lab (computers #1A-#5A, if you read that little label across the top of your monitor) are reserved for another class.

In both cases, the instructors may also be lecturing to their students, and using the projection screen, however others may continue to use the lab quietly during the classes.

Two New Lab Consultants

Please welcome the two newest members of the Vitale Digital Media Lab Family:

Alex Meyer is an Economics major from the Philadelphia area.
Keith McKnight is a junior Digital Media Design major, also from Philadelphia.

You'll be seeing a lot of them around the lab, so come in and say hi.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fixing the computers

Since we opened last April, some of the computers in here have gotten a little...quirky, and not all of them work as well as they should. This sort of thing just happens over time, and there's not much we can do to prevent it. So now we're in the process of reimaging all of the Macs in the lab. This basically means we're erasing everything on them and replacing it with a fresh copy of all of the software, which should make things run much more smoothly again.

As always, be sure you're not saving your files on the local computers when you leave, because there's no guarantee they'll be there when you return. If you're working on a project in the lab that you can't finish in one session, you can burn it to a CD or DVD, save it to your own portable hard drive, USB flash drive, or laptop, or we can save it for you temporarily on our network storage drive. Just ask the lab consultant on duty if you need help.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Nick's Portrait Photography project

Nick Salvatore, one of our more notorious lab consultants, worked on a project here in the Vitale Digital Media Lab for his photography course. He's graciously agreed to let us share it with you all.

I'll let him describe it in his own words:

This is my final project from Portrait Photography (FNAR 274) taught by Brent Wahl.

For this piece, I asked each of my subjects to choose an action to perform, and then I photographed them in the act. My intention was togive them a shot at wrestling control away from me and "taking over" the images. But I didn't feel like playing fair, so I made them do it blindfolded.

All of these pictures were edited and printed in the Digital Media Lab. The black and white images were shot on film and then converted to digital files using the film scanner. The color images were shot digitally and then imported onto one of the computers. I edited all of the images in Adobe Photoshop, then printed them using the poster printer. The resources at the lab were incredibly helpful, and I was able to get all of this work done in one day.

[editor's note: there is one current and one former lab consultant in the photos below. Can u pick them out?]

Want us to showcase a project you worked on in the lab? Email us at medialab@pobox.upenn.edu

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Paper Cutter

Announcing... the long awaited... the inspirational... the celebrational, the muppetational... (drum roll, please)

Rotatrim M54 Paper Cutter! (ta da!)

Every time someone prints a poster in the lab, they always ask, "Do you have a paper cutter?" to which we always answer, "No, but we have a pair of scissors." But a pair of scissors just won't cut it sometimes (no pun intended, I swear.) We considered getting a yardstick and an xacto knife, but our paper is 42" wide, and a yardstick is only 36", so we decided to go all out and buy the real deal for you guys. It can handle paper up to 54 inches wide. We'll either be keeping it on the empty computer table, or stowed away behind the poster printer, so if you need it but you don't see it, just ask and we'll get it out for you. Heck, we'll even let you cut things you didn't print in the lab. No need to thank us. It's what we do.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

School Daze

Get it? "Daze" instead of "days"? Isn't that cute? Because all the students are still in a "daze" after returning from vacation? Huh? Huh? Anyway...

Our hours this week are truncated while we gear up for the Spring semester. We'll be open this week M-F, 10am-5pm, and closed this Saturday and Sunday, 1/13 and 1/14. We plan to be open with our regular hours starting next Monday, 1/15.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Photoshop CS3 Beta

By now you've heard the exciting news that Adobe has released a beta version of Photoshop CS3. There are some great new features in the software (non-destructive filters, a complete revamp of the magic wand/selection tool, auto-align and blend of layers, Vanishing Point with multiple adjustable angle perspective planes, and more). It also marks a new (and significantly improved, IMHO) beta version of Adobe Camera Raw, and of Adobe Bridge. Not surprisingly, we've received a few questions about when we'll be upgrading the software in the lab to this version.

Adobe has set the date for the production release of CS3 as "Spring 2007," so we don't have a good sense of exactly when the software will even be available for purchase. We try not to install new versions of software in the middle of a semester, in order to minimize interruptions for anyone who has alreaday begun a project with one version. But we do try to keep the lab up-to-date with the most recent software available. Most likely, we will install Photoshop CS3 (and any other CS3 applications that have been released by that time) after the end of the Spring semester, and almost certainly before classes start again in the Fall. Our lab manager is currently working on making the beta version available on at least one of the Macs in the lab for those who want to try it out.

If you're interested in seeing some of the new CS3 features in action, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) has put some short video tutorials online. Check them out.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Out with the Old: Brand New Robot

Despite some protest (and reluctance), we're retiring the robot we've been using on our "hours" sign on the door of the lab. We'll be replacing him soon with another creation from our robot-artist-in-residence, Jesse, perhaps with more of a Spring theme (since it's Spring Semester, even though it's still cold and rainy and yucky out). Stay tuned and keep checking the door of the lab for updates.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year. 2007 marks the beginning of the 2nd full semester of the Vitale Digital Media Lab. We're working over winter break to update the software in the lab and to spruce things up a bit for when you all return. You'll also be seeing a new face or two working in the lab, so stop in and say hello.