Monday, April 25, 2016

Group Design - All Occasions Artistry Style Guide & Communication Artifact

For our design project I chose to work on the website as my communication artifact. The company's original site had not been used in a few years and almost all their advertising is done by word of mouth or use of a continuing Facebook page. Before we could begin working on our campaign, we had to make significant changes to the logo and come up with a recognizable symbol.
It was important for us to incorporate the classy styling of the original font, but find a new web-friendly version that would help in readability. We finally went with Snell Roundhand because it was far less curvy and still retained its sophisticated sense.Using the Gestalt principles of similarity and continuity, we wanted a symbol that included the initials of the company name and also a Namaste lotus flower that was interconnected and created a wholeness greater than the individual pieces. The lotus is a representation of fortune in Buddhism and new beginnings which is the feeling we hoped to inspire with the new site. It is a symbol of rebirth and renewal which was overall guiding thought while creating the new pages and it was also important and personal to the company owner. 

For the new site we attempted to update the overall feel and make the customer interaction experience similar with current social media styles. Most of the important inspiration for potential customers is found in the photographs of previous customers and we attempted to keep the focus on the pics and let the mechanism be simple.

The original site had an impersonal and industrial feel that had to be revamped for the new page. Our color scheme was meant to natural and warm and the background had to be something appealing. This is where I had the most fun because I got to break out the camera. I went with spring flowers to be uplifting and tie in to the idea of a rebirth and new life.

This is a link to the new site

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mis-en-Scene - Interstellar and Designing the Tesseract

One of the most visually stunning moments of Interstellar was also the most complicated to design and produce. It took intense collaboration throughout the entire course of filming between the director, special effects and the design departments. "The best way I can describe it is I felt like we built this art installation on set and people would come in and you know, it would be very confusing to them about what on earth is going on here," said production designer Nathan Crowley.

Turning the impossible into reality is the sole guiding purpose behind Crowley's designs, a demand often tested by director Christopher Nolan. He is know as being part handyman and part artist and is responsible for the overall look of the film. His passion for building real and functional set pieces rather than relying on simulation in post production has earned him two Oscar nominations for his previous work with Nolan on "The Prestige," and "The Dark Knight." However, it was his nominated work for Interstellar that pushed the limits of his talents.

The "Tesseract" scene was meant to be a physical representation of time as a fifth dimension that could be interacted with by his lead character, played by Mathew McConaughey. It was something that has never been attempted in film and frankly has only existed in the minds of geniuses like Einstein, but Crowley was expected to bring it to reality. It took several months of planning and model making just to figure out the designs before the practical set building could begin. Nolan demanded that every set be built upon a set of rules and mathematics that had to be be invented on the spot and applied to the scene.

The simplest way to understand the room is to think of  a great system of cubes that are interconnected on all sides. The walls of each cube are composed of a series of lines that are meant to represent the waves of gravity that can span across time. All the objects in the room and the room itself would leave traces or extrusions that connect everything together inside this large array or system of rooms. It seems complicated because it is. Crowley had to figure out how everything had to be stretched in the X,Y, and Z axis before they could even began construction. The final set was built within a 100 x 90 x 45 ft. room. It began with recording the shapes of the items and recreating the shapes digitally in the visual effects department and stretching each of them. The designs then had to be printed out and wrapped around the enormous physical sets. Once that was completed, projectors were used to accent the walls and cause motion with light. It was imperative that everything in the Tesseract felt tactile and real.

I think this is a good representation of the Law of Continuity. As McConaughey is pulled through this "fifth dimension," the lines draw your eye to the center ahead of him and force you to the direction they chose. They create an index vector that is the foundation of everything you feel in the scene. I have to admit I was fooled the first time I watched into thinking it was entirely CGI. I thought it was so unbelievable that it had to be created artificially and that is where Crowley's job becomes so important. He comes up with new an innovative ways to make the audience suspend disbelief.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Composing My Frame - Holland Building

It took several trips around the Holland building, inside and out, before I finally settled on this shot. I am not personally a fan of modern architecture. I prefer the historic beauty of a grand, gothic church or a colorful Indian palace. That being said, I was determined to find something gorgeous and thankfully the colors of Spring lent a hand.

I used the rule of thirds to set up the building as the largest portion of the screen  and specifically the Zion room to create a frame around the tree in the foreground. The most important part of the photo was for me to show a contrast between the beauty and color of the tree and the industrial nature of the imposing structure behind it.

I was going for a sense of symmetry by splitting the building and the light exactly on the corner and the center of the tree an it took a while to get the right positioning of the branches. The horizontal lines on the light side pull your eye from off screen in to the center of the color and it acts as a bridge with the shadow side. I chose a wide shot to force a change in perspective and make it feel like the building is pushing out of the screen at the center. The vertical line of the corner is drawing the eye down to what I found most important, and as a bonus I caught the rocket streaming toward me from above. What started out as a seemingly boring building became a new and unexpected pleasure. Every time I see it, even in small form like a thumbnail, it feels like it is exploding off the screen.I couldn't help but keep it as a profile picture.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Axioms of Web Design -

I spend more hours online these days than I care to admit, mostly researching for school projects or mindlessly browsing Facebook for a brief escaping moment. I never actually had time to consider what I enjoy about the website designs I use on a normal basis and now as I pause to consider them, it is abundantly clear they are all actually quite terrible.

Mostly what I enjoy about web surfing is seeking out the best photographs and information about places to travel. I chose to evaluate the State of California tourism website ( initially because I was born there and it still my favorite place on the planet, but also because the home page caught my attention above many other tourism sites, including Utah's, unfortunately.

The landing page has a simple and functional design that doesn't overpower the beauty of the full page photograph that is exactly what I was hoping to see. It gets right to the point will a bold title and simple tag line at lets you know you are about to discover everything about the state. Enough information to "fuel your dreams." The navigation is intuitive and easily recognizable with basic hash lines in the upper right corner for menu transport and a simple down arrow at the center of the page the scroll you through all the content.

As you scroll down through the page for content you find a strong grid design on each segment with only a few different styles depending on the subject. The arrangement and design remains consistent throughout the site. All gutters are equal distance, either two or three column, and there is ample white space to prevent it from feeling cluttered or chaotic. The focus is always on the colorful pictures which stand out perfectly contrasted against the white background.

Even though I was born and raised all over the state I couldn't hep but have fun exploring many of the different pages of extra information you can link to. It is set up for all people and as information and multi-media elements that can attract a variety of web users. I would advise checking out the skating at Tahoe video for an instant smile. It is also highly interactive will standardized links the the common social media sites and ways to access specific comments from previous users and California tourists.

It was hardly the standard and boring tourism bureau websites you commonly find when looking for places to take you next spring break vacation. It is easy to access the information you went there looking for and it sucks you in to a photo museum of one of the best places on the planet...ok little biased. The site is responsive and interesting to the eyes when the pictures jump off the screen and it converts for access on any device and enjoy much of the same functionality. It is an example of putting a great deal of thought into stepping toward the smartphone era and respecting that users respond to strong visual elements. Man I need to go home for a visit!

Golden Gate Bridge

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Design - The Coffee Wars

The Success of Starbucks

Bon Appetit Magazine
I consume more coffee than any other product on the planet and even though I am not a fan of Starbucks, this ad is a great demonstration of why the company is successful.

The first thing to draw me in was the Gestalt theory of figure/ground relationship employed by setting the cup against empty black background. It created the illusion of depth and dimension that focused my attention on this yummy product and forced my eyes to want to find what else is going on in the ad.

Then I noticed the use of line which was not only effective in separating the two sides and different products it also leads you to the bottom of the page and the familiar logo. But the best part is the innovative design that uses the line to reveal an inside flap that describes the many types of coffee and their ingredients. The ad takes on more meaning than just a sales page and suddenly becomes a learning experience. I can't tell you how many times I have been in coffee shops and have had to wonder with friends what each kind is made of.

The  typography and color are also very important to the success of their design. They wanted to establish a connection with the art of coffee making with actual works of art from a museum and everything has a brushed and painted look. The font choice is relaxing and comforting and doesn't seem informational. The colors in the cup and how they were applied create a smooth and fluffy texture that almost make the flavor jump off the page. Now I'm dying for another cup and I know advertising is winning when it compels me to do something I hadn't originally intended.

The failure of Nespresso - What Else?

It seems these two companies are in a tight competition because grocery store shelves feature the exact same product stacked on top of each in their new Latte Macchiato flavor. However, when it comes to advertising in the same magazine the battle was lost by Nespresso.

This ad lacks any creativity and attention to the actual product. It seems to be relying on celebrity endorsement alone and attempts to be clever with a unique tag line associated with George Clooney. "Good taste. What else do you need." I guess I am meant to associate Clooney with knowing what product is best. Doesn't anyone remember the Disney's Tomorrowland or the Clooney mullet? Except for the brewing machine, this same ad could have been used for Lowe's hard wood floors or the cover of Architectural Digest.

Good taste?
The entire page doesn't really work for me because it doesn't pay attention to the product. The only example that might give you a sense of how delicious Nespresso could be is hidden almost inside the magazine fold. This is where the two ads are truly distinctive from one another. Nespresso failed to use the space effectively and although I actually prefer their coffee, this example might have swayed me more toward Starbucks. I feel like their design team mailed this one in.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

CBH & The Beauty of Bryce

I took this photo a couple of weeks while experimenting with wide shots in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I couldn't believe I had lived in Southern Utah for 25 years and never made the short journey, but I can tell you it was worth the wait.

Bryce Canyon, Utah
This image best represents the Gestalt principle of Continuity. Continuity is achieved when your eye is compelled to move in a certain way and be drawn to a point of interest. In this case, it is all about the light at the end of the railing. The beauty of the spires is best noticed when you can see the contrast between the light and the dark shadows and this great curved line pulls you to the one place in the picture those forces are at work.

The balance between the warmth of the walkway above and the desperate cold of the shaded areas deep in the valley can only be felt only because of the sunlight. I can tell you a few moments in the shade trying to catch a great shot and my fingertips began turning blue. The point on the cliff was the separation of both worlds that only come together deep in the background. I used the rule of thirds with the railing and the sky to offset the perfect balance and make it more interesting.

The balance changes everything about the scene. This photo was taken from nearly the same spot. Extremely boring compared to the first.

If color is the biggest influence on harmony, then that must be the reason this scene is so remarkable to me. The white purity of the snow set against the warm brown and cliffs is a contrast that not only draws out the beauty, but also tells the story of how different this same place could be during different times of year. The deep blue of sky and the brown spires are complimentary to each other and create a natural warmth that makes me feel good. It would be a different sensation if the skies were all grey. Everything in this photo works with each other, even the manufactured railing with its perfect brown paint set against the untouched world lets me know how important this moment in time must be.