You do not want to know how long I spent trying to rig a vertical stop motion set up this week. Duct tape was flying around everywhere, lights were falling and shattering from above, and I had to take at least one ‘cool down before I break something’ walk. Surprisingly, Google was unhelpful in providing useful solutions — though this may have had something to do with a confusion in terms (is it aerial stop motion? vertical? 90 degrees?) I never quite know what to classify it as.
Anyway, I’ve written this brief process post about how I set up everything. It worked great for me, but I do not intend this to be a “this is HOW you do it” type article. Classify this as a go-to “bootleg” option if you don’t have access to one of those crazy $10,000 rigs that lets you fly above your subject etc. If you are looking for a relatively easy and inexpensive way to complete this type of project, this is one way to do it. I’ll walk through the supplies and exactly what I did that worked best for me. At the end of the day, it’s actually pretty darn easy — but it’s always nice to get a peak at a successful process just in case you’re spinning your wheels. There probably is a better way to do this, but I couldn’t find one. (And do excuse the slightly blurry photograph above…unfortunately the camera that has the external flash capability was the one being photographed…)
The little penguin made his iPhone debut last week with the release of the Plancast iPhone app. Everyone is at SXSW right now spreading the word and drumming up support. I designed some emergency t-shirts and business cards for the excursion and I’m excited to hear how it all went. Should have some pictures of that material this week — I’ve yet to see them in person due to the time/production constraints. Plancast also had a big article in the New York Times a few days ago which was exciting to see. If you look closely, you can see a wee version of the logo in the screenshot. Too bad the penguin didn’t hit the front page!
When I wrote about this project last week, I forgot to mention how different the post-production time has been compared to my normal project routine. For just about every one of my process posts I’ve written here, the work has always been completed in school for an assignment. Once the project is complete, it’s over as far as just about everyone is concerned. It’s been exciting to see this one continue to evolve in the real world — like winding one of those wind-up toys and setting it on the table.
I was hired about three months ago to design a logo and consult on the brand identity for Plancast, a local San Francisco start-up founded by Mark Hendrickson and Jay Marcyes. As you can probably guess from the name, Plancast a way to broadcast your upcoming plans to your friends; or as it’s often described, Foursquare for the future. The site is exceptionally easy and helpful, and I encourage you to check it out.
By the time I joined on Plancast was up and running, but they were without a logo or distinctive visuals. I began work in December and we agreed on the finished logo a few weeks ago. The project was easily the hardest I have ever completed — as well as the most fulfilling. I almost destroyed myself developing this logo and I am really excited to share the process with you here.
Matthew Lyons is an incredible illustrator. Just about every blog in existence has written a piece about him recently — and it’s no surprise — his work is absolutely stunning. As I mentioned in my post, the combination of his vast imagination and impeccable eye for color and composition begets some really exciting work.
I asked Matthew if he would prepare a short process description about one of his recent works. What follows is Matthew’s description of how he created the piece you see above, The Snide of a Scoundrel Man. Take it away Matthew!
These images are recordings of mousepaths using a Java applet by Anatoly Zenkov. In addition to being an interesting aggregation of usage data, they look pretty cool (especially the ones over shorter time periods). The third image is my mousepaths while writing this post. The most telling are my frequent trips to the corners to cue my Exposé actions. Important to note that the black spots are where the mouse stopped for a period of time, not clicks as I thought at first. You can download it here: PC Version | Mac Version.
“S” – save image. “R” – restart.
The last two images are pieces by Hiroyuki Hamada. Completely unrelated yes, but when I saw the mouspath images I immediately recalled these from a couple weeks ago on bdif. I’d worry about you if your mouseclick data looked like this.
I do not know what to write. I am sitting here staring at the screen, running sentences in my head, and turning my music on and off. Earlier I went foraging for food (in hopes of sparking some magical words), but ended up getting distracted by Arrested Development for 20 minutes. This happens just about every time I sit down to do anything. I’ll probably go play the guitar between this paragraph and the next.
Of course this is a familiar situation. Often referred to as “writer’s block”, the concept of an inspiration rut is unfortunately very familiar to every creative in any field. Sometimes ideas just don’t show up to work. Given this, we all develop strategies to combat such a scenario. Not all are foolproof, but it’s safe to say that most creative people have some battle plan for dealing with the dreaded “blank page”.
Knowing this I decided to ask some of today’s most exciting artists and creators what they do when the ideas aren’t flowing. I left the question fairly open ended and asked, What do you do to inspire your creativity when you find yourself in a rut? As expected, I was presented with an array of strategies, ranging from listening to Boards of Canada in a forest alone, to cooking up a storm (recipe provided) and waiting for the mind to clear.
Sourced from Man About Town -- note the interesting article name
A while ago I posted on an article about different techniques for naming your brand. I’ve found that method of brainstorming to be particularly helpful, but sometimes you need an extra spark. I wanted to put another tip out there I’ve found success with recently. Maybe if you’re in need of a brand name this will help you find what you’re looking for. (Of course this sort of thing works for band names too — really any entity that you’re charged with naming.)
So if you’re like me, eventually you run your brain dry of ideas if you’re just sitting around trying to think of the perfect name. Per project, I usually have about two or three days worth of *just* thinking in me. After that I go crazy and try desperately to convince myself that something I thought of is actually amazing. One week later, when I realize I’m delusional, I am back to the drawing board, nameless. My favorite place to look for inspiration these days is no longer song lyrics or the dictionary — it’s fashion magazines.
I suppose any sort of magazine would do, but fashion magazines seem to work best. The titles of articles and photo spreads in fashion magazines are rife with clever turns of phrase and exciting word combinations. Basically anywhere they have to think of clever titles for something pretty abstract is where you want to look. A photo shoot where everyone is wearing black for example, probably has some unusual name (otherwise it’d be really boring). You don’t really see it on blogs, but print writers seem to have a insatiable desire to think of the cleverest name for every article they ever write. Some are completely useless for our purposes, but you can usually find enough of a catalyst to get on the right creative track. I like to make a two column list and combine cool words at random, in hopes of striking something exciting. Here is a short list of a few I noticed in the magazines sitting on my desk (and my thoughts on what they could refer to):
Away with Words (maybe for a publisher?)
Under Statements (minimalist clothing line)
Mind Field (think tank or angel fund)
Sharpsuiter (lame prom-type clothing line)
Her Friend the Bandit (versatile…could be clothing, or maybe a hipster joint)
Elements and Gravity (probably for a jewelry line OR cosmetics)
Some fun ones — if you look for long at all you are bound to find something amazing. Of course it may be perfect for a project you aren’t even working on, but it’s always good to keep a running list. I have the PERFECT name for a bar if I ever decide to start one (I’m not telling). Anyway, it’s an idea, hopefully it helps out!
(I realize there are elements of creative thievery at work here. In a way, you are harvesting another person’s creativity for your own benefit, but I don’t think there are any trace elements of plagiarism at work. In most cases, the phrases or words implemented by the writer are common, and are structures you would have come across eventually, either in conversation or everyday life etc. People may disagree, but I think this is a safe technique.)
I have been flying a rather insane amount over the last few weeks. I complain about a lot of things when I’m traveling: the food, babies, people that insist on stuffing overhead luggage when it will NOT fit, etc. The one thing I have never considered is the boarding pass. Tyler Thompson has written an excellent article on why the boarding pass is indeed worthy of scrutiny. Take one look at the old Delta pass above and you’ll see why. As he states, “It was like someone put on a blindfold, drank a fifth of whiskey, spun around 100 times, got kicked in the face by a mule (the person who designed this definitely has a mule living with them inside their house) and then just started puking numbers and letters onto the boarding pass at random”.
Tyler has done Delta a big favor and redesigned their boarding pass, the design of which you see above. I think it’s obvious that aesthetically, these are much more pleasing to the eye. I would want to hold onto these after my flight was over just because they look awesome. Now of course, the design of a boarding pass has to be more than just beautiful. There are a number of criteria and limitations in place that might prevent your boarding pass from becoming a little piece of art. Worth mentioning in this regard is Timoni Grone’s response to Tylers inital designs. She runs through a meticulous process to come up with a redesign of her own, taking into account all the necessary “practicalities and priorities”.
The cool thing about his project is how he opened it up to others to submit reworkings and suggestions, a few of which he’s posted as you scroll down his page. He’s provided the Illustrator file for download and tweaking. Make sure to head over there and submit yours if you’ve got something brewing. And feel free to sound off if you too feel like the boarding pass design is indeed a fail.
I must say my favorite part of any boarding pass is the little scribbles the security guards make when you pass the initial check at the metal detectors. They do it with such purpose and apparent deliberation, that I think the scribbles must mean something. I always wonder what would happen if I augment their scribbles with scribbles of my own (or scribble before they do). Would I get sent to Homeland Security? Maybe two scribbles on your boarding pass = terrorist. Anyway. I feel safe knowing we have such a complicated system in place.
I could write a similar article about the terrible design of movie tickets, which I feel have slid drastically in the past few years. Since when is a movie ticket printed on receipt paper worth saving? I used to love hoarding all of my movie ticket stubs — now, calling it a “stub” would be an absurd misrepresentation. I call my movie tickets trash.