Prisma: Turning Photos Into Works of Art

Transforming a Photo with Prisma

Prisma-ing a photo of Alouette Lake.

If you have found yourself looking at all the artistic images that your friends have been sharing on social media the past few months and find yourself wishing you had such artistic talents too, I will let you in on a little secret … most of the beautiful artistic images circulating social media have been created with the aid of a mobile app, Prisma. Translation: you too can create some of these incredible works of art without attending art school.

Basically Prisma is a mobile app that provides filters to transform your photographs into works of art using the styles of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns.

To use Prisma on your photos, once you’ve downloaded the app to your smartphone, simply open the app and select a photo from your camera roll or take a new photo, and then tap the different filters and watch each one transform your photo into a different work of art.

Take for example the preceding image that Lori took at Alouette Lake, by playing with it in Prisma, I transformed it into the following works of art …

Dream Filter

Prisma Dream Filter of Alouette Lake

Waves Filter

Prisma Waves Filter of Alouette Lake

Paper Art Filter

Prisma Paper Art Filter of Alouette Lake

Coloured Sky Filter

Prisma Coloured Sky Filter of Alouette Lake

Prisma Tips and Tricks

Prisma also allows you to manipulate the intensity of the filters by running your finger left (to increase the filter’s intensity) or right (to decrease the filter’s intensity).

Altering Prisma filter intensity.

If you want to see your original photo next to your new Prisma artwork, swipe downward with your finger on the image. Swiping back upwards with your finger on the image will restore just the Prisma artwork.

Prisma Side by Side Images

By clicking on the cog icon in the top corner, you can enable or disable Prisma to ‘save your original photos’ (those you take while using the app), ‘save your Prisma artwork automatically’, and ‘turn on/off the Prisma watermarks’ on your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Settings

You can also save your Prisma artwork right after creating it, by clicking on the downward arrow icon underneath the artwork after you create it, and/or share it directly to Instagram and/or Facebook by clicking on the Instagram and/or Facebook icons underneath your Prisma artwork.

Saved!

Finally, if you wish to share the image elsewhere – to dropbox, via email, to Google+ or Twitter … etc – simply click on the upward arrow icon underneath your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Sharing

Have fun creating … err … Prisma-ing!

 

Quizlet ~ A Handy Study Tool

I’m past the point in parenting where I need to search and find tools to help my kids with their studying. They find innovative ways to help themselves! When I saw my daughter on her phone, I’m pretty sure I said something to the effect of, “Hey Missy! Shouldn’t you be studying?!” To which she gave me the stink eye and replied, “I am!” She has been preparing for her tests using an App called Quizlet.

Within Quizlet, you can create your own flashcards and then use them in a variety of ways to practice. I think this could be a great tool for any of us taking professional development courses.

digital flashcards

You can create your own flashcards by entering the terms and definitions you are trying to study.

Once your flashcards are made you can study them in a variety of ways, but another great feature of this App is being able to search general topics and study off of flashcards and study sets other users have made.

Quizlet

If, for example, you search ‘Computers’, you will find a list of already made study cards to choose from.

 

ready made flashcards

Once you select a set of terms to learn you have the option to read through them all and learn the concepts. You can then practice in the variety of ways shown on the top tabs. These same methods are available to you within your own study sets that you create.

 

study tools

This is an example of one of the study games where you need to click on matching squares.

You can use the test mode as many times as you like until you feel confident. I regularly see my daughter running through terms on her phone in the backseat of the car on the way to school. You have the option to join the App as a teacher where you could create your own study sets for students of yours to use. They have even launched an interactive feature called Quizlet Live! This has been a great study tool in our house so I wanted to pass it along to you. No intentions of putting the cue card people out of business! If you have other go-to tools we’d love to hear about them as well.

iMovie Tutorial: How to Rotate a Video

On more than one occasion, I have been so excited to capture greatness on video, only to discover upon playback, that I have held my phone improperly and recorded an upside down or sideways video! This makes the video virtually useless for sharing ~ or so I thought, until figured out how to fix it. In case this has happened to any of you, or should it happen in your future, I thought I’d share an iMovie tutorial on how to rotate a video.

I have been able to do some basic editing to videos right on my phone within the iMovie App, however the option to crop or rotate does not exist that I have been able to find. Determined to fix my most recent upside down video, I uploaded it to my computer and imported it into iMovie there.

upside down video

As you can see, everyone on my subway ride is hanging from the ceiling. That would have been cool if this was an amusement park ride, but instead I had some editing to do. Here’s how I did it…

iMovie Tutorial

Once you have imported your video in iMovie and have started a new project with it, click on the clip you need to adjust and then from the window menu select Cropping, Ken Burns and Rotation.

editing in iMovie

Click on the arrow icon in the direction you want your clip to flip. Each click will rotate your clip a 1/4 turn. Sometimes your video is sideways and not all the way upside down so the 1/4 turn option is great.

break dance on the subway

Voila! Now it is only the talented subway dancer I captured who is upside down. Once your video is right side up, simply select ‘Done’ and return to editing or finish your video.

I hope you have found this iMovie tutorial to be a welcome relief for those pesky times you simply hold your phone the wrong way and have an upside down world to deal with! Here is my edited video of a breakdance on the subway in its entirety for you to enjoy.

Nuzzle: A Social News Reader

Most of the time when we are using social media to engage with family, friends and followers, we don’t really want news stories or articles in general mixed in there. There are other times however, that we would just like to see those stories without other interactions intermingled. We have discovered an App for that! Meet Nuzzle, the social news reader.

 

Nuzzle

 

Nuzzle provides a clean layout of news from your friends and people you follow on Facebook and Twitter. What you see then are blog posts and articles only, without any status updates. An ‘options’ tab provides you with the following viewing options :

  • News From Your Friends
  • News From Friends of Friends
  • News You May Have Missed
  • Recently Read Stories
  • Your Custom Feeds (lists you have made within Twitter)
  • Featured Feeds

You are also able to build a network within Nuzzle by finding and following friends within the App. If you select to receive it, Nuzzle will send you a daily digest to your email highlighting top stories! To make your own social sharing easier, Buffer, Pocket and Instapaper can be signed into on the App so you can share right from a story as you read it, or save it to be read later allowing you to enjoy the read without an internet connection.

This is a free App that offers a de-cluttered experience, which is always appreciated!

 

Video Optimization Services for Digital Video Success

Video is increasingly becoming a powerful and effective tool in marketing businesses online. A video can only have an effect on an audience though, if it is seen. There are many aspects that go into putting video content online, which is why we are now offering digital video optimization services.

If you properly optimize your videos to target your desired audience through search marketing, your business will have the competitive edge it needs to get your videos viewed and drive traffic back to your site and your services.

YouTube Art

An artistic interpretation of the various YouTube icons found among websites. Photo by: Webtreats

Why are so many companies creating video content? Because:

• It tells a business’ story in a visual way;

• It connects potential customers with the personalities and culture of the business; and

• Video gets preferential traction online by search engines, as Google owns YouTube, and now Facebook is giving video preferential treatment within it’s feed too.

Take Dinologue for example, one of our clients whom we have built a successful YouTube channel for. They wanted to tap into an adult dinosaur fan base and present them with material that would be relevant and scientific, yet engaging and entertaining. In creating an engaged community and storyworld for Dinologue, digital video played an important role to accompany Dinologue’s blog posts and social media.

dinosaur video

This is a screen shot of a Dinologue video in action with popular science writer, Brian Switek.

Beyond creating a video that will appeal to your target audience, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in ‘pre and post video production’. In order to gain traction to your video, reach your target audience and attract views to your video, we can help you with the following services:

  • Taking the time to look up the keyword phrases that your target customers are searching online;
  • Researching which of those keyword phrases you can be competitive with, in reaching your target customer;
  • Optimizing your video’s title, metadescription and tags to target the competitive keyword phrases that your preferred customer is searching for online;
  • Including a call to action and draw back to your company site in the video; and
  • Creating compelling video thumbnails that capture the attention of viewers, so that they click to watch them.
custom thumbnails

Creating customized video thumbnails gives your YouTube channel a uniform look and makes your video brand immediately recognizable when your videos appear under search terms.

Properly optimizing your video will help your desired customer find you online and will lead to increased traffic back to your website. Please contact us to discuss a strategy that is best for you. This is something we can help you with at any stage you may be in with your videos – whether you have never made a video before and need guidance on where to start or if you already have a catalogue of video that needs to be optimized for what your target audience is searching online, giving those videos fresh views.

Jumping Photos: A Tutorial Video

taking jumping photos

We once did a professional photography session to get some fun jumping photos of our family. A while back, when were all at the beach, we decided to try our hand at it because there was a little ledge of sand that we thought would help make us look like we were jumping higher. It turned out to be really easy to photograph and we got some amazing shots! Jumping has now become our family’s signature way of capturing scenic memories. It’s contagious too! People who pass us while we are taking these photos want us to photograph some jumping photos of them too, on their own devices!

So that you can enjoy such an experience as well, and have a new way of capturing memories and telling your stories, I have created a tutorial video to demonstrate just how easy it is.

Warm up those leg muscles and get ready to catch some height and add an element of creativity to your shots. Really though, you don’t need to have any athletic ability to do this ~ just have fun!

Genius Scan: Apps for the Busy Professional on the Go

As someone who has a mobile office, I was initially unprepared for the amount of times I would receive ‘urgent’ requests for documents to be printed, signed and scanned back. There have also been times when paper sources of mine have had to be sent to someone immediately.  Of course, as a working mom, and busy professional on the go, this most often happens when I am nowhere near a computer, printer or scanner!  I have come across a couple Apps that have solved this dilemma for me: SignEasy; a Digital Signature App which I discussed in a previous post, and Genius Scan.

Genius Scan is exactly what its name suggests, a brilliant scanning tool! If you have a printed document that needs to be sent, but no scanner, this App give you the ability to take a photo of each page, make general enhancements and send it off!  It will save each page into the same document so you don’t need to send each page off separately.

Genius Scan scanning App

Cropping Your Document

After you take a photo of your document, a grid overlay comes up for you to crop and determine exactly which parts of your page to include. This is handy if you have smaller receipts where a lot of your table shows up in the photo.

Genius Scan document enhancements

Finishing Touches

Once you are finished cropping the page, the App enhances it for you. You have the option to select No Enhancement, Black and White, or Colour. Once you save the page and add any other pages to the same document file you can choose your format to send it in. I usually choose PDF and it gets sent off as a proper printable document, not like a photo you took and emailed off.

I have been using this App for a long time now and I believe there have been a few upgrades along the way providing an enhanced user experience with even more options than I have described above, and this App is free.  As someone who is always juggling work and family, I have been extremely grateful for the time and headaches I’ve been able to avoid!

Creating a Digital Signature with SignEasy

There have been countless times when I have received an email with a document that needs to be printed and signed then sent back ASAP.  On numerous occasions this has been when I am nowhere near a computer, printer or scanner!  I have come across a couple Apps that have solved this dilemma for me: SignEasy; a digital signature App, and Genius Scan (which I will discuss in my next post in ‘Apps for the Busy Professional on the Go’).

Within SignEasy, you enter and save your signature by  writing it with your finger.  You are then able to open a document directly from an email and insert your signature onto the appropriate page.  You simply pinch the signature to shrink it to the right size and drag it to place it right on the line.  The App also has the function to enter dates, addresses and other text formalities. There is an easy to follow tutorial which shows you how to digitally sign a document.

SignEasy tap for signature

This is a sample document from within the App which shows the simplicity of the design and instruction.

digital signature

When you enter your signature, you have a nice open screen to write it with your finger. You can see how you are able to select the ink colour you need.

SignEasy signature App

Adjusting and Placing Your Signature

When your signature appears on your document you will need to shrink the size and move it to the appropriate spot. You can see from the choices at the bottom that you are also able to enter the date and any text that might be necessary for you to add within the document. After you select ‘Done’ you will have the option to share and send the document to the intended recipient.

I have been using this App for a long time now and I believe there have been a few upgrades along the way providing an enhanced user experience with even more options than I have described above, and this App is free.  As a very busy working mom I have been extremely grateful for the time and headaches it has helped me to avoid!

Garden Sketch, A New App For Garden Lovers

As we are approaching Autumn, your garden is probably finishing up quite a round of transformations as it went from buds, to blooms, to full Summer glory, and now an Autumn harvest! This is where the creative genius Maija Leivo and Ian Herring comes in. Inspired by their own gardening experiences, they have created and recently launched Garden Sketch App, an interactive iPad experience that lets you plan out your garden design strategy now to have an even more delightful, invite everyone over to enjoy your garden kind of story for next year!

Essentially, the Garden Sketch App is a planning tool where you can plot out various arrangements if you are looking to transform your garden space, or if you find yourself with a yard you’ve never tended to before and you need to dream up some ideas to transform it into a beloved garden.  Once you enter the dimensions of your space, you can map out as many different designs as you want, making your time spent on this App almost as Zen-like as gardening itself.  You really are creating your own storyworld that you get to live in through next year’s growing season! We’d like to illustrate the technology for you in a before/after scenario.

BEFORE.  You begin with a blank slate made to the size of your own property's dimensions, which you enter upon starting. Choose the house shape that most resembles yours and begin to create!

BEFORE. You begin with a blank slate made to the size of your own property’s dimensions, which you enter upon starting. Choose the house shape that most resembles yours and begin to create!

AFTER! Picture yourself enjoying a lemonade on your porch swing, or a morning croissant under your shady tree.

AFTER! Picture yourself enjoying a lemonade on your porch swing, or a morning croissant under your shady tree.  In our case, we’d be accompanied by a good book to read or notebook to start crafting one of the many stories that wanders through our imaginations.

The technology of this App over the old paper/pencil method gives you more freedom to create, move around and delete. For a full tutorial on how the above garden was created, visit the Garden Sketch site.  There are also great stories coming out of Maija’s and Ian’s own garden, which you may enjoy checking in with on their blog.  Like most gardeners, they enjoy sharing information, tips, recipes, and chatting about horticulture in general.  Join in the community love on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

 

Video Star : Apps My Kids Use

This is the first post of a new monthly series on Apps My Kids Use, keeping a tune to what’s keep our kids amused in our mobile world.

I will sometimes see my kids using a new App that I have never heard of and the next thing you know, all of their friends are using it and soon after the app becomes a big deal and a household name.  My kids are currently in high school, by the way, for a bit of age context here.  Later we shall get Erica adding to this column with apps that her much younger nieces and nephews use.  Some Apps ignite a strong addiction while others are over and done with and deleted quickly.  One App that has been used consistently in our house for over a year now is Video Star.  It has become a means of creating memories of family vacations and momentous outings, not to mention the great babysitting tool it has been for them to entertain kids!

Video Star

Within the Video Star App you create a music video.  You select a song from your own iTunes account, select a special effect to use for your scene, record a little action and stop when you are done.  When you are ready to record your next scene the App will automatically continue where you left off in the song.  This is amazing, because it allows you to film at different locations, even days apart and not have to do any editing!

Here’s a video that I made for Erica on the occasion of her birthday.  In her honour I was as silly as I could be!

You can see how this would be perfect for travel, as you can take a short clip of each place you go and end up with a music video showcasing memories from your whole vacation.  I feel you could even take this App into the business world. For example, if you are working on a film, TV, or theatrical show, you could use Video Star to get some fun behind the scenes clips to share with everyone at the end of the show.  You could certainly prepare some fun material for presentations, and get students up and active during workshops.

The only downfall with Video Star is that for sharing purposes you need to upload it to YouTube in order to maintain the digital quality.  Sharing with others via email or messaging sends a very grainy low quality version.  I hope you give yourself permission to have some fun and maybe capture a video to paste a smile on the face of your family, friends or staff this Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or other winter holiday! As Erica will tell you, it makes the perfect gift!