The Mac Lab

Archive for February, 2009

Live Responsibly

by on Feb.28, 2009, under Blog

trashing_smYesterday I dug several plastic bottles out of the trash and dropped them into the recycling bin just outside our door. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t find plastic bottles in the trash before heading home. I’m not a dumpster diver by choice. It’s just that before leaving each day, I put the trash containers by the door as a courtesy for the custodian. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to see recyclables in there yet again. However disgusting, there’s no way I’m going to let my pride stop me from reaching into the refuse of 250+ students and doing the right thing.

In the Mac Lab, the most important lesson I try to instill is personal responsibility. From listening to discussions amongst students each day, it’s certain we have the entire political spectrum represented, but one thing puzzles me. Even amongst these young activists, recycling seems to be viewed, by some, as a liberal cause. I’ve never understood this. Aren’t conservatives proponents of personal responsibility? Isn’t recycling a personally responsible act?

We have containers for paper (behind my desk) and plastic/aluminum (outside the door). You all know how I feel about about this. Most of you already do the right thing. For the few who don’t, take a look at Alex S’s poster. Is that what you want? Don’t tell me one plastic bottle doesn’t matter. It’s not the bottle, it’s the person who tossed it. Change happens one person at a time. Be the next one to do the right thing, for a change.

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Student Art Heading to Washington DC

by on Feb.27, 2009, under Blog

obama_robbie_smWhen I wrote about sending Jeff P’s take on the Official Portrait Challenge on to the White House, I didn’t expect others to step up as well. Robbie F wrapped up his entry yesterday and it’s going to find its way into the package as well. I just love how Robbie handled the background. Just so you know, his PSD has over 30 layers. When I suggested he move a few elements to improve the balance of his composition, he was able to do so with ease because he worked smart and didn’t box himself into a corner.

Jeff’s final image only took 23.5 hours (by his reckoning). It’s really hard to appreciate how he built this, even in a semi-close-up so I’ve included this detail for you to see. That’s 19,714 individual times Jeff clicked with the Pen Tool. (Thanks to Jeff Witchel via Layers Magazine’s Tip of the Day for counting the anchor points!)

I know a few more of you are working on this challenge so let me know if you think yours should be in the package. I plan on sending this off tomorrow after our 5 Hours of Fun™ (Mac Lab Saturday School). And because I know you’ll ask, here’s how I found the™. WARNING: Playing games in Dashboard = 4 hour penalty)

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The Flash Factor

by on Feb.26, 2009, under Blog

jeff_smI’ve already told the story of my first Flash project and hinted at how that demonstration altered the trajectory of the Mac Lab. Sure we’ve used Flash extensively in here over the past 7 years but if there’s one thing that really sets our classroom apart from the others, it’s the animated versions (Steven M) of our Photoshop work (Michael W). Newbies in here are probably wondering what I’m talking about because we haven’t focused on Flash yet this year.

There’s a controversy surrounding who created the first animated PSD in here, but there’s no doubt that among those early projects, Michael Werner‘s was the best of the bunch. Two of the many tutorials I recorded about this technique may be found here, and here. And before I get carried away and move on to animated masking (here’s Brian S’s source file if you’re interested) and the world of fun you can have with those skills, let’s get straight to the Flash resources you’ve got access right now.

Rather than searching the Internet, why not take advantage of two of the best Flash resources on the planet? The Mac Lab’s Flash Tutorials, believe it or not, are praised by folks around the world. If I don’t have what you want, Justin, the genius behind CartoonSmart, surely will. We’ve got all his tutorials in the Resources folder* on the server. If you want to learn from him at home, He’s got free tutorials, info about free tutorials, a new home for more free tutorials (Vimeo’s blocked here at school but available everywhere else), and a wonderfully informative blog for all things Flash and beyond (he’s branched out to a wide array of other programs).

So, if you’ve been wanting to learn Flash, there’s no excuse anymore. Just know that it’s going to take some time and effort to really feel comfortable with the program.

*Resources > digital_arts > double_click > tutorials > cartoon_smart

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Making Music in the Mac Lab

by on Feb.25, 2009, under Blog

get_together_smTypography can almost take on a musical quality when fashioned with repetition. Sondra Z and Evee A (twice) both utilize a form of typographic repetition.

Robbie F employs repetitive strategies in these examples. Miranda M, Michael W, and Joey F also remind us that repetitive elements don’t have to be typographic.

Repetition, when handled correctly, can help to make your creations sing. Let’s see your song!

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Do You Have Blog Anxiety?

by on Feb.24, 2009, under Blog

vertebrae_smThe Mac Lab Blog is the new backbone of the classroom. When I went hunting for the perfect image to complement this post, I looked no further than Hannah J’s beautifully nightmarish digital painting. That she named her creation Vertebrae is all the more perfect.

I’m guessing that some of you feel trapped by the obligations of the blog. The assignments. The tutorials. The standards. So much information! How is it possible for anyone to keep track of all those posts? How could you ever find a needle in this digital haystack?

Here’s a nice, short video to set your anxieties free. And here’s what I forgot to mention in the first video. Now, Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

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