I have to say that I initially had lukewarm feelings about Adobe’s decision to go subscription-only for the newest versions of their design software. Most of those negative feelings are due to the general queasiness that comes with change in general, but I did have a few concerns, specifically:
That list is pretty limited, to be honest. I am over the fact that I won’t get a shiny nice box of DVDs as a physical and tangible reminder of my investment in Adobe’s products, and I admit that the chances of Adobe going out of business or having an extended licensing server outage are slim. The monthly fee even smooths out the cost of licensing the software over the year. So all-in-all, there is very little to complain about, once you accept that Photoshop or After Effects or Flash is now going to be subscription-only.
The positives are many, and Adobe has been pushing those in the keynote speeches at MAX this week. I really like the idea of getting new features in incremental updates versus waiting for the hype of Adobe MAX to hear about new features. The one concern I have is that overall software development will slow down. I worry that steady subscription income will prevent Adobe from staying “hungry”. What will drive them to dramatically improve their products if users don’t have to be wooed into making voluntary or discretionary upgrades?
Where the Creative Cloud move really appeals to me is as an Adobe shareholder. I don’t think Adobe will lose many existing customers over the new licensing scheme. Those paying to use Adobe products will continue to pay to use them going forward, because to be quite honest, they are pretty awesome. But here is where I think Adobe is going to do well in the next year or so:
I will be posting more as start to use the software next month, but I must admit that for now I am all aboard the Creative Cloud bandwagon. Given my constant need to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Flash, and Audition in my projects, I really can’t afford not to be!
Summary: About a month into the relationship, and things are swell!
I wrote previously about my first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S3 here, and with the iPhone 5 launch now behind us, I thought it made sense to follow up now that the initial excitement has worn off. Everything that I initially liked about the S3 still applies. The screen is still brilliant, Jelly Bean is still smooth and responsive, and I still haven’t found a situation where the phone is too big. If anything, the iPhones I have seen look really small now! I haven’t used voice recognition as much, but that is more out of habit than anything else. So with our relationship hitting the one-month mark soon, how are things holding up?
Coming from the original Galaxy S (Fascinate on Verizon) I was used to some quirks of the phone, including notoriously bad GPS performance. Well that is a pleasant change on the S3, as GPS is much more consistent and locks in a lot faster. I can now launch Runkeeper and be ready to run in a few seconds. Also, my running times and position (see image) are a lot more consistent on the S3. I used to know I would lose time running in a certain direction and gain it coming back the other way, but now everything is more accurate.
Email is so much better! One of the things that always disappointed me about Android 2.X was that email was always such a second-class citizen compared to GMail, and that doesn’t seem to be the case at all with Android 4.X. My overall email experience has been robust, with easy setup, no issues with syncing, and the black text with white background seems easier on the eyes. The really large screen helps here, as I think having two preview lines for each email (not the default) allows me to read many emails without opening them.
One issue that I did see was the Verizon “No SIM Card” bug. It appeared a handful of times where the phone would warn me, saying “No SIM card. Emergency calls only.” To be fair, there was a sheet that came with the phone explaining a 4G activation phone number to call, but had I activated it successfully by just turning the phone on and following the prompts. In any case, Verizon just delivered an update a few days ago that fixes this, so it shouldn’t be an issue again.
The camera works well, but this is still a cell phone camera, so I don’t get too worked up about image quality here. It is nice when the camera you always have with you takes better pictures, and it does. Here is a shot of a “mackerel sky” on the way into Boston one recent morning:
One complaint: I really liked that my Galaxy S allowed me to do so many things from the photo gallery. I could select a photo from the gallery and post it to Facebook, email it, or send it to any app I had installed. This gallery seems to have fewer choices, and it isn’t intuitive how to post photos to Facebook when they are not taken from the Facebook app’s camera.
Finally, I wanted to point out that I have really no buyer’s remorse given that the iPhone 5 has been launched. I really feel like the iPhone 5 is just reaching feature parity with 4G and a larger (still not as big as mine) screen. I like the look of the Jelly Bean OS more than iOS, too. I have to admit that the iPhone 5 looks to be pretty darn tough in the head-to-head drop tests I have seen, so I am going to have to be extra careful with this phone, because this relationship is going to last!
As I was reading the news about how Apple has successfully sued Samsung for copying the design of the iPhone, I looked down at my loyal but tired Samsung Galaxy S and began to let my mind consider various scenarios. What if Apple wins an injunction against Samsung? What if all Android phones suffer a similar fate? How long would the appeals process take? What if the only new smartphone options were iPhones or Windows phones?
Based solely on that last question and regardless of how illogical or improbable this train of thought had become, I promptly upgraded my Galaxy S to the Galaxy S3. It came in the mail yesterday, and now I can confidently sit back and let the legal system figure out who invented the rounded rectangle over the next two years. I can even read about it on my new phone!
So how is the new phone? Skipping a generation I knew that a lot of progress would have been made, but the overall experience is really solid. Here are a few first impressions:
So things are looking good so far for the Samsung Galaxy S3, and these are just my initial observations. Look for an update based on the phone’s performance with GPS and RunKeeper and we’ll take a look at one of my big concerns, battery life!
Summary: Setting up a basic scene for physics simulation using 3ds max and the new MassFX physics solver.
Let’s shoot some pool! In this tutorial, we look at using the new MassFX simulation tools to accomplish a very basic pool shot. This is a short tutorial, so we don’t do a lot of fine-tuning here, but it does show how to set up a scene for simulation. We discuss creating optimized geometry for simulation, the three types of rigid bodies, and some details of the solver. Give it a look to see if we make the shot!
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Summary: Basic rig for animating a camera, especially for orbiting objects.
So you have an object that you want to orbit around in 3D, be it your latest character model or a groovy 3D text logo. The camera animation is simple, right? You can just plop a camera in the scene and animate its position and rotation to a few points around the object in just a few minutes. Add keyframes at north, east, south, and west with rotations set to look at the object, and you have an effective animation, right? Well, not exactly. The issue is that as you move from one point to the next, the linear nature of the path between keyframes will change the distance the camera is away from the object, giving us an inherent and unwanted zoom or dolly effect. Adding intermediate keyframes will minimize the problem, but that gets tedious very quickly. Never fear! This tutorial shows how to avoid this with my simple camera rig:
This rig should work with just about any 3D program and is again a very basic rig, but it should really help with your orbiting or panning animations. Please feel free to use for any model turnarounds and remember that with camera movement, slow and steady wins the race!
Summary: The final step in our three-part video tutorial takes a basic 3d rendered sequence and adds some pizazz in the compositing phase.
Here we take our 3D text sequence from 3ds max and bring it in to After Effects CS6 to add some much needed style treatment and visual flair. It was really hard to keep this tutorial from running long because there is so many things that we can do to keep tweaking and improving the look of the footage as we go, but I think we made some solid improvements for the amount of time invested.
I should note that this tutorial use the excellent Trapcode Particular effect, but that you could (with a LOT of additional work) use some of the standard particle effects to do this. I would recommend that if you are doing a lot of effects work that you look into Particular (or the whole Trapcode Suite for that matter) as they have a wide range of capabilities, some of which I will have to show in a future tutorial!
Summary: Part 2 of a three-part video tutorial gives an overview of 3D text in 3ds max, using the slice modifier to reveal the text.
This has a few good nuggets of information in it, including the use of the Bevel modifier instead of the Extrude modifier to create the text. I show how to cut the text using the Slice modifier and then make the mesh solid again with the Cap Holes modifier. I am using 3ds max 2013, but this process is applicable to many older versions as well.
Later in the tutorial, I use the Wire Parameters dialog and an ExposeTransform helper object to drive the slice plane’s position based on the overall position of the 3D text object. There is a trick to this and the use of different (local versus world-space) coordinate systems, but it should be a good introduction to some new functionality, especially for beginning animators.
Summary: Part 1 of a three-part video tutorial shows how to draw 3D text using a two point perspective in Photoshop CS6.
This video ran long, way beyond my target of 10 minutes, but I tried to balance going fast enough to keep people interested with not losing everyone along the way!
This video was created using a different production process. The audio was pretty poor last time, so I decided to record the audio separately. I used my Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder to record it (I love that thing!) and then sweetened the audio a bit with Adobe Audition. The results are much improved, but I still think I sound too nasal and I need to work on not saying “Umm…”, but that will come with practice.
I have to say that I am really quite impressed with Mozilla’s latest Firefox browser for Android. Running it on my Galaxy S makes an old phone feel quite snappy again. The experience has been good enough to have me replace the default browser.
I have noticed some inconsistencies with text re-flow for certain web sites or zoom settings, so it isn’t a perfect experience, but the speed is so noticeably faster that I don’t mind the trade-off. Another benefit is that Flash works with a “click to play” default setting, which is great for the few sites that I rely on and need Flash for.
One really nice feature is the ability to close the browser. It is pretty easy to get to (Menu —> More —> Quit) and I like being sure that that Firefox is closed and not using memory or battery when I am done browsing. So much more convenient than using the task manager to shut down the default browser!
Browser tabs are easy to find and there is some great sync functionality if you want to keep bookmarks consistent across your devices. All of this makes Firefox for Android a great mobile browsing experience, even as a beta release. So keep the updates coming Mozilla, what you have looks and works great so far!
Here’s the first of my video tutorials. I hope to keep them all relatively short and informative. This video covers differences between 8-bits per channel and 16-bits per channel images, using a 3D render and Adobe Photoshop to illustrate the advantages of 16-bit. Seeing that this is new to me, please feel free to comment if this was helpful, have suggestions for improvement, or if you have a topic that you would like me to cover!
The sample image was rendered from 3ds max and saved to a variety of formats and bit depths. I want to give Adobe’s Photoshop team credit, as you will see in the video that I had to work really hard to come up with an adjustment for the image where the quality starts to break down!
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