Flash Doodle

Flash rocks. I did this little doodler app (posted here on my blog) in about 45 minutes with 17 lines of code. Just click and drag in the white box to draw pretty picture. It isn’t saved anywhere, so don’t get too attached to your masterpiece. Hit your browser’s refresh button to get back to a clean slate.

Work has been very busy lately. As a self-employed guy, that is a good thing, but it isn’t always easy to remember that when you are working into the wee hours of the morning, or trapped in an airport having missed your flight, or looking at a calendar with the production schedules of several projects wondering just what it is you have done to yourself.

I’ve also been preparing for a design course I am about to teach, and in doing so have been coming across a lot of material that deals with the creative process. A recurring theme in the literature seems to be that you have to stay inspired to do your job right as a creative professional. One way to do that is to set time aside to play in the muck with the tools you use to do your work on non-work related projects.

With that in mind, I decided to make a very simple drawing program with Flash. It worked! I am now all fired up about accomplishing a bunch of client changes to a project that well, to put it mildly, I wasn’t fired up about before.

Seeking Design Course Advice

I’ll be teaching a course titled “Graphic Design for the Web” at Camosun College here in Victoria in December. I’ll actually be teaching 2 sections concurrently. It will be a 16 hour course, and as it has never been taught before, I’ll be developing the outline and content for it.

This is a pretty big challenge for me. I taught my course in Flash at Langara last summer, and really enjoyed it. It was a course that was focused around using a particular piece of software, however. Design is a more abstract concept, and while I am looking forward to teaching again, I am also trepidatious – how do I fill up 16 hours of class time in an entertaining and compelling way? How do I put my past experience as a graphic designer into words? I find enough challenge in creating design work – trying to describe the process to a class will be another thing entirely.

This is a request for anyone out there, who has had any experience learning, teaching or practising graphic design. If you have any ideas about what works or doesn’t work in a classroom, or perhaps a book or article or website recommendation, please leave a comment. Of particular interest would be group exercises I could use to engage my students in thinking critically about graphic design.

Previous Van Owner

So the other day, Julie and I were out and about in the camper van, and we stopped at the Noodle Box on Fisgard to grab some takeout noodles. It’s a takeout place, so we ate in the van. I love that thing. Everywhere I go, I can sit on my couch if I so desire!

After eating, we were taking our trash out to a garbage can, and I was stopped by a young guy who asked if the van was mine. I replied that it was.

“Oh really?” he said, “It used to be mine!”

It was awesome to meet this guy. He bought it from the people who bought it from the people who bought it new, and he sold it to the people who sold it to the people who sold it to me. He owned it when the window I replaced was broken – he was living in the van at that time and had heirlooms and valuables stolen. I think he was glad to see it repaired. He also was the guy who built the folding bed that is in there currently, which I have to say, he did a really nice job of!

He knew things about the van that I never would have known. It had a rebuilt engine installed in the mid nineties. Apparently they installed it because the last engine caught fire, and nearly anything flammable was replaced in the front half of the van at the same time. I never would have known. I bought a fire extinguisher for it the next day.

He bought it in Nelson and brought it here. His original plan was to drive it to Mexico. That plan was at least parially steimied by the break-in.

He is a custom metalwork fabricator, and used his skills to rebuild the furnace. I suddenly have much more confidence in it.

He said there was a story about the twisted rear bumper, and mentioned that it had to do with the van being trapped in a ditch deeper than it’s height, which must be at least 8 feet.

He also mentioned the van’s nickname was “Chubby”. Still is, as far as I am concerned.

Back at home

image

So I got back to Victoria from Toronto 5 days ago, but it still feels like I just got off the plane. I was working there on a large corporate show for London Drugs, and shows like that frequently ramp up in intensity as time gets closer to the point when the house doors open. It really was pretty intense towards the end.

The setup was very cool. we had 7 screens in an arts centre theatre. Each screen was 16’ by 12’, and they were set up with 4 in a row across the top and 3 in a row underneath. The system we were working with allowed us to run these 7 screens as if they were one canvas in full motion and at high res. The result is a projected image that uses about 3 or 4 times the number of pixels than there are on a hi-definition tv.

It looked awesome. As a motion graphics designer, it’s hard to describe what it’s like to see your work projected over 60 feet wide and 30 feet tall in a big theatre. Even at a shlocky corporate gig, you feel like a big movie star.

Changes from the client included making what was originally a slide show with about 20 cues into one with around 400, which we had to collect assets for, storyboard, and program in the space of 48 hours. There wasn’t much sleep involved in that time. On the show day, however, when the last spacebar press put the last image on the awesome collection of screens in front of 1200 pairs of eyeballs, the high of knowing everything we’d worked for executed the way it should is hard to describe. This effect is heightened with the relief one feels when turning attention from the next task at hand instead to the flight home.

Show biz.

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In other news, check out my awesome new phone! I needed a phone for my desk. I always misplace the cordless one, so here is the opposite. Picked it up on eBay, cheap like borscht!

It’s amazing how refreshing it is to hear a bell ring instead of a digitally generated ring tone.

I am also ashamed to admit how many phone calls I realize I don’t need to make in the extra time it takes to dial a rotary phone.

And it looks cool and iconic. It’s a small thing, but I am taking pleasure in it.

You might find it interesting to note that I took the photograph above with a phone. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to take a photograph of a retro toaster with a new wireless toaster. Better yet, make toast with a new cell phone. Who knows? The wonders never cease.