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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Archive for the ‘Creative Suite’ Category

    Well if they can do all that…

    Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

    The other day, here in my little town in Austria, we went to see Grease, Der Musical. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I assumed the show would be in German. Since I don’t speak German I don’t know how to say greased lightning or you’re the one that I want, but I was pretty sure I could recognize the tunes.
    So we went.
    Much to my surprise, the opening number was a language I recognized…English. Wow, I thought, this will be the first show I’ve ever seen over here where I would know what was going on. So far I’ve seen AIDA and Der Troubadour in German and I’m still not totally clear on those plots. I’ve seen some movies, too, and I think I need to see them again in English to really understand them.
    So I’m tapping my foot along with Doo-wop-a-doo when, all of a sudden, out of the blue, there was a language switch and I was lost again. That’s right, they sang the songs in English and spoke the lines in German. What a mess for a unilingual, like myself.
    At intermission my son asked me if I thought they were from England or the United States. I told him I didn’t have a clue but it sounded like they were from Germany to me.
    “Nope,” he informed me, “they speak it with a heavy accent.”
    “You don’t have a heavy accent?” I asked my very American little boy.
    “Nope,” he informed me with great confidence.
    So we headed out to the lobby and some of the actors were selling programs. We approached them and asked if they were English or American.
    It seems strange that with all the English speaking countries in the world we only offer two choices. Then, when a third is offered by the questionee you feel stupid for not thinking of the other options.
    “Well, actually,” he informed us, “we’re Canadian.” Why didn’t we think of that?
    “Sorry,” we offered with embarrassment, but I don’t think it mattered. Luckily Canadians are a nice lot and I don’t think it ruined his day.
    So during the second half my mind wandered away from the show, which is easy to do when you don’t understand the language that is spoken. Oh, I know the general plot since I’ve seen the movie, but it still gives a person lots of time between songs for the mind to drift away to thoughts in a more understandable language.
    My thoughts ended up landing on this: “if they can be Canadian, speak perfect English, dance like Broadway stars, sing in perfect English, look cool and speak what I thought was perfect German, I can certainly learn how to master electronic media.
    Yea…that’s what I was thinking about while Rizzo was thinking she might be pregnant.
    I was thinking about how many of us who are so comfortable with print production are afraid, not interested or too busy to make the leap over to the growing world of electronic media…websites, video, multi-media presentations or even ads for cell phones.
    I’m concerned that many print production geniuses will eventually lose business to less print savvy freelancers who are adept at creating work that is truly crossmedia.
    I believe the day is here, or very close, where the customers are going to want one source for everything, instead of working with two or three different agencies to meet the needs of both electronic and print media.
    And if that’s the trend for the hired guns, it won’t be long before employers demand more from the workforce. Just as years ago you didn’t have to know layout to write, photo manipulation to layout or page layout if you were a photographer, but now you do. It won’t be long before employers expect a print-minded graphic artist to also build the website. Some are already feeling this.
    Now is as good of a time as any to get started.
    As I look at what Adobe’s doing with CS3, it seems they are really trying to help us with the transition. They have done a good job of integrating the different worlds together, so as we veer into uncharted territory, there is some familiar ground on which to walk.
    A good example of this is Bridge. If you’ve never used Bridge, I suggest you start. It is shared by so many of the applications that it can almost be your home base. And even if you don’t know all the programs in the new Adobe world that well, if you poke around a little you might find what you’re looking for in the Bridge.
    For example, I got an email awhile back from someone who wanted to use Illustrator’s Live Trace function on a bunch of progressive video frames to created a hand-drawn video cartoon affect. They didn’t know Illustrator and didn’t want to spend the time opening all those video files one-by-one and doing the trace. The question really was “Does Illustrator have Actions like Photoshop so I can do this faster?”Bridge. Save the video frames you want, select them in Bridge and go to Tools> Illustrator> Live Trace.”
    I’m not saying Bridge is THE tool. I’m only saying it’s a great place to start finding common ground among the various apps. From there you can start learning how the tools you already know can be used for web and video creation.
    It’s also worth noting what apps are shipping in the Creative Suite 3 Design Premium…pretty much everything you need to start a print/web cross media business. InDesign for print, Dreamweaver for web, Flash for…uh…Flash (web, multimedia…) and the programs shared by both worlds including Photoshop, Illustrator and Bridge.
    Oh, by the way, I just found out Rizzo isn’t pregnant, after all…I think that’s what’s happening up there on stage.
    You don’t have to go it alone (I’m not talking about Rizzo, anymore). In the near future we will be doing training videos on taking your print expertise and familiarity with the Design Tools over to the other side…some would say the dark side.
    We’ll focus on how Photoshop and Illustrator can be used to help you create electronic media easier than you may have thought. We’ll talk about how InDesign fits in to this scheme, too. And, of course, more about Bridge.
    And the good news is, I’m convinced, that learning electronic media creation is a heap of a lot easier than learning to speak in German, sing in English and dance bilingually…with grease in your hair.

    Can you spell CS3?

    Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

    Today’s the big announcement from Adobe…the largest in history (although Multiple Master fonts was a big one, too). Here in Austria it’s 8 a.m., which means, according to my advanced math skills, we’re about 13.5 hours away from the big event.
    Out of curiosity I headed over to wwww.adobe.com and boom, it’s already updated with Creative Suite 3. They show new packaging, new collections, new software, new pricing, new features, new integration and new icons, by golly. Go spend some time there, checking it out. Feel free to turn on mute after about 38 second, though.
    So what’s the big deal? Adobe has done upgrades before, and some of them pretty major. Well, one big thing is that Creative Suite 3 is really geared for cross-media, making it easier than ever for guys like us to create for print, web and video with integrated software. This is important for the veterans and newbies, alike. Some of the new tools and integration between products is unmatched, which veterans will eat up as solutions to problems they’ve faced for years. But if you are new to the web or video world, now is a great time to get started, due to the ability to easily jump to the other products and use skills and assets you’ve had for years.
    I think it’s time we expanded our skill sets. I think it’s time for all of us print-minded folk to start creating for web…and it’s time for web-minded folk to push into video and multi-media…and vice-versa. We’ve been doing the same ol’ thing for long enough and it’s time for us old dogs to learn a few new tricks.
    I’ve used Flash on a very limited basis and found it to be a hoot. It was made easier because of my ability to use Illustrator for a lot of the creation. I’ve enjoyed the web arena, as well, and a lot of that is now made easier by using Photoshop and Illustrator. The bottom line is that if you know Photoshop and Illustrator, that’s enough to get you started in new areas, because they share so much. And if you like Bridge, it REALLY is cross application.
    Even though I’m most comfortable building documents for print, I can see how a broader knowledge is makes us better designers…and if you are an agency or a freelancer, the more you know, the more work you can keep to yourself.
    Anyone who currently creates exclusively for print is at risk. The day is here when most clients are doing print and web. If you are doing the print production and a different freelancer is doing the web, it’s just a matter of time before one of you chooses to broaden your business offerings…and the first to do it will get the whole enchilada.
    The new suites even come with software that lets you test files on mobile phones. Yep, the days of using Adobe to just create a flier or catalog are over…Adobe is giving us so much more, now.
    So head over to www.adobe.com and take a stroll through the stuff.
    There is even a software selector in case you don’t know which collection is right for you. You click on the things you want to do and it recommends which software you need. I was disappointed they didn’t have an option to choose if you wanted to create garbage and work really slowly, then it would show you Quark XPress.
    Other big Adobe news today, http://kuler.adobe.com has been updated and is improved. One of the cool new features of Illustrator CS3 is integration with Kuler online. And if you’re already a Kuler fan, and a Mac user, you must get the Kuler Widget for your dashboard from http://kuler.adobe.com/links/kulerWidget.zip.
    That’ll give you something to do today while you wait to watch the announcement. Oh, and make sure you watch the announcement with a bunch of snobby coworkers, and say “I knew about that” after everything Adobe shows.

    Announcement? CS3?

    Friday, March 16th, 2007

    Adobe blew it.
    They made the big announcement about the announcement March 27th about the release of Creative Suite 3 this Spring…I’m sure you’ve all read or heard about it.
    If not, check it out: Adobe Creative Suite 3 To Be Announced March 27th
    I think they should have milked it a bit more…created even more buzz.
    They should have come out on March 5, when they posted this to the their blog, and said “We will have a major announcement next Thursday.
    Buzz, buzz, buzz…
    On Thursday, make an announcement like “Thank you for coming, we would like to announce that after much discussion, Adobe will not be including a new version of PageMaker in the next generation Creative Suite, whenever it may or may not be released…good day.”
    Buzz, buzz, buzz…
    Then announce another major announcement for the following Tuesday.
    When Tuesday rolls around: “Adobe has the luxury of choosing between three fine web page creation applications to be bundled with Creative Suite 3Dreamweaver, GoLive or a newly reworked PageMill. We are not at liberty to release our decision at this time, nor are we confirming or denying that there will, in fact, be a Creative Suite 3 in the near future, or that it will, in fact, be named Creative Suite 3. Thank you for coming.”
    Keep this going for a few good weeks, announcing possible intentions of Adobe Streamline X for OSX, a rebirth of Dimensions Elements and LiveMotion Pro or possibly TypeTwister for Flash. The list could go on and on to include ImageStyler 3D and ATM Super Deluxe, which is both a font manager and a cash machine.
    Then, just when the entire design world is going insane with discussion, announce Creative Suite 3 which will run on Windows Vista, Mac Intels and Commodore 64s.
    Announce a Spring delivery…but don’t promise which year.

    What’s in the Box?

    Monday, March 5th, 2007

    If you haven’t seen it, yet, there is an Adobe commercial/video on YouTube that is a teaser of something on the horizon. You can also see the corresponding spinning box webpage at http://www.whatisinthebox.co.uk/. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Take a break, check it out, then come back…I’ll wait.
    Humm…Hmmm…dumm…dee…dum…
    Okay, sooooo whadayathink?
    Obviously there is an attempt to create interest in something that may happen with Adobe in the near future, but what, you may ask.
    They’ve been saying for a long time that we’ll see Creative Suite 3 this Spring. However, according to Wikipedia
    Astronomically, some Western countries consider spring to begin with the vernal equinox (around March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere, and September 23 in the Southern Hemisphere), and ends with the summer solstice (around June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 21 in the Southern Hemisphere). Such conventions are by no means universal, however. In Chinese astronomy, for example, the vernal equinox instead marks the middle of spring, which begins around the time of Lichun (around February 4). In the Irish Calendar it is counted as the whole months of February, March and April. In meteorology, it is (also by convention) instead counted as the whole months of March, April, and May in the Northern Hemisphere and September, October, and November in the Southern Hemisphere.
    So this doesn’t really tell us when to expect CS3.
    But if I put the two together, Spring + goofy video of people playing with glowing boxes, we start to put the pieces of the riddle together. And perhaps it’s safe to say we might soon hear and see something exciting from Adobe regarding Creative Suite 3.
    Or maybe they bought Quark.
    So, out of curiosity, what do you think is in the box?

    Where do we begin?

    Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

    I’ve noticed a lot of new InDesign users are a really new. I don’t mean new converts from Quark XPress or PageMaker…or even Microsoft Publisher. I mean new to the “desktop publishing” world, altogether.
    Perhaps I’m seeing it more now because PageMaker used to absorb this type of new user. Maybe it’s because InDesign has finally taken its place as the respected tool of the industry.
    Regardless of the reason, there are people buying and installing InDesign who have no prior knowledge of layout, design, tools, fill, stroke, frame, PDF, etc. They are sitting down at computers and realizing very quickly that before them on the screen is a very powerful tool that has a learning curve…and it’s even bigger for a newbie.
    So here is my question to all of you experienced users: Where do we begin? If you had to give one bit of advice to a new user who knows nothing about print production, design, layout, InDesign, Photoshop, Illlustrator, you name it…what would it be?
    Of course there are the obvious things, like the basic tools, or fill/stroke, or what is a frame and how do you fill it with photos and text.
    But you probably wouldn’t jump right into Edit Keyboard Shortcuts, now, would you. Or XML, or Data Merge (unless they were doing something that specifically needed that).
    So, where does the new user start?
    When we talk about publications, I’m a firm believer in the power of templates. I would, therefore, recommend a new user understand what a template is, what it can do for them and what goes into one. These would include, Styles, Master Pages, Swatches, design elements, page numbers, frames, preferences and more.
    “Your cheating” you say, noting that this would show the new user nearly ten items, not the “one thing” I asked about. I said “one bit of advice” not show them one feature.
    So now I continue.
    If the user were heavy into design I would focus on that. Perhaps they have a history of design, but the computer is new to them. I would get this person right into the “toys” that will make them want to learn more about the program and keep them growing. I wouldn’t spend all day on Story Editor and Preferences.
    But what if someone is a wordsmith? I don’t think I would waste my time on Mixed Ink Groups, but rather focus on the nifty editing and typography tools of InDesign.
    Just some thoughts…and now I turn it over to you.
    Pretend your mom, or your aunt Josephine has just bought a new iMac and the Creative Suite to work on the church newsletter, as well as some other projects. What’s would you tell them to get them started in the right direction as quickly as possible?
    And don’t say “Just let me do it.

    Watching the Clock

    Saturday, February 24th, 2007

    Have you ever done things the hard way?
    You know, like the project where the customer wanted extra space between paragraphs, so you put in an extra hard return after each? The when the customer wanted a little less space, so you went in and selected the returns and dropped the leading…line… by line… by line… for over an hour. Then when you showed the proof, they asked for a little MORE space.
    Then you discovered the Space Before/Space After feature…ouch!
    Or remember discovering Style Sheets AFTER you completed the 120 page directory with last names and phone number in bold…and the customer changed their minds on fonts 53 times?
    Oh, the pain.
    But what about the people who do these things on purpose?
    I was at a publishing company once and help one of the employees set up a way to automate a lot of the card creation, only to go back a month later and he wasn’t using it. He said “Well, I wasn’t getting in my 40 hours, so I just went back to the old way.”
    Go figure.
    Have are you guilty of using the Delete Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator to get rid of all those extra points on a path instead of Object> Path> Simplify, the whole time watching the clock for five o’clock to roll around?
    So, whether you have a war story of how you USED to do things the slow way or a technique on doing things the slow way just to get in the hours, please let us hear them. Or, you may have a slow technique to share just to be stupid…we welcome that, too.
    If we use your suggestion or story in a podcast or cartoon, we’ll send you a free Deadlines Suck! T-shirt… and who doesn’t want one of these?
    C’mon… I know you all have some great submissions. If you are too shy to post, feel free to email the story to me and I’ll post it for you, under an assumed name. Or you can start your post with “I have a friend who…
    I have to tell you, I can’t wait to hear from you on this one.

    Adobe announces name for next Creative Suite

    Friday, December 22nd, 2006

    The big news all over the web is the new name for Harry Potter 7 “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
    But have you been following Adobe’s new release of Creative Suite this Spring? Well they’ve finally released the new name.
    After much anticipation from the entire publishing world, Adobe has announced they will name the new Creative Suite “3″, or “Creative Suite 3″ or “CS3″ in keeping with the CS and CS2 nomenclature.
    I’m surprised, yet excited by the new name.
    I wasn’t sure if they would skip a number like the Travelling Wilburys did on their second album.
    I was hoping they would name it Creative Suite cubed (3)…get it? And the packaging could be a cube instead of the traditional box, kinda like Apple did with the iPod. I had a similar hope for CS2 that they would put it in a square box (CS2=creative suite squared) but that didn’t happen either.
    So, there you have it, Creative Suite 3 is the new name…I don’t know when the movie version will be released.

    A Present from Adobe

    Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

    Presents are fun. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, presents are a great way to celebrate.
    Our friends at Adobe have given us a good one. They’ve made Photoshop CS3 a public beta, which means we can all play with it…and it’s free.
    Keep in mind there are risks and it’s not the final version (which will not be free). But this time of year, when you’re in the office with nothing to do and all your friends are on holiday, it will be great fun to play with.
    So go to http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family.html where you can read all about it and download the public beta.
    In the coming weeks, we can all chime in and talk about our favorite new toys in Photoshop, which should release with the rest of a new Creative Suite 3 this spring.
    Happy holidays to all…and have fun retouching the family photos.

    Kuler part II…the Wonderful World of Flash

    Thursday, November 30th, 2006

    Let’s all head over to kuler.adobe.com together and check out something that is rapidly changing the way we view websites. Go ahead…I’ll wait a minute.
    We’ve already discussed what The Kuler and does in a previous article. What I want to throw at you today is how The Kuler is constructed and how that same technology is changing the way we use the www.
    Historically, when you click on a button on a website to activate an action, you have a wait time for the button to send a signal to the site, the site has to figure out what the next action is, then the data is sent down to the user again over the network. Depending on network speed, this can become a frustrating experience…but one we’ve all grown accustomed to.
    So while you’re at The Kuler (that’s what I call it, we’re still talking about kuler.adobe.com) click on buttons and notice the reaction time of the site. When working in the Create area, moving the sliders to create different colors and choosing different rules is instantaneous.
    The only buttons with a lag time are the ones where the site needs to go to kuler.adobe.com to get new data. For the most part, however, most of the information the site needs to work is downloaded to the user’s computer for quicker use of the site.
    If you like lingo, throw around the term “client side rendering” and you’ll impress your friends. Say something like “I sure prefer the new Flash sites, because they offer client side rendering and give me a faster, more pleasant surfing experience.”
    Or you could say “You’re so old fashioned browsing those server side sites where you have to wait forever to have the sites update from page to page.”
    You’ll sound so smart.
    The reality is this: Flash technology has allowed website programmers to push more of the site’s work onto the user’s machine (client side) so that it acts like a program running on the machine instead of just a workstation linked to the server. This is in sharp contrast to sites that rely on data stored on the server (server side) that gets downloaded to the local machine when an action takes place, like a button being pushed.
    After you play with The Kuler for a bit, venture over to www.leoburnett.com and be amazed at what could never be done in the server side world. Move your mouse over the pencil and the site comes alive. Move the pencil over various areas and let it sit or click your mouse for different responses.
    After you’ve wasted about a half hour there, stroll over to www.adobe.com/creativemind/, another great example of a client side Flash site which gives you, the visitor, an experience you couldn’t enjoy in the old days.
    Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Flash sites? Share with us so we can all find new ways to waste time at work “working.”

    Hangin’ Around the Kuler

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

    Have you ever gone to the paint store to select colors for a project. You know the nifty kiosks they have where you choose the main color then it will give you some great ideas for accent colors?
    Me either, but it’s a great idea.
    Such a great idea, that there are some online resources just like it, except they are created for designers, not painters.
    The newest of which, is kuler.adobe.com. Not perfect, but a great start at a very useful color creation environment which actually integrates with Creative Suite 2. That’s right…after you use Kuler to create your palette of five colors or less, you can download it as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file which can be loaded into Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign for consistent color in your document creation.
    Kuler is a public beta site bestowed upon us by the Adobe gods, driven by Flash technology. Make sure you’re using Flash Player 9 in your browsers. If you don’t have it you can download it free from adobe.com.
    Not only can you create your colors, but you can tap into the brilliance of others in the design community, because you can also publish your swatches to the site for others to view, customize and use.
    There is a whole slew of swatch collections there, already…1167 to be exact when I checked earlier today. By now that number has grown, I’m sure.
    You can view the most popular, most recent and highest rated collections for inspiration, as well. You can also search for tags that might fit your project, like Orange, Fall, Snow, Phlegm, etc. Keep in mind you are at the mercy of the people who publish the colors to give it information that makes sense as searchable. On one of mine I used the color name Asphalt instead of gray. I doubt anyone will be searching for Asphalt any time soon, and if they search for grey they won’t see my collection called Road Hazard.
    If you type in Green as search criteria you might find another of mine called Forest for the Trees.
    So check it out, but make sure you have some extra time before venturing over there…it can be quite mesmerizing (To quote Adobe brain, Colin Fleming).
    If you are having trouble figuring it out, watch this video for a quick overview: kuler.adobe.com.