Category Archives: News

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

China Inside Out Emmy Nomination

China Inside Out, the ABC News Primetime special I worked on last year about China’s global economic impact, has been nominated for the Emmy for “Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story – Long Form.” Most of my coworkers have a ton of the pointy gold statues, but this is the first project I’ve worked on that’s been nominated. I’m excited! We find out who wins Sept. 21.

Yick Wo Trailer

Check out the trailer for one of our recent Constitution Project films:

The Yick Wo v. Hopkins case happened long enough ago that there is very little related visual material, so we had to create lots of puppets and sets in order to tell the story. The graphics in the trailer are mine but Hiro did a lot of really amazing work on this one and it’s worth watching the long form of the film to see it.

Watch “Ten Trillion and Counting” online!

Our new documentary, FRONTLINE: Ten Trillion and Counting premiered Tuesday. You can watch the full show online, though:

I designed the graphs and animated all the photos and documents. This was a BIG PROJECT and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’m also looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep again.

It’s been funny seeing the comments on the Frontline site. Several people have said we should have represented the debt as percentage of GDP. WE DID. There’s only one spot where we point out the actual number, and even that’s on the GDP graph. The numbers are just that big. Also interesting to me is how many things people said we should have included that were originally in the cut, but were dropped because it’s such a complex story to fit into an hour show.

FRONTLINE: “Ten Trillion and Counting” on PBS starting today!

Our new film airs tonight! “Ten Trillion and Counting” is DocGroup’s first FRONTLINE documentary, and explores the history and issues surrounding the national debt and the challenge it poses to the nation’s future.

“This is a program everyone needs to watch if the search for solutions is ever going to get beyond the simplistic, accusatory catchphrases that sometimes seem to pass for economic-policy debate in Washington.”
Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

Here’s the blurb from PBS’ website:
All of the federal government’s efforts to stem the tide in the financial meltdown that began with the subprime mortgage crisis have added hundreds of billions of dollars to our national debt. FRONTLINE reports on how this debt will constrain and challenge the new Obama administration, and on the growing chorus on both sides of the aisle that without fiscal reform, the United States government may face a debt crisis of its own which makes the current financial situation pale in comparison. Through interviews with leading experts and insiders in government finance, the film investigates the causes and potential outcomes of — and possible solutions to — America’s $10 trillion debt.

It’s over $11 trillion as of last week, actually, but it was too late to change the title. Oops.

Check your local listings. It’s on at 9 on Thirteen here in NYC, but PBS schedules vary by station. “Ten Trillion and Counting” will also be viewable online starting soon.

My mom has a website!

This weekend I helped my mom get her website up and running. I’m quite happy with how it turned out. We’re both using WordPress, which should make it easy for her to update and me to troubleshoot if necessary.

I really like the theme we chose, “modern” by Ulf Petterssen. It’s clean and classy and shows off her work (she’s a colored pencil artist) extremely well. And I think I’ve given her enough plugins to make adding images — and even video! — a snap.

Setting up her site (and doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff to mine) has me wondering, though: if I adjust my layout, what should I change?

So, who actually reads stock photo license agreements?

Apparently not political campaigns.

But I do. This probably makes me a huge dork, but when you work on things for national broadcast, not being sued is usually a plus. And after some work I did designing labels for a DVD about AIDS in America, I became quite familiar with the fun, exciting world of licensing royalty-free stock photos. Mainly, the fact that yes, even if you pay for them, you can’t use them for absolutely anything. It’s understandable, particularly with a subject like AIDS. After all, you might imply that the models in the images had the disease.

Now, there’s been a lot of talk today about the mysterious building looming behind McCain for part of his acceptance speech. (I particularly enjoyed the snarky “must be one of his seven houses!” assumptions. It’s actually Walter Reed Middle School in California.)

But I find a less-noticed story much more interesting: that a lot of the stills used in his introductory video aren’t actually pictures of supporters, but generic images purchased from iStockphoto. I will trust that the convention planners paid for the proper license fees for broadcasting. But I’m not so sure they read the fine print: iStockphoto’s content license agreement states that

4. Standard License Prohibitions
7. use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (ii) that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content

Certainly sounds to me like you can’t use them for a political campaign. And as far as I can tell, there’s no way to buy a license from iStockphoto that doesn’t include this provision. Aside from the whole “getting sued” issue, why is this a problem? Well, one of the people in the film could go public, say “Hey wait! I like Obama!” and the campaign cannot respond with “too bad, you signed a model release.” That’s just not an acceptable answer if you’ve broken the terms of use agreement. I think any of the people pictured has a right to complain if they don’t support McCain’s campaign.

If this was some local ad or limited release publication, that would be one thing. But almost 40 million people watched this speech! And, well, can’t you find some real supporters? Stock photos look like stock photos, period. And make you look fake.

Babyland on ABC’s 20/20 this Friday

Been working on graphics this week for just about the saddest show ever: Babyland, our special edition of 20/20. You can watch the opening of the film here.

A little about what it’s about, courtesy of the press release:

There are places in America where the unthinkable is happening — too many babies are dying. In most cities, black babies are dying at three times the rate of white babies. That’s what’s happening in Memphis, Tennessee, the city with the nation’s highest rate of infant mortality. A baby dies there on average every 43 hours. But many people are working to change that startling statistic. “Babyland,” a one-hour report anchored by Elizabeth Vargas, airs on “20/20,” FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 (10:00-11:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network.

It’s a really important topic, and I definitely think it’s worth watching (and for more reasons than “hey, that’s my work on TV!”), but a warning: some of the footage is pretty intense. I’ve been working on this all week and am still having a bit of a hard time with all the tiny caskets.