NCD Embroidery Comp Size font sews up a handmade look

When you see the word embroidery do you think kitschy kittens on potholders in grandmother's kitchen? Stop right there. NCD Embroidery Comp Size, a font by London designer N Downey, is far from domestic. This display font is a rule-bending pixel construction with a touch of military style.

What's the story? One day a graphic designer decides to reproduce an 18th century military jacket using his girlfriend's sewing machine to mimic historical embroidery. His project leads him to explore zigzag stitching formats even as he spots an announcement for the FontStruct Handmade Competition. Many hours of pixel manipulation later, Downey sends in his entry—a home-sewn style complete with punctuation!

Downey has been a presence on the FontStruct scene since 2008, when he fell in love with typographer Rob Meek's brilliant online type-building application. Using FontStruct, designers can arrange collections of pixels (aka bricks) in gridded groups to create surprisingly diverse letterforms. The resulting "fontstructions" are then output in Truetype (.ttf) format for both Macs and PCs. A dynamic community of enthusiasts (aka FontStructors) meet on Meek's site to create, comment, share tips and custom bricks, and engage in friendly competition.

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Create a Mother's Day card with iPhoto '11

Adam Berenstain Contributor, Macworld

Adam Berenstain is a freelance writer in upstate New York and a longtime Macworld contributor.
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Mother’s Day is fast approaching, but that doesn’t have to mean giving mom just another basket of flowers or a phone call (not that she’d mind either or both). With iPhoto ’11, you can design a beautiful and memorable custom card to accompany your other heartfelt messages. Here’s how.

Choose your pictures

The first step is picking photos. You know your mom, so choose pictures with maximum appeal (for me, that means flowers and a baby picture of yours truly). You can select a single picture in your iPhoto library, or you can build a card by selecting multiple pictures, an event, album, or even a Faces collection of pictures. After I was satisfied with my photographs, I created a new photo album by selecting File -> New -> Album, and dragged in a handful of additional appropriate pictures to have several options in easy reach. Select the pictures (or album or event) you want to use, then choose File -> New -> Card, or click Create in the toolbar at the bottom of iPhoto’s window and choose Card to get started.

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Love rock 'n' roll? Say it loud with Jett

Here's a tale of two cities. She's a Philadelphia-born rocker known for driving beats and in-your-face lyrics. He's a Parisian design student with a guitar hero alter-ego and a handful of pixel bricks. What bad grrrl guitarist Joan Jett and apprentice typographer Izzy-sparks have in common is a heart made for rock and an homage font as black and distressed as the lead singer's wardrobe. Jett (free) is a display font with attitude to spare.

Jett’s B and V rotate and combine to create a black heart, but that’s not the only trick this font can do. Jett was created as part of a class assignment to capture the essence of a favorite artist using Rob Meek's online application FontStruct. The work began as a clone of another FontStruction. Designers in the FontStruct community encourage cloning (copying a font set) by choosing a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. This was the case with Formal Roman, a FontStruction inspired by, (but not a direct copy of) Minion Pro, an Adobe font designed by Robert Slimbach in 1990.

Izzy-sparks cloned Formal Roman using a simple one-click process to copy individual characters onto a FontStructor grid. Bezier curves are not available in the application. Instead designers build and manipulate "bricks" made from clusters of pixels. The effect is anything but square. The blurred quality of Jett is made from several overlapping combinations of bricks, but it is a tenuous quality. Above 200 points, this smudged illusion opens up to a high-contrast, disintegrating form that is visually engaging in its own right, but visually different.

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How to record remote audio podcast interviews

Unless your podcast is based solely on your own charm and wit or you have a lot of local talent willing to stop by your studio, there will be occasions when you need to record interviews remotely. While there are a handful of ways to do this, one of the most popular is making a call over the Skype VOIP service and recording the results. It’s popular not only because Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but because Skype generally has good voice quality and there are a variety of tools for capturing Skype calls. Here are the steps for using one of those tools.

Step 1: Download Call Recorder

After downloading a copy of Skype and setting up an account, additionally download and install a copy of Ecamm Networks’ $20 Call Recorder. This is a Skype add-on that makes it very easy to capture both sides of a Skype call on separate tracks.

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JVC Pro launches first stereo 3D camcorder

JVC Professional has introduced its first 3D ProHD camcorder, the GY-HMZ1, at the NAB 2011 trade show in Las Vegas. With an integrated 3D twin lens design, powered by JVC's proprietary large-scale integration (LSI) chip for high-speed processing of HD video, the GY-HMZ1 can simultaneously record each left and right image in full 1920 by 1080 resolution.

The handheld camcorder features dual 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensors (one for each lens) and delivers 34Mbps AVCHD recording in 3D or 24Mbps in 2D. Video can be recorded with timecode at 50i to provide smooth motion (for sports and other fast action) or 24p for a film-like effect. The GY-HMZ1 can also capture 3D time lapse and 3D digital stills.

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Final Cut Pro X stays in the picture for pros

More than 1700 enthusiastic Final Cut users got some welcome news from Apple Tuesday night, when the company previewed Final Cut Pro X at the NAB 2011 Final Cut Pro Users Group SuperMeet. As one of those 1700 Final Cut users in attendance, I liked a lot of what I saw—though after having an evening to process the news, I still think a number of questions remain about the upcoming release.

As one of the founding members of the Final Cut user community, I've spent many years attending NAB user group meetings—from the sweltering room that started it all to last night's packed auditorium—and they've always been charged events; this year was even more so. The tension was palpable as people milled around waiting to get a seat and, when they were released, the mad rush to the front of the room was not unlike the swarm for Apple's (sadly, now defunct) Final Cut Pro training sessions at NAB.

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Font-fixer Smasher gets new interface in update

Smasher, a program that automatically fixes font problems that can result in garbled text, has been updated with a redesigned user interface, improved support for Adobe CS 5, and a new range of font preview capabilities.

Insider Software took the wraps off Smasher 2 on Tuesday, announcing that the updated program features a redesigned interface that includes expanded font preview capabilities and new icons that are “easier to view and recognize.” The program now features a WYSIWYG font list that displays typefaces in their native outlines—making it easier to eyeball a document and know it's displaying correctly.

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