I was hired to create a music video for Swedish DJ AVICII‘s remix of “So Amazing” from the motion picture Tron Legacy. It’s called “Derezzed” and it’s part of Disney’s DConstructed series. I was given enormous creative freedom to work in, which is rare and fantastic, but I was also given a very tight deadline within which to produce it.
When faced with a big challenge, I always find it easier to create a story or outline to follow, so I drafted a short story which would serve as the backbone for the structure. The story is basically about the power of love to triumph adversity – realized in the video by a virus which attacks the otherwise healthy System, only to be driven back by the forces of good/love.
The piece was ultimately a combination of 2D and 3D imagery created in Maya and After Effects.
When producing this kind of video, you have to remember that it’s going to be seen mostly in clubs or in club-like venues, so it’s important to have a “lightshow” element to it, which can strobe and light up the room during the cut, so the story is intercut with breakdown eye-candy moments to do just that. The world of DJ’s and Remixers is full of both loyal fans and haters, all passionate about remixes and production, so this was both a fun and challenging video to produce. But it helps that I’m a huge Tron fan, since waaaay back.
I’m honored to have just finished working on a piece for the Bob Marley charity foundation, 1Love – a worldwide organization which facilitates everything from bringing clean water to impoverished nations to supporting ecologically-sound sustainability projects at every corner of the Earth. My task was to create a 4-minute motion graphics piece that told just a bit about Bob’s career and philosophy, and then went on to explain the charity, its partners, and its mission of hope, unity, love, and responsibility for one another. The piece was narrated by Bob’s daughter, Cedella. As an aside, I recommend Kevin MacDonald’s biographical film, “Marley.” Great film!
Every once in awhile, you work your ass off on a project that ultimately never sees the light of day. This was one of them, and it still bothers me a little bit.
My friend Don Bies from White Room Artifacts – and former Senior Archivist of the Lucasfilm Archives – called me about doing a museum proposal for a new touring Star Wars exhibit. If you’ve seen his site, and the amazing work he and his team have been doing for NASA, and you consider that many of the original crew who actually worked on the models for Star Wars would’ve been a part of it, you start to get a sense for how amazing it might’ve been, had it been. The exhibit never happened, though. Nonetheless, we had fun working on the proposal.
The exhibit was to be called Creating Star Wars: A Cinematic Revolution. Our idea was to illustrate the entire process of film production – from concept to marketing, realized in separate “chapters”; one chapter per gallery of the exhibit. Don had come up with a cool modular layout which could be reconfigured to fit in virtually any exhibit space.
And while he was working on the practical side of things like integration, I went to work trying to come with a logo for the space, which would ultimately define the signage and color/material palette for what we wanted to do. I went through several iterations…
Of course, anytime I’m working on an official Star-Wars-related thing, I tend to have a lot of angst about really doing it justice, which actually works against creativity. It makes it hard to trust those first, often best, instincts.
Eventually I settled on a design which had a lot of flexibility to it, and most importantly, which everyone liked.
In our presentation of the separate Chapters/Galleries, I did a different title page for each section, mirroring the feel of each stage of production.
We did renderings of each of the galleries, and even had a cool idea for the look of the Visitor’s Map Stand which guided people through the exhibit (and which true fans will recognize!):
Ultimately, we printed up beautiful bound books, and presented them in these cool aluminum-hinged cases with the logo etched onto the front:
Ah, well. The Force was not with us, this time. But it was a great reminder that weeks or months of your life may be spent on a project which will not culminate in a World Premiere, so you’d better enjoy the time you spend on it, and make sure you’re proud of what you did!
We did, and we are. We’ll get ’em next time.
I loved the first Iron Man movie. I saw it in the theaters 5 times (I don’t think I’ve done that since Raiders), and it was just sort of on my mind a lot. So it wasn’t particularly surprising that one Saturday afternoon I felt like doing a mash-up between Iron Man and R2-D2 – which I’d already done in CG, of course. What was surprising was that Gizmodo and Reddit posted it and the damn thing went viral – in geek circles, anyway.
I’m still getting Google Alerts about it. What was especially cool was that Iron Man‘s director, Jon Favreau liked it so much it’s been his Twitter avatar ever since.
Anyway, it gets better. Eventually, one of the members of the R2-D2 Builders’ Club, Kevin Pommenville, decided to take my rendering, and actually build it for real.
Do you know how hard these things are to build? And this guy tosses off a build of an Iron Man mash-up version I did in an afternoon, and it’s even cooler than what I came up with. That’s badass. Surreal, and badass.
Anyway, I had done a few other Iron-Man-related things as well. I wanted to make my desktop look like Tony Stark’s, so I decided to recreate the Stark Industries logo myself. As usual, weeks of obsessive analysis ensued.
Along the way, since I was analyzing every reference frame I could so intently, I spotted a couple 1/24th of a second inside jokes about Iron Man‘s Jeff Bridges, who’d famously played the title character in The Big Lebowski. These images flashed by on his character’s computer screen during one sequence:
Ultimately, I did many revisions to ensure the letterforms were just right.
And finally, my desktop wallpaper was done. Looks just like Obadiah Stane’s from the film. Both Danica and I had this as our wallpaper for months.
Eventually, someone asked to use my logo to make Stark Industries T-shirts. Of course, I agreed.
Still wear it.
Hot off the bench: My design for a limited-edition Star Wars iPhone case featuring R2-D2 (my CG R2-D2, in fact!). This is one of a series which will be offered at Disney Theme Parks as part of their Star Wars Weekends. It’s not that big a deal; these little start-up companies are super easy to please.
If you haven’t heard by now, former television child-star Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years, The West Wing) grew up, graduated summa-cum-laude from UCLA as a certified math genius and co-authored a physics theorem on two-dimensional magnetism that now bears her name. Click on that link, I dare you. But even more impressive is that she followed up these achievements with a series of New York Times Bestselling math books for middle-school girls, teaching them not just how to do math, but empowering them with the courage, confidence, and self-respect that brings true happiness and success in life.
I have been privileged to be a small part of her amazing contribution: I came up with the titles for her books, and did the jacket artwork for both hardcover and paperback versions. It wasn’t that hard a job to get – I was married to the author. Still in all, I’m proud of what we’ve done, and can’t encourage you strongly enough if you’re the parent of a middle-school girl, know of one, or have ever heard of one, to purchase these life-changing texts soon enough. They don’t just teach math skills; they teach life skills, and they’re changing the ways girls think about themselves – and math – the world over!
I did several variations on the look and materials which were seen on posters, banners, consumer products, and a host of other projects related to the film. Shortly after completing the project, I was interviewed by SuperHeroHype.com about the process…