The State Of Mobile... Creative Media In 2012 (Part 1)

9/14/2012 9:04:29 PM

Mobile technology is moving so fast, it’s hard to keep up, so let Ian McGurren put you in the picture. This week, it’s creativity on the move.

From its inception, media production of professional quality was a complex and often expensive process. Recording music would need a studio and instruments, taking photographs needed an expensive camera, and shooting video required cameras, studios and editing suites. While there have always been cheaper, amateur alternatives, the results were never really comparable.

Description: Video editing, 20th century style

Video editing, 20th century style

However, in the early 1980s computer technology began to change things, giving those with big ideas but little money a chance to flex their creative muscles.

The music industry was revolutionized by sequencing with computers – programs that mimicked the multitrack tape machines of the past by controlling banks of cheap digital synthesisers from a home computer. Musicians could for the first time make a complete record by themselves for a fraction of the previous cost.

At the same time, video cameras started to get smaller, with shrinking electronics combining with new magnetic tapes and helical scan recorders to put video making in the hands of the consumer. Combine them with two VCRs and you could begin rudimentary editing.

Then powerful, cheap computers changed it all again. VCRs were replaced with PCs with hard drives and video editing went digital. Computers became so powerful they could replicate the workings of a music studio from editing music to playing sounds, all in the same box. Even art and design wasn’t immune, with traditional graphic artists now working on computers with revolutionary software such as Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop, taking their ideas and imagination far beyond what had been possible before.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the power is no longer just on desktops. The mobile devices we hold in our hands every day are more powerful than the PCs that began the digital revolution around ten years ago. The average new phone in 2012 will have four CPU cores and run at 1.5GHz with memory in gigabytes, so while they may look like phones or tablets, these are the ground-breaking devices of the present, every bit as powerful as our desktop PCs were then.

The Current State

However, can you really be as creative with today’s mobile devices as you can with your computer? For the most part, it’s an emphatic yes, and in fact our mobile companions have some pretty impressive advantages too.

Description: Video editing, 21st century style

Video editing, 21st century style

Social media has been a constant nagging phrase for the last few years and if anything, with mobile devices it’s more relevant than ever. Previously, music, video or art has relied on a intermediary distributor to get our creations out to the masses, meaning there was an element of judging, and if it wasn’t deemed appropriate by the powerful few, then it wasn’t published. However, our mobile devices, combined with social sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Sound cloud offer a near instantaneous outlet for our creative Endeavours without the middleman. Of course, this leads to a torrent of content, much of it throwaway but that doesn’t matter; for every ten thousand pieces of rubbish, there’s one bit gold. How else could Nyancat have become such a sensation?! Creativity and publication has become autocratic, and mobile devices are increasingly the weapons of choice for those wanting to empty their heads of their many creative impulses.

Notable Examples

So you want to get making on the move? Let’s take a look at some interesting mobile apps to help you tap into your creative side.

Description: Instagram - the reason everyone’s photos look like this

Instagram - the reason everyone’s photos look like this

Instagram: It’s the app on everyone’s lips recently, after Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of its developer, Burbn. Part image host, part simple photo processor, Instagram has taken the mobile world by storm with its easy way of giving your phone photographs a retro or stylised look, making them look like vague memories of the 1970s or Boards of Canada album covers. It then posts them to your Instagram account, which in turn links in with social media such as Twitter and Facebook. It’s fun, free and simple and it’s on both iOS and Android.

Nanostudio: As the name implies, UK developer Blip Interactive’s Nanostudio is a tiny studio - tiny in platform, but certainly not in features. Running on iOS, Nanostudio is a 16-track production studio with built-in synthesisers, drum machines, sampling, sequencing and effects units. With Nanostudio you can create fully featured electronic tracks, and even use iOS compatible music keyboards such as Akai’s Synthstation. For music on the move, it’s a genuine one stop shop, and at $15, it’s possibly the cheapest studio one can own.

Description: Nanostudio - it really is an actual tiny studio!

Nanostudio - it really is an actual tiny studio!

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