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New iMovie Classes

January 27, 2015 | Greg Astill | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

If you ever wanted to try video editing now is the time.  This year the Toronto Public Library’s Digital Innovation Hub is proud to offer iMovie editing classes to the public.  iMovie is a great video editing tool that makes the process and technology a lot easier to learn.  If you’ve never explored slicing video, adding audio and using a range of transitions and video effects this is the place to start. 


In the Hubs at the moment we offer a wide range of video editing software from iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere to name a few.  iMovie is great because this software is part of the Apple OS suite.  It certainly is a lot easier to get familiar with some of the regular tools and once you’ve conquered the video editing process in this more introductory workshop, you can graduate to more advanced software programs that are more in line with what professionals are using today.  Each attendee of the class will be given a laptop, access to the software and a handful of files to play with.  In two hours you’ll get a chance to explore many of the different tools available in this great software, such as using transitions and titles, adding audio and a soundtrack, cutting and splicing, and mastering the timeline. 


iMovie can work with video footage from most format digital video cameras and use certain file formats, with some footage having to be converted before use in the program.  From there, users can edit the photos and video clips and add titles, music, filters and effects, including basic color correction and video enhancement tools and transitions such as fades and slides.  Apple even worked with Abbey Road Studios in England to add original music and film scores to increase your selection in the sound library.  And if you’re not into making movies, create a short movie trailer with one of the available templates available in the software.   

Below are some great tutorials you can find online in both book and video format. A great book we have available through Safari Tech Books Online is iMovie the missing manual.


And there are a tonne of videos to choose from to help guide you.  Check out Safari or even Youtube for videos like the one posted below.

Also click here to see all the dates and times that are currently posted on the Toronto Public Library website.  The first class scheduled on February 25th will open for online registration starting tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

Soon your videos will look like something straight out of Hollywood.

Have fun!!

ZBrush: Digital Sculpting and Painting Software

January 13, 2015 | Greg Astill | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Happy New Year to all our customers.  We’re happy to announce that the Hub at the Toronto Reference Library has just acquired a really cool 3D design and sculpting software.  The program we have added to some of our computers is ZBrush.  ZBrush is developed by Pixelogic, the same company that also has made Sculptris, a free software package with limited tools but certainly exposes users to this technology at an easy to use level.

Image Courtesy of ZBrush Gallery

ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling, texturing and painting. It uses a proprietary "pixol" technology (see below) which stores lighting, color, material, and depth information for all objects on the screen. The main difference between ZBrush and more traditional modeling packages is that it is more akin to sculpting.  Built within an elegant interface, ZBrush offers the world’s most advanced tools for today’s digital artists. With an arsenal of features that have been developed with usability in mind, ZBrush creates a user experience that feels incredibly natural while simultaneously inspiring the artist within. With the ability to sculpt up to a billion polygons, ZBrush allows you to create limited only by your imagination.

Image Courtesy of ZBrush Artist: Gregory Callahan

ZBrush is used for creating high-resolution models that you can use for movies, games, and animations.  Lots of high power companies use the program and is most known for being able to sculpt medium to high frequency details that were traditionally painted in bump maps. It is for this reason why ZBrush is used by everyone from art enthusiast to major film and games studios. Leave technical hurdles and steep learning curves behind, as you sculpt and paint with familiar brushes and tools.

Image Courtesy of ZBrush Gallery

So come on down and try this amazing software package today.  A significant amount of tutorials can be found online to help get you started, and take advantage of the Hubs graphic tablet to make the drawing a little easier.

Some great resources to get you started with some of the more popular tools, you should check out these great videos that were posted by Gamestar Arts on their Youtube channel.

If you want to check out some alternatives that are free, check out Blender and the already mention Sculptris. 

See you then!!!

Hour of Code at Toronto Public Library!

January 7, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Earlier in December, Toronto Public Library celebrated the Hour of Code.

Hour of Code LogoThe Hour of Code is a global movement with the aim of reaching people in countries all over the world to learn more about computer science during Computer Science Education Week

Here’s a short video on what Hour of Code is all about:

From December 8th to 14th, 2014, several Toronto Public Library branches offered free, hands-on programs to people of all ages. Here’s a highlight of some of the fun Hour of Code programs:

Innovator in Communities Coding & Programming Expert - Lindy WilkinsThere was also an opportunity for people to meet the library’s Innovator in Communities coding & programming expert, Lindy Wilkins!

Lindy’s Exciting Electronics program was held at York Woods, Morningside and Eglinton Square Branch where people of all ages got to learn about Arduino microcontrollers and how to use them to make cool interactive objects!

Participants at York Woods Branch learning how to light up an LED using an Arduino
Participants at York Woods Branch learning how to light up an LED using an Arduino
Participants of all ages learning how to program an Arduino
Participants of all ages learning how to program an Arduino
Lindy introducing participants to the Arduino at Eglinton Square Branch
Lindy introducing participants to the Arduino at Eglinton Square Branch

If you’re not familiar with Arduinos, check out this video from Make Magazine:


The Hour of Code programs were definitely a fun way for people with or without computer or coding experience to learn something new and to get excited about computer science and technology!

Want to learn more? You don’t have to wait till the Hour of Code! Check the Toronto Public Library website for more programs and books on Arduinos or coding

Arduino Uno

You can also use an Arduino at one of our Digital Innovation Hubs! Here’s a list of all the in branch equipment you can use

Thank you to all those who participated in the Hour of Code for 2014! Look forward to even more programs and ways to celebrate the Hour of Code later this year!

For more information about the Hour of Code, visit

Artist Creates Children's Book With Help From Digital Innovation Hub

December 18, 2014 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Artist Jay Wieler
Artist Jay Wieler working at the Digital Innovation Hub at Toronto Reference Library.

Since the library's Digital Innovation Hub first opened at Toronto Reference Library earlier this February, staff have seen many interesting projects come to life, including a 3D printed robotic arm by a group of University of Toronto engineering students and more recently, 3D printed Christmas ornaments.

Local author and artist Jay Wieler has also been a regular at the Hub. Chances are, you will spot him using iMac #1 - with headphones on. Over several months, Wieler has used the Hub's hardware and software, including Adobe Illustrator, as part of his journey to create his first children's storybook, Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper.

In this Q+A, Jay shares details about his book, how he found out about the Digital Innovation Hub, and his artistic goals for 2015.


Cover for Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper
Cover for Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper

Please describe how you came up with the idea for Mally McKee.

Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper is a children's book about a famous detective, named Mally Mckee, who's trying to find a stolen pie.

In the summer of 2011, the story for Mally McKee struck me while riding the subway to an appointment. I was lucky I had my pocket sketchbook on me, because I was able to successfully record these ideas. When I finally arrived home, I decided to archive these ideas to Google Docs. This way I could access these notes later. However, I had no idea that "later" would mean the fall of 2013.

Skip ahead to the fall of 2013, and I rediscovered these notes while reorganizing my Google Docs. I instantly reconnected with the story, so I spent the next six to seven months researching and developing this story further. The accumulation of this work turned into Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper.

Despite all the setbacks, starts and stops, the story is 90% finished. As it currently stands, the story will be released in early 2015 as an e-Book.


How did you find out about the Digital Innovation Hub at TRL?

I discovered the Digital Innovation Hub while I was researching ideas at the Reference Library. This fortuitous discovery was a pleasant surprise, because it allowed me access to better hardware and software.


Sketches and illustration from Molly McKee: The Missing Pie Caper
The above image shows Jay Wieler's process of taking a sketch, refining a sketch and then bringing it to life as a digital illustration using Adobe Illustrator.

Can you please describe how the Hub helped and supported your projects?

Without a doubt, access to better hardware and software at the Hub was very advantageous for me. These things helped me to expand my creative ideas significantly. For example, by utilizing their 27" iMac, I could focus on miniature details, within my illustrations, more effectively. Additionally, if I wanted to create custom typography, I could also utilize their Walcom tablet.

In addition to this, I found the staff to be helpful and supportive. As a result of all of these things, I enjoy using the hub for my creative projects.


Why is it important for libraries to provide spaces such as the Hubs to the community?

Based on my personal experience and observation, the Hub is a positive and progressive space. The Hub does a wonderful job at fusing people, ideas, and creativity. And these things matter, especially when it comes to enriching a community and the people's lives within it. Moreover, it helps stimulate a greater sense of a person's well-being. I'm happy that spaces like this exist in Toronto, and I hope more people realize how wonderful these spaces are for one's personal growth, especially when it comes to positive benefits of creativity. 

What are your future goals?

For 2015, I plan to release my children's book, Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper, and I also plan on going back to school in the fall of 2015 for film studies. In between these activities, I'll be teaching Adobe Illustrator workshops and doing freelance illustration. I look forward to an exciting 2015!

Illustration from Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper.
Illustration from Mally McKee: The Missing Pie Caper.

3D Print Your Ornaments

December 16, 2014 | Dawn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

A number of people have visited the Toronto Reference Library (TRL) Digital Innovation Hub this month to print seasonal items such as ornaments for the tree. Many have downloaded and printed items from websites such as Thingiverse and Instructables.


Ornament on Christmas Tree

Ornament on Christmas Tree


 And this Saturday a boy named Marco, and his mother, came in to print an ornament  which Marco himself had designed using Blender, a free and open source 3D animation suite.  


The final results are very personal creations harnassing some of the latest technologies available right here the the library.




Christmas Tree

Our 3D printers are available for anyone with a Toronto Public Library card to use, once they have completed a short 3D Certification Course, which outlines the basics of how the hardware and software works.

The courses are offered at TRL and at Fort York Branch. And we even offer a free course, Intro to 3D Design, which will introduce you to the basics of 123D Design, OpenSCAD, and Sculptris so you can start designing your own 3D items.

Why not make your New Years resolution today?
I want to learn how to 3D print!



 photos courtesy of Marco S


3D Printing Innovator in Communities Wrap-up

December 12, 2014 | Derek Quenneville | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Innovator in Communities program at The Hub

The Innovator in Communities 3D printing program finished up two week ago. I'm happy to report that many of our students got to take home some great 3D prints of their final projects.

There were some challenges, though.

One of the 3D modelling tools that we used, TinkerCAD, is web-based. It has the advantage of being an easy tool for beginners to learn, but internet or server problems can make it stop working. That was a source of frustration on a few occasions.

Another issue is that not everyone made it through to the final session. We learned different ways of creating 3D objects each week, so that students could decide what worked best for their final projects. But after running some successful compressed sessions at The Hub, I think that working on several smaller projects would be more engaging... Even if less total material is covered.

I think that the program went pretty well. And it was great to have people from so many age ranges and skill levels take part.

Students at The Hub, hard at work

I'm hoping that Toronto Public Library will continue to run the Innovator in Communities program. We were able to get lots of new people excited about 3D printing in a practical way.

If you haven't dropped by a Digital Innovation Hub yet, check out some of the 3D models available on Thingiverse. Maybe you'll be inspired to create something, too!

Here are a few of the 3D prints designed by our students:

Various student designs including an envelope holder, a clown head, and nameplates

3D printed bunny figure

(Post updated to add more photos.)

Audio Innovator In's a wrap!

December 7, 2014 | Robert | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Over the past six weeks, as part of the Innovator In Residence series with the Toronto Public Library, I had the opportunity to meet many people while sharing my knowledge of the audio and music world.

Innovator_BYronSMThe lectures included topics covering the audio, music and recording industries as well as various arts funding models. I was also fortunate to be able to include at one lecture, guest speaker Byron Wong, who's industry knowledge is vast and furious.


The 8 workshops were conceived as audio production primers from start to finish and covered various topics including studio acoustics, mixing, location recording, audio for film, music videos, ATSC/A85 Broadcast Standards and Mastering for iTunes.


While I found the lectures and workshops rewarding to put together, the individual sessions were equally inspiring. Among the participants I mentored singer/songwriters, actors, film makers, aspiring audio engineers, hip hop artists, film composers, gospel musicians and entrepreneurs. They all had a story and their love of all things music and sound made for an entertaining month and a half. Here is a film composition project by musician/composer Esther Jeon.



Here is a selection from talented workshop participant Grace Peci who was gracious enought to let me post her song here.

I also had the opportunity to conduct workshops at PARC community centre in Parkdale as part of the TPL outreach program.

Innovator_ParcSMA core group of dedicated members came together over three weeks to participate in audio workshops covering home studio building, mixing, mastering, and delivery formats. In conjunction with member input, I also began development of a comprehensive document covering the redevelopment of their in-house recording studio.


The Audio Innovator in Residence program is part of a larger series involving innovators from many different areas. It is my belief that this kind of programming, through the Toronto Public Library, is what makes cities vibrant, relevant and livable. It was for these reasons I was initially interested in the position and, after having interacted with the participants, I can confidently say they felt the same way.


Innovator_DianaSMI wish to thank the staff, in particular Ted Belke, at the Fort York Digital Innovation Hub for their support. And to Diana Lee for the opportunity and her enthusiastic and tireless commitment to Toronto's Public Library System.

Code and Programming

December 4, 2014 | Lindy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

FLindy's Workshopor the last 6 weeks I have been teaching Arduino and Website programming as part of the Innovator in Communities program. I have had the opportunity to spend time teaching people who knew nothing about code and programming how to create amazing things!

For me, the best part of this is opening people's minds and curiosities to the possibilities of code. Computers and technology control our world, and once we learn to write code for ourselves we can begin to control objects around us. Participants in this course learned a variety of things ranging from making motors move with an Arduino microcontroller, to creating their own web pages using Wordpress.

The world of code is so vast, but it only takes one interesting project for you to get inspired. A good place to start getting ideas on what you can create is Instructables. This website is filled with interesting projects and step-by-step instructions on how to create them!

If these projects have made you curious about what is possible, or you are looking for a place to learn, Toronto Public Library offers a variety of classes on how to begin to create, from web programming, to knitting.


Filmmaker Sarah Goodman Reflects on Her Residency

December 2, 2014 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Sarah Goodman Video Editing 101 workshop
Sarah Goodman hosted numerous workshops, including this Video Editing 101 class.

This fall, award-winning filmmaker Sarah Goodman took part in a six-week residency as Toronto Reference Library's Innovator in Residence. From late October to the end of November, Sarah presented lectures, workshops, and one-on-one appointments for aspiring and practicing filmmakers.

The Innovator in Residence program offers a fun and hands-on way to learn about the technology offered at the library's Digital Innovation Hubs.

Sarah shared her thoughts prior to the start of her residency and I recently chatted with Sarah again to get her thoughts on her six weeks with us at the library.

Look for Sarah's first feature drama, Porch Stories, out this Spring. You can also check out her award-winning documentary Army of One and When We Were Boys at the library.


What were your favourite moments from your residency at the library?

This is tough to answer, because honestly, I loved it all.

Seeing the enthusiasm and the empowerment of a group at the end of a workshop after they had just viewed their work they had shot was definitely a highlight, and seeing them motivate each other.

My favourite aspect of my residency was the diversity and talent of the people who attended. It felt representative of this city in a way few programs do.


Were there any surprising and/or unexpected moments during your residency?

Leading a workshop during Maker Faire was quite an eye opener! What an amazing movement of makers doing everything under the sun.


Innovator in Residences Sarah Goodman and Derek Quenneville
Sarah Goodman met her predecessor Innovator in Residence Derek Quenneville during the Toronto Mini Maker Faire in late November.

Having completed your residency, do you still believe that anyone can be a filmmaker?

Many people have talent, but lack confidence. I hope that I have in my residency been able to give encouragement to some of these folks.

Filmmaking is a tough profession, and our society is set up to make careers in the arts difficult, even unattainable for some. However, as some technology becomes cheaper, filmmaking becomes within the grasp of more people. You can make that first short for little or no money. Make that film great, and you will have an easier time with the second.

Most importantly, keep going, despite the times when everything seems too hard. Even the most seasoned filmmakers get discouraged. The true test is whether you keep going. Sure, talent is important, but probably equally important is grit. Find projects you are passionate about and find that grit within you.


What has been similar or different about doing a filmmaking program at the library as compared to other venues that you’ve hosted programs?

The clientele that attended my programs at the TPL were more diverse – culturally, economically, and age-wise, than anywhere else I have taught. It is a space where people feel safe to learn even with no experience, and even if they have not done well in conventional educational environments. And that is rare.

The film industry can sometimes feel elitist, but the library has created a space where it really seems that everyone feels welcome.


What is your advice for future Innovator in Residences?

Tailor your workshops to be introductory, but also be ready to be surprised and meet varying skill levels, and roll with the punches.

Being an Innovator in Residence (IIR) is a lot about being passionate about community, so that should be important you. As a filmmaker it’s often hard to tell what kind of tangible impact my films have on the community. Being an IIR gave me a very concrete sense of impact.


Sarah Goodman at Hot Docs Cinema
As part of her residency, Hot Docs screened Sarah's award-winning Army of One at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema.

Filmmaking 101: Part 3

November 30, 2014 | Chanda Chevannes | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Toronto Public Library’s Innovator in Communities program is just wrapping up. Three different innovators have been working with participants in various communities across Toronto in a series of workshops aimed at using new technologies to create. Lindy Wilkins has been teaching programming and coding. Derek Quenneville has been teaching 3D printing. And I have been teaching filmmaking. It’s been a tremendously rewarding experience to see the participants in my workshop create short films in only six weeks.

participant shares her film
Workshop participant shares her rough cut. Photo credit: Diana Lee

In my previous blogs, I outlined the first three workshop sessions I led. My first blog post focused on Getting Started on Your Film and Planning Your Film. My second blog post focused on Shooting Your Film. This blog will focus on the last two sessions: Editing Your Film and Refining Your Film.

In the last two sessions of the workshop series, we discussed both the aesthetic and the technical aspects of video editing. We brainstormed the elements of good editing. In one session, a participant hit upon the perfect word: good editing feels seamless. And that’s exactly right. Good editing has lots and lots of seams. Colloquially, editing is referred to as cutting. Because the pieces of scenes and shots are all cut up and reassembled in a way that—when done well—makes it feel seamless.

In order to help them understand some of the technical aspects, I walked participants through some of the history of film and video editing. (If you want to learn more about the history of editing, The Cutting Edge is a great documentary, packed full of useful information and fascinating stories.)

I also demonstrated the basics of Final Cut Pro, which is a piece of professional editing software often used in the film and television industry. The participants then worked together to edit their own five-minute films, on various editing softwares available to them, including iMovie, MovieMaker, and Premiere. 

demonstrating Final Cut Pro
Chanda demonstrates Final Cut Pro. Photo Credit: Diana Lee

By the last class, we had a very diverse collection of films to screen, which included a music video, a sketch comedy, a documentary portrait of a musician, an historical film about a Black settler in Montreal, and an educational video about canning beets. We’re in the midst of planning a screening for all the participants to share their films with friends, families, and the wider community. I can’t wait to show and celebrate the work that have been accomplished in just six weeks of learning and practice. I'm so proud of what the participants have been able to create. 

Chanda Chevannes is currently an Innovator in Communities with the Toronto Public Library. She is an award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker with The People’s Picture Company and a board member with the Documentary Organization of Canada. Her most recent film is Living Downstream, a feature documentary about the environmental links to cancer.


Welcome to The Innovation Hubs blog. Highlighting the features, programs and customer innovation stories from our Digital Innovation Hubs.