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Movie magic: This app brings your 'Star Wars' toys to life with special effects

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For as long as Star Wars has been around, fans have made their own fan movies with toys using stop motion or by dressing up as characters and adding cheesy homemade special effects.

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But wouldn’t it be awesome if you could easily create a short movie with special effects without needing to learn how to render 3D graphics or use a green screen? Enter Hasbro’s new, free Star Wars Studio FX app for iOS and Android.

Star Wars Studio FX is essentially a kid-friendly version of Action Movie FX, the popular action movie effects app that lets you apply special effects (mostly explosions) on top of your footage. Oddly enough, Action Movie FX actually introduced Star Wars effects last year. Hasbro’s Studio FX, I’m told, has no relation to Action Movie FX.

The company let me check out a pre-release version of the app with its upcoming Star Wars action figures and vehicle toys. (I just wanted to see the Star Wars: Rogue One toys to be honestbut that’ll be our little secret.)

You don’t need to purchase the toys to use the free special effects app, but doing so does come with one advantage, which I’ll get to in a second.

A preview and some tips on how to shoot your homemade special effects video.

Image: screenshot: raymond wong/mashable

The pre-release version of the app I tested was still rough around the edges (it crashed several times, especially when processing effects). But when it worked, it was pretty fun.

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Myanmar

Digital Revolution and Repression in Myanmar and Thailand

Activists have also proactively published social media content in multiple languages using the hashtags #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar and #WhatsHappeningInThailand to boost coverage of events on the ground.

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By Karen Lee

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Following the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s netizens became the latest to join the #MilkTeaAlliance, an online collective of pro-democracy youth across Asia.

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Ecommerce

How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

Oxford Business Group

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?
– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability

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A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.

The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.

Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.

In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.

While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.

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Tech

How the Rural-Urban Divide Plays Out on Digital Platforms

It is one thing for entrepreneurs, whether urban or rural, to create and operate an online store, as some digital platforms have made it relatively easy to manage an e-store – even by using just a smartphone.

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In the West, villages are emptying out due to the lack of economic opportunities. Consider Italy where, in a bid to attract newcomers, a handful of municipalities have turned to selling houses for €1.

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