Sunday, December 6, 2015

Collaborative Communication Artifact

For my artifact in the collaborative design project, I chose to create an animated promo for the endorsed product. Being an aspiring post production specialist, I wanted to see how I could flex my editing, animation, and typography design skills to best advertise for the 'Luva'. 

The Luva, when first shown to me at a group meeting, wasn't an eye-catching concept. However, I knew creating a design campaign around this product would be (and was) a solid challenge in showcasing the skills gained in class.

When conceptualizing my piece, I knew I wanted to get the message across in as little time as possible. Being very active in internet culture, I more than understand the importance of a message being conveyed in as short of a time frame as possible. The reality of online presence is: Nobody is listening after 30 seconds. Keeping this in mind, I settled on a goal of ~15 seconds for my total time. After the group settled on a concrete style guide, I sat down and started working with what I had. I began by animating the product's logo, the final design of which was created by Amanda Wilson. I decided on a hand-drawn, heartfelt style when doing so, but I didn't want the logo to end up looking unprofessional. This is why I kept the lettering solid, while making the shapes hand-drawn. The coloring of the logo was based on a photo, which is also seen on the website under the 'group' tab in our style guide. The photo is of a winter sunset, which I mapped to a gradient of the first three colors. The background is utilizing the fifth color in our palette, and the lettering utilizes the fourth. This gives the entirety of the logo and animation harmony and closure.

In the meat of the piece, I decided on a scene that would best fit the winter sunset in which our entire styling is based around: A couple on a park bench. After viewing our live-action promo in it's post-production phase, I felt a bit cliche upon choosing this setting. Although, I knew I could take my own spin on things as far as the design is concerned with the freedom of animation. I decided on a feel of simplicity, with the hand drawn bench, lettering, and characters along with the diorama-esque pop up background. Also, I utilized only one font from the four listed on our website. I did this both to match the logo animation, and the overall feel of the piece. In transitioning from the park setting to the logo animation, I meshed the snowy hill into the white background of the final animation for solid closure, whilst giving a nice figure-ground relationship in tandem. Finally, being an animation with a simplistic styling, the use of both shape and line are extremely important, and are the foundation upon which this piece is built. In minimalistic design, artists rely on clever usage of the simplest forms of line and shape to create something recognizable. While my design didn't go quite as far into the minimalist realm as I'd have liked, I still think the design choices present get the message across to a fast-paced browser of the ever-expanding internet.

For the full, 2K quality animation, please click here. Blogger is still apparently stuck in 2005.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Children of Men

The scene I've chosen for this assignment is the 6 minute (seemingly) uncut shot from the film Children of Men. In the scene, the main character is separated from the mother and only child, and needs to navigate the constant gunfire and morbid death that lies between them. The scene follows the main character for 6 minutes in a seemingly constant take, without any visible cuts (unless you're really looking for them). To accomplish this, an extreme amount of work had to go into the job of the production designer. The PD was burdened with the timing, framing, and split-second placement of each extra and setpiece. Even through this burden however, the PD managed to maintain the rule of thirds for each subsequence within the shot. For instance, each time the main character stops to hide, the cameraman immediately snaps the frame into the rule of thirds, showing almost a POV from the main character into the horrors that he's witnessing.

The entirety of the scene was meant to showcase the utter destruction and insanity that has been brought about. The PD employed desaturation to give the entire shot a seemingly dead and dreary look, further embedding the idea that this city is gone, and there's no helping it regain its sanity. The duo behind the production design of this scene are Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland. Ironically, their work before Children of Men included films like Space Jam and Love Actually. Without a doubt, this particular scene was an apology for the utterly awful extreme closeups in the giant advertisement that was Space Jam. (Not a joke, that film was literally a huge ad for Air Jordans.)

Sarcasm aside, the duo undoubtedly put together an extremely tough piece and executed it with finesse. This gruesome scene is the second long cut in the film, being preceded by an earlier scene during a car ride. The camera slowly pans along the interior of the car, drifting in and out, with movements that aren't possible if someone was crawling around the car with a camera. In the beginning of the scene, things are relatively good. The characters are happy and the colors are brighter and significantly more saturated than in the previous scene. However, that quickly changes as the car is rushed by a horde of raiders. The scene ends with the car leaving the cameraman stuck in the middle of the road with the policemen. Again, this scene tasked Clay and Kirkland with spot-on placement of extras, and very time sensitive actions of both actors in the car and outside of the car, as well as spot on actions of the camera itself. The setup of this scene was done with the camera being mounted on a green line threaded through the side windows of the car, being controlled by the cameraman as the scene is executed. As with the scene of the city in uproar, the camera constantly keeps the rule of thirds present while drawing the viewer into the scene with the characters.

For me personally, each one of these scenes makes me feel uneasy. The lack of cuts instills a sense of immersion, making someone watching it feel actual fear and anxiety as if they were sitting in the car with the rest of the characters, or running alongside the main character. I'm not a huge fan of shaky-cam cinematography, and this is one of the only films that executes it well in my opinion. While the camera is shaky at times, it always maintains a constant frame of what is needed to be seen in order to effectively tell the story.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Some Of My Favorites

As far as film directors go, I don't have too many that have consistently put out films that I enjoy. Of course there are plenty of movies that I do like, most of which have a focus on storytelling and writing. I'm a fan of the human story, and I believe that a good story and the right know how can pull a film through any lack of expensive equipment and effects. That being said, one of my favorite directors currently is an independent animator named Don Hertzfeldt. Don is an animator in the old sense; hand drawing each of the 24 frames per second with his trusty sharpened pencil. Only recently has Don gone into the digital drawing age, and his short films aren't any worse for it. He got his start after signing a deal with the pop tart guys, and is the artist responsible for the "CRAZY GOOD" commercials. Another one of his short films, entitled 'Rejected', can be found in full on YouTube. This is where most people know Don for his weird and crazy storytelling. Another one of his films, and my personal favorite, is entitled 'It's Such a Beautiful Day'. This film is the most gorgeous piece of storytelling in the simplest form that I have seen this year. It's available on Netflix and if you have a strong tolerance for indie movie artsy quirks, I highly reccommend you check it out.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Composing My Frame

I stopped to take this photo on my evening jog through the Green Springs neighborhood. At the top of the hill is an open space with a view of the valley, and the timing of the sunset was absolutely spot-on. The branches in the foreground draw your eye to the left of the frame, acting as a natural index vector. The placement of the edge of the branch also aligns with the right third of the frame, The branch in the background peaks at the left third of the frame, and the sunset sits in the bottom right third. These three points form a triangle of interest, and help frame the photo. The heavy lead room to the left was intentional, however I did not consider what the lead room would be drawing the eye toward. The horizon line being pushed into the lower third of the photo gives the branches more attention in the frame. I gave the horizon a low placement to accentuate the colors of the sunset and contrast found in the shadow-like outlines of the branches and darkness of the valley. Finally, the rule of thirds being applied to the setting sun gives this landscape shot a wholesome feel. Quite relaxing, if I do say so myself.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Judging a Notebook by its Sticker

When walking around the digital media aisle at Walmart, or any aisle in Best Buy, often you'll come across a sticker that looks a lot like this:

And often, you might come across something quite different on the adjacent display:

Some I'm sure are aware of the differences and can tell me what each of these stickers entail, but this argument is not valid for all. 

For most folks browsing an electronics store, they are completely in the dark when it comes to making a purchase. They are unaware of processor speeds, RAM, motherboards, GPUs, etc. What they are aware of however, is the design of these tiny stickers. 

During my time working as a computer salesman at Best Buy, I would spend most of my time staring off into space, and the other portion of my time was spent staring at these stickers. When comparing these two brands' logos, it's important to take into consideration the color choices within each design.


Intel, favoring the blue and white, with  AMD favoring the dark red and black. Now, with regards to these colors, it's obvious both manufacturers designed their logo with contrast in mind. Not only are the competitors' color schemes complimentary to one another, they each hold their own contrast with the calming blue and white, and  the powerful red and black. Considering context, within each design is the clever use of shape and line that hints at the image of a circuit board. Interestingly, the Intel "circuit board" does not contain any diagonal lines, whereas the AMD's "circuit board" contains plenty. 

Taking into account the different applications of gestalt theory, I've personally always preferred Intel's design choices of simplicity and subtle continuity in their logo. Before I understood any technological specifics behind either option, I laid my trust in Intel. The reason for this personally, is that the AMD logo to me is rather busy. It has too much going on in a very confined space, where Intel leaves room for their fonts and imagery to breathe. AMD defies the rules of simplicity and forces the eye directly to the complex "circuit board" design in the center of the logo. The lettering and seemingly unorganized layout of the model number next to the model name causes the design for AMD to pale in comparison to the simple design of it's competitor. 

Knowing this, it comes as less of a surprise to hear that Intel is a much more popular brand; regardless of the know-how of it's consumer base.   

Monday, September 7, 2015

On Contrast, Balance, and Harmony...

The image above is rendered gorgeously, and is a prime example when it comes to the basics of artistic and visual design. The texture of the tiger's fur instills a sense of touch; making someone almost believe that they know exactly what the fur feels like against their hand. The colors chosen in this photo bring to light the sheer animosity of the subject, with the bright orange eye popping out over the drab gray-scale and radial gradient of the background. The eye draws the viewer's attention almost immediately solely from this color choice.

The shadows present in the tiger's stripes in context to the bright highlights of the fur showcase the intricate and mazelike pattern, giving a sense of balance from dark and light. The positioning of the subject in the frame indicate a sense of urgency. The rule of thirds has been moved slightly left, positioning the tiger closer to whatever or whomever it's gaze is focused on.

Harmony of the piece is achieved directly through this photo's contrast and use of balance, in likeness to yin and yang. In cultural context this tiger could also be representative of the struggle to avoid extinction, with the snarling mouth and pointed ears. This tiger is clearly in a defensive position; holding back his ferocity until provoked into further stages of his instinct of survival.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Visceral Response - Comm3560

The first glance at this little metal ball isn't particularly gripping. In fact, some might not even know what this ball  is meant for. Of course, the argument can arise that this ball may be  plain, but it does have a sort of magnetism. The simple lines and shadow of the ball encapsulate something almost mesmerizing.

For those that are unaware, this is what's called a "Blender Ball". It's goal is simple: to make mixing various drinks and powders easy. This is not why I find this piece of metal beautiful. About ten months ago, I had hit rock-bottom. I was overcome with depression, self-loathing, my grades had hit the lowest point of my scholastic career, I was an absolute wreck. When I woke up in the morning, I felt zero motivation to do much else besides roll over.

A coworker approached me one day and asked if I had been feeling okay. I replied honestly, and told him that I had never felt worse. That coworker introduced me to what would eventually become my stairway out of the prison I had been locked in. He introduced me to fitness. The very first piece of fitness gear that I purchased was a little plastic bottle. The bottle itself was nothing to look at, but inside sat this little shining ball of metal. As silly as this may sound, when I saw that shine for the first time, I felt inspired. I felt as though I had found an escape after blindly finding my way through blackness. The round form elicited a sense of dignified perfection, the way the metal holds itself in a spiral resonated with me, telling me that if this little ball can hold itself up, so can I. It's hard for me to explain why this little piece of metal means so much, and it sounds silly to call something so simple "beautiful". This ball played an integral role in finding myself, and loving myself.

If someone understands what it takes to commit to something, to overcome something, to achieve goals, I'm sure they can see the same beauty in this simple design that I see with each and every use.