Archive for July, 2012

Quick tip: Knowing when to use autofocus in videography

Published by | Sunday, July 15th, 2012

If you’re only used to shooting video with a consumer camera or camera phone, you may rely heavily on autofocus. It’s a habit you should break if you want to shoot professional-looking video, because autofocus is simply not reliable under many shooting circumstances. For example, it’s all but useless in low-light situations, and sometimes if you have other people or objects that cross in the foreground of your subject your camera’s autofocus may choose to focuses on the wrong subject.

Detail of autofocus switch on video camera.

Sometimes using autofocus is the best way to get the shot you need.

This doesn’t mean that you should never use autofocus. It does have its uses and sometimes may be the only realistic way to pull off certain shots. Here are three scenarios in which autofocus may be your best bet for getting the shot you need:

1. Moving fast on your feet with the camera
When there’s a tricky camera move you need to pull off, like a dramatic flyby, it’s difficult to maintain your composition, move fast with your camera, and not trip at the same time. Here, autofocus will probably be your best option.

Videographer shooting a juggler in a park.

Autofocus can help you move fast on your feet and focus on your shot without falling.

2. Certain pan or tilt moves
Certain pan or tilt moves may be easier with autofocus. In good lighting conditions, your camera may adjust faster and smoother than you can manually.

3. Heading multiple jobs at a shoot
If you’re acting as cameraperson, director, and audio engineer all at the same time, shooting a chaotic situation (a run-and-gun shoot), it’s a great time to hit the autofocus button.

If you’re interested in more video tips, check out Anthony Q. Artis’s full course, Fundamentals of Video: Cameras and Shooting. receives Green Business certification

Published by | Friday, July 13th, 2012 recently earned Green Business certification from the Green Business Program (GBP) of Santa Barbara County. The largest company ever to be certified by the program, we’ve taken critical steps to reduce the environmental impact of our Carpinteria campus. Some of our efforts include:

  • • Reduced energy use through window glazing, motion-sensor lights, on-demand water heaters, and office equipment that is programmed to shut off during inactivity.
  • • Reduced water usage. Outside, the company saves an estimated 1 million gallons of water per year with sensors that regulate the sprinkler system based on weather. Inside, low-flow fixtures and dual-flush toilets save an estimated 2,000 gallons per month.
  • • Reduced solid waste. In addition to providing reusable dishes for lunch, and compostable and recycled paper cups in place of polystyrene coffee cups, a food-scrap composting program in the cafeteria diverts an estimated 60 gallons of food scraps from landfills each month. also uses 100 percent recycled copy paper, encourages double-sided printing, has donated more than 7,500 pounds of office equipment and fixtures to Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, and has recycled more than 4,000 pounds of e-waste.
  • • The instatement of an employee commuter program that includes more than 100 participants (45 percent of on-site employees). In just two months, the commuter programs collectively saved almost 600 gallons of gas and reduced emissions by more than 11,500 pounds.

“As we continue to grow, is committed to improving its sustainability and setting an example in the community,” says Jacqueline Burge, director of facilities at “Our campus is in such a beautiful setting, and as a company we are striving for continuous improvement in our impact on the environment.”

The GBP of Santa Barbara County aims to recognize, through certification, local businesses that go beyond required measures to serve as models of sustainable business. Earning a certificate from the program means that a company has made a commitment to the community to go above and beyond typical green measures and stand on the cutting edge of sustainable business practice.

“We are proud to have join the ranks of our certified green businesses in Santa Barbara County,” said Frances Gilliland, program director at the GBP. “Environmental sustainability is so obviously an important part of the corporate culture at Management and staff have undertaken significant efforts at their facilities, particularly in the areas of ridesharing and water conservation. We look forward to working with them well into the future, and look to them as both an example and resource for other local businesses working with the Green Business Program.”

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. We’d love to see your comments and questions!

InDesign FX: How to simulate liquids

Published by | Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Water, water everywhere…better not spill any on your keyboard. While liquids and computers are not a very good combination in real life, there’s nothing preventing you from using InDesign to make a liquid effect in your documents. As I show in this week’s InDesign FX tutorial, the trick is to use Bevel and Emboss in combination with a blending mode trick or two.

The key to liquid effects is getting the highlight part of the bevel correct so that an object or text looks wet. To get that highlight just right, you’ll usually have to experiment a bit and adjust the Angle, Altitude, and Size of the bevel until you get it looking the way you want it. Once you get the highlight right, then you only need to change the fill color to switch from a wet paint effect…

InDesign Text that looks like it is made out of wet paint.

to a gooey, melted chocolate effect…

InDesign Text that looks like it is made out of chocolate.

to a blood effect that might tempt a vampire to sink his fangs into the page.

InDesign Text that looks like it is made out of blood.

To simulate plain water, you have to apply the Hard Light blending mode and it’s important to always use a background object or texture.

Realistic InDesign water text created with Bevel and the Hard Light blending mode.

From there, you can vary the fill color to simulate other translucent liquids, like the maple syrup letters you see below.

InDesign text that looks like maple syrup.

For members, I also have another new member-exclusive video this week in the library called Creating Editable Knock-out Text. In the video, I show how to use InDesign’s Knockout Group feature to make live text that you can see through. Then, by varying the opacity of the text frame’s fill, I show you how to use this technique to create different effects, including blending the fill of the frame with the image that is beneath.

Using InDesign's Knockout Group feature to make live text that you can see through.

I also show you how to achieve a more dramatic effect by making the frame’s fill opaque and using the text as a mask for underlying objects.

Using InDesign's Knockout Group feature with an opaque fill that makes the effect more dramatic.

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• All InDesign courses on
• All courses by Mike Rankin on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

Registration for webinar, Stop training. Start learning, now open (again!)

Published by | Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Woman using a computer mouse.

On Thursday, July 19, 2012 at at 11:00am PDT, will be hosting a free webinar that challenges the status quo of standardized training, and discusses the benefits of individualized online learning. Led by director of learning and development, Jon Robertson, the webinar aims to show organization leaders how to help inspire their teammates to genuinely want to learn.

Topics covered in the webinar include:

  •     • An examination of the reasons many online learning implementations fail
  •     • An analysis of how technology is changing the way we learn, and
  •     • Discussion of how people learn, and why it’s important that your team stops training, and starts learning

If you’re interested in adapting an online learning program for your organization but feel that you could benefit from a greater understanding of how to approach education, please join us on July 19th to learn more about the education evolution currently transforming academia and how it applies to you, and the professional world.

Register for the webinar


Deke’s Techniques: Turning Illustrator paths into Photoshop shapes

Published by | Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In last week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke showed you how to create a shiny star-spangled superhero shield from scratch in Adobe Illustrator. This week, Deke will show you a different approach to the project that brings your illustrator paths into Photoshop as shape layers, and uses Photoshop to give your shield a more realistic, beveled-edge effect.

Whether you’re defending the world against evil, or just trying to create stellar graphics, it’s always important to employ the right tool for the job. So the first trick to this project is to grab the vector-based shapes from last week’s Illustrator project and bring them into Photoshop on separate shape layers.

Creating the shapes in Illustrator then importing them into Photoshop allows you to exploit Illustrator’s shape-creating strengths, and then enhance your perfectly aligned star and circles with Photoshop’s layer effects. Once you have the shapes set up properly in Photoshop, a careful application of some Bevel and Emboss effects create a sense of depth and the illusion that your shield is built up from individual discs of evil-resistant metal.

Dimensional superhero shield created in Photoshop with Bevel and Emboss effects.

For members of, Deke’s also has another member-exclusive movie this week called  Creating a photorealistic superhero shield in which he shows you how to continue this Photoshop portion of the shield project using Smart Filters and adjustment layers to take the dimension and realism of your shield to a more photorealistic level:

Realistic superhero shield with dimension and light reflection created in Photoshop.

Stay tuned as Deke will be back next week with something special: An onslaught of tutorials and a chance for you to share what you’ve gleaned from 138 episodes of Deke’s Techniques.


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Photoshop CS6: New Features
 Illustrator CS6: One-on-One: Fundamentals

WordPress 3.4 update to WordPress 3: Building Child Themes course

Published by | Monday, July 9th, 2012

With the update of WordPress to version 3.4 came some important feature improvements that changed the way certain key components work, including how the header image and background functionality are implemented. This in turn can mean some of the old methods of making changes to WordPress elements suddenly won’t work anymore if you’re trying to apply old code techniques within the new and improved WordPress 3.4 environment.

The issue

Recent WordPress 3.4 upgrades to stock WordPress themes have made a previously well functioning component in my WordPress 3: Building Child Themes course currently non-functional.

Specifically, in movie 2.3 (Creating a functions file and changing the header image size) I instruct the viewer to redefine the height and width of the header image using the following code in a child theme functions.php file:

Unfortunately, with the new implementation of the header-image function, this no longer works. A new filter function is needed.

The fix

To get the result you want without messing things up in the process, a modified version of the code above is necessary. So, to resize the header image in a WordPress 3.4 Twenty Ten child theme you use the following code:

An update is imminent

We are hard at work rolling out an update to the WordPress 3: Building Child Themes course to bring it in-line with the new WordPress 3.4 version of Twenty Ten. Until then, using the code above should solve the problem.

Do you have other WordPress 3.4 questions? Feel free to ask them here and I will do his best to get back to you as soon as possible.


Interested in learning more about WordPress?
The complete WordPress 3: Building Child Themes course on
• WordPress Essential Training
• WordPress 3: Developing Secure Sites
•  Dreamweaver and WordPress: Building Mobile Sites

InDesign Secrets: Keeping a graphic in place with an invisible paragraph

Published by | Friday, July 6th, 2012

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets episode, Anne-Marie Concepcion reveals how to use a paragraph that’s invisible to the naked eye in order to create a design that holds your graphic where you want it when your document is exported as a single-column EPUB.

Let’s say for print you wanted to place a bio image out in the margin, to the left of your text, as seen in the example below:

InDesign document with image aligned to the left of text within the margin.

Graphics placed in the margin, to the left of your text, work fine for print.

When you export this same document as a single-column EPUB the image is automatically placed at the top of your text because the EPUB exports by document order and the first thing in the layout, reading left to right, is your bio image in the left margin.

InDesign document exported as single-column EPUB with margin image at top of column.

Any images in the left margin of your InDesign document will appear at the top of your column in your EPUB export.

So, what if you want your EPUB image to appear in the text-flow, between paragraph one and paragraph two, but you don’t have the luxury of using the margin (since it’s a single-column EPUB), and you don’t want to overset your text by making the image float between two paragraphs?

The trick is to anchor the graphic—in this example, David Blatner’s head shot—to the text via a paragraph carriage return that’s so small (.1 points) that it can’t be seen by a normal person. Then, when the document is converted to EPUB, your tiny paragraph carriage return automatically becomes a fully legitimate paragraph, and thus David’s head ends up properly placed in its own paragraph within the text, between your desired paragraphs. Making an “invisible” carriage return is a simple, quick solution that has a bunch of potential uses for fixing layout challenges.

EPUB document with graphic placed within text-flow using a tiny paragraph carriage return.

Using a tiny paragraph carriage return allows you to place your graphic within the text flow, without having to float your image and overset your text.

Meanwhile on, Anne-Marie’s partner in InDesign secrecy, David Blatner, has a member-exclusive tutorial this week called how to use the baseline grid to align similar text in which he shows you how to use the baseline grid to align text in the same place vertically on multiple pages.

Have you ever employed stealth characters or paragraph in your work to make text or graphics behave in a special way? Do you have any tricks for aligning text across multiple InDesign pages? We’d love to hear your stealth tricks in the comments section below!


Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign Secrets bi-weekly series
• Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion on
• All InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS6 New Features
 InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign Styles in Depth

Investigating web and mobile development job trends using the database

Published by | Thursday, July 5th, 2012

One of the ways I monitor what is going on in the web and mobile development industry is to look at job listings. While there are tons of sources to scour, a site called conveniently aggregates multiple sources into a searchable trend database that allows you to look up and monitor evolving job titles, skill requirements, and technology trends over time. I was first introduced to from a colleague of mine at Adobe whose role required him to monitor evolving and growing job roles to help make strategy decisions on where to take software.

From just a few searches, you can start to get a general picture of some basic findings:

1. Web and mobile design roles

When you do a basic search for job titles like “web designer” and “web developer,” there is clear long term growth, but you also see an interesting recent trend. data chart: web designer vs. web developer.

First let me explain this graph. Out of all of the job listings that aggregates (which go far beyond tech positions) the graph shows the overall percentage of jobs that match the search term within the available listings. This percentage is based on the total number of jobs available at the time of sampling, which can go up or down, but shows the overall growth over time of that percentage.

In this case, there has been a slow growth over time for the role of web designer, growing from just under .1% in 2005 to just over .1% today. The web developer role has gone up from .25% in 2005 to just over .4% today. What is interesting to note, however, is that the web developer role has gone down in the last 12 months. While this data doesn’t tell us why the percentage has decreased in the last twelve months, it does provide a quantitative source to start investigating further.

When you consider the growth of mobile, have you ever considered how web roles stack up against mobile roles? data chart: Web development vs. Mobile development searches

This graph paints a slightly different picture. When you superimpose the mobile role titles of “mobile developer,” “user experience designer,” and “user interface designer” on top of the existing web roles (web designer and web developer), you can see the slow growth in mobile development positions over the last two years. This can form a couple of hypotheses. First, that web developer roles are moving to mobile development. Second, that user experience and user interface design roles are impeding the growth of web design.

While there isn’t enough information to prove these hypotheses, it is an interesting piece of data to monitor, and it may lead you to other sources to prove or disprove your hypotheses.

2. HTML5 v. Flash

One of the things that is difficult to determine with is information about very specific technologies, or uses of technology. The database is much better at representing large technology areas. One specific area of interest is the perceived growth of HTML5 and the decline of Flash. data chart: HTML5 vs. Flash technologies

When you look at the data, you see there has been a long-term growth of Flash, but when HTML5 technology needs hit the job market around mid-2009, the growth of HTML5 in job postings grew at a steady pace. When you look at Flash roles, there are nearly three and a half times as many Flash jobs as HTML5 jobs—however, the decline of Flash roles in the last year is at a steeper slope than that of the growth with HTML5.

If you draw trend lines based on the rates of growth or decline in the last 12 months, jobs mentioning HTML5 will overtake Flash sometime later this year. data chart: Flash vs. HTML projected growth

The data that has covers up to late 2011. If the rates change has changed since then, then the point of intersection may have already happened, or will happen sooner than this prediction. While this is not a scientific way to look at it, it does provide additional information that can help guide people in their professional development.

3. Content management systems

If you do another data slice around the three major content management systems, Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal, you can see how they are trending in the job market: data chart comparing Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal

WordPress is clearly taking the lead in the job market, with Drupal and Joomla following. It is interesting to see that they were all around the same in the middle of 2009, but then WordPress shot up. The division of Joomla and Drupal took place sometime in early 2010.

4. Responsive design

A relatively new trend that is also interesting to map in job listings is responsive design. Responsive design—something that we generally take for granted—is growing quickly. By doing a search on, you can start to validate that belief with data: data chart showing responsive design trending

While responsive design within job postings is still a very small percentage, the growth rate has been staggering in the last year, and following this current trend it will continue to grow significantly in 2012.

Wrap up

By looking at job trend data it is interesting to see how roles, technologies, and required skills are changing over time. This information can help inform your professional development, and help you to understand how shifts take place in the job market.

While research like this isn’t scientifically rock-solid, it does start to form hypothesis that you can use to validate against other sources, or take to the community to ask more questions and get additional guidance.


Interested in learning more about web or mobile development?
• Titanium Mobile App Development Essential Training
• Mobile Web Design & Development Fundamentals
• HTML5 for Flash Developers
• Create an iPad Web App