- Geeking out over Swip, an open source library that lets you create experiments across multiple devices, check out this golf demo!
- Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler? Also, next book up for me will be Gleick’s Time Travel
- An article revealing E. Fermi’s first hand observations at the Trinity testing site in 1945 led me to the wonderful resource that is Fermat’s Library, a curated list of academic papers for curious minds
- This fantastic, animated short Borrowed Time blew up this week. Also, making-of featurette.
- Been obsessed with the work of Matthew Lyons for quite some time. The concepts, the forms, the texture. So damn good.
- Reading: Masters Of Doom
- Watching: Atlanta, Luke Cage, Westworld
As we continue to build and develop the Electric Sheep brand, I had the opportunity to work on illustrations for the different sections of our website. In keeping with the direction we’re establishing— these were going to be dark, moody, and cinematic. After a bit of research in the realms of noir and cyberpunk, I remembered the fantastic work of Marko Manev and was immediately inspired by his silhouetted forms and the layered depth in his work.
Although each frame was going to exist independently, I wanted them to be connected thematically and sequentially. Loosely, the concept involves a secret lab where three (*ahem* genius, attractive) individuals join forces to form and give life to a sentient machine. By the way, if you aren’t watching Westworld, you are seriously missing out.
Working extremely loosely, I quickly thumbnailed sketches for the three frames in my notebook. A few minutes later, I took pictures of these rough sketches and brought them into photoshop. Behold these modern wonders of art…
Next, I wanted to do rough color/lighting block pass to see if the concept was going to work and to get a better feel for the composition. A couple hours later, I landed on the following frames that I could share with the team.
After sharing that, I made some refined line sketches of the characters in my sketchbook that I brought into Illustrator. Then, I blocked in as much detail as I had time for because I wanted to expand on the inspiration I was referencing; there needed to be more detail in the darkness. In this pass, I focused on the shapes and establishing basic lighting / depth.
Once I had all the vector elements blocked out, I brought them back into Photoshop for my favorite pass — texture and finishing. For me, it’s the ultimate exploratory / experimental phase. I can iterate extremely quickly, trying different lighting scenarios and exploring ideas with color and texture. I can lose track of time too easily here, so I made sure to keep aware of the goal and diminishing returns. Click on the images to see the high-res versions.
- I caught on by the third roll #humblebrag, can you do better than Bill Gates?
- They’re made out of meat? An older, but fantastic short sci-fi read I came across recently.
- A little more insight into the most hyped about technology in the VR/AR space.
- Not on HBO: Mr. Robot, Hannibal & The Expanse. Beautiful art direction, cinematography & solid storytelling.
- Currently reading: The Man Who Knew Infinity by Robert Kanigel
- #MambaOut — Every shot Kobe Bryant took, visualized.
- I’ll admit I know nothing about Marvel’s Dr. Strange but it stars Benedict Cumberbatch (and his back)
- Modern developer woes: Classic Programmer Paintings
- Solid advice from Greg Gunn on creative control (and the piece by Dan Mall that he references)
- Currently reading— Beyond: Our Future In Space by Chris Impey
Awesome, gigantic wood sculptures by Paul McCarthy for his “White Snow” exhibit at Henry Art Gallery.
I was really looking forward to experiencing the new media installations at Sundance this year. In my way: ridiculously long wait times. First, there was a 20 minute wait line to get onto a 120 minute waiting list for ONE installation. The most popular experience by far, Escape Rooms, had a wait time of 4+ hours. Fortunately, we could roam about Park City while waiting for the text message invitation to the installation.
There was an abundance of interactive, non-narrative experiences. The game-like installations were definitely fun, but it was a little disappointing that I didn’t see more VR short films/documentaries.
Here’s a few of what I did experience:
Irrational Exuberance (Artist: Ben Vance)
This was a fantastic HTC Vive experience that worked really well with & took advantage of the medium. It’s very much an introduction-to-vr demo in an abstract, intentionally low-poly sci fi world. Because of the nature of the Vive, it allows you to physically walk around and feel immersed in the CG world. There’s a lot of moments carefully built into it that, like any good game, reward your exploration by revealing the multiple ways you’re able to interact with the different elements. It’s not classically narrative driven but it’s also a good two steps above being just a VR gimmick.
The Treachery of Sanctuary (Artist: Chris Milk)
A large, interactive triptych installation using the Kinect & Unity that’s been touring since 2012. It transforms your real-time silhouette in three phases of “birth, death and transfiguration” as a metaphor of the creative process. Your silhouette gets broken apart into hundreds of birds then reassembled into something completely new and unique, a birdman. It’s a really fun, short experience but feels a bit dated at Sundance (and if you’ve experienced any other similar projects like Philip Worthington’s Shadow Monsters).
Giant (Artists: Milica Zec & Winslow Porter)
A really brief, personal narrative based on a childhood experience of the Serbian director. You’re omnisciently present inside a basement shelter as a couple consoles their young daughter during a war-time emergency. It’s a powerful moment that I feel deserved more development. The actor’s are on green screen and composited into a CG environment in real-time with Unity, giving it some depth through real-time parallax.
Holo-Cinema (Artists: ILMx)
An underwhelming, real-time tracking demo that uses modified 3d glasses with tracking markers on them to give you parallax on a large screen projection. I was really excited after seeing this video that talked about the new ILMx lab and showcased an interaction with Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Sorely disappointed, but it seems as if we weren’t presented the full experience.
Bonus: Local Murmurs (Artist: Brendan Dawes) @ AirBnB Haus
A neat installation by Brendan Dawes, who I discovered thanks to the Sundance trip, that invites people to text in stories from their hometowns. Twelve mini-printers print out a random story for each visitor at the press of a button that then gets attached back to the installation. Each seemed to be driven by a microcontroller with a thermal receipt printer encased in a 3d print (EDIT: Here’s an awesome writeup from Brendan about the tech behind the project). Mr. Dawes is my latest favorite artist — check out more of his work.
Things I am sad I missed out on: Escape Rooms, The Martian Experience, Dear Angelica, In The Eyes Of The Animal
Discovering features in the software I use daily always makes me smile. Photoshop’s Advanced Blending options are already an awesome part of my workflow: see Blend If for quickly keying out luminance from an image (like the Extract effect in AE). A while back, I came across the perfect use of another feature — Knockout — while working on a fun illustration for a short film poster.
I needed a way to quickly “punch out” the painted elements from the base “ink plate” layer of my single color print. This way I could separate the “inked” artwork for the printer and easily get different single ink prints on different paper stocks. Fortunately I’m already in the habit of working with layer groups as I work, so once I found the Knockout feature it was a simple process.
Setting the Knockout to Deep & the Fill to 0, I was able to selectively stencil these layers down through the entire stack. No worrying about layer masks or additional channels. If want to limit the effect to certain layers, I can just group them & set the Knockout to Shallow instead so it doesn’t cut through past the group folder.
One of the best things about attending Sundance is discovering great indie short films and documentaries. Sure, there’s a few record-selling feature films like Birth Of A Nation. But, good luck trying to get into a screening, unless you enjoy watching films in the front row, neck-craning for two hours. Here’s a few of the better short films and documentaries I was able to experience.
Holy Hell (Dir. Will Allen)
An insightful, unprecedented look into the inner workings of a cult that’s still operating to this day. As a former cult member, and its videographer for 22 years, the director has an abundant personal archive of intriguing footage that documents the group from its inception. Cheesy music videos and elaborate year-long ballet productions intended for internal cult use only are part of the awesomeness.
Thunder Road (Dir. Jim Cummings)
Charming and hilarious monologue of a regretful son’s eulogy at his mother’s funeral. Very well acted/directed/produced by Jim Cummings. Winner of the shorts Grand Jury Prize.
Maman(s) (Dir. Maïmouna Doucouré)
Wonderful narrative dealing with the disruption of family and the reframing of love for a young daughter when her father brings home a second wife and child. Winner of the shorts International Fiction Jury Award.
Her Friend Adam (Dir. Ben Petrie)
Really funny, Woody Allen-esque short about jealousy & trust that begin to unravel a young couple’s relationship. Grace Glowicki won the award for outstanding performance in a short.
Man O Man (Dir. Simon Cartwright)
Funny stop-motion animated film about a timid man whose inner, primal self escapes from within him during a therapy session and causes havoc on society. It’s like an animated spin-off of Charlie Kaufman’s character in Adaptation, which itself is a must-watch of course.
The Pound Hole (Dir. The Daniels)
Ridiculous and hilarious. A man who wants to rock the party—above all else. It’s the best of a late-night Adult Swim segment in short film form. From the same dudes that brought us this music video.
The Lure (Dir. Agnieszka Smoczyńska)
An eccentric, horror-musical from Poland about two young, bored sirens (mermaids) that decide to hang out on land and join a band. It’s a fantastical tale around young romance with a bit of an 80s glam-vibe and light on serious mythology. Very stylish with solid cinematography.
Boniato (Dir. Eric Mainade + Andres & Diego Meza-Valdes)
Indie horror short film, slightly underdeveloped in the classic B-horror sense, that pits a female lead against horrific sister-creatures from Mexican mythology. Great visual and practical effects with solid art direction.
Dinner With Family (Dir. Jason Woliner)
A weird, but mostly funny, play-within-a-play short film about a comedian treating his parents to a cringe-worthy dinner. The well-scripted, awkwardness-inducing dark humor within the film stands out.
Sad I missed out on: Tickled, Land of the Englightened, Angels and Outlaws, Manchester By The Sea, Birth Of A Nation