Even more 6 seconds of fame...

You may recall 2 weeks ago my Small Media Extra Large partner Meghan Scibona and I helped our friend Dawn Siff create what we’re calling the very first Vine video resume. It got her a ton of publicity. Today she got EVEN more.  Here's Dawn on the Today Show:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In Austin? Come see me.

Come see my book reading @ SXSW

#sxsw #Intro2ID

Saturday, March 9 10:30AM -10:50AM

Austin Convention Center Ballroom G 500 E Cesar Chavez St

 

And then check me out @ TECHmunch

#TECHmunch

Sunday, March 10 10:15AM -10:30AM

Whole Foods Market 525 N Lamar Blvd. 2nd Floor, Main Conference Center

After that? Standing in lines--for movies, for panels, for barbecue... you get the idea.

6 seconds of video = days of publicity

Yesterday my Small Media Extra Large partner Meghan Scibona and I helped our friend Dawn Siff create what we're calling the very first Vine video resume. Here's Dawn as a Deadline Jedi...

For those that don't know what Vine is, it's basically Twitter for video. You can post a 6 second video of yourself doing anything through (and only through) the Vine iOS app. It's kludgy, buggy, has upload problems, and is more than a pain in the ass to work with, but it is getting a lot of buzz right now, mostly because of the handful of comedians (Will Sasso, Reggie Watts, Weird Al Yankovich, to name a few) who are using it. For Dawn it was a no-brainer. By creating the very first 6 second resume on Vine, Dawn got her hands on some of that publicity.

First Mashable did a blog post on it:

mashablevineresume

And now other media companies are following suit:

buzzfeed

sfgate

 

The Grindstone

We'll see how far this goes, and if it results in Dawn getting her dream job--I wouldn't be surprised if it did--but from where I'm sitting right now the day after the shoot, the 4 hours of work it took to pull this off was well worth it. Congrats, Dawn, great idea, and we are very happy we could help you make it happen.

 

It's fun to be first

Over my long and storied career as a designer, writer, and filmmaker, I've taken part in many firsts... the first interactive online webseries, the first zombie movie with a sexy pierced punk rock zombie protagonist, and, of course, all us web 1.0ers have stories of creating the first YouTube, or (in my case) the first Spotify. But it's very rare you get to brag about it. Today, thanks to a blog post over at Mashable, I get to brag about it!

mashablevineresume

Just yesterday my SMXL partner, Meghan Scibona and I helped our friend, Dawn Siff (the idea was all her's), create what could very well be the first resume on Vine. We shot on her iPhone (with my iPhone lenses) against my living room wall. It took plenty of takes to get it right. We fought the sun, recess at the school across the street, the 6 second time limit, and broken light bulbs, but in the end, we got it! I think we're all super proud of the end product.

Like I said, it's fun to be first.

Here are some photos from the shoot:

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Thank you, Dana Stevens, for coining the term "Artisanal Horror"

Here's Dana from her article in Slate In Praise of Artisanal Horror:

The term caught on only in my own brain, where it’s become a handy taxonomic classification for a subgenre that seems here to stay, even in the age of the big-budget, special-effects-laden franchise. The horror genre has always welcomed tinkerers—inventive filmmakers who are interested in taking genre’s conventions apart and fitting them back together in novel ways. If the desired effect of maximum audience creep-out has to be achieved on a minimal budget, so much the better. Artisanal horror directors place a high value on cheapskate ingenuity, the trick of scaring the audience pantsless with the simplest possible effect: an unexpected camera movement, a barely glimpsed shadow, a hand reaching for a doorknob

I'd like to think I got my start in the world of Artisanal Horror though Dana might think differently of the direct-to-video screamers I had the pleasure of working on during the 90s such as Return of the Living Dead III, Necronomicon, Pumpkinhead II, and Leprechaun III. And what I loved about working on them is exactly what she describes here--the need for "cheapskate ingenuity".

Sure we worked hellishly long hours, in pretty inhumane conditions, and yup, we did it with very small budgets, and very little pay, but there was nothing more fulfilling, and exciting for me than showing up for work, and instantly diving into the job of creating something cool, creepy, bloody, or bizarre, with the limited resources I had to work with. I've always believed there's nothing better for sharpening creativity than limits.

Sure, what we created didn't look polished, or even real (case in point, the not quite decapitated head above) but that was the charm of it for me--that cheapskate ingenuity, and the visual style that comes from it. I've always loved that about horror films. From Frankenstein to From Beyond. How a filmmaker can create a whole new world, populated with nightmares, just using light, latex, paint, plywood, and shadows. It sends chills up my spine.

returnofthelivingdead3

And, yes, I've had my fling with digital effects as well--working as a broadcast designer for clients like Lucasfilm--but the slick digital, hyper realistic effects never had the same charm for me as the rubber puppet monsters of The Thing, or Reanimator. And those same digital effects made some of my first loves--Star Wars--unwatchable (but that's a rant for another day.)

You never forget your first love. When I was a little kid, my father introduced me to horror through the original black and white King Kong, and I fell in love. Sure, you could see Harryhausen's fingerprints all over the fur of King Kong, but that didn't take away from how terrifying he was, for me it somehow added to it.

So when I decided to write, and produce my own movies, well, I couldn't help but want to reanimate that feeling of falling in love. That's why I wrote, produced, and acted in movies like Blood Junkies, and The Ghost Club - Spirits Never Die, and why I'm working on  Cryptids, and PDA--feature films that definitely fall squarely on the artisanal horror film spectrum.

I'm just psyched to finally have something to call myself, and what I create.

Blood Junkies Teaser from Small Media Extra Large on Vimeo.

I want to make movies here!

The folks at The Fox is Black discovered/uncovered/found these photos by Andre Govia, a photographer who breaks into (I'm assuming), and takes photos of abandoned buildings, mine shafts, hospitals, and so on. Each and every one of these photos would be a perfectly dressed, perfectly realized horror film set. Or an amazing place to do an episode of The Ghost Club. What kinds of stories could, would, or did happen here?


Andre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia Photo

The power of designing for real people

Want to innovate? More importantly, do you want what you design to actually be built, and used by real people? Amos Winters, an engineer from MIT, makes a great case for the value, and power of user-centered design in this TED talk where he presents his under $200 off road wheel chair.

Such a brilliant case study! It would have been perfect for our book--Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design. Maybe we can include it in the next printing. ;-)

"...one of the best new interface books on the market."

Wow! Great review on Embody 3D for our book:

Simply put, Interactive Design is one of the best new interface books on the market. It is comprehensive, easy to understand and extremely relevant using case studies and modern mediums to help connect with the reader. The book is designed for both students and professionals as the concepts are timeless in nature and although some of the topics can be fairly technical the way the book presents information using nice full-page quotes, beautiful diagrams and feature works makes it easy for even a novice to take on board. Although most of the examples cover graphic design interfaces like portable computers and website interfaces, it is absolutely relevant to product designers. The principles are very much universal, things like competitor analysis, user-path diagrams, research, testing are all great ways to improve your product designs. Unusually I don’t have any major faults of this title, so that is definitely saying something! Although it is heavily branded as being a theoretical book the information takes on its own lessons and breaks up the information well. The title is not text heavy or extremely weighty at 224 pages, so for true theologians this might not contain the analysis and literature references you may desire. However for the 99% this book hits all the right spots!

Thanks, guys!

The Ghost Club Transmedia - Meet Jimmy Martin

...aka me. Well, not me exactly, but the character I play in the upcoming movie--The Ghost Club, directed and produced by Hank Blumenthal.

In the ninety minute long Ghost Club feature, the crew of a reality TV ghost hunting show encounters actual ghosts. Ninety minutes is plenty of time to tell the story of this fateful encounter, but there is so much more to The Ghost Club than just one investigation. The Ghost Club is based on a real organization that included members like skeptic, Harry Houdini, and true believer, Arthur Conan Doyle. The characters--Jimmy, and his team--each have rich back stories, and relationships. The Club's investigative approach includes the scientific method, and devices cobbled together from the various technologies the hunters have used over the past 200 years.

To tell the complete story of the movie, additional transmedia content was created for viewers to discover, so they can learn more about the world of The Ghost Club TV show, ghost hunting technology, and the characters. As the co-writer of the movie, much of the responsibility for creating the stories told through this extra content fell to me. Hank's team created augmented reality games, webseries, and websites for the Club, me, and my fellow team members.

I also acted in the film, which provided me with additional opportunities to play with transmedia. I had a lot of fun fleshing out Jimmy's backstory, and personalty. I created a package of transmedia content from comics, to videos that helped to communicate who Jimmy is. He's sarcastic, obsessive compulsive, and a bit of a drinker, but still a fairly lovable guy, just trying to keep his reality TV show on the air, and his team focused, and paid.

Some of the content I created to introduce Jimmy, and his world includes:

The Skeptic's Diary, a web comic, which tells the story of how Jimmy became a professional Ghost Hunter:

Jimmy's twitter account:

And video of Jimmy's individual ghost investigations... don't try this at home folks:

This content helps viewers learn about the world of The Ghost Club, and connect with its characters before they watch the film, creating, what we hope, is a richer, more interesting, and more entertaining story experience.

Pick Up Chicks

AKA the series formerly known as Wing Women, has made it into the finals of the TV Reset Project over at ZoomTilt.

The series is the baby of my SMXL partner Stacie Capone, and written by yours truly.

When one of Stacie Capone’s friends told her about an odd job she once worked trying to set up hapless single guys for success on the bar scene, it was a set of facts that, to Capone, seemed well worth exploring further in fiction. The result is “The Pick Up Chicks,” a romantic comedy web series that follows three female friends as they juggle some less-than-typical small business obstacles: falling in love with clients, being hired by ex-boyfriends and getting accused of running a brothel out of their Brooklyn apartment.

 The next step is to shoot the pilot. Watch this space. It'll be coming soon.

Too many passwords!

Isn't it about time we found some other way to protect and personalize the accounts with the various sites and services that have become such an integral part of our digital lives? Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messaging, our bank accounts, shopping sites, our phones, and soon our TVs and appliances all require us to sign in to use them. There's got to be a better way than an easily crackable, forgettable, and frustrating string of numbers, letters, and ascii characters. We're already seeing new ways to do this--unlocking your Android device with a gesture, or facial recognition, for example--but it's not enough. It's time our devices, and accounts recognized us, and only us. Biometrics seems like a good solution for getting rid of passwords.

ECG biometrics identifies people by their cardiac rhythm. Not just their heart rate, but the actual shape of their heartbeat.

Or how about a palm scan:

There's got to be a better way. What do you think?

Maira Kalman on Thinking and Feeling

Inspiration for all us creative folks. Whenever I think too much. I say, "Stop thinking. This is a very dangerous moment." - Maria Kalman

More from Maria:

Allow your brain to empty. Take a walk. Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty. Feel your body going through space. Walking clears your brain, and fills your soul, and makes you quite happy. Be open to what's happening around you. Be surprised.

NYFF Convergence

Or "You can have my buzzword when you pry it from my cold dead lips..."

Despite my web 1.0 bias to the term (we beat "convergence" into the ground at every pitch, client meeting, and presentation back in the late 90s) I had a great time at the NY Film Festival's first ever transmedia conference--Convergence.

If you work in advertising, or media and entertainment, "transmedia" as a buzz-word is approaching the late 90s beaten-like-a-dead-horseness of "convergence", but I'd be willing to bet most ordinary folk have no idea what the word means.

At its simplest, what transmedia means is to tell a single story/story experience using different types of media and formats (if you want to get all buzz-wordy, we call 'em "channels" or "platforms"). For example you might tell your main story in the form of a movie at movie theaters, but you might expand upon the world you've created, explore sub-plots and characters, and even do some much needed exposition as a cartoon on TV or the web, in novels, comics, video games, and even games in the real world.

Star Wars is the media property us horse-beaters talk about when we talk about transmedia. In the Star Wars universe (storyverse) a regular old audience member can watch the main story unfold in the 6 blockbuster movies, but more engaged fans have so many other places they can go to learn about the Star Wars world--The Clone Wars TV Show, video games--including the awesome ones created by LEGO--in comics, and novelas, not to mention the legion of fan created content that's out there... which may not be official "canon" but I maintain is still a valuable chunk of transmedia.

I could go on... and I will, in future blog posts. Why? Well, mostly because in some form or other I've been "converging" and involved in the creation of transmedia properties for the past 15 years or so. Not quite as long as the term has been around--Marsh Kinder first wrote about transmedia in 1991--but long enough to have accumulated some thoughts on the subject.

I'd love to hear what you think, what's transmedia to you?