Sunday, 19 September 2010

Fashion, Food, Fun and Flemish - a weekend in Antwerp

Planning a little weekend away from Bonn - a 'mini-break' as Ms Briget Jones might call it, literally one hour before leaving on a Friday afternoon, is a tad ambitious. Last minute flights anywhere fun were too expensive. Then we thought, what about going to London on the choo choo - only 5 hours away and there's always a special offer. Unfortunately the Thalys leg from Cologne to Brussels was booked out. That by the way also ruled out Paris. Copenhagen was also a wild card but quite far to go by train and the sleeper wagons were also booked out. So, deciding we might drive somewhere, we looked at the map and wondered what's possible say within in a two hour radius of Bonn. Alsace-Lorraine is nice, but a bit too far. Maastricht... meh, didn't get us excited. But, what about... Antwerp? Fashion, culture, good food, interesting things to see - it seemed to fit the bill - and my word it did!

I knew that Antwerp is Belgium’s capital of diamond dealers, art lovers and fashion designers. And certainly wearing one's best was our first sight in the city. As we arrived in the late afternoon we first passed many stockinged and traditionally black attired orthodox Jews - probably just coming out of the synagogue on the Sabbath. The most interesting were gentlemen wearing large round fur hats.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Funky word clouds

This is snapshot of Petites et Grandes Aventures created with Wordle a handy little tool for generating “word clouds” from text (or websites) that you provide. You'll see, the clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

I think it's a funky visualisation toy. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes - and just have fun!


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A new look at King's Daughters

Sometimes it's good to take another look at a project, particularly if you've learned some new tricks.

A little over year ago I visited King's Daughters, an innovative project of the Bicycling Empowerment Network, in Katutura, Windhoek's largest township. In a nutshell they train former prostitutes to become bicycle mechanics.

I was very moved by this encounter and decided to produce an audio slideshow. Although I had a Marantz audio field recorder and a very good microphone, I only had a small point and shoot digital camera - a Canon IXUS 950. However, with good light during the day it produced reasonable images.

Back home I produced my audio slideshow with a programme called Soundslides which is a great way to get into audio slideshows. It's fast, intuitive and very straight forward. All you need to do is produce your soundtrack, import your pictures, arrange the order to suit your story, add some transitions and you're done. Here's how it turned out.

In my eyes Soundslides produces a clean looking result and is a very good way to start off and have fun, but if you want to do something more advanced, the natural progression is to move up to video editing software.

I've now started using Final Cut Pro. It really makes a difference, even with a relatively straightforward audio slideshow. Why didn't I do this sooner? Well, probably because I didn't have a Mac agile enough to run it. But of late I've been using a new MacBook Pro and have an HD video camera. Hopefully a DSLR will follow soon. I have several really good lenses from my old Canon film camera that I want to put back into action. Now, there's no excuses for not producing more multimedia! Here's my new look at King's Daughters produced on Final Cut Pro.

King's Daughters: Tools for a New Life from Barbara Gruber on Vimeo.

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