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  1. Government regulations in the UK mean that websites and apps in the public sector must now be accessible to everyone. In the digital age, mobile apps have become a widely popular platform for businesses to connect with their customers. Whether this is via a business, educational or entertainment app, the platform allows a more convenient, on-the-go approach in comparison to the likes of a website. Check out our free accessibility tool post for some quick and easy solutions. Making your app accessible means you must consider the range of challenges a customer may face, ensuring that as many people as possible can use it. This includes those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive or learning difficulties, as well as deafness or impaired hearing. Designing an accessible app means much more than simply making the design clearer. You must design an app that is adaptable to those throughout the spectrum and support those who need the app’s extra, accessible functions. Here we will be discussing six factors organisations need to consider when designing an app, making sure it can be accessed by everyone. 01. Create a simple, clear layout The initial step is to ensure you have a simple layout. A cluttered design may overwhelm a user who then might give up on your app before they have even properly begun to explore it. Elements must be visible to those who may need to magnify the screen, so your design must be responsive and adapt to various screen sizes. Text and call-to-action buttons must also appear at an appropriate size, with the option to enlarge. 02. Design a consistent navigation You must design an easy-to-follow app with clear indicators. Navigation should have short task flows and be easy to find, as well as consistent throughout the different stages of using the app. Again, this is especially important with your call-to-action buttons. They must be clearly labelled, to smoothly guide users through your app’s goal conversion. Navigation pointers – for instance, menu bars and search boxes – should also be consistently positioned in a similar format throughout your app. This will enable users to quickly and easily explore your app in a logical order with no confusion. 03. Consider your text formatting Text is another element that must be carefully thought out. Dyslexia can affect a person’s accuracy of reading, so you must really think about the structure of copy used on your app. Uneven spacing, long sentences or paragraphs, italic fonts and the colour of text are just some design features you need to consider. Over-formatted text can be difficult for dyslexic users to read, as well as those with impaired vision, so make sure you keep your formatting simple and consistent throughout your design. Adding accessibility ensures that everyone can use your website or app 04. Make audio and video accessible Creating an app that is interactive as well as accessible can be seen as a challenge, though creating a tick list of things you must consider will mean you can include media communications, for instance video and audio, where appropriate. When incorporating these elements, users should be able to pause or stop, adjust volume and turn captions on and off. You may also need to consider adding audio description for users with visual impairments and subtitles and sign language for those who may be deaf. If relevant, video and audio has the ability to transform any app, though if you feel it may cause accessibility concerns or be an added but unneeded extra, be sure to explore other creative options that can also add an interactive element. 05. Give careful consideration to colour Colour palettes are a top priority when designing any app, as most businesses associate certain colours with their branding. To make your app accessible to colour-blind users, it’s important to not fall in the design trap of solely relying on colour to communicate your message. This doesn’t mean avoiding using colour at all. As already mentioned, colour can reflect a brand, so you just need to make sure that elements of your app are not purely identified based on colour. Your palette should also be carefully selected so that users can fully interpret the information displayed. 06. Don't forget to test Following accessibility guidelines is always a good starting point but treating the development as a tick box challenge will not guarantee success. There are many methods to approach the testing phase, for instance engaging with real users at random and asking them to test elements of your app or using digital tools that can offer detailed assistance on screen reading. Designing an app is a great opportunity for creative minds to develop a strong platform for any business. Making it accessible should not be a constraint; it will enable you to create a positive brand image that can associate with everyone. This article was originally published in issue 325 of net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 325 or subscribe to net. Join us in April 2020 with our lineup of JavaScript superstars at GenerateJS – the conference helping you build better JavaScript. Book now at Read more: 10 best design apps for Windows 20 best drawing apps for iPad How to create accessible web forms View the full article
  2. Anyone who is remotely interested in houses will know the value of a good floor plan. And anyone who is remotely interested in TV shows will probably enjoy the beautiful floor plans created by interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde, who illustrates the houses inhabited by characters in popular shows and films. These floor plans of abodes featured in the likes of Mad Men, The Simpsons, The Flintstones, Sex and the City, Girls and White Collar are fascinating for the shows' fans – not least because some reveal rooms you can't ever remember seeing (more on that later). They also reveal an interesting area of character design that you may not have considered. If you're creating a character, do you always think about where they might live? How will their home reflect their personality? Lizarralde's prints reveal that the shows' creators have certainly thought this through. But there are some elements that may surprise you. Below are some of our favourite floor plans from Lizarralde, who goes by the name Nikneuk on DeviantArt. Click the icon in the top right of each image to view it full-size Don Draper's apartment centres around his iconic living room Don Draper from Mad Men's apartment is actually kind of massive. There are three toilets. Naturally, in the show, we see him mostly in the bedroom, lounging in his living room, or occasionally looking pensive at his desk. Do you recognise the room on rear right-hand corner of the ground floor? The Simpsons' house is also bigger than you might think. In fact, it's so big that some people on Twitter were surprised by the inclusion of some of the downstairs rooms (on the right of the floor plan), saying that they didn't recognise them. But this being Twitter, people were quick to jump in with an explanation (see below). The Simpsons place is not quite as stylish as Draper's gaff (apart from those carrot curtains in the kitchen, which we wish we could see more of). Not surprisingly, there are quite a lot of comfy chairs. This floor plan shows the two apartments most heavily featured in Friends One of Lizarralde's Friends floor plans shows two apartments: there's Chandler and Joey's place, pictured next to Monica and Rachel's. We love how he's combined the two, seeing as they all basically live together anyway. (As a side note, we'd like to see how the apartments changed when the girls swapped with the boys.) It's also clear when you see the apartments side by side which one is bigger, plus fans of the show will delight in picking out several details, including the boys' chairs and entertainment unit, the window seat in the girls' apartment (where Rachel sits looking at the rain feeling sad about Ross), and Monica's secret closet/cupboard of shame. If you would like to see more of Lizarralde's work, or buy one of his prints for your own home, visit his Etsy shop. Read more: Hilarious parody posters reveal the truth behind Oscar-nominated movies Graphic design in film: the ultimate guide Insider advice from a master film character designer View the full article
  3. Do you love writing? Have you ever considered making it your career? Take on a new skill for 2020 and master digital copywriting with The Modern Digital Copywriting & Marketing Playbook Bundle. Copywriting is one of the top details many businesses overlook. It's such a vital part of a brand's message that improving your writing, even slightly, can help your products connect with an audience so much better. Whether you're looking to build a career in content marketing or simply improve the copy on your personal site, this 10-course bundle brings you everything you need to transform your love of writing into a budding career. You'll start by learning different techniques for how to make your message impactful and engaging for your particular audience. You'll also come away equipped with industry best practices to convert more leads, write for high-profile publications, and even learn how to jazz up your resume to finally land your dream job. With access to over 600 lessons, you'll become a master of generating traffic to your website and converting that traffic into sales. You'll even learn how to self publish books to Amazon and other leading book providers from the comfort of your home! If you're looking for a course that will help get your thoughts from your head onto the computer screen, this bundle has it. You'll learn the ins and outs of using the art (and science) of copywriting with topics such as understanding how to write compelling headlines and learning what makes copy impactful. Gain techniques on how to write faster and understand what type of content you ultimately want to create. Easy to follow video lectures and an included community of like-minded writers will help you connect and gain support for your work, such as providing introductions to in-network editors. With lifetime access, you'll be able to revisit each course whenever you need a spark of inspiration or additional guidance. The Modern Digital Copywriting & Marketing Playbook Bundle is usually priced at $2,000, but, for a limited time, you can start writing like a pro for only $35. Transform your writing and help launch your next money-making career today. Read more: Designers give iconic logos a radical makeover Infographic: 10 essential desk exercises for designers January sales: Cheap Adobe Creative Cloud deal is LIVE View the full article
  4. There are plenty of reasons you might want a Hydro Flask deal. Hydro Flask makes some of the best water bottles you can buy; they're tough enough to withstand knocks, their double-walled vacuum insulation maintains your drink's temperature, and they look great thanks to their clean lines and colourful powder-coated finish. Needless to say, having some Hydro Flasks dotted around your studio could give you some serious cool points. They're not just for water, either. Hydro Flask has a wide range of other insulated bottles and cups for everything from coffee and tea to soup and stew. All are lined with professional-grade stainless steel that doesn't hang onto tastes and odours, and many are dishwasher-safe as well. A Hydro Flask is great if you’ve been looking for a way to cut down on single-use plastics, but don’t want to spend money on something that’s poorly designed or easily broken. In the unlikely event that anything does happen to it, each Hydro Flash bottle and cup comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can simply contact the company for a replacement. With all that in mind, we've tracked down the very best prices for a range of Hydro Flasks. With so much choice, there's sure to be something that's your cup of tea. The Hydro Flask 21oz Standard Mouth Bottle is hugely popular, and for good reason – it's a handy size that'll slip easily into a bag, and it'll keep your drink cold for 24 hours, or hot for six hours. It comes in six colours, with a tough powder-coated matt finish, and its stainless steel construction means it can take its share of knocks around the studio. This bottle is supplied with Hydro Flask's Flex Cap as standard (with honeycomb-style insulation to help maintain a constant temperature), but you can choose a sports cap instead if you prefer, which may be a good choice if you're concerned about spillage on your desk. The Hydro Flask 32oz Wide Mouth Bottle is easy to fill in a hurry, and its larger neck means you can easily pop a few ice cubes inside to keep your drink extra cold for hours on end. It's also easier to clean than a narrower bottle (though you'll still want to use a bottle brush to make sure you're getting all the way inside). This larger capacity bottle won't slip into your bag as easily as the 21oz one above, but the handle makes it easy to carry, and you won't need to get up from your desk to refill it so frequently. There's no sports cap option for the Wide Mouth Bottle, but Hydro Flask produces a version with a built-in straw instead. If you're working somewhere without a water cooler or easy access to a coffee machine, the Hydro Flask Oasis could be just what you need, holding enough of your chosen beverage to keep you going all day. This huge flask holds almost four litres, and has two lids: a smaller one for pouring, and a large one that you can remove for easy refilling and cleaning. The downside is that the Oasis is rather expensive, though Hydro Flask's lifetime warranty takes some of the sting out, and you can also put it to good use for picnics, camping trips and parties when you're not at your desk. The perfect replacement for all those disposable single-use cups – just hand over the Hydro Flask Tumbler in your favourite coffee shop and enjoy your hot drink guilt-free. While the Hydro Flask Tumbler doesn't collapse flat like some reusable cups, it offers much better insulation and won't acquire the same unpleasant taste as rubber cups tend to. It also fits in most cupholders, so you can use it when travelling between meetings. Just make sure you pay close attention when you're ordering the Tumbler because not all retailers include the press-on lid, which is essential for keeping the contents hot. If you prefer to make your own hot drinks, the Hydro Flask 12oz Coffee Mug is the perfect vessel for the job. No longer will you find yourself in the frustrating situation of creating the perfect brew, then having it go stone cold while you're caught up in work and client emails. The mug's press-in lid fits securely and provides insulation to keep your drink hot for hours, and its soft-touch finish means it's comfortable to wrap your hands around in a chilly office. It's much pricier than a regular ceramic mug, but we think the benefits easily justify the cost. For enjoying a brew away from your desk, the Hydro Flask Coffee Flask 12oz is a great choice. Its wide neck means it's easy to fill from a kettle, but its relatively squat design means it fits under most coffee machines as well, so you can take your preferred Nespresso drink on the road. This 12oz version is small enough to tuck neatly in your bag and holds a standard size cup of coffee, but larger versions are available if you need more caffeine to get you going in the morning. It's also compatible with Hydro Flask's Wide Mouth Straw Lid, which makes it ideal for iced coffee too. Your studio might not have a microwave, but with the Hydro Flask Food Flask 12oz you can still enjoy a hot lunch from home. This flask has an extra wide neck to accommodate forks and spoons, and its stainless steel interior doesn't cling to food odours like plastic Tupperware. This it the smallest size, but larger Food Flasks are available if you have a larger appetite. Just make sure you don't leave your lunch too late; this Hydro Flask has a larger lid than those intended for drinks, which means it doesn't have quite the same level as insulation and will only keep food hot for around four hours. Read more: The best tablet keyboards in 2020 The best record players for creatives The best smart home devices for creative professionals View the full article
  5. Ever look at a famous logo and think, 'I could have done a better job'? Course you have. And some designers have put their money where their mouths are and actually given it a crack. Popular designer portfolio and networking platform Dribbble has put together a roundup of the best unofficial logo redesigns of the past year. All these designers have given world-famous logos a radical makeover, and the results are well worth checking out. Some of the designs here are arguably better than the originals; others serve as a reminder that effective logo design is a lot harder than it looks. Even the ones we think don't work raise some interesting points as to what makes a logo successful or unsuccessful – for more on that, take a look at our feature on the stories behind the world's best logos, or our roundup of logo design advice. Scroll down for a taster, and see what you think. A reminder: these are all unsolicited and unofficial. So don't worry, none of these new-look logos are going to be elbowing out the classics any time soon. Click the icon in the top right of each image to enlarge it This redesigned Twitter logo (right) opts for a more abstract silhouette Twitter's little birdy is instantly recognisable in a range of contexts. This redesigned logo opts for a much curvier, more abstract shape. The addition of a circle to represent the eye helps ensure it's still recognisably a bird. This is one of the more divisive logos on the list. One of the reasons the current Twitter logo is so effective is that it easily passes the silhouette test, but does this version have such a strong impact? The redesign is the work of logo designer and self-confessed branding geek Myles Stockdale. This redesign (right) has heritage in the Star Wars world This is one of the most radical redesigns in Dribbble's roundup. The original Star Wars font is gone completely, and instead there's an unusual font with an Art Deco vibe. We wouldn't immediately associate this aesthetic with sci-fi, but this logo actually bears some resemblance to the second Star Wars logo – especially those 'A's. It was created by Ted Kulakevich for Florida agency Unfold. This unofficial Apple redesign (right) embraces Apple's colourful side Another titan in the world of logos, Apple's apple has had broadly the same silhouette since 1977. Is it time to shake things up? Russian designer Ruslan Babkin has created a new look that makes a statement with colour and gradients. The striped, rainbow stylings hark back to Apple's 1977 logo, but this logo takes on a whole new silhouette. The much-discussed 'bite' remains (read about that here), but does it still look like an apple? See the full roundup on Dribbble here. Read more: 8 of the biggest logo redesigns of 2019 Where to find logo design inspiration Infographic: Take a tour of the top logo trends for 2020 View the full article
  6. The Oscars nominations have been released, and it's time for our favourite guilty pleasure: TheShiznit's annual collection of honest Oscar-nominated movie posters. This is the 10th edition of 'If Movie Posters Told the Truth', and they're as top quality as ever. Shoddy mockups these are not – creator Ali Gray has gone to the trouble to match the fonts, balance the layouts and keep the colour schemes, all whilst delivering the most cutting put-downs. Heck, we think you could swap these parody posters in for any of the official efforts at your local Odeon and it'd take a good week or two before anyone noticed. (See our roundup of Photoshop tutorials if you want to replicate Gray's efforts.) Judging from his introduction, Gray seems to be having something of a personal crisis right now – "I have forced the movies tell the truth, even though the concept of truth is now meaningless. I'm writing on the face of God. Does that make me God? Yes, yes it does" – but that hasn't impacted on the quality of this year's takedowns. And, as he says, no one ever reads introductions anyway. For more info on the Oscars themselves, check out our sister site GamesRadar's full rundown of Oscars nominations 2020 (or the biggest Oscars snubs from this year's list). Alternatively, read on for our favourites from this year's honest movie posters. Click the icon in the top right of the image to enlarge it Sam Mendez's 1917 is a powerful WWI story with a mammoth stylistic triumph up its sleeve: it was filmed as one, epically long, unbroken shot. Or it looks that way, anyway. The truthfulness of the movie's big USP comes under fire in TheShiznit's poster parody (above, left). There's also a cheeky nod to dwindling attention spans, and the challenges of such an approach for the poor, distractible audiences. Quentin Tarantino's much anticipated Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood thrilled many and bored almost as many to tears. But its makers were certainly laughing when it came to Oscar shortlist time – it's nominated in a whopping 10 categories (the same as 1917). There have been a few criticisms thrown at the movie, including that there is no storyline to speak of for at least the first two hours, but TheShiznit's poster (above, right) offers a gentle ribbing about the vast number of niche and nerdy movie references Tarantino manages to pack into his tale of Tinseltown. Click the icon in the top right of the image to enlarge it For Joker, director Todd Phillips seems to have set out to make a superhero movie that's as unenjoyable to watch as is humanely possible. That's not to say it's not a valuable and impressive bit of movie-making, as those 11 Oscar nominations will attest. TheShiznit takes issue with this comic book film's seriousness in its honest poster (above, left), and also has an important message for Arthur Fleck (that's the Joker day-to-day, if you're not up to speed) in the strapline. Finally, there's Knives Out, Rian Johnson's hugely entertaining whodunnit, which is up for Best Original Screenplay. It's all wonderfully ridiculous, but nothing more so than Daniel Craig's droning southern accent as Benoit Blanc. The private detective may have Bond's face, but that voice is pure Looney Tunes. That's just a taster, so make sure you check out the full range of posters, including a Jo-Jo Rabbit effort with some incredible cringeworthy puns. And if you haven't tired of laughing at critically acclaimed movies, you can also explore last year's honest movie poster series. Read more: Inspirational poster designs Is this the defining movie poster trend of the decade? Special effects in movies: 10 stunning examples 8 appalling CGI fails in modern movies View the full article
  7. The flaws affect a key tool for managing its network platform and switches. View the full article
  8. iClone is a powerful real-time animation tool that aims to remove the painful and repetitive aspects from the animation process, and simplify the difficult job of creating realistic digital humans. Like the game engines that gave rise to Machinima, iClone has always focused on being real-time, making it less complex than the more conventional animation tools. The recent 7.7 update saw the introduction of the Digital Human Shader, which added sub surface scattering, as well as improving the materials on offer, to give skin, teeth, eyes, and hair a much more realistic appearance. It also brought with it Headshot, an AI-based generator that enables users to create character heads from photos of real people. Download the iClone free 30-day trial With more realistic looking characters comes the need for more convincing animation. There are few things more off-putting than a 3D character model that looks realistic, only to become awkward and unnatural when it comes to open its mouth. For that reason, this article will focus on facial animation. We’ll take a look at some of the tools and techniques that you can use in iClone to help you not only get your animations looking good, but do so relatively quickly. Follow along in the video below, or read on for a written version. If you’d like to render this video in Unreal Engine make sure you check out the bonus tip at the end, which shows you how to use the Live Link plugin. 01. Touch up the lip sync This is the least sexy bit, which explains why so many people avoid it, but for now there really isn’t any way to get around it. If you don’t use motion capture, the first area of (facial) animation you should be working on is the lip sync. iClone won’t always know which phonemes are the best to apply when it does its automatic pass, which means you gotta get in there and clean some of that up manually, replacing incorrect or badly placed phonemes as you see them. One quick pass won’t fix everything, but it can dramatically improve the appearance of the lip sync. If you are using motion capture, this step is still important. Current methods of capture are great for expressions, but not as good at discerning which mouth shapes you’re going for. Mixing the captured animation with the phonemes in the viseme track can yield excellent results. 02. Clean up the (mocap) performance Many people don't realise it, but virtually all the good looking motion captured animation you see has gone through some kind of cleanup process first. This is because there’s always a certain amount of noise in the capture – the software doesn't know what’s desirable data and what isn’t; it just tries to capture all the movement it detects. This issue can often be improved by passing the data through various filters, but usually a human hand will also be needed to soften or accentuate parts. Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image With facial animation captured in iClone there are sometimes gaps in the capture that cause the head or parts of the face to pop suddenly from one position to the next within a couple of frames. To fix the issue, right-click on any clip in need of some love and then click on Sample Expression Clip. This will reveal a key on every frame. Go through the clip and delete 3-6 keyframes (depending on severity of the jump) from the appropriate track, in any of the places where there’s a sudden pop. Remember to hit Flatten Expression Clip once you’re done. 03. Use Expression presets Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image If you rarely use facial mocap, iClone’s Face Key tools are the best place to start when it comes to animating the rest of the face. And even if you are using mocap, the Expression presets are a great way to accentuate any captured expressions that don't quite come out the way you'd hoped. There are seven categories, each with 12 preset facial expressions that can be dialled up or down to suit your needs. Familiarising yourself with these is a great way to get a good performance very quickly. 04. Liven up expressions with Face Puppet This technique can be especially helpful if you’re animating everything by hand. Mocap is great at capturing the small passive movements of the facial muscles, but when animating by hand it can be quite difficult to add a keyframe every time you want a tiny twitch here, or some eye noise there. Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image The Face Puppet tool is a simple way to add some of these difficult-to-animate movements in as much time as it takes to play the scene. There are a range of presets that govern the different parts of the face you may wish to control, or you can set them manually. Then just move your mouse around to ramp the movements up or down. It’s not always necessary, but it can make a huge difference to the end result, especially if you’re averse to doing lots of keyframe passes. 05. Focus in on eye movement and blinks This is one of the most important parts of facial animation and should never be neglected. If you absolutely can’t keyframe eyes, iClone's Look At feature will at least keep your character’s gaze focused on something specific. However, you should be aware that’s a bare-minimum effort – in reality eye movement often precedes head movement by a fraction of a second. If you want a truly realistic result, it's necessary to keyframe your eyes to turn towards where the head is moving, just before the head does. Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image Additionally, blinks are very important in making eye movements look realistic. Big eye movements, like those that come before a head turn, often have a blink halfway through. iClone applies automatic blinks to help make the characters feel alive but these are randomly placed. Help your performance by manually keying blinks on any large eye movements. With practice this doesn’t take very long at all. 06. Don't forget the lower eyelids Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image This is related to the previous tip, but deserves its own point. In real life eyes aren’t spheres as they're often represented in 3D models; the part that's exposed bulges outward a bit. This means that when someone looks around, their upper and lower eyelids will bulge out in response to the movement. iClone replicates this effect but for it to do so, you have to make sure that you select the lower eyelids as well as the eyeballs when animating them. 07. Do multiple passes Natural facial movement is a strange thing. Most of us understand it in an implicit way rather than a detailed, technical way. So one of the most important things you can do after working on some facial animation is to walk away, take a break and come back later. If you thought your first pass was marvellous, chances are a second look will reveal a few obvious issues that weren’t apparent the first time around. At this point, it’s usually fairly easy to go in and make small tweaks to get things looking a little more natural. It's always worth doing at least two passes. The first is where the bulk of the work gets done, with the second to address any expressions that were too big or small, blinks that happened too fast, or to add little movements to parts that were too static. Bonus tip: Try iClone Unreal Live Link – free for indie studios and creators Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image If you want to do something like this in Unreal Engine, it will be very simple with the help with Live Link plugin. Character, facial animation and lighting are all transferred over, then you can make video texture in Unreal Engine. Reallusion recently announced it was making the iClone Unreal Live Link plugin free for indie studios and creators, enabling them to enjoy this powerful connection tool without paying a penny. Making good looking animation is often not easy, but thankfully Reallusion has been working on this problem for many years. iClone’s many features make a difficult job considerably easier and sometimes fun. Download the free 30-day trial version of the software and try it for yourself. View the full article
  9. We'll admit it. We haven't spent the last decade of our lives dreaming about how much better our lives would be if we were able to go to a live-action Nintendo utopia theme park where giant Marios appeared from nowhere and led us down big green pipes, and we were able to collect coins with our watches. But now that Super Nintendo World is soon to be part of Universal Studios Japan, and all of the above will soon become a reality (if the promo video is to believed), frankly, we're beside ourselves. Even if we never get to go to the new theme park that's set to open just ahead of the Tokyo Olympics this summer, we still love that it will exist. What's so special about this new park? Apart from being based on one of our favourite character designs of all time, Super Mario, Super Nintendo World also represents a big shift in theme park design, and interactive experiences in general. Don't believe us? Here are three reasons we're super-excited for Super Mario's theme park, including why we love the promo we've seen so far. 01. The Power Up Bands They might look like they were made for children, but these Power Up Bands are actually a technological feat So walking around a theme park is usually pretty fun. There are rides. There might be characters. There is overpriced junk food. But Super Nintendo World takes all this a step further. Visitors will be given a Power Up Band, which tracks their experience, and allows them to interact with the park, collect gold coins and compete against each other. It's not clear what you'll actually win with said coins. Perhaps they'll give you money off the junk food? Or, more likely, reward you with a little Mario memento. We also expect that they'll get people coming back to the park more than once, in a bid to beat their friends. Good thinking, Universal. Universal says these bands will bring the world of Nintendo to life "in a whole new way", and we're inclined to agree. Instead of just observing the game, visitors will actually be part of it. This sounds super-cool, and also a great use of all sorts of tech. We only hope it works. No one wants to collect a bunch of gold coins only for their Power Up Band to lose its erm, power, and its coins. 02. The joyful promo video If Super Nintendo World is anything like the promo video (above), then we are truly in for a treat. This is the gaming utopia Mario fans have been dreaming of. It manages to look both fun and utterly ridiculous at the same time, with the music providing the perfect soundtrack for all the joyful running around. This promo video makes it look like it would be impossible to be sad while at Super Nintendo World. Feeling a bit tired? Go jump on a mushroom! Standing a queue for too long? Touch a pole and it'll make a fun noise! Not winning any gold coins? Go ride on a Mario Kart, or jump on your opponent's head! (We really don't know how this one will work). While we hope that the park will indeed feature groups of dancing people throwing Super Stars at each other, with any luck the music on this particular video won't be accompanying you around the whole place. That might get a little tiresome after a while (anyone who's been on the It's a Small World ride at Disney will understand). 03. The sparse website Is the website basic, or broken? We kind of love it either way We can't quite figure out the website for Super Nintendo World. Did its owners get so excited by all the gold coins and watches that they forgot to design it properly? Or does it deliberately look like it's been sent from the yesteryear of web design? There are some parts that plain don't work, rather than having been deliberately styled this way (try clicking through to do, well, anything). If you can't read Japanese, the dodgy translations are also particularly enjoyable: "Furthermore, "power-up band" in hand, a vast area that consists of a number of layers , and challenge to a number of challenges with adventure, the world's first activity is born!" is probably our favourite. Anyway, all of this crude design doesn't seem to bother us somehow. It just makes us feel like the real theme park is going to be extra charming, although hopefully more technically adept, and more accessible for the linguistically challenged. The website also includes the presentation video, see below. If all of this has got you desperate to visit, then you may not have to travel all the way to Japan. Future parks are also planned for the US and Singapore. And in the meantime, you could always get your hands on a retro gaming console to get your Mario fix. Read more: Retro gaming stamps are an 8-bit nostalgic hit Designer unmasks the secret of the PS5 logo Designers go wild for minimalist UNO concept View the full article
  10. Two proof-of-concept exploits were publicly released for the major Microsoft crypto-spoofing vulnerability. View the full article
  11. When it comes to surprises, Google plays a good game. From brilliantly entertaining Google Doodles to the most genius Google Easter Eggs, the Google team clearly like to get creative and delight users with hidden gems. And this most recent offering is no exception. Google AR animals is a hidden augmented reality feature that allows users to view a 3D image of a search result. On AR-enabled devices, the tool is accessed using Google Search, with the question: How big is a wolf (for example). If the animal in question is available, Google will return the usual statistics – height, length, mass etc – above an arrow that users can click to reveal a 'meet a life-sized wolf up close' option. Press that and voila! A 3D version of the animal appears in the room. Click the arrow to reveal the 3D model The 3D models themselves are a little crude (see our free 3D models to compare with other examples) however, they provide a realistic sense of an animal's scale (seriously though, who knew a wolf was that big?) and movement. As an artist, this is a brilliant reference resource, offering insight to animal behaviour and movement (without the risk of losing any limbs, always a plus). Animals include a lion, tiger, bear, alpine goat, timberwolf, European hedgehogs, angler fish and Emperor penguin. Each carries out actions synonymous with the animal. For example, you can watch (and hear) a lion roar, wolf howl and giant panda enjoy a piece of bamboo. The feature was recently discovered by Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein, who referred to it as 'magical'. As highlighted above, not only is this tool a brilliant art resource, but a super-fun (and highly addictive) feature to be enjoyed by all the family. Read more: Illustration series depicts superheroes' bathroom habits – and it's genius Take a tour of the top logo trends for 2020 New Gucci logo is the most bizarre thing we've ever seen View the full article
  12. The Lion King CGI has been much talked about since the release of the film last year. The film has hit headlines for its use of animation, from criticism that the animation was too realistic to show emotion, to deepfake technology being utilised to correct CGI mistakes. But controversy aside, it remains an incredible achievement in terms of photorealistic effects. When we spoke to the Elliot Newman, VFX Supervisor on MPC's Lion King production, he was all too aware of the epic creative venture he had completed. This interview explores how the film was shot, including the approach to animal inspiration and the tools utilised during the process. (For more inspiration, explore our guide to the best 3D movies, or browse our roundup of the 3D models you can use in your projects.) With The Lion King, MPC has further refined previous approaches to character work Based at MPC in London, Newman begins our conversation by noting that it served as the centre of the company's work on the movie. Assets for the film were built at the London studio and then made available to the production base in Los Angeles, where the virtual production work of 'shooting' the movie took place (under the lead of director Jon Favreau and production visual effects supervisor Rob Legato). Animation for the movie was then undertaken by Newman's team in London with input also provided by MPC's Los Angeles and Bangalore studios. Having broadly defined the setup for the work to be done, Newman starts by addressing the fundamental challenge in the appropriately epic journey of bringing this new version of The Lion King to the screen, saying that: "It was probably just the scale of it and that it's a remake of such a classic movie. It was enormous for us, just managing the fact that we're the sole facility. The expectations were incredibly high and it doesn't get much bigger. But it was super exciting and it's a special thing to be a part of. But there's always the pressure of expectations that were so high." MPC revisited the classic designs from the 1994 The Lion King, realising them as photorealistic animated characters Of his schedule on the project, Newman recalls,"I started about two and a half years ago, in January 2017, and we did some pitch work and had conversations about the process of shooting approval. My involvement began with preparing a teaser, comprising 25 shots, for D23 [the Disney fan club convention] which took place in August 2017. That teaser was 90 seconds of the opening scene, and every shot was a different location and involved different lighting conditions and was all done on a very rapid schedule." Newman explains his day-today schedule on the production. He would typically meet with two or three production staff taking notes, one CG supervisor and perhaps a lighting lead, for a series of regular agenda-based conversations. Additionally, at the start of the studio's work on the film, Newman would talk every day to lighting leads and to Legato. "It's quite challenging to work out how to manage resources," Newman observes, breaking down the scale of MPC's work on the movie. The volume of data being organised, shared and iterated between MPC and the production base in Los Angeles was immense. This work-in-progress shot indicates blocking and layout of character animation Critically, Newman explains that no motion capture was undertaken in making the movie and that the characters are all key-frame animated. As such, the film's foundation in long-standing traditions of animation has been reset within the context of virtual production. "The camera and focus-pulling moves were recorded from the virtual camera," Newman explains. "We built the master scenes and then Jon [Favreau] would put VR goggles on and they'd then work out their shots. Pre-animation was handled in Maya and then exported into Unity and, in converting reality into a render, we were always concentrating on simulating depth of field in the composition of a shot." This final shot showcases a live-action lighting sensibility applied to an environment and characters by MPC Of the virtual production process used for the project, Newman says, "It was fun to watch the filmmakers realise this freedom, that the physical constraints are gone." That said, the production would impose certain limits on creative choices in pursuit of consistent believability. Newman explains that MPC built the assets that were then imported into the game engine, within which layout and staging were then determined. Regarding the flexibility offered by the virtual production approach, Newman notes that it allowed MPC and their team in Los Angeles to make the most minute and subtle adjustments. "If they shot something and weren't happy with part of a camera move," Newman explains, "they can now work just with layers. It's like visual dubbing. You can correct just one part of a camera move. If a move was too exaggerated you could adjust it." The movie showcases MPC’s deployment of its proprietary Furtility software When talking about MPC's toolset, Newman catalogues the studio's use of Maya (see our rundown of the best Maya tutorials), Nuke (for compositing), Katana (for lighting and lookdev), RenderMan, and also the latest iteration of their proprietary fur-simulation tool, Furtility. As with MPC's work on its previous collaboration with Favreau, The Jungle Book, Newman notes that he and his team on The Lion King "realised that we had to research the colour of hair and fur, right down to the melanin." Newman continues, "We aren't a software company, but we do build and interface around the software that we use. We've written lots of deep compositing toolsets, for example. With Maya you open it up and there, within that, will be MPC-built stuff for how to get data in and out of our pipeline." Environment shots were informed by research visits to Kenya When it comes to accessing and organising material to review, discuss and develop further, Newman explains, with a wry laugh, that "it's all about data management." When reviewing shots, "I can filter a clip by shot number or discipline or artist," he states. Discussing the film's photorealistic visual language, Newman says, "Jon Favreau's modus operandi was 'don't fall into the trap where you over-beautify everything.' Sometimes the sky is blown-out, sometimes it's overcast and so on. We didn't overwork the shots and we made sure that Jon's realism- and documentary-quest was backed up with Caleb Deschanel [director of photography] and Legato's visual sensibilities." Newman then proceeds to detail some of the nuances that MPC brought to the plates that simulated environment and natural light, indicating the kinds of detail to which they worked. "If we wanted to, we could emulate real sun falloff and exposure and we put a virtual camera on it (the sunlight) to get the right kelvins. We got quite 'techy' and when we went to Africa we worked on capturing the feeling of the landscape there, and correctly profiled and calibrated our cameras to capture the exposure values of the sun." MPC built on its work for The Jungle Book The Kenya shoot provided Newman and his team with motion reference material, still images and records of animal behaviour. Additional reference footage of animals was then captured at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "No animal was put on a scanning stage," Newman adds, explaining that, for Favreau, it was essential to not interrupt the activity of the animals as they documented them. Given that a film like The Lion King has the potential to inherit and then push the envelope of earlier films' creative and technological achievements, MPC's work on the movie marks another watershed in the long-standing relationship between animation and VFX. The movie is a step towards a kind of filmmaking that continues to dissolve the lines between pre-production, production and post-production. Click the image to find out more and sign up This article was originally published in 3D Artist. Read more: 8 appalling CGI fails in recent years Greatest CGI movie moments of all time The best 3D apps View the full article
  13. There are symbols all around us that we take for granted. We know their meaning, use them every day and never question them. Some have fairly obvious origins, such as the use of a lightning bolt to indicate high voltage or a flame to indicate that a material is flammable. But there are others whose stories are less apparent. Why does an 'S' with a line through it represent the US dollar? And why does a circle containing a vertical line and two angled lines signify peace? Here we trace the fascinating origin stories of eight everyday icons. (To get your hands on all manner of free icons for use in your design work, see our free icon sets post.) 01. The power icon We know what it does, but why? Thanks to the globalised distribution of electronics, many symbols used in technology are recognised all over the world, the 'play' symbol being an example. But the meaning of the power icon is less obvious. As a sign of how unintuitive it is, television remote controls for a long time came with 'power' or 'standby' printed alongside the icon for clarification. The 'O' and line '|' had previously been used separately to indicate 'on' and 'off' positions on rocker switches, so when advances made it possible to replace these with press buttons, a new icon combining the two positions emerged. The symbol showing a circle intersected by a vertical line was originally intended only to show a soft-off, or standby, rather than a hard-off, but it has been so misused and misinterpreted that the International Electrotechnical Commission, which regulates such things, now advocates its use as a power icon. Despite a widely shared theory that the symbol represents a '1' and a '0' in binary notation, the IEC says they are not numbers but a vertical bar and a circle. The vertical bar represents a closed circuit through which current will pass, and so the device is on. The 'O' represents an open circuit, meaning the device is off. 02. The ampersand We can thank Roman scribes for this elegant logogram’s existence The ampersand is adored by designers and typographers all over and offers a world of creative possibilities, but just why does this elegant logogram denote the conjunction 'and'? The symbol appears to date back to the tradition for scribes writing in old Roman cursive to use a ligature combining the letters in 'et', the Latin word for 'and', in the first century AD. It had already come close to reaching its current appearance by the time the Carolingian minuscule script had become the calligraphic standard in Europe in the 9th century. The symbol was apparently so often used that it was considered a letter in the alphabet in Latin, and this tradition was carried over into English in the early 1800s, the symbol being tagged on after the letter 'Z'. Schoolchildren would be made to recite, 'X, Y, Z, and per se and,' per se meaning by itself. The slurring of this final phrase by a generation of children gave the 'and per se and' its current name in English: the ampersand. 03. The peace sign Peace out. The peace sign began as the symbol for one specific movement It’s known all over as the peace symbol, but just what does a circle containing a vertical line and two angled lines have to do with world peace? The symbol was actually designed for one specific grassroots organisation, the UK’s Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC). It was put forward by a designer called Gerald Holtom as a symbol to be used on lollipop placards on the group’s protest march from Trafalgar Square to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston in 1958. His inspiration? He based the design on the shape of a figure using flag semaphore to communicate the letters 'N' and 'D' (for nuclear disarmament). He also considered that the two downward angled arms that form the semaphore signal for 'N' represented a gesture of human despair at nuclear arms proliferation. The symbol is striking, easy to draw and doesn’t need to be straight, which made it perfectly adaptable to pin badges, patches and bumper stickers. It was adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) but never copyrighted and was soon picked up by groups in other countries, becoming a symbol of 1960s counterculture in general. Groovy! 04. The Smiley One unofficial version of the smiley face Another symbol that became a counter cultural icon, the smiley has its own intriguing story. Believe it or not something that became an icon of the 1980s acid house scene is actually the copyrighted property of the entirely real London-based Smiley Company. The first yellow smiley seems to have been created by graphic designer Harvey Ross Ball in 1963. He was commissioned to design a graphic to boost morale at a Massachusetts insurance company and came up with a smiley face with oval eyes and a slightly off-centre smile. He never copyrighted the image and it soon started appearing on badges, stickers and greetings cards in the US, especially after it was printed on 50 million pin badged by the owners of two Hallmark shops in Philadelphia in 1971. But meanwhile in France, journalist Franklin Loufrani began using an extremely similar smiley to flag up positive news stories in the newspaper France-Soir. Loufrani, however, saw the design’s potential and registered it with the French patent office. He actively promoted its use, printing it on stickers and handing them out for free to help it catch on. In 1996, he and his son Nicolas founded the Smiley Company in London and now own the symbol in around 100 countries. It’s reported to be one of the biggest-grossing licensing companies in the world, and has mounted legal challenges against Kumon, Walmart, Joe Boxer and others who have developed their own face symbols. 05. The @ sign Some symbols get a second lease of life Nowadays it’s almost impossible to imagine electronic communication without the @ symbol. Pronounced 'at' in English, but called the 'snail' in Italy and 'monkey tail' by the Dutch, it’s a symbol we use every time we send an email, tag someone in a group message or on social media. The symbol is perhaps also an unlikely survivor because not so long ago the majority of people would not have been able to say what purpose it served. The Spanish name for the symbol comes closest to its original meaning – they call it the 'arroba' after an old standard of measurement, and it seems that in the 1500s it was being used by European merchants to denote units of wine called amphorae. Both merchants and mathematicians continued to use it to signify 'at the rate of', but for most people the symbol was obscure and close to becoming obsolete. Its resurrection came in 1971 when computer scientist Ray Tomlinson sent the world’s first email via ARPANET. Needing a way to address a message to someone working at a different computers, he simply chose the key that was used the least, and gave the humble @ a whole new life. 06. The hash The hash is #backforgood The hash is another now ubiquitous symbol that was given a new chance by the social media age. Hashtags allow us follow trending topics on Twitter, find topics of interest on Instagram, and have even come to name political and social movements. But like the @, the hash was originally used for measurements, and had long fallen out of use. Previously known as the pound symbol, it derived as a simplified version of the ligature ℔ which was used as an abbreviation for 'libra pondo', or pound weight, in the 1800s. In Britain it became known as the 'number sign' to differentiate it from the pound sterling and because it would sometimes be used to mean number when added before rather than after a number. They symbol was added to telephone keypads by Bell Telephones in the 1960s but rarely used until voicemail services developed in the 1980s. More uses would be found for it later in computing. It was used to label groups and topics in internet relay chat in the 1980s, and this inspired Twitter’s adoption of it to allow users to tag topics of interest. 07. The heart The heart continues to receive love With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ll soon be seeing a lot of this symbol. The heart is one of the most widely used symbols in graphic design. But with its two rounded lobes and pointed base, why does it look so unlike a human heart? There are many theories behind its origin, including those that say it was not intended to look like a heart at all, but the intertwined necks of two swans. Other theories say it represents other parts of the human body, the shape of ivy leaves – which were associated with fidelity – or silphium, a North African plant with heart-shaped seed pods. As for its ubiquity in graphic design today, part of that comes down its use by designer Milton Glaser as a logogram in his I Heart NY brand in the 1970s (listed as one of our best logos in the world). The incredible thing about the heart symbol is that despite being so used it never seems to become cliché. 08. The dollar sign A bag of dollars, or pesos? For greetings card companies and flower sellers, Valentine’s Day means $$$. But then this is another symbol with a mysterious origin. In English speaking countries, this glyph is most commonly referred to as the 'dollar sign', usually in reference to the US dollar although it’s also used for other dollar currencies. But the symbol is also used throughout much of Latin America to denote everything from the Argentinian peso to the Nicaraguan córdoba. There are various theories as to its origin. One is that it comes from an abbreviation of 'peso' as ps, which occurred in the 1770s when English-Americans had trading relations with the Spaniards. Read more: 7 famous logos that pass the silhouette test 6 of the most iconic drinks logos The ultimate typography cheat sheet View the full article
  14. Authentication bypass bugs in WordPress plugins InfiniteWP Client and WP Time Capsule leave hundreds of thousands of sites open to attack. View the full article
  15. Threatpost talks to Venafi about the recently-disclosed Microsoft vulnerability and whether the hype around the flaw was warranted. View the full article