Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making a simple animated gif using Adobe Fireworks

By: Megan Huffman, Studio Team Leader

Have you ever wanted to learn to make a gif? It's pretty simple if you want to make something basic! So we are going to start with making a simple gif (pronounced jif not gif, apparently) with shapes!
First, you'll open Adobe Fireworks and open a new file (for demonstrative purposes I'm just making a 1000px x 1000px file at 72 dpi with a transparent background (your file does need to be 72 dpi since you will most likely be using this for the web, the transparent background is up to you).

 Also, for the purpose of this demonstration, I'm just going to use circles to make my gif, feel free to go crazy with your shape choice.

Put a big shape onto your art board and give it some color

Now, if you are familiar with Photoshop, Illustrator, or Indesign then you should be used to seeing the layers panel on your screen. Layers in Fireworks work the same as layers in any other program and you can actually carry over a file from photoshop to fireworks and keep all of your layers (but that's a subject for another blog post). But right beside your layers panel tab is a tab titled States, go to this tab. 

States is what you use to determine what your gif will look like! If you've ever seen a movie storyboard or a storyboard for animation, it's similar to that! Each state describes a different movement or change. 
The first thing we are going to do is make our shape change colors in the gif. So you'll need to make a new state! You can either right click and chose to make a new state or look at the bottom of the panel and click the icon that looks like a sticky note. 

Your new state should look blank.

For now, go back to your first state and copy your shape, then go back to your second state and paste it!

Now you can change the color of your shape either using a filter or the color panel.

Also, you can duplicate states by right clicking on them and choosing the "duplicate state" option and then choosing where you want it to go! 

Now, go ahead and add 3 more states with the same shape and make all of your shapes different colors. Now we are going to make our shape move out of our gif frame. Duplicate your last state and put it at the end. Now move that shape a little bit to the left or right. Now Duplicate that state and put it at the end and move it a little more, keep repeating this until your shape is out of the frame. 

Great! Once we export we'll see our shape disappear before our eyes! Now for the exporting. If you look to the right of your states you'll see numbers beside each one. This number determines how long that frame is going to last. We're going to slow ours down a bit. Double click the number, then change it to 40. Do this for each state. This will make the gif move slower. The higher the number, the slower the gif. 

Now we are going to select what's going to be in our gif using a method called slicing! Your slice tool is under web in your toolbar. Select it and then click and drag over your shape- this should produce a green box. 

Back in your states panel, hit the space to the left of the numbers on the top and bottom state to connect them- it should look like this when you've done that: 

To the right of your window there should be a tab called Optimize, this is where you'll edit your export settings.
Click where it says Export Defaults and select Animated Gif Websnap 128. Also, make sure it'll be an animated gif not just a gif.
If you want the background of your gif to be transparent you can choose Alpha Transparency in the transparency options. 
Once you've finished setting up, right click onto your green slice and click Export Selected Slice. 
From there you can name your gif and save it! Just make sure that it saves as a .gif! Here's mine to show you what it looks like: 
Hopefully that gives you an idea of what it's like to make gifs! Eventually we'll be posting more in-depth gif making tutorials, but this'll get you started on the right track! Happy gif making! 

Microtext: Old School is Cool

By: Rebecca Gunger, Studio Assistant

Many students gaze upon the micro-text machines with sheer terror. However, there is simply no reason to rule out using these machines and the valuable micro-text sources because they seem “too outdated.” Nonsense. The Digital Media Studio adds new sources to our Micro-text collection all the time, and many of these new additions would be incredibly valuable additions to your next paper or research project.
“Oh, well, that’s just history major stuff,” you might say. Again, nonsense. We offer thousands of primary sources, research journals, and newspapers that cover centuries of information. Education majors, do you need sources on early education methods? We have TONS of journals, papers, government documents, and magazines waiting to be utilized. Nursing majors, are you doing work with previous medical procedures? We have magazines from the early 1900s and research detailing medical projects from infants to the elderly!
 “Oh, but everything’s digitized and my bed is so comfy right now!” I feel you, bro, but actually, a lot of magazines, journals, and newspaper make you pay to access their digitized reserves. Plus, seeing the research for yourself on the big screen is an amazing feeling. IF you happen to access an article (and I mean IF), you will only see the text. You won’t see the pictures, ads, etc that can help further your paper or project. For instance, you may be doing a paper on V-E Day in 1945. When you come to the DMS and ask for the New York Times for May 8th, 1945, you will find an incredible amount of pure primary research to use. (Your teacher will love you, you’re welcome.) Our updated machines are able to screenshot, save particular files to a flash drive, and print it out right there for you so you can use it as a reference, in a PowerPoint, poster, documentary, etc.

“Oh, but I’m doing a super random project! Like, super random.” Try us. Literally. We have records from antebellum Southern Plantations, the Indian Economic Journal, the FBI file on the Highlander Folk School (it’s a long story), diaries from women in the American Revolution, and papers on the Technical Problems of the Oboe (I kid you not).

Fear these machines no more, Blue Raiders. They are only here to help you further your research, grades, and reputations with your teachers. We’d be happy to get you started.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Don’t Leave Me Hangin’: Solving the Problem of Hanging Indents

By: Sarah Gray-Panesi, Studio Team Leader

Perhaps the most irritating part of citing sources for a research paper (aside from determining what information to include) is figuring out how to format the hanging indent in our list of references.  Microsoft Word, ever helpful as we know this program to be, will not let us just simply tab over on the second line of a source entry.  And even if we do foil the Soft-Troopers’ evil plan to indent the whole source by putting an extra space at the end of the first line, then hitting ENTER, then TAB, we almost invariably get a snarky message from our professor that the formatting on their received file was incorrect.  So, what to do?

Actually, formatting the hanging indent is quite simple, and there are two ways to go about it:  the long way and the short way.  Most students who say they know how to format a hanging indent know the long way, which consists of selecting “Paragraph” from the “Format” menu, then selecting “Hanging” from the “Special” drop-down menu.  This method works swimmingly; however, there is an even easier, faster method of setting your hanging indents.

Rather than spending all that time going through menus and such why not simply utilize Word’s Ruler?  First, if you don’t see a ruler at the top of your page in Word, click on “View,” and then “Ruler” to ensure the Ruler always displays when you open a Word file.  Now for the easy part:  To set your handing indent, simply place your cursor over the tip of the bottom left marker on the Ruler, and you will see a dialogue box pop up that says “Hanging Indent.”



(If you place your cursor too low on the marker, you will see the message “Left Indent” instead of “Hanging Indent.”  If this happens, simply move your cursor up slightly until the message changes to “Hanging Indent.”)

Once you’ve placed your cursor in the proper position to set your hanging indent, simply click and drag the marker to the right until it sets at a half inch (this is the standard setting for hanging indents).

Congratulations!  You’ve now set your hanging indents.  Do this after you’ve completed your first source entry, and the formatting will be applied to each additional source you enter.