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Posts tagged as: Inspiration

3D Printed Shape

Imagine a world where if you need or want a certain product you could simply go to your computer, order it and have it built in your house. Or, a world where you can design your house and a day later it’s built, ready for you to move in. This world may not be too far off in the future with the advances in 3D printing.

How does 3D printing work? There are two main types of “3D printing.” The first is accomplished by layering a material in the shape of the end product until the product is made. There are many ways to accomplish this layering, one way is laser sintering. Another way being pioneered by MIT is called stereolithography, which is expensive due to high-end optic units. However, MIT is hoping a Kickstarter will help lower the cost, but not the quality of a commercial 3D printing solution.

The uses for 3D printing can be unlimited. It can be used to create small scale replicas of larger products, parts for a model airplane or even a beak for an eagle. The only downfalls of 3D printing that I can see as of now is the price and availability of the building materials. However, I believe it is only a matter of time before the price of the machines come down.

As of right now, the buzz around the Web is focused on the smaller scale production of goods, but eventually the technology will grow to be able to produce larger products quicker, cheaper and easier. In the future, I believe there will be 3D printing shops for just about every industry. Thus, the norm will be picking out a product that you need or want and then personalizing it for your own use.

Image source: Gitastudents.com

Out of all the impressive work celebrated at the 2012 Cannes Lions Awards, one award-winning piece that particularly stood out is the Mercedes-Benz “Invisible Drive.” A combination of creative excellence and technical innovation, the Jung von Matt/Alster agency created a visually stunning, highly effective piece of work that makes a strong impression without leaving a trace.

It’s remarkable how it only takes a moment for the story to be told. The invisible car glides in, captures onlookers’ attention and then delivers on expectation. Everything about the piece feels so light and pure, harmonious and meaningful – perfectly reflecting the central idea of being invisible to the environment.

It seems far too rare that we see such smart, innovative creative so effectively executed in advertising. Often work will exhibit astounding, cutting edge technology that raises anticipation but doesn’t quite satisfy. If the story isn’t there, there’s no payoff. Sure, it’s impressive and makes a big impact, but does it stay with you after you walk away?

The combination of meticulous animation, awesome sound and excellent composition make this video absolutely jaw dropping construction of a set of Ministry of Sound Headphones. What is even more awe inspiring is that Paul Clements designed, built (in 3D), animated and post produced the entire piece by himself.

Starting from the cord he twists up into the construction of the speakers. After the initial speaker shell is formed, an explosion of the headphone ear cushion is created by a 3D cloth animation. He finishes the construction with tiling on the logo and completing the final gloss of the headphones outer shell. When the headphones are completely built, they swing around and come to a final resting position with the logo of Ministry of Sound Headphones. If you notice, there is a slight wobble as if they were being placed on display, which is just one of the many subtle animations that sets this piece apart from the competition.

In addition to the animation, the music selection, created by HECQ, sets the piece off by adding in different tracks as each piece is created. It is also interesting how the sound effects of the pieces building on adds a level of complexity that adds to the overall soundtrack of the animation.

For a complete breakdown of how he made this piece, check out this video.

Even if the name is unfamiliar you’ve probably seen the technique. As defined by Wikipedia projection mapping is ‘any method of mapping three-dimensional points to a two dimensional plane’, in the real world it means amazing animation and special effects projected onto buildings, physical products and performers to name but a few.

The basics of projection mapping are relatively straightforward. In a standard projection setup the screen is flat and lens and screen are positioned parallel to each other to avoid visual distortions. Projection mapping tools eliminate these restrictions by allowing for real time 3D manipulation of the video source material prior to projection thereby allowing artists, technical wizards and enthusiats to make a screen out of almost anything.

Traditional Building Projection
Ralph Lauren – Virtual Fashion Show

Product Projection
Vodaphone – The Evolution of Mobile

As spectacular as the previous examples are the most interesting work being done with projection mapping involves mapping combined with interactivity, gaming, natural user interface controls, real time projection tracking and environmental response.

Real Time Projection Mapping
Ok, so not quite real time but still a very impressive start. The next version will be much faster and will likely use infrared to do the alignment and thus invisible during alignment.

VR Glove Pong
In this example the team built a custom VR Glove using an Arduino to control the a custom version of Pong built to map into the stairway.

Snake the Planet
I won’t begin to attempt to describe the technical awesomeness here, just watch and enjoy.

While the latter examples are largely proof of concept in nature they do a fantastic job showing the path ahead for these technologies and in particular what’s possible when an interactive screen can be literally anywhere.

Sources and References:
Projection Mapping, How to guide
Projection Mappping with After Effects
More Projection Mapping Examples

Inspiration Requires Perspiration

It’s hard to be creative on demand, but there are some simple creative strategies you can employ to make it easier to create beautiful, unique and inspiring work.

To create is to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes. To evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention. Everyone has the capacity to be creative and contribute to the creative process through their own experiences, perspectives and feelings.

Creative Suite can be a crutch

It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of depending on Photoshop or Illustrator as the sole utility which we use to create art, and that makes for a very narrow view. It’s so easy to throw a filter on it, use a pre-made brush or find a handwritten free font online, but that can limit your creative vision and it’s not very inspiring.

Get off the computer and create something

Sketching and scanning is your best friend. You can make your own textures with paint, pens, markers, charcoal or other media and scan them in to create unique layering elements and scatter brushes. It’s so much more gratifying to create your own assets, and it saves you the hassle of having to search for the perfect texture online. You can also photograph your own textures for layering as well. Experiment with drawing your own type forms, icons and other unique elements. Explore possibilities beyond paper. In college, I once used a piece of acetate on a scanner sprayed with water to scan in water droplets. There’s really no limit to what you can scan.

Sleep on it

You can definitely over work your creative mind. Sometimes you just have to step away and work on something else, or give an idea a few days to marinate in your mind. It sounds silly but this works for me about 99% of the time. I really liked this quote from an article I read about creative inspiration, the author said “Inspiration requires perspiration.” That’s so true. Getting inspired is an important part of the creative process that is often overlooked. Good work doesn’t come easily. Sometimes we need to get our hands dirty and create our own unique assets. In the end, it’ll make you more proud of your work than if you just used stock or freebie assets.

Question everything

Question your design decisions. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”— am I doing it because it looks cool or because it supports the brand or message? Design decisions that have conceptual reasoning are easier to defend and generally make more sense. Sure old engraved ornaments look pretty cool, but if it doesn’t relate to your subject matter then it’s just confusing for the viewer and you’re not going to be able to explain to a client why you chose that element or how it relates to them. Design is not just about style, it’s also about communication. Your design, imagery, typography etc. should be inspired by and support the content and personality of your client and the message that you’re trying to communicate.

Sheep image by Christian Wiedel.

Do something different

Break out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to do something different. Following design trends might be comfortable and easy but long-term success requires a unique approach. Challenge the status quo, push against the accepted to make things better for the viewer but do so with reason. Be prepared to explain why this new way is better and more relevant to the client’s needs. Trends are temporary, but good design that communicates a message free of fluff will ultimately stand the test of time. Look outside your industry for sources of inspiration: Architecture, Fashion, Photography, Industrial Design, Editorial Design, Music, Fine Art etc. can all be extremely helpful resources. I often pull color inspiration from fashion spreads or interior design. Finally, follow your heart. If you’re passionate about photography, take photographs and read photography blogs. It may not directly relate to what you do professionally but it can be a source of inspiration for that work.

Remix versus plagiarism

When you’re learning it’s okay to copy people, we all learn new techniques by mimicking the work of others and practicing. Your design is inspired by your experiences and influences. If you’re really into one or two designers and you only ever look at their work you will eventually rip them off. To prevent this, you should diversify your inspirations. The more work you look at the more diluted your inspiration will be and the less likely you’ll be to rip someone off. Copying is not illegal but it’s not ethical. The design community is a tight one, if you are too heavily influenced by someone else’s style someone is bound to notice and point it out. Unless the work is an obvious homage you could be in big legal trouble and possibly ruin your reputation.

On the other hand, it can be argued that there is no such thing as a truly original idea. We’re all influenced by each other—we build upon ideas and put our own spin on them to create derivative but unique work. Our ideas are a mashup or remix of other ideas that we’re encountered. New York-based filmmaker Kirby Ferguson produced a four part video series on the subject called Everything is a Remix. I would definitely recommend anyone in the creative field to watch it.

Sources and references

http://retinart.net

http://www.jessicahische.is/obsessedwiththeinternet/andbeingresponsivelyinspired/inspiration-vs-imitation-2

http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/03/15/symptoms-of-epidemic-web-design-trends

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/04/08/the-dying-art-of-design

http://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series

We got to talking about brainstorming this week (a brainstorm on brainstorming?). Especially for those in the agency world, it’s an activity you’ve probably taken part in more than you can count.

A recent article in the New Yorker, Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth, basically concluded that brainstorming doesn’t work. As with most New Yorker articles, it’s extremely well researched and therefore pretty compelling, but among the group at Myjive, we all seemed to think there was value in brainstorming – it’s just a matter of having the right parameters in place.

Brainstorming became big in the 1950s when Alex Osborn, one of the founders of BBDO, popularized it in his bestselling book, “Your Creative Power.” His original definition is great: “using the brain to storm a creative problem – and doing so in a commando fashion, with each storming attacking the same objective.” The key ideas were no criticism and quantity over quality. In theory, this would generate many ideas quickly, as well as build positive sentiment within a team.

The New Yorker article highlighted a number of studies showing that working alone or working in a group where criticism and debate are encouraged were actually more effective.

We all seemed to agree that some debate and discussion strengthens a brainstorm, so perhaps right there the traditional definition starts to unravel. Still, the notion of bringing together a group with varied perspectives and a range of strengths seems invaluable. So how do you ensure a good brainstorm? Here’s a handful of other factors we came up with:

  • Around 3-5 people. With 2 people, one view invariably dominates. With 6+, the group seems to naturally divide into two sub-groups.
  • Choose a group with different areas of expertise. Introducing unfamiliar ideas will spur creativity.
  • If you have a couple people who have worked together for years, throw in one or two who are newer to shake things up.
  • Try introducing people throughout the session. Start with 3 people, then add the 4th and 5th partway in to inject some fresh perspective without being influenced by what already took place.
  • Clearly define the challenge. Provide the group with a specific problem or need to address. The better you know your problem, the higher quality the answers will be.
  • Provide research in advance. It’s likely your team of brainstormers won’t all be intimately knowledgable with the problem already. Give them a brief and research beforehand to get them acquainted and improve the accuracy of their ideas.
  • Try spreading out the areas of focus over the session. If it’s a complicated challenge, there may be multiple specific subtopics and this will allow you to address each one evenly and in depth.
  • Lastly, your physical space is important. Anyone who’s been to Myjive before knows we love a giant whiteboard. Check out this gallery of other digital agency spaces which spur creativity. I’m particularly envious of the garden!

So what do you think? Is brainstorming an essential part of the creative process or hours of your life wasted? What’s your best tip for a good brainstorm?

In our industry, the question is often overheard “why are there so few women in tech”? A search on Google for “women tech startups” or other similar terms gives a quick overview of such questions.

In my 5 years of working for technology companies and digital agencies, I’d given this about as much thought as “yeah, I guess so.” A lack of further thought is largely due to 5 years of frenzied deadlines and site launches, but also because I’ve always worked with a lot of really talented women.

Is the situation really so dire? Back to Google to hunt for some statistics. Yep, this is looking pretty dire. A summary of findings is that there’s without a doubt a rapidly decreasing number of women studying computer science, only 10% leading Fortune 500 tech companies and a disproportionately low number holding positions in IT.

The majority of the data to be found revolved around similar facts. No doubt, these are some of the easier to measure, based on widely tracked statistics by universities and public corporations. But I think the way the question is being asked and assessed is actually in large part the issue.

Harder to document would be the most creative and significant startups, founders and proponents of critical digital practices, societal influencers, and those who inspire others to innovate. Arguably more important factors.

Framing the question with this in mind, there are tons of women in tech. And rather than a laundry list, I’ll tell you a little more about a few of my favorites. Note that none of these women were computer science majors, worked in IT or head large corporations. Not to discredit any of those traits, but can you argue that they are not incredibly influential and inspiring?

Caterina Fake
Co-Founder of Flickr, Hunch and Chairman of the Board of Etsy
Caterina Fake

Fake was an English major and fine artist, but in the mid-90s, taught herself how to design and program while living in her sister’s basement. Flickr cam be credited as one of the early sites to mass-popularize social networking, open APIs, tagging and algorithms that surface the most relevant content. Keep in mind this was 2004. By 2005, Yahoo purchased Flickr for a sweet $30 million, which came with 1.5 million users and 60 million photos, half of which were tagged by users. Hunch is less well known, but a very successful endeavor nonetheless. It is a recommendations system that uses collective intelligence to help users make decisions on anything from a camera to a car to a restaurant. Check out a couple clever findings on their blog:
Android vs. iPhone
You Vote What You Eat

Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss
Co-Founders of Rent the Runway
Jenn Hyman & Jenny Fleiss
Hyman and Fleiss met at Harvard Business School and launched Rent the Runway in November 2008, even before graduating. Their backgrounds were in marketing and finance. The site is essentially a Netflix for fashion, allowing users to rent designer dresses and jewelry instead of buying them, and for a fraction of the price. Is that $400 lavender bridesmaid’s gown coming to mind? The site has been rolling out highly social features which allow you to “shop with a friend,” as well as intelligent recommendations fueled by a combination of algorithms and real-life stylists. The company was profitable in under 2 years and have snagged a total of $31 million in financing.

Red Burns
Founder of ITP (NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program)
Red Burns
Since 1979, ITP has continually been one of the most significant generators of innovative leaders in technology. It’s alums fill top creative and technical roles IDEO, R/GA, frog design, Microsoft and many many others. Long before most people considered interactivity a course of study, Burns was well underway in creating an environment that fostered technical innovation and applied it to peoples’ daily lives. Dennis Crowley, the co-founder of Foursquare sums it up — “It’s half art school and half product development summer camp. You take 200 people and stick them in that tiny space for two years, and good things are going to come out of it.” Check out this awe-inspiring list of the many awards and honors bestowed on Burns: http://www.tisch.nyu.edu/object/BurnsR.html

Not so bad, right? But of course it can be better.
Now email your favorite female student and tell her to drop the magazine internship and dive into tech. You can even send here these links:
Developer Intern
Design Intern

Sources & further reading:
NCWIT
Fast Company
New York Times
Illuminate Ventures whitepaper “High Performance Entrepreneurs”

Combining an awesome style and beautiful transitions, Seasons, is an awesome short animation.