Wednesday, February 22, 2006

PODCASTS
lynda.com Announces New Podcast Series
In a February 15th press release, lynda.com announced a new podcast series offering breaking news and upcoming events in the graphic design, photography, audio/video, and web design industries. The series also presents weekly updates about lynda.com's newest training titles. The podcasts answer real-world questions from software users, and offer tips and shortcuts for many popular applications. To subscribe to the podcast, visit the iTunes Music Store.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

DESIGN
Olympic Medals Exhibit Modern Design
The Torino 2006 Winter Olympics medals exhibit an elegant, modern design. The round medal has a hole in its center, through which the ribbon is looped. The elegant simplicity of its engineering does not require sewing. Its design reflects pure geometry and ribbon topology. The front of the medal includes the symbol of the games and the back features pictograms of the specific sports discipline in which the ribbon was won. Its relief surface has carefully been textured with shiny and satiny areas.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

COMMENTARY
The Importance of The Visual
Visual communicators often place more emphasis on the visual rather than the verbal. It is believed images hold an audience's attention more readily than does a great deal of text to read or a talking head on TV. I came across the following passage recently. It relates to a current trend in news reports to convey stories visually by means of re-enactments.


Long, complicated stories don't work well on television because a viewer might change channels. Similarly, images are dramatic and emotional to rivet the viewer to the content of the program (so the viewer will be ready to watch the ads)...As economic pressures become greater and advertising dollars become scarcer, the tabloid journalism mentality--the idea that anything can be aired as long as there are pictures--becomes a part of mainstream journalistic practice.


Lester, Paul Martin (2006). Visual Communication. Images With Messages, 4th edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education. p. 87.


Almost the same day as I read this, I watched a TV news report of a tragic drunk driving accident, which confirmed Dr. Lester's statement. Michael Sanchez had just graduated high school and his entire future lay ahead of him. Sadly, his life was cut short by a car wreck following a celebration in which he and other people drank alcohol.

The news video shows a low camera angle from the car's point of view as it jumps a curb and collides with a tree. Then the video cuts to actual news footage of the wrecked car. A fast music track and quick video editing imparts an MTV-music-video quality to the report. The story flashes back to a re-enactment of the celebration. Blurred video communicates the intoxication of the celebrators. The next re-enacted scene cuts to a close-up shot of the young man's legs as he staggers to his car.

See the video for yourself at Univision.com. It's in Spanish, but the message is clear. You have to register for free, and see the video via Windows Media Player 10.

Ten years ago, news stories relayed information verbally. A reporter would verbally state the details. For variety, witnesses were interviewed, and they conveyed information verbally as well. Video or film footage was gold, but journalistic integrity was prized above the ability to show a video. Staged re-enactments were considered unethical, as the videographer might color the story from a biased point-of-view. Whenever someone staged a re-enactment, it was clearly labeled as such. Notice the lack of such a label in the news story linked above.

Today, there is a controversy as to whether the importance of visuals outweigh the importance of an unbiased presentation, or even if literacy is on the decline due to heavy reliance on visuals. We must keep in mind that as communicators, we are responsible for the roles our individual hands play in shaping society. Give audiences credit for thinking. It would be a self-fulfilling prophecy to dumb-down mass communications, as the result would be dumber audiences and a dumber society.

Friday, February 10, 2006

VIDEOS
Super Bowl Commercials
If you missed the Super Bowl, you can still catch all the commercials at www.ifilm.com/superbowl.

My favorites are all the ads laden with special effects--the FedEx caveman, the Motorola PEBL, MacGyver's Mastercard, Toyota Tacoma Invincible and ESPN Mobile Sports Heaven. As for the ads that don't rely heavily on CGI or SPFX, my favorites are Leonard Nimoy advertising Aleve, CareerBuilder's Monkey Party, Sprint--A Song for Every Ocassion, Fidelity Federal and Paul McCartney, and Michelob Ultra Touch Football ("You were open, but now you're closed!!!").

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

LECTURE
Glenn Lowry, Rethinking the Modern
Glenn Lowry, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, will present a lecture on the recent renovation of the museum and his perspectives on the historical progress of the modern art movement.

The lecture will be held Friday, February 17th at 8 p.m. in the Green Library of Florida International University's University Park Campus, room GL100, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum. (Mapquest Map) The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, call 305-348-2890.

Friday, February 03, 2006

CURRENCY DESIGN
The Swiss Have a New Banknote Design

European currency designs are works of modern art that deserve to hang in museums, but instead sit folded in your wallet. In a November 23rd, 2005 press release (PDF, 70K), the Swiss National Bank announced the winners of a competition for the artistic design of their new banknote series. Twelve artists were invited to present their designs for all six denominations on the theme "Switzerland open to the world."

The participants were:

Manuel Krebs, 1st Prize Winner
Manuela Pfrunder, 2nd Prize Winner
Martin Woodtli, 2nd Prize Winner (ex aequo)
Davide Ackermann
Andre Baldinger
Markus Galizinski
Hans Gruninger
Aude Lehmann
Andreas Netthoevel
Sabina Oberholzer
Michael Renner

Switzerland is not a member nation of the European Union, and does not circulate Euros, but rather Swiss Francs.
PODCASTS
Get Your Daily Dose of Photoshop Killer Tips
Is once-per-week Photoshop TV not enough to satisfy your craving for tips, tricks and techniques? Matt Kloskowski hosts a new three-minute daily video podcast called Photoshop CS2 Killer Tips, produced by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.