Categories
Featured Gadgets Software

Evernote for your iPad

Okay Mac addicts, if you’re still debating the necessity of Apple’s new iPad, I know how you feel. Heart telling you “GO GET IT”, head asking “DO YOU REALLY NEED THIS?”

Well, playing for the heart team, Evernote, has given you just one more reason the iPad can be handy for just about everyone. Here is what the iPad and Evernote, together, can to do keep your life organized on the go…

Evernote for the iPad

Categories
Featured Gadgets Parallel Desktops

The Accidental iPad and How I Use It

When Steve Jobs announced the iPad a few months ago I didn’t think “Wow, I gotta have me one of those…”. Though I was intrigued by the form factor and slightly motivated by Steve Jobs’ demonstration of the device, it didn’t scream out at me as something I needed. I was actually more amused with all the criticism surrounding the choice of iPad as the name for the device.

I yawned and went on with my life.

Nearly a month ago I walked in to our local Apple store with my family. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, just letting my kids fawn over the Mac hardware as we thought about buying a MacBook for my son before he heads off to college. I asked one of the Apple store employees if they had an iPad I could take a look at. He handed me an 8 x 6 inch card with a picture of one on it. The device was far thinner and lighter than I expected.

He then asked if I would like to reserve one.

Categories
Featured Gadgets Photography

Digital Camera Infrared Conversion

Since the 1930’s, photographers have enjoyed the use of infrared films for both scientific and pictorial use. The infrared spectrum is beyond the ability of the human eye to see, and objects viewed in light from the infrared spectrum often look quite different from visible light. Most living foliage will appear light or white in a final print shot with infrared film, and human skin can be almost translucent, with veins showing through the skin like magic. But with the advent of digital capture, most infrared emulsions have been discontinued. I know of only one infrared emulsion easily available now.

An initially unintended consequence of the digital photography revolution was that many digital sensors were very sensitive to infrared, to the point manufacturers put a filter over the sensor to block infrared light. With that filter removed and an infrared-passing filter put in its place, a new world was opened to digital photographers.

One of the main problems with doing infrared film photography was that there was no way to meter the level of infrared in a given scene. Exposure was a series of trials and errors (mostly errors for me). Many photographers bracketed exposures heavily, over and under exposing frames around what they thought was the proper exposure. There were a lot of other problems with infrared film that just made it difficult to work with. Handling was only in total darkness, the film was very heat sensitive, and it was very easy to fog the film.

I first became aware of digital infrared around the year 2000, at a workshop on Photoshop. The lecturer displayed a few images in their presentation that had been shot with a Minolta DiMage 7 camera. I was intrigued. I immediately bought a DiMage 7 and a deep infrared filter, and started on the road to digital infrared. One thing that immediately struck me was that I could see the infrared image – no more guessing if I got the exposure right. No more shooting six stop brackets to insure a good exposure. No more wondering how the scene will look – if the model’s clothing will render the way the eye sees it or not. Wow!

Fast forward 10 years. I’ve been shooting a converted Nikon D100 for over 5 years now. I had a showing in 2008 of my infrared work at Angelina College. The infrared world has been very good… but now, I wanted more. More megapixels, and with the now greater selection of infrared filters available for camera conversions, greater variance on infrared vs. visible light captured, and more color.

Yep, color. The only way previous to digital to do color, or “false color” infrared, was to shoot one of Kodak’s emulsions like Kodak EIR Ektachrome Infrared. Green plants turn shades of red, and Caucasian skin tones turn shades of yellow. Images with this film were stunning… but you still had the problems of difficulty in handling and exposure. With the current crop of sensors and filters, some rendering of color is found in the images captured.

I recently had a second camera converted to infrared by Isaac Szabo, a Fayetteville, Arkansas photographer (http://www.isaacszabophotography.com/). Isaac shoots a wide variety of photographic subjects, and does all of them well. His infrared work is great. I found him while doing an eBay search for “infrared conversion” – I was pleasantly surprised to see his price for a conversion. So after thinking about it for a few moments, I clicked “buy it now” and shipped Isaac my Nikon D200 body.

Not only did the camera get converted, but Isaac set the focus for the lens I supplied with the body. Infrared light focuses at a slightly different distance from the lens than visible light, so this can make some real difference.

My D200 came back converted in about 10 days. I opened the package and immediately shot an image through the window of my office. I was pleasantly surprised to find that at ISO 100, I was able to get a hand-holdable shutter speed. Surprised because my converted D100 would have had to be on ISO 400 or ISO 800 to get the same image. I took the camera to lunch that day (it didn’t eat much…) and shot a palm tree in front of a restaurant… and was again pleasantly surprised. There were shades of color in the obviously infrared image. Back at the studio, I opened the image in Photoshop, and ran Isaac’s action (I forgot to mention that Isaac provides this action and instructions to customers who purchase a conversion) to switch the red and blue channels. The result was stunning… blue sky in an infrared image.

If this sounds like it is for you, check out eBay… do a search for “infrared conversion” and look for the infrared photo of the lone tree  – the auction will be titled “Infrared IR Conversion Service for Digital Cameras” and is currently priced at $200.  (or click on the image of the ebay listing)

And, look for a follow-up article in a few weeks – I plan on shooting my newly converted D200 heavily on an upcoming trip to Mexico.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Software

Bundles of MacFriendly Joy for a Great Cause

If you hurry and check out www.macfriendly.org, you can get two truly great deals. First, you can treat yourself to twelve Mac applications that are worthy of your icon bar. Second, you will be pleased to know that the funds you paid support the care and feeding of homeless animals.

First, the applications.

For photo buffs, there are three applications that you’ll enjoy.

  • Calico Panorama helps stitch rows, even multi-rows, of images together with ease.
  • Bracketeer takes your bracketed digital photos and merges them to form a uniformly lit scene – like HDR without the cartoon-like appearance.
  • PhotoStyler is a quick and easy photo enhancer designed for the digital photographer who remembers the “good old days” of film and instant camera photos by providing tools to help your digital images take on an analog feel.

Want to make a video diary?

  • The Video Diary helps you get your video captured and organizes it like entries in a diary.
  • MovieSherlock can download and convert videos from the popular site YouTube.
  • K Kitchen is a video burning and ripping program that converts video and allows you to burn to CD or DVD. And if you want to voiceovers or mastering of audio files, the TwistedWave audio editor is an easy to use program with powerful features.

For type geeks,

  • use Veenix TypeBook Creator to take stock of your fonts… print type specimen and sample pages, and organize your fonts.

Ever want to personalize your Mac desktop?

  • Berokyo does that and more. Customizable “cabinets” can hold your favorite and most used applications, documents, folders and webpages, and works in keep-visible, full-screen or auto-hide modes.


Email Backup Pro
is an automated solution to making scheduled backups to of your email… hands off after setting up the configuration using the simple interface. R10Cipher encrypts email and documents – personal or business. It runs on Mac and, er, other operating systems. And if you wish to partially cross over to the dark side, CrossOver Mac Standard will help you by running Microsoft Windows programs on your Mac.

So, how exactly does this help animals?

Here is a quote from the MacFriendly website: “Your MacFriendly Bundle purchase helps initiate and support feeding programs for homeless animals. Stray and feral animals are fed in order to gain their trust, leading to their eventual rescue. Only when they are comfortable with human contact will their rescue and successful placement in an adoptive home be possible. We provide basic vaccinations, spay/neuter services, collars, and identification tags for stray animals in stable circumstances.”

The total cost? If you add up these applications, you will find them to total about $400. Buy the bundle of joy, and get all these apps for only $49.95. That is a lot of utility and warm, fuzzy feelings for only fifty bucks.

But don’t wait… this offer ends February 26, 2010.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Photography

Best Camera for Budding Wedding Photographer

MTaylor816 (who recently became a DigitalAppleJuice follower) twittered :

Ok photogs… what is the best DSLR to buy for starting out as a wedding photographer? Googling this made my head explode.


We have a distinguished group of working photographers associated with DigitalAppleJuice, so  I emailed our band of merry  with this question.

Van Redin (Stills Photographer for the movie industry) said:

Hi Madbadcat
It depends on how much you can spend.
As usual you get what you pay for!
If you want the best and can afford it,
the Nikon D3x is as good as they get.
$8,000.
One step down is the Nikon D3.
$5,000.
If you want a really good camera while paying less the D700 is still a full size sensor and around $2700.
A good model which is not a full size sensor and also does HD video is the Nikon D90 or the D5000.
For my money if I was starting out I would try and get the D700 if I could afford it.
All can be found @ www.Nikon.com
Hope this helps!
Van

Read Van’s resume on IMDB.
Visit Van’s Website.

Read Van’s Articles.

 

Britt Stokes (Architectural Photographer) said:

For my money, I would get the Nikon D700. If I was a Canon shooter, I would get the EOS 5D Mark III.

Britt


Britt’s Infrared Photography.
Read Britt’s Articles.

 

I’ll post more as they write back.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Featured Photography

Robbie Lacomb at The Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery

The work of artist-photographer Robbie Lacomb is currently on display at Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery in Austin TX.  The exhibition will remain on show through the end of January 2010.

Photographer, digital artist and printmaker Robbie Lacomb resides and works in East Texas and teaches art and art history at Angelina College in Lufkin. She exhibits her prints and photographs in the U.S. and abroad, including Morocco, Ireland, Russia and Paris, France. In the year 2000 she served as Artist in Residence to the Tangier American Legation Museum in Morocco. In 2006 she lectured at Oxford University, England, in a Science and Art round-table. At Angelina College, she received the 2007-08 nomination for Piper Foundation Award for teaching and academic achievement. Lacomb’s artwork is most influenced by nature and mankind’s place in the natural world. Her work reflects this relationship, which is sometimes adversarial, sometimes symbiotic. Revealing the miracles of nature, which are often perceived by humans to be ugly or dirty, is a goal of the artist in her work.

Robbie Lacomb's work is on display  at the Alpha & Omega Fine Art Photography Gallery in Austin, Tx. through the end of January 2010.
For more information, visit the gallery's meet-up page.
 

Categories
Art Commentary Digital Lifestyles Featured Profiles

The Well-Travelled Artists’ Book

travel-bk_250When my colleagues Charlie Jones and Ralph Petty decided to create a book together, I knew immediately I wanted to be involved somehow. Not that I’m a workaholic or anything, but I knew it was sure to involve 1- TRAVEL; 2- ART;  3 – GREAT FOOD; and of course 4– LOTS OF SERIOUS FUN. When I asked Charlie to include me (WILL WORK FOR LAUGHS!) he cheerfully obliged.

Charlie Jones is our local Renaissance man. He is a Regents Professor of Art in Printmaking at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX, with a very impressive international exhibition record. Currently he has numerous works on show at universities and museums in Russia. In addition to all that, he is an accomplished musician, so anywhere you go with Charlie, there will be music! Oh yeah – and PUNS – lots of groaners! In fact, here he is at the HARD ROCK CAFÉ, JAUJAC, FRANCE:

Ralph Petty is Professor of Art and Gallery Curator at the American University in Paris, France. He too has an impressive record of exhibitions, most recently having shown his work in Japan. He too is an accomplished musician. Put these two guys together and VOILA – PARTY! Seriously, I don’t know whether to say they work hard having fun, or that they have fun working hard. Let’s just say it’s a challenge to keep up, but too much fun to miss!


RALPH IN CENTER, LEADING THE TREK

This wonderful book project is a combination of poetry and prints by both artists. Ralph’s strong suit is his celebration of the vitality of the human figure, especially female, in drawings and paintings. He has worked for many years from the live model, and has also written a number of poems and songs, many of which have been recorded. Charlie too has worked with the human figure, and has produced limited editions of original artists’ books from his home studio, Carizzo Creek Press, and from the Lanana Creek Press which he established at SFASU. Their joint project is a limited edition of 40, with half the edition to go to the American University in Paris, and the other half to remain at SFASU.

Ralph and Charlie spent many months corresponding and collaborating to produce the finished publication, and Charlie set it to press at the Lanana Creek Press with help from his assistant Terri L. Goggans.

Our task this summer in France was to take the bound signatures of the book to Jaujac where Ralph and his wife Lisa Davidson, writer, have an enchanting ancient farm house in the mountains of the Ardeche. Here we would bind the signatures and leave them for Ralph to take back to AUP for the collection there.

Before the pages made their journey to France, in Nacogdoches Charlie and crew (Corinne Jones and Maggi Battalino, both artists) sewed the signatures and prepared them for binding.


Here Charlie punches holes in the signature folds using a precise needle punch that he made to measure for this project.


 

Once all signatures are punched, they can be sewn into what is called the Text Block.

Here I am (Robbie) sewing signatures in Nacogdoches for the SFA portion of the edition. Thanks to Michael N. Roach for these photos of me.

Simple sewing instructions for hand binding books can be found on Philobiblon.com. and in many books on handbinding.

Thread must sometimes be added to finish the set of signatures. A simple knot at the spine does the trick.

AND VOILA! THE SIGNATURES HAVE MADE THEIR WAY TO JAUJAC!

This absolutely beautiful location in the south of France is what Ralph refers to as “My Paradise!” We can see why!


Photo caption: Corinne and Robbie @ morning coffee – what a view!

It’s so easy to work in an environment like this. Each one of us, Charlie, Ralph, Corinne, Maggi and myself, will design our own personal cover for our own copies of the book, our reward for helping with the “labor”. Charlie first experimented with a bookcloth inlay design.

We all enjoyed this creative time, loosening up the right brain cells.

Maggi works away on her personal cover design.

Corinne works on hers, while my design sits to her right.

Robbie’s finished cover design for the book.

Ralph’s will become the design for the full edition to be housed at AUP.

FIRST STEP IN THE BINDING PROCESS– make Headbands for the signatures. This is very simply accomplished by taking heavy twine and wrapping it with glued strips of book cloth of your chosen color. If you sew, you know what piping is. That’s what you are making. A small tab of headband material glued at the Head and at the Tail of the Text Block will give a nicely finished look to the final product.

This is the title page of the text block.

While the glue dries, Corinne enjoys reading the poetry and savoring the prints.

The Colophon at the end of the text block gives all copyright information, and does so with grace.

STEP TWO – Time to glue on the MULL. This is a strip of gauze, fine paper or other material. Glued to the spine of the sewn signatures, it gives added support and strength to the Text Block.

Corinne preps a Text Block to receive the glued Mull.

Ralph smooths out the glued mull along the spine.

Corinne glues a Headband before attaching it to the Text Block. This may be done before or after gluing the Mull. If a long Mull is used, this should be done first.

STEP THREE –The Text Block size determines the size of cover boards, as well as the book cloth needed to cover them. Book cloth should be cut to leave at least ½ inch on all sides around the blocks and spine. Charlie measures carefully where his pre-cut Davey Board will be placed to be glued to the book cloth he has cut for the covers. He glues a Spine Support in the center of the cloth to guide him as he lines up the boards he will glue down

STEP FOUR – Gluing boards with PVA glue or Methyl Cellulose.

CAREFULLY line up the boards to your measurement marks and press.

Both boards are now glued down.

Time to turn over the cover and smooth it out before the glue dries.

Corinne smooths the cover with wax paper. Glassine also works nicely for this.

STEP FIVE – Trim the corners of the bookcloth so that enough is still in place to cover the actual corner of the Davey Board when edges are turned up and glued. Do not cut right against the board itself. Leave at least the thickness of the board in the amount of cloth extending from the corner. This will fold up and cover the corner nicely when you glue up the side flaps.

Now you are ready to glue up your edges. Apply glue and starting from the spine, turn up the edges and smooth with a Bone Folder. Once all this is accomplished, the covers should be stacked with wax paper between each one, and left under a heavy weight to dry, overnight if possible.

Next will be the task of setting the Text Blocks into the covers. That’s another article!

TIME FOR A BREAK – on the river in Jauac, and at Ralph’s after dinner.

Categories
Commerce Digital Lifestyles Graphics Profiles

A Story About iPhone Game Development

Developing for the iPhone is a bit of a shift for me; in more ways than one.  I spent ten years climbing the career ladder towards bigger projects, bigger budget titles, bigger studios, etc.  But when I found myself taking leave of the million dollar projects and high profile studios and joining up with a little 3 man startup iPhone app company, I had no idea the very next rungs on the ladder would be some of the most challenging and rewarding of my career.

 Now just before I had gone to id Software in Dallas, in the week I had free after leaving Midway Studios Austin, I had agreed to help my friend Jeremy Howa do a little iPhone game for his pre-startup company.  I believe they were working at the boss’s upstairs pool table at the time I pitched in and helped them out by doing the artwork.  I also named the game, “TriniTower;” which was to become somewhat of a recurring task.

TriniTower was a three-tower solitaire game, light in artwork, but the artwork needed to be high quality, or so I thought.  I did a few mockups, and had Jeremy come over to the house and review them, and we had game design talks as we changed artwork and scope on the fly.  At the time, Jeremy and I were technically the only ones on the team, as John and Brian Howard, the ones funding the project, were busy at another software design establishment.  This was my first taste at iPhone development, and I was pretty lost.

Luckily, Jeremy had picked up a fresh new Mac Mini for development, and begun the painful process of converting his programming skills over to the Mac platform.  I still developed artwork on a PC.  The art doesn’t care where it’s made, but we had to assemble it on the Mac.

After a whirlwind week of design, art production, execution, programming and testing, we had what was a playable game, and were progressing pretty fast, when the time came for Katie and me to move to the Dallas area so I could start work at id.  Jeremy and I continued work on TriniTower over high-speed Internet connection, IM, email and Skype.  We would use these remote connection methods to hold meetings over the Internet.  Often times we would discuss a change over Skype, I would edit the artwork, email it over to Jeremy, and he would recompile the game on his end, and hold up the iPhone to the webcam and show me how it looked, animated, etc.  Rinse and repeat till we were done, and that’s how our first iPhone game was done: partly in person, partly over webcam chat, email and Instant Message.

I had definitely never developed like this before, but it wasn’t bad.  Our next foray into the iPhone field was a reskin of John and Brian’s first iPhone app “PocketDyno:” an accelerometer based portable dyno app for testing your car’s speed.  This time, the project was done completely over instant message chat, Skype webcam and email.  I never even saw in person the project working until well after we were done with the complete artwork overhaul.

Three or four months before the first round of layoffs at Midway Austin, Jeremy was carpooling to work in the “grandma car.”   This was the affectionate name of the Chrysler Jeremy picked me up in every other workday.  During the ride, we’d talk about the ArduiNIX project we were toying with, along with a stack of half- baked game ideas.  One such game idea that so persistently occupying the conversations I finally dubbed “Dungeon Defense.”

DD was an absolutely elegant concept.  The tower defense genre was at its height of popularity at the time, as was World of Warcraft®.  Jeremy and I had talked about a fantasy style game that would generate random dungeons, and be kind of like a Diablo clone for the iPhone, but for the iPhone, the game concept had to be scoped way down. There was no way we could have pulled off the amount of content required to do that kind of game justice.  It was at that point we came up with the idea of flipping the concept of a “dungeon crawler” game upside down by framing the player as the dungeon. Instead of the player venturing forth and fighting monsters for loot and exploring dungeons, in DD you WERE the dungeon, defending your loot and treasure from invading heroes who want to defeat you..  This idea became more attractive as we realized we could scope it down justifiably, and introduce elements of the tower defense genre as well, by creating a game that everyone can relate to in its setting, but a new twist on how you play it.  It was truly novel, and doable on the iPhone platform. When Jeremy told me one day they were doing DD, I had a moment of sadness that I wasn’t there to contribute.

By this time, I was growing very weary of the daily 2 hour commute to id, and with a few other compelling reasons to head back to Austin, I had begun talking to Jeremy about if they needed an artist for the freshly minted InMotion Software studio.  My friend Marshall Womack had been filling the artist duties for some time, but was about to head over to Twisted Pixel to work on Splosion Man for XBOX.  A quick phone call to John Howard one evening after work, and it was set.  After 7 months at one of the best and most respected game companies in history, I would turn in my two weeks notice at id, and Katie and I would move back to Austin.

I came on board with InMotion halfway through DD Development.  It was odd being in a studio full of MacBooks, Mac Minis, etc.  InMotion had definitely grown since the boss’s pool table.  Everyone was going through the same pains of adapting to Mac except for me, who was still cranking out artwork on the PC.

After Dungeon Defense had mild initial success, we made two more add on campaigns, when sales of DD began to slip, and as a team we decided to take a breather before moving on to the next tower defense style game.  The short “two-week” project Jeremy suggested in a moment of brilliance was a dig dug/motherlode style game where you dig up treasure, sell it for upgrades, and return to the deep to hunt for more treasure.

I took this opportunity to put on my naming hat again and I called it “I Dig It.”  The name was at first scowled at; and other names suggested, but I stuck to my guns.  I Dig It was not only WHAT you did in the game, but also a subtle forced declaration of how you felt about it.  A positive review spun right into the very name of the game.  How could it go wrong?  You couldn’t say the name of the game without also telling people you liked it at the same time.  It even had the letter “I” in it, which had already become so cliché in the iTunes store that anytime we saw a new app like iLawnmower, we cringed.  But I Dig It?  That wasn’t bad. 

 

The two-week project began with only Jeremy and me working on the tech and concept.  I started feeding Jeremy artwork, and he plugged it in very quickly.  By the end of two weeks we had the tech demo working, but no real game. As we realized this might be a larger project, Brian finalized work on the Dungeon Defense updates and switched over to I Dig It. Now I like having artistic control on a project, but I had never been the ONLY artist on a team that had actually done anything this big with so few people.  At that time, the InMotion team consisted of Jeremy and Brian, the programmers; me the artist; and Johnny “Cash” Howard, who was the funding behind this endeavor.  The problem with a game team that is structured that way was that we would take the entire team down for design discussions.  We had no full time game designer on staff, so it took all of us at once to hammer out the mechanics of the gameplay.  About three quarters of the way through I Dig It Development, we got the bright idea to hire a designer.  We put out a call to Chris “Cookie” Graham as he was parting company with FizzFactor downtown.  Cookie had worked with Jeremy and I at Midway, and we knew he could handle the job.  As Cookie came on board, we saw instant productivity benefits, as the programmers could focus on the tech, and Cookie delivered on the fun.

When we wrapped up I Dig It, and released it, we realized a few things about Apple, iPhone development, and marketing an indie game.  With Jeremy and I used to being at gigantic game studios that have people on staff to take care of marketing and promotion, we had never sat down and thought about how to promote our iPhone games.  When we released TriniTower, we just kind of patted it on the back and tossed it to the wind, hoping someone would see it, like it, and buy it.  With Dungeon Defense, and a great deal more time and money invested, we had a bit of a different expectation on the return on investment of development.  However, we still had no real knowledge of how to promote our game, since other people had always been tasked to do that before.  A break came when a Google search turned up an iPhone game review site called Touch Arcade that had a forum member post a positive review of Dungeon Defense almost the day it came out.  This led us to start working the forums, watering the grassroots marketing effort that we were beginning to recognize and cultivate.  Had we known about Touch Arcade and similar sites when we released TriniTower, or hyped Dungeon Defense pre release on such sites, we would have stood a greater chance at success.

Now when the light at the end of the tunnel started to break its twinkly self through the darkness of project development, we realized we had to learn our marketing lessons and learn them fast.  We had a great deal more money and time invested in I Dig It than we had planned for, and we actually were hoping to turn a profit at this iPhone game biz.

So we set out to light a fire under every media contact, every forum, and every possible method of getting the word out that we had a good game, and it was for sale. We wrapped up the game in its current state, and sent it off to Apple.  Then the waiting began.  At this point in the process, you’re pretty much completely at Apple’s whim.  They approve the application, or don’t.  They promote the application, or don’t.  With thousands of apps hitting the store every week, if you don’t catch the attention of someone at Apple, you get buried.  And that’s right where we were.

Sales were not dismal, but they were not reflective of the quality we thought we had invested in this game.  We began entertaining the idea of becoming a non-game studio, app a day, lower production value apps or games.  We were considering just trying to “make it up in volume” when we started getting good word from people on the forums.  What really started turning us around was word from one post that said our game was being passed around the Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference like the “swine flu.” A day later, we got an email from Apple.  To paraphrase, it amounted to “Dear InMotion, we love your app.  We would like the artwork and materials needed in order to do a possible feature on you in the iTunes store.”

I cranked out the artwork and sent it to them, only to hear nothing.

It was like we were beating our fist against the monolith that was Apple, and they were not shedding any love for our “out of nowhere” studio.  Meanwhile lesser quality titles from studios that have more intimate connections with apple got featured left and right.  We went back to Dungeon Defense, what we thought was our tried and true Intellectual Property, and began cranking on a new map expansion in an attempt to boost sales of that title.

Then Touch Arcade did a front-page feature and review on their site praising I Dig It.  At this point, we dropped the price to $0.99 in an attempt to get I Dig It into the top 100 games, which was our goal. It got there, and kept going.  As soon as it started catching the attention of iPhone gamers, we got word from friends abroad that it was climbing the charts at a blistering pace in Canada, Japan, Russia and other countries.  However, in the US we were nowhere.  Apple wouldn’t feature us like they said they would, and we were beginning to hound our one contact at Apple to find out why.  Finally, the price drop to $0.99, coupled with a hailstorm of forum posts, podcast reviews, and other efforts began to push I Dig It up the US Charts.  Slowly at first, but then every day it was up a notch.  Then up several places in the list, then finally after what seemed like months, we broke the top 100 paid games, then top 100 paid Apps, then we really started shooting up the lists.  By the time Apple finally decided to do a feature on I Dig It, we were the #9 top paid app in the country.  We sat around the studio watching in disbelief the Thursday I Dig It hit the #1 Top paid app in the world, displacing the Moron Test.  It stayed at that level for about 6 days, and we started rolling the updates to keep it as fresh as possible and delay the slow retreat down the charts.

This experience has been truly unique in my career.  While working on big budget titles I never saw the kind of success I have seen with this little independent title.  I have never had such daunting tasks, or so much fun and satisfaction.  I have never had to strain my talents to the breaking point so much, yet have never been rewarded for doing so to this extent.  We’re working on the sequel to I Dig It now, and hopefully we have learned enough to repeat our success.  Dealing with this side of Apple takes some getting used to. We have to learn how to work the system, but it’s a load of fun getting there.  You might say I dig it.  And yes, I still make art on a PC.

Categories
Media Photography

Rollip.com: Polaroid Nostalgia

Nostalgic for the Polaroid look? Wishing for the ability to make snapshots look like Polaroids? There's a fast, easy-to use solution. All it involves is an upload, a brief wait, and a download.

Check out http://www.rollip.com/ which takes you to a site by Rollip. Click the website to start; this takes you to a page of original images and Polaroid "look" variations that take you back to the days of slight color mismatch, over and under development; atmospheric effects and the day-to-day variations of the Polaroid process. Do you remember the excitement of the image developing before your very eyes?

Choose one of the illustrated effects and double click on it. The next window you will see gives you a "click here to upload photo" button. Go ahead, click it! This opens a window to your computer that allows you to browse until you find an image that you want to process. Click and select an image and wait a brief time for your image to upload. The size of the image and your upload speed determines the upload time. But generally, it's brief. Out of curiosity I sent a four megabye .jpg and the upload time was about three minutes in which the upload bar worked its way from red, to orange, to yellow to green. Another thirty to sixty seconds had the image processed and the processed version came up in the display window ready for me to download or send it somewhere.

That's it! Talk about instant nostalgia!

Links are available to send your newly created image directly from Rollip to e-mail, Facebook, Myspace, and other choices you may select.

If you enjoy the use of the site, the folks at Rollip have a Donate link where you can send them what you think the process is worth to you and it's obvious that they have put in some pretty intense work because as a long time user of Polaroid cameras I have to say that they got the "look" down pat, so if you use them and enjoy the effect, then consider a donation.

Along with the twelve basic effects available one of the interesting ones is to choose SMALL POLAROID and several border effects become available with the ability to add a slight amount of text below the image. The text styles range from typewriter to printed handwriting; and all these frames have the slight dark vingette associated with a lens hood on the camera lens or an image square selected slightly larger than the circular image that the camera lens produces.

For the disclaimer, the folks at Rollip don't have any connection to the original Polaroid cameras or film people company which owns the trademark to the Polaroid name. Rollip has simply given you the opportinuty to make a modern photograph look like a process that has sadly, slipped from the current technology scene. Have fun!

 

 

 

What do you say? It's all in the look http://www.rollip.com/

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ArtWorks Featured Profiles

Profile: Kristen Stein Shares Advice and Lessons


What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

I have learned that creating and selling your own artwork as an independent, self-representing artist is truly a 24/7 job.  I am constantly working…..whether it be creating new works, chatting about the newest pieces online, updating blogs and online listings or simply daydreaminga about the next painting, I seem to always be thinking ‘art’. I would imagine that other artists feel the same way about constantly ‘bringing our work home with us’ and never really feel like we take a day off. So, in this way, being an artist is truly a full-time job….but I can’t complain as it really is a dream job when you get to create and sell works that are borne from your imagination.

What advice would you give to other artists?

Persevere…even in the slowest and darkest times. If you love what you do and the work makes you happy, it will likely bring joy to other people as well.  The business cycle can get frustrating…especially in the slowest of times…. but continue to create according to your passion, and eventually the market will upswing again.  Continue to learn from the world and people around you and this will help you grow both in your art and your business.


 

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ArtWorks Featured Profiles

Profile: Kristen Stein on Roots and Inspiration

What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

I am a contemporary artist working primarily with acrylics on canvas.  I occasionally dabble in pastels and oils. I love working in mixed media and often add gritty, grainy textures to my paint. I’ve also created paintings using layers of newspaper, paper towels, tissues, string, dried flowers, leaves and more to add extra texture and dimension to the painting. I sometimes work on wood, but generally use stretched canvas.  I’m in the process of learning silk-screening and hope to ‘pull’ my own prints.  I have also worked in digital painting and creating images as scalable vector graphics.

 

How did you get started?

I have been creating art for friends and as gifts for several decades, but I started selling my artwork as a business about 10 years. It began as a part-time passion while I was working on my dissertation in Economics at the University of Virginia. I still use a lot of my economics background on the business side of my art career, but my creative side won out and I starting selling my artwork full-time in early 2000. I am not formally trained in art. I took one class in high-school and one elective class in college. I recall several of the projects that I made in these two classes and I know that they have fueled my passion to continue to learn and grow as an artist.

Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

Friends, family and other artists have all played an integral role in influencing my artistic visions and enthusiasm for ‘all things art’. My parents are both incredibly talented and I know that they have directly influenced my love for the arts.  More recently, I’ve met several new artists online through various social networks and I’m enjoying learning how to use the new venues to expand the reach of my art to new audiences. I’ve also recently approached other artists and photographers to work on collaborative projects. It’s a fun way for artists to share their talents and create an image that embodies their various interests or styles. That’s how the “Spirit of Autumn Fire” image (with Lyse Marion) came about.  As for master artists, I love the works of Picasso, Gris, Matisse, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rothko, Dali among many others.

 

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Profile: Kristen Stein on Marketing

Tell us about your marketing journey. How did you start?

My online marketing journey started in 1999 using a personal website and the auction site eBay.  I sold on eBay for several years and then started cross-listing items on alternative auction sites and various online venues. Most recently, I created online stores at Etsy and on 1000Markets . I have designs at Cafepress and I have images uploaded at ImageKind and ArtistRising that offer giclee and canvas prints of some of my work.

In addition to selling online, I also sell directly from my studio and at various local art/craft shows. I also have several pieces in local galleries, shops and restaurants. A few designs are sold at Art.com and AllPosters.com as well.

Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

I use Facebook and Twitter to keep connected with my buyers and new fans of my work. I tie these in with my online blog and current art listings. I love the quick access that Twitter and Facebook provides to individuals who share similar interests and passions.

What has been the reaction to your making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

I have recently made my artwork available in more non-traditional forms like ceramic tiles and handcrafted jewelry.  I enjoy offering these smaller versions of the artwork, especially at local art/craft shows as they are easier for folks to purchase and carry with them.  I believe that having a wide-range of prices in your inventory allows buyers to work within their budget.  I’m not sure they these new items have directly affected the sales of my regular prints and originals, but I would imagine that it brings new buyers who might otherwise not see my work. Plus, I enjoy being able to offer more wearable and versatile ways to display my artwork.

Where do most of your sales come from?

The majority of my sales come from eBay, etsy and from local art/craft shows.  I would love to be able to branch out and create a wholesale business for my images. This is something that I am considering as a business expansion in 2009.

 

Kristen Stein tile tryptych

 

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