New York Lightboard Piece © Nation Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada was commissioned by the Canadian tourist board to create a film that would entice Americans to travel to Canada. The work was taken on by Norman McLaren who made a nine minute silent film using black india ink on clear white film stock. It was shown on the giant billboard in New York’s Times Square in 1961. The completed film is a purely informational work, communicating clearly the many cultural sides to Canada as well as illustrating each major city’s main attractions. It is simple in form yet the animations are absolutely stunning, even by today’s standards, using a number of typographic compositions that metamorphose into an array of graphic shapes. McLaren’s playfulness really comes through and his mastery of morphing shapes, a trait that runs through much of his work, act as effective transitions, creating a seamless animation that had many a New Yorker stop in his
his stride.

>>> Watch a selection of Norman McLaren’s works here


© Spacesick Publishing 1964

A nice selection of book cover designs from Spacesick’s “I Can Read Movies” series.
>>> HERE

In Response to Reading David O’Reilly’s ‘So What Do You Do?’

There are obvious advantages to being the director; instant recognition, that ‘ooh’ factor at cocktail party presentations, credentials that evoke glamor and prestige, hovering in the realms of the halls of fame. The director is historically linked with the epic, the cinematic, it is a title that beholds a certain grandeur, one of the major 20th century artists. The reality however for many so called ‘directors’ today reveals a rather more sober perspective. Convention amongst many of the motion design studios and freelancers to mushroom point towards a completely different and perhaps milder more diluted role and indeed to the extent that the term director has become a title for the one man show.

Anyone can ‘take on the role’ of a whole production company these days – we all have the possibility to change our professional caps every 30 minutes of the day. There are considerable examples of quality work that rises from out of the blue screen bedroom studios where a single talent can write, design, film, animate, composite, mix and broadcast their work. Wearing these multiple caps however does not necessarily qualify oneself within the field. The term director, as O’Reilly points out ‘is such an umbrella term, it ceases to describe anything meaningful’. Walk through the corridors of a number of ’boutique’ studio set ups these days and practically everyone you meet is a director. Doesn’t the fact that many commercial projects today find their direction through a sole creative force and approach make us question the use of the title director? It may be a customary convention but isn’t it misleading?

So what do you do? There certainly is a need to think carefully about one’s professional title and have the sincerity to attribute the correct one. Which one? In the domain of motion design where motion (graphic) designer seems to have been dropped for the more esteemed director, I’d like to see a rectification. Your job title is perhaps but a general term but it can only have the weight of meaning via collective understanding of what that title entails. When I have back ache, I may go to see the osteopath but not the dentist or hematologist. If I’m not aware of that information, I can’t respond correctly. If we take on professional titles in a lax manner, we dilute and ultimately denigrate professions. It is not a simple choice of giving oneself a name, it is a conscious and sincere effort of working within a line of work and ultimately respecting your position and experience, whether you be artist, designer, editor, props man, BG layout man, animator, foley artist, in-betweener, chief animator, first assistant director, 3D modeler, ……

>>> Read David O’Reilly’s ‘What Do You Do?’


To an applications programmer, the shift to gestural input is as big as the shift to the mouse was twenty-five years ago. It’s both exciting and a little daunting. The g-speak input framework allows direct, either-handed, multi-person manipulation of any pixel on any screen you can see. Pointing is millimeter-accurate from across the room. Hand pose, angle, and position in space are all available at 100 hertz, with no perceptible latency and to sub-millimeter precision.
(Quoted from

Oblong is a company that was set up in 2006 and whose principal work and research has been in a new spatial operating environment entitled g-speak. This new technology give pixel precise manipulation of multiple screens via hand gestures. And before images of Mr Cruise flapping his arms around pop in to your heads, the link is perfectly apt. According to Oblong’s website, one of Oblong’s founders served as science advisor to Minority Report and based the design of those scenes directly on his earlier work at MIT.


Building g-speak is a design exercise at three levels. Most obviously, there is a new graphical computing environment — a new look and feel, in our industry’s argot. Those graphics are inseperable from an architecture that motivates and produces them. Finally, we design and use applications that run on top of this foundation.

I wonder to what extent the ramifications of such a change in interaction with the computer will have on software tools for the future and indeed how we think about design with these tools. Could we for example envisage 3D modeling within such a system? The artist literally sculpting images. Funny, for some odd reason, Patrick Swayze comes to mind and that seminal sequence in Ghost. Joking apart, and beyond the obvious wow factor to this technology, I’m interested to see how such interactions take shape. Are we really on the verge of adopting another form of interaction or is this a little too close to science fiction film for it to be of practical use on a larger scale?

>>> More Info Here
>>> Watch Video Here


I wrote about Pablo, the feature length documentary earlier last year. News is that the film will be ready for 2010. In the meantime you can catch up on developments over at the completely new website dedicated to the film’s production. There is also a brief interview you can watch over at Reelz Channel with Pablo Ferro and the documentary director Richard Goldgewicht.

>>> Watch the short interview here.
>>> The new website for further info on the documenrtary


If there is one company that has had an influence on motion graphics for film and especially within opening titles, then it must be R/GA. With over 30 years experience R/GA had set out to renew title design after a sluggish time during the 70’s.

“Their firm was among the first to approach film-title design as a collaboration of creative talent and technology. The firm broke new ground…. It also generated many technical innovations that changed the industry and was fertile breeding ground for outstanding talent in film and television design” , Curran

>>> Watch the Reel

Image by tisane. 2008

Daniel Shiffman has recently put online the examples for his book, Learning Processing. Its an elementary book that has the fortune of a scholar to guide the layman through the rudiments of the object orientated programming language, Processing. Shiffman has a knack for simplicity and thorough pedagogy which enables even the least logical of us to progress and gain access to an unfamiliar means of creation. Programming and software development for image making, animation, interactive works and data visualization is becoming increasingly accessible and is proving to be an added tool for artists and designers of the future.

>>> Read More Here.