Browsing articles from "June, 2011"

Behind the Scenes: Getting Our Hands Dirty

As the title implies, this post is all about getting your hands dirty.  In fact, this is a bold-faced celebration of dirty hands – not in the Rod Blagodevich style – but more like this:

Yes, those are honest to goodness dirty hands.   They belong to these people:

The Crew: Chance Qin, Max Baird, Gary Grant, Nick RIghi, Sealii King

And why are their hands dirty?  Because warehouses are dirty.  Why were they in a warehouse?  Because that’s the environment we needed in order to have enough “elbow room” for shooting miniature sets requiring extremely deep backgrounds.  It’s all for a project that plays with  forced perspective shots (among other visual tricks).  This is the team that kindly agreed to participate in the craziness this weekend, willing to sacrifice some of their hard-earned time off for sake of visual experimentation.  It’s what we at Mindclay  call an “incubator” project.   Fun material and definitely a great creative challenge, but also a test of the fortitude of all involved.  Conditions included:

The aforementioned dirt

Oppressive heat and sweltering conditions

Hot lights

A fog machine that wouldn’t play nice

Bald guy making things up as he went along

But it wasn’t all trial and tribulation.  We had some fun along the way.

"I don't know what it is, BUT I LIKE IT!"

Sealii + Fog Machine = Smoke Monster!

"Don't ask, just go with it!"

Can’t wait to share the finished results with you.  But, for the time being, I’ll offer this shout out to our weekend visual effects crew – Nick, Sealii, Chance, Max, Sarah, Suzanne – awesome job everybody!    Next time I promise less dirt and more beverages!

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Coolest Things #2: The Living Picture

This edition of Coolest Things in the Universe “focuses” on a very cool newly-developed technology by some smartypants in Mountain View, CA.

It’s a camera person’s dream… Shoot first, focus later.

Fiction? Nope. But it is being called the start of a “picture revolution.”

The science behind it is pretty cool. Lytro, a company concentrated on the innovation of images, is developing a new kind of camera  based on “light field” technology, something previously considered unimaginable for a standard camera to be able to capture. Light field technology captures all the light rays streaming into the camera, in contrast to standard cameras that just interpret all the light as one light source. This makes it possible for the camera to interpret light hitting items from the immediate foreground to the distant background.

With this technology, they’ve also created a software that allows user to interface with the images in a completely new way. They call it the “living photograph”. (Check it out here!)

With this combination of tools, someone can take a photo (without focusing), load the photo on their computer, and then have the ability and flexibility to focus at any focal length on the image.

Obviously, the implications of this technology are huge.

Users will be able to take photos much faster, have infinite flexibility, and (just as impressively) they’ll be able to do so in much lower light since there is so much light being captured through the sensor. And if that weren’t enough, this technology also works with the rapidly expanding 3D trend, as it’s images can also be 3D images.

Also, makes you wonder when this technology will spread to digital video…

Because of the amazing potential of this super-cool technology, Lytro’s “Living Picture” development has landed one of the titles of “Coolest Things in the Universe”.

Check out this video & see for yourself!


The Debate of the Unknown

When things change, people start to get nervous. And by people I mean corporations with obscene amounts of money at stake. And by things changing, I mean everything.

With respect to the current public entertainment trends, everything is digital, online, in the palm of the consumer’s hands. And with this enormous shift in entertainment trends from television to all the current options, it’s not surprising that things would start to get confusing, and a little heated.

The hard-lined regulations for TV, commercials, movies, and the like, are becoming more and more blurred at an unprecedented rate.

Discussions are beginning to surface on a wide variety of topics that are unfamiliar to most. And when network money is involved, the discussions quickly turn into debates on the ownership of digital space, defining the rules for digital content streaming, determining geographic limitations on advertising when everything is online, and so on.

These are very complex and ambiguous topics, topics that – until recently – have either not existed or had hard definitive answers. But with change comes confusion.

Recently, Viacom has taken out their war paint, and prepared for legal battle. They started, first, with Time Warner. (Specifically Time Warner Cable’s iPod app.) And literally, a day after they came up from air on that one, they dove right back in with Cablevision, again, about their iPad app.

What has gotten Viacom so pissed off? Well, the deal is this:

Viacom claims to have not given permission to stream their programming on the iPad. And Cablevision claims that the iPad app functions exactly as a television would, thus no licensing agreements have been broken.

(You can read a full article on this here.)

What I think is interesting is this: there is no clear legal precedent on matters like these, because the technology has blossomed so recently. I’m interested in the months following this debate, what happens in this courtroom, and the inevitable hundreds more on cases just like this.

What changes in restrictions and in availability will there be?

And with new amazing technologies like this developing, will there ever be an answer to questions like “who owns the air”?


What Is a Follow Really Worth?

Thank You Trash...

Image by Daniel Slaughter via Flickr

Often times, I see people thanking others for following them on Twitter, a bad habit carried over from older types of media, in which the one being observed thanks the audience for observing.

Thanks for watching!

Thanks for listening!

Thanks for following me!

However, when you come to think of it, people don’t follow you to do you a favor. They do it entirely for selfish purposes. They follow you because you give them information, because you entertain them, because you answer questions for them (or that are at least relevant to them), because you give them something they want… Because you give them value.

That’s right. The real value of a follow is the value you decide to give, not the other way around.

If anything, they’re the ones that should thank you.

But I know… I get it. We’re the ones being observed, so we want to show them our fake humility so that they like us more. We’re so desperate to be liked, that we look for ways to boost that approval even in people that have already decided to listen to us.

The risk we run in thanking people for following us is in thinking they’re the ones doing you a favor, when it’s actually quite the opposite. You’re the one serving them, therefore the responsibility to be awesome, to deliver great content, to help, all of the above is entirely upon your shoulders. Stray away from this mission, and your online persona turns bland, self-serving and non-valuable.

Do you want your followers, subscribers and likers to like you more? Here’s what to do: Keep giving ‘em great stuff. Heck, give out your best stuff. And do it in volume. And for free.

Not only will they like you, they will thank you, reward you, and refer you to others that will follow you the same.

And no, I won’t thank you for reading this… But I do sincerely hope this was of value to you. :)

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It Is What It Isn’t

A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the laziest phrases I’ve heard is “It is what it is”. Besides being devoid of much intellectual content, it is meant to console or keep us statically content with some situation apparently out of our control.

But what if it is… what it isn’t?

I mean, what if we dare to question those limits, push the boundaries, challenge the norms?

Sometimes questions like this are what bust open boxes, and allow new possibilities.

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The Coolest Things in the Universe #1: MakerBot

This is the first of an installment of Things I’ve deemed to be “The Coolest Things in the Universe”. Who am I to judge, you might ask? Nobody really. But I do have access to a blog, thus my ideas must be worth reading. Logic!

With all the amazing brains out there in our enormous world, and even more availability to the rapidly developing technologies, there are some pretty cool Things being created these days. And those Things deserve some notoriety.

This Thing is, like, the coolest of all those Things, largely due to the fact that it is readily available to the majority of the public, and can be used in so many ways! (Practical and otherwise.)

Here’s the Thing in question:

It’s called a MakerBot. Aptly named, it makes things, and it’s a robot. Or technically, it’s the first affordable 3D printer.

Developed by self-proclaimed “Mad Scientist” Bre Pettis (Co-founder and CEO), this 3D printer is specially formatted to be easy to use, and both effective for the practical and creative projects. With the ability to design and print in 3D space, it’s no surprise that this plastic-sculpting mold bot is getting some pretty great reception around the airwaves and internets. (You may have seen Bre on The Colbert Report recently.)

Basically, MakerBot is the bees knees, and people around the country are starting to realize just how cool this product is. With practical and creative uses ranging from architectural models, sculptures, andsporks, this Thing is certainly deserving of the first of the titles for “Coolest Things in the Universe.”

Here’s a featurette on exactly how it works, and what it can do. Check it out!

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Your Image in the Cloud

This is either extremely cool, or somewhat disturbing (or both).   It’s called the ‘Cloud Mirror’.

Upon arrival, party guests are given a special coded badge.  They’re then asked to sign in, either with their Facebook, Flicker or Twitter ID.  The Cloud Mirror then goes online and mines their social media presence for all kinds of tidbits that form a profile of sorts.

Now, imagine yourself as one of the guests:

With the badge hanging around your neck, you then proceed to one of the Cloud Mirror installations around the room.   The installation is a a combination of LCD screen, video camera and a reader that picks up on your badge’s code.  The  camera is pointed directly at you.   That’s the mirror part.  Meanwhile, the reader is scanning your badge.  That’s the cloud part.  Suddenly, random entries from your social media past start popping up on screen in the form of cartoon thought bubbles, superimposed next to your live image.  

As a party tool, this is a fun conversation piece and an instrument of extreme potential embarrassment.   As the creator points out in the video, it’s amazing that people subject themselves to this, even though they’re forewarned of the potential mortification factor.  In a broader sense, this shows, yet again, how the intersect of social media and emerging technologies will redefine how we play and interact.  It also gives pause to all of us caught up in the grand unfolding anthropological experiment that is social media. Careful next time you look up and observe a shape in the cloud.  The image you see might just be your own.

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It’s No Joke!

Just came across this excellent take on the use of humor within the creative approach –  How to Merge Creativity With Comedy

With a long list of memorable humorous spots under his belt, the author, Gerry Graf,  knows a thing or two about funny.  The article also prompted me to consider a tangent subject: the motivation for using humor.

I think it’s only natural to want to turn to jokes when addressing a crowd.   After all, laughter represents one of our strongest coping mechanisms. A little well-timed comedy offers a great way to either diffuse or disarm while maintaining rapport.  But, just think about how many luncheons you’ve gone to where the punchline falls flat.   A lethal mix of delayed, forced laughter and then uncertain silence – giving the audience time to reflect on why  the CFO chose accounting over an act at the Improv.  Ouch!

So, here’s the question, if comedy is so hard, then why do so many people turn to the idea of using humor when it comes to selling their product or conveying their message?   At least when the CFO bombs, he or she can take shelter behind charts and spreadsheets.   But humor attached to ads and marketing messages? Well, there’s just no retreating.   Don’t get me wrong.  I love humor in marketing, advertising and all forms of messaging.  When it works, there’s nothing more powerful.  It’s just that I think folks need to stop first, and do an honest assessment of their own motivations.  Are they force-fitting humor as a means to mask their own insecurities about their core message?   If so, it’s probably time to rethink that part before going any further.    I believe that all good comedy is rooted in honesty and that laughter won’t flow if the jokes come from a less than genuine place.   Another way of thinking about it: Comedy makes a good salve, but a lousy bandaid.


From “Dying City” to “Digital Rock Star”

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, panoram...

Image via Wikipedia

Today we have viral videos where you can see cats playing keyboards, dogs talking and humans walking on water…we have become numb pretty quickly and it tends to take a whole lot of something to move our excitement meter! I found just that something the other day online when a friend of mine sent me this video. I’m not one to stop the presses and share with a ton of folks every video I get, but this one was special and worth the time to sit and watch. The back-story is also just as impressive; apparently according to Internet folklore, the city of Grand Rapids (I had to check on a map also) produced this as a jab back to News Week for referring to them as a “Dying City”. The video speaks to many levels, the producer in me is in awe of the logistics involved while the creative in me admires how an entire city bought into such a forward thinking concept…and when I say entire city, it sure looks like every Grand Rapid citizen came running out for this. The city and its many supporters could have responded in a million traditional ways to the News Week snub, but the fact they chose this route really proves that there’s more to a town then its buildings and businesses…there’s a community that cares and has an awesome imagination.

Click here to play the video!Grand Rapids

Irony has a strange way of revealing itself, after this video Grand Rapids went from “Dying City” to digital fame. The publicity and response they have received from this effort would’ve taken any other tourism board millions of dollars to achieve. I feel almost bad for the next city on News Weeks “Dying” list; you’ve got your work cut out for you. To the fine folks in G-Rapids, kudos and hats offs to you my friends – I have no idea where your city is but I’m sure it’s lovely and I actually will now take the time to Google it and find out more. Thanks G-Rapids, keep on keeping on…from “Dying City” to “Digital Rock Star”.

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