Every Frame a Painting – The Quadrant System

Tony Zhou looks at Drive:

One of the many pleasures of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” (2011) is that the shots feel both tightly composed and weirdly unpredictable. Even though most of the images follow a simple quadrant system, Refn puts plenty of subtle touches within the frame.

Light-based media

This hit Sundance film was shot with an iPhone 5S


Tangerine was shot using the iPhone 5S (three actually), $8 camera app Filmic Pro, a Steadicam rig* and special anamorphic lenses made by Moondog Labs.

Tangerine has deservedly received a lot of attention because Baker and his crew shot the entire film on Apple iPhone 5s cameras equipped with brand-new anamorphic adapters. Baker said the decision was largely due to monetary constraints, but also because of the immediacy the process would allow. “We didn’t have the budget to shoot on film,” he shared, so he made a decision to step away from what he described as “that social realist observatory and telephoto lens thing and found this hyperactive style that hopefully allowed audiences to participate and be a part of the chaos and be a part of the world that way.”

Apparently one of the biggest problems was being taken seriously by the cast.

“I had some hesitancy about it, more out of pride,” says James Ransone, who plays Chester, the pimp at the center of Tangerine’s love triangle.

“I’m like, Jesus Christ, man, I was on The Wire. I’ve ended up in iPhone movies!”

How one of the best films at Sundance was shot using an iPhone 5S — The Verge (via Daring Fireball)

* I don’t know what they used for their Steadicam, but there are lots of tutorials for making your own. This tutorial shows you how to make a nice looking one. Alternatively, a ‘fig rig’ seems like a pretty good solution.


Our engineers designed multiple tools in each 17-4 stainless steel bracelet link, making usable tools like Allen wrenches, screwdrivers and box wrenches available at a moment’s notice. Adjustable to ¼” to accommodate any wrist size and fully customizable with the links you need most.

Tools include a cutting hook (for safely cutting tape, cord, tape, seatbelts and other materials), a bottle opener, an oxygen tank wrench (a rectangular cutout used to slot over an oxygen tanks to open. ideal for EMS, fire department or first responder use), a carbide glass breaker (a small, pointed tip made of carbide, a very hard material, which is ideal for shattering auto glass, various screwdrivers and wrenches, and a pick/sim card tool (a small pick meant for removing sim cards or other small pieces from tight spaces).

(via BoingBoing)


A smartwatch and wearable, Leatherman style

This isn’t an ad, I just thought it looked very cool. Probably not the most comfortable thing to wear though!

Craft and creativity

Obsidian: A typeface shaded by algorithms

Obsidian - collage

Nice as it looks, I honestly wasn’t that interested in the new typeface from Hoefler & Co., until I learned how it was made:

Obsidian is a decorative, three-dimensional font created in a virtual environment that can simulate light falling upon any 3-D character in the set.

The result is a convincing set of 3-D characters that harks back to the early days of type-making, but without all the flowery curlicues and animals that often accompanied 19th century letters.

An ornamental font like this could take over a year to get right. So [Jonathan] Hoefler and senior designer Andy Clymer solved for this by creating custom algorithms that could help. Obsidian is created in a virtual environment that can simulate light falling on any 3-D character in the set, thus eliminating the need to draw tens of thousands of shadows, one by one.

Obsidian – typography.com


Lars Andersen: a new level of archery

This is superhero-level archery!

Update: This video has been debunked by Geek Dad

“If he wanted to shoot like the master archers of old, he would have to unlearn what he had learned,” the narrator tells us. If Andersen had ever actually learned anything from real archers before going on his historical quest, he would have had a lot less to unlearn. What he had learned is the usual collection of bad habits that self-taught amateur archers always display, many of which continue unabated in his new, allegedly historic techniques.

He is a terrible archer who can shoot fast. He shoots very fast. He shoots very badly very fast.
Danish “Archer” Demonstrates Gullibility of Audience

I have to admit that despite knowing nothing about archery, a few things about the video did give me pause. I usually pride myself on being more careful about sharing nonsense and this time I should have listened to the nagging voice in my head.


How to comfortably live out of a 26 litre backpack

Stop packing so much: The minimalist packing list

James Turner and his partner were UX designers who quit their jobs, founded their own design agency and started working remotely for clients as they travel the world. James carries everything he needs in his 26 litre Smart Alec backpack, and he’s written this Medium post detailing what he needs “for the gear freaks and professional travellers. Newbies and veterans alike.”

This sort of travel isn’t for everyone.

But for me, there is no going back. To do this lifestyle we had to sell everything we owned. Beds, plates, books, everything. We didn’t own anything particularly nice so it wasn’t that hard, but it did make me reconsider how I related to ‘things’. I now love not owning much. I love that I can pack up my entire life in 5 minutes (yes, I timed it). And I love that everything I carry has been carefully curated so that it’s reliable and fits in with my life perfectly.


Resonant Chamber In this animation, it can be noted that there is only one dark sky with four windows and four different moons. One of them is the thick crescent moon, another is the full moon, third is the waning gibbous and the last one is the thin crescent moon. Inside the room, there are four lanterns already lit up.

Pipe Dreams This video is the second most famous Animusic animation, partially in thanks to an email hoax stating that the set was a real machine built at the University of Iowa using farm equipment. The hoax mail also said that it took 13,000 hours to make the performance (equivalent to about a year and a half), including building, calibrating, etc.

Fiber Bundles Towards the end of this piece’s commentary on the DVD, Wayne Lytle remarks that the music in the Ratchet & Clank series, written by David Bergeaud, may have had some influence over this piece.


  • Animusic HD videos on YouTube
  • Animusic on Wikipedia: “Unlike many other music visualizations, the music drives the animation. While other productions might animate figures or characters to the music, the animated models in Animusic are created first, and are then programmed to follow what the music “tells them” to. ‘Solo cams’ featured on the Animusic DVD shows how each instrument actually plays through a piece of music from beginning to end.”
  • Animusic.com
Craft and creativity

Animusic: Incredible computer animated music

Founded by Wayne Lytle, Animusic is an American company specialising in the 3D visualization of MIDI-based music.


PBS Off Book: Typography

Typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones outline the importance of selecting the right font to convey a particular feeling. Graphic designer Paula Scher talks about building identity in messaging, while Eddie Opara uses texture to create reaction. Infographic designers Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza map complicated data sets into digestible imagery, mixing color, graphics and type.

More typography videos

This tutorial will teach you how to create your own handheld linux terminal with built in screen, QWERTY thumb keyboard and battery. It has four passive USB ports for expansion and extra connectivity. It’s super portable and is about the size of a Nintendo DS (if slightly thicker).

(via The Next Web)

See also

Shape of things to come

Make a Raspberry Pi-powered handheld Linux terminal

“It’s basically a full handheld linux system that can do almost everything a normal sized computer can do. It’s not going to destroy any benchmark tests, so it’s best suited to command line stuff. Since this is the case, it’s actually a pretty good tool for learning the command line interface as well as basic scripting.” — n-o-d-e.net



The history of Helvetica, by Anna Zubkova

1957: The Neue Haas Grotesk face is introduced with it’s debut at design trade show Graphic 57. The most distinctive features of the new typeface were consistently horizontal stroke terminals, large x-height, and extremely tight spacing. These features together resulted in the typeface’s characteristically dense and vigorous texture. The type was well received and adopted as the face of graphic design in Switzerland.

1963: The typeface changes its name from Neue Haas Grotesk to Helvetica. The name “Neue Haas Grotesk” was deemed less than ideal for an international Linotype market though. Heinz Eul, sales manager at Stempel, suggested “Helvetia”, which is Latin for “Switzerland”, but Hoffmann was not convinced, especially since a sewing machine manufacturer and insurance company already carried the name. He instead suggested “Helvetica” – “the Swiss”.

This page on Helvetica is just one of thirty-six, each looking at different Latin alphabet typefaces. The pages were made by the second-year graphic design students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in autumn 2013.

Use your words

History of Helvetica

A fascinating history of the creation and adoption of this ubiquitous Swiss font.

Anthony Judge
Humans and other animals

The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential

The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems humanity is confronted with, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. It is a response to the fact that many institutions are trapped in inadequate policy metaphors.

An unusual feature of the Encyclopedia is the inclusion of specific feedback loops and cycles through which problems reinforce and sustain each other. A cycle is a chain of problems, with each aggravating the next, with the last looping back to aggravate the first in the chain. An example of a vicious cycle is:
Alienation > Youth gangs > Neighbourhood control by criminals > Psychological stress of urban environment > Substance abuse > Family breakdown > Alienation.
Such cycles are vicious because they are self-sustaining.

Start exploring the Encyclopedia here →

Continue reading

Bacon Method
Craft and creativity

Bacon Method

Dan Benjamin has a simple method for cooking perfect bacon.
A bacon method:

  1. Line a pan with the bacon. You can use a glass baking pan, a steel or aluminum baking sheet, or even a cast iron pan.
  2. Put the pan into a cold, unheated oven.
  3. Set the oven to bake at 400°F (204°C).
  4. Set the timer for 20 minutes. It may take a bit more or less time, depending on your oven.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Place the bacon on a plate.
  6. Enjoy the best, crispiest, most delicious bacon you’ve ever had.

See also: Other posts on this blog tagged food.

Use your words

☞ The manicule ☜

The symbol ☞ is a punctuation mark, called an index, manicule (from the Latin root manus for ‘hand’ and manicula for ‘little hand’) or fist. Other names for the symbol include printer’s fist, bishop’s fist, digit, mutton-fist, hand, hand director, pointer, and pointing hand.

This welter of competing aliases may stem from the intensely personal nature of the mark. Though the manicule was part of the furniture of the written page for centuries, it was not a mark of punctuation provided by the writer for the edification of the reader but a part of the apparatus of reading itself, a visual breadcrumb inked into the margin by and for one particular reader. A manicule placed to the right of a line may be of vital significance to me, for instance, but utterly unimportant to you; one reader’s manicule is another’s nuisance to be ignored, avoided, or removed. Indeed, some book collectors prefer to “restore” the cluttered margins of annotated books to their original, pristine cleanliness—or barren emptiness, according to your interpretation—and it may simply be that the manicule never warranted an agreed name.

The term “manicule” itself, taken from the Latin maniculum, or “little hand,” is only used of necessity; having granted the symbol a common name, paleographers can finally get on with investigating the many hands pointing the way through the margins of Renaissance life.The Mysterious Manicule, Keith Houston

Photographs via the Flickr group Manicule by Nick Sherman (1, 2, 3) Fraser Elliot and Chris.

(via I Love Typography)

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism
Use your words

The thought terminating cliché

Jorgen Modin has archived on his site Wikipedia’s now deleted page on Thought terminating cliché:

A thought-terminating cliché is a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to propagate cognitive dissonance (discomfort experienced when one simultaneously holds two or more conflicting cognitions, e.g. ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions). Though the phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.

There are a wealth of examples that you will be familiar with, including “Everything happens for a reason”, “Don’t judge”, “Ah well, swings and roundabouts”, “To each his own”, “Life is unfair”, “You only live once” (YOLO), “We will have to agree to disagree”, “You just don’t do that”, “Rules are rules”, “I’m just sayin’” (which I actually use a lot — sarcastically!) and one that always makes me angry: “Because that is our policy.”

The ex-Wikipedia article also cites some religious examples, like “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away” (Job 1:21), “The Lord works in mysterious ways” and “God has a plan.”

The article observed that The statement “that is a thought-terminating cliché” can itself function as a thought-terminating cliché. Once the stator has identified a first statement as a thought-terminating cliché, they may feel absolved of needing to determine whether that first statement is indeed a thought-terminating cliché, or provides useful insight, in the context under discussion.

In fact, it appears that rather than delete the page Wikipedians decided instead to merge it into the page on Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, the non-fiction book by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton that popularised the term.


Neutral typeface family

Aware that there is no such thing as total neutrality, this typeface explores how the absence of stylistic associations can help the reader to engage with the content of a text.

Neutrality can be regarded as an auxiliary construction that lets us describe things and events that appear free of connotations to a specific social and cultural group at a specific point in time. Because everybody’s backgrounds and expectations differ, however, the more closely we attempt to answer the question ‘What is a neutral typeface?’, the fewer people agree on various details, and the more the proposal of a neutral typeface becomes a paradox.

Measurement table

You could easily think that designing Neutral was much like a process of just blending different typefaces with each other. But apart from a list of design principles, all the measurements resulted only in a very loose scaffolding within which I had to draw the typeface.

Sen no Rikyū

Another source of inspiration were the ideas of 16th-century tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyū, who greatly influenced the wabi-cha style of chanoyu tea ceremony. This style tries to attain perfection in the essential aspects of the ceremony by the removal of anything which could divert the focus from the essential elements: the tea and the interaction of host and guests.

While the goal of the methodology designed to create this typeface was to abstract the design process away from me, in the end I was still the one who designed this process, who both formulated the questions and answered them. This would have been true regardless of whether ten or a hundred or a thousand comparisons and measurements had been made.

Use your words

Attempting a completely ‘Neutral’ typeface

Neutral began as Kai Bernau’s graduation project at KABK (the Royal Academy of Art), taking inspiration from typefaces that seem ageless, remaining fresh and relevant even decades after they were designed. It was constructed based on a set of parameters derived by measuring and averaging a number of popular 20th-century Sans Serif fonts. — typotheque.com


Reportagen Magazine

GT Sectra is a serif typeface combining the calligraphic influence of the broad nib pen with the sharpness of the scalpel. This sharpness defines its contemporary look.

The GT Sectra subfamily was originally designed for the long-form magazine Reportagen, a publication with interesting stories from all around the world. The Zürich-based studio Moiré designed the magazine and since it was text heavy, the typography was central.

The design idea was to begin with truly calligraphic letters, but then transform those into simpler, more straightforward shapes. The cuts in the curves add tension and emphasize the feeling of sharpness of the typeface.

More information at ilovetypography.com, grillitype.com and moire.ch.

Use your words

Making of a typeface: GT Sectra

GT Sectra was originally designed for the long-form journalism magazine “Reportagen”, a publication containing interesting stories from all around the world. The Zürich-based design studio Moiré accompanied the whole production process, designing not just the magazine but also the typeface. — Grilli Type


Roli Seaboard Grand

The Seaboard is a radically new musical instrument that reimagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface. In realising this powerful concept as a refined product, we have brought together years of innovation on several fronts. The Seaboard’s polyphonic pitch bend, vibrato and per-note dynamic changes are all available at your fingertips, marrying the intuitiveness of a traditional instrument with the versatility of digital technology.

Seaboard GRAND Studio

More videos →

(via The Loop)

Use your words

The six forms of conflict common in movies

Scriptnotes is a podcast by John August and Craig Mazin about ‘screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters’.

Scriptnotes #179: The Conflict Episode: Craig and John discuss conflict — why it’s bad in real life but essential in screenwriting. We define six forms of conflict common in movies, then look at ways to sustain conflict within a scene and throughout a story.

These are my brief notes from the episode, but I strongly recommend listening to the full podcast for more insights and discussion on this topic.

  1. Argument. A physical fight or verbal argument. “We have one word for both punching each other in the face and yelling at each other: They’re fighting.” These kinds of conflicts however are not often the most effective or impactful kind of conflict.
  2. Struggle against circumstance. “This can be as simple as ‘I’ve locked my keys in the car’ or ‘I’m freezing and I need to get warm.'” Man vs. nature, man vs. object, man getting laid-off by corporation. Eg. Castaway.
  3. Unfulfilled desire. An internal conflict: “I want something that I cannot have; how can I get it?” Eg. Rocky (and a lot of sports movies).
  4. Avoiding a negative outcome. “I have to break up with this person, I just don’t want to hurt his feelings.” Often used in comedies.
  5. Confusion. A lack of information puts your character in conflict with the world around you, eg. The Matrix or The Bourne Identity.
  6. Dilemma. You have to make a choice, but all the choices are bad. Eg. Sophie’s Choice. It can be a crisis point, but it’s hard to sustain over the course of a movie.

The Heart of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

A gorgeous map by Tom Patterson:

At the ICA Mountain Cartography Workshop held in Banff, Alberta, I introduced two prototype maps made in part with Terrain Texture Shader software. Both maps feature textures rendered from digital elevation models that resemble the hand-drawn rock hachures found on topographic maps of the Alps. The new rock texturing technique works best on cliffy landscapes with horizontal strata.

Brad Washburn’s 1978 The Heart of the Grand Canyon, co-produced with National Geographic and with contributions from SwissTopo, inspired the making of this map. The arid-land textures derive from shaded relief, texture shading, and NAIP aerial photos blended together. The river rapids are the only manual element, which I painted in Adobe Photoshop using NAIP as a guide.

As a bonus, this map is in the public domain so you may use it however you wish, including commercially!

(via Wired: Cartographic Arts: Beautiful Maps From the Atlas of Design)

See also: Other posts on this blog tagged ‘maps’.

Craft and creativity

Canyonlands National Park texture and shaded relief map

“National Park Service cartographer Tom Patterson is a master of texture and shaded relief. He’s released this gorgeous map of Canyonlands National to the public domain.” — Wired


Think Country Music Sounds The Same? You’re Absolutely Right

A mashup of six popular country music hits:

  • “Sure Be Cool If You Did”- Blake Shelton
  • “Drunk on You”- Luke Bryan
  • “Chillin’ It”- Cole Swindell
  • “Close Your Eyes”- Parmalee
  • “This is How We Roll”- Florida Georgia Line
  • “Ready, Set, Roll”- Chase Rice

Sir Mashalot says:

“As an aspiring songwriter/producer living in Nashville who, like so many, has had a hard time getting a bite from the “gate keepers”, my current experiment is working on a song specifically designed to become the 7th entry to this mashup formula (hence the “To Be Continued” at the end of the video). I figure hey, at the very least, they won’t be able to say it doesn’t sound like a hit!”

Circle 7's Toy Story 3

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end, due to a feud between Pixar’s CEO Steve Jobs and Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner. Disney, who owned the rights to all of Pixar’s films, quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Finding Nemo 2, Monsters Inc. 2, and Toy Story 3.

In 2006, after a deal was struck between Jobs and Disney’s new CEO Bob Iger, Circle 7 Animation was shutdown, and all the sequels they had been working on scrapped.

The plot for Circle 7’s abandoned film was radically different to the Toy Story 3 that eventually hit cinemas in 2010. The script, by Meet The Parents writer Jim Herzfeld , sees the toys become concerned after spaceman action figure Buzz Lightyear begins to malfunction. Anxious to help Buzz, cowboy doll Woody and the rest of the toys decide to ship him to the Taiwanese factory where he was made, in the hopes that his makers will be able to repair him.

Light-based media

The Toy Story 3 you never saw

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end. Disney quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Toy Story 3. — The Telegraph



Set against the space-race canvas of the 1960’s, Anomaly is inspired by the traditional Christmas Nativity and explores, through a modern-day lens, the events of two-thousand years ago. It is a story about relationships that intertwine around an unprecedented astronomical event, as a couple navigate life’s realities at a time of unfathomable significance.

Use your words

F*** right off

“Take away the right to say ‘fuck’, and you take away the right to say ‘fuck the government’.”
Lenny Bruce

From a post by David Marsh on The Guardian: The risks of using asterisks in place of swearwords

First, people are being denied a full and accurate report of what the entire [John Terry] case hinged on: the swearing was central, not peripheral. Second, the shocking force of the language used is surely diminished by reducing it to asterisks. Third, readers are being treated as children, unable to cope with the reality – however unpleasant – of what, we now learn, highly paid professional footballers say to each other on the pitch.


A purple-haired sorceress holding a fireball. A three-headed dragon wrapping its claws around the world. A great raptor emerging from the flames.

No, these are not characters from a Magic: The Gathering deck. They are avatars depicted on the official mission patches made for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, NRO follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.

Unfortunately, given the agency’s extreme secrecy, it’s impossible to answer that question for sure. But based on information that has been leaked about some of the patches, it seems there may be a method to the artistic madness.

Craft and creativity

The patches of US spy satellite launches

As for their motivations, [space historian Robert] Pearlman doesn’t think they’re in it just for the lolz. “No, I don’t think they’re playing us,” he says. “If anything, it’s an internal gag. Like, how far can you take it without being reprimanded? Or maybe the patches represent jokes that cropped up in the processing of the satellites, which we’ll never know unless they’re declassified—and maybe not even then.”