Archive for the ‘ Resources ’ Category

A $70 Mac Alternative to Illustrator

Hope everyone had a happy 4th and saw some beautiful fireworks.

Seems like you guys were very interested in Pixelmator, so I thought I’d share some of the other handy programs I’ve come across in my time on the next.  This next one, I’ve had for a while, but never really used it until very recently, so I’m still learning it.  My acquisition of CS4 has put it on the back burner for now, but I can honestly say that it’s a good little vector-based program.

It’s called VectorDesigner, and is made by the folks over at TweakerSoft (you may recognize them as the makers of the very popular Around Me application for the iPhone).  One of it’s main benefits, from a build perspective, is that it’s a Cocoa application, meaning it’s running on the newest programming language on the Mac, and as such has much more capabilities.  It’s able to run on G4 an G5 units, but you’ll achieve the best speed and results on an Intel unit running OS 10.5 (10.4 is also supported), with 1 GB of RAM (512 is supported as well, but 1 GB recommended).  You’re graphics card does need to support Core Image, which most of the NIVIDA chips and cards Apple is using these days does.  I originally ran VectorDesigner on my 1st generation Macbook, so if you’re computer was bought in the last 3 years or so, you’re fine.

One of the features VectorDesigner offers that I think is very helpful is a connection to Flickr.  Not for uploading (those are easy enough to come by), but for downloading.  Host an image library on Flickr and grab images as you need them in your projects.  Once I settle into using it again, which will be after my summer intensive of software learning, I’ll create a private Flickr account for just such a purpose.  Very handy considering my image library currently resides on an external hard drive that is firmly attached to my desk via it’s power cord, while my computer is highly mobile.

As with Pixelmator, the VectorDesigner team offers plenty of assistance with the program, including an eight-part video tutorial series that gets you up to speed with all the basic functions of the program.  They support the idea of try before you by and offer a trail version for download on their website.  As with Pixelmator, I encourage you to download that trial and give it a run through.  When comparing, be sure to draw comparisons to CS3 Illustrator.  Adobe has released a plethora of new features in CS4 and independent developers need some time before finding ways to create versions that are as good or better for inclusion in their own programs.

Filmmaker IQ: One-Stop Shopping for Education and Training

By now, you’ve probably noticed that most of what I tend to write about relates to training.  Given that this is the summer in which I’m beginning the process of completely revamping my skills set, it’s what I can speak about most effectively right now.

Today, I’m presenting a site that I’ve used frequently myself, and that the Issues team uses even more frequently in our work with the show.  It’s usefully for all stages of a project, from sitting down to right, to executing that distribution plan I know you made before you started actually taping (right?).  The site is called Filmmaker IQ, and it is heaven for anyone working in independent moving pictures (be it film, video, or pure digital).  The featured articles on their homepage at the moment are: 155 Screenplay Formatting Tutorials, 404 Avid Tutorials, 505 Behind the Scenes Videos, 111 Free Filmmaking Tools, and 588 Free Film Contracts and Forms.  And those are just the 5 most recent before hitting the scroll down button.

Avid happens to be the most recent post-production tool they’ve compiled a mind-numbingly large list of tutorials and resources for.  Scrolling down the full set of featured articles, similar lists can be found for Final Cut Pro, Blender, Premier Pro, Maya, AfterEffects, and Veags.  There’s also an equally impressive lists of plug-ins for AfterEffects in there.  And to reiterate, those are just the featured articles, mostly filtered by me to present results for post-production.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this site yet, and I’ve visited it several times.  All the resources they present are free to use, so it’s valuable to anyone.  I strongly recommend taking a look over there whether you’re ready to dive into a new piece of software, or if you’ve been banging your head against a wall trying to figure out how to create a light-saber effect in Vegas.  An absolutely amazing resource for everyone, for free.

I can’t even begin to think of a way to thank the people over at that site for all the help they’ve provided to me and everyone else I know who has used their site.  Be sure to check them out.