Posts Tagged ‘tutorials’

Genealogy: Convert from Burkes Peerage to GEDCOM format

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You can use Alex to help partially convert a Burkes Peerage formatted family tree document to a  GEDCOM file for use in family tree software.


My family tree originally conformed to the Burkes Peerage format. Parentage is based on indent level with individual meta data contained in a fairly human readable way. Spouses and inlaws are included in an individual’s entry. It can look something like this,

It’s not very convenient for any systematic analysis or very easily updated with family tree software (like webtrees).

An online search returned little help on converting from this format to the international standard GEDCOM format.

The best recommendation I found was to extract the individuals and then manually recreate the relationships and families in genealogical software.

For the 1600 individuals in my family tree, this was not really an option.

So to help with the conversion, I wrote my own app in PHP. It’s called “Alex” after one of my relatives who has dedicated much of his life to researching our tree.

You can find it on GitHub and here’s how it works.


Alex creates an alex_relation object for each line of a Burkes document. It then creates an alex_spouse and alex_inlaw object for each of those alex_relation objects if a first spouse and their parents exist. These objects are instances of child classes of the abstract alex_person class.

These classes all have methods which return key meta data about the individual.


  1. Currently, Alex returns parsed values for: name, surname, given name, name prefix, sex, birth, baptism, death, and burial.
  2. Alex does not return spouse and inlaw individuals from marriages greater than the first.

There’s an index.php file which helps you to review the results of the conversion per line, and a results.php file which returns the final GEDCOM text file.

Using Alex


  • PHP5 – Alex has been tested on a server running PHP 5.2.17.
  • Git (Optional) – If you have GIT installed, you can use that to copy the source code.


  1. Get Alex
    • With Git
      • git clone
    • With FTP
  2. Update the configuration options
    • The source code should be fairly well commented. Open up the files in the system folder and change some of the opening variable declarations. For example, the default surname.
  3. Conform Includes
    • Burkes Document
      • Alex can’t handle branch repositioning
        Authors of Burkes Peerage documents often move entire branches later than their natural line number. This newly repositioned branch begins with the phrase OF WHOM PRESENTLY. This branch repositioning breaks the indent lineage structure necessary for correct relationship management in the app and therefore must be manually repositioned / removed prior to using the app.
      • Upload the conformed Burkes document to /alex/burkes.txt
    • Female Names Document
      • Alex uses a list of known female names to determine gender. This is admittedly a bit of manual work to update the list to include all the female names in your burkes document.
  4. Review
    • Navigate to /alex/
    • You’ll see the original imported burkes document at the top and the GEDCOM individuals extracted below.
    • You’ll need to review the individuals to make sure that they have parsed correctly
  5. Download the GEDCOM file.


Animate camera through Photoshop layers in Nuke

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You can use camera-linked lens-in-focal, lens-in-aperture and z fields in a Card node in Nuke to easily line up and correctly scale layers from a 2D image. These fields are normally used to create a pan & tile dome.

Typically, this kind of motion graphic would be accomplished in Adobe After Effects, but after the switch to node based compositing, I find the layer based approach of AE less intuitive.

3D View

The camera’s horiz aperture and focal length constrain the layer’s dimensions.

Here are the Steps

  1. Get 2D elements
    1. In this case I’m using artwork by Nigel Quarless
    2. Export layers as tiff with transparency (if you are using a simple 8bit Photoshop file, Nuke can handle the file directly).
    3. Drag into Nuke DAG
    4. Order them from left to right, front to back
  2. 3d Setup
    1. Add a camera
      • The (horiz aperture / vert aperture) should equal your project settings’ full size format (w/h) ratio. I’m working in HD (1920/1080), my horiz aperture is 24, so my vert
        = 24 * (1080/1920) = 13.5.
      • You can leave the focal length at the default 50 for now
    2. Add a Card node (Card1) to the first FG layer
      • lens-in-focal = parent.Camera1.focal (ctrl drag the focal value from camera1)
      • lens-in-aperture = parent.Camera1.haperture (tcrl drag the horiz aperture value from camera1)
      • z = 1
    3. Duplicate Card1 for each additional layer
      • z = (the previous Card’s z value) + .25
        For example Card2.z = parent.Card1.z+.25 and Card3.z = parent.Card2+.25
    4. Connect everything to a Scene node
  3. Animate Camera
    1. Duplicate Camera1 (Camera2)
    2. In the Viewer, lock to Camera2

      Viewer locked to Camera2

    3. Adjust the focal value of Camera1 so that you can see all the 2d layers.
      • in my case, I had to increase the focal value to 135.
    4. Animate the Camera2’s z value
      1. position playhead at the start of the animation
      2. set a key for z = -2.5 (this value will change based on how many layers you have)
      3. position playhead at the end of the animation
      4. set a key for z = 0
  4. Final steps
    1. Add some 3d motion blur if you want
    2. I wanted the last layer to fill the frame, so I added a transform geo node after the card (see the image below)
    3. reformat and write out.

DAG setup

You can see the project for which this was completed on vimeo. Or see my previous post.

Toggle switch on user defined frame in Nuke

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In this tutorial, we demonstrate how to let the user specify a frame that toggles a switch. I know – pretty dope.

We use “manage user knobs”, and a small expression to accomplish this.

If your name is James, you know I made this for you.

The video is more easily viewed in fullscreen – click the button in the bottom right of the player controls.

Toggle switch loop in Nuke

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This screencast demonstrates how to create a squarewave in The Foundry’s Nuke. You’d want to use this if you ever have to toggle a switch on and off repeatedly at set intervals, for example.

We basically loop some key frames in the curve editor. The looping technique can be adjusted for many other applications.

If your brother’s name in Nick, I made this just for him.

The video is more easily viewed in fullscreen – click the button in the bottom right of the player controls.