PR Viking font channels rowdy Nordic charm

Planning on inviting the horde over for summer-evening poker? Type like a Viking (or at least like Canadian font designer Peter Rempel). Send a hearty “hail thee” with font PR Viking and its brother, symbol set PR Viking Alternatives (free).

Rempel’s Nordic bad boys contain a crew of over 200 TrueType characters ready to ransack the first page they land on even as they cast a spell over it. The main set includes accents, diacritics, full punctuation, and all the numerals you need to total up and divide the pillage. Instead of a lowercase there are alternative capitals. For instance, type cap O for one version and lowercase o for its decorative second.

A hint of pagan can be found in the accompanying symbol set. With PR Viking Alternatives, an industrious warrior can cast a heavenly horoscope or seduce the earthly elements, then switch to PR Viking and charge by the Yen, thanks to the full range of international monetary signs.

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How to create vector masks in Photoshop

In graphic art and design, a mask is a tool that lets you isolate part of an image from the area surrounding it. Once isolated, you can apply adjustments (for example, special effects or color balance) to that area alone, or use the mask to eliminate the background completely. With Adobe Photoshop CS4 and CS5, you can create masks using both pixels and vector paths, but masks created with vector tools are almost always more accurate than those created using pixel-based tools. Moreover, vector masks are easier to edit later on. Here are some quick steps you can use to create a vector mask.

Step 1. Prepare your file

Use Photoshop to open an image you’d like to edit; for this example, I’ll use the photo of a coffee mug. Once open, locate the Layers panel (Window -> Layers). You should see only one layer, called Background. Control-click (or right-click) this layer and, from the contextual menu, choose Layer from Background. You’ll be asked to name the layer; to keep it simple, just call it Photo. From the main menu, choose Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color. Stick with the default name (Color Fill 1) and click OK. Choose a color you want to use as a background (this will help illustrate the mask later on), and once again, click OK. You’ll notice that your picture disappears behind the solid color, but we'll fix that now. Return to the Layers panel and drag the Color Fill 1 layer below the Photo layer. This will keep the color fill layer hidden for the time being.

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How Apple re-cut Final Cut Pro for the better

It’s only been on the Mac App Store for a few days, but Final Cut Pro X has already stirred up a whole messy pot of controversy. Despite its status as the top paid and top grossing app in the store, the program has dropped to a measly two-and-a-half star user rating, with more than 200 one-star reviews. Professional editors by and large have mixed feelings on the software, and for good reason: Many key features from Final Cut Pro 7 are missing. You can’t import projects from previous versions. There’s no way (without paying a hefty sum on third-party plugins) to export audio to ProTools.

And yet, I couldn’t be happier about the new version of Final Cut.

Once again, Apple has stripped every non-essential bit from the video editing process and reinvented it from the ground up. The company did it in 1999 with the original Final Cut Pro, when the film industry believed a non-linear editor had to involve software and bulky hardware in a package that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Apple employee Randy Ubillos did it in 2007 with iMovie ’08, wanting a faster way to edit home movies. And now, Apple has taken a decade’s worth of knowledge and again asked the question: “How can we make this better?”

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First Look: Final Cut Pro X

With the release of its hotly anticipated Final Cut Pro X (FCP X), Apple breaks new ground—not just with its flagship video editor's interface and underlying infrastructure—but with the whole mindset of what it means to be a working professional video editor.

Apple has revamped Final Cut Pro's hands-on user experience in three major areas: Editing, media organization, and post-production workflow. New tools such as the Magnetic Timeline, Clip Connections, Compound Clips, and Auditions provide a smooth, intuitive editing experience.

With the rise of data-centric workflows and tapeless video recording, organizational tools such as Content Auto-Analysis, Range-based keywords, and Smart Collections work in the background to automate formerly tedious and time-consuming manual processes.

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Apple releases Final Cut Pro X

It’s finally here. Apple has released Final Cut Pro X, a brand new version of its flagship professional non-linear video editing software. It should be available as a $300 download from the App Store at some point after 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, though Apple warns that it might take "some time" for it and companion apps Motion and Compressor to be visible.

First previewed to great fanfare at the NAB 2011 Final Cut Pro Users Group SuperMeet, Final Cut Pro X has been completely rewritten, offering 64-bit support, a revamped interface, and a slate of new features. The software takes advantage of Mac OS X features like Cocoa, Core Animation, Open CL, and Grand Central Dispatch to speed up and refine performance. It also features a new floating point linear color system, support for resolution-independent footage up to 4K in size, and full background rendering.

Also available separately are two upgraded companion applications: Motion 5 and Compressor 4. Motion 5 features tools that let you customize titles, transitions, and effects. Compressor 4 offers a wide range of delivery codecs, sizes, frame rates, and encoding parameters. Both are $50.

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Create a sports highlight in iMovie '11

Baseball season is here in the United States, and in addition to the professionals, little league teams and community leagues are also swinging for the fences. If you capture the action using a video camera, iMovie ’11 includes a little-known feature that lets you build a database of team members (of any sport) for creating highlight videos.

Step 1: Create a team

Build your own franchise in iMovie's Sports Team Editor.

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Anime Studio Debut 8 and Anime Studio Pro 8 released

Smith Micro has released a pair of animation program upgrades that cater to both novices and pros. Anime Studio Debut 8, a simple program targeted to novice users, hobbylists, and animation enthusiasts, offers a number of professional-level features in an easy-to-understand format. The Anime Studio Pro 8 upgrade, for professional artists and animators, expands that program by adding a slate of new tools and capabilities.

Debut version

Anime Studio Debut 8 is designed to allow aspiring animators to produce high-quality animations with a minimum of instruction. It offers a new Automatic Image Tracing feature that converts a paper drawing into ready-to-animate vector art in one click. This helps new artists (and kids) to start creating an animation in a few seconds.

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