The Mac Lab

Archive for December, 2009

Reeling ‘Tween the Years

by on Dec.20, 2009, under Blog

mlcc_smMuch of our failure to understand human nature arises from neglect of the need to have our faculties excited and our lives thereby enhanced. The human animal cannot be itself without this exciting enhancement. Excitement is not merely good, it is indispensable to a proper human life.
Lancelot Law Whyte

Buried in the comments on this post is: You guys probably know all about RealD 3D but I just got back from taking my daughter to see Monsters vs Aliens and it was one of those transformative moments. I’d never even heard of RealD. Man, I love art and technology. The story was cute, good for a dad and his twelve-year-old, but the animation in 3D was FREAKIN’ AWESOME! If there would have been a plot worthy of the artistry it would’ve been up there with 2001 and The Matrix for movies that changed everything for me. NOTE: I was 13 when I saw 2001. Went with neighbors to the Century 21 Theaters in San Jose (a 45 mile drive). First time in a Panoramic theater with the wide curved screen. The “through the stargate” scene was the clincher. As good as the stuff I saw in my head.

Well, yesterday I took my daughter to see Avatar. One day she’ll tell her kids about how that day impacted her life. I love the symmetry of our ages in the story (both 13 at the time). When we got home she said, “That was the best movie I’ve ever seen!” Her mom smiled and said, “Better than Twilight?” “Better than New Moon?” To both, Noël never hesitated, “Yes!” Sue looked at me, questioningly (because Twilight and New Moon were Noël’s absolute favs). I couldn’t find any words worthy of the experience. The depth and breadth of the world within Avatar is unlike anything I’d seen or imagined. All I could say was “It was unbelievably beautiful.”

Did you read the quote at the top of the page? Yesterday, as I was working on a different angle, it was Helen Keller‘s: It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. You see, I was going to make a point about the dangers of ennui. That life requires us to become involved, interested, and yes, even excited!

Do yourself a favor and go see the 3D version of Avatar.

1221: The last palindrome of the 00’s. The 5555 in me (actually 050555) smiles in numeric harmony.

I liked Christopher’s comment for two reasons. He liked Avatar? Very, very much?! But the hero came through in the end, Chris. (We debate the relevance of tragedy as it applies to today’s teetering world.) I suppose, if one were to identify with the corporate/militaristic characters (which I don’t believe for a second Chris does), the film could be perceived as a tragedy. The day we put all our eggs into that basket would be tragic (from my bleeding heart POV). More than ever, this world needs ordinary heroes (as if there is such a thing as an ordinary hero).

The second part of Chris’ comment took me back to the teacher education program: Go to sporting events, student performances, or chaperon dances. Let the students see that you’re a real person. As Danny inferred, I start the day pretty early. By the time 3:00 rolls around (pm), I’ve typically put in 10 to 12 hours (or more). Sorry, but the last thing I want is to spend more time with students. I like you guys but I have a family. The time I get to spend with them is both limited and precious. In an hour or two I’ll wake the girls and we’ll be off for two days in the Magic Kingdom. We’re meeting these folk (whom I spoke of briefly in 12 Days) to share the fun. Since the accommodations have WiFi, you’ll most likely get a report.

For others who might wonder if I’m actually a real person… Click. (Alt)

Before I get to After Effects (which I intended to write about this morn but you know), I wanted to give a nod to Philip. Saying what you did about Avatar will be misunderstood by some. Just want to say that it was life-changing for me as well. I actually feel for those who won’t be so moved by the experience. You, like Diana, have an artist’s soul. That both of you come to a new country, learn a new language, and embrace the learning experience as you do… well, let’s just say it makes these early mornings even more worthwhile. Your passion feeds mine. You bring synergy to the Mac Lab and to my life. Thank you. Both of you.

Aw, now I’m nearly out of time. Thanks to Christina, Kate, Christian, Aaron, and Danny too. This little group project will help to launch the After Effects bug that’s sure to infect others, like the aforementioned Philip. Hey, that looks different from your original. How’d that happen? Click. (Yes, others have already taken After Effects much further. I’ll get to you.)

1222: Parks beautiful. Rides amazing. Back trashed. Advil consumed. Departure imminent. Details later. Disney awaits.

1224: Quite a story lies between that first ride Monday morning and the last ride Tuesday night but today’s going to be as busy as yesterday. Those hundreds of unread emails will also have to wait as duty calls here at home. Before I go, here’s a coincidence I just encountered… Went to Vimeo to find and share the link to our Mac Lab Channels and noticed that This Week in Vimeo is featuring a married couple I tweeted about yesterday. (Found them via Abduzeedo but that’s another story.) When synchronicity calls, it’s a good idea to answer. No time to explore their videos right now but it’s on my list. Are these videos on yours? Creative book reports. Stop motion goodness. Kinetic typography. So much to see. Check ’em out!

International Update: The Kingdom of Cambodia is the 134th country to visit our little blog.

1227: I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your friends and families. Ours was fantastic and I’m especially thankful that I get a week to recover from the whirlwind Christmas adventures. The only things I’ve had time to add since the 24th are in that widget to the right. Have you explored those twitter links? Only 236 tweets with 300 to 400 links so far. And while considering all that potentially unexplored territory, have you ever gone back in time (scroll to bottom) to retrace the blog’s wit and wisdom from the beginning? There’s gold in them thar posts!

For those who may consider me a bit conceited for declaring that the blog contains wit, wisdom, AND metaphoric gold, I’ve never claimed to be anything more than a conduit. That’s been on record for 15 years and counting. As it says there: I figure the least likely explanation is that I’m an isolated fountain of wisdom.

The Creative Spirit (or whatever you want to call it) flows all around and through us. Dare to tap into it. I keep giving you how-to clues. It’s one of those rare resources that grows more plentiful the more it’s used. But it can’t touch you unless you open up to the experience. Here’s another clue.

Congrats: Austin W awarded $15,000/year Merit Scholarship to Cal Lutheran.

1228: Was thinking about New Year/2010 for the Mac Lab and bumped into this idea from Fabio at Abduzeedo. (Coincidence or synchronicity?) Thought that might be a fun intro to Photoshop project. (I’ll be making a video version to help the Photoshop newbies and noobs.) Since Fabio mentions his inspiration in the into, and since we’re going to be in print mode when we get back… Click.

1229: Currently reading The Pixar Touch. Will have much to say about this and how it relates to the Mac Lab in our upcoming 2010: Odyssey Two post. If you’re a reader, or you’re thinking of a career in the arts, you might consider picking up a copy of your own.

Congrats: Current Mac Lab UT 2009 Student-Athletes: Kendal Chapman, Morgan Cook, John Cortes, Gavin Doudna, Matthew Goforth, Joshua Kitzmiller, Collin May, Sherwin Navindaran, Cameron Rabell, Kyle Rodenbo, Zachary Steen. (Let me know if I missed anyone.)

Pixar/Avatar Update: Seems some of the folks at Pixar liked Avatar in IMAX 3D, too. I concur.

1230: I keep telling you that it all starts with a pencil and paper. A few of you get it. Maybe a few more will believe it if someone else does the telling. Check out some of their photography too.

1231: Walked out to get the paper this morning and saw that a single rose had made it to the last day of 2009. If that rose could try that hard, I figured the very least I could do was to wander around and see what other surprises I might find just outside our door. (As I did in this story.)

Have a safe and happy new year!

010110: Cool binary date!

Challenge: Who will be the first to create their own Prezi Portfolio? Watch this video then view the sample. Hi-res version: Zoom in for detail! This is looking promising!

0102: Who says most folk don’t know what a palindrome is? It’s right up there in the 1221 update. But even I’m a bit squeamish writing today’s date as 01022010. That’s way too long for even this numeric geekoid!

And while I’m in non sequitur mode, I might as well tell you that big changes are coming to the Mac Lab. Big changes. Details soon.

Countdown: I’d hoped to begin at 10 but we jumped from 11 to 8 overnight. So… 10, 9, 8… (When we reach ZERO I’ll tell you what it is.)

The Top 100: Okay, I’ll give you a hint.

0103: It’s going to be fun tomorrow. I may hold back the post until school starts. We’ll see. 😛

Countdown Continues: 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2… (Going faster than I thought it would.)

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The Twelve Days of Mac Lab (Week 13/14)

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Blog

brady_b_01_sm1Once upon a child’s mind, did flutter butterfly
Gift to share with one then all, who’ll open wings to try
Asked to ask and seek and knock, on wooded points of view
Goodness treats patient resolve, with echoes ringing true
Child’s play remembering, climb branches looking sees
Others just can’t find the time, and hunt on hands and knees
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

It’s 7:05 on a beautiful Rancho San Diego Saturday morning and there are already 21 kids in the room. (Two more came in while I was typing that and the count eventually climbed to 52 — a new record for a non-final MLSS™ of the semester.) When I got here at 6:15 there were five kids outside the door. Callie, Julia, and Mandy were bundled under a sleeping bag and had been out there since 5:40. Crazy cool that some kids want to come to school on a Saturday! That’s a precious gift. Seems only fair that I give something back…

Welcome to The Twelve Days of Mac Lab. I’m hoping that everyone enjoys the ride but, unfortunately, not all of you choose to be line fives. I feel for the line sixers but what can I really do? I can’t force you to read (and understand) this article as it might apply to our classroom. Life is too short to hate your job. (I love my job! < READ THAT It’s more about you than me.) Right now your job is being a student, or more specifically, becoming an artist in the Mac Lab. How might you reshape your job description in here? For the next 12 days, December 7 to 18, I’m waiving the Creative Freedom requirements (300 positive minutes + work in at least three galleries).

Students who embrace this opportunity may earn Creative Freedom in 2010.

Consider: The following examples are ALL works in progress. They’re just visual clues to what you might choose to create.

I already know Brady B wants to work in 3D. John S and Matt G are combining their talents right now. John isn’t all that great at the Pen Tool and Matt isn’t the greatest artist so they’ve joined forces, combining their strengths. Here’s John’s drawing and Matt’s vectors. (Comic books are created by the combined talents of artists). Julia H will be following her muse. (Julia’s not happy with that version but she reluctantly let me share it with you.) Aaron L is experimenting with an illustrative style 01 | 02 (the reflections should be the same in both eyes, Aaron). Fadi G is grooving on trees (his ideas can get pretty wild). Jacob T is exploring color, shape, and form.

What will you create?

Required: Right now, before you proceed with anything else, read this post! (Yes, even if you’ve read it before.)

Many of you will want to learn more about specific apps. I’ll be sharing resources, inspiration, and information with you during The Twelve Days of Mac Lab. Here’s a few to begin with…

Video Tutorials: Adobe TV | Layers | 3D Only: Want to model a spaceship? Click.

Everyone: (especially 3D Artists): Watch this video. (Yes, I said CNN when I should have said Time.)

International Visitor Update: Grenada is country 132 in the Mac Lab Blog column.

Lots more to write, edit, and add but I have to get to your grades. And that’s practically the only part of my job that I don’t like. Why can’t you all just follow instructions and get A’s? Fragnog!

Yes, I’ve been lax in updating the galleries. I’ll try to remedy that situation over the next two weeks. If you’ve asked three people and everyone agrees that your work qualifies, put a copy in your public folder and let me know. Let’s show off your work!

Two Things: 1. Get DropBox. Sign up, launch the app (it’s in Applications) and run through the set up. Yes, it’s required but it’s a good thing to have and it’s FREE! 2. (Already getting questions.) The tree (it’s in focus in real life) was a gift from this family last Christmas. Proof positive that Opera folk (he plays, she sings) can have a wonderfully odd sense humor! Dave also heads up here to play on soundtracks for movies and video games as well as sitting in with the symphony and ballet.

Secret of Life: Find something you love to do and get so good at it that others will pay you to do it. Wow! That’s profound. I wonder who wrote that?

1208 (Day 2): Did you read the Secret of Life and the first of the Two Things (above)? Did you bookmark Adobe TV and Layers for future reference? Watch this video. Did the 3D beginners dive into the spaceship tutorials? Click. And if not, for any of those, why not? That’s right! (I’m sure you do too.)

3D Veterans: I’ve not forgotten you… Click. (Doesn’t that just cry out to be bookmarked?)

Food for Thought (Digital Art Only): Not sure of what to do? All of you who weren’t happy with the pro version of your logo might try something a bit more expressive. Illustrators, wander over to Drawn and bookmark the site! If you like to draw in Photoshop, check out Adam’s set up. (He may come to the Mac Lab in the spring.) Want to learn more about Illustrator? Check my CS4 videos on the old site (scroll down to Illustrator CS4 Tutorials). The Pencil Tool is also fun to use but you’ll have to go here to find out why. Love color? Read on. (This Ph.D. thinks it’s a good idea too.) Love typography or just the beauty of shape? Helvetica rocks: 01 | 02 |

So much to share! That’s enough for today.

1209 (Day 3): You may have noticed that I’m not in the room. (I’m in Orange County for a conference.) Sure is lucky that you know what to do!

Today’s Reading: The Digital Renaissance and The Creative Community. Humor me and go there. Some of you (line fivers) will find inspirational gold.

Video of the Day: Color Groups and Harmonies. It’s Kule(r)!

1210 (Day 4): Have been up for two hours. The blog and email just came back online but it’s time to head to school. No time to write so today you get to work. Got Dropbox?

Obligatory Links (Optional Clicks): For those who want to learn something new, the Blob Brush is way cool! Examples: 01 | 02 | 03 |

Early Present (for Skocko): Loading software today on my shiny new MacBook Pro. 😛

1211 (Day 5): A few hours from now we’ll log our 250,000th page view. A quarter of a million clicks (since April) from 2,865 cities in 132 countries. The count doesn’t include videos, JPGs, or anything on the old Mac Lab site. (Video and JPG from Gotten Lucky Lately?) Update: We blew through 250,000 page views during 2nd period.

Speaking of clicks, a few days ago I asked you to read what is at the other end of this click. How many actually did? I don’t do this to punish you. I mean, if you don’t read and explore what’s at the other end how would you ever find this or this or this and all the rest linked from that page? True, there’s not enough time in the period to follow all the links. But only those who do will ever find the gold linked from here and here or even embedded here. When there’s nothing else to do at home, click and click and click… and explore!

That reminds me… The final Mac Lab Saturday School™ of 2009 is tomorrow. It’s officially 7 to 12 but I arrive around 6:15 and start throwing kids out around 11:40.

Yikes! The district is doing maintenance and the blog will be down tomorrow from 7:00 to 7:00. The old Mac Lab site should be up. Bummer for Saturday School!

1212 (Day 6): Blog’s about to go down for the day. I’ll post on Twitter.

1213 (Day 7): For the few, the proud, the I read the blog even on Sundays crowd… Congratulations. You get a jump on the rest of your peers by beginning your Adventure today. I should warn you though, most students complain loud and long upon learning that the game they’ll be playing is nothing but text. Those same students usually beg to play again and again the rest of the year. NO! I say. There’s only one day a year when students MUST play the game and ONLY the game. Tomorrow, you may NOT launch ANY program EXCEPT Adventure (after reading the blog). If you work on your projects, you’re off-task! YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME. (What a cruel teacher I am!)

The answers to the puzzle are plastered all over the Internet. Don’t cheat. You’ll only spoil the fun for yourself. We’ll be playing this version of the game. Draw a map! The first time I played this game (in 1980), a friend sat me in front of a computer. I played for 15 hours straight before thinking, Hey, a map would really be helpful! Draw a map!

Here are the two movies I’ll probably share in class on Monday 01 | 02 (two words is all it understands, not three as I said). Here’s an online version you can play today. Hint: Type help before doing anything else. Then read, think, and imagine! Note: I just tried the online version and it’s a bit stricter on word usage. Everything still works but you have to be a bit more specific.

1214 (Day 8): Watch this video. Examine this map. Play Adventure. No cheating! Post high scores and period(s) in comments. Feel free to brag about reading yesterday’s preview and getting a jump on everyone else!

1215 (Day 9): I’m sure some of you wish you could get back to working on your projects. Wish granted. For those of you who’d like to keep working over break, virtually all software companies allow you to download trial versions of their software. Adobe and Maxon are our two primary software developers but there are plenty more to try. Corel Painter is one example. As for learning to use the software, there are more free tutorials on the Web than anyone could possibly explore. If you want a more focused, professional approach, NAPP is the best there is for learning all things Photoshop and stands alone for learning all things period. Both cost $ but if it’s something you want, add them to your holiday wish list. (I use both of those sites and they’re as good as it gets.) If you use those links (above or at right), your subscription also benefits the Mac Lab (we get a small commission). Like the software companies, both sites allow you to explore some of their tutorials for free. For the 3D folks, Maxon’s built Cineversity. There’s no better way than to learn Cinema 4D from the pros!

International Visitors: The Syrian Arab Republic is country number 133 to visit the Mac Lab Blog.

Too Cool for Words: (Blocked at school. Check at home.) Machinarium. Reviews here. Mac users can pick it up with this bundle (some great apps there). The kind folks at Amanita Design donated licenses to the Mac Lab so our game design team can check it out. I bought a copy ($20) prior to asking for the donation. (The polite thing to do.) Artists should support other artists. And make no mistake, the game is a work of art! It comes in all flavors (Mac, PC, Linux) and they offer a demo. Put it on your holiday wish list too!

1216 (Day 10): You’ll have a sub today while I’m at Final Cut Pro training. No, you may not play Adventure. Stick to your projects. Over break, for those who want to keep on creating, here’s a reminder to check Inspiration and Grand Central Linkage. The Mac Lab Vimeo Channels are also packed with creative goodness. Virtually every image and/or video leads back to the artist’s Website. Plus GCL is loaded with links to tuts and resources. I’m not sure that anyone really understands the depth and breadth of those pages. Kinda hard to claim you’ve seen it all.

Questions: Is your work in all of the galleries? Self Portrait | Logo | Posters | 3D Logo | Collaborative | Illustrative | And if not, why not? Alert me to missing art via comments or in person on Thursday.

1217 (Day 11): I’d point you to our twitter page but I’d rather you spent the time working on your projects on this 11th Day of Mac Lab. (I’m sure you feel the same way.) But, there are loads of resources to be found there. If you get bored (or better yet, feel the need for inspiration and information) over break… Click. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

1218 (Day 12): Today we have a presenter from Platt College to wrap up our final meeting of 2009. As my gift to you, the dedicated Mac Lab students, I’ll keep posting over the break. The focus will be on light painting (tweet) and other (hopefully) inspirational ideas, stories, and resources that might be of interest. I’ll continue to accept submissions for the Galleries from those who choose to continue to create.

Have a safe and happy holiday. Be good to one another. And remember to commit random acts of kindness to make your own world shine a little brighter.

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Gallery 025 — 0910 Illustrative Projects

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Galleries

julia_h_mermaids_01_smThese are only works in progress as some of the kids follow their illustrative muse. Since Julia H isn’t all that happy with this image I’ll let her improve it and replace the current image with one she’s more happy with. (Of course she’s moved on to other masterpieces since then and can’t be bothered with this old illustration.

Have something to show off? Get it to me before the end of the year. There are dozens of projects waiting to be showcased. Help me to shine the light on your work.

0910 Illustrative Projects

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Gallery 024 — 0910 Collaborative Projects

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Blog, Galleries

john_matt_01_smThese are only works in progress as the kids begin to experiment with pooling their talents. We’ve got a number of team projects just getting out of the starting blocks but Matt G and John S have a work in progress that shows promise.

Another gallery I’m trying to catch up on. Keep creating. I’ll try to keep up! 😛

0910 Collaborative Projects

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Gallery 023 — 0910 Logos in 3D

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Galleries

james_w_01_smThese are only works in progress as the kids begin to get a handle on Cinema 4D. Since Brady B is going to be featured in our upcoming blog post, who will step up to claim this spot?

We have an answer. (Thanks, James!)

0910 Logos in 3D

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Learn it all.