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Fast, free, and in control

Did you know there’s a lot of great software available from the open source crowd for those more expensive applications like those for image editing, sound editing, movie editing, or any number of other software titles? True, a lot of these titles don’t have the same support as, say, a Microsoft product–but at CTLT we do try to find good, cheap (free, is these cases), software available to faculty on a budget. All of the titles below I either use, seem useful, or recommend on a regular basis, and all of which are readily available, free, safe, and legal:

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
What is it?
GIMP is an open source Adobe Photoshop alternative first released in January of 1996. A popular image editing application for those who can’t afford Photoshop.
Who’s it for?
GIMP is used by people who need a tool that does more than simple rotate, crop, color adjustment, and save functions. That is, it’s a professional tool that offers everything from layers to advanced selection tools. It’s as close to an $800 copy of Photoshop for free as you can get.
Do you use it?
Not in years, because I have access to (and teach) Photoshop. However, if I couldn’t use Photoshop, I’d have GIMP installed in a heartbeat.

Audacity
What is it?
Audacity is a free sound editor and recorder that can be as dumb (in a good, easy-to-use way!) or as smart as you’d like it to be.
Who’s it for?
I’d place it most firmly around the “layman” level of sound editing. ┬áIt’s a multi-track editor (able to work with multiple sound files/sources at once) with good features and useful built-in filters. The learning curve isn’t steep and if what you want is to record the sound of your own voice (whether for a podcast lecture or for use in, say, a PowerPoint) it’s about as difficult to operate as a box recorder. For bigger/longer projects, though, make sure to save often as it can have stability issues (though I personally have never had problems).
Do you use it?
All the time. I teach it when I give podcasting instruction and personally favor using it in my lab over more expensive and professional (and more difficult to use) options.

Blender
What is it?
“Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems…”
Who’s it for?
Well, people who want to develop and use 3D models, from scientists to film-makers. Also, people who have a lot of time on their hands, as the learning curve can get pretty steep. However, if an instructor really wanted to make their own animated model of Io’s rotation around Jupiter, this would be an impressive way to do it. And rather than trying to scrounge up the several thousands of dollars that 3D modeling software tends to cost, it’s free with a dedicated and helpful community behind it.
Do you use it?
I’d like to, if I had the time.

The point is that the price tag of technology is sometimes a lot cheaper than you might think, even for professional level software. And, as always, we at CTLT are here to help.

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