So does it live up to the hype? Was it better than the prequels? Is it a fitting continuation of the original films? Should you go see it? Am I really tired?
Yes. Omg yes. Totally yes. Absolutely yes. Yes.
Ignoring a few tiny things which made me go "really?", this is a Star Wars film through and through. Absolutely everything is on point, it runs beat perfect and scratches that itch the prequels never did. It makes it feel like the prequels were just a bad dream. And boy is that a good thing.
The lighting, the shot setup, the set pieces, everything will remind you of the original trilogy. But not in a sucky way, in a way that comforts and guides you through the experience. The good guys get lit with warm colours, yellows, greens, whilst the bad guys get stark contrasts of black and whites and reds. Just like the originals. There's a shot from inside a Tie Fighter which is identical to how it the original trilogy did it. Which WORKS dammit. There's lots of stuff like that around the film for you to spot. Lots and lots of little nods to the original films not to mention some enormous great whacking ones.
One of my biggest complaints about the prequels was that it tried to show you the whole universe in every shot. It showed the things that you didn't see in the original films, the bits that you had to imagine for yourself, and that is why it failed. You can't show that much scope. The Force Awakens goes back to the original vision and just focuses on the characters you want to follow. It's a rollercoaster ride that doesn't let up at any point.
There's also a good mix of old and new characters - on both sides. There's no filler characters here either. No Jar Jar role. Although BB-8 did concern me when he was first introduced, it could have so easily been a complete disaster there, but luckily it's not. He's not going to take R2s crown, but he's definitely right up there.
The set pieces are stunning. I got lost in the magic of the visuals at many points in the film. From the star destroyer grave through to lush woodland, every shot is just gorgeous. I would have been happy for the film to have just focused on that wrecked star destroyer - I mean wow what an awesome concept to go explore right?
I was also very very excited to see Puzzle Wood being used in one set of sequences - this is an amazing Roman open cast iron ore mine in the Forest of Dean and I've been to walk in it many times. I literally wanted to get up and shout I'VE BEEN THERE, but no one likes a crazy at a film, right?
It's so hard to not give anything away whilst writing a review of this film - SOOOO much I want to discuss... but I don't want to spoil it for you guys. Is it better than Empire? No. Is it better than Jedi? I'd say it's a close run thing. It might just be and boy what an accolade that is.
Go see it. Enjoy it. Love it. Let your inner child embrace it. I did and I'm not afraid to admit it.
May the Force be with you.
Beta Preview of Watch 2.0
This preview is available to a small group of new deviants, as well as Core Members who were Beta Testers as of November 11th. We will continue to add deviants to the preview group in the coming days and weeks.
The heart of the DeviantArt experience is based on viewing and interacting with the art and activity from the deviants and groups you watch. Today, we’re providing an early preview into Watch 2.0 — where we’ve taken the activities deviants do most and built an experience geared toward exactly those actions.
Please keep in mind that this is an early Beta Preview. You are likely to encounter bugs and functions that are still being worked on.
Turn on Watch 2.0
(You can turn it off at anytime.)
Focusing on Art and Discovery
Watch is a feed that aggregates activity (like deviations, journals, collecti
I don't normally comment on any feature release directly in my journals. I prefer to keep them to personal updates, not work related ones. But I'm going to break that habit and give some comments and feedback on this launch. Why? Because whilst I like to jump straight into launch articles and comment directly on people's feedback, it is also super time consuming. As part of this process I see a lot of very similar comments. Some really awesome (both positive and constructive feedback), some frustrating. So I wanna lay out some quick responses to that journal which I'm hoping will shed some light on the things we're attempting to do.
WHAT IS BETA TESTING?Seems a bit silly to be putting that here right? Perhaps if you're already a BETA tester, but for those who have yet to try out this aspect of their CORE membership I hope this will flesh it out a little:
In a nutshell BETA testing gives you access to new features we're actively developing across the site. They'll be specific features undoubtedly shown in seeming isolation from the site. They might be a different color, or flow to what you're used to. They might be buggy, act strangely, or be just straight out broken at times.
BETA testing happens near the end of our design cycle. By the time you're seeing something in BETA it's already been worked on for several months and gone through many design iterations, evaluating UX flows, building out prototypes, creating comps and specs along the way before it's even hit the developers here at DeviantArt. When the developers have released the first iteration of the final code that's when you guys get your hands on the BETA release. This is the point where we want to test what we believe is a workable product. We need you to test it, stretch it and break it, only then can we make educated decisions and fix issues before a final release. There may be one or more rounds of testing. Things might change a lot, or very little.
Early access brings its own rewards, you get to try stuff before anyone else. Most importantly it allows you to MAKE A DIFFERENCE to what we're doing here. Your feedback at this stage of development is vital to us shipping a final product.
BETA TESTING IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE CONFUSINGWhen you sign up for the BETA testing program you are almost guaranteed to be confused by something. That's not saying you guys are stupid, far from it. More that this is BETA testing. Things are being evaluated. Some things WILL be broken. Some things WILL be missing. Some parts won't necessarily make sense. But this is part and parcel of entering into these tests. If you don't like these aspects then you're probably not going to want to turn on that feature.
The key to avoiding that feeling of confusing is to be objective, accept that it'll be strange at first, but after a few hours or days of really using the feature you'll understand better what is good and bad or just plain broken about the feature. Remember that you're actively helping us evaluate a new product and this is part of the process.
"YOU'RE KILLING MY MESSAGE CENTER"No, this is NOT a replacement to the message center. This is an upgrade of the Watch page. Your notifications and notes remain unaffected as does the watch element of the message center.
"NO REALLY, IT'S MAKING ME MAD"We're not intentionally trying to confuse/annoy/frustrate. What we're trying to do is give you early snapshots of developmental work that we're keen to improve. Lots of stuff will run slow, or not at all. That's the nature of it. But I guarantee that if you return in 24hrs those things will have improved. We received a lot of requests to be more open about new features and an equal amount of people asking to help us out. Hence why the BETA program exists. Remember that you guys are the lifeblood of the site in that respect. You're at the pointy end of the development process and are an important part of shaping how a feature ends up.
"YOU DON'T LISTEN"I hear this a lot. It makes me sad. Honestly. Let me state here, categorically, that we DO listen. We DO read all the comments and we do react to the things that are presented to us.
"OUR FEEDBACK ISN'T VALUED/WE'RE NOT VALUED"YES, yes it is. Yes you are. Why would we release to BETA if we didn't actively want feedback and constructive evaluation?
"THE SITE LOOKS A MESS/THE STYLE IS DIFFERENT"Because we're releasing features for testing in isolation the site is going to look pretty messed up outside of that feature. For example the header in the BETA is confusing. Why? Because it's really only designed to work in the new framework and outside of watch you're in the old framework. This is why there's an opt in/out button bottom left of your browser.
We know that the header is basically broken in browse. There's currently no sub navigation available if you have the feature turned on. That means two things: firstly you need to turn the test off if you want to find What's Hot, or Undiscovered, and secondly that no we're not killing What's Hot or Undiscovered.
The dark style that watch has is the new branding that we're adopting. Those of you who use the mobile app, or read the hq journals (or follow any of the active staff members) will be aware of that style by now. This is just the natural evolution of the site.
"SOMETHING IS MISSING/BROKEN OUTSIDE OF THE WATCH"Yup, more than likely. This is due to the Watch BETA and can be rectified by turning off the test when you're outside of the Watch. Any features that were missing will reappear and will be present when the watch goes live in the future.
"I CAN'T DELETE FROM THE WATCH"Nope, you can't. That's because it's a feed of items more akin to browse than your message center. Like I said, this isn't a replacement to the message center, it's designed to be complimentary.
"DAILY DEVIATIONS ARE MISSING"They are not present in Watch as it stands today, but if you look cloely you'll see a COMMUNITY tab and this is where DDs will live when we finally go live. They'll get their own promotion and we still feel just as strongly about them as we always did. They'll also still be part of Browse (Explore).
"WILL THE REST OF THE SITE LOOK LIKE THIS?"Yes, at some point in the future everything will be rolled out to this style. If you want to know more about what features are coming be sure to keep an eye on the Timeline.
EVALUATIONS ARE MORE VALUABLE TO USShort "nope" comments, whilst valid communication of your frustrations, are not all that helpful to me when trying to discern what it is that people don't like about a feature. Please please please try to be constructive and evaluate the feature before giving feedback. I totally appreciate that things will be confusing when you're first exposed to them but we can't help fix what's wrong without understanding what the issues are. Only fair right?
OK, HOW DO I HELP YOU GUYS?There's no strict way of giving feedback. However you feel you want to communicate things to us is good. Giving a constructive list of Pros, Cons and Bugs is a really smart way to do it though. That's what I personally find the most useful.
If you're reporting a bug (or something that doesn't seem to make sense) then it's also useful to us that you include your browser version and what platform you're reporting from. Not essential but helps us track down system specific bugs.
You can comment on the launch article, or you can send me a comment here. If you prefer to chat via skype, or notes, then I will absolutely take time to do that. Whatever you feel most comfortable with.
DO YOU JUST WANT THE BAD STUFF?Sure, but it's always nice to hear what we're doing well! Otherwise we might accidently remove things you liked unknowingly. Constructive criticism should be just that though, constructive. Be objective and remember that your comments will be read by a thinking, feeling human being (ie Me).
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?Yup, try navigating Peek views with your keyboard. You can go previous and next with your arrow keys, zoom in and out with the Z key and Fave and Save with F and S respectively.
OK, I UNDERSTAND, LET ME TRY THE FEATURE!Turn on the Watch 2.0 (remember you can turn this off at any time). Please try to use it for a few hours at the very least. Then please reach out to me directly if you would prefer and I'll happily chat to you.
Thanks guys, your time, feedback and help is really appreciated.
Marty, Doc and Jennifer got here from 1985 in a DeLorean, we got here the long way around. Let's party like it's 2015 amirite?
Slightly disappointed that there's no hover boards, no flying cars and yes we still need roads where we're going. Also gutted that I can't book tickets for Jaws 19 in 3D.
What's more concerning is that after today this will be a film about events purely based in the past (thanks to Rushy for pointing that out to me). Mind blown?
We're moving forwards very quickly here at DA UI/UX with a bunch of new features that are due out soon to beta. All very exciting actually, it's the first time in a long while that I'm genuinely pumped about big changes to the site. I know that we'll get the inevitable #changeitback conversations, but without change we die so it's going to inject fresh life into the place. Tackling some of the bigger projects on the site is both scary and immensely refreshing. You may have seen the Profile discussion that happened a while ago which generated a metric ton of really great feedback. We're in the process of collating all the information right now and will be moving forwards at some point really soon. You've probably also seen some thumbnail grid stuff floating around (depending on which staff member you watch) and that's REALLY cool... although not in the way you necessarily think - more like what it means in a wider concept, less what it means to a thumbnail. I wish you could all take a peek into what we're doing, so watch out for stuff hitting the Beta testers very soon.
The mobile app is also generating a LOT of interest - something I'm really proud of. The newest features that we added (notes and notifications) were originally supposed to be in the initial release but due to time constraints we held it back so we could get the foundations right. I think that decision was right, even though at the time we were disappointed that we wouldn't be launching with a full feature set. But now I feel like when you use the mobile app you're a little closer to vision we originally had for the app. There are a few things yet to land on the app that will just finish it off, but nothing super major.
Oh, you do believe how busy I am? Believably busy doesn't sound as cool and mysterious though...
Let's recap. Over the past year I've been working mostly on the DA Mobile App. It was released in December and actually is doing pretty darn great. I appreciate that I may sound sort of surprised by that, so let me clarify: it was work done by me (and duke and other awesome people of course) and anyone who knows me knows that I'm super bad at self confidence. I've been purposefully avoiding looking at press since the launch for fear that it might get ripped to pieces. Don't read your own press and all that right? So I was pretty floored when yesterday I was told that it has over 1 million downloads and a rating of 4.2 on the android store (not looked at apple store yet). It's so lovely that it's been so well received especially considering it launched without a bunch of features, features which we wanted to include but ran out of time during the first phase of development to include properly. We're addressing that shortfall soon and I'm confident that it'll improve the rating to at least 4.3.... (there's that famous self confidence again).
Honestly though I'm pleased with the App. Punchy new brand, good UX, simple feature set (to fully appreciate it, make sure to log in - you'd be amazed how many people don't try that and miss out on their watch, submitting, notifications...)
We're also working on the main desktop site. I won't talk much about what we're doing suffice to say that all the "you never listen to us" commenters should be very very happy. I might write more on this soon (yeah Ian, in A YEAR MAYBE, you're such a loser...), but if you want to know what's coming up, head over to the new Timeline feature. The more observant of you should pick up on the Profile discussion that's pending on there... I can assure you that this is something you don't want to miss
On a personal note, I moved house last year so any free time I've had has been spent grafting on home improvements. If I'm not creating in my work, I'm creating in the home. Go me. I think.
Also, it appears I've reached that special age where I'm now invisible to pretty much everyone. Which is great for my kleptomania, and probably good for my want of keeping myself to myself. But I kinda feel very... meh... about it.
I miss creating art, but what little I've done recently is not finished, nor is anything I'd post right now. All my energies are going into working within DA (on stuff you'll see REALLY soon...). I think I'm trying to say I'm spread thinly.
Other than that I'm enjoying the summer. I'm fitter and healthier than I've been in a long time and my head is in a reasonable place. It's all good
How 'bout you my friends? How's life with you?
I'm going crazy not being able to pick up the pen and sketch when i have 5 minutes to practice. I haven't done anything for weeks (let alone do stuff that I would want to submit here).
Anyone got any suggestions? I can't be the only one...
well, I submitted a couple of images to the prank:
Looking at the Popular submissions this week, I see the second one a LOT! Which frankly is staggering and is probably the first time in a good few years that my work has hit the front page of dA... slightly ironic in that it's anonymous. But not bad for a 10 minute sketch
I hope you guys all had fun with the April Fools, I know we did thinking it all up.
A New Road to Travel
Think about when you first found and joined deviantART. Did any of the symbols make sense? Did you stop and think "what is this ~ before my name and why is it there?" Maybe, but possibly you're probably like me and just kinda accepted it because that's the reality presented to you. After a while, though, you'd have seen the * and maybe even a ` or ^ and found out that they were a different type of member, but you probably still didn't know what that meant or even where to find out. I remember clearly that I absolutely had to have a * the moment a friend of mine got theirs. Was it because of the * or because of what it meant? Absolutely the later. It set you aside; it made you special. Well, that's how I felt at the time, anyway. Hopefully you can relate.The other thing I felt was sadness. Having the old symbols was like part of your deviantART psyche. It's part of the landscape. Realising in that moment that we were going to lose those symbols (speaking selfishly as someone who never thought they'd ever get a $ in front of their name) and therefore some of our old identity was quite a moment. Let me assure you that everyone on staff feels the same. We are all aware that this is a very important thing for not only deviantART as a site, but more importantly for its community.
The initial brief for this project was that we would be replacing characters with icons that would be clearer in their meaning. At the outset we had the symbol be accompanied by a label. In fact, that was one of the primary reasons the new symbols would be moved from the left to the right of the user name.
Further more, I added to this by imposing technical requirements: symbols should scale in the same way as the original characters, feel like an extension of the username, work in multiple environments and not clash with the deviant avatars.
Clearly, whilst this worked for larger comment titles, it wasn't going to work for smaller areas. The choice at that point was to remove user name "labels" in smaller areas, or remove the text and place that in a tooltip (something we had in the works for a long while before the start of this project, but never seemed to make the live site). We chose the later, which moved us to this:
Initially this was fine, but the more I tested it, the more the box felt clunky and unnecessary. I was also realising that whilst the boxing might solve problems with spacing and icon size further down the road it wasn't going to scale.
From an Image to a Font
Creating the New Icons
The final issue was how to approach the staff icon. I didn't want to carry forward the dollar aspect of the symbol. This is something I think we generally disliked the connotations of, even though it was originally chosen because we were paid staff rather than volunteer staff. After a few failed attempts at things like peace icons, or a thumbs-up, I tested a lightning bolt which was closer in dimensions to the $, but it still didn't feel good.
Back to the drawing board
Anatomy for Beginners
Now I had a workable solution. The final set balanced nicely, looked roughly how we had stuff before and would scale.
Only a few things will we recall
With love, with gratitude
Only a few things
On the hour in which I die
So if I cannot tell you
If the words I do not find
I want you to know
There are only a few things
That I will be carrying
In my memory when I go
you brought joy to my world
So I will tell you now
In case you don't know
That you'll be with me
When I go
It took a couple more sips to realise that it was in fact not a cup of coffee, but a cup of tea.
Clearly my tastebuds are fucked.
what's happening? we're busy as hell working on new features for dA, exploring new ideas, getting dreamup.com up and running...
I guess this is me for the next six months then... new journal in August I'm sure.
how are you?
I have to admit to being somewhat nervous about the attendance figures as the HQ blog raced to well above 1000 sign ups. Not to mention as a bunch of us staffers walked into Hyde Park (carrying 400 cupcakes... another story), to be greeted by 200+ people already at the monument, there was a whole bunch of WTFs and OMGs going on.
But ya know, as with all things dA, things were just, well, chilled. You'd think that 400 people in one place would be crazytiems. But to be honest this was the most chilled out devmeet I've been to. No drama, just a (huge) group of artists of all shapes and sizes sitting around getting to know each other. It was very very cool.
So congratulations and big thanks to everyone who turned up and made the day a lot of fun for everyone.
check out this fabulous group shot here: and go visit this stash link here: sta.sh/21bikpfnme78 to see a whole lot more.
I'm sure there's gonna be more meet photos posted so if anyone cares to link them here I'll add them to the list thanks!
There's a curent trend towards this style of hover, or swipe effect, on the 'net right now. I'm seeing more and more in design concepts on places like dribbble. It's a really great effect, but I got to thinking, how would you actually achieve this with only CSS? So I sat down over the weekend to try working it out. Turns out it's insanely simple.
Thought it might make for a really interesting tutorial too. Let me know what you think!
One more year til double figures. 10 years is kinda the milestone, right? Not that 9 isn't mind blowing enough of course. No other website has garnered this much attention from me ever.... apart from maybe hotmail. But maybe that doesn't count right? heh
Onwards and upwards!