In my case, I am certain that technology has opened doors for new ideas. There is also no doubt that I have found it easiest to implement those ideas on an Apple platform.
I actually keep giving the Windows platform more of a chance than I should based on the number of brick walls that pop up in Windows. I recently gave a seminar on making movies with a computer. Since my audience tends to have more Windows users than Mac users, I usually go out of my way to demonstrate concepts on Windows.
Before this last seminar, I spent a lot of time working with Photoshop Elements 7 and Premier Elements 7. The only reason I went through the exercise is that I had come off of a positive experience of a free trial of Adobe Lightroom 2 on my Windows machine. I figured that I had little to lose on the $99 Best Buy bundle of the two Elements programs. It turned out that I lost a lot of time. In spite of considerable effort, I never could get Premier to run very long without crashing.
I showed some basics interface elements in my seminar and did the the real work in iMovie.
While iMovie and the rest of Apple's iApps (iWeb being the exception) are great for the occasional personal projects. In real estate they become powerful tools that allow you to seamlessly reuse content with recreating the wheel.
I was honored when he asked me to help market his home. Marketing homes this days is a very visual thing. I take great pride in the quality of the photos that I produce. A lot of the credit goes to my equipment, a Nikon D50 and what I like to call my digital real estate camera, a wide angle Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2. Last winter I added to my arsenal an inexpensive HD video camera, an Aiptek HD-DV 1080P. It only cost $199 so it has taken me a while to learn how to use it effectively and work around some limitations.
The ability to do what I have done with my friend's home is a credit not just to Apple's applications but to the whole Mac environment where applications are integrated in way that saves users a tremendous amount of time. If anything close to that integration exists on Windows, I am still looking for it and not likely to find it before I completely quit using computers.
After visiting my friends home on May 8 with my full bag of cameras, I came home and let iPhoto import all the photos. I did some minor cropping and work with shadows and put the best of the photos in an iPhoto album where I also put them in the order that I wanted.
I will admit to waiting until my friend's yard looked really green so we did not have to play with colors. However, he did have a couple of winter kill patches in the yard which were well on their to recovery but which look a lot better after a quick application of the stamp tool in Photoshop.
Once the photos were in an iPhoto album, I could have used iPhoto's built-in web page generation, but I prefer to use the most excellent slide show that is generated by Rapidweaver. And this is one spot where the OS X platform integration really shows. In Rapidweaver I get to see my iPhoto albums. I do not have to go back and rearrange the photos. I just pick the album and set the show up as I have found works best. The operation takes almost no time. I then use Fetch to FTP the slide show to my server. In this case, this is the slide show that resulted.
Now it is time for the Movie. My HD camera stores its Quicktime movies on SD cards. I usually import them into iPhoto just for the sake of convenience. I have found it is more effective to work with HD movies around one to two minutes long. Often once I have found the movie that I like the best, I will export it to the desktop from the Quicktime player using my favorite settings.
My iMovie of the place is a combination of the HD movie and the slides that I have already arranged. Only a few slides are culled because they do not scale right in the movie. I add some transitions, some titles and a couple of area beach scenes since the home is close to the beach. Since I could hear the waves from the home's backyard and the movie has turned out so nice, I decide it needs the sounds of ocean waves in the background. After an abortive try at getting some good quality sound from using my old Sony video camera at the beach, I break down and buy a really nice sound clip of waves for $9.99. Once I am satisfied with everything I export my iMovie in large Quicktime format suitable for a DVD. With my old G5 that takes a couple of hours so I head off to bed.
This morning before breakfast I checked to see if the movie is what I wanted. It turns out to be a winner so I start the processing for posting to YouTube. You can check out my Pine Knoll Shores, NC home YouTube video and decide for yourself if it gets the message across. Click the "HQ" button to get the full benefit of the HD video, see if you can see the bug and cardinal flights in the video.
Once I have the slide show and YouTube video done, it is easy to update the pre-listing page that I have on our local electronic village site. It is easy to change the photos and add the new links to create a great information sheet for the property.
Once that is done, I pull the original slide show and the larger movie into iDVD. I add the wave sound clip that I bought and a few maps and some info that I have imported into iPhoto and turned into a slide show. Once that is done I will print a high quality image right on the DVD and give a copy to the owner. I have a potential buyer in Oklahoma who will also get a copy.
With a G5 bought in Dec. 2004, a couple of less than state of art digital cameras, a $199 HD video camera, $10 for a sound clip and the $79 that I spent for Rapidweaver several years ago, I have put together some terriffic marketing materials for my friends property.
My video and photo marketing efforts are already on Twitter and Facebook. Tonight I will do a post with them on ActiveRain and update some other websites. I think that I am getting a lot more mileage out my Mac than I am out of my Windows box.
Next I will probably use Pages to create a tri-fold mailer. Of course I will pull the images from the ones that I have just taken.
It is rather ironic that I spent $99 on software for my Windows machine which got me almost nowhere. That is more than I spent on my actual project.
I am certain that there are plenty of Windows guys out there who could do the same thing, but I would like to hear what they use and how much the software and hardware cost.
There is just no question in my mind, I am more productive on a Mac.
The weather is getting great and even the winds from last week seem to be dying down, come for a visit to the coast. The water is warming quickly.