February 26, 2013


Every now and then its good to see your normal surroundings through a different lens. Monday was a bit more of a low key day after all our running around on Sunday. The boys were up and out early and took a long walk around Manhattan Beach while I was able to get a bunch of work stuff done. Later I broke free and joined them for a coffee at the food stand on the beach - someplace I hardly go despite it just being steps away. We walked down to the pier to catch the sunset from that view - another thing I rarely do. After an early dinner, the jetlag was already hitting them, so we made our way back home and pretty much called it a night. Even without going far from my normal zone, stopping to see it the way others do can always be nice.

February 25, 2013

what remains

My friends Frank and Norbert are visiting from Berlin, so I'm getting to play a bit of tour guide while they're here. Yesterday en route to Griffith Observatory, we took a bit of time to explore the ruins of the old LA Zoo. Tucked away in Griffith Park, the old zoo is a couple miles south of the current location of the LA Zoo, and was its home from 1912 to 1965. The old zoo had a history of troubles, from only raising $2000 to build the original zoo, to problems with sickness and animal treatment (including a disastrous period where the city council forbid the zoo to feed beef to its animals). Many buildings and features were built in the 30's by the WPA, but it was still subject to heavy criticism. Finally in 1958 voters authorized bonds to build the new zoo, which despite a media circus and political battle, opened in 1965. I was surprised, but pleased, how much of the old zoo is left open for the public to freely wander through. The bear enclosures are surely the star attraction, but the big cat cages and other assorted remains were pretty interesting as well. It certainly makes you glad the days of zoos using enclosures like this for animals are gone.

February 22, 2013


Another recent graphics package posted to the website: The graphics package for "Infamous 911 Calls" was completed in December and aired on E! a couple weeks ago. I've been lucky to work with E! a lot since they rebranded last year with a great new look, and this package was to conform to their clean 'black, white and a pop of color" theme, but have more gravity and be a bit more darker (in tone, not color) than a lot of their look. Working from style frames designed by John Northway that reflected the nature of emergency calls emanating across geographic locations, I worked with E! to develop and animate a package of over 40 interchangeable elements, covering everything from transitions to transcript formats to segment opens. The show open was based on clips from 911 calls featured in the show, designed to escalate in an increasingly frenetic nature before leveling out into the resolve. Constant visual elements throughout the package are the circular rings, geographic map-like textures, and square tiled transitional patterns inspired by digital signals to add to the urgent frenetic nature of the elements when in transition on or off the screen. You can check out a reel of the open and some of the completed package elements here:
  • Infamous 911 Calls graphics package
  • February 21, 2013

    soaking it in

    Its almost that time of year again... Tuesday was our first pre-season LA Galaxy game at Home Depot Center this year. We played Xolos de Tijuana (which also shares its fan base with San Diego). Like it always seems to do near the beginning of every season, it was drenched. My friend Alan had cancelled out of going because of the rain, and honestly, I'm glad he did. He went with me to the home opener with the ACB a couple years ago when it was an absolute monsoon - and was such a trooper that I never even knew he was miserable til months later. The rain stayed off for a while, and for a weekday game, there was a great crew from the ACB, though inside the stadium Galaxy fans were probably outnumbered 10 to 1. That's often the case when we play teams from CONCACAF and Mexican Association Leagues, and it can lead to some heightened emotions in the stands. I used to wonder if that came from some subtle level of racism, though I think its really just frustration or indignation at being outnumbered in your own home. The crew held it together and plenty stuck it out even after the skies completely opened up. The team did their part as well, pulling through to a 6-2 win. Admittedly, its a lot easier to weather the storm when your team is winning; but rain or shine, win or lose, it was good to be home again.

    February 18, 2013

    great scot

    My buddy Pat and I checked out the annual Scotsfest at the Queen Mary yesterday. It was a great day out, and I guess the lure of beer, whiskey, and sheep was too much for us to resist. Apparently the Queen Mary was built in Scotland - whether that was the reason for having the fest there or if it was just a tie used to rationalize it after the fact, its hard to know. We filled the time between bagpipers and sheepdog demonstrations (my favorite part, of course) and guys in kilts throwing strange big things with samples of beer and scotch and scotch pie. To be honest, I can't say you should add it to any of your 'must-do' lists (especially considering the admission price), but it wasn't a bad way to spend an afternoon on a nice day.

    February 14, 2013


    When I was traveling in Europe after the Olympics last year, I was on a train from Brussels to Munich. Early into the trip, we pulled into a train station that I could tell had to be amazing, even just from what I could see from my seat in the train. I actually remember at the time not being sure whether we were in the station or not, which turns out to be somewhat intentional. I grabbed a few pics, but didn't even know what I was seeing at the time. It turns out we were in Liege, at the Liege-Guillemins station which is a hub for high speed rail networks. Though the station has been there since 1838, this new station opened in 2009. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava, whose work I know best from the Milwaukee Art Museum (apparently that trip was pre-blog!). Liege-Guillemins connects two different parts of the city, and is meant to symbolize transparency as an urban dialogue with those parts of the city. I think we actually sat for 10 minutes or so there - I wish I had known it was a planned stop for that long or I would have jumped off and tried to grab more shots and even just experience the space a little before the train moved on. (The bottom exterior shot here is by Andrew Russeth via flickr) There are more great shots in this article on arcspace here:
  • Liege Guillemins TGV Station
  • February 11, 2013

    drama mamas

    You may have seen elsewhere that I recently posted the open and graphics package for the TLC show "Cheer Perfection" to the website. This was a fun and unusual project in how we ended up handling the process and some of the challenges it presented. The biggest of these was that the show is set around a competitive cheerleading training center for teenage girls, but the real focus of the show is the drama among the cheerleaders parents, or "cheer moms." So it became a dilemma where bright upbeat imagery of cheerleading didn't match tension and drama wanted for the open. The black and orange colors of the training center made perfect sense as a palette, so that became an easy starting place. Using tactile imagery of the small-town southern location was a way not only to set the location, but also to add some grit and texture. The nylon weave texture typical of a cheerleader uniform also became a consistent tactile feature in the open. Normally, show opens go through a few rounds of approval as still frames before ever moving into animation. With this one, I had an idea to pull quotes from the mothers and use them typographically, but I also knew that as still frames or "boards", you wouldn't get a sense of how quick clips of mothers and cheerleaders would balance with those typographic segments. So even from the first round, I created and sent basic test animatics of how the quotes could play out to go along with the boards of this and other design options. Whether that made the difference or not, I don't know, but the idea was approved early in the process and allowed for a lot more time to be spent polishing the details and refining the cut, a luxury that often doesn't happen. Throughout the open, panels and type tumble and fall, and the show logo forms in a perfect formation much like a cheerleading stunt, intermixed with quick pops of the main players in the show and shots of the cheerleaders in action. In the end, while the open is still somewhat upbeat and poppy, there is an edge of darkness and grit to it to match the tension and drama of the show. Cheer Perfection just finished its first season on TLC, but has been renewed for a second season that should begin airing this summer. If you haven't seen it, you can check out the open and package here:
  • Cheer Perfection open and graphics package
  • February 10, 2013


    It's been a while since I've posted a gallery. With a pretty busy work season still happening, plus the long blog hibernation making for plenty of backlogged photos, it seemed a good day to post one. So here are a few random pics from roamings and events in the last couple months. I never cared much for math class, but I do love finding patterns and geometry in ordinary environments.

    February 8, 2013

    warming trend

    Looks like a cold weekend in store for the Northeast (and even here in LA, though - uh - a little less snow.) How about some cold weather cocktails to stay warm with? Here are a couple options from Liquor.com's "5 Smokin' Cocktails for Cold Weather." The Rusty Compass is a smokier twist on the Rusty Nail, or the Whisky Skin is a version of a classic Hot Toddy, but made with Scotch.

    Rusty Compass:
    .75 oz Drambuie
    .5 oz Cherry Heering
    1.5 oz Compass Box The Peat Monster Malt Scotch Whisky
    Garnish: Orange twist
    Glass: Cocktail
    Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

    Whisky Skin:
    Boiling water
    1 tsp Demerara sugar
    Lemon peel
    2 oz Scotch Whisky (Macallan or Ardbeg)
    Glass: Mug or heatproof cup
    Rinse a mug or heatproof cup with boiling water to warm it. Add 1 teaspoon Demerara sugar and a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel. Add 1 oz boiling water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add 2 oz brawny single malt Scotch (Macallan or, if insane or very cold, Ardbeg). Finish by adding 1 oz more of boiling water to bring the heat back up.

    Or check out the Bee Sting, Holy Smokes, or the Perfect Pearl Manhattan from Liquor.com here:
  • 5 Smokin' Cocktails for Cold Weather