Lusus

An Introduction To Michael S. Scherotter's Kinetic Typography App

 

 

This is the first part in a two part tutorial on how to use Michael S. Scherotter's Kinetic Typography app. In this part we'll concentrate on the pros and cons of using the app, as well as outlining the main features of the user interface.

 

In part two of this tutorial we'll cover the basics of how to use the app to create your own kinetic typography animation (or kinetype). 


The reason we decided to do this was because there is very little (if any) helpful content on how to use this software, which means for those unfamiliar with the basics of animation, getting started with this app is made unecassarily difficult.

What Is Kinetic Typography?

Kinetic typography (also called kinetype), is essentially an animated text video, often based around poems, song lyrics or a memorable speech, often from a film. There are many examples of kinetic typography on YouTube, in fact its possible to view these videos from within Michael's app, (more about this in a moment).

About Michael S. Scherotter's Kinetic Typography App

If you're familiar with kinetic typography you're probably aware that the bulk of these animations are made using Adobe's After Effects. Whilst this software is excellent at what it does, it comes with a monthly fee, and a learning curve which may seem a lot of trouble if all you want to do is create kinetypes.

By contrast Michael S. Scherotter's app is initially free to use, and then has a one time fee of  £3.00 (around $4.00).

There are also online platforms where you can create kinetypes, and it has to be said, using one will probably be simpler than using Michael's app. The downside is however, these platforms tend to charge a monthly fee in excess of the one time cost of buying Michael's app, and they tend to use templates that limit what you can do.

So far we've considered a few reasons why Michael's app is probably best to use over some alternatives, but there are a few unavoidable downsides. The first of these is that, whilst its crying out for more work to improve it, this software doesn't appear to still be under development.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier there is little helpful content for those wanting to learn to use the app.

Thirdly, the app occasionally has some unexpected behaviours. For example, if you minimize the app window then maximize it again, the project you're working on seems to have been lost, which can be a little unnerving. (If this happens to you, don't worry. The project will be stored under the My Kinetypes tab, where it can be opened again).

Other issues with this app include, not having an undo function, there's no way to copy and paste items, and adding keyframes to the timeline is perplexing to say the least.
 
Having said all of this, the basic choice is either taking the time and expense to learn something like After Effects to create kinetypes, or use Michael's app and work with its limitations.

If I haven't discouraged you from using this app, it can be downloaded from the Microsoft store here. In spite of its pitfalls, it does do what its supposed to.

The Kinetic Typography Starting Screens

In this section we'll cover the basics of the kinetic typography app's interface, then in part 2 we'll show how to create a simple kinetic typography video.
 
 
1/ When Kinetic Typography is opened, after the splash screen the UI wll look like this, showing an example kinetic typography video.
 

 2/ To the top left is a vertical menu. Click the top icon (three horizontal lines), and the menu will expand showing the names of the menu items. Clicking the house icon will take you back to the start up screen.


3/ Selecting My Kinetypes will open the window where you can see your saved projects. To open one click it, and from the drop down menu select Edit to continue working on it, or Open to view it.
 

 4/ Select Edit Kinetype and a new project will open with the default settings, or any settings you entered previously.


5/ Select Kinetic Typography On YouTube, and you'll see this. Clicking on a video will play it from within the app.


6/ Selecting Settings will bring up this window where details about a new project can be added. The two important settings are the frame rate, and the length a word or phrase appears on screen, although this can be changed later if needed.

 
7/ The last menu option is the about window, with a link to a Facebook page for the app, (the last post was from 2016!), and a contact email address for Michael.
 

The Kinetic Typography User Interface


When the Edit window is open ready to start a new project this is what is seen (without the text and timeline items. This is shown to give an idea of where these items will appear).

1: Viewer. Where the edits can be seen in real time.
2: Words and phrases for the kinetic typography are added here.
3: Timeline. Words and phrases are visualised on the timeline as blue blocks.
4:  By dragging the handle here you can scrub through the animation.
5: Save button
6: Timeline zoom. Sometimes the timeline looks too compact, so click here to expand it.
7: The plus/minus icons are for adding/removing keyframes.
8: Add Music.
9: View the movie. 
10:  At the end of each blue block on the timeline is a red handle. Dragging this will extend or shorten the block. The shorter the block the less time it will appear on screen. Alternatively, the more extended the block, the longer it will appear. This can be seen by the seconds markers on the timeline.


1: Toggles the kinetype property editor.
2: Toggles phrase editor.
 

This image shows the app with text added and edited. It also shows the options when the kinetype property editor is selected. There are three tabs available for the editor. The first tab allows you to add:
 
1: Title
2: The size/format of the output video
3/: Text colour (this doesn't seem to work. Text colour can be changed in the phrase editor).
4: Select a font from the drop down list. This depends on what fonts you have installed on your PC/laptop.
5: Font size
6: Background colour.


The Phrase tab has options for editing each word or phrase in turn.

1: The text or phrase
2: Select a font from the dropdown menu here
3: Font size
4: Font colour


The final tab allows you to edit the keyframes for each phrase. 

1: This shows the keyframes for a phrase. The top is the starting ('from') keyframe, and below that is the end ('to') keyframe.
 
2: This area is where co-ordinates and other information for the keyframe is added. Because the 'from' keyframe is highlighted in 1, area 2 allows you to edit that keyframe. Alternatively, if the 'to' keyframe was highlighted in area 1, needless to say it could be edited in area 2.

A Little Animation Jargon

The animation jargon needed to use this app is quite basic, with just two terms needing a little explanation.
 
Timeline If you've used video editing software the term timeline is probably not new. In digital animation its essentially a section of the user interface that allows the animator to organise an object's movement in time. It can usually be read from left to right, where the start point is zero, and then proceeds in increments of either seconds or minutes.
 
Michael's Kinetic Typography app represents words or phrases on the timeline as blue blocks. When a word or phrase appears on the timeline this means it will also appear in the viewer.  If, for example the block appears next to the 2 second mark on the timeline, the corresponding word will appear in the viewer 2 seconds after the start of the video.
 
Keyframe  In old school animations, each frame (or cell) had to be hand drawn then photographed. It was by projecting 24 of these hand drawn frames per second onto a screen that created a sense of animation.

In digital animation a lot of this work is redundant because keyframes mark the start and end points of an object's movement, removing the need for the animator to draw in all the inbetween sections. 
 
Two keyframes or more are usually needed to create animation. One keyframe tells the software the object is at a given position, whilst the second keyframe tells the software the object is now at a new position. The software then creates all the inbetween stages so the viewer sees the object move smoothly from one position to the next.

Keyframes are usually given a point on the timeline, so that actions will begin and end at those given points.

In Michaels' app, simple animation is created by giving two keyframes information about an object's  x and y co-ordinates in the viewer at certain points on the timeline.

This covers the essentials needed to get started with the Kinetic Typography app. Although it may seem a little complicated right now, it really isn't, and not everything needs to be kept in mind at one time. Part two will show how to use the screens and tabs described here, one at a time so you can create your own kinetype as quickly as possible.
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Affinity Designer Paper Cut Assets

 

 

In plenty of time for Valentines Day and beyond I've been working on a set of  paper cut effect assets for Affinity Designer that can be downloaded for free. They can be used in both personal and commercial projects, as explained fully in the included PDF.


If you don't presently own this software, I'd heartily recommend heading over to Affinity's website and downloading a free trial. Due to the Covid pandemic Affinity are kindly offering a 3 month trial period on all three of their software packages, as well as other items in their store.

Whats Included In The Paper Cut Assets For Affinity Designer

Included in this download are two Affinity files that contain the paper cut flowers. One set of flowers are noncoloured, so you can easily add your own and make the flowers unique to you.
 

The second Affinity file contains coloured flowers that can be used as is. 


There is a third Affinity file, and that contains the Valentines image seen above.


The fourth file also included is the set of assets.  Installing both the coloured and non-coloured flowers as assets to Affinity Designer means paper cut designs can quickly and easily be created by dragging each flower from the assets window onto the canvas area. There are also flower components such as petals and flower centres, to enable you to make your own flowers almost from scratch.

 

 

To grab these flowers to use in your own designs, click the Gumroad button below, scroll, add your preferred price (or 0 if you're broke), then hit the 'I want this' button



How To Install The Assets File

Installing assets in Affinity Designer is very easy. If you're unsure what to do, just follow these steps.
 

 1/ With Affinity Designer open, make sure Assets is the active tab to the top right.


2/ If you can't see the Assets tab, select View > Studio > Assets and it will appear.

 
3/ Click the four horizontal lines icon to the right of the Assets tab.

 
4/ From the drop down list select Import Assets.

 
5/ Navigate to the location of the asets file on your PC. Select it, then hit Open.


6/ It may take a few moments, but you should soon see the paper cut flower assets under the Assets tab, and ready to use.

Enjoy your new Affinity Designer assets and have fun creating new and brilliant designs.
 
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Lusus

Tiptoes Christmas Little Planet

 

This year's festive jigsaw puzzle is a little different in that its a small planet scene. The image was taken at Dreamers, which offers a great Christmas scene to help immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the season. The location description says,

Bundle up the little ones for a family trip full of winter activities, an advent calendar by Tiptoes, and visit Santa to send a letter to the North Pole!

This jigsaw puzzle is available to download and keep, so you can solve it in your own time, or you can play it below on this page. The downloadable version however is a little more difficult. 

 

Grab the jigsaw puzzle from Gumroad. Just scroll a little, then add zero for price, and hit the 'I want this' button.

 


To view the  puzzle here full screen click the icon to the lower right. There are also icons to the lower left that will show a ghost image of the puzzle as well as a thumbnail.

 

If you like this jigsaw puzzle, then we have more for you here on Gumroad. All are free.

 

 Enjoy solving this festive jigsaw puzzle, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year!





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Lusus

How To Update To Windows 10 For Free

 

 

As many Windows 7 users will know, Microsoft will be discontinuing support in January, leaving them with a choice of using an increasingly vulnerable PC/laptop or paying through the nose for Windows 10. What is not widely known however, is that it is still possible to get Windows 10 for free, if you're willing to do a bit of extra work. 

Getting Started

Before installing Windows 10 there is a little preparation involved. You will need:

  • To know the Windows 7 product key
  • To know if your PC is 32 bit or 64 bit
  • To know the version of Windows presently running on your PC, (ie Windows 7 Home, or Windows 7 Professional, etc)
  • A USB flash drive with at least 8Gb of storage
  • To back up your PC (not essential but recommended)

 1/ Firstly, you need to know your present copy of Windows' product key as you'll be asked to enter it during the installation process. It will of course need to be a genuine key.

 

If you don't know the product key there is software available that will find it for you. One such app is called ProduKey

 

 

Visit the web site and scroll down the page until you find the above options, then select the one that suits your system.

 


2/ This is where the second preparation step comes in, as you'll need to know if your PC/laptop is 32bit or 64bit. 

 

If you don't know this, the place to find out is under the Control Panel, and the System tab. The above shows the path where System information can be found. Bear in mind this is from a PC running Windows 10, so may look a little different on a Windows 7 PC.

 

3/ Armed with this knowledge, select the appropriate option from the list shown above to download the app. When updating a 64 bit Windows 7 laptop I selected the zipped version, which worked well.

 

After I downloaded and opened this app a warning from the PC's antivirus software popped up. This was a false positive, but if you're in any doubt, use another app.


 

4/ Once its downloaded unzip the folder and hit the exe file. The app will start and immediately show your product key. Write it down as you'll need it.

 

 5/ The next step is to find out what version of Windows the PC is currently running, ie Windows 7 Home, or Professional etc. This will also be displayed under the System tab.

 

6/ Now you will need to have either a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of storage, or DVR discs. This is to download Windows 10 to. (We'll now assume that the easiest option of a USB flash drive is 

used).

 

7/ The final step is to back up your PC, just in case. 

 

We're now ready to get a copy of Windows 10


Downloading A Free Copy of Windows 10 

 

Microsoft still have an active page where Windows 10 can be downloaded for free, so follow the link then scroll down until you see the above. Connect the USB flash drive to your PC.

 
There are three help sections under the download link, the first two are the most useful. If you're going to install Windows 10 on the PC you're downloading to, then the first set of instructions should be followed. 
 
If you intend to install Windows 10 on a different PC, then the second set of instructions should be read.
 
This second set includes a list of older Windows versions which can also be upgraded to Windows 10, although there is one thing that should be kept in mind. If for example you're presently using Windows 7 Home, then you'll only be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home, and so on throughout the different versions of Windows.

Now you can download Windows 10 to the USB flash drive.
 

Installing Windows 10

The instructions on the Microsoft page explain clearly how to use the USB flash drive to install Windows 10. During the installation process you'll be asked to input the product key, so have it handy.
 
There is however one point the page doesn't make clear. There are in fact two ways to install the new Windows 10. The first is to boot your PC from the USB flash drive. This will install Windows 10, but you'll lose all personal files and folders stored on the PC.
 
The alternative method is to start the PC normally, connect the USB flash drive, and double click setup.exe from the drive. When the installation begins there will be an option to upgrade to Windows 10 rather than installing from scratch. This means all the files and folders will still be there after the installation is complete.
 
Follow the instructions carefully and the installation will be very straightforward, and you won't have to worry about your old Windows 7 PC no longer being supported.
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Creating 3D Text Using Gimp

 

 

There are many different styles that can be applied to 3D text, and its appearance can vary widely depending on the font used, as well as any further effects that have been added. However, all such text is created in fundementally the same way, particularly when using Gimp. The old way was to create a drop shadow layer and create copies until the shadow gave the appearance of being solid, which suggested depth to the text. The method demonstrated here however, although similar is much simpler and much quicker.

 

If you want to follow this tutorial using the same font and colours the details are given below. I believe (if I rememebr correctly) the font is automatically installed with Windows, but a download link is given for those who may not have it.

 

Font: Gill Sans Nova Ultra-Bold 

Red: #d46150

Yellow: #eadaa6

Blue: #193248

Creating 3D Text Using Gimp

 

1/ Open Gimp and select the font and shadow colours you're going to use. Also select the font. Here Gill Sans Nova Ultra Bold  was used.


2/ Type the text, and adjust the font size if needed.

 
 
3/ The spacing of the letters can be adjusted by clicking on the arrows highlighted in red, above. A setting of -2 has been used to bring the letters closer together.
 

4/ In the Layers panel a copy of the text layer has been added as well as two empty layers. Hide the top text layer by clicking the eye icon to the left of the layer thumbnail.

 

(The extra text layer isn't strictly necassary. Its more of a habit in case things go wrong with the first layer).

 

 
 
5/ Right click on the visible text layer and from the drop down menu select Merge Down, so it merges with the topmost empty layer.
 

6/ Right click on the merged layer and from the drop dowm menu select Alpha to Selection.


 
 7/ The text in the main window should now have a marching ants outline. Hit Select > Grow.
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Homepage thumbnail
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8/ The above window should appear. Select a size for the selection to grow by. This is so an outline can be added to the text. (This isn't essential for 3D text, but it suits the style of this graphic). In this example the selection will grow by 15 pixels, but you may need to choose a size that fits with your text.

 


9/ The text will look something like the above.



10/ Make sure the outline colour is selected. This should be the same colour the depth of the text will be.


11/ The active layer should be the empty layer below the merged layers.


12/ Select the Paintbrush from the Tools panel.
 

13/ Use the paint brush to paint in the selection in the layer below the merged layers. The Fill tool can be used instead, but it doesn't seem to give a clean outline like the paint brush does.


14/ Now hit Select > None.


15/ With the original merged layer the active layer, right click and from the drop down menu select merge Down, so the text and outline become one layer.


16/ Select Layer > Crop to Content.

Adjusting The Text

We'll now make a few adjustments to the text to help with the 3D look.


17/ Select the Shear tool, highlighted in red, above.


18/ drag the right edge of the text upwards until it looks something like above.


19/ In the Shear window hit Shear when you're ready.


20/ Select the Perspective tool.


21/ There should now be a rectangle with diamond shaped handles at each corner, surrounding the text. Drag one of the top handles so the text slants a little, then drag the other top handle to match the slant of the first. This helps to add to a sense of 3D once the text has some depth.
 

 22/ When you're ready hit Transform in the Perspective window.

Creating Depth 

 We're now ready to create the 3D effect.


23/ With the outlined text the active layer, select Filters > Light and Shadow > Long Shadow.


24/ A window as above will appear in the canvas area. As can be seen here the text already has a 3D appearance, without being tweaked.
 

25/ The angle of the shadow can be adjusted by changing the settings highlighted in red above. Tweaking the area highighted in green will change the depth of the text, and below that is an option to change the colour of the depth.


26/ The original angle setting of 45 seemed to suit this text, but the depth was shortened to 50. Since the colour was selected before opening the Long Shadow window that didn't need to be changed.

When you're happy with the settings hit OK.
 

 
The 3D text effect is now complete. All thats left to do is add a background and some extra elements if needed and to export the finished image. 
 
This is such a quick and easy way to create 3d text in Gimp, and a big improvement on the old method. Any text design made in Gimp, no matter how different it looks from this basic example, will use a very similar method. 
 
Have fun creating and experimenting with 3D texts in Gimp, and join us on Facebook to keep up with all of our  new content..
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