October 15, 2011
(2006) - NYSee was a 5 year side project that began long before Google Maps launched Street View. In fact, it was publicly displayed just one year before Google pretty much made this project irrelevant. But the body of work remains, and the entirety of it was done solely on my own.
The crazy idea back in the year 2001 was to videotape every single street in Manhattan, and construct a program to allow a user to turn at any intersection within each video. Underestimation occured at practically every step, but at each point, I'd just gone too far to quit.
Planning a meticulous route that would take me through every single street of Manhattan and building a custom camera mount that I could rig up to whatever rental car I got took me a year to complete. It all paid off in the actual filming part which surprisingly took me only 10 days. That's 10 days where I covered the whole city, every street, in every legal direction, including all highway on and off ramps and every bridge and tunnel in and out of Manhattan save the Cross Bronx Expressway which I scrapped dues to its complexity and exhaustion from 10 days of 8 hour non-stop driving.
Over 4000 hours of video then had to be transferred to hard drive, all through a single mini-dv deck, one tape at a time. The biggest task actually came next, and that was to edit the frames of every single street so that playing it would move down the street at a continous pace, no slowing down for lights or acceleration from stops. This took me 3 entire years, all in spare time. No fancy editing environment. Just Quicktime Pro, copying and pasting frames like stop-motion. Without a ShuttlePro, this probably would've taken me twice as long.
Once I had all the final edited video, I pulled it all together in Macromedia Director with a custom database, embedded map built in Flash which communicated with the core Director program to follow along with the video, and various audio clips matched with the level of traffic in each frame to enhance the experience.
The design left something to be desired, but I was happy just to get it working, and I barely got it finished in time to be accepted into Ars Electronica 2006, the annual festival of art and technology held in Linz, Austria.
(2009) - The Realm was an animated web series with custom artwork by renowned comic book artist Mike Mayhew. It featured four superheroes, each representing an aspect of Cisco's Security solution, following their defense of an epic virus attack.
A follow-up project allowed people to create their own custom comic page, armed with the entire library of Mayhew's artwork created for the web series, all meticulously outlined and color-corrected.
I designed both websites, starter custom comics, wallpapers and media, the black & white wallpapers in particular being a joy to assemble from Mayhew's gorgeous drawings.
The Realm series won a 2010 Bronze Effie Award and the Comic Creator received a 40th Creativity Annual Awards Platinum Award and w3 Awards Gold.
Watch Episode 1 > Watch Episode 2 > Watch Episode 3 > Watch Episode 4 >
October 14, 2011
(2001) - I was hired to make an animation about a guy and his undeterrable quest to satisfy his craving for a donut. I drew the character and all of the storyboards, planned the entire sequence of events, and animated it and applied a basic soundtrack in Macromedia Flash.
The character style was simple enough, but the client wanted the linework to feel like brushwork which presented a very big production challenge. It was easy enough to apply a brushwork style to the drawings done in Adobe Illustrator, but importing them into Flash required the linework to be "expanded", meaning each line consisted of hundreds of vector points, and each drawing in the thousands. Back in 2001 at least, Flash was very unhappy with that many vector points. So for each and every piece of artwork, I went through an arduous process of decreasing the vector points while maintaining the basic brushstroke look. It worked out in the end, since due to the nature of being animated, the linework is constantly in motion, so the lesser detail of the brushstroke is not so bad.
Watch Donut Run >
(1996-1998) - Before the internet came about, the popular digital distribution media were CD-Roms and floppy disks. I was working for Waters Design at the time in the early days of my career and had done a few playable floppy disk demos for our clients, and the primary limit to design and production was the meager 1.4 megabyte file size limit. It was always a challenge and a lot of time was spent trying different ways of compressing images.
One of the techniques I tried one day was to take a 640x480 background image (that was full-size monitor resolution back then), reduce it to 320x240 pixels, and then resize it to fill the 640x480 space. Since it was a background image, the loss of resolution might not be so bad if we were in a crunch for disk space. This led me to think, what if I took a 40x30 pixel image and blew it up to fill the space? I started making some random pixel drawings, up-sized them to fill the space, and thought that looked pretty dope. The file size was practically zilch since the original image was so tiny, but the effect of it filling the space was pretty strong. I then started making some animations with these tiny images and had so much fun, I just kept making more and more.
I don't quite remember how I came about deciding to turn these into playable floppy disk demos, but it just became a creative outlet for me to make drawings, cartoons, video game commentaries, and just about any random video loop or interactive page I could come up with. Each floppy disk demo consisted of a 40x30 animated menu screen and 4 chapters worth of randomness. On top of that, I added audio loops for each menu screen and chapter, adding to the challenge of cramming as much as I could into the 1.4 megabyte limit.
I didn't really know what to do with them, and purely out of a random idea, I curated a list of agencies and other random people to mail them to. I created and mailed exactly one per week. I guess I was a bit of a troll back then, because I didn't include a note or any contact information, and I just imagined how funny or odd these people must think this is when they get this random disk each week, pop it into their computer, and see this weird-ass shit. One company did manage to track me down, since I always put my name in the bottom corner in small type, and they offered me a job, but I decided not to respond to maintain the oddity of it all.
My goal was to get to 100 of these, but around #45 came the emergence of the internet as a marketing tool, and the fairly immediate death of the floppy disk for promotional purposes. I created a few more targeting the internet as the platform, but without the 1.4 megabyte challenge, it felt somewhat meaningless. I don't know what it was about that silly file size limit, but it just wasn't fun without it. I made a final push to make it to 50 just to get to a round number, but the creativity had been sapped out of it. 50 sounds cooler anyway.
When I was done with them all, I decided to submit them to some award competitions for the heck of it, not expecting anything at all, and it ended up getting accepted into all of them, including the Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual 4, PRINT Digital Design & Illustration Annual 6, and HOW Annaul Self-Promotion Competition. I actually received a call from one of the judges for Communication Arts and was told that while they don't award 1st place, 2nd place and so on, if they did, they would have awarded 1st place to me. I was delighted to hear that. Little did anyone know that essentially, even I had no idea why I did it at all.