Turn your Thanksgiving Traditions Into Life-long Memories

We’ve got so much to say during the holiday season. Whether at home or work, we’re giving thanks, hosting parties, summing up 2015’s achievements and scripting our New Year’s resolutions.

Adobe’s free Slate and Voice storytelling apps make it easy to share good tidings: Slate lets you combine written words with pictures and graphics for magazine-quality presentation, while Voice lets you easily create an animated video complete with your original recording as the sound track.

Those features make these storytelling tools a fun way to craft Thanksgiving invitations, collect memories of the big dinner that can be shared with your guests, or capture the sweet moments of the season.

That’s what the Bret family behind Savour Provence, a vacation program hosted at its villa in the south of France, recently did with their “Thanksgiving Photo Shoot.”

The Bret’s Slate depicts four generations of family gathering, playing and finally posing for annual holiday pictures. Their story includes large images of elegant table settings accented with insets of embroidered pumpkins and fall flowers on napkins and placemats.

What the Brets did is easy enough for others to do, says Brian Nemhauser, Adobe Slate product manager.

Start building a Slate with images of the family preparing the meal together. That image could dissolve into a photo of the family gathered   around the table. Text scrolling over the pictures could mention what each person is thankful for.

Such presentations are called “glideshows,” says Nemhauser.

“You could do a whole Thanksgiving Day party that way,” he adds. “Slate provides creators a chance to break up content, not just offer inline images one after another.”

People also have found fun, creative ways to use Voice to impart their holiday spirit. For example, these three girls sharing what “We Are Thankful For” in a 31-second Voice.

And, the Christian Family Fellowship in Puxico, Missouri, used Voice to invite folks to a “Community Thanksgiving dinner where they can “serve or be served” free, “great-tasting” food.

Businesses can use either Adobe storytelling apps, too, to connect with their customers. They may create a spoken Voice greeting card for clients or build a Slate reflecting on the success of the year. Slates are easily emailed, so clients can respond swiftly to what they view.

Other ways to use these free tools for the holidays include:

  • A Slate brochure to promote Black Friday deals or January white sales.
  • Students can create end-of-semester Voice projects.
  • Coaches can use Voice to share everything from basketball game recaps to football season reviews.
  • Employees can talk about yearly accomplishments and support their presentations with pictures and graphics in a Voice.


Fables from Our Tables: The Stories That Make the Recipes


Every holiday dish has a backstory.

From angel cookies to zesty zucchini breads, we carry on family traditions, create new ones, spread Christmas cheer and even offer tips for a healthy New Year. We bake, roast, boil, sauté and otherwise concoct foods that glue generations and cultures together.

And today, those stories and recipes are finding new life on storytelling platforms Adobe Slate and Voice, where people are sharing why food is often at the forefront of fables from our tables.
“We eat with our eyes,” said Robin Renken of Las Vegas, who recently created “Beets and Greens,” a Slate story featuring irresistible produce from one of the many farmers markets that she and her husband, Michael, promote through their website.

Renken placed large images that she shot of beets, chard and kale in her story about making a healthy dinner on the run. She added text about how to cut and cook the vegetables, along with fun facts about them, in boxes with smaller detail pictures that popped past the bigger images in the background.

“Really big pictures of food in the background are evocative and draw people in,” she said. “It’s more than just a recipe on a blog post.”

Renken said she imported her Photoshop Lightroom photos directly into Slate and typed live into the scrolling boxes, giving her a good idea of what her presentation would look like. She later shared the Slate story URL on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and her website.
“People loved the interactive format, which was good for vendors and consumers,” she said.

For Marty Cohen, a retired pediatrician, Slate offers the chance to capture family memories. In his story, four generations of his wife Cathleen’s family prepare food for their traditional Japanese-American New Year’s Day parties.

“Traditions have been passed along so different members of generations can learn to cook dinners,” said Cohen, of Carmel Valley, California.

In Cohen’s “In The Kitchen,” viewers see close-ups of young and old hands sharpening knives, slicing octopus and salmon, trimming green onions, grinding sesame seeds and rolling sushi. Text placed as captions under photos or passing above the images explains the art and mastery required to pull together the feast at a relative’s home in Los Angeles.

But no faces are shown in the story.

“It’s about the food and the preparation,” Cohen said of the festivities attended by more than 100 people throughout the day.

Cohen said he balanced the use of many Slate features without making his presentation look too busy. He uploaded four years of images to Lightroom, which auto-syncs with Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Slate.

After grouping photos in sets of two or three, he changed the order until it “made sense” and was “visually very interesting.”

Family and friends were amazed at how Cohen’s story, starting with a hand holding up a well-worn recipe and ending with a festive table full of Japanese cuisine, caught “the colors and beauty of the food.”

“With Slate, you can change it as you go, preview as you go, and see words under or over images,” he said. “It’s easy to just play with it.”

For Livia Gamble, a reporter for “Essential Kids” in Australia, Adobe Voice offers a chance to show family activities that can introduce children to the kitchen.

Her first Voice, “Two Minute Nutella Mug Cake,” netted 600,000 views on Essential Kids and was also uploaded to Facebook, where 70,000 people liked it.

Gamble overlaid text on pictures, starting with a promising look into an empty mug. While a whistling tune from Adobe’s music selection plays, the picture changes as each ingredient revealed in text is added to the mug. Viewers see flour, sugar, cocoa, olive oil, milk, Nutella and an egg join the mix before being transformed by microwave.

“It’s really, really easy,” Gamble said of making the Voice … as well as cake. “All up, it might have taken me about an hour to make the mug video because I was making (and eating) the cake as I was taking the photos on my phone.”

Gamble said the Voice story fit well with what Essential Kids is trying to do, which is provide a wide-ranging forum of parenting advice that includes activities with food.

The Nutella cake Voice is just one example of how a sweet treat perfect to warm up the holidays also becomes an opportunity for new family fables to emerge.

“Just be creative,” Gamble said.

Tips for Creating Your Own Slate and Voice

Renken: Variety goes a long way, so use the Slate options available to make it more of an interactive experience for the user and to represent food in different ways.

Cohen: It’s good to have thought ahead about what your message is, what you want to show, what you want viewers to see. Know your goal, and you can answer that question as you prepare the Slate.

Gamble: You don’t have to make a how-to video, it could be as simple as showing off party pictures for relatives. It could also be an excellent project for kids to work on themselves.

Architect finds inspiration in San Francisco, paper, pencils … and the latest storytelling app

Dan Hogman

When he’s not busy working as an architect, Dan Hogman roams San Francisco to coax new tales from his adopted city’s old buildings.

With camera, sketch pad and pencil, Romanian-born Hogman feels inspired by the city’s rich architectural heritage to create stories he shares on social media, where he is known by thousands as the self-described “maniac architect photographer.”

“There’s a certain magic when the pencil touches the paper and the paper talks back to you,” he said.

Although he’s photographed and sketched modern and classic buildings across America and Europe, Hogman, 37, focuses on San Francisco, where he’s made his home since 2007.

“Old San Francisco buildings are interesting to look at after all these years; that’s what I’m trying to illustrate,” he said. “Many historic buildings, somehow forgotten, deserve a second chance to be looked at, and that’s what I’m trying to bring attention to.”

Hogman recently added a new tool to his storytelling, the free Adobe Slate, which began as an iPad app and recently expanded to a web platform. Slate allows him to combine the easy-to-use technology with his traditional camera, pencils and paper to create compelling visual stories.

“With Slate, I have a quick way to create an animated story. I can combine my sketches into one dynamic, moving story of a subject by using static images.”

After experimenting with Slate’s iPad app, Hogman just started using Adobe’s new Slate for the Web. This new version allows him to create elegant, magazine-quality presentations in any desktop browser, where he will have tighter control over text alignment, Lightroom filtering and sorting, and image grouping. His visual stories are viewable by followers on any device.

His Slate projects on sketching and photography include examples from the city by the bay.

In his Slate called “Architectural Sketch,” Hogman combines layers of words and drawings of cityscapes, distinctive buildings, architectural features, everyday objects and the tools to draw them for a cinematic presentation of sketching techniques.

Sketching offers Hogman an additional creative outlet outside of his day job at Pyatok architecture and urban design in Oakland, while continuing to let him explore his passion for architecture.

“In an (architect’s) office job you follow the design given by the client or office’s design philosophy,” he said. “You can’t always do what you want to do.”

Yet sketching is also a useful skill to develop for work, Hogman said.

“There are not many professions where you can display what you express in a sketch instead of words,” he said.

Having a following and feedback on social media provides “a second incentive” inspiring Hogman to further explore, post “and get better and better.”

And Hogman has quite the audience for that feedback. He has 70,000 followers on Instagram, about 24,000 on Facebook and 300,000 on Twitter, who enjoy sharing their own stories and views of architecture with Hogman. Slate allows him to easily take his content and share with his network in a few simple clicks.

Hogman makes inspiration sound easy, if you know where to look.

“It starts with an idea about something, in the very first place, and you just take it from there,” he said. “It comes from everyone’s minds, what they are good at, and who does what in their own way.”

His advice for other storytellers? He recommends building upon the ideas you already have to find a sense of purpose and some direction.

For example, with sketching, as you practice drawing more buildings, your work will get more sophisticated, he said.

“By work — a lot of work — you get better and better at it. By work you discover how you can improve thanks to what inspires you.”

Adobe Slate for iPad wins the 2015 Tabby Awards

Tabby Award Winner: Adobe SlateThe Tabby Awards is a worldwide competition that recognizes the best tablet apps each year. Competing against 300,000 apps, this year’s Business awards were more competitive than ever.

We’re thrilled to announce Adobe Slate as the winner for the 2015 Marketing & Presentation category!

We would like to thank all Slate users for the award, we love seeing how Slate is being used, helping you standout. Be sure to share your slates with #madewithslate, Facebook, or send them to helloslate@adobe.com.

Read More:

Adobe Slate Now Available on the Web!

Slate_WebLaunch_Blog_2400x1350_v1[4]We’re releasing the award-winning iPad storytelling app, Adobe Slate, to the web so you can also create professional-quality content with your text and photos on the desktop! Your projects will automatically sync between your computer and iPad, so you can easily access them wherever inspiration strikes.

Slate is available with Creative Cloud or as a free app. It brings cutting-edge Adobe technology to everyone—no design degree or coding skills required. Create a brand-new slate on the web, or finish one you started on your iPad. Whether you are a student, teacher, small business owner or someone who wants to create something that pops, with Adobe Slate you can easily design and share visual stories that look beautiful on any device.

See how others are using Slate to stand out:


Clemson University Athletics Scores Big with Adobe Slate
See how Clemson’s Athletics Department uses Slate to engage with fans and athletes.

A Young Ballerina Makes her Dreams Come True with Slate

Find out about Isabelle Snelling, a 13-year-old using Slate to achieve her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.

A Restaurant on a Mission Helps its Community with Slate

Discover how a small restaurant in Oakland, CA, is helping its community and customers at the same time.

To check out Slate, visit: https://slate.adobe.com/welcome or Tweet us @Adobe_SlateOnce you’ve experienced Slate, share your story with #MadewithSlate. Visit us on Facebook.

Storytelling apps give inner-city Baltimore students a voice

Liberty Elementary School

The students at Liberty Elementary School in inner-city Baltimore are using technology as an outlet to tell their stories.

The 462 students from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade use the free storytelling apps Adobe Voice and Slate as easily as earlier generations used pencils and paper.

Principal Joseph Manko and teacher Rhea Espedido say these apps are helping students stay ahead and maintain their school’s position as one of the city’s top performers. The educators say students using the Voice and Slate apps improve in reading, vocabulary development, fluency and confidence.

“Do you know how empowering it is for a 7-year-old to show something he’s created?” Manko said.

The students and teachers use Voice and Slate in ways the apps’ developers never dreamed of, said Ben Forta, senior director of Adobe’s education initiatives. Forta visited the school last spring after seeing Liberty students posting projects online, where parents can view their children’s works.

Liberty also hosted about 40 teachers from other Baltimore schools for an evening session with Forta.

“This was a chance for in-the-trenches research with teachers to understand their problems,” Forta said.

Liberty, Manko said, is deep in West Baltimore, in an impoverished neighborhood.

“It’s not an easy neighborhood,” he said. “And still we’re outperforming the majority of schools in the city, some that would seem to have far more advantages than us.”

Liberty is “in the top 10 percent” on test scores of the 158 Baltimore City schools, Manko proudly notes.

He credits much of his school’s success on a plan that includes multiple field trips a year, hands-on learning with activities to prepare kids for the world around them and, most of all, a warm, veteran teaching staff open to new technology. In fact, Liberty was the first Baltimore school to support giving each student an iPad, and they told the children to use them to evaluate, analyze and create.

Student included in the ‘Math Quilts’ Voice story

One Liberty project for third graders, titled “Math Quilts,” used Voice for a lesson in mathematics, technology, art and language. The app records the students’ voices and combines them with their photos for a cinematic final product.

Each of the quilt’s squares was composed of different ratios of shapes – like four triangles or six rectangles – in a variety of colors. With an iPad and Voice, the students photographed the squares and recorded their descriptions of what fraction of the squares each color or shape represented.

“The quilt is a perfect compelling-use case that we would never have dreamed of,” Forta said. “The output was something they could be proud of.”

The students’ persuasive presentations cover a host of topics from bullying to recycling, Espedido said.

One teacher used Voice to place pictures of students in snow globes and then asked them to create stories of life inside the globe. Fluency, the flow of their speech, improves as they repeatedly practice passages they plan to record.

“They want to make sure it is perfect before they publish it,” Manko said.

With Slate, the students bring together many pictures and words, Espedido said. The Slate app combines the students’ text and images to create a magazine-quality story layout. “They respond to text that they’ve read,” she said. “They really love it. It’s very easy to use.”

Students can choose the tools they use to complete their assignments. They could spend hours on poster boards or dioramas, but instead most choose the Voice or Slate apps.

“These kids are growing up in a Digital Age. They need to have access to good technology. They need to know how to use it and demonstrate what they know,” Manko said.

After his Baltimore trip and consultations with many other teachers across the U.S., Forta compiled a dozen back-to-school tips in his blog on using Voice and Slate in classrooms. He’s also using the feedback from students and teachers to drive further development of the apps.

“We want as many people as possible to have access to these tools and the creativity they facilitate,” Forta said. Storytelling “is a big open-ended place. I’m constantly amazed by how the kids use this.”

Here are links to some of the school’s Adobe Voice projects:

https://voice.adobe.com/a/7ZzxG/ – Math Quilts (3rd grade)

https://voice.adobe.com/v/LHFwUtaZs7S – No Fighting! (special ed)

https://voice.adobe.com/a/WGndG/ – Animal Research (1st grade)

https://voice.adobe.com/v/AfcjJkemQGS – Our /sh/ sound (speech pathologist)


How a student used animated video to craft her principal’s school presentation

school house

When the principal of Lacken National School in County Cavan, Ireland, recently went on a business trip to Australia, he was planning to tell people about his school using a run-of-the-mill presentation.

Instead, he was able to show off some of his students’ art, the school’s accordion class, and even let them hear what it’s like to attend Lacken from an actual student – all thanks to an Adobe Voice animated video created by a pupil, 9-year-old Kate Riley. Rather than show a static slide deck, Voice uses built-in templates to animate text and images to create a professional-looking video.

Kate got pulled into the fun project by her dad, Tony Riley, a teacher at Lacken, who decided she might be better suited for the job.

“I thought it would be better if we got a child’s perspective of the school,” says Riley.

Having a child create a professional presentation may sound like a recipe for disaster, but Riley was confident Kate could handle it with a little help from the Adobe Voice iPad app.

“I had been using Adobe Voice with a number of younger kids in the school to help them create their own stories and was blown away by how easy it was for them to use the app and thought it would be the ideal tool to use,” says Riley.

One of those students, a 4year-old boy with a visual impairment, used the app to create a story about playing on his trampoline with his brother. He can’t write complete sentences, but the app gave him and other children in his class the ability to share stories, nonetheless.

“The great thing about Voice is its simplicity. The learning curve is tiny. My students and I were creating really professional-looking stories within minutes of picking up the iPad,” Riley says.

When it came to Kate, Riley didn’t have a lot of time to show her how to use Voice, so he gave her a rundown of the basics and left her with an iPad and her imagination.

The result was a presentation that included photos of the school’s programs and teachers that the principal could take with him to Australia. There was a soundtrack, too.

It’s something Kate and the school can be proud of, a trend Riley has noticed with all of the projects his students have worked on using Voice.

“Seeing the kids’ faces when they play back their finished stories, they are genuinely excited about what they have created,” he says.

See Kate’s Voice tour of her school:


Storytelling app helps students bring school reports to life


In the age of smartphones and video games, Shelli Thelen knows it’s going to take something special to get her fifth grade students excited about writing history papers.

After looking around for the perfect solution, the teacher at Paxton Keeley Elementary in Missouri said she’s found a great fit.

Students in Thelen’s class use iPads for part of their studies, and this year she’s having them use the tablets to create some of their school reports in a new way: using Adobe’s free Slate app.

The app allows students to tell their stories visually through photos and pull quotes and add their own creative touch to what might have otherwise seemed like a tedious project.

So, instead of just pages of text, you’re getting a document you can interact with.

“What I like is the aesthetic and rolling book feel of it,” says Thelen. “The embedded images and other possible media allow beginning users to create a professional looking product that is not only informative but beautiful.”

With the app, students can include images of the people they’re writing about and select different portions of the text or quotes they want to highlight. Rather than just read about Paul Revere, you can see a picture of him along with a quote from a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem about that legendary shot heard around the world.

Slate’s professionally-designed built-in templates handle all the heavy lifting from the design perspective, so students can just drag and drop things where they need them, and focus most of their attention on their report.

“The format of Slate is slick and easy to navigate,” says Thelen. That makes it something that even elementary school students can handle without training.

The final result is something that feels like a high-end digital textbook rather than something created by a fifth grader.

“It is easy to create, easy to edit, and the product is simply beautiful,” says Thelen. Who says school reports have to be boring?

See Thelen’s Slate for the Revolutionary War here:


Tips and tricks from adventure and wildlife photographer Dan Carr


Adventure and nature photographer Dan Carr is known for extreme landscapes and wild subjects. But even if you’re not waiting out wolves in the Yukon, you can still benefit from his tips and tricks for taking and sharing your best shots.


Carr says that every photo should tell a story. As with any good tale, it’s important to know what to include and what to leave out.

That means carefully choosing what’s inside the frame, he says. Don’t wait until you edit your pictures to crop out unnecessary elements. He also reminds shutterbugs to watch the horizon line and make sure it’s level.

“Framing your shots is all about inclusion and exclusion,” he says. “It’s about the choice you make when you look in your viewfinder.”


Whether it’s a person, animal or landscape, great photos always have a clear subject. Carr reminds photographers to avoid accidentally including visual distractions.

“You want the viewers’ eyes to land on the subject with as few distractions as possible,” he says. “Be aware that contrasts in tone, color, size and shape are distracting if they don’t point toward the subject.”


You’ve just returned from your vacation with a combined 500 photos between your camera and smartphone. Before you start posting your shots to social media, Carr says that you should make a distinction between which shots tell a complete story versus which ones evoke a pleasant memory.

When Carr edits his own photos, he keeps the ones that bring back memories for his personal records, then publicly posts the shots that don’t need a backstory to be fully appreciated.


Once you’ve edited your photos, you’re ready to really show them off.

Carr says the free iPad app Slate helps you produce and share magazine-quality photo layouts for viewing on any device. Until recently, creating such visually rich designs was only available to those with webpage coding skills.

“I love using the Slate app. It’s so intuitive, and I have a lot of fun with it,” Carr says.

“I didn’t need to read any instructions—it was pretty obvious how everything worked. It’s something you can really get into in just a few minutes.”

“There are so many people interested in photography, and now there are storytelling apps like Slate where you can easily bring in your photos and text to create stunning interactive stories that you can share via email or social.. “

Be sure to check out Dan Carr’s work on his blog and Instagram account. And see his Slate from his adventure kayaking through bear country.


Fast, Fun & Free Way to Honor Fathers!

Father’s Day is upon us and let’s face it, Dad’s are hard to buy for. Especially if the only suggestions given to you at the mall are “Great Dad” t-shirts, golf balls or BBQ accessories. Even better than all of these gifts, is a more thoughtful expression of your gratitude for your dad. Consider recording a Voice video message with your own narration or create a Slate story with your family photos and personal remembrances. It’s the fastest way for you to meet that Sunday deadline and give him a truly unique gift.

Watch one daughter’s Voice video tribute capturing what she loves about her dad:
Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.37.42 AM

Read this thoughtful Slate story, showcasing three things a son learned from his dad about fatherhood:

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.38.01 AM

What will you make for dad this weekend? Tweet your Voice videos using #toldwithVoice, and your Slate stories using #madewithSlate, and we might showcase your Father’s Day message!