2017 Melrose Awards

On Saturday, February 11, members of the community gathered to celebrate the Melrose Creative Expo, which kicked off with recognizing top projects created by Melrose members from the past year in the 2017 Melrose Awards. This marks the third year recognizing members’ efforts, and each passing year has shown growth–not just in the number of entries or votes, but also the range of subject matter. We’re so proud of the work our members have created and are pleased to share the work of this year’s semi-finalists:

Dale Bauer
Daniel Beran
Christopher Beverly
Brett  Clark
Stephen Jay
Joshua Johnson
James Ketant
Rupert Meghnot
Joseph Rodriguez
Kevin Watts
Ashley  Zehel

And now, it is with great pleasure that we present the category winners and grand prize winner:

Left to right: Joseph Rodriguez for Film Category, Rupert Meghnot for Game Design & Programming, Ashley Zehel for Maker, Christopher Beverly for Audio and Joshua Johnson for Photography & Graphic Design/Grand Prize.

Congratulations to the winners!

You know, if you think you have what it takes to take home a prize, be sure to start working on your project and keep an eye out for the opening of the submission period for next year’s Melrose Awards. We’ll celebrate the next Melrose Awards at the 2018 Melrose Creative Expo on February 17.

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Gift Guide for the Techie in Your Life

Tis the Season for Gift Giving!

It’s the time of year when you’re making a list of gifts to shop for, and you’re probably already scoping out Black Friday deals. Before you spend your dough, check your list twice! If you’ve got a techie on your list who is hard to shop for, let our staff help you out!

Winny’s Top 5 Must Give List for Photographers

1. A Selfie Remote (like the Muku Shuttr) – So the photographer can be in the photos too!
2. Camera Lens Mug – Photographers need coffee on the run.
3. Bokeh kit – For those special lighting effects
4. Digital Photo frame – Every photographer needs somewhere to share all those special photos.
5. Instant film camera (like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic) – Get those special moments on film instantly!

 Jennifer’s Fab Five Gift List

1. Microprocessors (like Rasperberry Pi or Arduino) – Pick up a kit when you are first starting up to allow you to experiment and play.
2. A good set of hand tools (including pliers, assorted screwdrivers, and wire cutters) – You might already have these around the house, but they are the foundation of most maker projects.
3. Soldering Iron – If you are doing electronics, look for one that has a range of 25-30 watts. Also, pick up solder, solder wick (we all make mistakes!), and a holder.
4. Assorted electronic components (including resistors, LEDs, capacitors and transistors and lengths of copper wire) – You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to have the fundamentals on hand.
5. Sewing Machine and conductive thread – because sometimes you need the flexibility that fabric and thread can bring.

The Melrose Audio Engineers’ Must Haves

1. Lighting – Studio Lighting (like the Phillips Hue Lighting System) can go a long way to set the mood for your creativity and keep you productive in your home studio.  Candles and cool lights and lamps can keep you comfortable and productive.
2. Furniture – Furniture can make you workflow easier and make a comfortable and ergonomic studio.  Simple things like a good chair go a long way, since you will most likely be sitting in that chair for a number of hours. Try Argosy Console Desks.
3. Computer Accessories – Enhancing your computer workflow can save time. Improve your computer displays, maybe add a television as a computer monitor. Purchase an editor mouse or if you spend a majority of the time in one DAW, buy an editor keyboard and get comfortable with some of quick keys.
4. Improve Playback – Improve your listening environment with acoustic treatment, or if you mix on headphones, invest in some high quality headphones to make your mix perfect. Also, improve your D/A conversion to have more accurate listening from your DAW.
5. Black Friday Plugin Sales – There are always great sales for software and gear during the holiday season. You can always find a good Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials from your favorite retailers.  So if you have been eyeing some key plugins all year, the Holiday shopping season is a great time to get them.

Leisy’s Must Give List

1. Dash and Dot Robots – are great fun for kids who won’t even realize they’re learning to how to code!
2. Robot Turtles – Another great toy/system that disguises learning for fun!
3. littleBits and Ozobots – These toys can help with learning the basics and are as fun for adults as they are for kids & teens.
4. Responsive Web Design UI Sketch pads – These can help you visualize how your site will look on mobile devices.
5. Website UX card decks – These are great for mapping out your site.

We hope that these suggestions help narrow down the choices for the techie in your life! Now go find some great Black Friday deals on these items…GOOD LUCK!

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Virtual Reality: Gaze of Future Past


2016 is the year of Virtual Reality according to January’s cover story from Game Informer, a monthly video game magazine. There is also evidence to support that claim for 360-degree video!

Both Virtual Reality and 360-degree video technology are readily available for public consumption and tinkering. Virtual Reality headsets can be obtained and “experienced” at big box retailers. Consumer cameras with 360-degree video capability are also available for immediate delivery from online stores such as Amazon. Additionally, the two major ways people are consuming videos, Facebook and YouTube, are now supporting 360-degree video playback and uploading is mostly business as usual.

It feels like it is all happening so fast! Well, it’s actually been developing for decades.

Remember 1995?

Apple released QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) to the public in May 1995.  21 years ago!  Photographer Janie Fitzgerald began creating 360-degree photographs and movies in QTVR soon after.

In fact, she was featured in the second edition of Photoshop Studio Secrets in a chapter titled, “Creative QuickTime VR,” published in 1999.

Techniques that transcend time.

This book was updated for Photoshop 5, an earlier version of Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CC2015. While software specifics are ever changing, the lighting techniques used by Fitzgerald are worth experimenting with today.

A 360-degree camera sees everything in a scene.  Hiding lights in plain sight is a simple answer. Desk lamps, floor lamps, and overhead fixtures offer a motivated alternative to light stands.  Fitzgerald recommends brightening the scene by  replacing existing light bulbs with stronger wattage.

“… Sometimes I use a specialized helium balloon that floats above the camera and holds a light that illuminates the entire room evenly,” Fitzgerald said.  This is a great technique using lamps known as balloon lights or lighting balloons. Fitzgerald would also “take a set of images for the light parts of the image and a set for the dark parts of the image… After the shoot, the bracketed images are merged in Photoshop to create one set of images that are well exposed for both the highlights and shadows.” This technique produces what we call “High Dynamic Range” images.

Back then, Photoshop was used for exposure matching and Apple QTVR Authoring Studio stitched the files. Modern 360 degree cameras come with bare bones stitching tools, but more robust and feature-rich software is readily available for purchase.

At the end of the article, Fitzgerald brings some valuable insight that we can still use today: “Since working with QTVR, I find myself experiencing environments much differently… I am much more aware of what is all around me, not just what is in front of me… the only limitations are the ones that we give ourselves.”  The book’s CD-ROM has examples of Fitzgerald’s QTVR work. Her current work can be seen at

So, why this trip down RAM memory lane?

I find comfort in the fact that Web-based 360-degree imagery has been through over 21 years of iteration.  It’s safe to test the VR waters.  You may all float creative ideas freely without intimidation!  My advice for everyone who is even remotely interested in the topic: please get involved in VR so it continues to evolve!

Anthony Torres
Senior Video Production Instructor


Behind the scenes of Virtual Reality: How to create 360-degree video
Netflix picks ‘Stranger Things’ scene for first 360-degree video
2016 Olympics: Visit Rio with 360-Degree Videos and Virtual Reality

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New Audio Classes

New Audio Classes Spring 2016 Image

New audio classes are on the way!

We’re excited to expand our Logic Pro series with a second level, as well as introducing a new equipment class about how to get the best recording using the Sound Booths.

Additionally, we’ve added a new way to get started in Pro Tools. Pro Tools Bootcamp condenses levels one through five into a single, intensive week. You’ll work with our instructors on a professional recording, learning essential editing and mixing techniques in Pro Tools.

Check out all of our new audio classes and register today.

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