Tag: art

The New America and Process as Art

Over two years ago, Nando Costa announced his ambitious animation project The New America on Kickstarter. The project was born out of an earlier set of illustrations engraved in blocks of wood. Nando had enjoyed the process so much, he wanted to produce an animation using it.

After successfully funding the project on Kickstarter, a technical hiccup or two, and a few discussions with neighbors over noise from the process, the final animation was released. Nando describes the story…

The abstract storyline showcased in this piece is a concoction of a variety of ideas and can perhaps be described as a union between concepts and experiments born during the Situationist movement and real life events experienced during the last few years in American society. Particularly the duality between the economic downturn and the shift in values and beliefs of many citizens.


Engraved blocks from The New America.
Photo courtesy of Nando Costa

The end result is an ethereal, often dark, and masterfully crafted animation. If this animation were simply rendered out in a more traditional manner, it would still hold up. However, the process behind the animation—and the resulting physical imperfections and variances—somehow enhance the story and emotion evoked from the piece. Seeing photographs of unique blocks of wood in a physical setting at a lower frame rate (6fps) grounds the animation and more strongly ties it to recent events. It is almost as if we are in the future, viewing the records of a long-lost civilization. To be perfectly honest, my reaction to the finished piece surprised me.

I’ve made little secret of the fact that I believe process is normally irrelevant to the audience, or at least should be. If an audience is too aware of process, they spend less thought on story, on emotion. Awareness of process can be a distraction. Instead, process should fall away, only maintaining importance to those involved and who wish to study and learn from it.

I became a backer of The New America. I received the updates from Nando. I eventually received my finished frame. I was more aware of the process than for most films and animations I view. Upon viewing the finished piece, I was prepared to be so focused on the process I would somehow enjoy it less. However, The New America seems to benefit from its process in a way I rarely see. Being aware of the process actually enhanced the viewing for me. I somehow saw Nando’s struggles and passion in the society portrayed in his animation. If I had just seen his raw renders on a screen, that would not have come through.

I still maintain process should usually be invisible to the audience. Yet I have learned from Nando Costa that when used carefully, process can be art not only beneficial to those who wish to study it, but to a general audience as well. I guess my values and beliefs are shifting, like those in the society in The New America.

Low Poly Paintings

This came across my radar last week, and it’s too good to not post. Tumblr (and Twitter) user Sock Gardner has a collection of classic paintings recreated in low-poly 3D. The low-poly thing seems to be just about peaking as a trend, but this seems like a great use of it. This also seems like a great way to practice modeling skills as well. For archival purposes, I’ve included several of the renderings in this post in case the Tumblr goes away or migrates to other posts in the future.

Wacom has an “Inkling”

Wacom has finally let the cat out of the bag about it’s “mystery” product that it’s been teasing on its website for over a week now.  That mystery product is the “Inkling”, Wacom’s newest digital drawing capture device, using a physical pen-and-ink clipboard that captures, stores and then transfers your actual drawings to your computer as layered vector files you can use in Illustrator or Photoshop, among other software.

We all know using Wacom tablets for mograph is great after the initial adjustment period, but when having to draw or sketch on a tablet, drawing onto a plastic tablet and looking up into a computer monitor lacked the absolute control you’d want when drawing.  Inkling gives you that control of drawing with a real pen and paper because, well, you ARE drawing with a real pen and a physical piece of paper.  And at a fraction of the cost of a Cintiq tablet, where you physically draw on a computer monitor, the Inkling’s $199 price point makes it an attractive alternative.

So how does it work?   The Inkling is the size of a clip on an A4 clipboard that can attach onto any piece of paper, notebook, etc, and uses a pressure senative stylus (just like the Wacom tablet stylus) only this stylus is an actual pen with ink.  You draw on your paper clipped to the Inkling using the pen and the detachable sensor records all of your pen strokes.  Tapping a sensor on the Inkling creates a new layer allowing even more control to edit later in Photoshop or Illustrator.  Using the software that comes with the Inkling called the Wacom Sketch Manager, you can import your sketches via a USB port as vector-based drawings where you can then export out for use in Photoshop or Illustrator (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro & Sketchbook Designer is also supported) If you don’t want to do any editing, you can also export them out as un-layered JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF files.

It’ll be interesting to see how well the physical pen strokes convert to vector, I could see dealing with a mess of bezier handles while cleaning up your sketches.  But at the $199 price point, it’s less expensive and gives you more control than an iPad and a Cintiq.  Even replacing the ink is inexpensive, as it just takes standard Mini Ballpoint refill cartridges.  I don’t see why any designer would want to be without this.  I can think of many benefits when it comes to easy manipulating sketched out storyboards, logo creation and brainstorming.  One of the features I think HAS to be figured out is some way to be able to record your pen strokes for use in a video in, say, an After Effects motion graphics piece.  Using the Write-On effect with a Wacom is pretty messy, imagine having the same amount of control with a pen and paper making those same kind of animated pen strokes.

The Inkling arrives in stores in mid-September.  Here is the official video from Wacom: