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7th September 2010

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions Swings Into Canadian Stores

Beenox StudiosMarvel’s famous web-slinger is back in action and on store shelves in Spider-Man™: Shattered Dimensions from Activision Publishing, whose Quebec development studio Beenox has created a unique, immersive experience allowing fans to play as four distinct versions of Spider-Man in four unique worlds – Amazing, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate – in a race to save their universes against the villainous machinations of Mysterio, Carnage, Deadpool, Vulture, Kraven and more.

“The team at Beenox is giving fans an incredibly diverse SpiderMan Shattered Dimensions 2099Spider-Man™ video game experience,” said David Pokress, Head of Marketing for Licensed Properties, Activision Publishing, Inc. “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions casts players in an epic action adventure where they battle in four different worlds, rife with classic villains re-interpreted within each world, offering a rich variety of gameplay and striking art styles in one unique storyline.”

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions transports players to a variety of locations, from lush jungles and sand quarries to a futuristic NYC, and allows them to use unique gameplay styles for each Spider-Man, including stealth moves in Noir, gliding maneuvers in 2099, black-suited tendril attacks in Ultimate, and innovative web combat in Amazing.

Penned by acclaimed Marvel comic book writer Dan Slott, the story takes players on a mission to restore the magical energy of the Tablet of Order and Chaos, which has been shattered and scattered across parallel universes. Gamers are challenged to battle fan-favorite villains such as the lethal Kraven and a custom, never-before-seen Noir version of Hammerhead, in a quest to restore the fabric of reality.

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Each of the actors voicing Spider-Man in the game has portrayed the web-slinger in previous Spider-Man animated television series. Neil Patrick Harris (Amazing Spider-Man) voiced the wall-crawler in “Spider-Man: The New Animated Series” in 2003; Josh Keaton (Ultimate Spider-Man) was the voice of Spider-Man in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” from 2008-2009; Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man 2099) starred in “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” from 1981-1983; and Christopher Daniel Barnes (Spider-Man Noir) voiced the iconic Super Hero™ in “Spider-Man,” the 1994 series. SpiderMan Shattered Dimensions HobGoblin

Additionally, legendary Spider-Man co-creator and comic book icon Stan Lee will guide players through the storyline of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions as the game’s narrator, and Emmy Award-winning composer Jim Dooley has created an original orchestral score for the game.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB and is available now on the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3, Nintendo Wii™ and will be available soon for Windows PC, all developed by Beenox. A Nintendo DS™ version, developed by Griptonite, is also now available and features a side-scrolling adventure full of unique villains, such as the first-ever appearance of Calypso Noir and two other boss characters created exclusively for this version.

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6th September 2010

Vancouver Development Community Mourns The Loss of A Comrade

It was with great sadness over this past weekend that I learned of the passing of designer Brian Wood. Only 33 years old, Brian was fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident Friday evening on Whidbey Island in Washington state. His wife Erin, who is 6 months pregnant with their first child, was with Brian in the vehicle when it was struck head-on by another vehicle just north of Oak Harbor. Two passengers in the other vehicle also perished, and the driver of that vehicle, along with another passenger, are expected to face criminal charges relating to this tragic accident.

As many of Vancouver’s development community know, Brian was lead designer for Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes Online. I first met Brian back in December of 2006 when he, along with senior artist Roland Longpre, presented a post-mortem on the then brand-new Company of Heroes debut title at the Art Institute’s ARTmageddon. Brian and Roland at ARTmageddon in 2006

Many of us will remember Brian as the guy with the kind of laugh and sense of humour that could get everyone going. A designer who believed in the importance of marrying story to gameplay, he was always on the go, a sports enthusiast and was always willing to share his knowledge of game development with those who wanted to learn. Michael will remember Brian as the guy who handed him his butt in a Company of Heroes tournament at ARTmageddon, making a big comeback in round three to steal the victory. The good-hearted banter between Roland, Brian and the gamers during the tournament showed how much Brian enjoyed being a game designer, and how important it was to him that the people playing a Company of Heroes game had a great time, even though he had their back to the trenches, so to speak. In memory of Brian, I am re-releasing the 2006 article I wrote about the Company of Heroes Mission Breakdown. Please feel free to share your memories of Brian in the comment section.

The focus of this lecture was the development team for Relic’s latest RTS release Company of Heroes, specifically Mission 7, a commando/infiltration-style mission which takes place in Normandy.

Mr. Longpre opened the lecture stating that the single most important element for a development team is communication. This stands true for every stage from concept to product shipping. The first step in developing a game is the concept stage. At this point, the game concept along with a one page outline of the game and a basic map are presented to the studio’s lead development team. If the concept is accepted and the go-ahead given to develop the game, then a basic team is formed. The actual development time for Company of Heroes was four years from concept to completion, with a development team of up to ninety members. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th September 2010

EA Sports NHL Slapshot Wii preview

EA SportsI was recently asked to go to EA Burnaby and play NHL Slapshot for  the Wii.  So Chuck Beaman (camera operator) and I grabbed the camera and headed to Burnaby (see part 1 of my video preview),We were greeted by Rick Brown a designer on the game to talk about NHL Slapshot and the new NHL Slapshot controller, and the new game modes it offers.

NHL Slapshot has been in development at EA Burnaby for a couple of years due to launch this Tuesday September 7th for the Nintendo Wii, and this game has many things going for it.

“The Great One” Wayne Gretzky (cover athlete) is available to any team you want, so just choose him from the free agent pool and add him to your squad. CHL teams are also available to play as.

EA really wanted to bring back the feeling of being a kid with one of those small sticks in your hand and the craze of living room hockey, so their solution was the NHL Slapshot game and controller.

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The NHL Slapshot controller is a hockey stick in your hand, with the nunchuck in the top to control your player and the Wii mote in the shaft of the stick to detect the motions. prepare to shoot,pass and hit with the stick. Taking shots is extremely easy just by flicking the stick you take a wrist shot and to take a slap shot just wind up and shoot. To hit you do a crosschecking motion with the stick holding it parallel. You can also play goaltender with the stick when you pop out the nunchuck and hold it in front of you, which all felt really well tuned and responsive.

The first prototype of this stick was actually made with a 300 dollar composite stick with the Wiimote and nunchuck inside it.

The Slapshot stick comes in the box with the game and additional ones can be bought at the place of purchase of the game.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video Part 2

The game looks and plays a little different too compared to its big brother NHL 11. The designers had a common phrase as they made this game “What would nintendo do” so when you take a really hard slapshot or big hit you get some flames behind the puck or a satisfying thump with a hit.

One big difference is the ability to play their Peewee to Pro mode in which you can create a character and lead him/her through 5 different leagues (Peewee,Bantam,Junior,CHL and NHL), complete with different  game rules and team sizes. In Peewee it’s 3 on 3 but arcade style,  CHL/NHL is full 5 on 5 with all the rules and team members available.

With 4 different player models as you advance your career through Pee Wee to Pro you will visibly see your character grow with your eyes. Adding to that is their boost system which allows you to unlock for your character over 200 boosts available for completing things in the game such as getting all A’s in a game. You will also be able change your attributes as you upgrade your player.Wayne Gretzky NHL Slapshot

Another first for a hockey sporting game on the Wii is online rosters and schedules, Day one players will be able to download current rosters and schedules that will update as they change over the season using the Wii’s wifi internet capabilities. It was also mentioned that it would be supported for at least 2 years so you would be able to come back to the game and update even after this current season is over and then to the next this is EA’s strategy on the WIi.

Other game modes include Stanley Cup Playoffs (best of 7 series), Free 4 all and 3 other mini games. Free 4 all has you and up to 3 friends lace up your skates and go against one goaltender to score 3 goals first  while all fighting for one puck.

The 3 other mini games are Shooter vs Goalie,2 on 2 and classic shootout. Shooter vs Goalie is player VS player where one player is the shooter and the other is the goalie using the goalie controls.

2 VS 2 is the regular game of hockey played 2 on 2.

Classic shootout is a shootout with 5 players on either side that can be played by 4 people with multipliers and bonuses for consecutive goals.

After playing 2 games against Rick (see part 2 of my video) I think Im able to say that EA provided a very high quality NHL game to the Wii that far exceeded my impressions of what a hockey game for the Wii was like. I would definitely recommend this to any one with a Wii or a great stocking stuffer for that special hockey player in your family.

So make sure you check it out and look for it on store shelves on September 7th

James Karg
email: James-at-villagegamer-dot-net

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3rd September 2010

Company of Heroes Online Beta Has Launched

Relic EntertainmentDeveloped by THQ’s Relic Entertainment studio, creators of the award-winning Company of Heroes® and Dawn of War® franchises, Company of Heroes Online is an online multiplayer Real-Time-Strategy game that is free to download and play. Building on the frenetic Real-Time-Strategy action of the original Company of Heroes, Company of Heroes Online offers army specialization, commander customization, and persistent progression. Players will enter each match with a unique selection of upgrades and hero units with new items and experience earned with every match played.Company Of Heroes Online

The Company of Heroes Online Open Beta features two different armies, the Allies and Axis, each with three different divisions offering players a choice of play style. The Open Beta features 17 different multiplayer maps, which will be split between 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 modes. Players of the Company of Heroes Online Open Beta will also be able to enjoy the single player campaign from Company of Heroes for free. Players can download and play the Open Beta now by going to the game’s official site.

Michael Lustenberger, Vice President of Global Brand Management – Online, commented, “There really is no barrier to entry with Company of Heroes Online. Players will be able to experience both the single player campaign and online multiplayer for free and even receive free in-game items if they register before September 8. Sign-up today and experience the critically acclaimed Company of Heroes for yourself.”

Users who register for the Company of Heroes Online Open Beta before September 8 will also receive an exclusive in-game item pack for free. This pack will include 3,000 free supply points to use in the shop, 500xp to level up the commander, one free hero unit and one free army item giving early adopters a head start on the competition.

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3rd September 2010

Canada Company Awards Eight Scholarships To Children of Fallen Soldiers

Canada CompanyThe Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence; Blake Goldring, Chairman of Canada Company and Chairman and CEO, AGF Management Limited; along with Rear Admiral Andrew Smith, Canadian Forces Chief of Military Personnel; today presented scholarships to eight surviving offspring of fallen Canadian Forces personnel.

The scholarships are provided as a tribute to fallen Canadian Forces personnel by a charitable business group called Canada Company. Each recipient will receive up to $16,000 each – up to $4,000 per year for up to four years – to help defray the costs of their post secondary education.

The third annual awards ceremony was conducted aboard the HMCS Frederiction. The Halifax-based frigate is currently on a five-week Canadian tour, including seven port visits along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

“The HMCS Fredericton is a fitting backdrop to honour these fine students,” said Blake Goldring. “Their parents made a commitment to serve our country and today our commitment is to help them pursue their education. Canada Company provides the means for both businesses and individuals to support our military and their families to ensure they are taken care of with ongoing initiatives like these scholarships.” HMCS Fredericton

“The Government of Canada recognizes and deeply appreciates the ultimate sacrifice these families have paid for their country,” said Minister MacKay. “The Canada Company Scholarship helps the deserving children of our fallen to pursue post-secondary education and start on the road to their future careers.”

“The families of our fallen remain an important part of the Canadian Forces family who need our support,” said Rear Admiral Andrew Smith. “The Canadian Forces greatly appreciate the support that Canada Company and Canadians from coast to coast to coast have shown to the families of our fallen soldiers.”

The 2010/11 recipients of Canada Company’s educational scholarship fund awards are:

* Robert Girouard of Orillia is studying Law and Justice at Laurentian University.
* Kirsten Hess-von Kruedener of Burlington is studying at the RCC Institute of Technology Interior Design.
* Sheralynn Kennedy of Winnipeg is attending the University of Winnipeg working towards a doctorate in Psychology.
* Matthew Mellish of French Lake is attending the University of New Brunswick.
* Myriam Mercier of Quebec City is studying Nursing at Cegep de Sainte-Foy.
* Adam Naismith of Moose Jaw is studying Arts and Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.
* Jocelyn Ranger of Pembroke is studying business at Algonquin College.
* Natasha Roberge of Hamner is studying English and Music at Laurentian University.

The Canada Company Scholarship Fund provides $4,000 per year, for up to four years, to support the post-secondary education for children who qualify. Children of Canadian Forces members who have died on duty while serving in an active role in a military mission of the Canadian Forces or reserves since January 2002 are eligible to apply. The Canada Company Scholarship Fund will provide scholarship grants to children dating back to January 1, 2002.

Canada Company scholarships have received leadership funding in the amount of $1 million from CIBC. Additional financial support was secured from Power Corporation; Peter Munk, Founder and Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation; Jim Balsillie, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Research In Motion (RIM); RBH Inc.; The W. Garfield Weston Foundation; The TD Bank Financial Group, BMO Financial Group; Scotiabank; Standard Life; Laurentian Bank of Canada / B2B Trust and AGF Management Limited. Canada Company is calling on other members of the corporate community to contribute to this important initiative.

Canada Company oversees the fund through an independent committee, along with members of the Tour de Force 2010Canadian Forces, to ensure that bereaved children have the opportunity to receive this scholarship.

One way which you can show your support for Canada Company Scholarships is to take part in the upcoming North American Van Lines Tour de Force, an exhilarating cycling trip through southern Ontario and Quebec. The bike/run will kick off at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto with celebrities in attendance including players from the Toronto Maple Leafs and former NHLer’s and will last for seven days ending in beautiful downtown Montreal. The trip will be broken down into seven 85-kilometre intervals. Cyclists can register for the entire trip or certain legs of the journey. At the end of each leg of the trip there will be a celebration in the evening.

editor’s note: While this article may not be directly related to Canada’s digital media industry, it is directly related to a game we all play every day: life. As a military family and supporters of our Canadian Forces,  from time to time we carry related stories. We hope that you will join us in supporting those who serve our country now and in the future, and in remembering those whose patrol has ended.

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3rd September 2010

A Few Mission Against Terror Beta Keys Still Available

Wicked InteractiveThe Mission Against Terror beta keys we first told you about on Wednesday are go going fast. To acknowledge all those who have unlocked the beta keys for M.A.T., SUBA Games has organized a special opening weekend reward – To the Victor Go The Spoils, a three-day promotion this weekend (September 3-5) that allows players to earn double the silver coins they normally would. In addition, all those who log in for the first time receive a complementary AK-47 assault rifle. Efficient, effective, and reliable; only the best for our troops! Now, what are you waiting for, soldier? Get in there, rack up those coins, then deck yourself out.

The M.A.T. closed beta release will include game modes such as Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, along with the tried-and-true formula of elimination-style Tournament play and the highly popular Bombing mode.Mission Against Terror

Those in the mood for a less competitive-minded shooter will be kept busy as well, with a variety of wild, white-knuckled game types. Mummy mode offers an intense survival horror experience, where a team of humans are confronted by ancient Egyptian mummies who have risen from the dead in search of you-know-what.

Complementing the exciting action of MAT are customizable characters that can be outfitted with a variety of clothing options, an item shop that contains everything a soldier needs out in the battlefield, and full Dolby™ 3D sound support, including state-of-the-art Dolby Axon™ technology which enables you to modulate your voice in real-time to change the way other players hear you-all in glorious surround-sound.

To enlist in the closed beta, players must obtain an exclusive closed beta key from the game’s official site or one of the game’s official affiliate partners. Once players have registered with the key on the M.A.T. home page, gamers can download the game client and start playing immediately. Just like M.A.T. will be upon its full release, the closed beta is totally free for players to participate in, for as long as the beta lasts. Space, however, is limited, so gamers should get their beta key today, and stay tuned for further announcements about special closed beta events and fun achievements.

Transport yourself into the near-future, not far from the present moment, where the war is already raging. Fierce battles whose stakes are no less than the future of humanity have transformed everyday men and women into warriors hell-bent on the destruction of the enemies of everything they hold dear. This is the world of M.A.T. – Mission Against Terror, Wicked Interactive’s hotly anticipated, free-to-play, online first-person shooter. There is no time to waste. No time to think or second-guess. You are either fighting this war or you are its victim.

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3rd September 2010

Visit Hothead Games and EA Black Box At PAX

EA Black BoxEA Black Box and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. today announced that Need for Speed™ World, the massively multiplayer online action racing game will incorporate Dolby® Axon voice chat technology before the December holiday season. Need for Speed World combines the rush of illicit street racing, deep RPG style progression, and vehicle customization into an immersive, socially connected experience. The game will be featured at the Penny Arcade Expo in Dolby’s booth, number 612.
Need for Speed World
“In Need for Speed World, we’re able to continually update the game with new technology to provide the best MMO racing experience for our players,” said Stephane Grefford, Producer, Need for Speed World. “Working with Dolby Axon, we can give gamers a seamless channel of communication enabling in-game collaboration towards becoming the top racer. We’re excited to be the first title in North America to incorporate Dolby Axon to help enhance our players’ overall racing experience.”

“Dolby Axon helps ensure that communication among team members happens clearly and quickly when racing at over 100 miles an hour in Need for Speed World,” said Matt Tullis, Marketing Director, Games, Dolby Laboratories. “We’re really excited to be working closely with EA in bringing a new level of voice chat to their game.”

By integrating Dolby Axon into online game titles, game developers can provide players with a new level of realism in online gaming:

* Improved audio chain processing (noise suppression, echo suppression) for clear voice communication
* Surround sound voice chat over stereo headsets, stereo speakers, and 5.1 playback systems delivering realistic and exciting in-game communication with teammates
* Compatibility with any stereo headset, enabling gamers to experience clear, crisp voice quality without specialized equipment

Hothead GamesHothead Games is also down at PAX, featuring their two latest video games at the Penny Arcade Expo. You will find them giving hourlyDeath Spank live game play demos of Swarm and DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue at their Sky 1 booth on the sky bridge. Hothead’s PAX booth will also contain kiosks where show attendees can play the newest DeathSpank adventure and enter to win a number of prizes including limited edition Hothead merchandise.

“We’re really excited to be at PAX to show off Swarm and DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue,” said Ian Wilkinson, President of Hothead. “PAX has always been a show for gamers and we appreciate the opportunity to connect directly with fans.”

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DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is Hothead’s all new rapid-fire action-RPG game and is the perfect companion to Hothead’s original hit game DeathSpank that launched in July 2010. In the continuing story of venerable hero DeathSpank, players must recover six mystical thongs and bring balance and harmony to the universe. Thongs of Virtue launches on September 21 on PlayStation Network and September 22 on Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Swarm is an action platformer like no other. Players control a herd of fifty daft, pudgy and utterly fearless Swarmites, driving them through an intense and often suicidal gauntlet of death and destruction. The game features innovative mass character control, fast-paced action and comic mayhem, offering players a unique experience that will keep them playing again and again.

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2nd September 2010

What’s in a Name: Reflections on FanExpo 2010

On any other Torontonian August Saturday, the streets would have been deserted. But on August 28th, hundreds of fans of all denominations filled Front St. for their chance to get into the sixteenth annual FanExpo, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. The size of the crowds could have been anticipated from any stop on the TTC; en route, the t-shirts of eager guests-to-be displayed their franchise allegiances, with every voice loud and proud.Fan Expo 2010

Volume turned out to be the common noun of FanExpo 2010; whether referring to the sheer deluge of people on the outside of the complex, the amount of amazing content provided to those canny enough to buy passes ahead of time, or the fever-pitch of cheering throughout the center’s amphitheatres, it is debatable whether any other Canadian convention could compare in terms of variety. With balanced attention paid to the five pillars of nerd culture, there truly was something for everyone. And with the lines outside the building never abating, it felt as though everyone knew it.

Upon arrival, most attendees headed directly for the second floor. Home to the convention’s merchandisers, artists, and largest corporate sponsors, guests could enjoy demos of a select few holiday video games while collecting comics and autographs. The demarcation of the booth depended predominantly on the weight behind it; while individual artists may not have been labelled prominently, there was no missing the booth of Tron: Evolution. Chris Whiteside, the lead design developer for the title at Vancouver’s Propaganda Games, was leading a demo when I arrived. The game is very much a fluid experience–any and all of the blockiness in Tron’s past has been done away with completely. Musings on the game’s inspirations led Whiteside and I to the subject of Canadian industry specialties.

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2nd September 2010

PC Health Advisor by ParetoLogic Integrates New Tools to Boost PC Performance

ParetoLogicMore than ever, PC Health Advisor from ParetoLogic is an indispensable tool for the home computer user. The all-in-one software recently enhanced its suite of tools with a driver update function and a file extension manager. Combined, the software now gives average computer users a quick way to stop errors and improve performance in the Windows registry, boost disk performance via disk defragmentation, remove privacy and junk files, destroy active Malware, speed up Windows startup times, update out-of-date drivers, and fix file associations, along with other Windows tweaks.

“This was always our plan,” explained Norman Eldridge, ParetoLogic’s Technical Product Manager. “PC Health Advisor keeps its users covered, no matter where their computer problems originate. These new tools allow us to further expand the ways that PC Health Advisor protects and improves users’ PC performance.”PC Health Advisor

Developers combined the driver manager with the main PC Health Advisor scan to make operation as easy as possible. After analysing a user’s system, the scan displays outdated drivers and connects users with the new and updated drivers that they need. New drivers have the power to revive broken hardware, improve performance, and stop hardware error messages.

The file extension manager, found under the Optimize tab, searches for unsupported file extensions and provides links to the programs needed to open them. This allows users to always open the files they need, no matter how unfamiliar the extension.

“Drivers and file extensions are some of the most numerous, confusing, and time consuming items that a PC user has to deal with. By including these tools with PC Health Advisor, we’re going to save our customers a lot of time – and money,” said Mr. Eldridge.

All downloads of PC Health Advisor will now include these tools as part of the new version. Current PC Health Advisor users will be automatically updated to version 2.

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2nd September 2010

New Instructional Book For Stock Photographers

iStockphotoStock photography is more popular with designers, businesses, web developers, publishers and artists than ever before, and the number of photographers who have found microstock to be a great source of part- or full-time income has increased steadily in the last few years. A new book, Taking Stock: Make Money in Microstock Creating Photos That Sell by veteran stock photographer Rob Sylvan, provides valuable insights into maximizing profit in this increasingly competitive industry.
Taking Stock
An iStockphoto inspector since 2002, Sylvan helps determine which photos qualify to be sold on the most selective microstock site in the business. He has also had tremendous commercial success selling his own stock images privately. Sylvan writes the Under the Loupe column for Photoshop User magazine, and blogs about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® at Lightroomers.com. In Taking Stock, he shares his hard-earned insider knowledge on how to shoot, edit and keyword photos that sell in this growing high-volume, cost-conscious market.

“I’ve been helping new members get started selling stock for years, and this book contains everything they’d need to know to hit the ground running,” said Sylvan. “Beyond sharing the fundamental information needed for creating and selling stock imagery, I’ve included over 50 great examples of successful stock photos along with tips from many of their creators.”

Taking Stock helps readers look at their photos through the eyes of designers, photo editors, and other frequent buyers. It explains how to set up an effective digital workflow and, perhaps most importantly, how to focus on creating truly evocative imagery. It also covers:

* How to license photos as stock
* What type of images are in demand
* Effective use of titles, descriptions and keywords
* Tips on shooting food, people, places, nature, objects, and animals
* Editing techniques to maximize sales

Taking Stock retails for $35.99 (CAD) and is available at Chapters-Indigo, Amazon.ca, Black Bond Books and other retailers worldwide or directly via the publisher, Peachpit Press.

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