Archive for February, 2010

Meet the new program director for Web & Interactive Design: Cynthia Scott

Published by | Friday, February 19th, 2010

Hello members! I’m Cynthia Scott, the new Program Director for Web & Interactive Design here at

One of the reasons I’m working at is that I believe in the power of transformation. I have seen how people can light their own fire by taking advantage of the rich, deep quality of resources at It is an honor to be part of the team.

In my previous work as an educator, I planned media communications curriculum and helped teachers deliver classroom training. As a Center Director for the Multimedia & Entertainment Initiative in California, I worked with a statewide network of educators, developed industry relations, and created strategies to keep education at the forefront of emerging technologies. My last project was working with the New Media Consortium to produce the 2009 Horizon Report: Economic Development Edition.

The story: Lynda shares how it started

Published by | Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Take a seat in the Brooks Institute auditorium with the Santa Barbara chapter of AIGA and enjoy watching Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman as they present the history of to an audience for the first time. The co-founders share stories of how their careers, relationship, and company started and evolved, and how their vision and high standards have brought together a team insistent on excellence. This is an engaging, fascinating inside look into the heart and soul of a recognized leader in software training.

We’ll be posting a few segments of that night’s recordings here on the blog, starting with Lynda sharing some early memories and educational experiences. We invite you to view the entire story on

In this video, Lynda opens her heart and shares her earliest recollections: Her childhood, how she discovered an alternative path to education and put herself through school, and how she developed a work ethic that shaped her personal direction and ultimately, the direction of

Vignetting with feathered mask shapes in After Effects

Published by | Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Vignetting is a classic photography technique involving darkening areas of an image in order to focus the viewers attention on a desired point of interest. In After Effects: Extended Vignette Techniques, Chris Meyer shows how vignettes can also be leveraged in video. He demonstrates how to frame a subject better, fix a poorly composed shot, give a vintage feel, create “quiet areas” to overlay text and other graphics, and how to blend an image over a new background. Vignettes can be created using masking, shape layers, and gradients. Be sure to check out the entire course for more insight and techniques.

Photoshop Top 40 Countdown with Deke McClelland: #9 – Levels

Published by | Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The Levels command, and its cohort, the Histogram, let you adjust luminance levels on a channel-by-channel basis. The upshot is that you can increase contrast, correct for color cast, and make a bad image good.

Meet the Content Manager for 3D, animation, and video: George Maestri

Published by | Friday, February 12th, 2010

George Maestri, content manager for 3D, animation, and video for

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is George Maestri, and I’m the content manager for 3D, animation, and video for My job is to find great authors in these areas and have them produce and teach courses that our members need.

My background is in animation, and I started my animation career 20 years ago. Back then, learning animation was not an easy task. There were very few books, and only a handful of colleges in the country taught the subject. The technology was primitive, as well. Even the best computers struggled with something as simple as a pencil test, and computers that could do 3D animation cost as much as a house.

Back then, we resorted to pencil, paper, videotape, and film to learn how to animate. I was fortunate to live close to a college which had a good animation program and a giant Oxberry camera stand. While there, I made enough films to get my foot in the door and start my career. Others were not as fortunate, and many had to literally move across the country to learn the craft.

In the intervening years, a technology revolution has made animation much easier, not only in the way it is made, but also the way it is taught. Almost all animation today is created digitally, and just about any modern computer is powerful enough to create high quality animation. The only barrier these days is some talent and the willingness to learn.

This is where technology comes to the rescue again. Instead of having to move across the country to learn animation, the power of the internet allows to bring some of the best teachers of animation to you. I’m a total animation geek, and I’m very happy to bring my laser geek focus to bear on creating great animation courses for both 3D and 2D character animation, as well as special effects, motion graphics, and anywhere else animation is used. Look forward to a lot of great new courses in the coming year, and let me know what kinds of courses you’d like to see.

Author dinner: Mordy Golding, Mark Christiansen, James Williamson, and Taz Tally

Published by | Friday, February 12th, 2010

Taz Tally, author relations manager Megan O. Read, Mordy Golding, Mark Christiansen, James Williamson, supervising training producer Max Smith.

After a long week of recording, Mordy Golding, Mark Christiansen, James Williamson, and Taz Tally were let out of their booths for a little fresh air and a meal.

It’s inevitable, that when you get so many industry power-houses together, they will talk shop, compare histories, and brainstorm upcoming projects. It’s always a treat to hear about conferences from the past, like Mordy Golding recounting the ADIM (costume mandatory!) conferences, or different methods to slow down their speech in the booth (Mordy has a wall of snail images, stop signs, sloths etc.). But it’s also a treat when you find out that authors have crossed paths before, and hadn’t realized it until something triggers them—like Taz Tally (who now lives in Homer, Alaska) remembering James Williamson from a South Carolina service bureau in the late ’80s!

Stay tuned for upcoming training from these greats.

In the studio: Scott Hirsch

Published by | Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Scott Hirsch working on his upcoming title in a recording booth.

Last week we had the pleasure of Scott Hirsch joining us in the studio to record a Logic Pro 9 course. Scott is a sound designer, editor and mixer for film and video, musician, and audio engineer. His credits include audio post production work on films like the Sundance Film Festival 2010 short The Visitors, and recording, mixing, composing, and playing with bands such as The Family Band, Hiss Golden Messanger, and The Amateurs. In addition, he’s taught at audio engineering schools and is a certified Digidesign and Apple audio instructor and authored the book, Pro Tools 7 Session Secrets: Professional Recipes for High-Octane Results (Wiley), Scott truly has passion for audio/music and that clearly came across when I sat down and talked to him about his work.

Scott and I shared about that moment in our history when we knew first realized what we wanted to do in life.

“The moment I overdubbed my first track, I knew I was hooked,” said Scott. For me it was very similar: It was the first time I tracked in the studio. Scott and I both cut our teeth on tape. It’s wild to think how different it would have been, had we access to the power of tools like Logic, as we do today. Not only is Logic a powerful DAW (digital audio workstation) but it is an amazing song creation tool.

Scott is a very talented instructor and I anticipate that there will be quite a number of those moments from members watching this upcoming tutorial, in addition to a few potential ah-ha! moments from those already familiar with Logic. His nine-plus years of teaching digital audio have brought indispensable knowledge and boundless creativity to his students. I found his enthusiasm and knowledge infectious. When I got home after our talk, I couldn’t help but fire up Logic and take a look at some of topics he had been recording that day in the studio.

Keep an eye open for Scott’s new titles coming out soon.

Senior Training Producer Kirk Werner, Scott Hirsch, Acquisitions Manager/Audio Joe Randeen.

Photoshop Top 40 Countdown with Deke McClelland: #10 – Color Settings

Published by | Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The Color Settings command is your way of establishing reliable color management policies across the entire Creative Suite. While admittedly techie, it ensures that what you see is what everyone else sees, too.