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Archive: 1 July 2004

Polishing iChat

In between fighting with paperwork and other annoyances, I took the same promotional iChat image I used in yesterday’s post (and which I originally pulled from the Tiger iChat page) and faked a series of textured tabletops beneath the video chat windows.  They’re rough approximations of what I think could be done, put together with some texture images I had lying around and off-the-cuff fiddling in Photoshop.  In case you’re wondering, the four textures are “stone” (an indeterminate speckled gray), wood, marble, and what I call “sea foam”.  I didn’t do a water distortion version mostly because I was spending less than an hour on the attempt, and I didn’t feel like trying to recreate the whole scene in a 3D modeling environment just to get the right reflections.

So now you can see it just the way it looked to me when I imagined it.  Well, not precisely, but really close.

As for the idea of having documents show up in that workspace, they could be in-perspective sheets of paper lying on the surface, with a thumbnail preview of the contents visible on the sheet, or they could be little icons floating in space above the tabletop (or else sitting on it).  Either one would work fine for me.  The “sheet of paper” idea extends the visual metaphor Apple’s clearly pursued, but it could also quickly chew up the space available to either side of the little “me” preview window.  Little floating icons (or boxes, whatever) would be more compact, while still participating in the metaphorical space.

Now, if the application let you warp or otherwise texturize the chat windows themselves, then we’d be off to the races.  Imagine putting Etch-A-Sketch frames around the windows—and imagine running a filter that made each frame look like it had been drawn on the Etch-A-Sketch!  Killer.  For that matter, you could turn each chat window into a Gameboy Advance, and run a pixelizing filter on the streams.

Like I said before, if you’re going to have gratuitous eye candy, you may as well go for the gusto.

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