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Soulskill

An anonymous reader writes "Hacker Benjamin Smith deconstructs the cycle of education, production, and rest that will be familiar to many software and hardware engineers. He breaks it down into four steps: 1) Focused effort toward a goal, 2) structured self-education, 3) side-projects to sharpen skills, and 4) burnout and rest. He writes, 'As my motivation waxes at the beginning of a cycle, I find myself with a craving to take steps towards that goal. I do so by starting a project which focuses on one thing only: building a new income stream. As a result of this single-mindedness, the content or subject of the project is often less interesting than it otherwise might have been. ... [Later], I almost always decide to teach myself a new technical skill or pick up some new technology. ... This is usually the most satisfying period of my cycle. I am learning a new skill or technology which I know will enhance my employability, allow me to build things I previously could only have daydreamed about, and will ultimately be useful for many years to come. ... [In the burnout phase], I'll spend this period as ferociously devoted to my leisure activities as I was to my productive tasks. But after a few months of this, I start to feel an itch...'"

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"Marga and Mike is such a crazy duo!" photographer Emman Montalvan tells us. Inspired by their friendship and unstoppable attitude the LA based artists brought the two models up on the roof top of his building to hang out and shoot until they ran out of polaroid film and battery. "It was perfect because they are best friends. I wanted the shoot to be really laid back with no fuss," he continues, before explaining that it was a true please to work with both of them.

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Norwegian model turned photographer Simen Platou has always been enthusiastic about photography, but it was after working as a model in the fashion industry in Asia that he became increasingly interested in the field. "- And by taking a leap of faith, I skipped my Master studies in Finance and decided to go 100% for photography (sorry, mom and dad)," he says. "There's a whole new wave of photographers entering this world via instant gratification online, and the potential to reach a worldwide audience has been a massive motivation for me to go for photography."

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Almost every time we work closely with one of our extremely talented photographers we find it intensely hard to wait with pulling the wraps off the end result. But, as we are proud of all of the work we produce and publish, there are some projects that make it up on our office wall of fame immediately. Whether it's the end result, the process, or just how the photos make us feel. New York based photographer Kate Edwards' debut story for Ben Trovato is one of them.

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About two weeks ago we published Berlin based fashion photographer Lukasz Wolejko-Wolejszo's first story for Ben Trovato. Today we're unveiling Lukasz' second story for us, and this time the story is put to Hamburg and its famous red light district Reeperbahn. "We just want to do some colorful funny story of a girl around this hood. She is the girl to watch," Lukasz tells us, adding "She's a new eye-catcher with more importance than the lights, sex shops and dollhouses around her."

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As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage.

Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores – like the games for which they’re composed – are quirky and eccentric. They reject the usual expectations of what game music might be, sometimes tending to the cinematic, sometimes to the retro, sometimes unapologetically embracing magical, sentimental, childlike worlds.

And now, defying music’s typical business models as well as its genre expectations, you can get a whole big bundle of games for almost no money. Pay what you want, and get hours of music. Pay more than $10, and get loads more. You just have to do it before the deal ends (five days from this posting), at which point the bundle is gone forever. In a sign of just how much love listeners of these records feel, there’s a competition to get into the top 20, top 10, and top-paying spots, which with days left in the contest is already pushing well into the hundreds of dollars. But for that rate or just the few-dollar rate, these are the true fans. You’ve heard about them in theory in trendy music business blogs and conferences, in theory. But here, someone’s doing something about it, and it’s not a fluke or a one-time novelty: it’s a real formula.

http://www.gamemusicbundle.com/

Game music itself is, of course, a funny thing. Game play itself tends to repetition, meaning you hear this music a lot. So it says something really extraordinary about the affection for these scores that gamers want to hear the music again and again. This gets the musical content well beyond the level of annoying wallpaper into something that, even more than a film score you hear just once or a few times, you want to make part of your life. That endless play gets us back to what inspired ownership in the first place, to buying stacks of records rather than just waiting for them on the radio. And in that sense, perhaps what motivates owning music versus treating it like a utility or water faucet hasn’t changed in the digital age at all. Maybe it’s gotten even stronger.

We’ve already sung the praises of Sword and Sworcery on this site; it’s notably in the bundle. But I want to highlight in particular one other score, the inventive and dream-like Machinarium. Impeccably recorded, boldly original, the work of Prague-based Tomáš Dvořák, Machinarium mirrors the whimsical constructed machines of the games. There’s a careful attention to timbre, and music that moves from film-like moments to song to beautiful washes of ambience, glitch set against warm rushes of landscape. For his part, Dvořák is a clarinetist, and his musical senstitivity never ceases to translate into the score. It’s just good music, even if you never play the game, and easily worth the price of admission for the bundle if you never listened to anything else (though you would truly be missing out). It’s simply one of the best game music scores in recent years.

And another look at Jim Guthrie’s score to Sword & Sworcery:

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery[Create Digital Music]

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery [Create Digital Motion]

Also in this collection: Aquaria, To the Moon, Jamestown, and a mash-up, plus a whole bunch of bonus games when you spend a bit more that feel heavily influenced by Japanese game music and chip music.

And some of the best gems are in the repeat of the last bundle, which you can (and should) add on for US$5 more:
Minecraft: Volume Alpha, Super Meat Boy: Digital Soundtrack, PPPPPP (soundtrack to VVVVVV), Impostor Nostalgia, Cobalt, Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, Return All Robots!, Mighty Milky, Way / Mighty Flip Champs, Tree of Knowledge

I’ve sat at game conferences as composers working for so-called AAA titles lamented the limitations of the game music production pipeline. Quietly, indie game developers have shown that anything is possible, that the quality of a game score is limited only by a composer’s imagination.

More music to hear (and some behind-the-scenes footage), including a really promising Kickstarter-funded iPad music project from regular CDM reader Wiley Wiggins:

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Last week might well go down as a defining moment for the games industry. The announcement by the Government that the ICT curriculum will be reorientated in favour of computer science and programming is a testament to the excellent work done by Next Gen report authors Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope and the many people and companies who have got behind the Next Gen Skills campaign.

Breaking through the many layers of Government bureaucracy and getting policy-makers to actually listen is a battle in and of itself. As Livingstone himself has already indicated, and will no doubt reiterate in the coming weeks and months, this is a momentous shift in policy but the real work starts now as industry figureheads and policy-makers come together to shape the future of the computer science curriculum in our schools.

Unlike the games industry tax debate, which is a sector specific issue, improving the relevancy of the skills we are teaching younger generations is something that affects the future of the creative industries and a large section of the workforce. Reforming the education and skills sector will not only lead to growth in the already successful UK games industry but it will equip school leavers and graduates of all disciplines with core ICT skills that will serve as a solid foundation for jobs in any sector that relies on computing and technology - be it engineering, the financial services or design. As we transition into the knowledge economy, it's becoming a needs-must situation.


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Brussels based Bettina Genten says she doesn't consider herself a fashion photographer quite yet, however she say she does enjoy shooting "models and interesting girls wearing beautiful clothes." Something her portfolio is a proof of. "I hope to become a fashion photographer one day," she continues. She might not be shooting campaigns for big commercial clients yet, but we think she has definitely got the right skill set and the eye to wear the title 'aspiring fashion photographer' proudly..

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In recent weeks, nothing has incited more debate around the games business than the question of Nintendo and Sony's new handheld platforms, and specifically, the question of where they will find their audiences and how large those audiences might be. It's an important discussion, because the outcome of this situation is going to be hugely influential on the shape of the games business in the years to come.

Strong opinions have been heard from all sides, some more valid than others. At one extreme we have those who claim that the rough ride experienced by Nintendo's 3DS is entirely down to mis-handling by Nintendo and is no sign of any overall malaise in the dedicated handheld market, and thus bears no ill omen for Sony's PlayStation Vita launch. At the other extreme are those who believe that both devices are doomed by the rapid rise of iOS gaming, which has left their hardware looking functionally anaemic and their software libraries looking ridiculously overpriced.

Both of these viewpoints are naive, at best, but they merely express the outer edges of a discussion which has covered all points in between. The conclusions of more moderate views in the middle are a bit more balanced. Yes, Nintendo mismanaged the 3DS launch terribly, while Sony seems to be approaching Vita with more forethought and flair, but equally there is a real threat to dedicated handhelds from iOS devices and other smartphones. This threat, however, is by no means an automatic death-knell for the sector - and while Nintendo seems much slower to react than Sony thus far, both companies have the potential to shift their business models and strategies to effectively combat or integrate iOS gaming concepts.


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