Check it out: it’s our blog!

We’ll use this blog this semester primarily as a location for you to post your thoughts, reflections and ideas about various topics that I will assign. You have the ability–and will actually be required– to comment on one another’s posts.

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Title Sequences

The art of title sequences is an area of design that is easily overlooked. An average viewer would never take into account the deliberate placement or positioning of each name or title. I find it really interesting how the backgrounds range from relatively simple and vague, like those in Great Expectations, to over the top complex scenes and transitions, such as the title sequence in Skyfall. I don’t necessarily think one is more effective than the other, but rather that they are appropriate for different types of films. I do find myself gravitating more towards the simple sequences like Great Expectations. So much emphasis is put on the tiny details such as where the text is placed and how it enters and leaves the screen. I love opportunities for a designer to evoke strong emotions in such an incredibly subtle manner. I watched so many of these videos, but one other sequence worth noting is in Sherlock Holmes. The combination of movie scenes and illustrations is fascinating. It adds so much personality to the film and really ties it all together.

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Pica Towers

I have to commend the designers for the suspense they created in such a short period of time. Something about the music and the distressed affect on the animations really creeped me out and I feel like if I were to watch these videos several times there would be so much to interpret.  Instead, I’m going to reflect on the first time I viewed them since I hate suspense. The use of sound effects was minimal but extremely effective, setting you up for the stark contrast when certain important sounds, like the gunshot, are used. While watching the videos the viewer is bound to crave a backstory and a deeper understanding. It’s remarkable that the designers were able to evoke such a wide range of emotions in such a short amount of time and with such little details. Finally, the combination of the basic cartoonish characters and the dark, twisted storyline really adds to the intrigue. At first glance you would expect a more upbeat plot, but instead are drawn in and, in my case, extremely disturbed by animated murders.

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79 Essays – Mr. Vignelli’s Map

Not exactly sure how I feel about this topic … In my mind it brings up the conflict of you can’t have either/or – beauty & functionality – and have great design. Vignelli’s map apparently placed a heavy emphasis on the beauty aspect and not the functionality, according to this essay. The result, clearly a failure as a new map had to later be introduced.

That said, I’m not completely sold that Vignelli did not pay attention to functionality. In regards to placing a heavy emphasis on geography (the representation of Central Park serving as an example), yes, he fell short. However, to downsize the scale of Central Park simply because there not as many stop points as you would find in the city street sections makes logical sense. I understand the confusion that it could cause for visitors, but it does make sense to a degree for me.

On the other hand, it’s clear how that thought process in design could cause a problem.

I’m not sure if I agree with the writer or disagree in regards to this being a good piece of design. I see both sides of the spectrum and haven’t yet chosen a side.

Posted in Seventy-nine Short Essays On Design | 9 Comments

Short Films

The two videos I chose to watch were Embrace and Table.

Embrace- I like the circle camera motion at the begin. It centers everything in on the couple and the moment they are having. It also slowly reveals the woman’s facial expression. The man’s face is often hidden by the woman. It is hard to get a clear look at him. I love the desperation between them both. The final shot is very haunting. I found some of the audio confusing and difficult to understand what they were saying. That could be due to noise factors where I’m watching or an artistic choice.

Table- The first thing that strikes me is the warm light. It goes nicely with the clear tension between the characters. Good writing to build the mystery on why the male character is running away. That being said, I’m not sure I care. I don’t find either character particularly likable. I’m not sure I understood what happened in this piece. Stylistically, it was okay. I think I preferred “Embrace” though.

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Harry Marks

Harry Marks is brilliant and inspiring. I absolutely love watching these videos and finding connections in what I have already experienced in terms of challenges during my career and how one should approach design and creation with an open mind.

His transition from book designing and type design into broadcasting design is fascinating. The feeling he describes and the picture he paints of taking on something new that he had no experience with or idea of how to go about something sounds like a complete reflection of myself in how the iMedia program, and design specifically, has welcomed me or in other cases rejected me.

I have felt lost on so many occasions in how to produce something – how to translate what was in my head onto the computer screen or a piece of paper. That, along with simply learning the tools, has been challenging. It has taken me outside of my box and comfort zone. Marks did that and flourished. It’s so inspirational how he was not afraid to dream up ideas – things some might think to be crazy. His willingness to embrace new technologies and push forward is admirable. For so many, including myself, the tendency to want to stick with what you know is a great obstacle and he never let it become even a blip on his radar.

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First, I have to comment I found this video very difficult to watch due to the narration. The big take away for me regarded the navigation and consistency of design. The simple swipe functions and scroll are navigation functions users will be familiar with and should be utilized. The design must also make sense. Colors and layouts should remain the same while keeping in mind that “the content is the interface.” Interface design should not limit content and we must always remember the value of screen resolution.

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The Good News- Clever use of camera work. I loved the rotation at the beginning. I also love the black/white/gray scale everything has. It is difficult to balance that with emotion but feel like it works well. The final zoom in shot is brilliant and dramatic.

Hounds of Flesh- The blind guy is wonderfully done. I love how we walks at an angle towards off screen as he approaches the ‘dog’. Even though you don’t see him fall down the stairs, it is obvious to the viewer that is what happened. Instead of a close up, this one ends by pulling back on the scene. It conveys a nice different type of dramatic setting.

Pizza Sangre- Great opening shot. It is pretty irresponsible to leave the car door open. Also, why did he park so far away? Did the dog live??? (Inquiring minds want to know!) This was my least favorite of the three. I found it to be a little disappointing compared to the other two. I love the camera movements as he gets shot. It establishes that distance and flow and height. But now I’m left with more questions I don’t know the answer to. Are more of these to follow? I hope so.

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Thirty Conversations on Design

Something I love about all of these videos is how broad of an interpretation the artists give to design. It’s easy to adopt a bit of tunnel vision when immersed in the graphic design world and it’s so important to step back and think about design from a wider perspective, encompassing everything from engineering to architecture.

So many of these videos were great but the three that stood out to me were Daniel Pink, Deborah Adler and Tina Roth Eisenberg. First, Daniel Pink won me over when talking about the eraser. It’s pretty much my favorite invention. He discussed the value in making mistakes and I’ve found that when you’re designing sometimes your best ideas develop out of the failure of others or the occasional happy accident. “If you can erase, you can create.” I couldn’t agree more. And also I hold my pencil really strangely and it creates a lot of lead smudges. The eraser is my best friend.

Deborah Adler’s video, “The Heart,” also stood out to me because I have always looked at design as a method of problem solving, which is something she addresses directly in the video. Deborah doesn’t define a designer’s strengths by their style or aesthetics, but instead looks at the inspiration and the heart of the design. I love the idea of solving problems through design in a very human way. It may be idealistic to hope to make an impact on the world through my next design position, but the end goal for me is to feel connected to other people through my designs and solve problems in unconventional ways.

Tina Roth Eisenberg’s video really blew me away. First, she started talking about firewood in Switzerland and how they have an internal need to arrange things meticulously and orderly. I would absolutely fit in there. She made a great point about how cultural differences influence design, and this is actually a huge area of interest for me, but right now mostly I just want to move to Switzerland with all the orderly firewood.  Then, of all the possible problems that design could solve, she started talking about safe drinking water! A field that I’ve been passionate about for years and hope to get involved in more deeply, starting with my Capstone project. She basically summarized my fascination with the water crisis, discussing how design combined with engineering can help solve the global drinking water problem. So perfect.

I’d also like to point out that I, of course, watched Jessica Hische’s video and she is as awesome as ever.

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Short Films

I watched Soldiers first and Wow. One of the most powerful two minutes of film that I have watched. At first the camera angles and use of color with the soldier lends itself to him being at the cemetery with his mother. When the soldier behind him pushes him towards his mother, my first thought was he was a brother that had passed away in the war based on him being blurred. Then as the narrative takes Michael to point of speaking and his mother was not directly responding – not looking up at him it became very evident he was dead. The slow movement of the camera, the wide, versus close shots of the faces really creates the tension and the sadness of the moment.

The second video I watched was Roof. The film used closeups and black and white footage to really create a somber, dire mood at first. Then as the dialogue increased, the tension grew more to anger between the characters. The techniques of showing side angles of the two who fought really shows the closeness of the group, as they try to handle the stress of the moment in their own individual ways.

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Title Sequences

The two that I looked at first were The Pillars of the Earth and The Dark Knight Rises title sequences. The first thing that stood out to me about how the type was presented was the brokenness of the typeface, blurred in some cases. Each title sequence presented a dark and threatening tone, and the type helped in getting that point across. Simple lines, straightforward with no “fluff” to the type. The mood is clearly set by the music, as well as the dark color tones, but the text plays right into the theme.

The title sequence for Doctor Who is more than humorous for me – simply because of the music and they psychedelic approach to design that was so prominent in the 1960s. Aside from that, it was simple and mysterious. The type itself was simple and honestly quite ugly. But the use of scale taking the text deep into the screen portrayed a deep and driving type of story line.

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