August 28, 2009

naturally?




It's hard to know what to think about this one. Seven "floralscapes" went up in the LA area recently - they are essentially advertisements made out of flowers and plants planted along freeways. I don't know whether the idea originated from Toyota or from Caltrans, but the floralscapes here and coming elsewhere around the state, as well as Texas, are ads for the Toyota Prius. Toyota pays the state, which can obviously use the money, as well as covers the irrigation systems and upkeep. Caltrans doesn't allow any product identification in the floral murals, which keeps them more tasteful than something like actual product names or logos planted in flowers. I suppose as long as it doesn't become a slippery slope that does lead to that, it stays a win win, even if it does feel a little unnatural.

August 26, 2009

wieder






Yup, I just can't stay away. Next week I return again to Germany for some time in Berlin, Hamburg, and of course, Munich for Wies'n (Oktoberfest). I can't wait. But as usual, the pre-trip panic is just starting to creep in...

August 25, 2009

interview






Natasha Clawson, a student from UC Davis interviewed me recently for a project she was doing for her Type in Motion class. She said I could share the questions and answers on my blog, so I though I'd post them in case they were interesting to anyone else out there (and admittedly as a bit of self promotion).

1. Did you always want to be a motion graphics designer? If not, what career did you originally pursue and what made you switch to motion graphics?

I'm too old for that! There was no such thing as motion graphic design when I went to college. My degree is in Communication Design and I did take the media classes (film) that were offered as part of it, but most of my education was print based. (This was still in the days when you had to spec type - we didn't use computers). I can remember doodling moving logos back to grade school, though never knew of that as a field. I also did an independent study in environmental design (theme parks, museums, etc) and expected to end up in something related to that more than in motion graphics. I guess on a broader scale I've always been interested in how someone experiences design in ways other than print.

2. Do you enjoy motion graphics, or is it simply a job that you happen to be talented for?

I love motion graphics, though I consider myself a broadcast designer and not someone who makes motion graphics. Motion graphics to me means more special effects and animation, broadcast design is about applying graphic design to the screen.

3. What is the most rewarding aspect of Motion Graphics?

I think the most rewarding part is probably the same for any design discipline: coming up with a really great solution that you're proud of and being able to turn that into the finished product - and seeing it work. Even better when a few years later you look at it again and are still proud of it.

4. What is the most challenging part of Motion Graphics?

Probably two things: 1: coming up with things on the fly, those times when you're facing down a deadline and you just can't come up with a good idea. and 2: giving the client what they want - or sometimes the client's client. For instance, I'm working on a project right now - a graphics package for a tv production company that is making a show for a cable network. The show is a really fun and really cool concept - so many cool things we could do with the titles. And my client is great and likes some of the same things I like best among the different directions I pitch. But the network is making choices and revisions that are not what we would hope for. It can be frustrating to look at what I'm currently doing knowing what it could have been. But still, you always find ways to make it the best that you can, of course.

5. What piece of work do you find to be the best out of your career, and why?

I'm probably proudest of my work at Fine Living (2001-05). It was a perfect storm of a really great creative team to work with on all levels, plus support and creative freedom from higher ups. Starting a new network from scratch was a great challenge and we broke a lot of rules with the look and design there (even things commonplace now, like only using a portion of the logo) for what was 'allowed' at the time. It was a very restrictive look that was clean, modern, and seamless. It is the only non-news network that I know of to have a seamless design that covered everything on the network - both programming and promotion. And it was all done on a shoestring budget. (The basics of the look were originally designed by Johnson + Wolverton and then expanded and developed in-house.)

6. Who are your influences?

Paul Rand, Lester Beall, Otl Aicher, Saul Bass, one of my professors, Meredith Davis. The 1984 Olympics by Sussman/Prezja. I love modernism, Swiss design, and Dutch design even more.

7. Do you find it difficult to keep up with the constantly changing technology for your field?

Definitely. But I'm a firm believer that knowing and understanding design - theory, philosophy, concepts - is more important than knowing the tools. The tools will change, and you can always learn them when you need to. Every job I have ever had used a different piece of equipment/software/hardware - you learn it by necessity. But clearly there is so much technology-wise that I don't know, and I always feel behind in that regard, and probably always will.

8. As a student of graphic design, what advice might you give me if I decided to pursue a future in Motion Graphics?

First: study and learn typography. Anytime I was looking to hire designers, it was always very difficult to find designers with a good sensitivity and understanding of type. They could create the most amazing animations, but when it came time to layout a page of type, forget it. And secondly, referencing the last question, soak up and study every bit you can about design history, theory, philosophy - so much is (hopefully) available in those areas to you as a student and that is so much more important than learning equipment or software or tools - which are bound to change over time.

9. What are your favorite Design programs to use?

I do about 95% of my work in AfterEffects. (which I don't necessarily advise, but it just happens to end up that way), the rest filled in mostly by Illustrator and Photoshop, etc. I begin my designs in AfterEffects, unlike most (I think) who start in Photoshop. I don't know if this is because I come from the 'old school' of the days of working on DP Max or Hal where you did all your work in one program on one system. For whatever reason, its whats most comfortable to me.

August 24, 2009

festive






This weekend was the Sunset Junction street festival in Silverlake. Fittingly, just as Silverlake has lost its edge and isn't what it used to be, neither is the festival. If nothing else, the hipsters made for amusing scenery. But any street festival is always better than none! My friend Dave hosted cocktails beforehand, and my friend Heith and I wandered the fair afterward. For me, the best thing was that one of the bars had a beer garden with my very favorite beer - Weihenstephaner Weiss. It's only the second time I've ever seen it on tap in the US. Thanks to my friend Pat for texting me Saturday to alert me about it!

August 23, 2009

August 22, 2009

tunnel visionary






You may not know it, but you've seen this tunnel. The Second Street tunnel in downtown LA is one of the city's most seen, but possibly least known landmarks. It's been in everything from Blade Runner to The Soloist, but its most widely seen in car commercials. According to the Los Angeles Times' Dan Neil, its been in more than 73 car commercials in just the last three years. What makes the tunnel so desirable is that its entire length is lined with shiny white tiles that reflect light well, making it endlessly versatile, especially if you add various lighting and special effects. But the tiles almost didn't come to be. During the tunnel's construction from 1916 to 1924, objections were raised that the tile was German, and the design was almost scrapped. Eventually the contractor won out, and the results still shine grittily today in ways he probably never would have imagined.

August 21, 2009

happy accident






Stepping back to last weekend; I had a night in Norfolk/Virginia Beach after leaving the family before flying out of Norfolk the next day. After what had ended up feeling like a busy week, in a way it was kind of refreshing to be on my own for a bit. I did a little web searching and came up with a place I wanted to check out for dinner, but as often happens, I delayed myself to the point of being to late to make it there. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Annoyed with myself, I re-researched for late night options and ran across listings for Doumar's Cones and Barbecue. The name intrigued me enough, but discovering that it was a still-working carhop and a landmark since 1934 sealed the deal. It seems that Abe Doumar created the first waffle cone for the 1904 Worlds Fair in St Louis, and the machine used to make them is still at Doumar's today. But I went for their other signature item - their NC barbecue (and a homemade limeade) and wasn't disappointed. Basic, but good. The place is nothin fancy, it isn't cleaned up and sanitized like Disneyland, but the grit made it all the more authentic to me. I'm glad I didn't miss it.

August 19, 2009

last game






Yes, I'm back, just playing a lot of catch up from being away. Sorry for the two day gap in posts. Monday evening was what will probably end up being my last Dodger game of the year, except for post-season of course. Its kinda nice to be able to say that - too many years when we couldn't. Of course, its not guaranteed that we'll make it, but there's definitely more of a chance this year than any other since I've lived here.

August 16, 2009

road gallery







A few pics from the drive from the Outer Banks into Virginia Beach yesterday... (midway in transit on my way back to Manhattan Beach now)

August 14, 2009

time flies






It was a fun last day at the beach with the family. The week went by incredibly fast - and maybe that was because I was working during so much of it. But like I said at the beginning, time just to hang out with each other is a treat for me, living on the other side of the country. So it was another day with a house full of dogs and a grill full of fish (and other meats), plus an evening with a fire on the beach for smores. It went by much too fast.

August 13, 2009

obx gallery






Workin into the night tonight, and frankly not much exciting to tell today anyway - just another great beach day hangin out with the family. Some slivers of our ordinary day here on the Outer Banks.