Tech round-up for July 22: Digital effects in Vancouver, sound matters, games to play

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This week we talk about the number of visual effects studios and operation in Vancouver (and what that means), a cool bookshelf speaker and a set of headphones, and a couple of games for the summertime.

Vancouver’s digital effects industry is booming

Pixar may have closed its studio in Gastown after only a couple of years. But them moving out made space for Industrial Light & Magic, who needed more space for its Vancouver operation. The digital effects studio originally founded by George Lucas has been working on the new J.J. Abrams Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

And Sony Pictures Imageworks recently staged an official grand opening of its new global headquarters, on the corner of Granville and Robson.

They aren’t alone. Other effects studios in town include:

Limited edition Sonos PLAY:1 Tone speaker

I’m a fan of Sonos wireless speakers. They make it easy to get music from my computer’s library to any room in the house through my wireless network. And with a different speaker in different rooms, we can actually have different music playing in each place.

Sonos already integrates with a number of music services, including Rdio, Songza, Spotify, and Soundcloud. And you can listen to radio stations through SiriusXM and TuneIn. There is not yet support for Apple Music, but Sonos has said it’s coming soon.

For those who are looking for a small, simple solution, with a nice design, the company is coming out with a limited edition PLAY:1 speaker this summer.

The Tone comes in two colours – black or white – and there are only 5,000 available globally.

They were released for purchase yesterday, and if you want one they are CDN$280. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

Hands-on with PlayStation Gold wireless headphones

A couple of weeks ago I got my hands on a new headset for when I’m using my PlayStation 4.

I’d been using the PlayStation wireless headphones, which were great, and upgraded to the Gold wireless headphones, which are even better.

Developed by Sony, these headphones are comfortable to wear, they fold for storage, and they connect wirelessly to a small receiver you plug into your PS4 console (you can also use them with a USB cable). The controls for volume, sound mix, and a mute button are located right on the headset.

The headset provides a virtual 7.1 surround experience and supports custom EQ settings created by developers. I’ve been using one created for Destiny, for example, which Bungie made to optimize the audio for the game.

And you can use these headphones wirelessly with computers and other devices that have a USB port and configurable audio settings.

There are headphones that provide better sound quality, but for the price — these retail for $120, and I’ve seen them regularly for under $100 — the Golds are worth their weight.

If you’re the nostalgic type, Sony’s releasing a set of the headphones branded with the original PlayStation logo and colours. They’ll be available this fall.

Games for the summertime

A couple of indie games recently released are great to pass the summertime hours. Find a cool basement and settle in.

  • The Hole Story: A clever game starring a young girl who aspires to be an archaeologist, and who solves problems by digging holes and discovering clues. It was made by a group of seven females aged 9 to 16, and is worth every penny of the $5 it will cost you.
  • Her Story: This one is a bit different, because you play it by conducting database searches. Before you run screaming, you should know that what you’re looking for is video footage of interviews with a woman who’s husband disappeared. Just see if you can figure out what’s really going on.


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