Long day editing? Slave to your keyboard?

Glued to your monitor for hours? Editing tiny paths and control points with endless mouse clicks and scrolls? The chances are your body will be feeling the strain. Here are a few great practical exercises from VET to combat RSI, eye strain and muscular pain.


Creating Contact Sheets

Need to create a contact sheet for your photographic prints?  Creating galleries for your blog or website?  Here are some great online tutorials that show you how using  different programs:






Where can I get free online software tutorials?

Even the folks here at Creative Skills needs to sleep sometime so what do you do when it’s 3am and you need to learn how to create a masks in After Effects or how to add a wall in SketchUp. Before you spend hours trawling through YouTube here are a few free online resources that could save you some time.


Moodle: CCi Skills – Creative

We have our very own Moodle page which appears by default on your Moodle homepage. Look down the list to find and select CCi Skills – Creative.  Our page contains sections for the major software that we support and includes reference guides, PDF worksheets, workshop tutorials, examples and useful links.


Pluralsight (formerly Digital Tutors)

Pluralsight is an online training library with hundreds of training videos in huge range of software including:  3ds Max, After Effects, Dreamweaver,  Fusion, Houdini, Illustrator, InDesign, Maya, Nuke, Photoshop,  RenderMan,  V-Ray, and Z-brush plus many more!

This is available through the library catalogue and you can access it here – follow the instructions there to login.


Stephen Hall

stephenhall.org.uk has a host of resources to help with CAD software, building modelling, SketchUp, InDesign and Photoshop among others.


Video CoPilot

A fantastic site for tutorials and resources on motion graphics and VFX using After Effects.  You can visit it here where you can even download plugins and scripts to improve your After Effects comps.


Adobe TV

Adobe TV has video tutorials for all of its major creative software and is a great resource for learning the programs from scratch.  Highly recommended.


Adobe Knowhow

Knowhow is Adobe’s new platform for extensive online courses .  It has a ‘free’ section where you can access hours of video tutorials covering many of its major programs – you can access it here.  The main Knowhow website has much more but these will cost you so try out the free section first to see if it has what you want.


Autodesk Knowledge Network 

A great resource for Autodesk products – in particular you may want to take advantage of the Getting Started in Revit section.







Manage your Media – Where did I put that file?

You’re in the middle of a project when you realise you really need that file.  You know, the original one.  I think it was a JPEG. No, a PNG.  Maybe it was called Untitled1.  Or Untitled_1.

It happens so easily. You have thousands of photographs from various different memory cards all called something like IMG_0000098.

Maybe you have a ton of exported video clips all called something like Final_Final_Export_Honest.mov or perhaps you forget to create a new folder as you exported a 5 minute image sequence all over your desktop.  Sound familiar?

Here at Creative Skills we see lots of students contending not only with the assignment but also with the task of finding the right files when the pressure is on.  Organising your media assets is essential to help you complete your projects without the stress of trying to find that one file you need that may or not be a jpeg or png and called untitled1

Thankfully there are various applications and tools out there to help you do this.  Here are just a few things you can do to help yourself get organised:


  • Use some of the basic organisational tools such as Finder and Windows Explorer that are part of your Mac or PC operating system. These allow you to sort your files in a number of different ways as well as use advanced features such as tagging, smart folders, and indexing.  For Macs see a range of advice here  or if you are a PC user take a look here.


  • Use a free Media Management apps such as iTunes or Adobe Bridge.  These are more tailored to the types of files you will be using for your projects such as video, images and sound files and have more advanced functions i.e. Bridge allows you to batch rename your files and see metadata recorded with your images.


  • Often the creative software you use to create your projects has built-in tools to help you manage your media.  For example, Lightroom works in the same way as iTunes to create a catalogue of your images regardless of their physical location on your drives.  You can also add keywords and geotagging and use collections to allow the same images to be accessed easily across different projects.  Working with video?  In Avid Media Composer, try using the Media Tool, Consolidate and Transcode functions as well as its vast metadata capability.  Premiere Pro has its own Metadata workspace while its accompanying program Prelude allows batch-renaming, backups and comments similar to Avid.








Flash – FAQ & Tutorials

It’s been a busy week with lots of interest in Flash.  Below are a few links and tutorials that cover some of the most frequently-asked questions we receive about Flash.

Importing Illustrator and Photoshop files into Flash

Using Guides & Rulers to organise your layout

Creating Rollovers and Hit areas for your buttons


How do I turn one of my graphics into a Button?

Select the graphic on the Stage and press F8 or go to Modify > Convert to Symbol.  Choose Button from the drop-down and give it a name starting with “btn_”

Select the button again and in the Properties tab give it an instance name as well.  This is important for coding later (see below).


Where do I write the action script code?

To bring up the Actions panel go to Window > Actions.  Once active you can then drag the panel’s tab into the sidebar to dock it for easy access.


What code do I need to link my button to a  specific frame in my timeline?

First, select the button on the stage.  While you are learning Flash use the Code Snippets tab in the actions panel to help you.  When you select this it brings up a list of categories.  Choose Actionscript 3.0 > Timeline Navigation > Click to go to Frame and Stop.  The code should look something like this:

mybutton.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, fl_ClickToGoToAndStopAtFrame_4);

function fl_ClickToGoToAndStopAtFrame_4(event:MouseEvent):void

Replace the “5” in the last bracket with the frame number you want your button to link to.



My button isn’t working – what’s wrong?

This could be for several reasons.  Try the following troubleshooting tips:

Wrong/Missing Instance Name – Check the ‘instance name’ of your button.  Because you can re-use the same button several times in a Flash project, you have to give each button an instance.

Select your button on the stage and then go to the properties tab top right – replace the <instance name> with something appropriate.  Re-enter your action script code for that button so that it picks up this new information.

Pointing to wrong frame –  If you want your button to link to a specific point in your timeline check that the correct frame is written in the brackets in the action script.

When you create button code from the Code Snippets it auto defaults to frame 5 so you may need to change this.  e.g. to move to frame 8 and stop would be:   gotoAndStop (8)

If you are linking to a label you have created you will need to write the name of the label in speech marks instead of a frame number e.g. gotoAndStop (“off”)

My Movie Clip won’t play!!

MovieClips have wrong/no instance name – If you want the button to link to a movie clip you need to tell Flash which movie clip.  Your movie clips should be called something like mc_data1.

Like your buttons you also need to give each movie clip an instance name. Select your movie clip and in the properties create an appropriate instance name.

It is this instance name which we need to use in the Actionscript code not the mc_ title.

e.g.  to play frame 8 of a movie clip entitled mc_data1 and with an instance name of data1 the code should look like this:

mybutton.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, fl_ClickToGoToAndPlayFrame_8);

function fl_ClickToGoToAndPlayFrame_8(event:MouseEvent):void


MovieClip has not been added to the Stage – Your button won’t play a movie clip unless you have actually added it to the stage.

Select the same layer as the button you will use to play the movie clip. Go to your Library and left-click and drag your movie clip to the stage. It will appear as a small circle with a cross-hair in it.

Double-clicking on this small circle takes you inside your movie clip timeline but shows the rest of your stage in the background (very handy for data overlays!)





Using masks to clean up green screen in Premiere Pro CC.

Whatever happened to garbage mattes in Premiere Pro?  For many like myself this question has kept us awake at night…  If you’ve watched any online tutorials about green screen keying in Premiere Pro you will probably have come across garbage mattes and how they can be used to remove unwanted areas at the edges of your footage. However, since the latest CC updates these garbage mattes have been..well..garbaged.  So what to do? Here’s the new (and much better) solution.  Enjoy.