• Shyam Latorre

Creative Technology Software for Amateurs

I vividly remember the catalyst that led me to start video editing. I was watching Sin City for the first time, and this scene here sparked my curiosity: it was a black and white film, but how could I see the red blood? I searched the Internet for answers, and sure enough, I found a YouTube tutorial on how to do the effect on Adobe Premiere. I downloaded a free video editing software and achieved the same effect with some footage from my phone and from that day on, I was hooked.

As personal technology becomes more advanced, the creative capabilities of a single person become limitless. Entire music studios are being replaced with a laptop. Individuals can make best selling video games. Maybe soon complete animated shows will be helmed by a single person.  

Whether you want to explore a new career path or try a new creative outlet, there has been no better time to explore new software.  However, there are a few barriers to entry cost and difficulty, being the most common. So, I've compiled a list of some free, or cheap, creative software and some helpful tutorials to get you started.  

Music Production: Cakewalk (Free)

A few years ago, a Singapore based company called Bandlab purchased Cakewalk, a professional digital audio workstation (DAW) that cost around 500 dollars, and made it free for everybody. That's right. In a matter of minutes, you can download an immaculately designed digital music studio, and get started on the next Dark Side of the Moon. 

Ok, let's not get ahead of ourselves. If this is your first time opening a DAW, the whole thing will look like something out of Bladerunner, so I've linked some getting started tutorials. It will take time, a lot of headaches, and hours googling specific problems, to become comfortable with any DAW, but if you're passionate, you'll get the hang of it. 

Sidenote, music isn't the only use for Cakewalk and other DAW. I use it to improve the audio of dialogue in my podcasts and short films.

3D Animation: Blender (Free)

Did the Pixar movies blow your mind? Did you watch Spider-Man 2, the Sam Raimi one, or as I call it the good one, and ask yourself, "how did they do that?" The answer is 3D animation. Many studios have in house 3d software or buy proprietary software that costs thousands of dollars. But what if I told you there is a free open source software that can pretty much do everything its competition can do. Good news, it exists, and if you read the header, you already know its name: Blender. 

Earlier I mentioned cost and difficulty as the two most common barriers to entry for creative software, and that certainly applies to 3D software. It requires a lot of skill and experience to create even the most basic CGI effects. And that's where Blender shines, because it's free and the interest in 3D animation has never been higher, Blender has a giant supportive community. You can find tutorials and online classes on almost any subject of Blender, and if you're stuck on a problem, it's a guarantee somewhere on the internet someone has answered it.

With that in mind here's one of the most famous Blender tutorials by the Youtuber Blender Guru. In this series of videos, you will be making a 3D donut. And through the course of the tutorials, gain experience in multiple elements of Blender.  

Adobe Creative Cloud- 52.99/month (7-day free trial)

So, the last one on this list isn't free; however, it is affordable. I may be revealing my ignorance here. If you can't shell out the 53 dollars a month, at least try the free trial because there are cheaper options that can be used after.

Adobe Creative Cloud suite comes with 20 plus desktop apps and a few mobile ones, all with different uses. Adobe Premiere and After effects for those interested in video production. Photoshop and Lightroom for photography. Indesign and Illustrator for graphic design, and more. With the free trial, you can test all these apps and see if any spark your interest. You can then purchase apps individually. For example, Lightroom and photoshop cost 9.99/ month.

The variety is what makes it such a bargain for amateurs. The apps are designed to sync with each other. If I'm editing a video on Adobe Premiere, I can quickly transfer the audio of a clip to Adobe Audition and touch up the sound. Doing one project can give you experience in multiple software. And because Adobe is such a popular platform, there are countless tutorials for every app. So give it a chance, you may discover something about yourself.

Creative Technology Software is Growing

We’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg, or however, that expression goes, with this software. There are countless apps and services for almost any creative field, and as more services and skills become digitized, the more opportunity there is for you to learn and create from your computer.