Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

The days of static web pages, emails and designs are behind us, and with interactivity and animation rapidly gaining momentum over the past few years, it’s safe to say immersive content is here to stay. Offering up richer experiences for customers and users, interactive designs are proving much more effective and engaging, and creative businesses have been quick to adopt the trend and make it their own. So what kind of interactive, animated content have they been creating and how could it affect business and generate better marketing results?

Due to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX (user experience), and in 2018, interactivity and animation have an essential role in all of that.

As a form of interactive storytelling, these mediums have proved successful with customers and are now an integral part of marketing engagement. Reportedly, 88% of online customers are less likely to revisit a website if they’ve had a bad experience, while 75% of judgments about website credibility centre on a site’s aesthetics. To top that off, a massive 94% of first impressions are based on design, showing just how important it is to create engaging content that offers something unique and different, with interactivity being the key hook to keeping customers engaged with whatever your company is offering.

Interactive creativity

We can’t have a conversation about the rise of interactivity and animation without discussing the actual content that’s being created. While some websites opt to have video backgrounds, this can lead to noticeable performance issues. To overcome this problem, web designers have begun employing background animations – known as ‘particle backgrounds’ – instead of video. Created from lightweight javascript, particle backgrounds let animation form a part of a website’s natural background, reducing load times while still engaging customers in a unique, thought-provoking way. Taking this one step further, so-called integrated animations are another way that designers have taken advantage of browser technology improvements, and are particularly useful for keeping a user engaged throughout the duration of their visit to a website. They can be used to liven up a typically dull loading screen, display something fun and attention-grabbing while hovering over a link or image, or react according to a user’s scrolling and navigation patterns.

Mobile-optimised websites are another facet of interactivity that’s taken hold in recent years. In 2016, smartphones and tablets overtook desktop to become the population’s browsing device of choice. Desktop’s portion of browsing traffic dwindled to 48.7%, while mobile web browsing’s share of the action had risen consistently since 2009. That meant that developers, marketers and eCommerce giants had to respond accordingly – they started to create sites that were just as easy to navigate on mobile as they were on desktop, if not easier. Featuring stripped back, minimalist designs, mobile-friendly sites are seen as nigh-on essential these days, making it even easier for customers to interact with their favourite brands online while engaging with products and content. Likewise, responsive design has even helped revolutionise desktop browsing. These days, websites typically respond to the size of the window they’re being viewed in, and react and resize depending on how the user manipulates them. In the coming years, designers will have to accommodate newer mediums such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which demand deeper interactivity for users.

But what do actual creatives think to these new interactivity standards and the inclusion of animation in design? We asked our resident Web Designer, Jamie, for his thoughts – “With mobile phones and tablets becoming today’s primary devices for browsing, I think responsiveness is key to giving equal experience to a user, regardless of screen size. And if you want to capture a user’s attention, animation and interactivity are great tools that draw on the curiosity and playfulness of a person’s mind.” Our Graphic Designer, Videographer and Animator, Simon, added “The presence of motion graphics on a web page or email immediately draws a user’s attention and provides an extra level of engagement. Animated GIFs or longer animated videos embedded in the page can also help get an idea across more clearly than a still illustration or icon in some situations.”

How can interactive designs and animation benefit business?

A number of industry marketing studies suggest that brands which utilise animation and interactivity (and have paid particular attention to UX design in general) will see the results. According to one study, one in three people will abandon a purchase if they can’t find the correct information, suggesting an interactive site that responds to a user’s needs and displays information more clearly would retain their custom. Similarly, visit-to-lead conversions have shown to be as much as 400% higher on websites with a better UX design, while a more user-friendly UI (user interface) has raised conversion rates by 200% in some cases. It’s also worth noting that 97% of business customers consider usability to be the most essential component of mobile apps, something that interactivity and strategically placed animation could help companies take advantage of.

If you’re more concerned with email design, polls have routinely ranked interactive emails as the number one email marketing trend. Interactive emails can consist of a news story feed, polls, navigation bars and tabs, feedback functionality and more. In 2015, Ticketmaster trialled an interactive email containing a poll. It let recipients vote for the best music video of the year, best female video, best male video and best rock video, all without clicking away from the email – and it paid off! On top of better than average click-through and engagement rates, the email received 182% more opens than standard email communications. Some companies have even gone so far as to include the ability to place orders within an email, and while few have perfected it, it’s led to an uptick in sales within these communications.

Want to get started?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help you bring animation and interactive design in-house. A designer’s first port of call should always be Mac, which is ideal for any creative looking to immerse themselves in animation. Built with enough processing and graphical power to handle intensive animation generation, Apple hardware is perfectly suited to the requirements of modern creative workflows. If you want the best of the best, the brand new iMac Pro is fully equipped to take on 3D animation, which’ll really put you ahead of the competition!

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes everything you could need to get started (as well as tutorials to lend a hand along the way), is essential if you want to achieve the industry-standard and remain competitive. Popular Adobe apps for animation include After Effects, Animate, Illustrator, Photoshop and new Character Animator. Simon thinks highly of Creative Cloud’s powerful tools, too – “Motion graphics are increasingly simple to produce within Adobe Creative Cloud. The timeline window in Photoshop is great for compiling short sequences, while After Effects has every tool you could ever need to produce longer, more complex animations.” You can find out more about Creative Cloud here, including features, applications, benefits for your studio, and price plans.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Last month, we took a look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features following MAX 2017. This time round, we’re delving into Adobe Character Animator – Adobe’s new live motion capture and multi-track recording app for controlling layered 2D puppets drawn in Photoshop or Illustrator. 

Character Animator allows users to create 2D animations and bring them to life with incredible accuracy. The app actually copies your facial movements, so characters act and react realistically in real time. Once again, I caught up with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to find out all about her first thoughts on Character Animator, what she managed to create while experimenting, and how she’s planning on using the software going forward.

What were your first impressions of Adobe Character Animator?

“The first thing I realised was just how easy it was to go from not knowing anything about animation to suddenly being able to animate easily in a few simple steps – and it looks good! When you first start with Character Animator, there are pre-built options that take you through basic face animation so you can get to grips with it. There are preset characters too, so you don’t have to create your own from scratch in Photoshop or Illustrator first – you can just get started right away. When you click on a preset, it opens up in Photoshop as well as in Character Animator so you can customise it and replace elements.

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I think it would take a long time to create a character that’s really beautiful in Photoshop, as they’re built in individual layers. As far as I can tell, that’s how Character Animator knows how to target different body parts for animation, whether it’s eyebrows, eyes, nose, arms or whichever. And if I edit a preset animation in Photoshop, it’ll automatically update in Character Animator.

Character Animator screenshot 1

The app uses the webcam footage and audio from your computer to animate various points on your face. First, I had to set a rest pose by looking at the monitor with a neutral face, which helps the animation respond better to any facial expressions.”

What did you create during your first try of the app?

“Well, when you open an initial template, one of them is a blank face. When it loaded up in Photoshop, I experimented with customising the background and eyebrows. I left the mouth and eyes as they were – they require a bit more work and I’d need to capture lots of different facial expressions for Open, Close, Left, Right and more, and as it was my first time, I didn’t want to get too much into them just yet. Once I’d saved my creation in Photoshop, it loaded up in Character Animator and I started animating it with my own facial movements and voice.

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I noticed that it isn’t quite as intuitive or responsive as I expected it to be – there appears to be a slight delay and the character missed my mouth when it opened a couple of times. However, having looked a bit more into settings and options, it appears that you can tinker with things to make animations much more responsive and accurate. To be honest, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly I picked it up. All I did was watch a few official Adobe tutorials online and follow the instructions in the app. The best thing is that Character Animator does exactly what it says on the tin, and works exactly how Adobe say it will – I’m very impressed overall. It means that people who aren’t very experienced with animation and apps like After Effects can achieve a good standard with minimal skill, knowledge and time.”

Character Animator screenshot 2

What are you excited to do with Character Animator in the future?

“Personally, I’m looking forward to making my own story and animating it! Thinking about future work though, I think it will be fun to bring a dull project to life with animation without adding too much to my workload. I noticed that Adobe have additional preset characters available for download, so I’ll definitely be experimenting with those when I can. And the app lets you add animated characters into live streams that respond to your facial movements in real time. That could be great for a future social media live stream or something like that.”

If you’d like to find out more about the latest Adobe Creative Cloud updates, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Five creative trends we’ve got our eye on

Five creative trends we’ve got our eye on

From AR to VR and every acronym in between, there are lots of fresh creative trends on their way up this year that we’re getting pretty excited about. 

As you’ve probably figured out by now, we’re celebrating 25 years of being a leading creative technology provider. As part of the festivities, we’ve been looking back at retro tech and old school design work, but as fun as its been to enjoy some nostalgia, we also like to keep our eye to the future and stay right up to date on the hottest industry trends.

Check out our top five creative trends to look out for…

Animation and video

More and more websites are leaving static imagery behind, hoping to capture the imagination of users through animation. Advancements in web browsers, CSS and HTML5 have made the creation and implementation of animation online much simpler, and web designers are utilising its ability to tell dynamic stories to customers as they browse online.

Video is already hugely popular, but it’s becoming even more so as developments in live streaming via social media take hold. Video is so effective because it allows companies to communicate fine-tuned product narratives to viewers in a way that engages and excites them. If you haven’t adopted it yet, now’s the time!

Did you know? By 2018, 79% of all consumer internet traffic will be video-based.

UX design

Thanks to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX, and with apps like Uber, Snapchat and Pokémon Go perfecting the practice to great success, its uptake among design teams looks set to continue. 

Virtual reality

You probably guessed it’d show up at some point. VR has only just started infiltrating our lives, and the creation of groundbreaking immersive experiences is definitely on the up. In this year alone, we’ve seen the introduction of virtual tours and VR-themed stage productions, the creation of dementia-friendly virtual environments, VR sketching software for creative professionals and virtual reality apps for reading the news. Not only that, but digital marketers are jumping on the bandwagon as they look to capitalise on a fresh, fully interactive medium for customer engagement.

Minimalism and modularity

As a designer’s job becomes ever more technical and complex, it’s kind of ironic that we’re striving for less in how we present our content. Brands are competing to appear elegant and refined, and a great contemporary example of this is conversational interfaces. News apps in particular send small, digestible pieces of information (usually based on what you’re interested in) straight to your smartphone. From there, users can choose to interact with the notification if they wish to see more content, but otherwise it’s presented in a clean, concise way that doesn’t clutter your home screen.

We expect this trend to continue to grow, so it’s worth bearing a few things in mind if you want your design work to keep up with the competition. We’d recommend breaking your layouts up into digestible chunks and making them easy to engage with, rather than forcing users into walls of text and information. It makes the design process more manageable and goes hand in hand with that sleek, minimalist look we were just talking about.

Typography

Experimenting with typography is key to the design process, and the importance of selecting something that both compliments your work and adapts nicely to your design layouts can’t be understated. Whether you’re using it to help represent complex ideas and abstract concepts, bolster minimalist page designs with a dash of creativity that make them more exciting or just trying to make your work look prettier, designers are now spending more time than ever mulling over their typographical decisions.

These days, the use of larger fonts is becoming more prevalent thanks to the need to optimise websites for mobile screens. Similarly, designers are being tasked with creating responsive logos, which are designed to keep up with the ever-growing selections of formats and scales available to users. Preferably, a good responsive logo will be simple and malleable, and react naturally to its environment while still being functional. This means that we could see creatives move away from hand drawn typography, as these logos are likely to be intricate, much more complex, and less flexible and responsive.

Want to find out more about about the latest creative technology? Give us a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

 

Bringing Zebedee the zebra to life with Adobe Creative Cloud

Bringing Zebedee the zebra to life with Adobe Creative Cloud

We’ve loved the cracking Christmas ads from Apple, John Lewis, H&M and Sainsbury’s this year, so we decided to join in the fun and create a festive-themed feature of our own. 

Taking some solid inspiration from John Lewis’s popular ‘Buster the Boxer’ campaign, I took to my favourite Adobe Creative Cloud apps to bring our very own trampolining critter to life – Zebedee the zebra! 

Zebedee enjoying a popular zebra pass time – trampolining!
Zebedee enjoying a popular zebra past time – trampolining!

I use Adobe Creative Cloud for all my animation work because it’s easy to use. App integration allows you to switch between programs without worrying about file compatibility or loss of progress, making the transition from design to video nice and simple.

When I began the initial design, I booted up Illustrator and created each scene in 2D, making sure to keep any component I wanted to animate independently on a separate layer. Once I’d finished the 2D design, I imported the layers for each scene into After Effects and enabled them for 3D. From there I added a camera and lighting, providing some depth to the artwork.

Zebedee makes a friend...
Zebedee makes a friend…

Adobe’s neat animation tools allowed me to fine tune the basics of the design, animating the camera and other moving parts, including clouds and the hedgehog. I did this using basic layer variables like position and rotation, and made use of a few expressions when I needed items to loop or react to components from another layer (expressions are a feature of Adobe After Effects, allowing you to create relationships between layer properties, using the keyframes of one property to dynamically animate other layers).

One of the great things about Creative Cloud for animation is that it supports a whole load of different plug-ins. These can be utilised to provide new tools that increase the functionality of your apps, which is great for continued efficiency and productivity, and saves you having to use other design programs entirely. When it came to animating Zebedee the zebra, I made use of After Effects’ puppet tool and a third-party rigging plug-in called DUIK. DUIK allows moving parts to be controlled ‘realistically’, keeping  appendages attached to the appropriate body part – in this case, hooves to legs and legs to body.

"YouTube are gonna love this..."
“YouTube are gonna love this…”

I wasn’t too happy with my first attempt at texturing the snow in the garden using a vector texture brush in Illustrator, and ended up finishing the job with a third-party brush in Photoshop. Thankfully, replacing all the layers in After Effects was quick and easy and didn’t affect any of the animating I’d already done (thanks, app integration!).

Once I’d completed each scene, I imported them all as After Effects compositions into Premiere Pro. From there, I arranged them on the timeline, edited the transitions and added the music. Then I used Media Encoder to export each cut for approval (I exported at a lower resolution until the finished version was fully signed off), which allowed me to continue working with Premiere Pro in the meantime.

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You can check out Zebedee the zebra’s Christmas debut below:

Want to know more about Adobe Creative Cloud? Give us a call on 03332 409 251 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Why use animation (and Adobe Creative Cloud) for marketing?

Why use animation (and Adobe Creative Cloud) for marketing?

With the way people respond to advertising changing (Newscred report that 87% of buyers say digital content has a large impact on their purchasing decisions), I’ve found myself increasingly using animation as part of my video workflow. 

Why animation for marketing?

There are a few reasons we might decide animation was the best way to communicate a message – it can help make abstract or complex concepts easier to understand than a paragraph of text or a voiceover, or it can help to make dryer subjects more interesting and fun just by adding some graphics with a bit of movement. It also allows us to keep multimedia campaigns visually consistent by reusing spot illustrations that might have been created for a print campaign and turning them into motion graphics for video content.

We find we get some really good response when we incorporate animation, but creating it obviously takes time. Adobe Creative Cloud – a staple of my video workflow – helps ease that a bit.

Why use Adobe Creative Cloud?

Creative Cloud was an obvious choice for me when starting out in animation. For a start, I already had a CC subscription for all the other web and print work I was doing, so I had instant access to After Effects, and when I first went to use it a lot of the features came intuitively from being used to working in Illustrator and Photoshop etc. Keeping everything within Creative Cloud has other benefits too – there are dynamic links between all of the apps that I use for animation that keep my workflow totally non-destructive and any aspect of the final product is easily editable at any point of the process.

It’s great for organisation. I keep the bits I need to move independently of each other on separate layers in Illustrator, that way I can have them as separate layers in After Effects too. It means I don’t have to make loads of separate Illustrator files.

If you make any changes to your work, it’ll automatically update in Premiere Pro, taking out the hassle of going back and forth, saving different components multiple times every time you make a change. Creative Cloud gives you a more integrated user experience that’s brilliant for animation. App integration provides me with all the tools I could need to take an animation from initial illustration right the way up to final export.

Adobe Creative Cloud from Jigsaw24

I really would recommend making the move to Creative Cloud if you don’t already have a subscription. Or, indeed, if you’re looking at bringing video and animation in-house for the first time. The Complete package gives you access to all Adobe apps (After Effects, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, plus your standards like Photoshop, InDesign and more), or you can just opt for a Single App subscription too. Find out more about buying options for Adobe Creative Cloud here.

Oh, and you can see some of my animation work here at the Jigsaw24 YouTube channel.

 

– Want to get the most out of Adobe Creative Cloud? For tutorials, tips and other resources, check out our Adobe Creative Cloud Hub

Want to know more about Adobe Creative Cloud? Give us a call on 03332 409 251 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.


Video: Our design team on working with Wacom Intuos Pro

Video: Our design team on working with Wacom Intuos Pro

Ask any designer nowadays and they’ll tell you their Wacom is indispensable to their work. Ask our design team, and they’ll tell you why they’d like to snog theirs. Find out how they’re using Wacom Intuos Pro in design work as diverse as print, web, illustration and animation in this video… 

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Want to know more about the Wacom Intuos Pro range? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email wacom@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Expansion pack brings new features to Autodesk 2014

Expansion pack brings new features to Autodesk 2014

It’s a good day to be an Autodesk user. Not only have the 3D giants revealed new features for their M&E range, they’ve also dropped the price of Entertainment Creation Suites and announced that you can upgrade to the Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate for 20% less. 

Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Mudbox get new extensions for subscription customers

Not content with rolling out service packs left, right and centre, Autodesk are introducing new features to their core VFX and 3D applications. Highlights include the addition of Python scripting to 3ds Max, and 3ds Max users with an Autodesk Subscription can also log in to the Autodesk App Exchange to download a separate update that adds stereo camera viewing functionality.

Maya users should brace themselves for the arrival of Xgen, the program Disney and Pixar developed to make their award-winning range of animated hair, fur and feathers. Autodesk have had Xgen on an exclusive licence for a while now, but this is the first time we’ve seen it take centre stage in one of their biggest applications, and we could not be more excited.

Mudbox has received a refresh of its retopology toolkit, so you should find it easier to force topologically symmetrical results or to mix topological symmetry with spatial asymmetry. There’s also a new caliper tool that enables you to measure the distance between two points on a model or along a curve.

To be able to access these new features you’ll need an Autodesk Subscription. If you’re not a subscriber already, you can get in touch with our team over at Autodesk@Jigsaw24.com for advice on how to go about adding Subscriptions to your existing licences.

Want to know more about your Autodesk options? Give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email Autodesk@Jigsaw24.com to find out more. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

 

Adobe Creative Week 2012: Our design team’s thoughts

Adobe Creative Week 2012: Our design team’s thoughts

Our design team spend most of their waking hours toiling over Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Dreamweaver, so we thought it would be a good idea for us to check in with some of Adobe Creative Week 2012’s online seminars and see what other creatives were up to.

With the UK economy still idling in recession, big themes up for discussion were how creativity could help push growth, the decline of print, constrained budgets and changing skill sets. Adobe also showcased their new Touch apps for Apple’s iPad, Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6. Here’s Liana, Ed and Paul’s thoughts on the week’s hotly contested debates…

Day 1: Creative Industry Overview

The overarching question to kick off Creative Week was ‘Can creativity help drive the UK out of recession?’, and the results showed the viewers had a pretty sunny outlook, 88% of them voting ‘Yes’. One of the themes touched on was creativity in education, and whether we were failing the younger generation by not giving art and creative subjects enough credibility.

Designer Liana Jackson wasn’t so sure it was such a big hindrance: “While gaining basic skills in maths and science is necessary, I’ve never felt like I wasn’t able to pursue a career in design because art wasn’t ‘credible’. I suppose it can be seen more as a hobby than an actual job, and I think more people are trying to get into creative roles now, and earning money doing jobs for people because they ‘kind of know’ what they’re doing. This can lead to a lot of pants design out there and a lot of qualified designers out of a job.”

With the rising use of mobile devices in the classroom (Adobe showed an interesting case study from Ravensbourne College), students are getting far more collaborative and diverse design skills. Whether this new crop of creativity can provide the stimulus the UK needs for economic growth remains to be seen.

Adobe Touch apps and Creative Cloud

Throughout Creative Week, Adobe evangelists were showcasing their latest products with in-depth video tutorials, which are all handily uploaded to the Adobe Creative Week site to watch back at your leisure. Of particular interest to our iPad expert Ed Reisner were the new Adobe Touch apps and Creative Cloud, as presented by Rufus Deuchler (Senior Worldwide Design Evangelist at Adobe Systems – @rufusd on Twitter).

“While Apple have been pushing their cloud services for a while, it’s great that you can now ‘work in the cloud’ with Adobe,” he said. “Creative Cloud also lets you download and manage desktop apps like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign or the Touch tablet apps such as Kuler and Proto, a bit like Apple’s App Store. Interestingly, you can also download an app for a specific time period. This would be useful if you’ve taken on a contractor for a month or two, and only need a Photoshop licence for that time.”

Ed also thought Adobe’s six Touch apps – Photoshop, Kuler, Proto, Collage, Ideas and Debut – would be really useful for designers on the move: “Each of the Touch apps is designed specifically for multitouch use, and as they integrate with Creative Cloud, will let you work on initial concepts and save them while you’re out of the office.

“Photoshop Touch gives you control of some basic Photoshop commands, but also lets you add comments so you can collaboratively review ideas with colleagues and clients. The Ideas app is great for sketching out concepts, letting you draw intuitively with touch gestures as vector paths, ready to scale up in Illustrator when you’re back at your desktop computer. Of all Adobe’s Touch apps, the most interesting is probably Proto, which integrates with Dreamweaver to let you create basic websites on the fly. You can be with a client and sketch out ideas on your iPad as you’re talking, using multitouch gestures to put in headers, tabs and more.”

Day 2: Design and Publishing

The decline of print media is no big news, so it was heartening to see that 69% of people surveyed on Day 2 thought that print could survive the digital revolution. Jeremy Leslie from the magCulture blog said that having both print and digital “gives us the option to pick and choose the right solution for the project in hand”, while Future Publishing’s digital Editor-in-Chief Mike Goldsmith enthused that “digital technology gives you permission to fail”, as it’s so much easier to rectify mistakes and make amends.

“Digital media can reach people far quicker than print, and with platforms like Twitter, it’s changed how we read and consume content,” said Liana. “But they reminded viewers that the challenge is still engaging that person to want to follow a link and read on.

“Design, like fashion, is also cyclical, and Adobe brought up the good example of InDesign’s first introduction, and people moving over from Quark. Everyone learned to use new tools like drop shadow, but then it became so ubiquitous that it fell out of favour, only to come back when it started being seen as different and original again,” she added.

Tutorials for Day 2 focused on Adobe’s big three apps for design and publishing – Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator – as well as newcomer Muse, which lets you do WYSIWYG web design without lines and lines of code. Check out the videos on the Adobe Creative Week site.

We’ve been using Creative Suite 6 for a while now, and our videographer Tom has also put together his own handy tutorials for Photoshop’s Content-Aware and text extrusion tools, and Image Trace in Illustrator, which you can see over at our YouTube channel.

Day 3: Film and video

‘Do smaller budgets make for more original ideas?’ Last year, the BBC spent 13% less on TV, and ITV spent 21% less (2011 compared to 2010), yet revenue went up for both. Pressure and expectation from above to do more with fewer resources and less technology can force creatives to think differently, seemed to be the reasoning.

One new avenue which has helped is social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter which, former BBC social media expert Marc Goodchild reckons, “brings producers closer to their audience”.

Liana agreed that social media is now a key part of creativity: “As Marc said, YouTube allows you to test your work and fine tune it before the final cut, decreasing risk and making it as good as it can be. It’s also great for talent scouts and HR managers looking to hire people. Pilots used to be secretive and for a specialised audience, but now they’re expected to be seen by lots of people, thus giving more constructive feedback.

“The panellists also discussed how Twitter is now a valid source of openly eavesdropping – people aren’t afraid to give their opinion because they aren’t talking to your face. There are also enough people to get a rounded, calculated result, from a different range of expertise and backgrounds.”

Day 4: Web and mobile

Cross-disciplinary skills are all well and good, but the fourth day of Creative Week asked – ‘Should you be a Jack of all trades instead of a master of one?’. A very talented 64% said designers should be skilled in newer processes like app design in addition to traditional skills.

With the ways people consume media changing, and clients wanting to be at the forefront of that change, keeping up to date with technology has never been so important. Just as a coder needs a basic grasp of design, designers should have an understanding of coding, they said.

Adobe demoed a great new resource – The Expressive Web – showcasing CSS3, HTML5 and content aware pages. As Ed mentioned above, there’s also the new Touch app Proto. Proto lets you create a website wireframe directly on your tablet device, preview in on the tablet and then export it out to the Creative Cloud where you can then start fleshing the website out in Dreamweaver.

Day 5: Photography and Imaging

The last day’s topic was bound to cause a bit of controversy – ‘Is digital imaging all tech and no talent?’. Any designer worth their salt knows that software is a brilliant addition to photography, but it can’t make a great photo on its own, and an overwhelming 70% agreed that ‘No’, you need talent too.

It was said that Photoshop gives you the opportunity to experiment using techniques and ideas without massive costs – for example award-winning photographer Timothy Allen (BBC’s Human Planet) argued that it was much more cost-effective to use the Tilt-shift feature in Photoshop than it was to buy new lenses to shoot with to achieve the same effect.

Senior designer Paul Shillabeer thought the rise of ‘iPhoneography’ and photo-sharing sites was having a very real effect on the industry. “More amateurs and professionals are using apps and iPhones to create imagery,” he said. “This movement is getting bigger and is very accessible to all levels of photographer from pros to casual snappers. Erin Moroney [of the UK Young Photographers’ Alliance] also noted that photo stock libraries are finding it hard to compete and cannot command the high price tags they used to because people are sourcing images from so many other sources – a very similar image to what a client’s looking for could easily be found on Flickr.”

– A good taster of the current state of the design and media industries, Adobe’s Creative Week 2012 managed to wrap up all the big questions about the changing face of digital creativity. If you missed any of the debates and tutorials, you can catch up on demand here.

You can find out more about Adobe Creative Suite 6 and our full range of design tools at our site, or by calling our team on 03332 409 306 or emailing CAD@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

We recently managed to get our hands on a couple of pairs of these glasses and the associated hardware to use in our demonstrations at BVE. Having wanted to see them for quite some time, I was excited about seeing them in action.

Seeing an image in 3D on the screen requires each one of your eyes to see a slightly different image, there are several different ways to achieve this. Most systems use passive glasses; these take the form of either the coloured anaglyph glasses (which require no special display technology) or clear polarised glasses (requiring a matching polarised display).

Regardless of the technology used, the theory is the same: the glasses and display work together to ensure that your left eye only sees the left image and your right eye only sees the right image. Your brain does the rest, fusing these two separate images into a 3D picture.

The NVIDIA glasses work on the same theory but achieve it in a slightly different way. They are based on active technology and are powered by a small battery. The glasses work wirelessly, although they are charged over USB. Each lens of the glasses contains a liquid crystal display similar to those used in old calculators and this display changes the lens from black to clear at a rate of 60 HZ (60 times a second). While this is happening, the display flicks from the left image to the right image at a rate of 120 HZ. This is synced with the glasses via an infra red emitter to ensure that when the left image is being shown the right eye is blanked out and vice versa.

To make all of this work, you will need the following equipment:

  • The NVIDIA 3D Vision starter kit, containing a pair of glasses and the infra red sync emitter.
  • A compatible NVIDIA graphics card with a DIN connector for the sync emitter. A Quadro is needed for pro applications such as Maya. A Geforce is needed for Games.
  • A display that is capable of displaying an image at 120HZ – the Samsung SyncMaster range is a good place to start.
  • Software that is capable of using active stereo. In games, this is taken care of by the Nvidia driver. With regard to pro apps, any app that supports Quad Buffered OpenGL will work.

So, enough of the technical stuff – what are these glasses like to use? I was lucky enough to test them extensively, using them both for gaming and within Autodesk’s Maya. I was very impressed with them, I had expected to see some flickering of the picture as it switched from the left to right images but, with each eye being displayed at nearly 3 times the frame rate required for smooth viewing, the picture was extremely smooth. The glasses do make the screen appear a little dimmer but this can be fixed easily by turning up the brightness a little.

The experience of getting the glasses to work with my professional applications was a smooth one also, and just required enabling stereoscopic support in the NVIDIA control panel. It is even possible to display 3D output from two different programs at the same time.

In summary, these glasses are ideal if you want to preview and edit stereoscopic content in programs like Maya, or view stereoscopic movies. Imagine being able to show your 3D film or game in full colour progressive 3D, or showing off your product or building designs to clients in full 3D. With most major modelling packages including 3ds Max Design, Maya, CINEMA 4D and others at least able to create stereoscopic content even if you can’t directly edit in 3D, these glasses offer a great way to show your work in an immersive way. Content can be exported from this software and played back using Nvidias stereoscopic player and you can even use them for a bit of gaming after work!

If you’re not sure about the best way to create or view stereoscopic content, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.