Archive for March, 2011

Interview with cultural anthropologist Dr. Michael Wesch in first Live with Lynda webinar

Published by | Thursday, March 31st, 2011
live with Lynda interview

Lynda interviews Dr. Michael Wesch in her first Live with Lynda webinar yesterday.

Yesterday, on March 30, 2011, I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Michael Wesch, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University; an exemplar and pioneer of collaborative teaching methods. His YouTube videos–The Machine is Us/ing UsA Vision of Students Today, and An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube—have inspired millions. It was great to hear from some of his students and get a behind-the-scenes view of his process, including peer-to-peer teaching and assessment/grading. If you’d like to watch the archived webinar, here is the link:

There will be more Live with Lynda interviews in the coming months!

Deke’s Techniques #13: Simulating subpixel rendering

Published by | Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

What, you ask, is subpixel rendering? This week’s Deke’s Technique will either make your head spin or make you feel on top of the geek heap. The idea is this: Regardless of the which rendering intent you use for your text—Sharp, Crisp, Strong, or Smooth—Photoshop has a habit of rendering very small type badly, whereas that same very small type looks nice and legible when rendered by your operating system or as editable type by a browser. What’s the difference? The reason is subpixel rendering, which permits an application to rasterize text and other vector objects, on-the-fly, to each of the three color channels (RGB) independently. Here’s a diagram to help things make slightly more sense:

Of course, if you’re working with HTML type, all is well. But as soon as you render that text to pixels, subpixel is not an option. It’s not Photoshop’s fault; JPEG, GIF, PNG, and other web image formats don’t support subpixel rendering. In this week’s free technique, Deke shares not only how subpixel rendering works, but also how to simulate it in Photoshop by creating a faux color antil-alias effect. For those of you who make small type for your screen images—whether web, kiosk, or presentation—or who just like to know the geekiest trick of the week, it’ll make all the tiny difference in the world.

Each week, there’s a new free technique from Deke. And members will find an extra cache of awesome, geektastic, or just plain useful techniques exclusively inside the Online Training Library®. See you next week!

Related links:
Deke’s Techniques
courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®
courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®


Free Live with Lynda webinar starts Wednesday: Authentic Learning with Michael Wesch

Published by | Monday, March 28th, 2011

In a collaborative partnership, and New Media Consortium (NMC) are initiating a series of monthly webinars called Live with Lynda targeted at higher education to inspire thought leadership, support best practices in education, and to share strategies for online learning. Every other month I will interview a thought leader who inspires us all in education. On alternate months, Laurie Burruss, Senior Director of Education at, will feature best practices and strategies for online learning in higher education presented by either educators in the community or by authors.

Michael Wesch

Michael Wesch, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University, joins Lynda on Wednesday for a webinar interview.

On March 30 from 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., I am excited to interview one of my heros in education, Michael Wesch, Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. Dubbed “the explainer” by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the impact of new media on society and culture. His videos on technology, education, and information have been viewed by millions, translated in over ten languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide.

The topic of the interview is Authentic Learning, and here is the short description:

Join the interview and discussion related to how teaching practices are shifting from the sage on stage to group problem solving and student collaboration. Lynda interviews Michael Wesch about his personal journey as a teacher, the challenges he faced as he changed his approach, the successes and barriers to making the change, and watch as he and a few of his students showcase some of their current projects.

Learn more about Michael and his work at Kansas State University on its site. See his student collaborative work on his YouTube channel.

Live with Lynda webinar: Authentic Learning with Michael Wesch
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PDT

Our sincere apologies for the incorrect webinar link posted earlier. For those of you who were not able to join us, the archive is now available at

After Effects Apprentice: motion graphics versus editing

Published by | Friday, March 25th, 2011

This week we released Chris and Trish Meyer’s After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency. Chris wrote this blog entry to introduce the course.

We’re often asked, What’s the difference between editing and motion graphics? Although there’s always exceptions to every rule, one way to distinguish between them is the way a project is built: Editing projects tend to be arranged horizontally, cutting between different scenes over time; motion graphics projects quite often are arranged vertically, with multiple elements—including footage, text, and other graphics—appearing on screen at the same time.

So the next question becomes How do you see through one layer to the other elements underneath? The secret is not to rely solely on the Opacity parameter to make the top layers transparent. One approach is to use Blending Modes—demonstrated in our After Effects Apprentice: Layer Control course released last month here on—to create far more interesting composites of footage, where characteristics of both the layer on top and underneath combine to create a new image. We consider Blending Modes to be the “secret sauce” that’s missing when many editors attempt to composite together multiple images, and indeed we’ve released courses in the past on creating Lighting Effects in Post as well as the popular Filmic Glow effect in Final Cut Pro as well as After Effects and Motion.

Another approach is to cut out portions of layers in interesting ways to focus the viewer on interesting features of the footage on top, as well as reveal additional layers underneath. This is the subject of our just-released course After Effects Apprentice: Creating Transparency. This course focuses heavily on creating and animating “masks,” or user-defined cutouts, for layers using simple and advanced tools. We also cover using properties of one layer (such as its luminance or alpha channel) to alter the transparency of other layers – for example, using text to cut out animated background footage to create a video fill for the text shapes. Additionally, we spend a lot of time showing how effects such as drop shadows interact with these techniques to help add definition between the layers in the final composite. Along the way, we share a variety of practical and creative tips to make you more productive in After Effects as well as provide inspiration. We hope it helps you raise your work to the next level.Chris Meyer

Watch the introductory movie for After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency:

Want to be more productive, less stressed out? Then you probably want to meet Dave Crenshaw.

Published by | Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

As a mom with a full-time job and two young daughters, I am obsessed with time management. But as much as I think about how I must manage my time more effectively, I haven’t always succeeded in coming up with ways to do so. As the pace of work increases, I’ve found myself losing track of important tasks. Inboxes and to-do lists that were supposed to keep me sane have become sources of stress. I’ve struggled to strike a happy balance between work life and family life.

Then I met Dave Crenshaw, author of the upcoming course, Time Management Fundamentals. In working with Dave—a time management coach and best-selling author—I realized how ineffective all my obsessing was and how what I really needed was some practical strategies to apply to my work and life. (It became clear something was really wrong when I missed my first scheduled phone call with Dave, of all people. Luckily he’s as understanding as he is organized.)

In Time Management Fundamentals, Dave shares eminently practical techniques for doing more in less time: how to develop habits to be more organized and reduce the clutter in your workspace; how to stay mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; how to develop a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.

Here’s a little preview:

The techniques I’ve picked up from just watching the course in development have made my work more productive and my life less hectic. I’ve even been able to pass Dave’s techniques along to my kids.

We’ll be bringing Dave’s time management strategies to the Online Training Library® later this month. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about what other kinds of courses we could offer to help you develop the skills you need to succeed in business.

Deke’s Techniques #12: Creating a high key, high contrast effect

Published by | Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

In this week’s free video technique, Deke shares his recipe for taking an ordinary portrait and turning it into something visually striking by adding a high key, high contrast effect. The tools are reasonably simple: a color adjustment layer, a few passes with the dodge and burn tools, a convenient roughly drawn layer mask, and a gradient to finish the effect off. But the result is sophisticated and compelling. I’ve seen plenty of high key treatments that render images flat and jarring, but with Deke’s thoughtful approach, you can crank up the highlights, increase the contrast, and yet still maintain volume in the detail. Take a look at the before and after effects:


Every week, Deke shares a new free technique with everyone here on the blog. Meanwhile, members have access to exclusive Deke’s Techniques videos inside the Online Training Library®. In about ten minutes, Deke shares his particular approach to Photoshop and Illustrator effects that you put to use in your own projects. Deke’s techniques is a quick way to add to your graphics repertoire, and if you need more in-depth training, you can rely on Deke’s One-on-One courses to provide the background and deep-dive information you need.

And we’ll see you here next week for another free technique from Deke.

Related links:
Deke’s Techniques
courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®
courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

Introducing the Douglas Kirkland photography series

Published by | Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Douglas Kirkland. Photo by Jim Heid.

Douglas Kirkland. Photo by Jim Heid.

Douglas Kirkland’s passion for photography began in his youth and launched a six-decade journey that shows no signs of slowing down. His biography is the stuff of dreams for a photographer. As a staffer at Look and Life magazines, he traveled the world on assignment during the golden age of American photojournalism. He has also worked on the sets of over 100 films, photographing stars ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson. He has photographed astronomical observatories in Chile and railroads in Siberia. He’s published several books, and his photos have been showcased in exhibits worldwide.

It’s as impressive a résumé as you’ll find in the photographic world.

But when I met Douglas Kirkland, what impressed me most was his warmth and his generous spirit. He loves connecting with people. He loves what he does and he loves sharing his photographic passion and knowledge.

These traits are immediately obvious in Douglas Kirkland on Photography, a new monthly series in the Online Training Library®. Each month, Douglas explores a variety of real-world photographic scenarios. Follow along on a photo shoot as Douglas describes his technical and creative processes. After each shoot, Douglas reviews the results and points out the differences that can separate a good photograph from a better one.

Douglas’s tools are as diverse as his subjects. He might shoot with a digital SLR one day, a medium-format film camera the next day, and an 8×10 Deardorff view camera on the day after that. He’ll use strobes for one shoot and natural light for another. The subject is what matters, and Douglas chooses his tools accordingly.

You’ll see each of these tools in action in our new series. And because sustaining a six-decade career means being able to adapt to changing business conditions, you’ll also hear insights into the business of photography.

In the first installment of the series, Douglas shows how he works with natural light to create beautiful portraits. Next month, we’ll head into his studio for a look at shooting under the lights.

It’s a thrill for all of us to work with Douglas and his wife and business partner, Francoise, on this series. We’re eager to hear what you think of it—and what you’d like to learn from Douglas in future installments.

For an introduction to Douglas and his work, see our Creative Inspirations documentary that features him.

Deke’s Techniques #11: Masking Highlights and Shadows Independently

Published by | Monday, March 14th, 2011

This week’s free technique gives you one of Deke McClelland’s many Photoshop tips for using an image to select itself, specifically isolating the highlights and shadows of a photograph to select the light and dark areas using the underrated Color Range command. By using the image’s own details to create the mask, you don’t have to rely on the unreliable Quick Selection or Magic Wand Tool. And you can fine-tune your mask to add areas to it. Another hidden benefit of using Color Range is that you can either generate a selection (working blind, as Deke likes to call it) or you can directly create a layer mask, and thus see what you’re doing as you do it.

For members, Deke has an exclusive movie in the Online Training Library® that shows you how to use this same basic technique to actually mask glass (yes glass), against a sunset. If you’d like to see more from Deke about masking in Photoshop, check out Chapter 26, Masking Essentials, of his Photoshop CS5 One-on-One Mastery course.

Stop back by again next week for another free technique from Deke!