Archive for January, 2011

Christopher Nolan receives the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Published by | Monday, January 31st, 2011
The marquee at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The marquee at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival highlighting the Modern Master Award ceremony sponsored by

On Sunday, was the presenting sponsor of the Modern Master Award to Christopher Nolan at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in honor of his body of work. Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in Christopher’s latest film Inception, presented the award. Christopher talked, among other things, about his upcoming Batman and Superman film projects (both films will be release in 2012). We couldn’t be more proud to get behind such a remarkable event.

As Lynda mentioned in her earlier post, we will also be hosting recordings of the director’s, producer’s, women’s, and writer’s panel discussions online at, too, like we did last year. What’s so remarkable about these panels is that we get to see how films are made from a variety of perspectives from some of the best in the business.

Here are just a few photos from the Modern Master Award event:

Christopher Nolan being interviewed at the Modern Master Award event.

Christopher Nolan being interviewed at the Modern Master Award event.

Leonardo DeCaprio talks about working with Christopher Nolan.

Leonardo DeCaprio talks about working with Christopher Nolan.

Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio with the Modern Masters Award.

Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DeCaprio with the Modern Masters Award.

Lynda Weinman, Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bruce Heavin.

Lynda Weinman, Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bruce Heavin.

From the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Published by | Monday, January 31st, 2011

Greetings from the 26th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival! This year, is a presenting sponsor of this world class event, which gives us unprecedented access to the festival so we can share this wonderful experience with our members and employees.

Bruce and Lynda at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Bruce and Lynda at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, opening night.

Lynda and Bruce answering questions on the red carpet.

Lynda and Bruce answering questions on the red carpet.

Sarah's Key, opening night

Opening night of the festival featured the US premiere of the wonderful film Sarah's Key. The director, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, spoke before the film about his struggles to get the movie made, and how he persevered and brought it to life.

I’m struck by this year’s festival theme, ‘Dream a Little Bigger’, probably because it’s so much of what we encourage our own members to do. We aim to give our members the opportunity to help realize their dreams, no matter how small or how grand.

As we did last year, our crews will be covering the four major discussion panels taking place at the festival. These panels have historically included all the major players who will be in contention during awards season. Here are last year’s if you’d like to take a look at them again:

It Starts with the Script – Writer’s Panel
Creative Forces: Women in the Business – Women’s Panel
Movers and Shakers – Producer’s Panel
Directors on Directing – Director’s Panel

Finally, I’m particularly proud that two of our Creative Inspirations documentaries, Doyald Young, Logotype Designer and Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist, were accepted into the festival from 800 documentary entries. There will be three screenings of each film and we’ll be there with cameras to capture the Q&A session with members of our documentary production team.

We’ll be bringing you more coverage from the festival throughout the event. We hope you’ll join us and share the magic.

Chris and Trish Meyer’s After Effects Apprentice video training series at

Published by | Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Authors Chris and Trish Meyer introduce us to their new series at

Many After Effects users know us for our books Creating Motion Graphics (CMG) and After Effects Apprentice (AEA). CMG is intended as a deep reference for After Effects, while AEA is structured as a series of lessons to help a beginner or part-time user get up to speed more quickly with the key features of the program in a real-world environment.

We’re very excited to be taking the lessons and projects in After Effects Apprentice and recording them as a video training series for Video allows us to better explain what we’re thinking when we choose a particular tool, effect, or parameter value—it’s like being able to look over our shoulder and listen in on our brain as we work, which better conveys both the technical and creative process we go through. Not being restricted to the page count of a printed book also allows us to expand more into related features and techniques, and actually work through the Idea Corner and Quizzler challenges sprinkled throughout the book. We feel this additional background will make these videos useful both for people learning on their own, and for instructors who use AEA in their classes as curriculum.

Rather than release the entire video series as one exhaustive course, we’re recording each lesson as a self-contained video set. We hope this approach avoids the potential of a beginner feeling overwhelmed by the breadth of After Effects, and allows you to more easily focus on the areas of the program you’re most interested in or need to learn for a particular job. To this end, we’re also taking some of the lessons in the book that covered two disparate features—such as Painting and the Puppet Tool—and breaking them out into separate video courses. This video series will be relevant for both CS4 and CS5 versions of After Effects.

Today, the first three of 19 total installments in the series are now available in the Online Training Library®:

After Effects Apprentice: #01 Pre-Roll

After Effects Apprentice: #02 Basic Animation

After Effects Apprentice: #03 Advanced Animation

We’ll be adding new installments each month until the series is complete. Happy learning!

Chris and Trish Meyer

Create a hammered metal background in Photoshop: Deke’s Techniques

Published by | Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

It’s another week and time for another quick technique from Deke. In this week’s episode, Deke shows how to create something substantial from something nonexistent. Specifically, Deke creates a hammered metal background (featured behind last week’s type of gold project) in Adobe Photoshop from insubstantial clouds and glass. Leave it to Photoshop (and Deke) to create such opportunities for irony.

Start with a field of black pixels, apply some smart filters, and top it off with a little rusty metal pattern, and you have a wall of textured metal that will support any creation you want to build on top of it. And because you’re using the Clouds and Difference Clouds filters, which are based on random fractal noise, your wall of steel won’t look exactly like anyone else’s when you put it to use in your own projects.

Stop back next week for another of Deke’s Techniques. We’ll bring you a new free video every week here on the blog. Meanwhile, subscribers should check out the entire course in the Online Training Library®, where you’ll not only find all the techniques to date collected in one place, but some special entries to the course that Deke created just for members.

And now that you’ve seen a few ideas Deke has up his sleeve, are there any effects you’d like to see him tackle in this short-and-sweet format? Leave your ideas here in the comments, and we’ll put Deke to work figuring out fun and efficient ways to take them on. See you next week!

Outlook 2007/2010 shortcut: find a contact fast

Published by | Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Need to find a contact fast in Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010? This time-saving shortcut from David Diskin shows how you can get to the contact you need in a matter of seconds. You’ll find this time-saving tip along with lots more in David’s new courses: Outlook 2007 Power Shortcuts and Outlook 2010 Power Shortcuts.

Render type in gold with Photoshop: Deke’s Techniques

Published by | Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Welcome to this week’s technique, in which author Deke McClelland shows you how to create gleaming gold from ordinary type. And being the noted Photoshop trainer that he is, Deke manages this alchemical feat in under ten minutes. This is no garish fool’s gold, but a lovely soft, volumetric effect that will lend luster to your own creations. And because it’s created with Photoshop’s Layer Effects, your treasured text can be edited at any moment if you change your mind about your gilded message.

Stop back next week for another of Deke’s Techniques. We’ll bring you a new free video every week. And members should check out the entire course in the Online Training Library®, where you’ll not only find all the techniques to-date collected in one place, but also discover additional short videos that will quickly show you things like how to enhance the effects you see here, apply them with greater efficiency, or display them with greater flexibility.

Behind the scenes: Producing the Foundations of Photography series

Published by | Friday, January 14th, 2011

Foundations of Photography: Exposure with Ben Long was released on December 23, and was the newest launch in the Online Training Library® for several days into the new year. The holiday season could have been a very hectic and distracting time for members to find this new series, and yet, they turned out in droves—sending in comment after positive comment in record numbers, both through the course feedback link on the course page, and here on the blog. The comments suggest many things, of which two are recurrent themes. One, that members are hungry for photography skills courses such as the Foundations of Photography series. And, two, that members thoroughly enjoy Ben Long’s training style, wit, enthusiasm, and comprehensive knowledge.

As training producer for this course, it’s hard to maintain complete neutrality on the subject, but I’ll try to look at this from the point-of-view of a member. If I did not have experience working directly with Ben Long, and being very intimate with his scripts and outlines during the production of this course, what would my reaction be after watching this course for the first time, sight unseen? To be honest, I’d be completely blown away, and for the same reasons stated by members. Yet, even while I say this, I know something that keeps me from being completely impartial. It’s this small, largely unknown, factoid that makes me watch each and every frame of Foundations of Photography: Exposure with utter disbelief and an immense feeling of achievement for Ben Long and the production team at—myself included.

So, what is this piece of insider information? Well, simply that, at the time of its publication, Foundations of Photography: Exposure contained more live action video footage than any other training course ever to be published in the Online Training Library. Out of 64 total movies in the course, 61 of those are live action video, shot both in the studio and out on location. Could the live action component be another reason why this course has been so popular in its relatively short time in the library? Many viewer comments have espoused the virtues of the live action video in this course, and the production value has been highly praised, and is what users are coming to expect from online training, in general. So, there’s no doubt that this figures into the equation somewhere, but just how prominently, remains to be seen.

This does not mean that live action is superior to screen capture content. In the case of photography hard skills instruction, it is arguably a more effective approach to teaching this type of content, but for software training, screen capture is still the gold standard. What it does mean, however, is that the number of production hours and effort that went into making this training is five to eight times that of a standard screen capture course. And quite honestly, when I watch the videos, I find myself going over and over in my head the things we had to do to get things to look or work a certain way, and I’m constantly reminded of the incredible dedication of each and every member of the production team.  I also think of all the unique moments and funny occurrences that happened behind-the-scenes, and how so much of that never gets shared with our members.

With that in mind, I’ve included a video of my production photos to invite subscribers in for a closer look at live action shooting. Please note that while you will meet many of the key production team members in this video, you will not be meeting the post-production staff responsible for creating the beautiful graphics and additional photographs, and artfully splicing all the hours of footage together into the many individual instructional videos that make up this course. Special thanks goes out to those individuals, including Andy Ta, Bryce Poole, Fatima Anes, Angelica Chong, Paul Roper, and Lucas Deming. And, thanks also to Jim Heid, for his uncanny ability to find incredible authors.

Take a look at the accompanying behind-the-scenes video, and if you’ve already watched Foundations of Photography: Exposure, or if you’re planning on watching it soon, you might just see it in a whole new light.

New Year creativity resolutions from authors

Published by | Thursday, January 13th, 2011

To celebrate the new year and my new position as content manager of the design segment at, I decided to quiz some of our authors about what kind of advice, warnings, or personal goals they might have for 2011. Here are some of the useful tips, gentle admonitions, and personal goals they shared:

David Blatner suggests that we take a little time now to make styles, master pages, learn keyboard shortcuts, set up workspaces, or other time-saving shortcut skills, in order to save a lot more time downstream. I so agree with David on this one. And while I’m really good (obsessive, really) about creating styles in InDesign, I’m a horrible procrastinator when it comes to learning shortcuts. Which is silly. A few seconds of concentration on learning how to navigate the Layers panel in Photoshop with the keyboard would probably pay off before I even get around to breaking the rest of my resolutions.

James Fritz wants to learn more about new technology, and since Fritz is the author of InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations, his thoughts naturally run to ePub and hopes we have something in the works there. (We’ll get on it, Fritz.) He also recommends brushing up on HTML5 and CSS. Don’t know where to start? Try James Williamson’s Web Design Fundamentals course.

Deke McClelland thinks you should stop adding those heavy-handed precious-memory vignettes to your portraits no matter how easy they are to create in Photoshop/ACR these days. Let’s face it, vignettes are the drop shadows of the new millennium. Unless you are shooting actions shots of dinosaurs, of course, then vignette away (check out the Adding grain and vignetting effects from Deke’s Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced course for why this last bit makes any sense whatsoever).

Mordy Golding thinks learning  to exploit Illustrator’s Appearance panel is definitely worth your 2011 attention. In fact, Mordy once claimed that “…the Appearance panel was the source of all things about modern Illustrator usage. The path to Illustrator righteousness. If you aren’t using it yet, you need to get with the program.” (Illustrator that is). You can get Mordy’s rundown on Using the Appearance panel from his Illustrator CS5 Essential Training course.

All good ideas, I think. Any bad design production habits you want to replace with better ones this year? Any good habits you hope your friends and colleagues adopt? What about things you want to learn—and how can we keep our resolution to help you with that?