Archive for January, 2008

January 25, 2008

Kuler Extension for Dreamweaver

kuler.jpg
WebAssist has just released a great extension that allows you to easily access Adobe Kuler color palettes from within Dreamweaver. I have found this extension extremely useful. The good people at WebAssist have also decided to offer the extension for FREE!
Simply download and install the extension, open Dreamweaver, and access the Kuler extension by clicking Window > Dreamweaver Tools for Kuler. The tool palette opens and allows you to search and apply Kuler’s great looking color combinations all from within Dreamweaver.
Get it here!
So…what other FREE extensions have you found useful?

8:46 AM Permalink
January 13, 2008

Why Do Most Home Movies Look Like Home Movies?

I recently came across an article posted on the American Film Institute blog that spoke about the lack of visual literacy in our society.
The article stated that, for such a media immersed culture, we have a difficult time creating visually compelling stories. It went on to add that most of us use our home video cameras to “document an event rather than tell a story” such as birthday parties or weddings (in all honesty, I find most people’s home videos, including my own, about as entertaining as watching my grandmother quilt a pair of mittens).
Peruse YouTube and it won’t take long to realize how true this statement is. Most of the videos on YouTube document some sort of event and they lack creativity and sophistication. With the availability of inexpensive video editing software why isn’t there better content? My guess is that people are not being taught how to create more engaging stories.
Let us rise up and end home movie mediocrity! We must bridge the visual literacy gap and teach good storytelling and encourage more compelling filmmaking.
You can start by giving the AFI Blog a good read.

8:58 PM Permalink
January 2, 2008

THE MAGIC OF WHAT WE DO

snowy leaf 1.jpg
There is a soft, muted “click” as the camera shutter gently works, capturing another image. The soft feel of a fresh snowfall on a winter’s day and it’s – on film? No – captured by a CCD, ready for more playing, more development in Photoshop. After saving for many months I finally took delivery of my new Pentax digital SLR and its special lens – shooting good pictures is possible once again. As I stand here up to my knees in freshly fallen soft snow waiting for the morning sun to find its way into my small part of the world I am again reminded of how magic our work can be.
sunlit trees1.jpg
Magic – the perfect word to describe the creating and sharing of images, sounds, animations, videos – everything that we do every day, with our students, with other teachers, with each other. In these moments all of the politics and narrow minded restrictions are removed. All of the negative comments from some disparaging voice at the back of the room disappear. A look of intense interest glows in someone’s eyes as they start to “see” all of the possibilities ahead. And I am reignited by the act of making pictures – by the act of making magic.
There was a Greek philosopher who maintained that teachers, to be effective, must actually do, as well as teach. I like that approach – it means that there is a greater chance that the magic will find its way into a classroom because there is no equivalent to actually doing. Looking around the forest where I am shooting I see the fresh tracks of a rabbit moving into the bush. Can I find that wandering bunny? More to the point, can I find and shoot that rabbit? As I follow the tracks I am led into a grove of trees and the sun suddenly lights up the snow and there is a warmth now that needs to be captured. The shadows and the sparkling light are dancing in front of me – it’s time to make pictures. And you’re going to convince me that you can learn this by reading a book? No – that’s simply never going to happen. The magic of being in the forest, washed over by that morning sun – that is a teachable moment that only personal experience can generate. That personal involvement is part of the magic.
We have a new year ahead of us. So far it’s looking a lot better than the one I, for example, have left behind. Too many challenges, not enough accomplishments – it’s time to turn that one around. Its time to find the magic – wherever that magic may live in each of our lives. Its starting well – the fellow at our local high end camera shop was talking to me about my camera (heart stopping moment when he told me they were completely sold out – I found one in a small city many miles from here – thank heavens for that) – and then he saw the Adobe Ed Leaders name on the front and asked if I would like to teach Photoshop Elements to their customers. Turns out they have a small classroom set up in their basement complete with digital projector and seating for about 25. Many of their customers have requested demonstrations and classes as well as an explanation of why Photoshop should be their software of choice. No problem, I said, I’d love to do it – and suddenly a whole new opportunity is opened in front of me. That is part of the magic, too. New opportunities, old skills and old passions reignited, creation and sharing actively pursued – yes, these are all part of the magic of what we do. It’s going to be a good year.
May you too, find your version of The Magic. May it warm you and drive you and may it find its way, every day, into your classroom.

5:47 AM Permalink