Tomorrow Studio: New tenants, talents and collaborations

Since moving our business, danimations, into the Tomorrow Studio in Adelaide back in June, Emma Sterling and I have been more committed than ever to turning our skills into a sustainable business in the digital media sector. Designed to assist emerging practitioners with a complementary peer group, business advice, workshops, shared facilities, inner-city location, Government-subsidized rent and more, Tomorrow Studio tenancy really does sell itself.

Tomorrow Studio, 193 Wakefield St, Adelaide
Tomorrow Studio, 193 Wakefield St, Adelaide

While we have been busily developing sample products of our video and animation services and planning the imminent relaunch of our website, several of our more established neighbours have been forging new partnerships under the Studio roof, like the one between web-designers Digital Lamb (Steve Ready and Bec Harper-Wells) and 3D visualisation team Extra Artists (Dan Cormick and Sonia Tynedale). Taking a different course, game and simulation developers Holopoint have already outgrown the space, and moved on to more suitable premises.

In their wake, Holopoint left eight vacant spaces behind in the studio, most of which are now filled. Among the new tenants are three energetic lads who work as Awesome Fighter Animation (Tim Cannan, Levi George & Jonny). From what we’ve seen of their previous projects, they’re a talented and energetic team, and we are already planning a collaborative animation project involving them and the team from fellow first-wave tenants I Love Biscuits (Kyle Leffers and Hannah Murdoch).

The other new tenants represent a spread covering web design, web development and video production. The incumbent video producer is Miles Rowland from Closer Media, whose work demonstrates solid craft and much promise. New tenants whose work I’m less familiar with include web-developer Michael Russel from whois.com.au and Melissa Bagnara, the latest early-career designer to join our ranks.

While Em and I had been eagerly anticipating the new tenants’ announcement for some time, we also felt that the vacancies could have been more broadly advertised. A waiting exists for prospective tenants to join, but finding this list in the first place relies largely on the would-be applicant’s social networks and detective skills. All current tenants could benefit more from a greater diversity of business practise under the Studio roof (we now have five businesses whose practise overlaps in web-development areas for example) and the best way to stimulate this would be to increase public awareness of the Studio and encourage more applicants to apply.

Another studio tenant, Holly Owen (Champagne for the Ladies) also recently vacated her office to move overseas, and as I understand it, current waiting list members will be considered and short-listers interviewed for this opening very soon. To join the waiting list, and to read more about the Department of Trade & Economic Development’s Creative Industries campaign, visit http://www.creativesa.org.

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Web 2.0: Best widgets for embedding photo galleries and videos

Emma Sterling and I are in the throes of designing a new website for our business, danimations, in order to better explain our range of digital media products and services. Along with the expected text-based explanations of our work, we also want to embed illustrative video clips and photo galleries throughout the site, with specific clips and galleries matched to various departments of our multimedia lives.

One of the main considerations (and where we went wayward with our old Flash website) is to make the new site easily adaptable, as the nature and scope of our business will inevitably change over time. Content will need updating, and the less fuss the task is, the more likely we are to keep our promotional materials to-the-minute current. This means developing a streamlined system for the management of photos, designs, illustrations, videos and text. Ideally, we want to be able to add and remove images from galleries, and swap video clips, without having to bone up on the latest CSS and .html coding memes.

I was delighted tonight to discover this modest little Flash-based photo gallery widget. Called PictoBrowser, it’s a free application, and the kicker for me is that it can turn a set, tag or whole Flickr profile into a custom gallery you can embed just about anywhere. It also works with Picasa portfolios, for those of you favouring that photo-sharing site. The simplicity of the code makes it obvious how to manipulate the dimensions of the embedded gallery, and that’s about all anyone would need to do before dropping it straight into their website. Another reason to stick with hosting images on Flickr is the way the sites content polls so well in Google searches. Don’t forget to think about how you title, tag and geo-tag your images, people!

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

On a similar front, we’ve been considering our options for the hosting and embedding of video on the new site. Our searching to date has lead us to using Viddler for our embeds 9at least for the time being). A site that tends to raise more eye-brows than rooves in Australian circles, user-uploaded content on Viddler can be embedded with a custom watermark (GIF or PNG file 150 x 100 pixels) uploaded by you. This replaces the glaring platform advertisement so indelibly printed on their competitors’ embeds, and can be changed at any time. It is superimposed over, rather than burned into the video data itself. The player’s button bar can also be customised and coloured to taste, making it a good choice for seamless embedding on sites of any nature or scale. You can see the Viddler player in action in our video widget, embedded in the top-right corner of our blog.

If you think you can top these tools with other great free or economical methods for displaying photos or video on your site without becoming a billboard for a 3rd party advertiser, please let us know… we’d love to hear from you. Oh, and if you’re a mad flickr user, and are looking for some extra tools to play with, take a look at The Great Flickr Tools Collection.

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