Thursday, May 6, 2010

I enjoy grading things

1) A couple weeks ago I rode my bike to work for the first time in several months. I was horrendously out of shape, so it took a long time and I had to walk at the end, but I loved it. The weather was nice, and it’s a much more scenic way to get to work than riding the CTA and it’s just nice to get there under my own power. I look forward to doing it a lot more in the coming months.

2) May 8th was Bert and my 6 month anniversary. To celebrate we went to Café 28. We started with cerviche, then I had ropa veja and Bert had pistachio encrusted chicken and we ended with a chocolate mousse cake. It was all incredible.

3) That weekend was another book club meeting. This time it was at my place, so I spent the whole day cooking and cleaning. In the end only a few people showed up, but those of us who were there had a good conversation and those who stayed to the very end got LEGO figurines of themselves made.
The book we read was Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’d been meaning to read it for a while, but Book Club finally got me too. I was finishing up the last few pages as people arrived, which is typically how close I cut it. Middlesex is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I loved the narrator’s persistent gentle presence and the sweeping scale of the novel, which spans three generations of a Greek-American family. While the book is narrated by the grandchild hermaphrodite, it is really about much more than her/his struggle to figure out who they are. All the family members have their own struggles and successes and failings, especially the grandmother (my favorite character). It’s also about Detroit, from the boom of the auto industry to the Depression and the riots and the slow decay of the city. This book packs a lot of history in, but makes it all engaging and entertaining. Obviously there is a lot about gender and identity in there too, but the story never gets overwhelmed by the big ideas tackles. One section (about the narrators relationship with a girl referred to as the Obscure Object of Desire) goes on longer than it needs to, but other than that I can’t find a lot to criticize about the book. I give it an A-

4) Had a crazy couple of weeks at work where some equipment broke and we were preparing for a big ceremony. But even in the craziness I found some awesomeness. I once again got paid to read the ScavHunt list and find the video-worthy items. My favorite items from the list:
3, 10, 14, 20, 49, 51, 53, 55, 81, 84, 103, 113, 118, 124, 132, 142, 144, 149, 154, 181, 184, 199, 204, 230, 238, 246, 258, 265
I also got to make a cool little video for the Logan Arts Center. I animated all the timeline stuff from scratch in Motion, which is the closest I ever come to doing animation at work. I take for granted that I get cool little projects like this where I basically have complete creative control. Another great thing about my job.

5) The Logan Groundbreaking Ceremony was one of the largest productions our office has ever done. We had 3 cameras being switched and sent out live via webcast. We also produced 3 videos that were projected during the ceremony as well as all the graphics that were displayed on the screen. We also had cameras at 3 other venues on campus recording events that directly preceded the Ceremony. It was a big to-do.
I was the producer in charge of the event, so I had helped coordinate a lot of the people and some of the technology for this, but then when it came time for the actual event I didn’t need to do anything. As in, I didn’t need to push any buttons, be they on a camera, a switcher, a webcast encoder or a projector, to make our production happen. I was able to leave the hot, overcrowded tent and watch the whole thing (via webcast) safely from the comfort of my desk. I then realized that I have managed to avoid being at all of the recent major events (Bill Gates’ speech, MLK Day, 500th Convocation). I am very proud of that and hope to continue the trend.
In these big productions I really enjoy being the guy who knows all of what is happening and is overseeing a lot of it, but not actually responsible for any individual thing. That way I am able to spend my time checking on everybody to make sure they have what they need and when they don’t I have the capacity to get them what they need. I like to think of it as being the “fill in the blank” guy. I solved a number of small problems for other people in the office as we prepared for the Ceremony. I sat in and took notes when other people had to rush back and work on last minute edits to their videos. I ran back to the office to pick up that one thing we forgot (several times) and 30 minutes before the ceremony I was re-burning a Blu-Ray for the webcast. Because I was prepared to do whatever needed to be done, problems were solved and no one freaked out or had a break down. It’s like my superpower.

6) Because I worked 40 hours in 4 days I then got to take Friday off and have a very nice 3 day weekend! I started this off Thursday night making a trip to the LEGO store and then staying up late to animate. I got some awesome grab bags with lots of Prince of Persia parts including two camels! I made this Wall-O-Sports for Robert to sit in front of:

I woke up Friday morning and used Skype for the first time to give an interview for The Brick Broadcast. Then I animated some more and took a nap.

7) I woke up when Bert called my phone because he was back from Indiana and parked in front of my house. We went to an Indian restaurant up by him that has a lunch special. We had so much delicious food. Then we went to his place and slept away the afternoon. We got up, went to Target and then went to a nice pizza restaurant and watched Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (part of his continuing program to educate me about the “classic gay films”). I’d rank Screen Kiss above Jeffrey, but below Priscilla, two previous films in Bert’s curriculum. Some of the dialogue was mediocre (though nothing as groan-inducing as Jeffrey) but over-all it was well done and did a good job dealing with the particular brand of unrequited love that is complicated by uncertainty over the Object of Desire’s sexual orientation. Also, it had some terrific scenes told via series of Polaroids. I give it a solid B.

8) Saturday morning Bert and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. We happened upon a rummage sale where Bert found a brand new digital converter box for $5 (normally $50). So now he’ll be able to watch TV again. Then we met up with Paul, Stephanie and Ashley to see Iron Man 2. RDJ was charismatic as usual and Sam Rockwell made a perfect business rival and Gwyneth Paltrow was once again excellent as Pepper Potts. It was a fun movie, though the middle section felt really long and overall it felt like a lot of the movie was paving the way for other upcoming Marvel movies. Still, I regret nothing. B+
That afternoon Bert took a nap while I built the office of Sergeant Snaps Harvey

We had a simple dinner at home and then I animated while he watched the This American Life TV show (which, not surprisingly, also works if you are only listenting). It was a nice, domestic, productive evening. I finished making this trailer for NNN Chapter 2:

9) On Sunday we went down to Blick to get supplies for my next animation. You might think, “ahh yes, Dave’s next animation, clearly that will be another NNN episode, since he just made a trailer for it. It would be absurd for him to work on anything else with Brickworld looming, especially since he just spent a good amount of time making that awesome Color City Hide and Seek animation.” And I can see why you would think that, but that’s because you don’t know about this contest yet. I found that thanks to a link David Pagano posted on Facebook. Who knew that one link could completely change my vision of the next few weeks. Luckily I have an understanding and supportive boyfriend who helped my refine my idea, and go to the art store for backdrops, and who will put up with me building/animating like crazy the next few weeks. Yay!
After Blick we walked over to the 2nd largest Whole Foods in the country. It is quite a store, very much like a Wegman’s in its layout. We wandered around tasting free samples a bit and then decided to get lunch at the food court type area and eat on the mezzanine level (there is also outdoor seating overlooking the river). It was quite nice and reasonably priced. I got half a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and a corn cucumber salad for $9. It was enough for two meals and very tasty. Bert was less impressed with his pasta dish, but it had mushrooms, which was obviously his first mistake ;)
We walked around best buy and the Container Store a little bit too before heading home. It was a very nice morning/early afternoon.

10) The rest of the afternoon I spent finishing the Chapter 1 DVD and submitting it to CreateSpace. Hopefully I’ll get the proof copy next week and then I can review and approve it and put it up for sale and order a few hundred copies for BrickWorld.
I caught up with my inbox and then I started working on building some of the models for the Cannes Animation. So far I’ve got an apple and a person,

a droopy flower

and oh yeah a gigantic version of the LEGO logo.

I’m drawing inspiration from Georges Schwizgebel, so there are going to be transformations a plenty. Right now I’ve got: 2x4 brick → apple → flower → person → lighthouse? → ??? → racecar → butterfly → ??? → LEGO logo. Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Behind the scenes on Color City Hide and Seek

I just spent a couple hours putting together a post about the process Tiffany, Krista and I went through to produce the video fro the Sesame Street contest. In the past I would have posted that here, but now I've got my personal website for that. Check it out.

Things have been good, but I haven't been keeping track. Last night we went to Paul birthday party and gorged ourselves on cookies and cupcakes and ice cream cake. What else do you want to know?