Based on social media feeds, iOS7 seems to be hated by designers, but loved by those who have actually used it. Having not installed it yet myself, and being a rather picky designer to boot, my reaction certainly veers more towards the negative! Though I’m excited to try it out once the beta builds solidify a little more.
To read my full write up on the subject and what I think is needed for natural, intuitive interface designs, head on over to the Vectorform Blog.iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 31.03.12
“The creative minds Apple once claimed to champion may well be looking elsewhere…to glimpse a terminal end is devastating.”iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 24.12.11
For years I’d been mentally tossing around ideas for a Christmas video, using character vignettes and impressionistic environments. It was a fun idea, but I never really thought about producing it until last year…
In 2010, Bridge Community Church held the first annual Come to the Manger event; an art exhibit with hundreds of nativities, nativity ornaments, and nativity themed decorations from around the world. Along with snacks, music, and other fun activities, we needed a video to introduce the Christmas story to visitors. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anything that worked well, and ended up showing a segment of the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Though there wasn’t time to create our own short film in time for the event, I started working on a script using Biblical passages with a blend of Old Testament prophecies and New Testament accounts regarding the birth of Jesus.
While progress was slow, I began working on roughing out each scene in Newtek Lightwave. With previsualisations for every digital and live action shot, I even mocked up the limitations of a 10×20’ greenscreen, splitting larger groups of people into individual pieces that could be put back together in compositing. Knowing that scheduling actors could be problematic, planning from the begining to shoot each character separately simply gave us a lot more flexibility.
Inspirations and references were found in classical paintings and religious artwork from around the world. Christ came for all, and the intention was to encapsulate that thought in every level of the production design. Clothing, architecture, landscapes; all were based in different cultures, periods, and styles from all over the globe.
We kicked things off at church with a massive meeting in July of 2011, where I laid out the vision for the project and showed a rough cut of the film using previs footage and a temporary soundtrack. From there, it took off! Dorothy Glasgow, a costumer who has worked for years in the Detroit theatre scene, agreed to head up costuming, while worship leader Scott Crecelius agreed to head up music. The crew quickly grew as other people from the church joined in, helping out with scripture copyright permission, casting, props, and so much more.
The church balcony was set aside for filming, and I set up a greenscreen stage using equipment purchased on eBay. Arrays of CFL lights ensured the production was environmentally conscious while also keeping heat manageable on set. Props were limited to items characters directly interacted with, and pieces were borrowed from congregation members and another local church. Several props were built by Jim Landback, including a custom manger that was matched with a digital model.
Each character was filmed separately, scheduled over a three week period. The angels were the most dramatic challenge in terms of setup; a custom bike seat was mounted on a wooden pillar covered in green fabric, multiple fans were added, and the camera was mounted on a 10.5’ stand! Other characters were challenging due to the sheer number of scenes needed in the 1 hour time slot we had for most actors. The magi, for example, had three distinct locations with major lighting changes. By God’s grace, it all worked out, and we got the footage needed to put the video together.
Effects and editing
After the shoots were wrapped up, the footage was processed in Adobe After Effects and Red Giant’s Magic Bullet suite. Noise removal, colour correction, rotoscoping (both manual and tracked), chroma keying, and beauty passes were rendered out to flat files for use later in the compositing process. Pre-rendering footage can speed things up considerably, especially when dealing with render intensive effects like grain modification and keying.
Unfortunately, by the time I finally got to creating the environments there was less than a month left until the 2011 Come to the Manger event! Using the temporary sets created during the previs process, I mixed photographic textures and procedural shading to quickly detail the locations. Some modelling updates were made, new pieces built where needed, and environments were fleshed out using matte paintings created in Adobe Photoshop.
Lighting and lens effects were created using Video Copilot’s Optical Flares plugin, and final grading was handled in Magic Bullet Looks. Without Apple’s full Final Cut Studio on my laptop, I ended up editing narration audio in Garage Band and the video in Final Cut Express.
The second annual Come to the Manger event was a huge success and a lot of fun. I’m not sure how many people came through, but the turnout was even better than last year! Groups of all ages enjoyed the exhibits, food, and music; from young families to residents of the local retirement communities. The World Nativity Project was shown in one of the side rooms as visitors finished up the experience.
The video is released online, free for anyone to use in their Church or Christmas event. You can download an HD media file from Vimeo (if you are signed in), or directly from Dropbox. Please remember that copyright notices must remain in place, and the film should not be modified, but otherwise, share and enjoy!
There are still plenty of pieces left to be done. Extras haven’t been added yet (villagers in Bethlehem, field workers in Nazareth), and environments need some work. A number of languages are spoken at Bridge Community Church, and portions of the bulletin are even printed in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, and Tamil. Right now the soundtrack is only available in English, but we’re planning on expanding to as many languages as we can get permission for and record, along with adding subtitles for the hearing impaired.
Thank you to all – for your help, hard work, encouragement, and support. It’s been an incredible project, and I’m hugely thankful I got to be a part of it!
Merry Christmas to all, and God bless.
I work with a lot of files as a digital artist; while most assets are project specific and management is simple, I’m also always collecting images for research, reference, and inspiration. Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could catalog and tag my collections to more quickly access a wide range of subjects? Especially as I want to better organise and consolidate my research on, say, historical costuming for Roman legionnaires, architectural inspirations from ancient Asia, painting styles of the Renaissance, typography from the 1920’s…
There are quite a few options in OS X, but no clear winners for me when reading the available reviews and website articles. Not that there aren’t some great reviews (such as the comparisons over on Minimal Design), but none of them seemed to address the issues and needs I was seeing in my own workflow. Setting out to test the apps myself, I’ve documented my (admittedly limited) impressions using the following list as a baseline for features and functionality.iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 16.02.11
Though I rather like Safari’s find feature (
command+f brings up the search bar, or
command+g to find again without even opening the UI), there are countless times when I’ve needed a good find & replace function. Copying content into TextWrangler just to do basic text replacement is a huge hassle! Though a dedicated extension would be really nice, I figured a simple bookmarklet could do the trick. Sadly, after a few minutes of searching via Google, I didn’t find much; a few examples, but they attempted to modify all page elements, or were incomplete. I needed something more reliable for editing content only within the currently selected input or text field. So I wrote my own.
The following code should work in most modern browsers (though I’ve only tested it in Safari), and even escapes most regex special character to help prevent weird errors (solution via simonwillison.net).
To use it yourself, just drag the following link into your bookmark bar (the script has been compressed for brevity’s sake).
Keep in mind this is offered with no guarantees; you accept full responsibility, and I recommend saving your data first, just in case.
Make sure the desired text field is active, then click the bookmark to start the process. If it’s one of the first nine bookmarks, you can even use a keyboard shortcut to activate it by pressing
command+[number key] (bookmarks are numbered starting with 1). The script will ask for the search term, the replacement term, and confirmation (along with the final number of terms being replaced). You can cancel at any point by simply pressing the escape key, and the script double checks the validity of the input at every step. For example, if you enter a search term that’s not present, the script will interrupt before you waste any time entering the desired replacement term. Nice!
There is one known limitation: it doesn’t work with text fields inside an iFrame. Without helper scripts embedded in the parent page, it can’t tell there’s a completely different HTML document it should be paying attention too.iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 1.10.10
Earlier this year at Bridge Community Church, Pastor Vinson preached a series on our identity in Christ. Though various ideas were tossed around in one of the planning meetings, an illustration concept was eventually developed based on the concept of reflections revealing truth. Proverbs 27:19 likens our hearts to pools of water, reflecting the real us. So what does that mean for Christians?
Ephesians 5:8 NLT
For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
It’s transformative! Our identity need no longer be defined by our past, by our failures, by our dirty sins. Washed clean, our identity is all holiness, righteousness, completeness in Christ. Even living in a dark and crumbling world, our spiritual reality is far different.
Romans 3:24 NLT
Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Titus 3:7 NLT
Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
It took a couple weekends of test shots, and several more to get the final photoshoots completed, but the illustrations slowly came together. Using a medium format lens and my DSLR, local rows of trees were captured then stitched together into a high resolution 16bit comp. Depth mapping was hand painted to help merge the trees with stock photography for the dramatically unreal skies, and along with shots of a nearby grassy bank, the environments took shape. Jim and Adrianne graciously volunteered to model, and yet a few more weekends later, the final compositing was done.
As I’ve written before, this is a concept I’m still struggling to grasp myself. Some days it seems too good to be true, and I deny reality; how could God be that forgiving? Other days I’m simply too distracted to remember who I am; living not as an adopted son of wealthy means, but as an ignorant pauper. Pastor Vinson calls it divine amnesia, forgetting what we’ve been freely given.
Ephesians 1:18 NLT
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
1 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
And yet, amidst all the glory of our identity in Christ, there’s even more yet to see! Speaking again of mirrors, Paul likens in 1 Corinthians 13:12 our current understanding to a dim reflection; incomplete and incomparable to the vastness of what is to come!iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 25.09.10
I’ve been seeing and hearing more about the illusion of multitasking in the human brain for several months; after the publication of a research paper or two, there was the NPR special on how the human brain works…then I heard about Vitamin R, an application designed to segment work break schedules, and other apps for minimising distractions. Today Andy Ihnatko’s article on distractions and multitasking was posted to the Chicago Sun-Times website; Multitasking is a Lie – Your Brain Needs a Break
For me, the phenomenon of digital distractions is quickly and devastatingly compounded by my reticence towards…well, just about anything that might be work. And I don’t mean my job – I can be a terrifyingly hard worker – but rather anything that requires emotional expenditure or any sort of discipline. I do what I want to do, and I don’t do what I don’t want to do.
Some days (or scandalously longer) this means I’ll avoid cleaning the bathroom.
It also means there’s a 4 month old tomato left abandoned in my refrigerator.
Almost always, though, it means I put off dealing with issues unless given no other choice, typically by an outside force. I will ignore the need for human interaction and sequester myself into self absorbed hermithood. I will deny spiritual malaise and pretend things are ok. I will stifle any emotion for fear I might have to face it head on. I will do anything to distract, amuse, preoccupy, and otherwise block myself from dealing with anything that might require effort. Or honesty. Or a serious look at how I live my life.
In the end it’ll leave me suffocated, underdeveloped, dead. It’s hard to close any more chillingly than with Jonathan Acuff’s article from Wednesday; A Near Life Experience.
I pray God continues to wake me up, albeit slowly it seems, to the ways in which I sabotage my own life! Having just now taken out the trash, it’s a relief to know there’s no longer a tomato dissolving into patchwork moulds in the refrigerator. It’s also a really beautiful day out; a bit cloudy, but an invigorating breeze and fresh clean air. How much am I missing out on right now by stifling and ignoring the emotional baggage that needs to be unpacked, taken care of, sorted through, and dealt with via healthy disciplines?iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 24.09.10
Wednesday was one of those “off” days. I slept fitfully, woke up late, and work was frustratingly futile. To top it off, Jonathan Acuff’s daily article was pointedly painful. We may know all the right words, say all the right prayers, and talk of God’s grace and forgiveness. Yet if we don’t belong to Him, if we are not wholly surrendered, our complacent and selfish human hearts beat only enough to pump the blood out our gaping wounds, slowly draining us of life like the butcher at a slaughter house. Acuff spoke of the nuclear meltdowns, the rock bottom experiences, the last final gasps where we finally give up, and can then be reborn as we rely fully on God. I’ll refer you to the website instead of continuing to poorly reiterat – A Near Life Experience.
It’s terrifying to look at my life and see so many ways in which I live this way; slowly draining of life, but never fully surrendering or experiencing the fullness of submission to Christ. What a way to make to make an “off” day better. Wait, no, I felt far worse!
What drove my Bible reading that evening was Jon’s mention of Isaiah 30. It all starts off with a diatribe against Israel’s alliance with Egypt, condemning the agreement as unwise, ending only in shame and desolation. “But wait,” I think, “Israel was an occupied country!” They were under the oppressive control of Assyria and desperately wanted out. Time and time again, scripture talks of God’s desire for freedom; freedom from sin, from death, from slavery. Israel was suffering under all of it, and they were yearning for freedom!
Their desire was, I think, spot on.
Their action was not.
Instead of turning to God, or even asking if alignment with Egypt was wise, they made a choice on their own; what must have looked like a promising friendship, a shrewd and timely political alignment.
Now judging from what little I’ve read on the subject, it seems like allying with Egypt could have been recognisable as a bad idea, even without Divine insight. Egypt had been a fickle friend to the Philistines in exactly the same setup just a few years before, and had proven themselves an untrustworthy ally. But Hezekiah apparently didn’t know the underlying political motives, or realise just how easily Judah was getting played. Using neighbouring countries as a buffer between themselves and Assyria, Egypt encouraged rebellion by promising military backing as a way of preventing further incursion by the Assyrians into Egypt’s territory. Of course, once the small nations rose up against their oppressors, providing the perfect distraction for Assyria’s armies, Egypt’s promised military support never materialised, leaving the border countries overpowered and laid to waste. The parallel to our own trusting of worldly strength to combat sin is downright overwhelming as well; betrayal is the only result.
I can’t imagine that God didn’t want freedom for Judah, but that He wanted so badly to be their deliverer Himself. To be the first one they turned to, the only one they trusted, their sole focus. Maybe He would have destroyed Assyria from the inside out, struck them down with plagues, or even used Egypt to turn the tide of the invading armies, but Israel would have had to ask Him first! To trust!
While not as perhaps immediately comforting as I would have liked, I should have recognised the passage; Isaiah 30:18 has been in my list of daily reminders for several weeks now.
Isaiah 30:18 AMP
And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
Mindblowing, isn’t it? I still have no idea how mercy and kindness are a causality of God’s justice, but I’ll try to keep reading through this passage every morning, dwelling daily on the sheer exuberance. The phrase “expect” seems especially potent, repeated both in this verse and in others. Unlike the english word “hope” it cannot be mistaken for vague optimism or well wishes for the future. It’s specific, focused…
and fully trusting.
The following is a short article I wrote primarily for myself, but ended up getting published in the Monthly Messenger. Reprinted here by permission of the MM editor, Amy Simonson.
The past several months I’ve been meeting with my pastor each Saturday morning to discuss various issues, questions, and what it means to think rationally as a Christian. One of the more curious personal revelations is that I have no concept of “self” outside of what I do, and more specifically, how well I do it. Not only does this lead to performance-based Christianity (not really Christianity at all!), but it leaves me incapable of understanding how God could love me, even as I fail. Again. And then again.
I rarely exercise as I should, but walking comes naturally enough when I’m mulling over especially troublesome issues. Usually it’s stress from work, but one night was more about my relationship with God. Recent sermons at Church have been about our identity in Christ; I even did artwork for the series, but it’s a concept I really struggle to “see.” After a mile or two on some of the walking paths and streets around my apartment, it’s something I was contemplating heavily again. Who am I? Stripped of everything, why would God care, much less love me?
Well…I create things. As an artist, that’s a rather easy statement to make, but it applies to all of us – in our own ways, we create things, be they sculptures, or words, or music, or hospitality. I know I can remember some of the most insignificant pieces I’ve done, even from 15 years ago, still living clearly in my mind. What if a work of art, one of my creations, were molested, defaced by vandals? What would I feel? Would I treat it with disdain, revulsion, disgust?
Or would I sit there, and cry…
Work sleepless nights to slowly clean, carefully rebuild, gently restore…
I’ve had to pause several times just writing this, overwhelmed by tears, baffled by God. Gentleness was never something I associated with His character – certainly not His reaction to our fallen nature. But it’s slowly dawning on me that perhaps God wants to heal our broken lives not with brutality, but with care. I write as one not fully grasping yet, sussing out the truth, desperately praying I can be taught these inexpressible whispers from the One who made me.iaian7 » blog John Einselen, 24.06.10
Seth Rogen has certainly played to a certain typecast, and it was with not-undue-amounts of trepidation that I watched the first trailer for The Green Hornet. Surprisingly enough, this may be his first film I actually watch. Based on what little can be communicated in a trailer, it seems to attempt a fine balance between homage and parody of Batman. It feels too keen to be a true satirization, but too lighthearted for full-out drama. With the mentioning of such genre lampooning, however, Scot Pilgrim vs. the World absolutely must be mentioned. By some of the same people that helped bring us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (both deliciously genre-fied films), the Scott Pilgrim trailers promise an over-the-top tribute to classic gaming. Perfectly cornball in an honest and earnest way, I simply cannot wait to see it!
In another example of colours-as-a-name, Red has recently released a trailer as well. How has Helen Mirren not played an elderly hit woman before? Utterly brilliant. Add in Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, and others (including Karl Urban of Two Towers fame and Pathfinder infamy), this looks like a riotously fun film.