I’d Rather Walk with You

A photo of my dog Meisje
A photo of my dog Meisje
Meisje on the summit of Buck Mountain, New York. January 2005

I once had a dog named Meisje. She was a wonderful creature who gave me almost twelve years of companionship. She left me, as I predicted in the following poem, in 2009.

She died peacefully in my lap.

I wrote the poem below while she was still young and happy as a way to capture her life for posterity—many years after she was gone.

Continue reading “I’d Rather Walk with You”

Original Music…

Cover Artwork for the EP "Pretty Girls in Cars"

I have always been fascinated by music and musical composition. In recent years it has gotten much easier to dabble in it thanks to Apple’s invention of Garage Band.

At first it seemed like it was too easy: string a couple of loops together, add a beat and you have music. What becomes difficult is stringing the notes together from scratch and moving them around to make something absolutely unique.

About eight years ago I went through a pretty prolific period of music creation where I banged out two complete “albums” of music: Intercontinental and Cascade.

Intercontinental from 2005 was bright and punchy, but still used a few too many loops and samples:

 

Cascade in 2006 was darker but is my favorite work:

 

 

And finally, the EP I’ve been working on ever since and the still imperfect title track—Pretty Girls in Cars:

The last (of my) great (SD)TV commercials …

A screenshot of a KIPO Suzuki TV commercial from May 2008

A small collection of NTSC ads for now defunct car brands

The short stint when I worked at Potratz Partners Advertising in Schenectady, NY was pretty fun. In that time I took what little real dynamic experience I had with video production and added some sick compositing skills to my repertoire—namely Adobe After Effects and Apple Motion.

The unusual thing about these two commercials is that they were made just before widespread local broadcast HD. If you notice, in the KIPO Suzuki ad, the live footage was shot in HD (A Panasonic P2 HD camera in 720p) which allowed that pretty interesting jump cut to be possible. Those few months when every deliverable for local broadcast was still NTSC SD, yet you could record and edit relatively cheaply in HD and have a huge canvas to play with, was a good time for the concept of avoiding GIGO (Garbage IN-Garbage OUT). Today, you would have to shoot 4k for 1080i/720p. I haven’t shot or edited 4k yet, but I can’t imagine the overhead needed to render effects in that realm. Apple needs to update the Mac Pro soon as I’d rather eat syrup of ipecac brownies than do any sort of multitasking in the Windows environment.

Both Suzuki and Hummer are now defunct. The economic crisis the following September after these commercials aired really took a toll on the auto industry. My one regret was that I never got to do a commercial for my beloved Saab before it too went into hibernation. Scott Cars was (and still is) a client of Potratz and they had a Saab dealership at the time. So it would have looked a lot like the Hummer ad.

Sad.

Both commercials shot with Panasonic P2 camcorder, edited in Final Cut Pro, compositing with Adobe AfterEffects and Apple Motion (Live Type).

Scott Hummer—May 2008:

KIPO Suzuki—May 2008:

How do you learn a new program? Do something you love with it.

Drawing of four aircraft

Freehand —> Illustrator

The Great Forced Migration of 2005

Sometime around 2005 the powers-that-be at The Post-Star decided to jump both feet into Adobe’s Creative Suite. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you. It meant, among other things, that QuarkXpress was going to be replaced by Adobe InDesign—something that I had clamored for since I had originally signed on to that once great beacon of journalistic integrity.

But it also meant the end of another piece of software that I actually found superior to the Adobe offering, and that was Macromedia Freehand. Continue reading “How do you learn a new program? Do something you love with it.”

Empire State Plaza—Desaturated

Photo of from the Cultural Education Center into the Plaza with the Agency Buildings in the background.

The first of many lunchtime photo shoots

Sometimes it is just a great use of time to relax and go someplace with a camera and shoot for a half hour. In this case I took the first of many lunch breaks where I abandoned the concept of lunchtime as a time to eat, and more as a time to relax and exercise.

Love it or hate it — Governor Rockefeller’s Brutalist mega-monument makes for some pretty easy photo-shoots.

Music—Hammock

Music group Hammock at the Wordless Music Series in NYC

I’ve been a fan of these guys for almost seven years now. If the novel I am writing is ever made into a movie, I want these guys doing the soundtrack:

 

 

 

French & Indian War—250th Anniversary Presentation.

Screen shot of theFrench and Indian War 250th anniversary site on Poststar.com


Back in my old Post-Star days, I worked with reporter Maury Thompson on a web and print project that celebrated the local history that related to The French & Indian War and its 250th anniversary. Luckily, the web portal for the project still exists and is still accessible:

(It’s in Flash so you need to have something bigger than a frisbee to look at it)

Screen Shot—FIW
See the project here while you still can.

Continue reading “French & Indian War—250th Anniversary Presentation.”

Taking something boring and making it cool—

Still shot from a video on NYSLRS Tier 6 withholding

Determining Wages for Tier 6 Variable Contribution Rates:

OK, I’m not going to get into what Variable Contribution Rates are—the video does that for me. I actually have an idea what they are and how they work and it hurts my mind something awful.

Just check out my awesome animated word cloud and fabulous stylized figures created by my colleague Michelle Heyes.

Live action shot on green screen. Almost all compositing and chroma-keying was done in Adobe AfterEffects CS6 with a little help from Illustrator CS6—post processed in the old standby known as Final Cut Pro.

Flash and a user base that can still make it viable —

Screen shot of the development window in Flash CS6.
The 2012 version—complete with unremoved FLV marker listeners.
Who says Flash is dead? Try doing this in HTML5

Who says Flash is dead?

Yes, this is a rhetorical question.

I started using Flash when Macromedia had just acquired this magical piece of software from Futuresplash in the late ’90s. I actually remember building Flash applications without the ability to tween or even use sophisticated scripting.

But sadly, with the advent of HTML 5, iOS powered devices that never have nor never will run Flash, my days of creating things in this once wondrous platform are numbered.

Nevertheless, I work at a State Agency that happens to cater to an audience of over one million pensioners who still mainly use their desktop PCs running Windows and Internet Explorer to get their info.

Thus I present the epitome of my Flash application development career: The New York State and Local Retirement System’s Member Annual Statement Tutorial.

Technological Background:

  • Originally built in Flash CS4 and Actionscript 2 — rewritten to Actionscript 3 in 2010.
  • Current version writeen in Flash CS 6
  • Uses external XML files to generate text and links to files. Animations are triggered in audio files saved as FLVs with custom cuepoints.

Update: Link now opens up the 2013 version, bug-fixes and all.

Saratoga Race Course 2007 —

Saratoga Race Course fro the Northeast
The definitive view.

This is a graphic I designed in what was Google Sketchup for The Post-Star’s 2007 Saratoga Special Edition.

It took me nearly three weeks of 8-hour days to compose the 3D final version. This included at least three trips to the racecourse itself with a digital SLR camera in order to get all the angles and details correct. It all started with a screenshot from Google Earth to get the layout, and from there the buildings sprung up one by one.

top-elevation
A line graphic from the top.
south-high
The view from the south.
southeast
View from the southeast.