Author Archives: Heather Craik

About Heather Craik

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June Month in Review – Secret Plot Edition

After the dreaded college deadlines had passed and I was left with a bit of spare time my eye wandered up to that tiny bookmark in my FireFox nestled between a Gap Year Underwater Filming course page and a link to SlideRocket.  The one that points to The Dashboard.

Jumping past all the vaguely guilty feelings and banging my head off the wall (not quite literally, but there were moments), I decided to pour some real effort into making things work in a sustainable way.  There are now various schemes and plots unfolding in the background – you’ll learn about most of those later.

Changes on the Record

The two main things I can tell you about – if I didn’t you’d see for yourself in the next few days anyway – are the new site design, and my new contributors.  The site design is fairly self evident so I won’t make too much of a fuss about that, though I am super excited about that other thing.

There are now 8 different people writing material for this blog.  On Wednesdays every week a new tutorial will be posted, written by one of them and already a few have signed up to write multiple tutorials.  Thursday has its very own column run by Jonathan Palencia on the very basics of 3D and using code in conjunction with it.

You’ll get to know all of them really well over the next few months and their stuff really is amazing; I’m honoured that they want to be a part of this and extremely impressed with what they’ve already done.  Welcome guys, it’s a pleasure to be working with you!

Month Ahead

In line with the revival there’s a new post schedule, and I can even share an editorial calendar for July.  Each Monday I’ll be writing a themed feature post; the theme changes each month.  Wednesdays and Thursdays are tutorial and 3D101 days written by our contributors, and Saturdays are now all about news, points of interest, etc (complete with a video each week).

Here’s what July looks like:

A Full Month of Plans!

Want to be ahead of the game?

One last thing before you go – those plots I hinted at earlier?  They’ll start to unfold over this month and next, and to be in the best place to see them you’ll want to make sure you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and/or LinkedIn.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the plans, site design, plots and schemes so far.

Idle Musings – Fear

Fear is a summers day in the garden, with the birds singing and the daisies being gently chained by your children.  Fear is that indescribable, wonderful moment where he finally works up the courage to ask, and you finally say ‘I do’.  Fear is graduating, diving, riding, dancing, singing, running, playing, joy.

 

Fear is your best moment on your best day.

 

Fear is the benchmark, by which all things after are measured and found wanting.  And when found wanting, its that sickly feeling in the pit of your stomach, the whispers in the dark at night saying it’ll never be that good again.

 

From the moment we’re born until the day we choke out our last breath, we fear.  A little is a good thing; it drives us to improve, make things better, explore.  Too much fear combined with too little improvement and exploration causes problems across the board.

 

It’ll start small, you won’t notice.  First as dust, then as a mite…  progressing to caterpillars, snakes, worms, dragons – it never ends if never addressed.  Sometimes when you notice it’s too late and you have a battle on your hands to return.  Sometimes you refuse to notice, instead doing all in (and sometimes outwith) your power to avoid triggering it, all the while telling yourself it isn’t there.  Other times it doesn’t grow past a certain point, becoming more like a pet than an insidious, devious, killing machine.

 

Don’t let the puppy eyes fool you.

 

If caught early it can be turned aside, chopped, boiled, burned, stomped on – pick your destruction.  Get good enough and it becomes a game.  Fail at the game and the very things you’re afraid of losing move that much further from you; fear causes problems, rarely prevents them.

 

Oh, and it also saves your life.  Best to throw that in there; it’ll stop you doing truly dangerous things, like a guardian angel or over-protective parent.  Pushing through it prevents stagnation and ultimately decay.  It’s a beautiful thing that lets you appreciate what you had, have, and could have.  It’ll run your life if given an inch, it’ll save it if not.

 

I’d recommend you juggle; someone dear to me said that was nonsense, and  you should fly.

Until I’m 60 or so…

Subconscious Interface Test - Mixed Emotional Colours

Look at the shiny, emotional colours... Don't they blend nicely?

Where to begin.

I suppose I could start at the beginning as per conventional wisdom, but really, where’s the fun in that?

My super secret project that I was planning on unveiling near the start of summer changed. It had been a tutorial interface for videos, downloads, etc, but I got bored and changed my mind. It’s sitting half planned on the back-burner, cooling its heels in the waiting room alongside a couple of tutorials I could mention, leaving the way clear for me to do something much more fun. Drum-roll please….

The new college project is:

A digital imaginary friend/mirror that you can talk to as easily as you talk to yourself and actually gain some sense from it.

Subconscious Interface Test

When getting to know you, the entity doesn't use colour.

Not a sliver of 3D involved you’ll notice, but I do have pretty pictures of proposed interfaces (that’s what those things dotted through the post are). Instead there’s a large chunk of programming, another large chunk of psychology, and a portion of colour theory and digital typography.

Over the course of its development (which I’m optimistically stating will be finished in approximately 40 years) I’ll be posting strange, interesting, or useful facts about the project along with a smattering of more lighthearted posts and maybe some 3D stuff if I have other things to work on. No posting schedules – I dislike announcing those anyway, obvious reasons – and absolutely no promises. But it’ll be fun, I can tell you that much.

For me, at least.

Right now I’m working through the planning stages in college so that I can pass my course (like a good little student), posts will likely reflect that for the next little while and I’ll be sporadic at best. In the meantime if you feel like helping out, comment below with any opinions or thoughts on the project and if you haven’t already please fill in the survey over here.

Small Favour – Project Survey Time!

Post is sitting half-written in drafts as we speak, honest. Though in the meantime if you could answer this survey I’d be endlessly grateful!

It’s to do with the project I’m working on in college, proper introductions etc on Friday.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Concept; The Impact of a One Sentence Purpose

I love the beginning of a new project.

You’re given a set of parameters to adhere to (or very rarely a clean slate), you have a specific amount of time and usually some form of budget or lack of one.  With those parameters and limitations you’re then set loose to come up with an idea.  Blank slates excluded, it’s usual to have some form of a goal defined for you and a set of targets to reach.

Increase sales, redefine brand x as being for people y, launch a product, make one person say ‘wow’, educate, entertain – there are a lot of reasons for what we do, sometimes on a day to day basis.  The important thing is to know which one of these goals is the most important for any given project; which one matters above all else and, if delivered, would count the project a success.  Setting your main goal, defining its purpose and scope, and wrapping it up into one neat, concise sentence can make the difference between a tight design and a sloppy one.

Golden Goal Rule (Not ‘the one who has the goals makes the rules’ though I was tempted)

All goals should answer one simple question in order to be effective; ‘What’s the point?’

Let me explain.  If your example goal is something like ‘Increase number of clients by summer’ it’s easy to get diverted.  There’s no reward built in and there’s no definite point at which you can cross it off your list as complete.  Not very motivating and if you ever venture into the land of late nights/early mornings for this sort of goal you’re likely to start wondering if you can just forget about it instead!

At least, I would.  Raw stubbornness can only take you so far.

Goal++

Let’s go back to the point at the start of the project where we’re all happily bubbling away over new ideas and dancing around gleefully at the thought of having something fun to do (maybe that last part was just me, but you get the picture).  Right then you may know perfectly well what you want to accomplish and why, or at least you’re in the best place to figure it out.  While you’re enthusiastically yet diligently writing out your initial plan (right?) it’s worth taking a moment to write this sentence:

[Action] [Object] to [Goal] for [target audience] (by [timescale]).

Let me wash the mud off the window:

  1. Action:  Create, Redesign, Realign, Launch, Increase, Decrease
  2. Object: Tutorial interface, website, logo, ebook, sales, bounce rate
  3. Goal: Make sharing easier, to reflect the new branding scheme, for a more professional look, to teach people how to skip, from 5% to 10%, to 60%
  4. Target Audience: students between the ages of 16-25 studying 3D, adults working in offices full time, sophistocated young investors, children 6-10 years old, teenage girls with an interest in drawing, visitors from USA.

Formatting the first example so we can see it properly:  Create a tutorial interface to make sharing easier for students between the ages of 16-25 studying 3D.

Why bother?

Someone asks you what you’re doing? You can tell them your statement.

Get stuck or muddled part way through the project? It’s right there to remind you of where you’re going.

Focusing too much on an unimportant area of the project? That statement brooks no excuses.

Of every piece of planning I’ve ever done for a project this is the quickest part, and also the part that provides the most benefit (says the planning addict that usually has at least 10 pages of stuff).  It’s also the part that’ll make you want to throw the most objects our your window, but that’s another story.

News from the Frontlines

Hey all!

Yes, it’s been forever (slight exaggeration) since I posted anything.  I’m still running on low amounts of time however I do have some really good news.  Well, good news for me, debatable for anyone else. 😉

As of next week making this blog a success has become part of my degree project.

What this means is that, while failing to do so won’t make me fail my course, I’d get a better chance of success by making this work.  Great, I hear you say, but what’s in it for me?

You’ll get your regularly scheduled dose of tips, tricks, concepts, and tutorials for a start (we all missed those, right?).  The writing here will improve out of necessity, and I’ll come interact more often again.  Further, there’s something big going on that’s due to launch in the summer.

Very big.  I’ll start telling you more about it soon but for now I’ll leave you with this one hint;

Tutorials, and this site, are going to change.

Best I can offer you just now folks; once I get my computer back and running (or, at this stage, a brand new one) you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.  Let’s do something fun this year.

Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone that stuck around (even with the long absences for other work)!

In three days this blog will be one year old.  I can remember setting it up for launch last year, getting it all prepared, and then waiting for the 4th because that was the first Monday and it fit in with my posting schedule.  I didn’t doubt I’d still be here writing, but I also didn’t imagine it’d take so much time.  This blogging lark isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Keeping it up and running was one of my resolutions last year (well, ‘goals’, I refused to make resolutions).  The rest of them failed after a few months or so when I realised they weren’t quite as important to me as I’d thought.  How did you do with yours?

This year my goal/challenge/resolution/whatever-we’re-calling-it-these-days is to have at least one good-quality post every week.

No schedules, no other rules, but at least one good post.

I guess we could call that my promise to you. 😉

Now I’m going to do the traditional New Year’s thing and ask what the one thing you want to accomplish this year is.  Curious, honestly.  But there’s a lot of these posts around so I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make it awesome!

Guest Post: How will 3D Entertainment evolve next?

Today’s post is brought to you by Anna from Online Degree; she contacted me a week or so ago with some topic ideas, I loved this one so much that I asked her to go ahead and take it wherever she wanted.  Over to Anna!

The Ongoing Evolution of 3D Entertainment

When it comes to 3D entertainment, you could certainly say we’ve come a long way, baby. The
first big wave of 3D films arrived in theatres back in the 1950s accompanied by flimsy paper
glasses with blue and red plastic lenses. It was a gimmick that actually caught on, unlike other
hare-brained ideas like the ill-advised Smell-o-Vision. Today, ideas are already in development
that would allow people to access 3D entertainment with no glasses whatsoever!

Blue & Red Paper Glasses

The original 3D experience with the paper glasses was achieved by filming using two slightly
separated cameras, one camera using a red filter and the other using a blue filter. When layered
on top of one another, the two shots created an anaglyph image, capable of tricking the brain into
seeing a 2D film in 3D. The 3D effect from such images could only be seen when a filmgoer
wore the red-blue paper glasses. The idea is to recreate how you see in real life. One of your eyes
sees one angle and your other eye sees another angle and when their powers combine (try not to
think of Captain Planet), you have everyday human depth perception. The red-blue glasses are
designed to allow the blue shot to enter one eye and the red shot to enter the other eye while the
brain takes it upon itself to see what’s in front of it in 3D, according to American Paper Optics.

Polarized Glasses

Next came the slightly cooler polarized 3D glasses that looked a lot less like a cereal box toy and
a lot more like Wayfarers. The polarized glasses work by limiting the type of light that enter the
viewers’ eyes. The movie is filmed using two synchronized projectors that place two different
images on a movie screen with two different polarizations. Like the red-blue paper glasses, the
polarized glasses only allow one of your eyes to see one view and the other to see the other view.
This produced a much better image than was seen using the paper glasses.

Avatar and 3D TVs Bring 3D Back to the Spotlight

From its humble beginnings, 3D entertainment has advanced to a whole new level along with
modern technology. The next notable step forward was the advent of IMAX in the 1970s, and its
expansion into entertainment in the late 1990s. More recently, 3D entertainment has made a big
splash again with the wildly popular Avatar experience where James Cameron used stereoscopic
filmmaking, reviving interest in all things 3D.

This January marked the onset of sophisticated flat screen 3D televisions. Naysayers have said
that 3D televisions aren’t practical enough to catch on. After all, if you’re hosting a Super Bowl
party, are you also going to shell out the cash to buy expensive 3D glasses for all of your guests?
Keep in mind that some of the best 3D glasses easily cost more than $100. Forget the Super
Bowl party, even. What about having to buy enough glasses for all of your family to enjoy their
favorite sitcoms? The average family won’t be able to afford all the glasses it would take to make
the idea of the 3D television really pick up speed.

The Future: Glasses-Free 3D

But what if we could have a 3D experience without using glasses? The development,
improvement and expansion of this type of technology could really get 3D TVs flying off the
shelves. Toshiba is expected to start selling a glasses-free 3D TV this month in Japan. Toshiba

uses “auto-stereoscopy 3D technology,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. An article in
PC World discussed how glasses-free 3D TVs are cost-prohibitive, have too small of screens and
will also require you to sit in a certain spot to watch in optimal 3D, but none of this is the point.
The point is that the technology is available and improving. Now even tech giant Apple, Inc. has
secured a patent for a glasses-free 3D display system. The possibilities are endless. Now, if only
more people would focus on getting the ball rolling for holographic TVs.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topics of online degree. She
welcomes your comments at her email Id: anna22.miller@gmail.com.

Tutorial: Make a Procedural Ice Texture

The texture may or may not look like this

All right, here’s the deal.  I’ve gone ahead and made the texture, along with tutorial video, on my other computer (the one without internet) and I can’t transfer it over here in order to upload.  Quite a long story.

At the moment this is a placeholder (sorry!) but I’ll get this updated as soon as humanly and computerly possible.  I may even sit and write a transcript with screenshots to go alongside it.

This texture can be applied to just about any object, and with minimal tweaking you’ll be able to slide it into any scene that calls for ice sculptures.  I’ve made and used it before, and really couldn’t be happier with the result.  Rather than just copying the old texture, I decided to go through it properly in tutorial form.  Hope you’ll find it useful (when it finally gets uploaded)!