Can You Use Hype To Create A Parallax Animation For An iBook Widget?

Jan 28, 2013 by

Can You Use Hype To Create A Parallax Animation For An iBook Widget? CC Yellow Books Circle 60 by 60 TR 1

For more than a year now I’ve been working on a sister project–TheWondersExpedition.com and trying to help share some fascinating discoveries I’ve noticed in the study of amazing places around the world.

And to begin telling that story in digital book form, and also online, I’ve been in the process of building various forms of art in Photoshop and Illustrator and trying to decide whether files should be straight vector files–(I’d love to be able to do .SVG but iPad won’t support it) or go for Photoshop creations rendered out as .PNGs.

Clearly I want to be able to tell the story of multiple sites around the globe and use the continuous scrolling effect to help share the findings.  Ultimately, this will require creating some sort of parallax-looking animation that makes it look like the world is turning, day is going from day to night, and cool places are popping up into view as the world turns, along with some sort of geometric lines, trig formulas of sine and cosines, and probably a kitchen sink, too. while I’m at it.

That led me to really look at two creative tool options tonight.  After Effects or Tumult’s Hype, now available as version 1.6.0.

Can You Use Hype To Create A Parallax Animation For An iBook Widget?

The answer to me right now is–I don’t know.

What I did tonight was create a Hype file with the dimensions of 2048 px by 1536, the size of an iPad 3 screen/retina screen. Just trying to see the whole screen on a 17-inch MacBook Pro, early 2012, requires me to shrink the View down to 50 percent and to shove my timeline as far to the bottom of the screen as I can stand.  (That’s not a complaint, it’s just the way it is.)

Just for starters tonight, I went ahead and in Photoshop created a round ball designed to rotate from the center point at the bottom of the animation.  I didn’t do the math, but through a process of lines from each respective corner, then a line down the middle and then a line from the bottom center line to the top left and right corners got me a measurement of about 1555 px.  I set the ellipse tool to form a perfect circle by holding down the shift key when I created a round “globe” in a file that was 3710 px by 3710 px. This way, as the globe rotates in Hype from the center spot at the bottom, there will never be a point where the viewer won’t see either blue for the atmosphere during the day, and black for simulated night time. Mind you, I’m not worrying about anything fancy line stars and the moon right now.  I just want to get the global atmosphere spinning. (Later will come additional layers of stuff.)

Trying to create a rotating "Atmosphere" using Tumult's Hype.

Trying to create a rotating “Atmosphere” using Tumult’s Hype.

With a two-layered .PNG the file for just the atmosphere right now is 39 MBs.  HUGE!

And needless to say, when I put it in the timeline of Hype and then set it to turn 180 degrees in 20 seconds, it really made the MBP, with 8 GBs of RAM, start to creep.  At one point, I could see block pixels where there are none, as the earth’s atmosphere turned from day to night.  Not good.

So at 11:30 p.m. on a Monday night, I’m calling it a day to rethink this as I sleep.  I’m beginning to wonder if Adobe’s After Effects isn’t going to be the better place to do this, but then it is destined to become a .mov and not an interactive HTML5 widget.  So I ponder.

Anyone else done this?  Anyone?  Bueller?

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Making A Book For The iPad Using iBooks Author Images

Aug 8, 2012 by

Making a book for the iPad with iBooks Author images adds to the wonder of these exciting, interactive books.

We’ve been talking internally the past few days about how cool it would be to make a complete iBook just using iPad technology. Aside from the fact that one can’t actually build an iBook on the iPad, it has to be done on a Mac using iBooks Author, it’s kind of a hybrid possibility at best, but the idea of recording video, taking photos and then doing editing of them for the iBook, does sound tempting to one who might be a purist.

Today’s focus is on the tools it takes to make the photo images that can go into iBooks Author.

For starters, taking photographs for an iBook takes a whole new way of looking at a composition. It’s not enough to just do a close up shot and be done. It’s not enough to just do an establishment shot and be done. When you’re taking photos that are going to go into an iBook, you also have to consider multiple angles as well as the traditional aspects of lighting, shutter speeds and depth of field. But if you’re going to do any 3-D imagery, then you must have 360-360 versions of an object. And you can’t just be shooting in low-res .jpegs. You’re going to want to be shooting in RAW format for stills.

You see a .jpeg compresses the data in a photo file, throwing out a lot of pixels so that it can make up a smaller-sized file and still give a viewer a good idea of what the original subject was.  Yes, eventually, iBooks Author does something like this to the images that are stored within it, but for starters, you want to have the best possible you can to begin working.

We have found some of the best settings for a photo for an iBook need to be at least twice the size of the 1024 x 768 screen, making them 2048 x 1536 and a resolution of at least 144 pixels per square inch.  There seems to be a wide array of suggestions across the Net about this, but these are the settings we’ve used and have had good success. And we never save a photo to load into iBooks Author as anything but a .png.

Like I said, iBooks Author will convert the image to a .jpeg on export, but again, you want to start with the best possible from the get go.

So what are the photo editing tools we recommend and use?

The Essential Photo Tool Box

As mentioned above, it is possible using iMovie, iPhoto and some apps like PhotoEditor+ to get a lot of assets developed for an iBook on the iPad, but ultimately, one is going to have to connect to a Mac in the end to do layout iniBooks Author, so having some other, more powerful and traditional software at hand makes sense.
But there is another level of software out there after finishing our first major book and having many others in the queue, that make sense to have on your machine if you’re going to produce the quality that is desired.

We’re not saying you have to buy these apps/programs, but if you want to make a process that’s already complicated and technologically sophisticated enough on its face and make things easier on you, this is a good recommended arsenal of tools to have handy.

Adobe Creative Cloud

As we’ve noted before, the release of the CS6 Adobe Creative Cloud product in May was another break thru event. For many, shelling out $2,000 for the entire suite has long been cost-prohibitive. Even the price point for Photoshop of nearly $700 has been a huge hurdle to many in the past. But now, for a monthly rate–(if you already own an Adobe product, they’ll likely charge you $32.51 per month for a year)—Adobe has created the Creative Cloud and it has been a godsend.

•    PhotoshopIf you have access to Photoshop, use it. Even Photoshop Elements, a very limited version will help, but with the new, lowe price of Adobe Creative Cloud, it makes every bit of sense to go the full way if you can afford it.  We have found it’s far easier to use photos that are formatted in Photoshop than anything else. For all our projects we load .png files into iBooks Author and they all have a minimum resolution of 264 pixels.  Most of our full screen images are 2048 x 1536 pixels. There are multiple settings to use for the best results, which is another post all together.

•    PhotoEditor+ on the iPad is a good tool for initially starting a photo work.  But again, you’re probably going to want to use a desktop app to do the heavy lifting and particularly the .png output and resolution settings.

•    Lightroom is a photo ingesting and editing program in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. It now comes along with the many other programs available in the suite at no additional charge.  Buying it along is costly. We’ve not used it internally because for almost five year now, we’ve been using Aperture from Apple.

•    Aperture has undergone some important changes in its history with Apple. There was a while when it hit a few speed bumps, but even with the release of Lion recently, Apple has continued to upgrade and support this product.  From Aperture,  before a photo is even exported to something like Photoshop, a photographer has the opportunity to make adjustments to a photo.  These include some of the same tools that later will appear in PS, but if you fix them in their native product, they’re there for good. Aperture also offers ways to hide metadata in your photos such as copyright information, your contact info, etc. It’s a good product and there are a good many professional photographers out there who swear by it—just like you will find many who swear by Lightroom.  We’re not going to pick one over the other.  They’re both excellent tools and if you’re going to be doing iBooks on any kind of a regular basis, we recommend these products to help you along the way.

Tomorrow’s topic: Widgets.

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Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS6 Kernel Crashes Continue

Jul 14, 2012 by

I’m a very happy and satisfied Adobe Creative Cloud user. There’s no way I would have been able to use the suite without the monthly option given the budget I have right now.  But there is a major problem Premiere Pro CS6 has in causing repeated kernel crashes on my MacBook Pro purchased in March 2012 and after about eight calls with even up to Tier 2 tech support, many hours of memory checks on my MBP, etc. I’m still having serious issues with PR working when it comes to using Photoshop .png elements in my videos and on export. 

To their credit, Adobe’s Twitter representatives, particularly @AdobePremiere have been immediate and quite amazing.  For the past three weeks I’ve had Mr. Abhishek Kapoor from Tier 2 tech support calling me on an-every-couple-of days-basis to ask if I’ve had more problems.  His last diagnosis of why I was having issues was because I’d not ingested a series of videos via Adobe’s Prelude and Adobe’s Encoder and imported the metadata from my Canon HD video camera.

Dr. Barb MacLeod And Tortuguero Monument 6 Dramatic Reading

So with video shot Tuesday in Austin, Texas of Dr. Barb MacLeod, one of the leading Mayan epigraphers in the world, explaining the text of Tortuguero Monument 6, an Ancient Mayan glyph that talks about what’s expected to happen on Dec. 21, 2012, I went through the process of using Prelude and then converting the video to a .mov in Encoder.

Everything worked fine.  And in all, I did five ingest sessions of clips and have produced nine spectacular new videos to go in Dr. Mark Van Stone’s upcoming 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya iBook–set to be sent to Apple for approval almost as soon as this new clip is done.

But to do this last video, I’ve made .png files of every glyph on the major panels of Tortuguero Monument 6 and then pulled them into Premier Pro CS6.  That worked fine the first day.  And since there are eight columns of 17 glyphs and four columns of five glyphs each, that means there are 156 .pngs rotating in and out of the clip as Dr. MacLeod reads the most current interpretations of  this historical monument, it took some time to do–Like an entire day.  

The clips then had to be placed in PR CS6 in the right order, glyph E-1 then F1, then E-2, F-2 all the way down and across two-by-two.

Then yesterday, I added an establishment piece on the back that showed the entire monument, with the famous right piece off to the side.

And then all hell broke loose.  I had FOUR kernel crashes yesterday.  That means my Mac died and the only thing I could do to it was reboot.  Each time I kept going.

Today, I just deleted the background files that were added yesterday and decided I’d try to build in a crawl of the interpretive text underneath before adding the file that seemed to start the conflict.

And as soon as I began to try to play the crawl, kernel crash 1 of the day happened.

Kernel Crash Reports

I’ve also taken to putting Easter Egg messages in the kernel crash reports that are getting sent somewhere every time my machine crashes.  I’ve offered a reward to someone to actually contact me from reading them, but alas, that’s yet to happen.

And what good does it do for tech support to not be able to comprehend them?  For the five crashes I’ve now had in the past 24 hours, they all say that the crash happened at “Faulting CPU: 0x2.”  Seems to me that should mean something to someone.  Reports before have said Faulting CPU: 0x4 and Faulting CPU: 0x6, so there’s definitely something different about these crashes than the other ones.  Right?!?!

Frustration Abounds

I’m getting very angry about this.  I’ve been more than patient, but this incessant crashing is costing me time and has caused delays in production of our product for our client.

I have Final Cut Express on my machine, but have purposely switched over to Premier Pro to do the massive, high-quality work the 2012 iBook project is demanding.

Adobe repeatedly has checked my machine and found there to be nothing wrong with it.  The CPU is working.  And Tech Support’s Kapoor has run a five-hour mem test on my machine to determine there’s nothing wrong with the RAM.

That leads to one of two conclusions: 1) Adobe Premiere Pro has a bug in it, or 2) Adobe Premiere Pro isn’t capable of handling video when .png graphic files also are included in it–ones made by Adobe’s Photoshop CS6.

Like I have said, I’m a very satisfied and happy Creative Cloud customer.  I’m posting this because I’m asking for/seeking help and trying to raise awareness to this issue.  I’d call tech support right now and ask for help, I’d even send Abhishek Kapoor an email asking for more help, but it’s Saturday now, and apparently creativity is supposed to come to a halt on the weekends?  I don’t know.  But I wish tech support had weekend hours, but not as much as I wish Adobe would fix the problem here….

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Sketchbook Express from The Mac App Store–FREE

Jan 14, 2011 by

I was surfing through the new Mac App Store last night and happened upon Sketchbook Express by AutodeskIt’s free. There is a paid Pro version and I don’t recall how much it costs, but I have to say, this is pretty darned cool and for the moment, I’m contented with the free version.  Can’t imagine what more good stuff the pro version has.

I just did this drawing, which I know, is nothing to be real excited about.  (And I have no idea what that animal is supposed to be.  It just is.)

But what excites me is the potential here.  I drew the thing with my Apple Magic Mouse.  I can still hook up my Wacom Bamboo Fun that has been collecting dust for a while, and coupled with the versatility of the tools in SBX, the options are amazing.  (I do admit though, my eyes keep thinking there’s a App called SEX in my Dock tho.  I imagine that wasn’t an accident) It’s much more intuitive to use than say, Photoshop, but this isn’t like PS and it’s not supposed to be. 

What really took the cake for me was when I saved my creation.  It wanted to save as a TIFF, but it also had JPEG, PNG, BMP and PSD savings options.  Which means, I can now take this into Photoshop and do more tricks with it, like merge it with other photo art or scans, etc.

And did I mention it was free?

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Enlarging Digital RAW Photos for Prints in Aperture and Photoshop–Tutorial

Jul 24, 2010 by

Since my posts from earlier last week about the lessons I’ve learned about printing, (when I took a Scott Kelby class in Arlington in January, I left early and regret that now, but there was a serious Net Safety issue going on at the time.) and the tricks that can be done to enlarge a RAW digital photo, I’ve had a few requests for more information about how to do a pretty cool trick that Scott apparently learned from the world-famous nature photographer Vincent Versace.

As a rule, even after owning my Nikon D-40 for almost three years now, I shoot EVERYTHING I shoot in RAW format.  And because it takes up as much memory as it does anyway, I don’t have it do the dual deal where it saves in RAW and .jpeg.  What’s the point?  If I’m going to do something with a print, it’s most likely going to wind up as a .tiff or a .png anyways.

Aperture

Repeatedly you’ve heard me say how happy I am that I’m a Mac.  Apple has devised a great photo management program called Aperture.  I have version 2,  but version 3 has been released.  Version 2 is doing all I need it to already, so I’ve not upgraded. So, when I get back to my Mac from a photo shoot, I connect it to the Mac and it begins to talk to the Nikon.  This triggers Aperture 2 to open and a dialogue box opens allowing me to import my pictures, still in a hi-res format.

It’s in Aperture that I do most of my coloring adjustments, such as fixing the exposure, highlights, white balance, etc.  Even without additional plug-ins, I can add a vignetting effect if I so desire.

When I’ve done what I need to in Aperture and if say, I want to have the print done poster size or say, 11 x 14, then I’ve got to make some adjustments.

As you can see, there are short cuts in Aperture to getting a picture over into Photoshop.  (The long way is to export the file to a folder or desktop, then move it over into Photoshop.)  But why do that when there’s a short cut.   Here, look, all it takes is Shift+Command+O on a Mac.

Photoshop

Once in Photoshop, this is where the enlarging process takes place.  Some might say, this is where the magic happens, but I don’t want to suggest that Aperture isn’t as powerful as it is.  Yes, I could use Adobe Bridge, and maybe the filing structure is a little easier, but I made the change from Bridge to Aperture about 38,000 frames ago.

In this photo, you’ll see the top dialogue box is pre-set at 1,998 pixels by 3,024.  And then the Document size dialogue portion says the picture at present is 6.66 inches by 10.08.  Another important point is that the Resolution is set at 300 and the bottom drop down box is set to Bicubic (best for smooth gradients.)

Each of these points are important to keep in mind as you go about enlarging a photo.  Obviously, you can see that even at 10 inches, the photo isn’t going to print out and fit in an 8 x 10 frame.  Until I started trying to print 8 x 10 prints a few weeks ago on MPIX, I don’t think I really understood why this was the case.  I learned when I went to Hobby Lobby and asked to get mats done for 8 x 10 prints.  The problem is that at 8 x 10 a mat isn’t going to be even on top and on the sides when you try to frame it.

If you took this photo as it is now, you could get a framer, say Hobby Lobby, to put a nice mat around this photo, with equal borders all around, and then stick it in an 11 x 14 frame, etc.   (Like I said, I shouldn’t have left Scott Kelby in Arlington when I did back in January.  Maybe this would have penetrated my thick skull at that point.

Changes we want to make

So our next step involves this same dialogue box.   We need to make some adjustments. 

I said above we were going for 11 x 16 for this print.  (In case you’re still wanting to get a print for a photo frame of 11 x 14, this 11 x 16.06 still is what you need.  When you order the prints at 11 x 14, you’re going to be able to shave off some of the top and bottom, but your widths are going to be where you want them.

So, I’ve entered that in the Document Size boxes for height and width.

An important Kelby/Versace secret here is to boost the resolution from the 72 or 300 that previously was there all the way up to 360. This is crucial and as Kelby notes, it runs counter to everything most photographers have been taught.  But I have happy prints I’ve now delivered to clients and they’re all happy with the looks of their enlarged prints.

Now, we’re still not done so hang on.  See the drop down box at the bottom of the dialogue screen?  Do the drop down and pull down to Bicubic Sharper (best for resolution.) Click and release.

Kelby swears by this method.  He says that in his discussions with Versace that this very simple effect is as good as you’d get if you dropped some more cash on a Photoshop plugin, and we all know, those often are a couple hundred bucks.  So, if this works, why get one?

Ready for Printing

Unless you’re going to make some more adjustments, you’re pretty much ready to save the print and send it over to MPIX and place your order.

Like I said, I ordered prints this way and I have to say, their quality was quite sharp.  For ships and giggles, I probably need to do a test of one with and one without.  But then Scott Kelby recommended this as did Versace.  And I don’t dare, with my limited but growing knowledge, dare question either of them at this point.

Try it out yourself.  Let me know how it works.

Next up: Adding a Watermark and Copyright information to your prints you want to put online so no one pirates your hard work.

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