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Creative Pipeline: The ACP Blog

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In Part 1 we talked about how to take hundreds or thousands of slides and quickly turn them into digital images. This was done by photographing the slides with a good camera and a macro lens. While you will not get as good a result as a proper scanning of the slides, you will process your slides significantly faster than if you scanned. The goal here is speed and if your setup is done properly, and you understand how to work with Lightroom, you can get OK to pretty good results.

The problem with slides is that unless you can clearly see them, it's hard to see them well enough to know which images you want to keep or toss, like, or even cherish. Simply holding them up to a light is a very limited approach. By processing the images as presented below, you will quickly convert the photos of your slides into very viable digital images. However, speed is the operative word here.

I'm presenting a lot of information below, some of which may not be relevant to you depending on your Lightroom knowledge and experience. If you're already pretty good at Lightroom, there's a lot to skim. If you're new to Lightroom, there's information below that will help you process your slides as well as any image you encounter in Lightroom. Plus, it's always easier to learn an application while doing a project that uses that application. As such, this hopefully will be a functionally useful educational experience.

Also, as I stated in Part 1, I've processed over 5000 images at this point. I've tried a variety of approaches to speed up this process and the following techniques work for me. One of the advantages of Lightroom is how many ways there are to do the same thing. I find that I use many or all of some of these approaches to get the job done. That said, I'm sure there techniques that I'm not using because either I'm not aware of them or  they do not work for me. As always, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

Because of my approach here, this article on how to process your photographs of your slides is also a primer on how to use Lightroom. Lightroom is a wonderful application but very confusing to use because what you are looking at can change from one moment to another depending on what mode you're in or what you've clicked on recently. Because of this I will spend a few moments at appropriate times to make sure that what you are looking at on YOUR computer is what I'm showing on my screenshots.

In this article we'll discuss:

  • A global view of what you're doing here
  • Some tips on tethering your camera to Lightroom
  • What you can and cannot correct on these images
  • Tips on selecting and de-selecting images in Lightroom
  • Cropping a lot of slides uniformly using Auto Sync
  • Some techniques to self-review your slides
  • Removing and/or Deleting images
  • Using "Previous" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Copy and Paste" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Sync" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Painter" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Fine-tuning adjustments on your slides
  • Digital Dust Removal
  • A variety of ways to Keyword your images
  • Fixing misspelled keywords
  • Face Detection

To Begin

As stated, photographing your slides is a great  opportunity to not only see your images, but to play Keep & Toss with your slides. If you have photos of nondescript mountains or nondescript people, they may have meant something at the time they were taken but now maybe not so much. You may chose to delete the photos of these slides from your hard drives or at least the image from your Lightroom collection. Because of the ability to better see your slides on your screen, what you do with these images is up to you. I will guide you on how to make these images as good as possible but you do not need to do ANYTHING from what I suggest. Just getting them into Lightroom might be sufficient. However, I found that since I can now see these images I might as well make the ones I like as good looking as possible. In addition, if there's any image that you particularly like, you can always pull out the original slide and do a proper scanning of the slide.

Just about everything that we'll be doing with Lightroom in this writing can be done with just about any version of Lightroom—you do not need the latest version. There are a few  techniques that can only be done with the newer releases but these are not critical to the objective: converting vast quantities of slides into a digital format.

Part of processing the images can start as early as when you are setting up the tethering your camera and computer together. This set up  can let you identify where the images will be placed in your catalog as well as start out with some keywords. [If you are not using tethering, you can do bulk Keywording during import from your camera's card as described in the Keywording section.] You can set your keywords to match the images' range you are processing. That is, if you've taken all of the images in one state (e.g., Florida), than that state can be placed in the keyword field. If in a specific location (e.g., Epcot), than I suggest you place both Florida and Epcot in the keyword list. Also note that I entered the slide box (or whatever location would suffice) that contained the slides. Again, this will help you find the slides at any future date.


You'll note that I do not have much of any custom names (for the slides) at this point. I've tried various approaches to changing the name of the slides as I processed the images but l gave up as it was  tortuous—too much stopping and starting. If you really wish to provide custom names to the images after they've been photographed, there is a MUCH easier way: when looking in the images in Library mode select all of the images that will share a name. Then from the Library menu select Rename Photos... Select option "Custom Name - Sequence" from the dropdown menu, provide the custom name, verify the Start Number, and tap OK and you're done. However, I honestly never found a strong advantage of customizing the names and often left the images with whatever name they received. Simply, Keywording is much more powerful and efficient than  naming  the images.


As stated, the goal is to process the images as efficiently as one can. If there are individual images you wish to enhance, you can always spend time with them in Lightroom one at a time. However, any time you can alter and fix more than one image at a time, the better. Lightroom helps this considerably by providing many ways to alter many images at a time.

What you can/can't correct on these images.

These images were first slides, not digital images. Therefore, there is no lens information to take advantage of Adobe's lens corrections. And part of this is you cannot expect to get any help from the new Transform Options of selecting the "Vertical," "Horizontal," or other options to remove the perspective of an building. Fortunately, if you use the "Guided" option  you can fix a distorted building, but most of the time I don't bother unless the image has some real issues and I want to take the time to fix the problem.)

Even though you've taken these as raw images (hopefully), any option to change their white balance by selecting sunlight, shade, tungsten, etc. from the White Balance dropdown menu are doomed before you start. Despite that, you can get close to fixing the White Balance by clicking on something gray-ish in the image with the White Balance Tool (or press "w"). More on this later


Another critical option that's not available is any grain correction—Photoshop and Lightroom do not know how to get rid of photographic film grain, that's a film issue, not a digital issue. If you have an image with noticeable photographic grain and you wish to fix that, your best option is to use a high-end scanning software such as SilverFast by LaserSoft Imaging. I've a sample of the benefits of this feature in the beginning of Part 1.

If you've taken your images as raw images, you will have excellent success with the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Likewise, you can control the white and black regions on the histogram with either the White and Black Sliders or by going up to the histogram, mousing down in one of the five regions (as you mouse-over each region will slightly lighten up) and dragging left or right as shown below.


Fortunately, one of the tools that IS available to enhancing the slides is the "Dehaze" tool. Unfortunately this also is a fairly new tool and is not available in earlier versions of Lightroom.

Some basic info on selecting images in Lightroom

So that you know what I'm looking at (and referring to), when I'm looking at image in the Library mode, I'm seeing the following view. Note, to get this you need to tap the Loupe View (e) seen just below the left side, below the image. I tend to not use the Grid view much (press the icon to the left of the Loupe View). However, there is one area where I do use Grid view and this will be brought up at a later time while I discuss Keywording.


Also note that the tools provided in this region can change by your choices. This is done on the far right of the tool region. If an item is checked, it will show. Also be aware that if you switch to the Grid view, the various tools change and the selections below also change. Fortunately what you chose is sticky so set it once and you are done. But again, the options for Grid and Loupe are different, it's just that once set each view's options will be sticky for that view. Anyhow, if I'm showing tools that you do not see, that's why.


Lastly, if you do not see this Tool region, press the "t" key and make it show or hide as you chose. Similarly, if you do not see the image thumbnails across the bottom, if you look at the bottom you see a small "up" pointing arrowhead as shown below. [Note: the contrast is dismal but it is there.] If the thumbnails are not showing and you mouse-over this arrowhead, the thumbnails will show, if you click on the arrowhead, the thumbnails will show and remain.


The goal in this article is to process many images as fast as possible, it's important to know how to select a single image, many sequential images and/or many non-sequential images. You might already know this material but if you are weak on these details, it will bring you up to speed on processes that will be discussed later. All of the following is done on the thumbnails that line the bottom of the screen.

Tips on Selecting and De-selecting images

If you click ON the image, that image will be selected.

clicking on an image to select.png

If you click above or below an image, you can also select an image. Let's call this "off-image clicking."

clicking off the image to select.png

If you click on one image and then Shift click on an image many images away, all of the continuous row of images (from beginning of the selection to end) will be selected.

And if you click on one image and Control/Command-click on any other images (regardless of order) they will be selected even if discontinuous.

Command-Control clicking to select.png

Now, notice above how one of the photos in the image above is a lighter gray than the others? THAT image will show up in the big Loupe view above. If you click ON any of the selected images (not off-image), then that image will be displayed in the Loupe view. This means that if you have more than one image selected but wish to change the view of which specific image is showing, you can. If you click off-image (on any of the images), that image will be selected and all of the other images will be deselected.

If you  press "Command/Control-a," all of the images will be selected. If you wish to deselect the images, you can either click any off-image clicking (and only that one image will be selected). Alternatively if you press Shift-Option-Command/Control-d,  all images will  be de-selected.

As you process your images, your ability to select and deselect the images is critical and the above tips will become 2nd nature in no time.

Processing the images: cropping off the slide's cardboard

As you recall in Part 1, I was very insistent upon making sure that each image was properly registered to a specific consistent location as you took the photos. The better you did this, the easier this next section will be.

Our first task is to crop the image so that none of the slide's cardboard is displayed. First, click on the Develop tab, or press Command/Control-Option-2 so that you are in the Develop tab (and not in Library mode).

The first bulk processing technique to demonstrate is "Auto-sync." I start here because this is one of the most powerful and consequently, one of the most dangerous adjustment tool in Lightroom. It's also a good place to start because it's a handy place to crop all of the images at once to remove the slide's cardboard. [Note: the way Lightroom works you cannot make any permanent changes to an image. Thus, if you crop an image in Lightroom and for whatever reason did a bad crop, you can always go back to the original image and nothing has been permanently damaged.]

Tap "Command/Control-a" to select all of the images. If you look at the bottom right of the screen you'll see a button called "Sync..." (More info on how to use Sync… a bit later.) On the left side of this you'll see a switch that's on the bottom. Tap that and it will flip to the top and now the button will say "Auto Sync." [Note, if you see nothing, than no images is selected and if the button says "Previous, that means you only have one photo selected.]


Now tap the "r" key (for cRop), select Crop from the Tools menu, or tap the Crop icon on the left of the tools (see below)


You'll now see  crop lines on the image. The default crop lines are on the image's edges.


Now you need to start bringing the crop down to the image. Because this image has a bit of rotation, there's no need to try to get accurate yet. So grab a corner handle and bring it down to the image, and then repeat with the other handle on the opposite corner.


Now, if you mouse-over a corner, outside of the cropped region (see the bottom right in the image below), the cursor will turn into a double-arrow. Click on the arrow and drag up and down—this lets you rotate the image. To complete the cropping process, make any fine-tune adjustments for the sides of the crop to line up with the images' edges. Now click the Crop tool once again (or press "r" again) and everyone of your images will have been cropped all at once. Done!


While you still have all of the images selected and you're still in Auto Sync, it's a good idea to move the Highlight slider to the left and the Shadow slider to the right. If nothing else this is why you took the images in raw mode, NOT JPEG. Your ability to make as much of an enhancement to each image as you can at this point is due to the extra information contained in raw images. The exact setting is not really critical here, just close to the settings shown below will be fine. This is just a starting point for any subsequent adjustments.


Now, before you do ANYTHING else, press Shift-Option-Command/Control-d key to deselect all of the images  (or click off-image on any  one image to deselect all but that one image) and be sure that  Auto Sync is turned off. It's important to get into the habit of this if you use Auto-Sync because if you start to make images adjustments with Auto-sync on, those adjustments will take place on ALL of your images, even the ones you just did a moment before. (And thereby undoing any fine-tuning you just did on any previous image(s)).

Initial Reviewing your Slides

Now that you can easily see your cropped images in full view in the Loupe view. Now is a great time to make sure that all images are properly cropped, which one's need to be rotated to Portrait view, and do a quick review of which images you want to spend time on and which images need to be tossed out.

The probable reality is, as you took photos of your slides, you  inadvertently bump your setup and suddenly all subsequent images from that "whoops" point are not properly cropped as the previous images were. No fear.  Select the first slide you notice this issue and then move over to the last slide and Shift-click on that last photo. Now go back to the first slide of this set, set "Sync..." to "Auto Sync," adjust the crop on that image. Next, be sure Auto Sync is off and deselect the images and continue. Every time you notice that things are off, do this semi-global adjustment and continue. Eventually you'll reach the end of the images and all alignment adjustments have been made.

As you look through your slides to make sure they are cropped, it is also a good time to quickly go through your slides to remove and/or delete photos that are just not worth saving. (If they are not worth saving, there's no need to spend any time correcting and/or enhancing the images.) As you progress through your images, you will find the occasional image that says nothing, means nothing, and/or isn't well taken in the first place. Time to play Keep & Toss.

You can either delete the images as you look though your images or you can mark your image so that you can "Find" the images with that marking (see next paragraph) and delete all at once. Whichever one appeals to you is fine.

In addition to deleting the images as you find them, you can be a bit more methodical and identify which images are either particularly good and/or particularly bad. This can be done by selecting an image and tapping the "P" or "X" key as you go through your images. If you look at the images below, in the upper left-hand corner you can see the white flag ("flagged") or black flag (rejected) icon identifying your choice.


Besides using the Flag and Reject, you can also use Ratings (*) and Labels (colors) to do the same thing, Flag and Rejecting are just two more ways to identify images.

The one advantage to flagging the good and bad images this way is that you've already identified which images deserve special attention. This might save you time later on.

To delete an image, select one image, several continuous images, or discontinuous images. Then, either tap the "Delete" key, go to the Photo menu and select "Remove Photo," or right click (as shown below on the left) and select "Remove Photo(s)" (if you select have two or more photos, this becomes plural). If you do any of these things, a new window pops up (shown below on the right) verifying if you want the images Removed from the catalog (but will still remain on your computer), or "Delete from Disk" which places the images in your computer's Trash Can where, if weak in heart, you can retrieve them again so long as you've not emptied your computer's trash can.


As stated, as you pan through your images it  is a great time to  find the portrait images you rotated to the landscape view to photograph. Here's something that's very cool: Lightroom remembers an images original orientation when making subsequent cropping operations. By this, let's say that the crops on the images were done in a side-to-side orientation. However, now that the slide has been rotated to a portrait position. If you select multiple images and make a side-to-side adjustment, all of the images that you rotated to portrait will automatically adjust in a top-to-bottom orientation. In other words, you do not need to do anything special to them after rotation, it all just works.

By the way, the process of rotating the slides is to either go to the Photo menu and select "Rotate CCW" (Command/Control-[ ) or "Rotate CW (Command/Control-] )." Because I always rotate the slide CCW when processing the slides, I always do Command/Control-] to right them again. This can also be done from the Tool menu from the Library view but the key-command is available in any mode so I tend to use that approach.

Next group process: Previous

Now we will begin to do actual image correction. This approach "Previous," and the next correction ("Copy and Paste"), are for speeding up corrections one at a time.

"Previous" is particularly good if you have multiple images that appear to need very similar correction. It doesn't make any difference if the images are near each other or not.

Below you see an image that has a color-cast and the image has had some color degradation.


I went ahead and adjust this image as well as I could in a fast fashion. (It's not a great image so I didn't spend much time on it.)


Now, I clicked on the next image


And simply tapped the Previous button


All Lightroom did here was to take the settings of the previous image and place them on the selected image. The advantage here is that this is real simple: you  adjust one image and then click on any image that appears similar. (You can always go back and  fine-tune any subsequent image as necessary.) So, as you look across the images in the thumbnail strip on the bottom, you can tap Previous as you continue processing. The disadvantages include that you cannot save multiple "Previous" settings (e.g., Previous A, Previous B, etc.), nor can you select multiple images and tap "Previous." In addition, if there were any corrections that were very specific (e.g., some rotation) on the initial image, those corrections will  be transferred to any other image you tap "Previous" whether the subsequent images need that adjustment or not.

Next bulk process: "Copy" & "Paste."

Copy & Paste is similar to Previous but is best when you want to Paste "almost" every attribute you corrected. To use this set of tools, it  requires an extra step before the Paste button.


You'll notice that the Copy button has an ellipse and that means that this will bring up a dialog box.


When this window comes up you can accept all of the boxes being checked or un-checked (lower left in the image above). As needed, you can check or recheck the options you  want maintained. Notice, for example, that you can turn off  rotational dynamics so they do not affect subsequent images.

To use this, you first select an image and make all of the adjustments you wish to make, then press Copy… Be sure that all of the attributes you wish to paste are selected. Then select an image and press  the Paste button. All of the settings you copied will be pasted onto the new  image. The advantage here is let's say that you had selected an image and made a bunch of corrections, including rotation. Assuming that you have other images that have the same problems but do not need rotation, by using Paste instead of Previous, you can pass on all of the adjustments but not rotation.

Once you've copied the alterations you've made, you can then select new image and then press Copy and repeat until you've adjusted all of the images with similar issues. What you cannot do with Paste is to select a number of images and then tap the Paste button—it doesn't work. That's when you need to use the "Sync…" feature described next.

The biggest limitation of Copy & Paste is that like Previous, you can only do it one image at-a-time.

Next bulk process: Sync…

The last option for bulk processing is the "Sync…" button (last seen when we were talking about "Auto Sync").

As before, if you select one image, this button says "Previous." If you select more than one image, the button now says "Sync…" The way to use this is to select a number of images, either continuous or discontinuous. Now click ON one of the images (not off-image because that will deselect your collection), that will be your master image for this process. Make any and all of the adjustments you want. Now tap the "Sync…" button. Up pops almost the same window as shown above. However, the button above that says "Copy"  now says "Synchronize." Press the Synchronize button and you are done. This is safer than Auto Sync because you actively have to press the Sync… button each time you wish to alter a bunch of images. Sync is much faster than Copy and Paste for bulk operations because you do not have to select and then Paste on each image. Rather, you can select two or hundreds of images and boom, your done!

Fine-Tuning Adjustments on your slides

After making any bulk adjustments, you'll invariably need to do some fine-tuning on those same images. This is because it's extremely unlikely that the group of images you bulk-adjusted were exactly the same. What the bulk adjustments did was to get a group of images close to being finished, now you can finish them. Making the fine-tuning adjustments on photographs of slides is not much different from making adjustments of regular digital images but with some limitations.

As stated, depending on the age of your slides, who the manufacturer was and/or the product type, and how they were stored, the amount of degradation may be nothing or significant. It's also a sad truth that the degradation is not going to be completely consistent from one image to the next (but there will likely be groups of images that are similarly, but not uniformly degraded).

Probably the most common issue/problem is white balance caused by fading of one or more of the emulsion colors. Fortunately, using Lightroom's White Balance eyedropper (and if something in the image is probably gray), you can sneak fairly close to what the correct temperature and tint should be.

At the top of the Basic panel, next to the Temperature and Tint controls for White Balance, is an eyedropper. You can either tap on that with your mouse or press the "w" key (for "White Balance").


Now, click on something in the image that you think is probably gray. As you can see on the left image below, I've chosen the sign. I have no idea if this is true gray but it's probably good enough to get close to what a balanced White Balance should be. On the right in the image below is the instant result of clicking that eye dropper on the sign.


[Note: how does the White Balance Tool work? As you probably know, gray is an equal mix of red, blue, and green but the trick is that there must be the exact same amount of red, blue, and green. When you click on something that is (or might be) gray, Lightroom will adjust the colors in the image so that if they were not the same before, they are now. (A mid-gray is a better choice than light or dark gray.) In the image above I had nothing else better to click on so I opted to use the sign.

Occasionally there's not enough information in "white" for Lightroom to make a correction as shown in the image below. Here, the white of the jonquils was too light  and I could not get sufficient information for Lightroom to work with and could not use this technique to white balance the image. (Note: if you make the image temporarily darker, this approach will still will not work.) Your only recourse here is to "eyeball" it. While challenging to do when you first start trying to white balance by eye,  the good news is that the more you do the faster it gets.]


To finish up this image I noticed a tad of blue in the upper left corner meaning that even if this was Great Britain, it wasn't a completely overcast day. So I dropped the Exposure a tad, bumped up the Contrast a tad, dropped the Highlights as much as I could and pushed the Clarity up a bit. Below is the "before" these adjustments and below that is the "after" these adjustments.


[Let me repeat, if this was a JPEG, the final results would not have been as good. A raw image contains significantly more information than a JPEG.]

There will be times when the emulsions have faded to such a degree that doing a simple White Balance as above will not work. If this is so you'll probably have to manually tease the Temperature and Tint controls or in extreme condition, open the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance Panel and see if you can control the problem from here.

Below is a great example where regular white balance completely failed but making adjustments in Saturation solved the problem. In Image #1, you can see the problem. I'm in a train station and the cement floor and walls appear moss-green. They probably are not this color. So in Image #2, I try to white balance the image off of the wall and this was a failure; you can see how in the distance everything is now bluish purple. The problem is probably the light source from the ceiling is giving the area a color-cast.

So in Image #3 I go to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance Panel and select Saturation. If you look in the right hand panel, you can see that I've circled the Targeted Adjustment Tool. If you click on that and go to a region that has color in the image, you can click and drag up and down on the image and that will increase (up) or decrease (down) the saturation. Using this approach you can see that it did a good job in removing the errant green from the cement. Obviously this will not work all the time but since cement shouldn't be green in most circumstances, here it worked fine.


If the colors are really really bad due to the degradation of the film, I'll strongly consider converting the image into a Black & White image. If that fails, it's a true tosser.

However, just keep in mind that anything you do to help the image is better than the image sitting in a box continually getting worse and worse. If the image is the only known image of Aunt Maude, you do what you can and be happy that you caught the image before it was completely totally gone.

Dust Removal

Despite dusting every slide prior to taking its photo, there will be an occasional bit of dust on the slides that will show up in the photograph. Fortunately the dust is as easy to remove in Lightroom as is sensor dust  from a digital image. In image #1 below you can see the small spec of dust. [Note: The big difference between dust on a slide as opposed to dust on your sensor is that the dust on your slide will probably be sharper then sensor dust which will be fuzzy and out of focus.]

To remove the dust from the image, select the "Spot Removal" tool shown in #2 (or press the "q" key) (you can vary the size of the tool's active circle by pressing the "[" or "]" keys to encompass just the speck), and click. You will see two circles with  one having an arrow pointing to the original circle. This indicates where the new fill for the spot you clicked on will come from as shown in #3. [Note: if you think there's another region in the photo that would provide a better replacement to Lightroom's initial selection, just drag this second circle to that spot. For example, if the dust is on the edge of a cloud and Lightroom selected the middle of a cloud, move the second circle to the edge of a cloud somewhere else.] Image #4 shows the results of this spot removal. If you have a hair or a long thin item you wish to remove, rather than "click" with the Spot Removal tool, simply click and drag over the errant item. Otherwise the process is just the same.]



Like the many approaches to moving image enhancements from one image to others, there are many ways to apply keywords to one or many images.

Again, if you haven't been looking at these images in years and years and you want to see specific images in the future, you need to find them. So the last piece of the puzzle is to keyword the images.

Important: you must be in the Library tab to do Keywording. You can either click on the Library tab, press Option-Command/Control-1, or go to Window (menu) and select Library and then continue with your Keywording.

One of the advantages of Lightroom is that you can easily set keywords for single images as well as do global Keywording (apply keywords to a bunch of images at one time) and wherever you can do add Keywording, you should.

When I photograph a new set of slides into Lightroom, the Keywords I always automatically enter include: the box # (the metal or cardboard box containing the slides (you do number or mark them, don't you?)), the country, and the date (slides always have the date of processing pressed into the  slide's cardboard). This date will invariably NOT be the day you took the images but it's  close enough if you do not know the date otherwise. If all of the group of slides are from one state or one city, I'll enter that in at this time as well.

The very first image in this article shows where and how to automatically place keywords if you are tethering your camera to your computer. If you did not tether and will be importing the images from the camera's card. you can alternatively automatically enter the default keywords by setting up to import the images and before you tap the Import button, from the right hand side select the "Apply During Import" Panel. From there you can also set automatic Settings, Metadata, and Keywords.


At this point you need to refer back to any notes you have from your storage box or whatever else you have and go through your slides in groups to narrow down the slides to your keywords.

As you enter Keywords, you may have a group of photos that will all receive the same Keyword. You could enter the Keywords as a one-at-a-time process but that's a big time waster. Rather, you want to  select a block of images and set any keywords at once whenever possible.

If you are at the first image of a set, you then need to find the last image of that set to make the group of them all selected. But, while searching for the last image of the set you've very likely will have misplaced that first one.

One way out of this problem is to mark the first image to make it easy to find. The way that I like to do this is to place a color label on the first image. After selecting that image, if you go up to the Photo menu, and select "Set Color Label," then select a color. You can also tap any of the 6 to 9 keys and get a color. Alternatively you can right-click on the image and find "Set Color Label" and set the color.


Note that the color is neither profound nor in your face. As shown below, if the image is selected, there is a thin (color) border around the image and if the image is not selected there is a (color) tint to the region around the image. Not significant, but it is something to look for as you look for that first or last image to select.


If you want to set the color so it's easier to see, you can change this by going into the View menu and select "View Options…" toward the bottom of the menu (or select Command/Control-j). Then select the Grid View (the results will show up in either view). As you can see, go to "Tint grid cells with label colors" The default is 20%, I've found that for my purposes here I like 40% or 50%. This makes it much easier to see the first in a set of images I wish to mark with specific keywords.


So, you've colored the first image, gave it a color label, found the last image, select it and backtrack to find that first image. Now you can Shift-click on the first image and they are all now selected.

Syncing Keywords

Syncing keywords is a great way to tag a number of images at the same time. The screenshot below shows the right side of Lightroom's window in Library mode and shows the Keywording Panel. You can enter multiple Keywords (place a comma between each keyword). Once you have all of your words entered as you want, and you are ready to import, press the import button.


Be aware that Lightroom tries to speed things up by doing a variety of automatic entries. For example, if you just entered the keyword piano, on the next image, when you click your cursor into this field, it will have "piano" ready to go. In addition, if you type "p," Lightroom will show that word and any other previously created keywords. So, it could display a list showing "painter," "piano,"Piccadilly." If the next letter you type is "i" than it will just show "piano" and "Piccadilly." As you continue to type, fewer options will present themselves and if the word is a new keyword, Lightroom will stop guessing waiting foryou to finish. That new word will now be a new word in the Keyword list.

Also note that  there is a field just below the one shown highlighted above where you can also enter keywords. (It is hard to see that it exists because the contrast for Lightroom's fields are not very good.) The advantage of this one is if you tap the Enter key after each submission, Lightroom automatically enters a comma, ready for the next word. You can also enter multiple keywords in this field as long as you place a comma between each keyword.


Assuming you have multiple images selected, after you've entered in the Keyword(s) you want, notice that there are now two buttons on the bottom available to click on on the bottom as shown below.


On the right is one called "Sync Settings" which does the same thing as when you are in Develop mode (and let's you sync the image enhancements from the primary selected image). The "Sync" on the left which provides a whole new window shown below. The very last row in this window is for keywords. This should display all of the keywords that were entered for the primary selected image. If you want, you can enter more keywords here. The good thing here is that if there are images with unique keywords (e.g., someone's name), when you Sync the unique Keyword will not be removed. Lightroom respects these unique Keywords and leaves them alone.

At this point, be sure the check box on the left is checked, and then press "Synchronize" and those keywords are now entered for all the selected images.


By the way, if you have a group of images selected and any of them have an asterisk "*" following the keyword, that means that one or more (but not all) of the images selected have that Keyword. As shown below, not all of the selected images have the "Farmer's Market" keyword, but all of the selected images have 1984 April, Box 5, and Great Britain as keywords.


Let me show you one last way to set keywords: the Painter (aka the Spray Can). To use this you must be in the Grid view in the Library mode.


Using Painter is kind of a mash-up of "Previous,"  "Copy & Paste," and Sync" for enhancing the images but cooler.

Using Painter is a four-part process. Below I've found a set of images (between and including the images with the red label) that were taken in Sherwood Forest and I want to add "Nottingham" to their keywords.


Notice in Tool region there's an image of a spray paint can. If you click on this you can see the word "Paint" and a dropdown menu. From here you can see the range of stuff you can "paint" with the Painter tool. Select Keywords.


Next type in the word you wish to paint, I added "Nottingham." If you want to add more than one keyword, simply place a comma after each word (e.g., "England, Nottingham, Sherwood Forest")


Now bring your cursor (shaped like the spray paint can and seen in the top-left image) up to one of the images you wish to add "Nottingham" to the Keyword list. It's important to place your cursor ON the image, not  off the image.


From here you can either simply click and/or drag on/across the images you wish to add the keyword to. This will not affect any keywords that are already assigned to the images, it only adds to the images. Also, notice the image below showing a white line around all of the images where the Painter successfully sprayed. If you inadvertently clicked or dragged over an image that should not have this keyword, simply press the Option key and re-click on that image and that (those) image(s) keywords will be removed.


Fixing misspellings

If you ever misspell or mistype a keyword, not too worry. Go to the Keyword List in the right hand Panel in Library view and find the misspelled word. Than right-click on that keyword and select "Edit Keyword Tag…" This brings up a new window where you can fix the word, click the "Save" button, and every reference to that keyword will be updated. Quick and slick.


Face Detection

Especially if you have  photos of friends or family, turn on Face Detection. this is done by going up to your name in the upper left corner, clicking, and dropping down to the bottom of that menu as shown below.

Please note that this will index (and look for) faces in your entire catalog, not just any specific folder. And, if you've created a large number of photos before starting this, it will take some time for all of the images to be indexed.


Face Detection is very good for identifying full face or mostly full face images in your photos. Profiles and back of heads are not good for automatic face detection (but that doesn't prevent you from identifying who these heads are).

If you want Lightroom to point out potential faces and if you've already selected Face Detection (above), in the tool region above the thumbnails you can see a face, click on this. and Lightroom will point out what Lightroom considers a face. This is shown in the image below where Lightroom says "Draw Face Region." I should point out that in the beginning Lightroom can be howelingly wrong in determining what's a face or even the sex of people, but as you teach it faces Lightroom not only gets better at determining what in an image is a face but also becomes very good at recognizing who's who.

Also note the face image to the right of Survey View (circled in green) below, this gives you "People" (or tap "o"). If you click on that, you will get a grid of all of the faces that Lightroom thinks it sees. From there you can easily run though these images and identify who's who. AS you progress though this, Lightroom will get better and better. And for the images that are clearly not faces or people you do not care to know, simply tap the Delete key and not have to deal with them again.

The difference between having a region drawn around faces (with Draw Face Region) is that you can see the whole image and can therefore see the images in context. If you select to view the People option, all you see are faces in a grid fashion and will not have the rest of the image to put the face in context.

recognize faces.png

The advantages of facial recognition is pretty obvious: let's say your parents are having their 40th anniversary and you wish to prepare a book of their anniversaries though the years. Do a search on their name(s) and bingo, after some selection, you've got  your gift.

Using keywords to find images

Although this has nothing to do with setting keywords, let me point out one of the easy ways to use keywords.  Just below the keyword entry region mentioned above, look for the listing "Keyword List." In this section you will see every keyword you've assigned in alphabetical order. If the list is long you can search for specific keywords in the  field at the top. [Note: I truncated this list at the purple line to show a sample and the top of the list.]

If you mouse-over the keywords, you'll see an arrow pointing to the right on the right side of that keyword. If you click on that arrow, every image that has that keyword will be there immediately. In addition, you'll see a check mark on the left side letting you know that you're seeing all of the these images. You'll also note a shaded check mark just below that for California. This lets you know that for this example Calico Ghost Town  are images that are also part of the images in California.


In summary

If you've read this far, you win an ice cream cone. The amount of actual process listed above is not all that much, but I've shown a considerable amount of extra attention to what's happening within Lightroom to help as much as possible. Lightroom is a fantastic program with the one annoying aspect that items you just finished observing are now gone or different because you just tapped on something in the window. It's kind of like when you put your keys down a moment ago and now your keys are gone for good (or so it seems).

I hope you enjoy obtaining access to your slides as much as I have. It's been great seeing friends, family, and places I've been but haven't seen in many a year. It's also been very interesting to see how I've developed (or not) as a photographer in the 40+ years I've been taking photos.

This blog is divided into two parts. Part 1 is acquiring  and digitizing your slides. Part 2 talks about processing the images in Lightroom to enhance the images in a fast and efficient manner and to provide keywords so that you can find the image(s) you want in an efficient manner.

I started using  slides as my primary photography format around 1977. My Minolta 201 and my three lenses went to many countries and all around the United States. I photographed our family trips, my kids growing up, and my wife's and my many adventures. All told I have about 10,000 slides (really). But its been many years since I've seen these slides. They were  in  slide boxes and placed in the closet and the trouble of setting up the projector and screen, pulling out the slides that I wanted, mounting them into the projector to view, etc., etc. was too much work. Simply, it was as if I had never taken the photos in the first place.

I should point out that of all of the photographic mediums available, slides provide the least dynamic range. I didn't realize that when I started taking slides and I know that my photographic knowledge at the time was sufficiently limited such that if someone had told me that bit of information I wouldn't have known the significance. But that was then, this is now, and I still want to see what I photographed so many years ago.

I do own a very nice scanner and it can scan up to a dozen slides one-at-a-time sequentially but this still can take a lot of time. If you want the BEST quality images  you need to do all of the adjustments with the scanning software at the time of the scan rather than later in Photoshop. If you also squeeze the largest resolution of the image (which adds to the scan time), it can take about 5 minutes per scan. With some 10,000 slides, I'd be dead before I finished.

So how good are the images when photographed?

Below are two examples of the same image. On the left is the photo version of the slide on the right is the scanned version. Besides the obvious differences such as color variations, the real limitation of the photographed version can be seen is in the facial closeup below the following image.


Here is a close up of the young woman facing us, again the photographed image is on the left. The biggest limitation of photographing your slides is that there is no way that Lightroom or Photoshop can properly deal with image grain. Digital noise, yes but not grain. However, scanning software can deal with this. For the record, I used Silverfast 8 (by Lasersoft Imaging) software on this slide and its quality is self-evident.


If your original images are mostly grain-free, you will find that the photographed images are remarkably good, but even with some grain, they are not bad as the above image testifies.

Why digitize your images

There are many reasons, probably the most important is that you've probably not seen your images in many many years. It's time to see them but there's as many reasons as there are slides.

As I pondered my options on how to do this, I had read about people photographing their slides with a macro lens but never saw a specific approach. After much research, a lot of experimentation (and solving problems as they came up), I developed an approach that lets me photograph about 30 slides in 5 minutes. In addition, with  the power of Lightroom, I can process the slides from between a 20 seconds per slide (including adding keywords)  up to 2 minutes  per slide depending on how much time the slide deserves.

My goal here is speed: my primary objective is that I want to  see my slides. If there are slides that I want the best quality for their digital format, I can always do a proper scan at a later time.

Interestingly enough, there is another benefit to digitizing your images: slides  lose their quality over time. There's no doubt that the degree of degradation and the speed of this degradation depends upon the type of film used, how the slides were stored and cared for, and how old they are (to list a few of the potential reasons). Sometimes it's the luck of the draw if a group of slides has degraded over time, sometimes a whole group of slides will be pretty good yet within will be several bad ones. In addition, some film types were worse than others and were known for degradation In addition, every purchased set of slides I ever bought degraded badly. [You know, you go to some vacation spot and at the gift shop they sell a packet of slides, professionally made, and you figure, "Hey, I can't take slides inside and these professionally made slides of (say) Hampton Court will be better than what I can do." Well,  after time has taken its toll, not so much.]

Below on the left is an image of a  slide I took at Penn State Penitentiary and on the right a purchased slide from Hampton Court (Great Brittan). In both cases, these slides that looked fine at the time are now effectively gone.


So, in short, what this blog is all about is capturing your slides so that you have them digitized and locked in. You can always select slides that appeal to you and rescan them later to the highest quality. You can photograph these slides, look at them, shrug your shoulders and delete them all. But at a minimum you've seen them. Plus, you can now do a much better job of Keep & Toss on the images and/or the slides.

One of the side pleasures I've found as I look at these slides is how much my photography has improved and I also see where I did things correctly—even if it was inadvertent at the time!

The following is what worked for me, you obviously can vary the following as your needs and judgment feel is best. But I've photographed over 5000 slides at this point and I've already made most of the mistakes that one can do so I'm talking  experience.

Preparing your slides

I'd like to say that my life is as organized as my slides and the way that I've kept them, but alas, no. For some reason I've always kept my slides well organized so that I could find things when I wanted/needed them. I'm too cheap to have purchased all of the carousels that I would have needed so from the very beginning I've stored my slides in   steel Logan boxes that can hold up to 900 about slides. These boxes have 30 tabbed bins which, as you'll read, become a benefit as well. These boxes include a sheet of paper to identify what's in each bin. As I went through my slides I'd place some kind of identifying name, numbered them, and added an arrow to show what end was up. All of this identification helped immensely when it came to adding keywords. I would also take a marking pen and draw lines down slides with similar content to help see where one group started and stopped. Who knew how handy this would be years and years later.


If you haven't done all of this prep-work, I suggest sitting down during a sports game or some other mild distraction and do as much of this as you feel necessary before you begin. It will help in later steps.

Here's the equipment I used:

Some of the items in this list are not critical, others are. Again, this is what I used and perhaps you will find other items that fit your budget and/or lifestyle better.

  1.    A DSLR camera. Pretty much any kind can work here. Sorry, no phone camera or a point-and-shoot can do this.
  2.    A Macro lens, about 100mm is a good size for this type of work. The benefit here is that if you've been needing an excuse to get one, here's your excuse. I have to admit that I'm having a ball with my lens, I use it all the time in my regular photography.
  3.    A light source: What I wanted was some light source that wouldn't create a color-cast. That is, if the light source had a tungsten filament, all of the images would have a yellowish cast that would have to be dealt with. What I ended up with is "The LED Light Box" by Porta-trace. [Model #1012-1 LED] This was not cheap but it provided full even lighting with no color cast.
  4.    A Tripod. You need to affix your camera down so that it will not move, jiggle, or slide around. As one friend told me "don't buy a $20 tripod for your $1000 camera."
  5.    Painter's Blue Tape: you need to tape your light box down onto the table and you need to tape your tripod to the table that the light box is on. What's critical to this process is that every thing is ridged so that each time you place a slide down, it's registered in one place. This will become more evident and critical as you go into Part 2, Lightroom.
  6.    Dust Broom: a dust broom for slides to get the dust off. No matter how you've had them stored, the slides have dust on them and you want to get the dust off.


  7.    Slide Cleaner: If there are heavy fingerprints or other subsistences on your slides, you need something heavy duty to clean this off AND not damage the slide. At my favorite camera store I was recommended to use PEC-12 and PEC PADs for cleaning. They do a good job but you must use this in fresh air.


  8.    A long USB cable. If you chose to tether your camera to your computer, you will need a USB cable long enough to do that. My USB-3 cable is 8.5 feet long. Note: if your camera or computer does not have USB 3, depending on the storage size of your camera's images, it might not be worth tethering your camera. In addition, some cameras have built in wifi and there are 3rd party wifi options available as well.
  9.    Remote control shutter for your camera. This is not essential if your camera is tethered to your computer as Lightroom's tether controls have a shutter on your computer to press your camera's shutter. (I tie a loop on the remote shutter's cord that I let hang from one of my tripod's head's arm to make it easier to reach and grab.)

Lastly, you need to make a slide-register to place the slides on the light box. (I initially used the cardboard from a USPS Priority Mail box). If there's one negative about the light box mentioned above is that you can see some wires underneath part of the surface of the translucent cover to the light. For most purposes this is completely irrelevant but for our purpose it's not good. Locate a region where the light is not interrupted (there's lots so this is not really an issue). Now cut a rectangular hole about 1.25 x 1.5 at this location. This hole is larger than the image part of the slide but smaller than the slide itself.

Finally you need to place two extra pieces of this cardboard, offset to the rectangular hole so that the slide image can be seen through this hole. These two pieces of cardboard need to be 90°, dead on. This whole cardboard creation needs to be tapped directly onto the light box The reason for the large cardboard base is to cover the light from the light box as you only want the light projected from behind the slide.


One problem I had at the beginning was occasional dust  in that hole. So I took the trouble of making the whole thing again out of sheet plastic with blue tape covering over the clear plastic. This did not solve the problem: it turns out that most of the dust came from the slide's cardboard.

Now, as stated, everything needs to be place together so that once set up, NOTHING moves. Below is an image of how I did my set up. Note that I used a coffee table to do this: this was for convenience as my desk is, well, busy. Also note that the tripod is firmly attached to the table, the light box is firmly attached to the table, and the slide-holder is firmly attached to the light box All of this is done with blue tape. The bad thing about blue tape is that it tears easy so you do have to be careful. The good thing about blue tape is that it doesn't leave a residue. [Note: the photo below makes the blue tape appear very translucent. It is not, that's just an aberration of the photograph.


Prepping the slides for photography

I like to do the photography in small groups. That is, I found that each bin in the slide box is a good block to work with. I pull out this block of slides and place them on my desk. I should note that when I place the slides into each bin, they are numbered from back to front. This was originally done so I could remove them from the box and place them in my slide projector which displayed them in order back to font. This also turned out to be a fortuitous event because what I do is to lift the top slide (which is the last one of the group), dust the slide, and place it down on the desk. I then take the next slide, dust it, and place it on top of the previous slide. Thus, once complete, the slides are now in order top to bottom. In addition, if you have any slides in the portrait position, you must rotate them so they are in same orientation as the landscape slides. This must be done because the hole in the slide mount is set for landscape viewing. When I get to processing the slides in Lightroom in Part 2, you will see that this works out VERY well. [Note: do not think that it's wise to make the hole big enough to capture both landscape and portrait because that will end up taking more time when it comes to cropping the cardboard away from the image in Part 2.]


If you are tethering, plug one end of a USB cable into your camera, the other end into either a Powered USB port or the computer. Once the camera is turned on, you can go to Lightroom, File Menu, select "Tethered Capture," and select "Start Tethered Capture..." (A window will pop up that I will discuss in Part 2.)

One note on tethering: even if the images are directly going to your computer, the images are also being placed on your camera's storage card. As such, you may need to check and make sure you've room to continue taking photos. If you do not tether, you can save your images on your camera and Import the images later. The one big advantage of tethering is that you can quickly see if you have an issue and deal with the problem. Such issue's might include something simple such as forgetting to photograph the number of the box bin or something critical such as something in your setup slipped and you're only photographing half of the slide. If the images are only collected to your camera's card, you may miss something critical and need to redo some number of your photos.

Now part of this whole process is that you will have all of your slides photographed so you can easily see them but the other part of this is that you can easily FIND them. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made early on is to not make each bin in the slide box easily findable. Once I realized how valuable this is, I created a simple solution, embarrassingly simple: I prepared a sheet of paper with the numbers 1 – 30 printed on the sheet. I cut it in two to make it easier to maneuver on the light box and before each bin was photographed, I took a picture of that number. Then when looking over the images in Lightroom, it was VERY easy to find where the slide was in the box and since the box number is part of the keywords, I know which box.


The Photography

Finally, after procuring all of the equipment, prepping all of the slides, dusting and/or cleaning the slides, ordering and aligning the slides you can start photographing the slides.

Aim your camera at the slides and that your light box is tipped a bit so that the camera is not pointing absolutely straight down. I found that sometimes the orientation within the camera would flip from portrait to landscape and back when the lens was straight down. With the camera pointing "mostly" down, this never happened again. By eye, it's not difficult to set your camera to be in as good a perpendicular alignment as needed. If necessary, grab something perpendicular (such as a piece of paper) to hold against the light box and the lens to compare and adjust as needed. Dead on accuracy is nice, but not really critical. Nonetheless, once I had this set up correctly, whenever I broke the system down until the next time I needed it, I did not adjust the tripod head's angle—I just left that alone.

Set your f-stop at the sweet spot for your lens and set your camera on aperture priority. For my light box, I found that I got better images if I set the camera to shoot one full f-stop faster than default. I also set my ISO as low as could be, in my case that was 100 ISO. You will probably need to experiment with this to determine what works best for your setup.

As one who does a LOT of HDR photography, I tried a variety of ways to get the nuances and bring out the best of the dark and light regions of the slides. Disappointingly, all I got for my effort was to take more time and get no better an image. The best thing you can do to get the best quality of an image is to take raw images of your slides, do not take JPEGs of your slides. If a good quality image is not your goal, than by all means, go take JPEGs. But if you want to bring out the most of your images, take raw images.

Surprisingly, I  got the best results by letting my camera do the focusing. The one problem with this is that you also need to use a fairly small region in the image to set the focusing point. If it's too wide your camera might focus on the cardboard of the slide, not the image. One of the problems with this approach is if the region where the camera is trying to focus has nothing to focus on (e.g., the sky or water), you can't focus. Just be aware of the problem and be prepared to change the focusing location in the image as needed.

Set the image so that you  photograph will include some of the cardboard of the slide, do NOT try to perfectly get just the image. If the image is a bit tilted, again, not a big problem, this can easily be fixed in Lightroom.


So, once you got everything set, hold the stack of images in your hand, place the first slide in the register spot, take the picture, remove the slide and place on the table, take the next slide, etc. etc. etc. After each bin was photographed, I would dust the slide slot in the light box, put away that block of slides, pull out the next group, and photograph the next bin number. Then repeat.

Let me add that if you've kept the slides in their package box, you might also chose to do them one-box-at-a-time.


As far as how many bins or boxes you should do before starting the processing, again that's up to you.

I also suggest that you do one whole trip and then process those slides. This will make adding keywords a lot easier. As far as how many images I do before I called it time to take a break, that would vary anywhere from half a box to a whole box. In other words, do what works for you.

One strong suggestion for however you do this: I  found that perching on a stool was great for my legs and back.

Now onto Part 2 where I talk about processing hundreds of images at a time in Lightroom.


Seven years ago I started blogging about Captivate (with version 4 - 5). Most subjects on my blog are more advanced, you'll find lot of  use cases for advanced and shared actions. Meanwhile I also have spent thousands of hours on the Captivate forums and in social media,  answering questions and helping to solve issues. Moreover I am busy as a Consultant and as a Trainer (for Captivate and other Adobe applications), both through live and online classes, and one-to-one. Based on the combination of those 'Captivate' experiences with my former career as college professor, I decided to write this article to line up the three most important Challenges for any Captivate developer, especially for newbies.  It doesn't matter whether you are developing software simulations, soft skills training, responsive or normal projects, if you master these Captivate features you'll feel more comfortable and save a lot of time. (secretly expected Bonus: less questions on the forums  ).

Imagine standing before this natural stone porch, in the middle of the most amazing desert in the world (Sahara). You got that Captivate license, but how to start, where to go?

Stumbling block 1: Timeline


Captivate's Timeline is without any doubt  the first stumbling blocks for Captivate newbies. This strong conclusion is based on the many problems popping up in forums and social media, on my experiences with consultancy and while offering basic training. Captivate’s Timeline is not ‘normal if you compare with  video or animation applications. It shows all objects present on the stage from the start on, not when they are scheduled., Timeline is per slide, not for the whole project. Lot of reasons to be confused. Pausing the timeline by a command or by an interactive object is THE key to building interactivity in a Captivate course which is the main reason why you will have  chosen for an eLearning authoring tool instead of a video capturing tool. Understanding the Timeline and being able to control it should be the first priority of any Captivate learning (and training) process.



How do you stop this touareg caravan, walking hundreds of miles ?

Resources for Timeline

Nothing can replace a live (or virtual) training to roll away this stumbling block, but recently I published a sequence of 5 articles on my blog and in the eLearning Community to clarify this subject. Here are the links, not in the 'logical' sequence which I used for publishing, but ranked by importance:

    Pausing the Timeline, why and how?
Captivate Timeline(s) in cptx-file demystified
Color codes and shortcut keys
Captivate Timeline in cpvc (Video Demo)

Stumbling block 2: Quiz


Captivate quiz and score slides have pretty strict rules. A lot of functionality is built in the quizzing and score master slides, using embedded objects. The two-step Submit process, the priority of the embedded objects in the z-order, cause a lot of problems for starting Captivate users. That explains why every blog post I ever wrote about Quizzing is very popular. Most of them, even after many years, are still visited daily. The stumbling block here is for the default Quiz slides, not for custom Quiz slides are created using standard objects, widgets, variables and advanced/shared actions. Those custom question slides are challenging for intermediate/advanced users (watch out for a later blog post for those users). Drag&Drop slides, used as Question slides can be included in the starter's 'stumbling block' because they probably make a quiz more engaging for the learner.

What a relief when the car transporting our cook and all the food caught up with us after a long quest of several days! Finished that monotonous diet of dried dates.

Resources for Quiz

Some of these blog posts do need an update due to new features in most recent version(s). However  most of the information is still valid

Question Question Slides - part 1     with the new Review buttons in Captivate 9 the confusion Next-Skip is gone
Question Question Slides - part 2

Knowledge Check Slides

Drag&Drop tips
Drag&Drop Captivate 9 - InBuilt states

Creative with Quizzing system variables
Fluid Boxes and Quiz slides

Stumbling block 3: Themes


It is one of the most hidden gems in Captivate: design of any project can be streamlined by using a custom Theme. A theme includes all object styles, master slides, skin and defaults for software simulations. Everything is based on a (custom) Theme colors palette, which can even be applied to most Learning Interactions. Creating or editing a theme before starting any project may seem a waste of time, but I guarantee that it will save a lot of time in the process. Small changes to the design, so often asked for by clients, are done in minutes. In many circumstances a well-designed theme makes a more limiting template superfluous.


The Architects/engineers of the Inca town Macchu Picchu knew very well how to prepare the 'design' of their city. Sorry for my adding the acronym TQT (Timeline, Quiz, Theme)  and scribbling my name to the 'room with three windows'.


Resources for Themes

Here are some links to get you started with Themes and Theme colors:

What's in a Theme/Template?

Theme Colors



This is my personal view on the challenges for Captivate starting users. I am not pointing to any step-by-step work flow which may seem astonishing. My focus is on what is causing most frustrations for the so-called 'newbies', whatever their experience with other applications. As a college professor I used Flipped classes long time before the word was invented: do not spend valuable training time by explaining processes that can easily be found somewhere (videos). Students do not need a trainer for step-by-step work flows, they can lean to master them by self-study. Spend class time by taking away obstructions that are slowing down the learning process. To reach that goal I was looking for an appropriate tool and was lucky to find... Adobe Captivate!


Gems in Adobe Captivate 2017

Posted by Lilybiri Jun 28, 2017


The latest version of Captivate (10), now labeled Captivate 2017 has been released. If you did visit my blog in the past, you know that I prefer to wait a while before posting my first impressions. My focus is also more on the non-hype features added in this release, I call them the ‘hidden’ gems. Some are mentioned in the documentation, some are not. You can read here about the result of a fortnight of exploration.

1. Retina screen – software recordings

Captivate 9 was the first release which could be used on retina screens. However to record a Video Demo or a Software simulation you did have to edit the AdobeCaptivate.ini file. It was a solution, but bit cumbersome. After the capture process you had to edit that same file again to be able to use Captivate on that screen.

In Captivate 2017 this is no longer necessary, thanks to the Adobe team!

Tip: : if your OS is Win10, check the Display setting before recording (both Video Demo/Software Simulation). The OS tends to set the display setting to a percentage higher than 100%. You’ll have to reset it to 100% before the recording to avoid problems.

2. Advanced Actions enhancements

The Advanced Actions dialog box has been refurbished, and many will have emphasized that it is now easier to combine standard with conditional actions. Personally I don’t find that so important because the condition ‘IF 1 is equal to 1’ worked as well, but much more has changed. I will post an article later explaining the changes in the dialog box more in depth.

2.1 Enhancements to Decisions

The existing functionality for multiple decisions in former versions has been preserved: adding decisions, moving decisions, duplicating decisions. The buttons got another look as you can see on this screenhot. There has been added two extra time savers,  if you have a lot of decisions in one advanced action:

    • A dropdown list showing all decisions, and allowing you to navigate and select  a decision (Section 3, to the right)
    • A control panel to scroll to the next, previous decision, and to the Last and First decision (Section 2, to the right).

2.2 New commands

I am very happy that the commands ‘Go to Next State’ and ‘Go to Previous State’ (one of my first feature requests when multistate objects appeared) are now available in the list with commands in the Advanced Actions. In Captivate 9 there were only available as simple actions (Actions Tab dropdown list). This improves efficiency quite a lot, as you will be able to discover in the example movie (see below).

2.3 While loop

It has taken a ‘while’ but finally we have a looping functionality in Advanced actions. It is no longer needed to switch immediately to JavaScript. In combination with the command ‘Delay Next Actions…. ‘ a lot becomes easier in advanced or shared actions. Just one example: create a countdown animation by combining a counter variable, a while loop, an effect and the Delay command. While loops can be combined with standard and conditional decisions as well.

Example interactive course

With a Flash enabled browser, you can watch the course live on The example has two slides:

  • First slide shows a countdown animation and a progress bar. That slide is using the new While loop. Click the Start button to see the animation. A Reset button appears at the end of the animation. Here is a screenshot of the triggered advanced action (Preview):

  • Second slide is using the "Go to Next State" command (new)both for text items and images (sticky character). Use the Continue button. Again, a Reset button will appear when all states have been viewed. Look at the Preview of the triggered action:

You can download the published HTML5 version from this link.  Unzip the folder, and launch the index.html file.


3. Typekit integration

Finally we have access to the Typekit Library (I’m used to it using CC applications)! In the example movie I used two fonts which I already acquired with a CC subscription (Fira Sans and Rosario), but Typekit also has a free license. You have to check it out, time to get away from those limited set of websafe fonts. When publishing with Typekit fonts, you’ll need to add a domain name. For testing purposes you can choose for ‘Local host’. If you are collaborating on a project, you’ll have to be sure that the collaborators have a Typekit license as well. In that case when opening a Captivate project, Tk fonts will be synchronized on their system.

4. Responsive projects – two work flows

A lot of articles and tutorials have been published already to acclaim the use of Fluid boxes in responsive projects. However I am also happy that the ‘old’ way with Breakpoint views is still available as well. If you upgrade a responsive project from a previous version (8 or 9), it will automatically show in the Breakpoint view mode, since the development has happened in that mode. After two weeks with Fluid Boxes in CP2017 I don’t have enough experience yet to judge their full power. My first impression is that the kind of project will indicate (dictate?)  the choice of the development work flow:

1. Fluid Boxes mode development will be a big timesaver for text-heavy projects. No need to check all text container styles for font sizes in all breakpoint views, no need to adapt the margins, leading to have text fitting in a text container on any mobile device. The continuous slider to see the changes for all possible browser resolutions is great!
The design of a responsive theme with fluid boxes needs however a different set of mind: how to set up the grid with Fluid boxes in content master slides.
The minus point of working with Fluid boxes is that you lose some control. My teacher’s experiences learned me that you cannot use the same layout on a smartphone as you use for a laptop or even a tablet screen. That will make using Fluid boxes not appropriate for all courses. If you are a die hard designer, maybe you will not like the way that objects will be handled when the browser resolution changes?
Objects in a Fluid box are essentially in a 2D space: you cannot have overlapping objects. That is the reason why the Help explains that Zoom objects, Highlight Boxes and Click boxes are not allowed in a FB. Object groups,  line object and mouse objects are excluded as well. However you can use them in a static Fluid box.

2.   Breakpoint mode development is a lot more work, but gives you more control for layout differences between devices and for design. You can have overlapping objects, use object groups and with the exception of the Rollovers, Likert question slides,  you have almost no limitations.

Tip: to switch to Breakpoint view development use this option in the Project menu

To be able to change a normal (blank) project to a responsive project is a much asked for, very useful addition. The reverse is not yet possible (responsive to non-responsive).

After some more experience with using Fluid Boxes, my opinion could change of course. Anyway I am persuaded already that the customisation of a theme withFluid boxes is more important than ever. If you wonder why, maybe have a look at this article: ‘Exploring Themes and Templates


This personal view on some new features/enhancements in version 2017 (10 under the hood) is based on a limited time of exploration. It is not a complete list. In a future blog post (or showcase) I will give more details about using the While loop, creation  of the example movie, use of fluid boxes in quizzing master slides. As promised, the overwhelming number of buttons and features in the new Advanced Actions dialog box will be the subject of another tutorial. Looking forward to your comments.

Do you have questions, use cases that you cannot figure out if they are possible? Fire away…




Copyright © R. Neil Haugen 2016 All Rights Reserved

“Armenian manuscript ornamentation not only occupies a large place in the nation's fine
artistic culture but is also an important contribution in the treasury of international art.”

from "Ornaments of Armenian Manuscripts" Publishing House "Sovetakan Grogh" Yerevan 1978



I’d like to share with you how new technologies are allowing us to investigate Armenian manuscripts more deeply. We are discovering that the vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments can help serve Armenian Ornaments for many generations as we can use the vector images in printing, for web and mobile apps. The vector reconstruction can help us bring back the original colors that have been lost through the ages. That why we have started a new Project “Aragil” (Aragil in Armenian means “Stork” which is a symbol of kindness).


We have found  that Adobe Illustrator CC is the most valuable tool for vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments. There are many other vector graphic application but Adobe Illustrator CC with all other Creative Cloud app's is the one that allows to use different methods for their vector reconstruction. Also with new image technologies and intelligent scan - that have been invested with Adobe Scan now, we can obtain high quality images from old manuscripts and transfer them to vector images for further reconstruction.


We reveal the following 3 methods.

  1. Using Pen Tool, Curvature Tool and Live Paint Tool for tracing and coloring ornaments
  2. Using Pencil Tool, Brush Tool, Blob Brush Tool for painting ornaments
  3. Using Shape Builder Tool for building ornaments.



Each of these methods can be used for the reconstruction of unique ornaments that fit to it. Some of the ornaments have symmetrical structure. For symmetrical symbols we use the 1st method.


But most ornaments are not symmetrical and for these kind of ornaments we use the 2nd method of reconstruction that allows to use brushes for painting with high smoothing of curves and also we use blending and transparency for achieving natural colors.


The 3rd method can be used to build the ornaments with high geometrical presentations. Obtaining less anchor points and close shapes increases the productivity of work.


For separating and catching color for each ornament we also use the “Create Object Mosaic” function in Adobe Illustrator CC that allow us to obtain all colors that must be used during our work.


There are many books and web sites where we can find how to rebuild vector images of Armenian ornaments, but most of them are wireframes and don't include colors. We find out that colonized vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments is a unique project.


Our team just started with this project but as you can see on our project website we have encouraging results.

As a fine artist and a designer visuals are very important to me. Using Adobe Spark enables me to create visual

stories on any device without any knowledge of animation, transitions or HTML.

I use Adobe Page in my classroom to deliver a tutorials. At my design studio to tell a story or create an

immediate portfolio. I am able to create and deliver engaging presentations and share creative ideas across

different devices and social media simply with a link.


In the following link I am sharing an extraordinary story about Charlotte Salomon. An artist that was born in

Berlin in 1917 and died in Auschwitz in 1943. Her story is unique. She did not survive the war but her art did.

“Life or Theatre” is a unique achievement of art and literature. No one who enters into Charlotte Salomon’s

world will ever forget it. The survival of Charlotte’s art transcends her own death in the gas chamber.


Here is Charlotte Salomon story:


Charlotte_Salomon small.jpg


Charlotte Salomon


Here is a link to Adobe Spark insiders Facebook page


This article is also published in french - Installer et préparer Sass pour la production


Let us take a step back, and then gradually, let us run all the installations ... Attention: If you wish, you can install only Sass and Compass in order to follow this series of articles.




Compass, is often controversial, especially since the emergence of post-processor management, prefixing, as well as in the opinion of authors like Hugo Giraudel - Why I Don’t Use Compass Anymore.


However, Compass provides flexibility in the management of projects and especially through its famous config.rb configuration file. We will install it for this series of tests.


Installation of Sass and Compass under Ruby


Regarding the illustration of this series of articles, we will work under Ruby. Although in the previous article, at the chapter The compilation and tools available; Under Ruby, everything is already discussed, I suggest you quickly go around here and resume from scratch.




  1. Make sure you have run Ruby Installer,
  2. Once Ruby is installed, from the Start menu, launch Start Command Prompt with Ruby.
  3. We will use this command dialog to track and install the various necessary tools.




  1. Ruby is present by default.
  2. Launch the Terminal.
  3. In the following commands, you may get a type error message « …ERROR : While executing gem … (Gem ::FilePermissionError) You don’t have write permissions for … ». You will need to use the command sudo.


In fact, you must precede the commands indicated by the command sudo.


For example, if the command is


gem install sass


It will then be necessary to type


sudo gem install sass


Your administrator password will then be requested, to confirm the installation process




Enter it (be careful you will not see the cursor move, it's normal) and validate. The installation process should then continue normally.


Verify if Sass is installed (Windows and Mac OS)


Now whatever your operating system,

  1 –  Check if Sass is installed by typing


sass –v


If Sass is not present please install it


gem install sass


2 – Check if Compass is installed by typing


compass –v


If Compass is not present please install it


gem install compass


3 – Sass and Compass should be installed


Would there be any unavoidable extensions ?



Irrespective of the type of project, are there any libraries are extensions that will have to be installed to complement Sass?


There is no one answer to this question. It all depends on the needs and the approach taken towards the project.


Let's quickly go around the main plugins available. (The following set of installations is provided for illustrative purposes only).


4 – Check if the extensions that follow are already installed


gem list


The list of already installed gems appears in your command palette.




Susy is recommended if you are approaching grid mode positioning. This plugin remains an indispensable tool to match your highest requirements.


It is true that from premium premises, it may seem a labyrinth, but think again, it is very easy to use and brings enough capacities under the hood in order to respond to the most complex layouts.


5 – If Susy is not listed in the gem list, please install it


gem install susy




Breakpoint is an indispensable complement for a more flexible management of the break points between each display mode. This extension, which is often confused with certain possibilities integrated into the various grid modes, remains truly complementary and relaxes the writing of media requests.


6 – If breakpoint is not present in the list, please install it


gem install Breakpoint




Scut This SCUT library for Sass-CSS Utilities brings a lot of shortcuts and simplification of writing in general, both on the display and on typography.


  7 –  If scut is not present in the list, please install it


gem install scut


During this installation, you may receive an error message of type « … ERROR : Could not find a valid gem … ». No worries, default Ruby automatically adds, but not the unsecured version.


It is therefore possible to do it manually, taking the risk of course not to draw on a secure server.


gem sources --add
Do you want to add this insecure source ? [yn]


You will have to explicitly validate this addition, confirming by y or refusing by typing n.




Typesettings is a plugin that manages typography in an almost intuitive way, respecting the ratios according to the device model, and, by bringing an integrated vertical rhythm.


Simple to use, this library becomes indispensable to who wants to work the text as well as the layout.


Unlike other plugins, it will be necessary to clone the github at the time of import. We will see this later at the time of the configuration


GitHub - ianrose/typesettings: A Sass or Stylus toolkit that sets type in Ems based on modular scale, vertical rhythm, a… 




normalize-scss or compass-normalize… Before any intervention on the CSS, it is always strongly recommended to ensure the reset of the default values of interpretation for each browser.


You have the choice of two gems, knowing that the second has not been updated for nearly 6 years, and that Necolas offers you an alternative under Node, Normalize.css - A modern, HTML5-ready alternative to CSS resets.


In this workflow, we opt for the first proposed gem.


8 – If normalize-scss is not present in the list, please install it


gem install normalize-scss


And more…


If you work under Ruby, do not hesitate to visit the hosting platform of the Ruby Community, RubyGems, to find the various gems available, and, possibly supplement your work environment according to your own needs.


9 – Quickly redo a check of the gems that are installed in your environment


gem list


Commissioning and use


Once the environment is installed, and in order to work, we will have to create a project (if you do not have a project in progress), or to monitor it (if you are working on a project already created).


If Compass has been installed, it is possible to use its services to manage the various projects. We will see that there are various possibilities.


Creating a project


On its site, Compass offers a command line generator Tell us about your project and we'll help you get it set up.



This service generates the necessary commands directly, that we will only have to copy, paste in order to use them.


Whatever your needs, the mini form, put in place, goes to make it possible to define each of the necessary parameters, namely:


  1. Creating, or resuming, a project (install or create)
  2. If you choose New, you will have to enter the name of the project, which is the name of the folder that will be created to contain all the necessary files
  3. The acceptance, or not, of the implementation of a default startup template, (except in some cases, we will often opt for No and we will create a custom tree, see point 5)
  4. The syntax used by the project (Sass or SCSS)
  5. Customizing the tree to use, defining the naming of source folders, CSS destination, Javascript and images


On a traditional creation basis, the command line should look like:


compass create the_name_of_the_project_folder --bare --sass-dir "scss" --css-dir "css" --javascripts-dir "js" --images-dir "imgs"


Copy this command line and switch to the command console, or the terminal.


By default you should be in the home directory, that is your user session.


Move this pointer to your production folder. If you do not usually work with the console, or the terminal, rest assured, what we have to do is really not complicated.


Whichever directory you are in, enter


If you are on MacOs




And if you are under Windows


cd /d




In one case, as in the other, drag and drop just these prevous instructions, the folder in which you wish to create your project folder.


Let's say you have a folder called Production located at the root of your main hard drive.


If, therefore, you drag the Production folder following the previous instructions, this should give one of the following two lines


cd /Production
cd /d C:\Production


Make sure to give the focus to the command console, by clicking on it, and validate by pressing the enter key.


You will move the pointer of your console to the new location. The result should be, depending on your environment, one of the following two lines


YourSession :Production YourSession$


It is then enough to paste, afterwards, the command line proposed previously by the site of Compass and to validate.


compass create the_name_of_the_project_folder --bare --sass-dir "scss" --css-dir "css" --javascripts-dir "js" --images-dir "imgs"


A series of information will then appear in the control console informing you of what has been achieved. Open the Production folder, where you will find your project folder, the_name_of_the_project_folder, which should contain :


  • A scss folder; which will be the source folder containing the various scss files
  • A config.rb file, which contains all of the configuration parameters defined through the command line


We will return later to this configuration file, let us continue for the moment, this first approach of commissioning and use.


Monitoring of a project, and compilation


Once the project is in place we will have to ask to compile our source files, *.scss and/or *.sass, into *.css file(s).


This is possible on a one-by-one basis


Using the command


compass compile [path of the project file]


Or by placing the command prompt pointer in the project folder and simply using the command


compass compile


This is also possible to automatically handle it


When working on a project, it is often much more flexible to ask Sass to monitor the working folder and compile each time that a source file is saved.


For this purpose, and in the same way as an ad hoc shot, it is possible to use one of the following two commands


compass watch [path of the project file]


Or if the command prompt already points to the project folder


compass watch


Alternatives through a system file


Whatever your environment, it is possible to create, compile, monitor your projects using files *.bat (under Windows) or *.command (under MacOS).


These files can be prepared in advance and reused across projects. They allow us to directly launch create, compile or watch instructions without having to go through command lines.


To use them, simply place them in the project folder (or upstream of the project folder to be created) and launch them by double-clicking them.


Under Windows


Two .bat files can be created, for example create.bat et watch.bat (the names used here are purely arbitrary). These files will then be used to manage the creation and monitoring of a project.


Their content is quite explicit since they are in fact the command lines used previously:


compass create




compass watch


Under MacOs


Like Windows, just create two .command files, for example create.command and watch.command, which will be set up and used as the previous two.


However, these two files will contain an additional instruction, cd `dirname $ 0`, which will allow to explicitly position the command line on the folder containing the whole script.


cd `dirname $0`
compass create




cd `dirname $0`
compass watch --force


The --force statement, as its name implies, forces the system to save the new file, overwriting the old file already present.


Then, and regardless of the operating system,


You can, of course, complete the command lines with any corrections you want to make, for example:


compass create --bare --sass-dir "scss" --css-dir "css" --javascripts-dir "js" --images-dir "imgs"


Then, in order to use these files, simply put the desired file in the project folder, (or upstream of the project folder to be created, if it is a creation and the project name is defined), and double click on it ... the magic of the command line will take care of the rest.


So in summary, if you create a project, use the file that contains create, if the project exists and you want to compile on demand, use the second.


The configuration file, config.rb


As soon as you work with compass, a configuration file, config.rb, is automatically created, (of course, if it is not already present in the project file).


By default, various configuration values appear with the values defined, either by the parameters of the command line (as we saw in the previous example), or data that is specified in the default values file located in the installation folder of compass :




In any case, and if necessary, the config.rb file can be reconfigured as required.


So by default, the config.rb file contains


require 'compass/import-once/activate' # Require any additional compass plugins here. # Set this to the root of your project when deployed: http_path = "/" css_dir = "stylesheets" sass_dir = "sass" images_dir = "images" javascripts_dir = "javascripts" # You can select your preferred output style here (can be overridden via the command line): … # sass-convert -R --from scss --to sass sass scss && rm -rf sass && mv scss sass


Plus a number of lines preceded by the # sign. These are comments and can be deleted if you wish.


Depending on your needs, you can reset these values to


require 'compass/import-once/activate'
http_path = "/"
css_dir = "css"
sass_dir = "scss"
images_dir = "imgs"
javascripts_dir = "js"


As well as adding other values, drawing inspiration from the article Ruby-based Configuration Reference.


If you have installed plugins and want to use them in your project, you will also have to specify them by adding the appropriate commands to the file header. Based on the installations carried out in the previous article, here are the additions:


require 'susy'
require 'breakpoint'
require 'scut' 
require "normalize-scss" 

require 'compass/import-once/activate'
http_path = "/"
css_dir = "css"
sass_dir = "scss"
images_dir = "imgs"
javascripts_dir = "js"


Except for Typesettings which function differently, you will find the necessary instructions in the Github plugin.


GitHub - ianrose/typesettings: A Sass or Stylus toolkit that sets type in Ems based on modular scale, vertical rhythm, a… 


However, we will also discuss this in a future article.


Performance tests


Everything is ready ... launch the observation command, either on the command line compass watch, either from the file watch.bat or watch.command create previously.


Create a file test.scss, that you save in the folder scss and add the following content.


$couleur: #363;
.uneclasse {
  color: $couleur;


As soon as you save this file, you should see the file test.css in the css folder. This file should contain


.uneclasse {
  color: #363;


If this works, perfect ... so you can delete these two files, if not, go through the installation steps and see where it was possible to hook.


This article is also published in french - Déployer Sass de manière efficace


As we saw earlier, writing in Sass does not mean writing traditional CSS, but it is incumbent on us to produce quality CSS, and, finally, to comply with a set of good practices.


I therefore invite you, before I begin, to bring you closer to Principles of writing consistent, idiomatic CSS.


Next, it is important that we are interested in some approaches, and methodologies, in designing CSS styles.


Each of them explores a way of using classes and sharing descriptions.


It is true that, at first glance, this may run counter to a certain idea of CSS, and in particular on the abuse of class, otherwise known as acute class.


If you take the time to analyze them one by one, you will quickly realize that whatever the nature of your project that the single use of selector can very quickly become blocking at the level of the specificities, and is relatively heavy to manage as to its scalability.


OOCSS (Object Oriented CSS)


The object-oriented approach OOCSS is a revolution in the basic approach of CSS.


The idea is simple. Just think about distinguishing the structure and the appearance, and therefore to separate the contents of the container. Not to use strong specificities, and thus avoid the ID, to continually think flexibility first, flexibility and responsive.


In addition, not to hesitate to minimize the impact of a single module on an element and thus, if necessary, to multiply the modules on the same object in order to apply several objectives.


It is necessary to favor the transversal re-use by avoiding falling into an excessive specificity, which would limit the cases of use. Think global and non-specific.


A small example ... let's say that the <h1> title of an article is styled in a certain way, and that the title of a <caption> table uses a large common base with the previous title, similarly for the title < h3> of a particular module ... The CSS approach could be


article h1,  caption, .module h3 {}


An OOCSS-style revision would be equivalent to implementing a specific rendering class of this title and adding it to each of the elements directly at the HTML DOM level


.title_emergeant {}


The obvious advantage is that it will not be necessary to isolate the caption selector, in case various modifications are necessary, and the evolution will be much more flexible, even if a particularity occurs on one of the elements, to add a class to this element


.title_emergeant_particularity {}


It is true that in Sass the use of inheritance, and / or placeholder, might suggest being a rather flexible alternative of use. Attention, as we shall see later, not to fall into this apparent easiest way.


%title_emergeant {}
article h1,  caption, .module h3 { @extend %title_emergeant; }


BEM notation, or SUIT CSS, methods


BEM (Block, Element, Modifier), is a methodology, or convention, for naming, and dividing by blocks, elements of the page. This does not provide anything at a purely structural level, although this specifies it. It however, allows to quickly defining a block, each of its elements and their possible states.


Contrary to OOCSS, BEM will rather integrate in a verticality specific to each module and less impose itself as element of transversality between the modules.


If we take the example of a module, BEM allows us to define various classes, having a first class to define the module itself, and, various classes which will qualify each of the elements the component, modify specifying the states, both of the module, and of its elements.


The classes corresponding to the various elements use a single hyphen separator, whereas the classes 'modify' use a double dash separator.


.module-title, .module-icon, .module-bar, .module-button
.module--inactive, .module-button--inactive, module-button--on


Basic Approach


We will see that this can be improved by also using a dedicated @mixin. But, this kind of naming can be implemented quickly and easily within Sass, notably through the use of the parent's referential character, &.


.module {
     &-title {}
     &-button {
          &--on {}


Using a name convention, BEM or SUIT CSS oriented, will give an architectural tree. Therefore, the main idea will remain to define a real BEM tree, in place of the classic tree of the DOM.




More Complex Approach


Since Sass 3.4, the enhancement of the parent selector (&) allows by coupling with the @at-root directive to use a real encapsulation. To highlight this point, let us support the excellent article by Marc Mintel - Pushing BEM to the next level with Sass 3.4


BEM and dedicated libraries


BEM does not stop to be just a naming convention, it can also be complemented by JavaScript libraries including i-bem.js, or component packages ready to be used, and some other works around jQuery.BEM or package like bem-js, as well as jQuery BEMHelpers.


If you wish, we could explore these uses in a forthcoming series of articles.


Suit CSS, another alternative


In parallel with BEM, we could also evoke SUIT CSS (Style tools for UI components), which is a method based on the same principle but which calls for a different division. We are talking this time about Component, Descendent, Modify, State and Utility.




Unlike the first two approaches, which propose a CSS implementation methodology, SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) redefine rather a methodology of work, (much of the work is free access).


Jonathan Snook delivers a large number of important keys that allow us to gather together to properly organize the deployment of CSS, but especially to guarantee its scalability and maintainability in a very simple way.


What we will retain, for our concern, is the declension of CSS into categories:

  • Base
  • Layout
  • Module
  • State
  • Theme


Sass, allows us to decline, and to increase, as much as possible, this granularity of cutting, because at the end everything can be very simply regrouped within a single file.


@import 'base';
@import 'layout';
@import 'module';
@import 'state';
@import 'theme';


Let us not forget that SMACSS, proposes an architecture that wants to be scalable and modular for our CSS.




ITCSS, (for Inverted Triangle CSS), proposes a distribution by degree of specificities and cascades, thus avoiding significant overloads, and often blocking.



  • Settings, allows grouping all the settings both at the level of the preprocessor (parameters, variables and map at the global level, environment ...), as well as the definition of typos and other colors used by the theme.
  • Tools
  • Generic, proposes the very first level of CSS with both the resetting of the default values of the browsers, the properties of boxes and the first definition of the different layouts specific to each device.
  • Elements
  • Objects, will group all the identifications by class, representing objects (in OOCSS philosophy), or molecules (Atomic Design).
  • Components, is a higher level of objects, also based on classes, with a BEM-oriented naming approach, and consisting mainly of organism (Atomic Design), complex objects (OOCSS) and interface components (UI)
  • Trumps, last level that can surpass previous and now mainly all utilities, helpers, states and other forces of the theme. Do not fear the use of the !important property for certain declarations.


Regardless of the layer, none of them must contain a selector based on the use of an id, #identifier.


Naming _partials.scss files can therefore use the root of these layers, for example:




Do not hesitate to get closer to this github which offers a good starting tree


Moreover, if we want to go further by coupling for example BEM and ITCSS this gives BEMIT and there is an excellent article on the subject, BEMIT: Taking the BEM Naming Convention a Step Further.


Atomic Design


From 2013, Brad Frost, began to publish a work on a particular methodology, and close to the atomic constitution of the elements. He also gave this name to his study Atomic Web Design, quickly completed and expanded by his book Atomic Design.


Like BEM and SUIT CSS, Atomic Web Design offers a cutting starting from the atom, molecule, organism, model and page.


The metaphor is quite appropriate, and if we replace it with elements of content, we end up with:


  • A label, a button or a title (in the role of atoms),
  • A search tool component (on the molecule side)
  • A fairly comprehensive menu bar (at the organism level),
  • A filling template (to embody the model, and, bring together all the organisms)
  • Finally, a site page (being an instance from the previous template).


To support this principle of establishment and construction, Create atomic design systems with Pattern Lab proposes a set of tools (Node and PHP).


This approach allows us to encompass all the previous methods, namely OOCSS, SMACSS, ITCSS and BEM.


One can therefore resort to partials,


@import 'atomic';
@import 'molecule';
@import 'organism';
@import 'template';
@import 'page';




Through these various methodologies, we have seen that using a class notation work is therefore a solution, certainly a matter of debate among the most purist of us, but oh so adapted to the maintenance of a great flexibility in the daily management of our projects.


The modular approach and the cutting into several files _partials.scss quickly brings a great flexibility to the maintenance of the sites.


In conclusion, we can retain three key words,


  • Modules
  • Naming
  • Divided


In addition, it is well on these three points that we will have to focus our use of preprocessors.


This article is also published in french - Sass – La compilation et les outils disponibles


In order to get traditional CSS, irrespective of whether the Sass syntax used Sass or SCSS, you have to compile them. For this, we have various possibilities that we will explore in the course of this article.


Note that when we are in the experimental phase, or, in development mode, it is sometimes very practical to have a standalone compiler on hand, and online.


The platform Sassmeister, allows us to quickly and simply test a combination. To highlight it, open the previous link, and in the left part paste the following code fragment;


$couleur: #363;
.uneclasse {
  color: $couleur;


See what happens in the right hand side. Do not hesitate to refine the parameters of use, according to your needs, from the Options menu.

You can also employ other similar tools that will directly integrate into your workflow. Depending on your needs, you will have access to various solutions.


Under Ruby




Because Sass is being written in Ruby, it may seem natural to use it with this environment.


On Mac, Ruby is already present natively. On Windows, it must be installed, and you will find all the versions, and necessary packages, from the site Ruby Installer.


Once you have installed Ruby, on Mac OSx everything happens from the Terminal, and, under Windows, you now have access to a new command prompt from the Start menu, which is Start Command Prompt with Ruby.




Then, whatever your environment, to install Sass, it happens in the command line, and in the same way:


gem install sass


In Mac, you will need to use a sudo. Nevertheless, that is all ... there is no need for more steps or installation.


You will find videos showing these facilities; On Windows Installation et prise en main de Sass et Compass and under MacOsx Installation de Compass sous Mac OS X.


After installation, it is simple to test the functionality.


Move your command line by pointing to the working folder you want.


In this folder, create a test.scss file that contains the following code fragment and save it.


$couleur: #363;
.uneclasse {
  color: $couleur;


From the command line, enter the following statement;


sass test.scss styles.css


Once validated, the styles.css file should be generated and contain standard CSS.


In order not to continually launch the compilation instruction, it is better to ask Sass, or compass if you have installed it, to monitor the work file in question, and to compile each time you save any *.scss document.


To do this, simply enter this command and validate it;


sass --watch sourcesfolder/sass:destinationfolder/css


On the Sass side, the first path, sourcesfolder/sass, corresponds to the location of the source files (.scss or .sass) and the second destinationfolder/css path, specifying the destination folder of the compiled files (.css ). Two points must separate the two paths:


Although this is not mandatory, if you work under Ruby, the installation of compass can be very interesting, would be only for the management of projects, and especially through its configuration file config.rb


http_path = "/"
css_dir = "css"
sass_dir = "sass"
images_dir = "img"
javascripts_dir = "libs"
fonts_dir = "fonts"
relative_assets = true
line_comments = false
output_style = :compressed


So if you work with Compass, because the source folder (sass_dir) and the destination folder (css_dir) are already defined, you can simply request monitoring of the current folder from the command console


compass watch





If you do not want to install Sass under Ruby, you can use LibSass, which is a library developed in C / C ++ and you can use the environment of your choice through a wrapper.


There are a large number of ready-to-use wrappers Ruby, Perl, PHP, Python, .NET, Java, JavaScript. But you can also develop a custom wrapper in order to implement your needs to the best of your ability, using libsass directly.


Due to the large number of wrappers available, we will not discuss here their installations or their uses. However, be aware that this library is used by code editors like brackets-sass.


Pay attention because notepad ++ only code coloring the scss syntax, and Dreamweaver is directly based under Ruby.


However, for each of the previous implementations, note that the ad hoc github offers you a topic, Getting Started, which allows you to quickly take charge of setting up the compiler of your choice.


Using PHP


Although this comes out of the Node approach, it is possible to opt for an alternative that consists of not generating the client side compilation.


One places, therefore, directly the entire necessary source files on the server, which will compile them on demand when the pages are distributed.


Several possibilities:




To implement this type of use, and workflow, we will only address the approach made by scssphp.


First step, download the necessary files, and unpack the archive.


Among the recovered files, only the file will be useful for this test.


Let us start by creating the base-1.php file that will contain the HTML structure. For this, two simple paragraphs of 'lorem ipsum' will do the trick. Let us add a class to each, respectively styles-tags and styles-link.




!doctype html>        

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Illo quidem nulla nam dolorem nobis impedit harum autem, odio praesentium qui iusto perspiciatis. Animi ex atque tenetur accusamus numquam earum quas.


Repellendus voluptatibus praesentium, quaerat doloremque, non placeat. Assumenda facilis sint repellendus similique porro nihil quae explicabo eius, distinctio ea expedita, rerum sed nulla, tempora ut maiores a corporis minus deserunt.


There are various ways to use the compiler; we will approach two of them.


For the first one, we will compile CSS directly within the <script> tag of the page, the second will be to link, in a classic way, an external style sheet through a <link>.




  Let us put a <script> tag and quite simply, lets a PHP file that will compile the SCSS and return from the CSS



Then, just write PHP, you cannot do more classic.


compile('      $coul: blue;      .test-tags {         color: $coul;      }   '); ?>


  1. Import the previously downloaded file,
  2. We need to create an instance of the scssc class, which will allow us to compile the scss into css,
  3. Finally, through a simple echo instruction, we write the result of the compilation. Certainly, this compilation is very basic but it allows, by using a variable, to verify that everything works well.




For this option, we will use a <link> tag, which we usually use to link CSS files.


This time, we will have to compile, on the fly, scss to css and the compilation being server side, we will have to create the CSS style sheet in PHP.


<link rel="stylesheet" href="styles-link.php">


On the PHP side, the source file will resemble the one used previously, except that the browser must interpret the PHP document as CSS. We must take care to modify the header of the file before compiling and returning it.


< ?php   header("Content-Type: text/css");   require "";   $scss = new scssc();   echo $scss->compile('       $couleur: orange;       .test-link {           color: $couleur;       }   '); ?>


Go further


For more information on using this compilation method, please refer to the online documentation.


Grunt, Gulp or NPM




In our projects, we often use task automation to optimize certain mechanics such as concatenation, image optimization, sprite generation, file minimization, and many others potential.

We can therefore also entrust these compilers with the task of compilation. Whether we use Gulp, Grunt, NPM or directly Node, solutions are not missing.

There is even a parser SCSS for PostCSS.

In order not to deviate too far from the objective of this article, I propose that you bring us closer to a next series of articles concerning the task automation machines and, therefore, not to address their use in this this present article.


Visual applications




Finally, for the most recalcitrant of us to the code, there are solutions embedded in application form, which can sometimes be more transparent of use.

Thus we find Koala, Scout, CodeKit, LiveReload, Hammer, Prepros,, Crunch… which offer user-friendly, intuitive interfaces, to quickly include some libraries, and compile a source folder to an output folder.

Of course, their extensibility is sometimes reduced, but in some cases, it can be a more flexible solution than to go through command lines.

Attention also to the maintenance of the application in time, some solutions can disappear as quickly as they have appeared, or often no longer be maintained.


Sometimes, even if they are based on LibSass, they can simply not keep up with developments as quickly as those that are directly available under Sass.


This article is also published in french - Qu’est ce que Sass – Introduction et présentation


Presentation and state of play


Since the appearance of CSS stylesheets, it has always been frustrating not to be able to code like some other languages such as JavaScript or PHP (to name but a few), and therefore, to remain confined to a description language of properties / values.


Although W3C has thought about adopting certain notions such as CSS variables, or, functional notations. The browser companies have been slow in their implementation of these features.


It is somewhere in response to these few proposals that various families of CSS preprocessors, such as, Sass, Less, Stylus, PostCSS, CSSNext, Closure Stylesheets, CSS Preprocessor or Rework have appeared.


The principle of preprocessors


The principle of the preprocessor is simple; it is to write stylesheets through a syntax closer to a real programming language, than a description language.

This can be achieved by using variables, directives that are conditional, loop or control, functions, and sometimes even relying on structures specific to object programming, inheritance, encapsulation or polymorphism.


The goal is to be able to quickly compile all this, whether server-side, or client-side, into standard CSS stylesheets, which will be directly interpretable by browsers, and other devices, or user-agents.


This approach offers more flexibility for development, deployment, maintenance and evolution. Depending on our production environment, we can choose a preprocessor so that it can best respond to the context and to our situation.


There are many preprocessors to choose from, but this series of articles will discuss and illustrate the use of SASS, one of the more popular and powerful pre-processors.


However, whatever preprocessor you choose, it should be portable and adaptable to your situation.


Sass vs Sass


We not only often hear about Sass, but also about Sass or SCSS. What is it? Moreover, is there a difference between these three different names?


So, it's quite simple, on the one hand when talking about Sass (Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets), we speak of the language itself.


This language is based on two writing syntaxes. The first syntax writes in Sass, which is closer to the one used by Ruby. The second, SCSS (Sassy CSS), is closer to traditional CSS writing.


The first written in Sass


$couleur: #363
    color: $couleur


or using SCSS


$couleur: #363;
.uneclasse {
  color: $couleur;


both will always compile to


.uneclasse {
 color: #363;


Then, it is only a question of personal choice and context of use ... Clearly, if we develop in Ruby On Rails, we will opt for Sass which is easier. If instead we work on the web in traditional HTML / CSS, or if we work frequently on already existing sites, one will then be more easily oriented towards SCSS.


Although both can be used together in the same project, the two syntaxes can’t coexist within the same file. SCSS files have to be saved with the .scss extension and Sass files with .sass extension.


Capabilities of Sass can be extended




The working environment, as well as the tools used, will inevitably differ as we work in PHP applications, for example Symphony, Laravel, Zend, Cake or others, or in a customer-oriented framework, with purely HTML & JavaScript.


In general, and whatever the working environment, we can add a set of add-ins, called extensions, plugins or libraries that will extend the native capabilities of Sass.


Some of the most popular Add-ins include Compass, Bourbon, Sprite factory, Breakpoint, Susy, CSS Sprite, Typesettings, Scut, Buttons, Saffron, Andy


These additions are very easy to use, generally by installing them under the production environment, and, then importing them into the main document used by Sass.


@import "compass";
@import "susy";
@import "breakpoint";


We will dig deeper, and demonstrate how to install and use them, in the next article.


This article is also published in french - Comprendre et utiliser Sass


This series of articles on Sass is designed to increase your understanding of Sass and how to use it in your web development. This article will cover Sass methodology and implementation that will assist you in developing a workflow process.


If you want to start with Sass syntax, it is strongly recommended that you read some online articles in order to understand and take into account the basics of writing syntax. Do not hesitate to explore the examples provided by official websites such as the links below:


Going deeper


In addition, you will find on the web a plethora of sites go to further with your understanding of Sass:



Let's go back to our series of articles on Sass




This present series will not cover Sass syntax, but will look at how to use Sass and develop concepts allowing us to exploit the best of the possibilities Sass has to offers.


Let me begin with a summary of the articles that it contains and follow :


  1. What is Sass? Introduction and presentation
  2. The compilation and tools available
  3. Deploy Sass effectively
  4. Install and prepare Sass for production
  5. How to distribute partial files
  6. First steps and files
  7. Working with your mock-up


This article is also published in french Dreamweaver continue son évolution au sein du Creative Cloud


Dreamweaver CC 2017.1



This new intermediate update, Dreamweaver CC 2017.1, could almost pass unnoticed, but to look more closely, it is strong in symbols and perspectives.


There are two new features that may not appear as being new, because they seem to have always been around and are an integral part of Dreamweaver.


On one hand the Find and Replace module, which was present since the earlier age of Dreamweaver, but which has been revamped since the integration of the new Dark UI interface, and now appears to be polished and complete.


An on the other hand, the full support of PHP 7.1, is now a common business and we will therefore be able to benefit from the help and information tools as it should be, depending if we use 5.6 or 7.1, and as a per site basis.


Let's also take a look back at some older features that stabilize but that still do not provide WYSIWYG support, but which remain however modifiable, such as coloring code.


Usual Precautions Before Updating



Although intermediate updates are fully integrated when using cloud-managed application flows, it is preferable to use best practices such as ensuring a final synchronization to the platform before launching the upgrade process.


This will ensure the backup of a number of items, including application preferences, site descriptions, code fragments, keyboard shortcuts, and workspaces.


When launching the application, it is therefore necessary to choose Retrieve synchronization information in order to reconfigure the application, as in the previous version.


Bug fixes


As with every improvement, whether intermediate or major, a large number of bugs have been corrected, and certain functionalities are improved or polished.


This concern both usability, ergonomics and integration within Dreamweaver’s IDE, particularly at the level of the Find and Replace tool.



Anyway, if you find a bug that has not been taken into account, or if you want an improvement of any kind, do not hesitate to put this information back to the development teams. Go to one of the following URLs: and more information on


Coloring the code editor


This feature appeared with the previous version, but many expect that this intermediate version allows an ease in the choice of colors used by the editor, as it is true that the coloring of the code can become quickly frustrating.



By default, Dreamweaver offers two modes, Dark and Light, but on this update two new ones join the band, Raven Dark and Solarized Light, respectively on a Dark and Light basis. And then that's all ... but hey, we can still go further, and in different ways.


Find and add themes


To find a theme, nothing is simpler. Let's not forget that Dreamweaver uses Brackets as a code editor, and therefore it’s enough to approach a theme dedicated to Brackets directly from the ad hoc github,



Once there, make your choice from the visual catalog, for example NewtonLight-master, and by clicking on the link you will be redirected this time to the github of the appropriate theme.


Using the big Green button, you will have the choice to Clone or Download. Simply select Download ZIP, then unpack the download folder and place it in the right folder depending on your system.



C:\Users\{your session}\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Dreamweaver CC 2017\fr_FR\Configuration\Brackets\extensions\user


Mac OSx

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Dreamweaver CC 2017/en_US/Configuration/Brackets/extensions/user/


Now by going to Dreamweaver Preferences in the Interface category, you will access this new Code Theme and you’ll can select to choose it.


Create your own theme


For the more adventurous among you, it is possible to create a theme based on a blank sheet ... why not? But, be aware that it is sometimes easier, and often faster, to start from a base close to the final expectations, and, adapt it.


Anyway, to create a theme it will be necessary to define a style sheet written in .less (or .css) and a json file that will set up the various necessary parameters. You will find all the information you need on the github Creating Themes.


Regarding the package.json file, three properties are particularly important for theme property: file, dark and addModeClass.


      "title": "Raven",
      "name": "Raven",
      "description": "Built-in dark theme for Brackets",
      "version": "0.42.0",
      "author": "Miguel Castillo <>",
      "engines": {
           "brackets": ">=0.42.0"
      "theme": {
           "file": "main.less",
           "dark": "true"


The first defines the style file containing the set of properties, the second defines whether it is a dark or clear theme, and this is very important for all complementary palettes, (auto completion, tooltips, Help, etc ...) so that they use a color matching the theme and the last property addModeClass  (not present in the above example) is very useful if you use a coloring specific to each language like JavaScript, HTML, CSS ...


So, go to the Preferences, Interface Category and click + to add a new code theme, Dreamweaver will propose creating for you the base of these two necessary files, namely the file_theme.less and the package.json.



We must give a name to this new theme and specify on which theme it is based. This greatly facilitates the creation process, because we will then only have to modify the value of some properties.


Edit a theme


Once the theme is in place, it is possible to intervene and modify or refine a particular value. Again, Adobe has published a well-detailed nomenclature on its online help Customize code coloring and more specifically in the chapter about selectors.


Always from the preferences dialog you can edit the selected theme by pressing the pencil icon.


Find and Replace


It is true that one of the forces of Dreamweaver has always been its internal search tool, but since the adoption of the Dark UI interface, specific to the tools of the Creative Cloud, some compromises and remakes have been necessary.


The search tool, although extremely useful and functional, also had to mature and evolve, at least ergonomically compared to other IDEs, and code editors available on the market.


And so, no fewer than three new features that have come to enrich the offering in this sense;


  • A new menu completely autonomous on the search and the replacement,
  • Document Search Bar docked at the bottom of the document which acts as quick search
  • And a dialog, not dockable, proposing two possibilities between an advanced search and a search within the site files.


The Search menu


This menu, which has become independent and autonomous, is not really new there are a few builds of this since it appeared, but it is good to emphasize its presence because it makes the user interface even closer to what the “We expect from a code editor”, and especially a self-respecting IDE.




This menu offers a set of possibilities classically desired in any type of work of repossession of a site, or maintenance of a site with large volume.


As usual the keyboard shortcuts are juxtaposed to each action, and each action being sufficiently evocative, it is not necessary to dwell on their various possibilities.


"Find Previous" functionality was on the wishlist of majority of users. People wanted to have the capability to go backwards in the search results by looking for the previous element. This is now available, and whatever the mode of search is set to, you can move in both directions!.


Quick Find (Ctrl-F or Cmd-F, and, Ctrl-H or Cmd-H )


One aspect of this feature, which may surprise when it first appears, is that this type of search cannot be performed if no document is opened, and therefore, instead of any dialog, you’ll gets an alert message informing us.




You can also search inside a text block or within a specified code snippet. If the content portion is selected, search will be limited to that selection or the entire document. Finally, whether it is code or text block, the search may include [any tag], or any defined tag set.


Using the filter allows you to combine various classic parameters such as Case-sensitive, Use Regular Expressions, Match Whole Word, Ignore White Spaces, and focus the search only on the selected text.


The advanced search, and / or, search in files (Ctrl-Shift-F, ou, Cmd-Shift-F, et, Ctrl-Shift-H, ou, Cmd-Shift-H)


Having been one of the forces of Dreamweaver, this dialog is now declined in two tabs, elementary and advanced. These two search modes allow you to search and sort items contained in specific tags by specifying, or not, certain attributes. It is possible to nest as many specificities as necessary.





The actions are not limited to replacing a string, but it is possible to modify or remove the framing tag, add or remove attributes, modify their values, in short, ... a great tool in our daily developer and web integrator workflows.


To the right of the search buttons you will find an "Exceptions" checkbox. If this option is checked, and if you choose to "replace all", the result panel will then list the matches along with a check box next to it.




You will also find, in this panel, a menu to navigate among all these occurrences with the capability of unchecking matches that you did not want. The "replace" button will then only change the occurrences that you had selected above;


Save and Load Queries


In old versions of Dreamweaver, it was possible to load or save requests. Tasks very practical since repetitive when taking over an old site, or setting up a serious and advanced maintenance.


Do not worry, to reactivate these missing features by default, just make a simple change at the registry level. From the taskbar, launch regedit.exe and select in the tree view


HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ SOFTWARE \ Adobe \ Dreamweaver CC 2017 \ Advanced Find And Replace


then create a new ShowHiddenOptions string and set it to true.



No need to restart Dreamweaver, as soon as you invoke the search in the files both options will appear at the top of the dialog. This change shouldn’t be considered for all minor Dreamweaver updates.


Integration and PHP 7.1 support


PHP is clear,, only the latest version of the 5 range, 5.6, will be supported until the end of 2018, but whatever, the major players in CMS, and other applications developed in PHP are moving more and more towards the use of the range 7 and in this case version 7.1.


Dreamweaver therefore had to endure the use of these two versions, which are still likely to cohabit over the next two years.


Global management within the application or site definitions


A new category has appeared in Preferences, PHP. At the moment, only one drop-down menu is proposed and allows to define the version of the PHP used, that is to say between 5.6 and 7.1, at the application level, that is to say when no site is defined.



Similarly, in the definition of the sites, appeared the same category, PHP, in the part reserved for the Advanced Parameters.


Hint Code and other writing aids


By having previously specified the version of PHP used, this allows to obtain the aids, and hints, to the writing and other relative information adapted to the version of the language that is used.



An important note to take into account is that, henceforth, if the PHP code does not contain closing tags ?> an error will be detected and displayed. It is therefore important to think about changing your habits if you did not systematically use this closure.


Using the Tangent Ripple for Neutralization in Adobe Premiere Pro CC


What are the essential colorist/grading steps? First, neutralizing all clips, getting as close as one can quickly to a neutral white-balance and natural appearing tonal range. Second, blending them by doing "shotmatching", so they look continuous ... as if seen by one set of eyes. Third, scene-matching, so that as the video is viewed, advancing to the next scene is natural and within the feel of the previous project and normal visual expectations for things like mid-day, evening outside, in a living room with 'normal' light bulbs, or in a dark cave.Then, if time and budget allow, the fourth stage is to create and apply a "Look", sometimes by scene or even an entire project.


There's never enough time for everything we could do for every clip. So to get to as much as possible, speed of operation through the process is essential. And the Ripple is a huge boost for speed and accuracy of colorist/grading work!


"Neutralization" means getting the clips clean: no color tint in the neutral tones (whites, grays, blacks), all data from blacks to white within say 5-95 on a 0-100 scale, and a good tonality for contrast & saturation that helps the viewer see the scene easily. It looks "natural". Technically accurately. It's a totally boring job that can take way too long. But properly neutralized clips make for far less work ... and far faster work ... in all later steps. Using a well-conceived & tested workflow, centered on the Ripple, is the fastest way of getting the job done within Premiere Pro CC2017. (Unless you've got a Tangent Elements panel, of course ... )


In Lumetri, the workflow is designed with the intent that the Basic tab is used for neutralization. They took the UI concept of the Lightroom Develop module, but with tools designed for video. Before I got my Ripple, I personally found the Basic tab a total waste of my time. Using those controls one at a time with a mouse or even Wacom pen-tab took for flipping EVER to get anything done. It seemed so deadly slow.


When I got the Ripple, I thought I'd test out some mappings for the Basic tab. It was well worth the time. Wow!


After playing with various mappings of Basic tab tools to the Ripple, it's clear that it works beautifully for neutralization, and is fast and intuitive to work with. As you can see from the image below of my Basic Tab control mapping, I've got the dials set for fast work at neutralization with every tool of that tab mapped. And ... I'm normally moving at least two if not three controls at a time. Yea, this puppy is fast! It's in the combination of speed & control that the Ripple earns it's spot on your desk. Or in your traveling bag to go out with your laptop.

Let's roll!

Here's a clip from the start of a recent vacation, taking the Amtrak Empire Builder through the Rockies & Glacier Park in late winter, plenty of daylight ... and beautiful snowy mountains to come. This clip is the start of our trip, at Union Station in Portland, Oregon, in the early evening on a cold late-winter day.

Right out of the camera, this clip is clearly ... warmer ... than it should be ... but how much, of what? And it's maybe ok but not optimal for tonal "distribution", so it will need a bit of adjusting to the relative brightness around the image. In video post, everything is relative, so always remember when you move something one way, it visually moves something else the other way.


A typical colorist approach assumes it's best to modify the luma ... the brightness values, white, black, and shadow/mids/highs tonal relationships ... first, perhaps with lowered or completely zeroed saturation, and then start on color corrections. But I've found that the initial color neutralization step changes the end points of the three channels (R-G-B) enough that I re-worked my process to start neutralization with the following fast and knowingly imperfect WB/Tint correction.


And importantly: I'm only looking at the Vectorscope when doing this step, I don't even look at the program monitor! It's fast, it's "close enough" for this part of the process, and as the whole process is iterative, this actually saves an iteration or two down the line.


Temp/Tint adjustments can take forever. And ... what's neutral, when looking at the image itself? This can be a hard decision. But I've got a couple hundred clips in this project ... no time to blow on evaluating, on thinking.

So first ... I've got a little helper I've made, that really speeds things along. I created and exported a .cube LUT from the Lumetri HSL panel (HSL settings shown on the left here) that invokes a mask allowing only the very-low saturated parts of the image to "show" through the mask, mostly in the upper-midtones. I have that saved in the Adobe/Premiere Pro 2017/Lumetri/LUTs/Technical folder, named " 1A Low SatMask uMids". This way, it's one of the first couple LUTs that appear in the Input LUT drop-down box. My first step is to apply that sat masking LUT.


Production tip: while you can do this for each clip, I prefer to do MANY clips sequentially, so I'll place an adjustment layer over a whole sequence, select it, apply this LUT in the Lumetri Basic Tab Input LUT drop-down on the adjustment layer, and then go back to the video track to do my corrections jumping clip to clip. One finger on the middle ball for temp/tint adjustment, another on the down-arrow to jump to the next clip. Bam ... bam ... bam ... wow, this is fast! Then I just delete the adjustment layer when I'm done.

Here, it's applied to a clip and ready to use in the Basic tab. The areas with color ... or some color ... showing, are the areas that the mask will allow PrPro ... and most importantly, the Vectorscope YUV to "see". The gray part will be ignored by the scopes. So while watching the scopes, I move the middle ball of the Ripple. That ball is is set for Temp (left/right) and Tint (up-down) as you can see in the mapping above.


Now, to the right, let's look at the Vectorscope of this image with the low-sat mask applied ... notice that the main overall clump of data is not quite centered? It's just a bit up and to the left ... that's what we'll deal with first. And while that really bright spot is the totally unsaturated spot, rather than placing that dead-center of the two crossing graticule lines, I've found it more visually accurate to center the entire mass. Not "fussily",  but just quickly centered mostly ...


To neutralize it, I'll use the middle ball of the Ripple to move that 'ball' of data to the center of the two crossing graticules in the Vectorscope YUV. Takes just a few seconds and here's the result shown in the Vectorscope on the right side.



And now showing the controls and the clip itself below. Not startlingly difficult, but the warm tints to the pavement, the sides and snow-blade of the locomotive, and the blues of Miriam's clothing are now gone. Very neutral, in fact ... and I didn't make a visual color adjustment at all. Just a few seconds to do, without any need to scrutinize for subtle hues in the image.

BasicTab Neut Clip 1200pix.png

For as long as this took to explain, in operation, it's only a few seconds per clip. And I LOVE using the middle ball of the Ripple for the combined Temp/Tint control. Using that mask explained above on an adjustment layer, and one hand moving the middle ball for Temp/Tint settings, the other on the down-arrow to jump to the next clip, it's just bam ... bam ... bam right down the sequence neutralizing tint.



Next post, I'll show ... tonal changes!


R. Neil Haugen

The Ripple or Elements Panels in Adobe Premiere Pro CC2017:

How to Decide

As I said in my last post, I highly recommend both panels. And I do mean that.


For some really quick small projects, the Ripple is all I need and is fast to use, and even with the Elements sitting there, I'll just grab the Ripple & work. Also, the Ripple is very portable and easy to use on any system you find yourself sitting at … on the go, at home, wherever. The Elements … fantastic support of Premiere Pro, even into a number of editing features making me hope they include even more "mappable" editing functions in the future. And in SpeedGrade … oh my, that's a sweet panel!


But for now, let's talk the smaller one.


The Ripple, at around USD $350, is a lot easier on the budget, and is quite a capable tool. Left to right, you've got three sets of controls and in between the outer sets and the middle ones, a couple "extra" buttons. You'll want to download the mapping control software from Tangent, and take the few minutes that's required to master modifying this tool to extend your work in Lumetri ... by a long ways. You will want to adjust the "granularity" control as at factory settings it's way too fine, and takes for-EVER to see anything changed. And it's very easy to adjust settings in the Tangent Hub mapping control software, using the sections to set the controls for each control panel tool in each Lumetri tab.


The dials are always the "Z" control, the balls either as a "just a ball", or by using the ability to set left-right (Tracker-ball X axis) and up-down (Tracker-ball Y axis) actions to separate controls, each ball can control two different Lumetri tools. It's very easy and fast to create new mappings, to save named versions, and to switch from one to another.


The three sets of controls ... a dial with two little buttons on either side and a wheel or ball ... can be set for all sorts of things, depending on the Lumetri panel currently active. If you leave it on the 'factory' settings, where it's set to run the Color Wheels section of the Lumetri panel "Edit" mode, it's a fast way to adjust luma/chroma for your clips any time without even being in the Color workspace. Left dial is Shadow Luma (lightness) control, left ball is Shadow Chroma (color) ... and to the right, you go to Mids and then Highlights pairings in the same manner. Ball movement totally matches the movement of the color shown in the Vectorscope making it incredibly intuitive to adjust color. In the Color Wheels tab of the Lumetri panel, you can watch the adjustments make the exact same corrections in the Wheels.


The two little buttons on either side of each dial reset one of that set's controls ... the left button resets all things done by the ball, the right one resets the controls set by the dial.


The button in between the middle and right set of controls cycles you into the next Tab down on the Lumetri panel while activating that panel in the interface on-screen. And you also can easily and quickly use the button between the left and middle control sets (shown as "Select Alternative" in the mapping controller) while held down, as either a jog control (standard mapping) or with a re-mapping, to "bypass" the Lumetri panel to do a quick check comparing the clip at present versus before corrections. The mapping software is fast, easy to learn, and does a good job.


For instance, I've never found the Basic tab worth using while working with a mouse or pen-tablet. But with the Ripple, I've turned that entire tab into a fast and furious (besides intuitive!) place for basic "neutralization" of clips, the first step in grading. Here's an image of the way I've mapped the Ripple controls for the Basic tab ... you see there are three lines of text below each control set.


The top line is what the dial above the red ball is set to control (that Z axis), the middle line is what the horizontal ("X axis") motion of the red ball is set to control, and the bottom line what the vertical ("Y" axis) motion of the red ball will control. This is very easy to set ... just click on a control, and step through the available options.


From left to right in the Ripple settings for the Lumetri Basic tab, I've got left dial set for Blacks, center dial for Exposure (a mush-up of "brightness/gamma" and exposure/contrast), and the right dial for Whites. This allows me to quickly set black point, white point, and basic "brightness" of a clip. I'll be working two or three controls at the same time watching the Lumetri scopes while working.

The left ball is my "Contrast" control tool … mapped so that the Contrast slider is left-right motion, and the Saturation slider is up-down motion. I realize most people don't think of "Saturation" as a contrast control, but it most definitely is! You have two forms of contrast: Luma (brightness) and Chroma. Both are set with one hand … easily, and quickly, intuitively.


The right ball I have set for shadow/highlight control, and it's useful … mostly … though to my taste, the Shadow & Highlight sliders in the Lumetri panel both affect way too much of the image "scale". Moving either affects the other only a little less than the section you expect to be adjusting, so you really do need to use these against each other.


I have the middle ball set so that left-right motion sets color Temperature and up/down motion sets Tint. The motion here isn't quite as "intuitive" as using the controls in "Color Wheel" mode, where movement of the balls precisely matches the direction of color change shown in the Vectorscope. However, I have mastered the use of this as it does become second-nature fairly soon.


With this mapping, I can blast through the first job with any clip ... neutralizing it ... in a very few seconds, often under 20 seconds! With the Wacom pen-tab & mouse, well ... it's a lot longer per clip to do the fine level I want.


One of the other big time-savers? With mouse or pen-tab you need to switch sections within Lumetri by hand, of course. Click after click. With the Ripple, see that button labeled "Next Mode" ? You just push that button and cycle to the next tab down.


As you get used to using it ... you want to use it for everything you can! If you do your own color at all ... it's a total no-brainer to get. It will save you TIME. A lot of time! And give you better end results too.

Among other personalizations I've done ... the standard HSL tab mapping for the Ripple involves only the  Color wheel controls of that tab, things you do after you've set the key. But setting the key is the more time-consuming part ... so I re-mapped so that when I tap the button into the HSL tab on the Ripple, each of the three control sets is for a particular section of the KEY! As shown here, left to right, left dial is Hue center, horizontal axis sets the Hue range, the vertical axis sets Hue fall-off. Middle set (dial/wheel) controls the Saturation key, and right set controls the Luminance part of the key.


But I didn't lose the ability to control what happens to the keyed media ... see the button labeled "Select Alternative Function"? Yep, I mapped the Color wheels controls of the HSL tab to be active with the Alternate mapping setting as shown in the image with the little box highlighted, showing those things controlled with the Alternate button. I have most of the controls I routinely use in the HSL tab on the Ripple, so I don't even touch the keyboard or mouse! Slick & fast!


And another thing ... that little black box of text highlighted in the Alternate mapping image? That can be set to pop up any time you use the Ripple, at three different sizes, anywhere on the screen you want to see it ... and it's your "HUD" ... heads-up display. It tells you what each control of the Ripple will do in the tab currently active ... and it only pops up when you touch a control, and goes away within a few seconds ... unless, of course, you wanted it to stay visible ... which you can. Or, when you're really running with it, you can set it not to show.


There's so much you can do with just the Ripple. However ... the Elements panel ... if you're a one-man shop like me ... will encourage you to get faster at editing so you can spend more time grading. Not because it's slow, as it's blindingly fast to use!  It's just ... way, way too much pleasure to work with. At around USD $3500, it takes a bit more justification. However ... using it for just a couple weeks, this thing was so fast, so easy to learn, and enables such intuitive work with luma/chroma ... it drastically changed my concept of how valuable this is for me as a budgeted cost item compared to not having one, and spending a lot more time.


And then ... I realized how many editing functions can be mapped to the controls ... and I am having to completely re-think my working process. And loving it!



ElementsPanel.jpgAs you see here, the Elements panel has four sections (if you get them all, and I recommend that!) I'm left-handed, so this is reversed from what you will probably see on other workstations.


The left section has buttons for selecting the working space in PrPro, out of the box set for Lumetri: Basic/Creative/Curves/Wheels/HSL/Vignette/Edit/; then Master Clip, and a couple workspaces, the Color and Edit spaces, plus moving the 'highlight' or selection focus within PrPro to the Lumetri and Scopes panels.


All of those can of course be mapped however you want them.

And that's just the "A" settings ... the lower left button of that section is the "A" or standard mapping, the lower right button is the "B" or Alternate mapping ... so you've got double the controls available. So far, I've concentrated on using this for color work, but ... and this is a HUGE "but" ... there are many, many of the functions of standard editing that can be mapped across the controls of this panel.


Anyone taking a few minutes to start working with the editing sections, to set up the mapping for the way they work, will get a massive boost to their editing speed & confidence. But what about having to learn what everything is set for? That's not a problem ... see the little tabs that stick up from each section? Those backlit panels show what every control of that section will do in this mode at this time.


I'm only beginning to explore the potential uses for me within this panel ... and totally boggled at the options. Wowza ... this is an amazing editing tool! Compared to using keyboard shorts, which you have to work to memorize or print yourself a listing, this shows you where all your fav controls are. Learning the muscle memory is fast and better yet ... when you decide to alter things, it's also easy then to re-train your muscle memories.


The track balls and rings are very positive to the touch, and easy to set the speeds at which they react to movement. Currently I've got the right two panels with the spinning knobs on the outside, but as those are the controls I spin for most of the sliders within Lumetri, I'm thinking I'll swap those two panels. Have the tap-buttons to the outside, and the spinning knobs right next to the three wheels. And yes, each of those sections has their own A/B buttons for packing in the control options, and all of those show up on the backlit heads-up tabs.


The Elements panel of course does so much within SpeedGrade if you still ever use that app, besides working very nicely with BlackMagic's Resolve color editing program. So ... besides being an editors playground and speed-tool, it's totally useful across a range of colorist/grading apps.


But without hesitation ... if you do ANY color work in your video post-processing, or have thought of doing some color corrections within Premiere Pro, you should get one of these, or, seriously, both. Once you're used to a surface in Lumetri, being able to travel and keep the Ripple with you is a huge benefit. The changes in Premiere Pro 2015.3 (and carried into CC2017) were that big, in what they allow ... and encourage ... in workflow and in capabilities.


And finding out how much of editing can be mapped to the Elements panel ... and how easy it is to transport the Ripple and say, use it on a laptop ... these are both marvelous production tools.


R. Neil Haugen