Art & Design

An Historic Post

Wow, I was filled with chills as I clicked “New Post” for the first time in almost three years! When I posted last I was about to serve a full time two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  To find out more about my faith check out my page: here.

I returned in July 2012, and I’m sure when I wrote ‘Hiatus’ I was planning on picking up right away however I said “why”?.  I started school, did two semesters (finals week right now actually, I should be studying), but as my ambitions and creations grew like a chestburster inside me I knew that it was time to get this rolling again.

To catch you up, because my photo on the about section and above is four years old here is a semi-recent photo of me in my buddy Mike’s ascot:

Certainly an under used fashion accessory by most of us, except Fred Jones, so I thought I’d rock it.  Sorry for the photo quality, it was taken with the front camera on an iPhone which implicates that I took this photo myself.

After Dreamhost’s servers were hacked my website disappeared; but it’s back, bug free and that’s all for now.  As I start to rebuild something of a portfolio I will being posting it here, maybe someday I will do this stuff for pay again but for now “eis for fun”.

-Love

Travis

Introducing travisfantina.com/status

I think secretly, deep down, everybody wants a microblogging service. Lets face it, Twitter is awesome or have you forgotten about this bad boy. So now, I’ll stop plugging my blog in order to plug my brand new microblog: Travis Fantina Ramblings.
It all began reading over last month’s Dreamhost newsletter. They mentioned a wonderful new microblogging software called status.net. Licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License. So I looked up Dreamhost’s own Pet Status It’s basically Twitter for your server which got me excited because as I stated earlier everybody wants their own microblogging service.
So I’m pleased to introduce Travis Fantina Ramblings a brand new microblogging service that’s free to join and offers ten more characters per post then Twitter! It’s a counter part to this Ramblings blog, now instead of only me EVERYBODY gets to ramble. It’s not very useful, but it’s on my server now and I’m probably too lazy to ever remove it check it out, join up and start microblogging who knows we might even have the next Twitter on our hands (but I doubt it). It’s a fun little experiment and a way for me to waste more time.

Now you may be wondering, Travis, where the heck have you been? No hide nor hair of a blog post since December. The answer is simple, I’ve been fairly busy and the majority of my ‘public thoughts’ (those are thoughts that I deem worthy to post online) are not long enough to blog about. You’ll notice that my Twitter account is regularly Tweeting and my new Ramblings account will soon begin rambling regularly. If anybody finds a plugin that allows me to merge these accounts I would love you forever.

Seriously, I do miss blogging regularly. I missed the ‘Avatar’ craze (but if your wondering I liked it a lot), and there are several other reviews I meant to post but just never did: let me just say go see ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘The Lovely Bones’ RIGHT NOW! Anyway I’m probably going to see both ‘Green Zone’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ this week I’ll try to post a review. I promise I’ll get back to regular blog updates (for those of you still not tweeting with the twits).

For now, check out Ramblings: The Microblog

travisfantina.com redesign!

Welcome to the new and improved travisfantina.com, or travisfantina.com 3.0. Whatever you want to call it it’s a brand new look with the same great content.

The first thing you will probably notice is that no matter what page you’re on it looks the same, as opposed to the old version where my blog looked a bit different then the rest of the site. Also you’ve probably noticed some of the cute little animals that are scattered around, and Kilroy who not only was here but still is here.

I’m using a sweet wordpress theme- the i3Theme by Mangoorange which allows for some pretty cool functionality. For example the two side bars: notice the little green arrows, if you don’t like one of the widgets or just won’t it cluttering up the page just hit that green arrow to minimize it. You can also change the order of the sidebars by grabbing the top and dragging one above the other. Give it a shot!

Tell me what you think of the redesign in the comments section below!

‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’

My decision to see ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ was pretty last minute, I just got up at seven on Saturday morning and looked for tickets, I made the right decision; purchasing a ticket for ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’.  It was one of my favorite films from the festival.

‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ is a documentary about the revitalization of Disney animation from 1984-1994.  It chronicles a fascinating power struggle between Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Nephew of Walt, Roy Disney and head of animation Jeffery Katzenberg.   From the lowest point in Disney history, in the early eighties when the animation department was moved out of the original building that Walt built to a run down off-site location, most of the animators felt they would all lose their jobs by the end of the week.  It was even suggested that Disney get out of the motion picture business!  This dismal state of affairs is how ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ begins and it carries us right through to one of the many high points in Disney history: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ had just been released and ‘The Lion King’ was going into production.

‘The Lion King’ producer Don Hahn directed ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ and did a very good job at showing a non-biased look at the craziness of the Disney Animation world from 1984-1994.

I loved some of the very candid moments in the film, we see a young Tim Burton (he hasn’t changed much), we hear the voice of a young John Lasseter.  We are shown first hand the antics of a group of pent up, predominately male twenty-something-year-olds.  It’s a lot of fun and very informative.

[rating: 5/5]

2017 Update: I’ve taken most of my movie reviews off the blog because they no longer seem relevant (they never were), however, I’ve left this because it really was a fantastic film.

Why re-brand?

I understand that re-branding is important if your company has some bad stigma associated with it. If you manufactured a product that kills people, like Altria that was a re-brand which was good for business.

However, if your company has never done anything to demand public outrage why re-brand? There really is no point especially if your logo is a classic piece of Americana like Dairy Queen or Pepsi. Was it really necessary for DQ to italicise their logo and add two coloured vector shapes to the top and bottom?

And I don’t think anybody knows what’s going on with this:

Who said: “well we have an internationally recognised logo, let’s change it so people won’t recognise it and it will look like a cheap knock-off.”

“Yes sir we’ll get our best designers on that”.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh maybe there was something seriously wrong with DQ and Pepsi’s logos, maybe they did something demands a re-brand which I am not aware of. If you know please let me know and I will blog a retraction.

For more specifically 2008 re-brands (the DQ logo was 2005) check out Brand New.

2017 Update: I did eventually find out what the Pepsi logo means, the white band is thinner or thicker depending on if it’s diet soda or not.
Several years after I posted this I found this gem which sums up my feelings of the Pepsi logo:

Unfortunately, that’s how I see it.

( I can’t source this image, other then “Lyang” if you know who created it please let me know.)

A further caveat: the longer I design logos the more I bite my tongue when I see logos that repulse me, usually there was a good reason and it’s very difficult for anyone, even the best of the best in the upper echelons of popular design, to take a beloved logo and change it for any reason at all. It’s not an easy job because logos carry a lot more than a brand, they carry our collective experience with the brand. When I think of Tesla, for example, I think of technology, innovation, sustainability, but inevitability I think of that iconic “T” logo, if they ever changed it would drastically effect (at least temporarily) my perception of the brand.  So rebranding is always difficult and dicy,  that said, 12 and 9 years on respectively, I still like the old Dairy Queen and Pepsi logos better.  Perhaps someday, in the near future, I’ll write a more in-depth article on this with years of perspective now behind me.

Sweet Dolly Zooms!

I recently watched Jaws, and one shot, the same shot that strikes me every time I see it struck me again. It happens right before the second attack when Brody is sitting on the beach looking out at the swimmers when someone yells “Shark!” there is an amazing shot where the camera comes up to Roy Scheider’s face and the background seems to melt away…

That is a classic example of a dolly zoom, sometimes called a ‘Vertigo shot’. The effect was popularised by Alfred Hitchcock and has since been used by many other great filmmakers, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Jackson, just to name a few.

It’s a very effective technique because it does such a good job of messing it viewer’s perception; the background is becoming larger in the frame indicating a dolly or zoom in and yet the foreground remains the same, this creates a sense of fear or urgency while simultaneously focusing the viewer’s attention on the only subject in the foreground.

I decided to try my hand at this awesome effect, sorry if the result is a little bumpy and not as fluid as in the movies I will explain the shakiness below…

2017 Update: Sorry this was some old Flash video player, it’s for the best that it is no longer with us.(I don’t know why I didn’t use YouTube).

So how did I do this? Lacking an actor and dolly, I decided to go with a clay model I made a while back. I made the dolly out of Legos® which explains the shakiness (don’t expect to get a steady shot when you place a 4 lbs. camera on two sets of tiny Lego® wheels). Obviously, you can do this with anything that rolls smoothly but for this experiment, I used what I could find quickly.

The technique is really quite simple but it requires a good deal patience to get something that looks half decent. Start the shot as far from the subject as you wish but remain zoomed in. Now dolly in and simultaneously zoom out. As the camera approaches the object you compensate for the change by zooming out this keeps the subject in relatively the same location within the frame but the background is changing position. The hardest part of the effect is making sure that your dollying and zooming line up, you must dolly and zoom at the same speed. If you dolly to slow and zoom to fast the effect won’t work and visa verse. Good luck!

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or suggestions post em’ below or email me!

Lightbox

Just a quick post to let everybody know I set up Lightbox on the blog. Basically Lightbox allows you to view full size images without ever leaving the page.

Click on one of the images below for a demo;
5:00 Poster Travis 'Big Eyes' Man comic book

Now it’s your turn, in the comments section tell me if Lightbox is awesome and I should keep it. Or lame and I should get rid of it. Or if you don’t care either way tell me anyway (I’ll listen).

Yay! We done!

I have finally and officially finished the website!  On Friday I finished all the design elements but it was just tonight I installed this blog on the server and transferred all of my old posts from [oldsite].

So now that the design, layout, and navigation are up working and nobody’s reported any bugs.  I will have to add some content.  I have a short film ready to go up in the ‘movies’ page, and I am going to be converting the rest of those films from Youtube to a generic player provided by Dreamhost.

In other news, I had a corporate shoot a few miles from Niagara today.  It was about an 8-hour shoot but we were fed very well and despite the fact that I was busy filming I still was able to watch the speakers (that’s why they give cameras eye pieces).

Overhaul

You may notice that my blog is no longer what it once was, I have removed most of the irrelevant posts in favour of content that some people may actually want to read. (Bold and italics for an extra dose of emphasis). Don’t worry I’ve kept all my hard written posts on my server in hopes that some day I will have a use for them, not sure when though.

You also may have noticed that the main page of the website has undergone a big redesign, the old design was tired and worn, so I reworked it, in essence, the layout is still the same but it’s sleeker, less clunky and some other words that people only use to describe cars.

As of right now, 6:55 on October third, I have not given the blog the full redesign it deserves, however, trust me that is coming SOON. I like the way it is now even less than you do! So check back over the coming days and weeks for a nicer cleaner template with hopefully lots of fun plugins.