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Monthly Archives: December 2011


Happy Holidays all! This will most likely be my last post before the New Year but I may do a short one during the break. Today’s sketch was a fun little multi-holiday idea I came up with. “A Holiday Wager” depicts a card game which determined who gets their holiday first…along with a small cash settlement (only redeemable for milk and cookies of course!). I really like this scene and would love to find the time to paint it properly and make it into a little holiday card. Maybe for next year?

A Holiday Wager

In stills we have the work of Xiuyuan Zhang from Vancouver. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have too much work online but from what I can find I really like her work. Her strength lies in bold, liquid illustration tending towards the surreal but she also showcases a broad range of abilities in painting and figure in posts on her blog. However the only truly complete works seem to be by in large illustrations. Clearly she has a bright future and I wish her the best of luck.

Internal Conflict

For web I found quite a tasty treat though it was a tough call this week between the chique and the modern. However Rally Interactive stole the show with a stunning combination of HTML5 savvy and adaptive design. After a bit of reverse engineering I realized, much to my awe, that each triangle on the page is in fact a canvas element such that the transition from triangle to circle is a tween on the rounded edges property of the triangle. Impressive stuff, especially considering how much custom Javascript is in the page to allow for smooth animations and tweening of the page elements. To top it off, the flexible design transitions nicely depending on screen size.

Rally Interactive

On to the moving image, I came across a bunch of truly strange things this week that, while most definitely interesting, are so out there that they’re more useful as reference than actual consumable media. Many had interesting ideas at their core but failed to truly engage. So instead I bring you a fun short film: Page 23.

In the tech world at large much happened this week. Wired’s new redesign is truly stunning. I love the new focus on text and the way the new layout pulls shapes out of each section’s typography for inspiration.  Take a look at the magazine if you see it on the stands. I’m really curious to see it on iPad since the redesign is seemingly meant to nudge the readership in that direction even more so (currently at 20%).

Likewise Facebook revealed their new timeline feature and I think I’m in love. My Facebook activity fell off rapidly after my first few years of college as I realized I didn’t want to be a slave to such a service. Even up to that point, I mainly used it as a way of sharing photos but my shutterbug habit died and therefore so did my use of the network. I continued to use it to share movie reviews and had some content automatically funneled from other services but that was about it. Then came timeline.

Timeline revitalizes Facebook for me, at least in the short-term, because it creates a more meaningful profile page. However, since mine is largely devoid of personal touches as I don’t use the site, the design pushes me to fill out my timeline to better represent myself to other potential visitors. I’ve already wasted a good amount of time choosing a “cover” image, the new dominating image on your profile that can really add some personal flavor to the once bland page.

Where timeline truly succeeds is in showing people as truly 4-dimensional beings. Up to this point, a Facebook profile was merely a collection of the assorted detritus, voluntary or no, of a person’s life. But by organizing this digital flotsam in chronological stream, Facebook has given it a cumulative value, greater than any one lone piece, that begins to actually feel like a true representation of a human being. Nick Felton and Joey Flynn, the designers behind the feature, have some really interesting things to say in this short article from Fast Company.

Well I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a fabulous New Year. I’m looking forward to a small dinner party I’ll be having later this week which will undoubtedly also be a source of great stress. Wish me luck. And as a bonus for Christmas, please enjoy:

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

I have to first apologize for the quick post today since it’s a busy day in the office and I don’t have lots of time to write self-indulgent critiques of other artists works whose skill and talent far surpasses my own. Sorry! Quick archived sketch from last week today (short morning meeting) with which I took a different tact to coloring; focusing more on the negative space rather than the character himself. I think I’ll try and maintain such simplified approaches in the future since they get a lot more bang for my buck considering my limited time for these. However I’m still most proud of my Thanksgiving scene and plan on doing a similar one for the holidays (possibly a Christmas card?). Colorographed Movement

Now onto said far superior professional works: in keeping with the pastel palette above I’d like to feature the awe-inspiring paintings of Micha Ganske. His monstrous canvases, fine detail and washed out palettes create some truly impressive works. Many seem like a Photoshop job gone awry in just the right–experimental–fashion.

In the Red

Sleeping Dragon Detail

The first image gives you a sense of how beautiful his works can be with their soft, pleasing color palette and their graceful, meticulous composition. The second piece, a detail of a massive 7′x10′ acrylic on muslin, further impresses by showing the fine detail present in each work. This further inspires comparison to digital photography manipulations as its like a super-fine photo awash with beautiful chromatic aberration but done in such a way only Michah’s painting can capture.

In web this week, I have another design house (possibly a direct competitor with our London office) who’s home site showcases some really interesting new age web ideas. I particularly like the use of angles on their services page. The color scheme is bright and refreshing as is their element design (their logo is especially fun). However some elements are a bit bothersome. Transitioning between sections can get a bit buggy at times and the way project images fly in as you scroll is a bit tricky to navigate (not to mention that the case study pages themselves carry over little to none of the homepages eccentricities though I do like how they paginate).

La Moulande

Lastly in the moving world, if you’ve never had the joy of being introduced to the magic of Math, and more specifically the Fibonacci sequence, do yourself a favor and watch this video below. I find the fact that such beauty and order exists in the seemingly chaotic world of nature very moving.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

The Futures of Entertainment conference brings together artists, artisans, technicians, academics and real-world producers for a lively conversation about the future of media, culture, marketing and entertainment. The conference was started by Henry Jenkins and is now also the sister conference to Transmedia Hollywood, which occurs on alternating years. Jenkins explains the conference best:

The goal of the conference is to provide a meeting ground for forward thinking people in the creative industries and academia to talk with each other about the trends that are impacting how entertainment is produced, circulated, and engaged with. Through the years, the conference has developed its own community, which includes alums of the Comparative Media Studies Program who see the conference as a kind of homecoming, other academics who have found it a unique space to engage with contemporary practices and issues, and industry leaders, many of them former speakers, who return because it offers them a chance to think beyond the established wisdom within their own companies. Our goal is to create a space where academics do not read papers and industry folks don’t present prospectus-laden powerpoints or talk about “take-aways” and “deliverables,” but people engage honestly, critically, openly about topics of shared interest.

This year FoA5 took place on November 11-12 with a special event on the eve of the conference. Here are summaries of all the sessions with links to the videos.

Pre-Conference

Global Creative Cities and the Future of Entertainment.

Today, new entertainment production cultures are arising around key cities like Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro. What do these changes mean for the international flow of media content? And how does the nature of these cities help shape the entertainment industries they are fostering? At the same time, new means of media production and circulation allow people to produce content from suburban or rural areas. How do these trends co-exist? And what does it mean for the futures of entertainment?

Moderator: Maurício Mota (The Alchemists)
Panelists: Parmesh Shahani (Godrej Industries, India), Ernie Wilson (University of Southern California) and Sérgio Sá Leitão (Rio Filmes)

Day 1

Introduction (8:30-9:00 a.m.)
William Uricchio (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Ilya Vedrashko (Hill Holliday)

Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Society. (9:00-10:00 a.m.)

How are the shifting relations between media producers and their audiences transforming the concept of meaningful participation? And how do alternative systems for the circulation of media texts pave the way for new production modes, alternative genres of content, and new relationships between producers and audiences? Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green-co-authors of the forthcoming book Spreadable Media-share recent experiments from independent filmmakers, video game designers, comic book creators, and artists and discuss the promises and challenges of models for deeper audience participation with the media industries, setting the stage for the issues covered by the conference.

Speakers: Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California), Sam Ford (Peppercom Strategic Communications) and Joshua Green (Undercurrent)

Collaboration? Emerging Models for Audiences to Participate in Entertainment Decision-Making. (10:15 a.m.-11:45 p.m.)

In an era where fans are lobbying advertisers to keep their favorite shows from being cancelled, advertisers are shunning networks to protest on the fans’ behalf and content creators are launching web ventures in conversation with their audiences, there appears to be more opportunity than ever for closer collaboration between content creators and their most ardent fans. What models are being attempted as a way forward, and what can we learn from them? And what challenges exist in pursuing that participation for fans and for creators alike?

Moderator: Sheila Seles (Advertising Research Foundation)
Panelists: C. Lee Harrington (Miami University), Seung Bak (Dramafever) and Jamin Warren (Kill Screen)

Creating with the Crowd: Crowdsourcing for Funding, Producing and Circulating Media Content. (12:45-2:45 p.m.)
Beyond the buzzword and gimmicks using the concept, crowdsourcing is emerging as a new way in which creators are funding media production, inviting audiences into the creation process and exploring new and innovative means of circulating media content. What are some of the innovative projects forging new paths forward, and what can be learned from them? How are attempts at crowdsourcing creating richer media content and greater ownership for fans? And what are the barriers and risks ahead for making these models more prevalent?

Moderator: Ana Domb (Almabrands, Chile)
Panelists: Mirko Schäfer (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Bruno Natal (Queremos, Brazil), Timo Vuorensola (Wreckamovie, Finland) and Caitlin Boyle (Film Sprout)

Here We Are Now (Entertain Us): Location, Mobile, and How Data Tells Stories (3:15-4:45 p.m.)

Location-based services and context-aware technologies are altering the way we encounter our environments and producing enormous volumes of data about where we go, what we do, and how we live and interact. How are these changes transforming the ways we engage with our physical world, and with each other? What kind of stories does the data produce, and what do they tell us about our culture and social behaviors? What opportunities and perils does this information have for businesses and individuals? What are the implications for brands, audiences, content producers, and media companies?

Moderator: Xiaochang Li (New York University)
Panelists: Germaine Halegoua (University of Kansas), Dan Street (Loku) and Andy Ellwood (Gowalla)

At What Cost?: The Privacy Issues that Must Be Considered in a Digital World. (5:00-6:00 p.m.)

The vast range of new experiments to facilitated greater audience participation and more personalized media content bring are often accomplished through much deeper uses of audience data and platforms whose business models are built on the collection and use of data. What privacy issues must be considered beneath the enthusiasm for these new innovations? What are the fault lines beneath the surface of digital entertainment and marketing, and what is the appropriate balance between new modes of communication and communication privacy?
Participants: Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard University) and Helen Nissenbaum (New York University)

Day 2

Introduction (8:30-9:00 a.m.)
Grant McCracken (author of Chief Culture Officer; Culturematic)

The Futures of Serialized Storytelling (9:00-11:00 a.m.)
New means of digital circulation, audience engagement and fan activism have brought with it a variety of experiments with serialized video storytelling. What can we learn from some of the most compelling emerging ways to tell ongoing stories through online video, cross-platform features and applications and real world engagement? What models for content creation are emerging, and what are the stakes for content creators and audiences alike?

Moderator: Laurie Baird (Georgia Tech)
Panelists: Matt Locke (Storythings, UK), Steve Coulson (Campfire), Lynn Liccardo (soap opera critic), and Denise Mann (University of California-Los Angeles)

The Futures of Children’s Media (11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)
Children’s media has long been an innovator in creating new ways of storytelling. In a digital era, what emerging practices are changing the ways in which stories are being told to children, and what are the challenges unique to children’s properties in an online communication environment?

Moderator: Sarah Banet-Weiser (University of Southern California)
Panelists: Melissa Anelli (The Leaky Cauldron), Gary Goldberger (FableVision) and John Bartlett (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Futures of Nonfiction Storytelling (2:15-4:15 p.m.)
Digital communication has arguably impacted the lives of journalists more than any other media practitioner. But new platforms and ways of circulating content are providing vast new opportunities for journalists and documentarians. How have-and might-nonfiction storytellers incorporate many of the emerging strategies of transmedia storytelling and audience participation from marketing and entertainment, and what experiments are currently underway that are showing the potential paths forward?

Moderator: Johnathan Taplin (University of Southern California)
Panelists: Molly Bingham (photojournalist; founder of ORB); Chris O’Brien (San Jose Mercury News), Patricia Zimmermann (Ithaca College) and Lenny Altschuler (Televisa)

The Futures of Music. (4:45-6:45 p.m.)
The music industry is often cited as the horror story that all other entertainment genres might learn from: how the digital era has laid waste to a traditional business model. But what new models for musicians and for the music industry exist in the wake of this paradigm shift, and what can other media industries learn from emerging models of content creation and circulation?

Moderator: Nancy Baym (Kansas University)
Panelists: Mike King (Berklee College of Music), João Brasil (Brazilian artist), Chuck Fromm (Worship Leader Media), Erin McKeown (musical artist and fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University) and Brian Whitman (The Echo Nest)

via henryjenkins.org

What a beautiful weekend it turned out to be here in NYC. I really do like the crisp cold weather but it does tend to make me feel a bit sick so I’m forced to dream of the warm sea.

Kiss the girl

A strange underwater scene this week. While masks appear to be a theme throughout a lot of my sketches, I think they turn up in so much of my work because its an easy, and cool looking, way to resolve a mismatched face or dead look on a character. Sticking to the dark and weird, this week we have the gritty work of Blaz Porenta. It almost shames me to put my own subpar work I banged out in an hour above this but here we go. Through his coarse and complicated dry (digital) brush work and some truly emotive compositions, Porenta’s work conveys both a captivating and kinetic energy.

The Hit
20 000 Miles Lost

Even better Porenta has a detailed walkthrough of his process for the piece directly above to help out budding digital illustrators like myself. I will definitely be stepping through this later on (though work of this level is so very time consuming, especially when trying to acclimate to the digital medium). On his work, I love the way he manages to use a very bright, thorough, color palette despite the apparent darkness of each piece. His use of color in fact contradicts one’s assumptions for the scene drastically adding to the piece. Especially in the second work above, we can see a Crayola’s box worth of colors used throughout the piece to great affect, keeping the eye engaged and the scene interesting.

Speaking of kinetic, the site for 901 Tequila (Justin Timberlake’s own tequila brand) is truly dynamic. As appears to be the fashion, this site is a long-form anchored site with responsive scrolling (every cool new site now is either like this or filled with heavy vector graphics on an intriguing layout).

901Tequila

While sites like this are becoming more and more common despite their heavy reliance on this single gimmick and apparent inflexibility of content, I feel 901′s is worth mention for its use of user generated content. Though somewhat hidden, the site contains user tweets from different timeframes throughout the page in keeping with the company’s “night starts at 9:01pm” branding. Furthermore, the small self contained widgets like the user sunset photo gallery or the small tequila process slideshow are cleverly designed and fun to use. An especially cool inclusion is the built in Google maps zipcode search to find the product near you accessed by clicking “Find 901.” In fact, the only problem I have with the site is that besides the five sections clearly marked on the left hand side, much of the best functionality is hidden by either a lack of a clear calls-t0-action or the sometimes crowded layout of the subsections. Regardless, overall a great example of combining responsive scrolling, interesting content, social networking and clear branding all into one site.

Lastly, I’d like to share this well done documentary I have to thank for introducing me to my new favorite band: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Not only are they super hip (since they’re relatively unknown) but their sound is very unique and varies nicely song to song while staying firmly in the electronic dance/ambient camp. Beyond their music, it’s clear that the band has a strong bevy of visual artists working with them. From their neo-electro costumes to their bright pink videos I thoroughly enjoy their unique homespun aesthetic. I only wish they had more work easily available in the US. Their recent single “Garden” seems to have gained a good bit of attention lately due to a Nokia spot so here’s to a bright future.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity, in essence it is the very opposite of the cloud. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.

Written and edited by Ben Mendelsohn.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.