Toronto Again


I was in Toronto again in the first week of May.


I was there on business again, working with a client and buddy of mine, Sean, on the content for a corporate show that was happening in the Bahamas. Sean keeps talking about moving back to Vancouver. If he does, I’ll miss these trips to Toronto. It’s a very different scene from Vancouver, and even more different from Victoria. It’s a cool town to visit.


There is a little coffee shop down the street from Sean’s house and home office called the Hastings Snack Bar. Toronto has greasy spoons like no other city I’ve known. It seems every block has one or two of them, and at each one when you walk through the door it’s as if you could be in any decade of the past 60 or 70 years.


At the tail end of the trip, I had nearly a full day to myself. I just walked around for hours. I wound up in one of the city’s several Chinatowns on Spadina Avenue, then wound up on Kensington. It’s a real scene there – it had a feel like many parts of Mexico I have been to, but instead of feeling richly immersed in just one culture that wasn’t the one I grew up with, I felt immersed in dozens. It was a very cool area.


Having lived in the Commercial Drive area of Vancouver for a number of years, I had always said that there was no other place like it. Well, now I have found a place more like Commercial Drive than Commercial Drive is, and that is Kensington in Toronto.

I’ve said it before – I will say it again. I think Toronto gets a bad rap in Canada. Everyone loves to hate it, but as our largest city, and North America’s 5th (after Chicago), it really is a nifty place walk around in.

After Effects Automatic Fade-Out Expression

So, many of you are not really big on using Adobe After Effects for video compositing, but I know some of you are.

I just made a quick little expression that will put a half second fade out on the tail of any layer. It uses the layer’s outpoint as the source for the fade-out, so you don’t have to do any keyframing. Just trim the layer where you want it to end, and this expression will add the fade out. Just copy and paste this as an expression for the opacity property:

if(time<(this_layer.out_point -0.5)){
} else {		
    ( (this_layer.out_point-time)/0.5) * transform.opacity;

Hope you find it useful. I am posting it because I searched all over the web looking for just such a thing and couldn’t find it anywhere.


Julie and I both have new bikes.


First let me tell you all about mine.

I bought it from Allan Bergman, a friend and long time colleague from Showmakers. I started working for Allan just 2 years after graduating from University, way back in 1996, when I had no real experience designing for anything but T-shirts and a fantastic head of hair.

Anyway, Allan wanted his bike out of the garage, and he said wanted me to buy it. He said so in no uncertain terms. It worked out well, because I also really wanted it. I wasn’t able to offer a price that I felt was fair, but he accepted a deal I couldn’t refuse. I threw in a day of hard labour in an effort to try to make it slightly more equitable, and the weekend I went to Vancouver to pick it up we had a ball in his backyard – we leveled a fountain that had become a little wonky, moved some heavy stuff around, cleaned a few eaves troughs and squeegeed clean the glass that encompasses the Bergman kitchen. After that, I gave him the condensed version of the Photoshop course I taught at Camosun College recently. I made out like a bandit. He and Monique made me a fabulous steak dinner, then I rode off on his motorcycle. While I think he was hoping this would be how it all turned out, he seemed sad to watch his bike leave the garage that kept it for the better part of 20 years.

It is a 1984 Honda Magna. It’s a cool engine – a 750cc V4, the same one that went into the Sabre and the VFR. It has hydraulic lifters and a hydraulic clutch, and two rotors for the disk brakes on the front. It is not as smooth a ride as my old bike, but in every other way is very much an improvement. It is certainly faster and handles better. I have only had it for couple of weeks, but I had a chance to get it out on the road last weekend – I had a nice early Saturday morning ride out to Sooke and back. Ahhhhhh.

Julie also recently acquired a new bike, but this time of the acoustic variety.

She figures she hasn’t had a brand spankin’ new bike since she was a little kid. She’s had some nice used bikes that her brother fixed up for her when he worked at a bike store when they were in high school, and she had a hand-me-down from her mom that was in very good shape but didn’t fit her very well for the last while. In researching what kind of bike she wanted to purchase, she tried a bunch of bikes, but she had her eye on this model for months. Now that she has bought it, I don’t think I have every seen Julie so excited about a material possession. The morning after the day she bought it she woke up in the morning and blurted out “I HAVE A NEW BIKE!”. It’s been great seeing her really enjoy it. Now that the weather is better, we have both been using our bicycles to get around more – it is a much more convenient and effective mode of travel in Victoria than it was for us in Vancouver.

Julie likes the low-rider nature of her Townie. In the photo above you can see her facial expression matches the mood of the bike.