Category Archives: News

What I’ve been up to lately and where you can see my work.

aescripts-splash--uncropped

Layer Selector Toolbar: Now available on aescripts

Big news, everybody! My new After Effects script, Layer Selector Toolbar, is now for sale on aescripts.com.

It’s a compact toolbar that comes in two flavors, vertical and horizontal. CS4+, Windows and OSX.

panel-guide

 

And it — surprise! — selects layers by property:

button-guide

 

I’m hoping it turns out to be a useful little utility. I’ve found it especially handy for navigating giant comps with a ton of layers, and I’m loving not having to hunt for the camera layer when working in 3D.

Big thanks to Tomas Sinkunas and Zack Lovatt for beta testing.

In other news, I’m going to have some work on TV later this month. Stay tuned!

maybedonemap

An Open Transit Map for Hudson County

Is the PATH down again and you need to find another way home? Want to show how limited transit options are in your neighborhood so you can fight for better service?

I’ve been hard at work on something that might help: a reasonably complete open map of all mass transit in Hudson County, free to use and adapt for your own purposes. At the moment the data’s set up as a series of shapefile layers in QGIS, and the project’s just been updated to work with the latest version (hyperthreading = so much faster).

new-new-header-image

When I say “reasonably complete” I mean it — trains (NJT + PATH), light rail, buses, ferries (NY Waterway, Liberty Landing, Statue Cruises),  even jitneys and smaller private bus companies like A&C.

JSQ

There is more work to do, however: at the moment the map is still missing the Hoboken HOP bus, NY Waterway’s shuttle buses, and one bus from Pennsylvania that stops twice a day each way at Exchange Place. It’s also possible I’ll discover some other secret buses, as that’s happened several times so far — Hudson County is full of poorly documented transportation routes largely run on word of mouth. (You know it’s bad when I’m actually excited to discover a company’s website contains maps drawn in MS Paint, because at least that means there ARE maps).

The big goal of this project is to tie everything together in a clean digital format that can be adapted for a wide variety of uses. (That includes commercial use: if the smaller bus companies want to generate their own maps for riders based on the routes I drew for them, THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.) Eventually the plan is to build some sort of slippy map you can interact with on the web, but right now we’re still on the “get everything in one place” stage.

This project started as part of OpenJC‘s Hack for Change National Day of Civic Hacking (I won!), but I’ve continued working on it for several weeks now. And I have learned A LOT about QGIS in the process. The best single tip I can offer is to use the OpenStreetMap plugin to download a dataset, but to skip the spatialite db conversion steps and just import the .osm as a vector layer. It seems a bit slower on the redraw, but no more missing streets!

I’ve also learned a lot about hierarchical design for complex maps. When I’m designing maps for television, they need to be simple and easy to interpret at a distance, so I’ve never had to fit so many different types of things on screen at once. Getting them all to harmonize in any remotely readable fashion has been a real challenge, but I think I’m getting there. I expect in the end many users will not even want all the layers enabled at once, but I’m trying to make things slightly less spaghetti-like if they do.

Also, if you randomize a bunch of settings, you can generate some neat abstract art with this thing:

random-color-map

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Nighthawks Piip-Show

Dramatis Birdsonae: The Birds of Piip-Show

I’ve been working late a lot, and the friendly birds of NRK’s Piip-Show have been keeping me company. But the species guide is in Norwegian (obviously, it’s a Norwegian show), and the usual translation tools do a terrible job with it.

So I made a little Tumblr to help curious English speakers identify the birds. I hope someone finds it useful, or at least entertaining. The disappointed woodpecker is my current favorite.

vegasaerial

NAB 2014: What I learned

Just got back from this year’s National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas. A few thoughts:

The After Effects and C4D communities are full of incredible and generous people.

Next year, everyone needs their Twitter icons on their badges.

I’m finally allowed to tell you I made the Goatmeal Stout splash screen. I am way too proud of this. I made a tiny hidden piece of After Effects, guys!

It is possible to attend a training session solely for the purpose of trolling someone who couldn’t go.

BitTorrent Sync is faster than FedEx for distributed production workflows.

Some of my crazy ideas are actually possible.

My favorite new product is one I’m not going to use personally — it’s one that provides me a one-word answer to a question I’m asked all the time. Musicians who want to film performances: buy a Sony HDR-MV1. Done.

It is possible to be so tired you can’t sleep.

I will sit through a demo of anything if you give me a free cup of decent coffee.

The Oculus Rift still makes me ill. But that out-of-body experience was worth the dizziness. Apparently they “fixed” the booth setup not long after I tried it, but looking around and seeing yourself standing a couple feet away, then looking down and seeing you don’t have legs? Absolutely wild.

It’s not NAB until you’ve snuck into something. Hi, I’m “Karen Flowers”.

Twelve years after it happened, I finally have photographic proof of my best crazy job story (Thanks Eric!). Here’s why I got laid off from an editing gig in FL:

Don't worry, the guy who fell on my desk was ok. But that was the end of my gig.

Not my fault. Electrician fell through the ceiling onto my edit bay. He was ok, computer not so much.

The “WWII from Space” maps are much nicer than mine, but they couldn’t find the shapefile I’m looking for either. This is oddly reassuring.

Go-karts cause shoulder welts?

More ladies, please. I think I met nearly every female motion graphics person at the show, and there aren’t nearly enough of us.

What happens in Vegas during NAB probably gets filmed in 4K.

A lot of people I didn’t realize listen to Actually Happening listen to Actually Happening.

NAB is faster than Google for solving your technical problems.

The City of No Clocks is a poor choice for getting over jetlag.

You can pack light, as long as you accept all free t-shirts offered.

The giant frog is singing “Low Rider” now. But the Lake of Dreams closes early.

A non-smoking room at the Riviera is just “whether or not the person before you smoked in it”. Don’t stay there unless you’re checking in early enough in the day to get a renovated room. They don’t hold them even if you have a confirmed reservation. Better yet, don’t stay there.

Networking isn’t hard when it’s with people you actually like.

Memory foam shoes are magic but still not enough to save you after three days walking the show floor. Ow.

Hanging out with people nearly half or twice your age is fascinating. Be the elder statesman giving advice to college kids trying to figure out their careers, then feel like a total newbie listening to tales of the old days. Someone met a guy who has been to 47 of these things.

It is possible to keep Kevin occupied for days on end with just a piano and exceptionally good tacos.

Trust the recommendations of locals. Tacos El Gordo, between the Wynn and Riviera? See above.

Honest bus announcements: “Next stop, more places to drink and gamble, basically.”

How did anyone do this before Twitter?

Thank you to everyone, friends new and old, for a wonderful time. See you next year!

New Site Layout

Finally got around to redoing the site. Still have a few more tweaks, but I’ve hopefully cleared out the bitrot and will actually get back to updating this thing once in a while. It’s also well past time to update my portfolio and recut my reel. Being a staffer makes me lazy about that.

VVPA Website

Before and After: A new site for the VVPA

Launched a new website for my neighborhood association this weekend. It’s pretty shiny, if I do say so myself. And a lot more functional: not only has the site data been migrated to WordPress (including everything from Word and PDF documents to an entire separate website of summer film screening info), there’s a new logo, snazzy new maps, and built-in MailChimp campaigns and social sharing. It’s getting things much closer to a “write once, publish everywhere” model, which saves everyone time and is good for the neighborhood!

And, for reference, here’s what it used to look like:
website-before