Design Safari

I think I found a few really good examples for my design safari this week. Ok, to be honest, I kind of cheated on one–it was a picture I took when I was in Phoenix last summer. To be fair, though, I took it because of the balance/symmetry and how cool I thought it looked (so technically, I guess I just had the foresight to take the picture for this class!). Here’s the picture:

symmetry example

This picture was taken in front of the hotel my family stayed at in Phoenix, and I was struck by the symmetry of the layout. Everything was meticulously maintained, and even the palm trees were all the same height, shape, distance apart, etc. Aside from the inherent beauty of the scenery, the symmetry in front of the hotel almost provides a channel to the entrance–somehow it seems very welcoming.

Ok, so now on to the non-cheating examples ;-). I took a picture this week that I thought perfectly defined the unity design element:

unity example

This picture is from inside my apartment. My fiancĂ©e likes anything involving elephants, and to be perfectly honest, I never really noticed how they were intertwined before (typical guy not being aware of his surroundings, I guess!). I think this is a perfect symbol of a unified family, which is an adventure we are embarking on together in October when we get married. It is also an example of how unity equals support, since the red elephant is “watching over” the grey elephant, but the way the piece is designed, the grey elephant is actually holding up the red elephant.

Last, but not least, is an example of color and dominance. I took this picture in my brother’s house, because I thought it looked really cool:

color example

My parents’ best friends always told us that you should never be scared of color in your house, and my brother definitely took that to heart. He painted his living room a very bold lime green. This has always been my favorite color, and although it is definitely a shock when you first see it, it is great to have something bright and cheerful (think spring!!). The dominance part comes with the dogs. My brother has two puggles, and they always sit in that spot guarding the room. It sounds ridiculous, but in order for them to move, you actually have to pet them. He didn’t train them to do this, but they just want to make sure they’re getting some love from everyone in the house. So ridiculous, but also super cute!

Each of these three images definitely elicit a different set of emotions. The symmetry example has the “wow” factor, the unity example has the “aww” factor, and the color/dominance example has the “haha” factor. I love that you can feel emotions just from looking at a picture, and I think these emotions are enhanced when the picture has elements of design.


Photoblitzing safari

The blitz part is definitely accurate! Truth be told, I was a little lukewarm on this one before starting, but as I saw the clock ticking down, I got more and more into it. I ended up racing around my apartment trying to get all the shots in time! I thought this was a cool exercise because it involved some on-the-fly creative thinking, which is something that is definitely a great skill to have as a story teller. Check out my shots here:


This was a really interesting exercise! I love photography–I even had a darkroom setup in my parents basement in high school. I took a few pictures earlier this evening to try out some of the techniques we learned about this week. The first technique I experimented with was from @AnnyCow. The technique she described was to “plan your photos.” My fiancee and I have an English bulldog, and I know that she sits at the front door to our apartment any time one of us leaves. So I had my fiancee step outside for a second and came up with this gem:

photo 3

The next technique I tried is forced perspective, from the slideshare by Darren Kuropatwa. I got the idea from an accidental photo I took of a buddy years ago on July 4th:


I don’t think I matched the goofiness with the one I took this evening, I think our dog eating my fiancee’s toe is pretty funny as well:

photo 2

Last but not least, I tried a variation on the “looking thru the lens” technique, posted here by Alan Levine. I set up three iPhones, with the ones in front and in the back both with their cameras on. I ended up getting kind of a cool purple reflection effect on the blank screen of the middle phone. Check it out:

photo 1

I tried to get creative with things I had readily accessible at home, so hopefully you all like what I’ve done!

Week 2 Summary

This week was definitely a little easier. Not necessarily in terms of content or the assignments, but certainly in terms of managing the workload. I can imagine this will get even easier as the course goes on, and I think this can even help in my job. Having a method to structure my time and manage my schedule is a skill that transcends blogs and bleeds into the “real world.” Here’s what I looked at this week:

1) I listened to the Radiolab “Talking to Machines podcast and talked about layering audio to achieve an effect or an emotion. I compared it to my musical recordings, and how the effect is similar despite the fact that it is music vs. spoken word. Check it out here!

2) I analyzed my absolute favorite commercial ever–the McDonald’s commercial where Larry Bird and Michael Jordan “play” each other for a Big Mac. I broke it down into 5 second clips and tried to pick out the important storytelling elements in each clip. Check it out here!

3) This was the first week I gave some peer feedback, and I thought it was a phenomenal exercise. It made me really look critically at not just their blogs, but also my own. It gave me new ideas and also hopefully helped them. Check it out here!

4) Lastly, I found another example of something in need of storifying–the security process at airports. This is a daunting and confusing process for many people, and I think a good story could make it easier. Check it out here!

Overall, I think this week was a success. I felt much less overwhelmed than last week, so I’m looking forward to continuing to improve in that regard. The more I get into blogging, the more I see it as a really unique and interesting tool for storytelling!

Storified and Non-Storified Content (Round 2)

Since I’m currently in the throws of planning a wedding 500 miles away from where I live, I’ve done a whole bunch of traveling recently. Back and forth, back and forth. The airport is a fascinating place, and one which I think could definitely be a candidate for a story. Specifically, I’m thinking about going through security, and how that process has changed over the years. Interestingly enough, even though TSA has very specific guidelines for this process, it really does change depending on the airport you are in. For example, a small terminal in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport had much more lax security than Logan Airport in Boston. And to complicate matters further, some security checkpoints have the whole body scanners (see below) and some only have regular metal detectors. I could see this being an interesting subject to try to storify!

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Feedback is the spice of life…wait, is that how it goes?

I thought it was really interesting to go onto other’s blogs and take a gander. This week, I looked at the blogs of aprilshowersmayflower and youblueit, and I think the thing that struck me as most interesting was how each of them approached the various assignments very differently. Each had a different design, a different writing style, and a different way of presenting material. It just made it very clear that there’s no right way to blog!

I’ll play you for your Big Mac…

Oh boy, this is one of my all time favorites! There really aren’t any lows in this story–all high peaks! Growing up a Boston Celtics fan, I absolutely loved Larry Bird, but I was also a HUGE Michael Jordan fan, so this was just a perfect blend of awesome. Let’s all take a trip down memory lane and watch what I consider one of the best Super Bowl commercials ever produced:

So let’s break this hilariously brilliant commercial down into 5 second intervals:

0:00-0:05 – Some lighthearted music plays as the camera fades in to show a long shot of a basketball court. Despite the lighthearted music, the title “The Showdown” appears on the screen, indicating a competition. As the title appears, Larry Bird bounces the basketball, which is a loud sound (breaking up the lightheartedness). Michael Jordan appears in the shadows, as if a dark horse is approaching (i.e. “the challenger”). Jordan places a dark bag on a chair and takes a seat, as Bird asks, “What’s in the bag?” A simple answer comes from Jordan with a small smile, “Lunch.”

0:06-0:10 – The lighthearted music is still playing, but now there are closeups of each player’s faces as if to suggest fierce competition between the two. Jordan continues to answer Bird’s question about what is in the bag by saying, “Big Mac, Fries…” Bird instantly responds with, “Play you for it!” The lighthearted music instantly stops and there is silence as the camera flips back to Jordan. This is the challenge! Jordan is seemingly incredulous that he would have to work so hard for his lunch! It’s HIS lunch, after all!

0:11-0:15 – “First one to miss watches the winner eat!” Bird is making it very clear that he has no intention of losing. The camera continues to shoot closeups of both player’s faces as they contemplate the challenge. Finally, the camera shows a mid-closeup shot of the two of them with Bird holding the basketball as he says, “Noooo dunking!” They both smile at this, showing that this is still a friendly challenge.

0:16-0:20 – A HUGE cymbal crash as upbeat music starts to play, signifying the start of the challenge. A shot of both players standing at the edge of the court with Jordan shooting, and then the camera goes to a shot of just the basketball flying through the air. This shot gives the appearance that it was a long and difficult shot to make. However, the next shot is of the basketball going into the basket. This is followed by another shot of a basketball going into the basket. This last piece is an interesting storytelling technique–the director does not show both players shooting (only Jordan), but shows both balls going to give the viewer the impression that both players shot and made it. Then, the camera shows both players sitting up on the rafters in the gymnasium. The camera is situated below them to give the impression that the are very high up in the air.

0:21-0:25 – The upbeat continues as Jordan starts describing the next shot. The director employs another interesting storytelling technique here by showing the basketball following Jordan’s directions as he is explaining them. This shortens the sequence (rather than have him explain and then shoot), and allows the action to keep moving. The director then shows a rapid sequence of a number of basketballs going into the basket one after the other to imply that more shots have taken place. Then, the camera cuts to both players standing outside of the gym, looking up at an open window.

0:26-0:30 – Jordan describes the shot he is going to take as the camera follows the ball through the window and into the basket (similar to the last segment). Another perfect basket made!

0:31-0:34 – The director shows a closeup of the Big Mac sandwich Jordan and Bird are competing for, and then cuts to the two players looking at each other and smiling. They seemingly know that the prize (the Big Mac) is too good to lose. The director is implying that they will keep going forever!

A blog by a cool guy writing about cool things.