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Experimenting with Space

Animation, Design

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Downtime at the agency is pretty rare, but when it happens I like to explore and tinker with new things in After Effects. My most recent experimentation was with particle fields and star fields.

This was the result of creating different sized spheres enclosed within each other. When flying through it the perception of space is pretty trippy, and my goal was to make the feeling of physical size as realistic as possible. The stars in the background move very slowly relative to the inner spheres. And the last bit of fun was with sound design, and finding atmospheric sound effects that enhanced the experience.

“Hello Dave” is a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, of course.

Watch in full screen, if you dare.

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Tycho in Colorado

Live, Music

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This last weekend Tycho (aka Scott Hansen/ISO50) came to Colorado for three consecutive shows in Ft. Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs. I was fortunate enough to catch the first two, which were both unique and complimented each other in a great way. The Ft. Collins gig was at the Aggie, of course, a grungy little venue with an incredibly intimate atmosphere. My good friend and fellow Tycho enthusiast, Leo, and I were front and center. We had prepared the night before by listening to Tycho’s “Dive” on vinyl, which is a visceral experience I recommend to anyone.

The Denver show was particularly special for me because I had 12 of my closest friends there seeing Tycho for the first time. It was at the Summit Music Hall, which is a new venue with huge sound a great vibe to it. I also got special access to take some photos in the balcony that was blocked off, but the lighting and motion was tough to capture at times with my entry-level SLR. It felt plain wrong to shoot ISO50 at ISO800, but it was a necessary adjustment.

Tycho in Denver
Tycho in Denver

Scott has recently been working with cinematographer Charles Bergquist to create new visuals for the Tycho summer tour, and they were absolutely gorgeous. Most of them incorporated super-slow-motion shots of surfing, waves crashing, or beautiful women walking on the beach. The images are filtered and matched with the tempo, with some ISO50 graphics superimposed. It was such a cool experience, I wish I could capture the whole effect for you but these videos will give you some idea.

Here’s a reel of high-speed footage from Charles Bergquist, some of which is used in the Tycho visuals:

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Weapons of Mass Creation Fest – Cleveland, Ohio

Design, Travel

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This past weekend I attended the third annual Weapons of Mass Creation Fest in Cleveland, Ohio. The event is organized by Jeff Finley and all the folks over at the Go Media studio, which has been one of my favorite resources for inspiration, design assets and career know-how for years. Jeff Finley wrote an awesome book on the t-shirt industry, which has gotten me excited about resurrecting my apparel company someday…

After the invaluable lessons and connections I made at Montreal Meets in April, I was thrilled to jump in on another conference here in the States, and it didn’t disappoint. The cool thing about WMC Fest is that it’s not just a bunch of Photoshop nerds talking about light effects and typefaces. The event is more like an art festival, with designers, illustrators, writers, musicians, and lots of creatives from many industries, which made it an amazing melting pot of fun and talented people. I was completely overwhelmed by the breadth of knowledge and experience among the attendees and speakers, very inspiring to say the least.

While the Cleveland area overall can be a bit bland at times, you can find little gems all of the place if you know where to look. When I first arrived and saw my shitty little hotel room I immediately took to the streets in search of a good IPA. My google maps showed a place called “Now That’s Class!” and it ended up being this sweet junky dive bar with a half-pipe and stage inside. No one was there at 4pm, of course, but I was pleasantly surprised at the stellar beer selection, including some Colorado brews.

The best food I had all weekend was definitely at the Happy Dog, which was dangerously close to the festival. They have $5 hot dogs, fries and tater tots, but best of all they have a selection of over 50 toppings to choose from. You can get really crazy with a fried egg, wasabi, fried onions, or baked beans, and it’s all magically delicious.

Other highlights were the iLTHY shop, where the WMC art gallery was held during the day (including the comic book bathroom above). I was blown away by the quality and variety of art in that space, and it was so cool to mingle and chat with the artists and designers who had tables set up. I really dug the work of Oliver Barrett, who does incredible movie posters, including these awesome Lebowski prints below.

Also, how freakin awesome is that skate deck with all the TMNT villains?

Beyond the art itself, it was the speakers who really shined. I was most excited to see the legendary James White/Signalnoise, who I met in Montreal, and Chuck Anderson/NOPATTERN, whose portfolio is astonishing. But each speaker had their own depth of expertise, and their own presentation style, which kept everything really fun and relevant. It was truly enlightening to learn from professionals I didn’t know much about previously, such as Nate UteschMatt Stevens, Friends of Type, and Johnny Cupcakes. In the end though, I have to say my favorite presentation was from Tad Carpenter, an illustrator and professor at KU who does gig posters for the biggest bands in the world. You could tell he speaks in front of people a lot, with an awesome slideshow that was well-paced, engaging, and personally motivating to me in a big way.

The Signalnoise presentation would normally be my favorite, but I already saw the extended version of “Design Renegade” in Montreal earlier this year. James kills it every time, and always chokes me up with his “Sad Mac” story about Steve Jobs’ death.

Here’s me, James White, and Paul Pants being complete goofballs. Going from riding a roller coaster to hardcore rocking somehow made sense in the moment…  Paul is a correspondent to the Signalnoise blog, and also runs his own studio called Swivel Arms. These guys are so much fun to hang out with, and I always appreciate how down-to-earth and inviting they are to the young bucks like me.

On our last day we got to cruise around Cleveland, search endlessly for a good breakfast joint, and then visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The city is full of old architecture and history, but the office buildings have no markings on them and are all weirdly ambiguous. The nooks and crannys were my favorite by far, with hidden pieces of vintage design and artistic style. Various painted guitars are sprinkled around the city leading up to the Rock Hall, so cool.

I got to see Pete Townsend’s original Les Paul from The Who’s early days, the first copy of Rolling Stone Magazine, Chuck Berry’s original recording contract (getting 3 cents per album), hand-written lyrics by John Frusciante, and crazy outfits worn by Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Michael Jackson.

Above: Me and Chuck Anderson, James and Paul, and then Me, Paul, and Taller Nick (To The Moon Studios) messing around in the WMC photo shoot booth.

The whole weekend was an absolute blast, and I think I’ve become an addict to the design/art conference scene. So many new friends and colleagues met, and an amazing wealth of knowledge and inspiration to keep working and keep improving. When you hear about these amazing success stories, or meet some of your heroes in the design business, you find out that many of them were just like you starting out, trying to make a living doing what we love to do.

The last night of the conference a small group of guys went to this great brewery, and I felt so lucky and privileged to be at the same table with them, especially Chuck, James, and Paul. Plus they had Boulder Beer on tap. Win-fucking-win. Thanks, Cleveland.

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