Archive for June, 2007

More Than Meets the Eye

June 28th, 2007

I am dang excited for the movieTransformers. The trailers look pretty sweet, and I do love all the high explosive action from Michael Bay, but the fact that the autobots are now showing up on TV commercials as Chevys, GMCs, and Pontiacs has me a little bugged.

I realize now that I’m older that movies are made for a couple reasons and the top one probably being money (not true with all films but a lot of the summer block busters are all about the money), but I do get tired of product placement in movies. It’s one thing if it’s subtle, but when your main characters are the 2008 line up of parent company GM it bugs. I’m sure the movie would be plenty successful without the sponsership of GM, and Hasbro would sell just as many toys if they the Transformers were a Toyota Prius, VW bug (like Bumble Bee used to be in the cartoons), or my neighbor’s 35 foot camping utility vehicle. How much money does Michael Bay need? or is it Dreamworks that insist on whoring away the movie by selling the transformers to the highest bidder? I wish Hollywood would refocus on the craft and art of storytelling instead of turning movies into franchises that can be sold not only in Kids Meals but to adults too.

I’m still going see Transformers and I’ll probably like it despite the two and half hour GM car commercial it might be. I do know if I was from an advanced civilization and could transform into any kind of machinery I honestly don’t think Pontiac and GMC would be my top picks.

Den Mother

June 28th, 2007

I am a Boy Scout scout master (sometimes I feel more den mother than leader). Me and another bloke (Joe) in my neighborhood have four 11 year olds that we teach scout stuff to every week—I’m talking merit badges, flag ceremonies, camp-outs, scout oaths, motto… and I’ve only been at it for a couple weeks. It’s a lot of fun and not nearly as time consuming as the older scout program. The kids are pretty funny too.

Yesterday, Joe and I were holding scouts in his backyard teaching the boys about knife and axe safety. After some good demonstrations and talks about safety I thought we were doing a pretty good job and so we decided to allow the boys the chance to chop wood. It was difficult at first because all the boys wanted to be lumber jacks and swing the axe over their shoulder and have the wood split with great zeal. But eleven year olds don’t have the strongest arms so we showed them proper ways to split wood safely and without having to recklessly swing the axe only to have it bounce off the stump.

Zach was at his turn splitting wood and his log was getting pretty small so we told him he needed to switch from the heavy axe to the hatchet. He protested and said he could do it, and with his next chop he missed the log and hit his hand that was steadying the piece of wood. Now, luckily it wasn’t a full force blow, in-fact it was more just the weight of the axe head dropping onto his hand.

Zach started to run around and shouting he needed a band-aide. From where I was standing it looked like a mere scratch and Joe took him inside to bandage the wound. Scouts was over after that so I sent the other boy home and went inside to see how Zach was fairing, and Joe tells me, “I think he needs stitches.” Since Zach lives just through the fence of my yard I had the pleasure of taking him home which I was dreading. How do you tell your neighbor that while their son was at Scouts he nearly took his hand off? So much for knife and axe safety. I think if a boy cuts his hand you fail.

We pull up out side Zach’s house and his mom is in the driveway talking to another neighbor. As soon as Zach gets out I say, “Laurie, there’s been an accident,” and Zach runs into the house and screams, “I don’t wanna talk about it! Don’t ask!” (he had a hard time looking at the wound or talking about it without freaking out). It was not easy to explain, but fortunately Laurie was more worried that her son may have broken somebody’s window or cause damage to something.

I felt really bad and to top it off last night later they stop by to show me Zach’s neon green bandage and so he brag about his 9 or 10 stitches. Laurie also wanted to tell me it wasn’t a big deal and that I was still a good leader. That’s the last time I let an eleven year old around an axe.

Main Title Animated Sequence

June 20th, 2007

For lack of anything better to post about I thought I’d post about a movie, Stranger Than Fiction. I put off seeing this movie for a long time. In-fact most of you have probably seen this show months ago, but I hate Will Ferrel—I haven’t seen a movie staring him since Bewitched, and had planned on avoiding any and all shows that cast him—and with nothing on TV I’m looking for anything to add to my cue on Netflix. I’m not going to talk about the show or plot (the show was actually pretty funny), but the best part for me was the motion and use of typography to show Harold Crick’s counting methods. It was refreshing to see typography and graphic elements to help illustrate Harold’s IRS agent mind.

The end credits were smartly done too. In-fact I somewhat miss how old shows had an overture or main title animation to list credits. I admit many of them where just boring and now we fast-forward past them (Sound of Music), but I think of How to Kill a Mocking Bird and how in the first five minutes all we see is the contents of an old shoe-box that basically foreshadows and tells the story of what’s to come. Today we rarely get that. Often those elements are put at the end of the movie. A few that I can think of that are as strong as the show itself would be The Incredibles, Lemony Snicket’s, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, and now Stranger than Fiction. Some movies don’t even incorporate any kind of graphic styling, but for the movies that do why don’t they put them at the first? They’re only about two or three minutes and they usually add to the movie not take away? Three movies I can think of that should get rid of their long credit intros would be Spider-Man (1, 2, and 3)—honestly how many times can we go through the cgi world of webbed DNA.

So long post short watch Stranger Than Fiction and enjoy all the wonderful graphic design elements that really help out the story. And maybe one day we’ll see the rebirth of the beginning main title animated sequence.

Not The Baby Internet

June 9th, 2007

With the iPhone slated for an end of June debut I have one reservation before I wait in line to get my grubby paws on one—flash. Will the iPhone have Flash support? Mr. Jobs has said numerous times that the iPhone features safari and offers the “full internet” not the “baby internet” or “mobile internet”, but back in January when Steve demoed the iPhone it was apparent that the flash portions of the New York Times were not showing up. Although in the new TV ads for the iPhone the web pages loaded seem to have no missing flash content. Does Apple have Flash running on the iPhone? I think the internet without flash would be more like the adolescent internet or worse the pre-pubecent internet and not what Mr. Jobs is selling. If any of my readers happened to be one of the few with a preproduction iPhone please send a comment if your phone can properly see MARCFOLIO.COM or this page for that matter.

Ok, Apple product number 2. I think the AppleTV is pretty cool (cool enough to be wishing for one for father’s day). A few years back I put a mod chip into my xbox and with that it added the functionality of using the xbox to watch content stored on any computer in the house. We use it to watch shows we normally wouldn’t be able to because they’re not offered here in the US or there’s some pretty cool content that would never be offered on TV because the audience is pretty specific (for some inspiring interviews from top Graphic Designers check out Hillman Curtis and click “film and video”).

Getting video content from the web is pretty easy, but it’s never been easy to watch it on your TV where viewing is much better than being hunched over your keyboard. The modded xbox makes that possible and the AppleTV could be but it also requires a great deal of tinkering/ hacking to make it what the hacker community of the modded xbox has created. So my rant is two part. If the iPod when launched could play mp3’s (most of which people had from the napster days) and almost every other file thrown at it why couldn’t they make that with the AppleTV? Second, Apple last week announced that they would be offering YouTube videos on the AppleTV, and that they were working with the Google boys to re-encode all the YouTube videos from flash to h.264 files. What’s frustrating is with a simple codec from Perian you can watch flash files right in Quicktime (along with a dozen or more other file formats). What’s interesting is that the hackers of the AppleTV have already provided a way to view YouTube videos on the AppleTV and they didn’t require the video be re-encoded (I bet the temperature in San Francisco rises a couple degrees over the summer from all the servers running red hot to re-encode all the YouTube content).

That brings up a question why? What’s a company the size of Google doing bowing down to Apple when Apple could create a solution in a matter of days that supports YouTube in it’s current form? The other thing that’s off here is .flv video files (files used for flash video) are actually higher quality and smaller in size than QuickTime h.264. It doesn’t make much sense except that YouTube will probably be offered on the iPhone and the iPhone doesn’t support flash so therefore Google re-encodes all their video to QuickTime in order to be on everyones’ iPhone. Suck.

They are connected.

Anyway, I’m sure I lost most my readers in the first paragraph and if you made it this far you are very loyal. Apple has brought some great products to market, and they probably work great for most the users that own them. But I think they can do more. I don’t know what’s stopping them from satisfying all their customers. Maybe one day I’ll sit down with Steve and talk one on one about Apple’s latest short comings.