Archive for December, 2011

Improving sound with compression in Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing

Published by | Friday, December 30th, 2011

Compression is a tricky effect to master when mixing and mastering. Sometimes compression is meant not to be heard; that is, to be transparent. Other times, it’s certainly meant to be heard as it’s used to push a signal into harmonic distortion.

Recording with compression is an even more delicate art: Where a heavy hand can ruin an amazing recording, a light touch can control and enhance very dynamic performances.

In this free video, Brian Lee White (author of Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing) explains the setup and signal routing for recording bass with hardware and software compressors, as well as the benefits and pitfalls of doing so.

Check out Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing in the Online Training Library® today, and look out for new training on the leading digital audio workstations coming soon!

Interested in more?
• All Pro Tools courses in the Online Training Library®
• All Logic Pro courses in the Online Training Library®
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®
• All courses from Brian Lee White in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
Audio Mixing Bootcamp
Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools
Logic Pro 9 Essential Training

Ten New Year’s learning resolutions with

Published by | Thursday, December 29th, 2011

One of my favorite things about being part of the team at is that everyone—staff, authors, and members alike—shares a passion for life-long learning. My colleagues on the Content team not only work hard to plan the best training possible on the subjects most critical to our members, but we also take advantage of the vast Online Training Library® to solve problems, learn skills outside our respective wheelhouses, or just stare hypnotically (and sometimes enviously) at the amazing stuff our colleagues have created.

I was thinking about all this in light of my personal ambitions for 2012. It seems to me the standard (failed) New Year’s resolution has two strikes against it right from the outset. First, it usually involves some kind of annoying self-deprivation I’m not emotionally ready for. And second, I don’t usually have the resources readily at hand to shore up my chances for success.

But this year I have a new plan for 2012—one that’s made possible by the carefully crafted content my talented colleagues have created in the past 12 months. Rather than withhold good things from myself, I’m going to luxuriously dive into the Online Training Library® to help me with some of my learning goals and intellectual curiosities. No deprivation, no willpower, no need to schlep to the gym with all the other January wannabes, just me happily keeping my resolution to learn new and useful things with the following content to help me indulge my goals:

1. Manage my time more effectively. Dave Crenshaw’s Time Management Fundamentals course was a big hit with members this year. I knew it was also resonating with the staff when I heard the nefarious term switchtasking bandied in more than one meeting. Here’s a free-to-all movie that explains how trying to do two things at once makes them both take longer and become harder to do well:

2. Begin to understand code. As an author, blogger, and wrangler of wonderful designers dedicated to teaching design tools, I have the basic skills I need to tweak a blog post in HTML or search for structural issues in an .inx file, but that’s as close as I get to understanding code. And yet, the idea of learning programming calls at the edges of my creative consciousness the same way wanting to paint with watercolors does. Simon Allardice’s Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals is a compelling, and more importantly, non-patronizing tool for getting your bearings in the world of creating through code. This What is programming? movie from chapter one is a great sample, and Simon’s wonderful presentation makes me actually want more programming exploration:

3. Organize my 2011 digital photos (before I start taking 2012 pics). I used to be an editor of books on digital photography, including two editions of the seminal text on the subject of digital asset management. I’ve had advice from the very best. And yet, I’m still horrible about organizing my digital photos. Derrick Story’s Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos is full of practical information that you can put to use to organize your photo library without pressure or recrimination. If you’re a member, dive into chapter six with Derrick’s Setting strategies for using keywords segment. For non-members, start with Dealing with your legacy collection in chapter three.

4. Make sure meetings are worth everyone’s time, including mine. The members of my brilliant team at mostly work from their respective homes across the country. That being said, although I don’t have the same dread of meetings that many people who work full-time in an office do because I’m often desperate for human connection regardless, I have discovered that, from home or in an office, a satisfyingly effective meeting can really connect you to your colleagues in a way that’s critical for distributed teams. Enter Dave Crenshaw again with his Effective Meetings course, and particularly this member-exclusive video on Meeting virtually. For non-members, check out Understanding the principles of successful meetings in chapter one.

5. Create effective and engaging blog posts. In Online Marketing Fundamentals, Lorrie Thomas Ross had me when she said, “Blogs are facts married to opinion.” I love her advice to make your personality come through in the blog, and I’ve clearly taken it to heart. Members of should check out this movie, Blog Content creation ideas in chapter eight, to see why Lorrie is a woman after my own heart (and in possession of some really great advice.) Non members can get a broader view of the topic with Components of online marketing in chapter one.

6. Effectively Draw at least one simple shape in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve written a book on Photoshop and created that book (and many others) in InDesign. I feel functionally comfortable with both applications, but for some reason Illustrator has always daunted me. When we launched Deke’s Techniques at the beginning of 2011, I forced myself to go step by step through every Illustrator technique just to see if I could follow along. Deke’s video on how to draw a heart in Illustrator (lesson number 42 in the Deke’s Techniques series) gave me that “I rule” moment that convinced me I may one day be able to add this application to my skill set. (And it also prepares you for Valentine’s Day, so I’m one holiday ahead of the game.) Check it out:

7. Communicate with color in video. My esteemed colleague who handles the training courses for the Video segment here at, Rob Garrott, launched a weekly series in 2011 called Design in Motion. Some of the content is way over my video-novice head, but this movie on Communicating emotion through color correction got me thinking I might actually be able to foray with relative confidence into communicating effectively and emotionally within the video medium.

8. Get the most from my new camera. Although I haven’t indulged in a new camera this year, the new collection of courses from Ben Long helps people who have the most recent Canon and Nikon offerings learn how to use their particular toys to take well-crafted photos. And if my budget doesn’t come through with a new camera in 2012, there’s always Ben’s general Foundations of Photography series. Try this intro from the Exposure edition and see if you can resist watching the rest of the course:

9. Set up speakers for good sound. The Audio segment at got a huge boost of content this year. In the popular Audio Mixing Bootcamp, industry expert Bobby Owsinski covers all the tips and tricks a budding audiophile might need. And although I may never master the art of sound, watching this helpful Determining the audio listening position movie from chapter one may inspire me to get that speaker in my office out from behind the potted plant.

10. Take beautiful pictures of all the delicious food I’m not avoiding. Finally, since I have no pressure to deprive myself of gourmet meals in charming restaurants this year, I can spend some time with noted food photographer Bill Robbins’ course on Food and Drink Photography guilt-free. Chapter seven includes a great member-exclusive video on Finding the right location and lighting in your favorite restaurant to take the best photos of your dinner. My foodie friends on Twitter will be drooling with envy.

What are your hopes, big and small, for learning in the new year? What are your favorite movies for providing the inspiration and instruction that you need to move toward them? The Content team and entire staff at will be working hard to bring you what you most need in 2012, and until then, we wish you the most peaceful, joyous, and learning-rich new year.

Using After Effects as a titler for Adobe Premiere Pro

Published by | Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Adobe Premiere Pro has a robust titler built in, including the ability to create title rolls and crawls. However, Adobe After Effects has even more advanced tools, including hundreds of Animation Presets for type, Shape Layers (to build additional graphic elements such as lower third bars), and a combination of Layer Styles and Effects to further enhance the final look. If you have either the Production Premium or Master Collection suites, Premiere Pro and After Effects can talk to each other using Adobe Dynamic Link, which makes this process more fluid. In this course instructor Chris Meyer explains the general process of using After Effects to create refined lower thirds for Premiere Pro, including sharing some After Effects design ideas. Although this course is aimed at intermediate Premiere Pro users who have some After Effects experience, beginning After Effects users will also find this course to be full of useful tips, exposing them to numerous areas of the program.

Interested in more?
• The full Premiere Pro and After Effects: Creating Title Graphics course
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All courses on After Effects
• Courses by Chris Meyer on

Suggested courses to watch next:
After Effects CS5.5 New Features
After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control
After Effects CS5 Essential Training
CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

Happy holidays from!

Published by | Sunday, December 25th, 2011 holiday greeting 2011

Stefan Bucher shares his behind-the-scenes story of designing the Saks Fifth Avenue Yeti

Published by | Saturday, December 24th, 2011

At the final employee quarterly meeting of 2011, Creative Inspirations subject Stefan Bucher made a surprise appearance. And he brought a friend. . . well, about 300 of them.

Upon being asked by Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City to create a Yeti plush toy for sale during the holiday season, Stefan came up with dozens of Yeti options to present to Saks, who ultimately left the final decision up to him. The complete Yeti-plush package included a Yeti hangtag book created by Stefan (complete with proper care and feeding instructions for the Yeti) and a customized bag designed by Stefan and dotted with snowflakes created by another Creative Inspirations subject, Marian Bantjes, with which to properly carry the Yeti (since the Yeti doesn’t fit in any of Saks’ standard holiday bags).

Stefan finished his December presentation by revealing the Yeti from his snowflake bag before handing the spotlight over to co-founder Bruce Heavin. Bruce then revealed that as a special holiday gift, each employee would receive their very own Yeti. Stefan was kind enough to autograph Yeti paws for employees after the presentation.

To purchase a Saks Fifth Avenue Yeti of your own while they are still in stock, visit

Interested in more?
Stefan G. Bucher, Designer, Illustrator, and Writer
Marian Bantjes, Graphic Artist

Suggested courses to watch next:
tokidoki, Character Illustrator
Ron Crabb, Digital Illustrator
Big Spaceship, Digital Creative Agency
Bert Monroy, Digital Painter and Illustrator

Remixing a song in Apple Logic Pro

Published by | Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Remixing a song is a skill that requires a lot of musical and technical know-how.  Two of the most important elements to consider when beginning to create a remix are determining the original tempo of the song you’re remixing and lining up the vocal stem track to the beat.

Apple’s Logic software provides a handy plug-in called the BPM counter that helps to determine the tempo of a piece of music. Check out how to use it:

Often, remixers receive vocal stem tracks that don’t clearly align with the tempo grid when they’re imported into a project. That is, it’s unclear from the raw stem file where the downbeat is in comparison to the vocal performance. Check out how to align a vocal track with the tempo grid of a project:

In Remixing a Song in Logic, renowned remixer and author Josh Harris takes us through all of the remixing steps as he literally remixes a song in front of our eyes and ears. He covers all facets of the remixing process—aligning the vocals, working with loops, programming bass and synth parts, adjusting the remix arrangement—all the way to mixing and mastering the final version.

Check out Remixing a Song in Logic in the Online Training Library®, and look out for new training on the leading digital audio workstations coming soon.

Interested in more?
• All Logic courses in the Online Training Library®
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®

Introducing the Ed Emberley Creative Inspirations

Published by | Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The documentary team is pleased to share with you our newest Creative Inspirations installment on children’s book writer and illustrator, Ed Emberley. Earlier this year, we spent time with three generations of talented Emberleys in their 17th century home in beautiful Ipswich, Massachusetts. We filmed as he gave a drawing class to local second graders and traveled with him to Portland, Oregon to meet with his iPad/iPhone app developers, all not long after his 80th birthday (see a demo of Ed’s “Shake and Make” iPhone app). Many of the artists in Portland had never met Ed, but a number of them learned to draw with his books in grade school. Ed is truly a lifelong learner, continuing to absorb new technologies and apply them to his craft. Whether you have children or you still feel the spark of youth, you’ll enjoy this look into the mind, and heart, of this gifted artist.

Ed Emberley getting prepped for documentary

Director Scott Erickson and Cameraperson/Editor Tracy Clarke setting up a shot with Ed Emberley on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. employee with Ed Emberley drawing

Cinematographer Mia Shimabuku at the Notre Dame Academy in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where Ed Emberley taught a drawing course.

Suggested courses to watch next:

• The full Creative Inspirations installment on Ed Emberley
tokidoki, Character Illustrator
Ron Crabb, Digital Illustrator
Big Spaceship, Digital Creative Agency
Bert Monroy, Digital Painter and Illustrator

InDesign FX: Creating metallic chrome effects

Published by | Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

In this week’s free-to-all InDesign FX video, I show how you can use gradients to create different chrome effects. A shiny metallic chrome effect is a great demonstration of the powers of a simple gradient fill like this one:

InDesign chrome gradient fill

I’ll show you how to use a linear gradient to create a convincing chrome look in any InDesign object or live text with as few as four color stops. There’s no need to invoke InDesign’s transparency effects at all. The key is to simply drag the gradient stops very close together, so they’re nearly touching, to create a point somewhere in the gradient where colors shift abruptly.

Setting InDesign gradient stops close

When gradient stops rub elbows, an abrupt change in color happens, and that is what creates the illusion of chrome. Most commonly chrome gradients include some blue to represent a reflection of the sky, and some brown or black to represent a reflection of the ground, but feel free to take this idea and run with it. Experiment with various tints and colors to make your own chrome gradients, and remember, you can click and drag with the Gradient tool to apply your chrome gradient over any length and at any angle of your choosing.

If learning chrome effects doesn’t satisfy your shiny-object wishes, I have another new video this week exclusively for members of the Online Training Library® called Creating Glass and Plastic Effects. Here’s an example of the glass effect discussed in the member-exclusive course:

InDesign glass effect

Happy shiny-object Holidays from InDesign FX. See you here again in two weeks!

Interested in more?
• InDesign FX complete course
• courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library®
• courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS5 Essential Training
 InDesign Secrets
Designing a Newsletter Hands-On Workshop
Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects