Rob Holsman of talks us through the features of Tascam’s DM3200 digital console and explains why this is a relevant choice for someone looking for a DAW controller and high quality audio interface.
Rob Holsman of talks us through the features of Tascam’s DM3200 digital console and explains why this is a relevant choice for someone looking for a DAW controller and high quality audio interface.
Audio interfaces come in all shapes, sizes and numbers of inputs. To see what difference size makes, we’ve pitted the small but mighty RME Babyface against the heavyweight RME Fireface UFX. Our audio consultants have each taken a corner to argue why their choice should be champion.
Backing the RME Babyface interface is Alex Judd, who reckons the ultra compact, bus-powered interface packs more of a punch than you’d imagine. “Marketed as the entry level RME interface, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not a serious production tool,” he said. “The Babyface boasts the same amazing sound and ultra low latency as the Fireface series, and comes with a breakout cable for connecting two mic preamps, an instrument input, two headphone outputs, stereo line out and eight‑channel ADAT I/O.”
Alex also points to the Babyface’s fantastic routing, mixing and signal processing software, Totalmix FX, which allows you to perform complete routing and mixing, as well as adding effects (DSP-based EQ, and host based delay and reverb). But it’s the portability factor that’s the real winner for him. He said:
“It will fit into the most crowded of studios, and easily tuck into your laptop bag (or man bag). Just hook the RME Babyface up to an eight‑channel preamp via ADAT and you have the ability to record multitrack sources when and where you need to. It’s ideal for musicians and producers who are after a simple stereo source for mixing, but who also need something to take on tour or out on location. It’s a very clever way of RME sucking you in,” Alex added.
RME Fireface UFX
Rob Holsman has been using the larger RME Fireface UFX for recording guitars and drums for his band for a while, with one of his standout features being direct USB recording. To see how to set up this function in action, check out Rob’s video below.
“There are clear uses for this technology,” Rob said, “from having a safety recording running in the event of a DAW crash to being able to record live gigs where using a computer might be ill-advised […] Sometimes there are just situations where a standalone recorder is what you want to use, and that’s exactly what this firmware update turns the UFX into – a standalone hard disk recorder.
“The decision to record a single multichannel audio file is a good one too, as it makes it much easier to write high data volumes to slower devices (such as memory sticks) than trying to simultaneously write multiple files. It also ensures that all files remain synchronous when importing into an editing program like Pro Tools or Cubase, which both handle multichannel files natively, automatically showing each channel as a separate region.”
Rob went on to deliver his verdict on the interface. “The RME Fireface UFX was already one of the best professional audio interfaces available based on stability features and sheer audio performance, but [this update makes it] stand out from the competition, pushing the UFX into an exciting class of its own and making it a simple choice for people looking to record critical, non-repeatable performances.”
We’ve used a very complex system of calculations to tot up the points, and it turns out it’s a draw. Which audio interface you go for really depends on how it’s going to fit into your recording and production. As Rob said, the Fireface UFX has top quality sound and a handy direct USB recording feature, but if you’re recording on the move, you really can do no worse than the incredibly portable and affordable RME Babyface interface.
We’re an RMExpert Dealer, which means we can offer expert advice, demonstrations and even loan a wide range of units for customers to try in their own setup. Get in touch for more info.
To find out more about the RME Babyface, call us on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest audio news and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.
To get your hands on an RME Babyface with a free Audio Technica AT2020 microphone (worth £89), visit Jigsaw24.com now!
Looking for a print solution for your drafting workflow? There are dozens of large format printers out there which will all produce good quality results, so we’ve pitched two of the top offerings from HP and Epson against each other so you can see what kind of printer is best for your needs…
HP are primarily known for producing technical CAD printers for use in architectural, engineering, surveying and construction environments. Their 44″ DesignJet T790 is a plug-and-play large format printer which combines high-speed results with intuitive use. The real stand-out points here are the ability to easily create print-ready PDFs with the optional AutoCAD plug-in and the collaborative aspect of HP’s exclusive ePrint & Share application. This free web-printing solution allows you to select, print and share files directly from the colour touchscreen.
Epson’s range of photo and graphics printers have a heavy emphasis on print quality, and so are mainly used in the print for pay, production graphics, pre-press proofing and photographic sectors. They may seem a little over-qualified if you only need a printer that’s adept at producing 2D drafts, but if you’re working in an environment where you work with a range of designs and media, the flexibility of the 44″ Epson Stylus Pro 9700 could be what you need. ENERGY STAR-qualified, it also boasts plenty of eco-features such as a fixed printhead and low power consumption to boost your green credentials and keep printing costs down at the same time.
The stats you need to know, at a glance.
|Printer||HP DesignJet T790||Epson Stylus Pro 9700|
|Printhead||HP Thermal Inkjet||Epson Micro Piezo TFP Variable-sized Droplet Technology|
|Max resolution||2400x1200dpi||1440x1440dpi (special line mode)|
|No. colours/cartridges||Six cartridges (C, M, Y, Photo Black, Matte Black, Grey)||Four colours, five cartridges (C, M, Y, Photo Black and Matte Black), ten ink channels|
|Nozzles||2,112 nozzles per colour, 12,672 nozzles||720 nozzles per colour, 3,600 nozzles|
|Minimum droplet size||6-9pl||3.5pl|
|Max print speed||50m^2/h||50m^2/h|
|Best quality print speed||2.8m^2/h||4.2m^2/h|
|Paper thickness||60 to 328g/m^2 up to 0.8mm||0.08 to 1.5mm|
|Warranty||One year onsite ex printhead||One year onsite inc printhead|
In terms of initial cost, there’s little to separate the two printers (both have an RRP of around £3000), but the Epson does just edge the HP in terms of consumables, with printheads included in the guarantee and ink costing nearly half per ml. The real decider should be what you want your printer to achieve – for a dedicated drafting printer, you may be better off with the quicker, more accurate Epson 9700 and its collaborative tools, but if you need your printer to do more flexible colour design work, the HP T790 could clinch it for you.
When Wiltshire College were looking to update its analogue TV studio, we provided them with NewTek’s TriCaster Pro – a portable production system that would let students create live webcasts. We also supplied them with hardware controllers that would help make broadcasting engaging and accessible for students.
Upgrading the studio
Comprising four campuses, Wiltshire College are part of Skillset Media Academy and have a Centre of Vocational Excellence Award for Digital and Broadcast Media. Wiltshire’s Interactive Media Centre, on their Chippenham campus, is a two-storey, self-contained broadcast studio with a production gallery. The studio already had three cameras, a range of lighting and a Panasonic MX 75 Production Switcher for vision mixing, but Paul Bryant, the assistant programme area manager for the digital media courses, wanted to upgrade.
“What we were looking to do was to be able to webcast our output from the studio. There was nothing wrong with the MX70, it was just a bit awkward to use,” Paul said. “At the time, we were involved in a project with a number of local schools and were exploring the possibility of some of their students producing live TV while others could watch the programme back in classes.”
Portable production solutions
Jigsaw24 had been one of the College’s suppliers of Apple computers for a number of years, and when they realised they wanted a live broadcast solution, Paul got in touch with our broadcast team. The College had already researched NewTek’s TriCaster so, during the consultation process, we looked at exactly what they needed to achieve – particularly the ability to broadcast straight to the internet – to make sure that TriCaster could meet all of their requirements.
The portable live production system seemed like the perfect choice for the College’s workflow, and would act as a suitable replacement for the Panasonic mixer they were using. “TriCaster is a remarkable piece of equipment,” said Paul. “And when you compare the price to similar items, it really is quite good value!”
To get the most out of TriCaster, we suggested a couple of external hardware controllers that would give students improved access to certain TriCaster features. NewTek’s LiveControl surface gives precise control over fast-paced live webcasts at students’ fingertips, letting them switch and mix inputs from different cameras, as well as integrate professional titling such as captions and subtitles. And the TimeWarp controller is ideal for giving broadcasts a polished feel, with simplified cueing of instant replays.
Putting it into practice
TriCaster is currently helping students get to grips with the principles of TV studio production on a range of courses, including the BTEC Level 2 Media course and BA (Hons) Creative Digital Media. “The great thing about the TriCaster setup is that if we need to, then the whole thing can be operated by just one person, but when we are dealing with larger groups, we can quite easily cope with a group of five students – all of whom feel like they are making a contribution,” said Paul. “It was quite easy to get it going and the students seem to pick up all the principles very easily. I’m especially impressed by the realtime reflections of presenters in virtual desks.”
Thanks to TriCaster’s portability, the College have also been able to take the system to careers fairs to help get people interested in the College’s courses, and give potential students a taste of creating broadcasts on the fly. Using TriCaster with one of their studio cameras, an autocue and a green screen, people get the effect of reporting from a TV news studio.
Looking to the future, Paul has already seen the potential to get more from their new setup: “We have not yet done any work on creating our own backgrounds, but this is something we plan to rectify in the future.”
In the long term, the College would ideally like a complete update of the studio, switching from 4×3 SD to 16×9 HD recording formats. Top of the wishlist is the new TriCaster XD850, which could replace their current model, and give them the HD broadcasting capabilities they are looking for as well as high quality 720p webcasting.
The BIM Family Toolkit Technology Preview allows you to easily export Inventor configuration data from iParts and iAssemblies (parameters, file properties and component visibility) directly to Revit families.
Once the family data has been imported into Revit, you can create a simplified version and leverage the imported parameters and properties to reduce the amount of time it takes you to create BIM-ready models.
This recent update adds a set of installers for 2012 which won’t expire until November 20th 2011 – as opposed to the 2011 installers which, though still present, will expire on August 1st 2011.
You can interoperate between 2011 and 2012 versions:
Thanks to It’s Alive in the Lab for the heads up on this one.
If you’d like to discuss any element of your BIM workflow (or set one up), give our CAD consultants a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.
The University of Glamorgan were looking for a solution to improve render times on their animation courses. We helped them set up a render farm that would allow quick, collaborative rendering and reduce their workstation downtime. We also provided them with all the animation and rendering software they would need to give their students experience using industry-standard applications.
Before coming to us, the university were using localised computers (i.e. not networked to each other) when rendering animation students’ projects. Each render had to be done on these individual workstations and so, while one machine was busy rendering, it was out of action, and any further design work would have to wait until the process was complete. On top of that, Glamorgan were also using external hard drives for backup, as there was no central server to store files on. This made collaboration difficult and working from home virtually impossible.
Glamorgan needed a solution that could render jobs from an entire class at once, and free up workstations so that students could make the most of their time on campus. They were also looking for a truly collaborative environment that would let their students work together on joint projects, sharing files across a network.
Finding a render management solution
Peter Hodges, head of animation at Glamorgan, gave Jigsaw24 a call and arranged a consultation with our 3D specialist, Ben Kitching, and together they looked at options for the university. They decided that Qube! (a render farm management system) would be the best solution for cutting downtime and allowing collaborative working. Qube! is able to handle thousands of student projects at one time, and its multi-threaded Supervisor tool would make management of the system easy. It would also provide support for a wealth of modelling and animation software and came with a number of application pipelines, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya.
The university had also invested in a set of render nodes (computer clusters that form the render farm). These were sent to Jigsaw24 HQ for a system preflight, which involved our engineers making a carbon copy of the disk that could be deployed across all of the other render nodes. We then went onsite to check the farm was running as it should by submitting a number of test jobs.
Software and training
Ben suggested an exhaustive arsenal of exceptional modelling and animation software to complement Glamorgan’s new outfit. These included professional 3D tools such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Maxon’s CINEMA 4D and LightWave, and plug-in rendering tools like V-Ray and iray. Softimage, Boujou, ZBrush, SketchUp Pro, Brazil and Renderman were also included, so students could add greater detail and effects to characters and scenes. We even supplied Adobe Production Premium, Apple Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio for integrating animation into broadcast workflows.
As part of the installation, we went to the university to configure all the software and, while there were a few initial teething problems in arranging licences for the university, Ben soon ironed them out. He then provided training for the staff at a time that was convenient for them, as well as adding onsite and remote support to the package so we would always be on hand to solve any problems with the system.
Efficient, collaborative rendering
The whole solution has allowed for greater collaboration between VFX and animation students. With the help of Qube!, their new render farm can now be managed more easily and run more efficiently – the Integrated Charting feature lets staff create reports on frame times and CPU usage right on the GUI. Qube! has allowed Glamorgan to push through jobs faster, and to save all their work on a single, central server without being tied down to rendering times.
The students’ experience of working on the new farm will set them in good stead for getting a job once they graduate. The Autodesk software we provided is something everyone starting out in animation will benefit from experience using. And a few of the more specific apps, such as Brazil, will really make the students’ CVs stand out to potential employers, as they will have a wider knowledge of different animation techniques.
Glamorgan have even thought about the commercial advantages of their render farm, and aim to get the system turning a profit to put back into the university. Their new setup is powerful enough for outside companies to hire for rendering, even while being used by students. As a Citrix Silver Partner, Jigsaw24 have been looking at virtualisation technology options at Glamorgan to give companies secure, collaborative access to the render farm, while also allowing their students to work from home and have access to their applications, shared storage and render farm.
For more information speeding up render times, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.
AutoCAD 2011 had the great function of being compatible with the Google Earth Extension, but a problem with the installer means Autodesk’s new AutoCAD 2012 can’t be detected.
To fix this, and get Google Earth Extension compatability, follow these steps from the Autodesk Labs website:
1. “Download the zip file from Autodesk Labs.
2. Extract the appropriate MSI file (e.g. the 64-bit one) from the PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip file.
3. Go to Windows Start > Run then CMD to launch the cmdline.
4. Enter msiexec /a DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi
5. The /a starts the installer but instead of the standard installer, it runs the network setup and allows you to extract files to a directory.
6. Copy the these files to your install directory of your desired AutoCAD, e.g. AutoCAD 2012.
7. Load the cuix file by doing the following:
– Select “CUI” tool from the ‘Manage’ ribbon. Or, just type ‘cui’ on the command line.
– Scroll down on the top half of the dialog until you find ‘Partial Customization Files’. Right-click and select ‘Load Partial’ and pick GoogleEarth.cui from the AutoCAD Roamable Root Folder folder.
– Restart acad and you should have the Google Earth extension in the ribbon.
8. Load AeccDWGToGE.arx file using APPLOAD command or arx/load or some other way. You might want to select it as one of the apps to load at start up in APPLOAD if you’re going to be using this often.”
Read the article in full and download the Google Earth Extension driver file from the Autodesk Labs website.
Visit Jigsaw24 for more information on Autodesk AutoCAD 2012, call 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.
Vectorworks KnowledgeBase has released this guide to upgrading your Evaluation Licence to a Professional one. Simply follow the instructions:
“If you have purchased the full Designer with Renderworks version of Vectorworks and your trial has not expired, go to Part A. If your trial has expired or you purchased a different set of modules (such as Architect, Landmark, Spotlight and/or Renderworks) go to Part B.
A) If your trial has not yet expired…
During the 30-day Evaluation period, you may at any time decide to purchase Vectorworks. Upon doing this, you will be sent a new serial number, which will look similar to this:
Under the Session tab, choose Serial Numbers. Click the EVAL serial number and choose Remove, afterwards choose Add and enter your new serial number. Press Add again when complete. You should see your new serial number and activated products listed to the right:
Restart Vectorworks and you’ll find that your copy will now be a professional and will no longer expire.
B) If you purchased a different set of modules than you used during the evaluation…
You will have to uninstall Vectorworks completely and then reinstall with your new serial number:
Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.
For more information on purchasing Professional Vectorworks Licences give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.
Vectorworks KnowledgeBase offers the following great tip that allows you to import architectural drawings from Google SketchUp to Vectorworks:
“The Import SketchUp command allows architectural drawings created in Google SketchUp (versions 4 through 7) to be imported into Vectorworks. SketchUp component instances are imported as 3D symbols, and geometry can be designated as walls, roof faces, and floors. After importing, refine the design using Vectorworks editing tools, or replace imported 3D symbols with Vectorworks 3D symbols. Flexible import options allow either automatic conversion of architectural elements based on their orientation, or allow geometry conversion to be mapped to specific SketchUp materials or layers.
Vectorworks 2011 and 2010 can import files from SketchUp 7 and earlier. Vectorworks 2009 can import files from SketchUp version 6 and earlier.
All versions of Vectorworks (except Fundamentals) can import Sketchup files directly from the File > Import > Import Sketchup menu.
When importing asketchup document, by default it will attempt to import the file as if it were an architectural design document, it will try to determine which objects are floors, roofs and walls. You can assign their default settings in the Default Styles tab. Most of the time you should leave the Geometry Mapping to the Automatic setting for architectural documents.
If the file you are trying to import is actually just 3D geometry and not related to architecture, choose the None option under Geometry Mapping. However, SketchUp import is intended for architectural geometry. Using the Import DXF/DWG command rather than the Import SketchUp command to import polygonal geometry is recommended.
After importing a Sketchup file into a new blank document, you may see nothing but a blank page. Go to Edit > Select All, then View > Zoom > Fit to Objects. This will focus on the imported Sketchup objects.
If after doing these steps you end up with a blank file containing no objects, make sure you were not attempting to import a Sketchup 8 document. To import such a file, you would have to open it in Sketchup 8 and File > Save As, then choose to save it as a Sketchup 7 or earlier file before importing it into Vectorworks.”
To see the original article, and other similar articles, visit Vectorworks KnowledgeBase
On one of our browses through Autodesk blogs and forums, we came across this little gem of a tip that enables you to use the mighty Google Earth Extension right in your AutoCAD project, and vice-versa.
The advice comes from Scott Sheppard, who has worked for Autodesk for 17 years, so really knows his way around AutoCAD-based products. On the Autodesk Labs blog, he gives a few simple steps on how publish your 3D models from AutoCAD-based products directly into the Google Earth application, import a Google Earth image into AutoCAD, drape a Google Earth image onto a 3D mesh in AutoCAD and attach time span information to your model.
1. Make sure you have a compatible version of AutoCAD
When I say compatible version of AutoCAD, I specifically mean:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
* AutoCAD 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family
* AutoCAD 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2008-2010 (32-bit only)
One of the key points here is that the 2011 family is the first one where 64-bit is supported.
2. Make sure you have the compatible version of Google Earth
The Google Earth Extension is compatible with Google Earth 5.x. It is not compatible with Google Earth 6.
3. Get the installers from the Labs web site
1. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com.
2. Click on Sign-In to login with your Autodesk Single Sign-on user name and password.
3. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/google_earth_extension_beta/.
4. Click on Download Now.
5. Understand that installing the technology preview means that you will need to accept an end user license agreement and click on DOWNLOAD.
6. Save PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip to your computer.
You now have all of the installers for the various versions of AutoCAD.
4. Run the installer that matches your version of AutoCAD
1. I happen to have AutoCAD 2011 on a 64-bit machine running Windows 7.
2. As such, I select the C:\Users\sheppas\Documents\PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip\PublishDWGtoGE\2011\64-bit folder.
3. I drag and drop DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi to my My Documents folder.
4. In My Documents folder, I double click on the msi file to run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. Even though I am the only one who uses my laptop, I install the technology preview so that it is available to all users of this computer.
If you repeat these steps as appropriate for your system, you now have the technology preview installed.
5. If you are having problems, check that your install went well
The following commands should work from the command line.
The following files should be in your AutoCAD folder:
One of the wish list items was to make the technology preview compatible with the ribbon interface.
If you’ve got any AutoCAD 2011 architecture tips to share, let us know in the comments box below. Call us for more information on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.