Category Archives: News

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

My Work on ABC Next Week!

My company’s newest documentary, China Inside Out: Bob Woodruff Reports, premieres next Wednesday night (Aug 6th) on ABC. It’s a special edition of Primetime. I’m excited — it’s my first time I’ll have my graphics on one of the big four networks, and the logo I designed is already popping up in various places on the web.

It’s amazing how many graphics even an entirely live action film needs. Opening titles, logo bumpers for the start and end of every segment, locator maps, lower thirds, end credits — even the midbreak “…will return in a moment” is an animated clip. And on top of the show elements, there are web graphics, promo sequences, email ‘postcard’ promo images… the list goes on. And all this stuff, no matter how elaborate, pretty much goes under the radar of most viewers. If it doesn’t, something’s wrong: it’s either too over-the-top and distracts from the story or lacks the production value that makes your show seem like a real, professional undertaking. The graphics are important; they set the tone and help with the overall feel of the documentary — but subtle is key. That said, I’m pretty happy with the ones I’ve done for China. They’re shiny. :-)

Anyway, a little more about the show:

China Inside Out, a documentary reported by ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, explores the stunning global transformation that is taking place at the outset of what is already being called “The Chinese Century.” While much of American foreign policy has been focused on the Global War on Terror, China has been shaking hands and making deals all around the world. In this hour-long documentary, Woodruff examines four of those relationships to discover how China’s rise is impacting all of us.

You can read more at my company’s site.

Fresno Bee covers Making of a Law

Hey the Fresno Bee wrote a story about our Making of a Law film! They even mentioned my poor little bill character! (No relation to Bill of “I’m Just a Bill” fame — but I have to admit, it’s amazingly hard to talk about the legislative process without personifying the bill somehow.)

The film is part of what’s called The Constitution Project, funded by the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. The nonprofit group says it wants to improve civics education and public understanding of democratic institutions. In a related film, for instance, Imbriano examines a crucial Supreme Court case from the 1960s.

The films target a high school audience, or younger. A cartoon embodiment of the Wawona school bill walks through Capitol Hill corridors, slumping in despair when doors shut in its face. A scene from a cheesy old horror movie illustrates the dire fate of most of the 9,000-plus bills introduced in Congress each year: Most die.

“The documentary really shows how hard the process is,” Stauffer said.

You can read the rest here:

On The Mend: Part II

I don’t really intend to turn this site into a personal blog. I have other places for that. This is for work stuff, as well as useful things like tutorials and downloads like shiny fractal wallpaper (more of that is on the way, as the original batch has proved to be surprisingly popular).

But I think the lack of updates in recent weeks merits explanation: I’ve been sick for a month and a half. It sucks.

My doctor thought it could be mold allergies, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely. It seems it may instead be one of those mysterious flulike things that just takes a long time to get over. I’m definitely making progress now, though, and hope to resume proper updates soon.

ABC News to Launch Online Film Competition

Found out about an interesting upcoming online game/film competition today at work. (It’s through ABC News, though, not DocGroup.)

In short: you create 1-3 minute films for the web about world conditions in the future, and the best ones become part of the broadcast series and affect the narrative direction.

In an unprecedented ABC News two-hour special airing this September, the world’s top scientists, historians, and economists will predict what the world could look like by the year 2100. Experts say that unless we act now, the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could destabilize the world with catastrophic results.

In order to tell this story we need YOU to report back from the future!

ABC News is launching a massive online game that asks filmmakers and creative minds from across the globe to imagine the unimaginable. What will our world look like in one hundred years if we don’t save our troubled planet? We want you to create compelling videos that tell the story of how the next century unfolds. Your responses will be woven into an evolving web-based story, and the best ones will be used as the spine of the network primetime show.

We will feed you a detailed scenario of the global threats faced in your specific location and each future date, beginning in the year 2015. Your task is to create a gripping video (1-3 minutes long) about your future world as if you are experiencing it now, firsthand.

By the end of the game, the year will be 2100 and you will have created a unique four-episode narrative of the next century. Users from around the world will be able to view and comment on your imagined forecast and predictions.

The website’s launching May 9th. If you’re interested in participating, let me know. I’ll send you the first scenario details and entry specs. I think this has the potential to produce some fascinating films — and it’s nice to see a video contest with a little more at stake than trying to sell a product to win a prize. You can actually be creative, and there’s a lot of opportunity to bring attention to very vital issues in the process.

On the Mend

I’ve been sick for a couple weeks now, but the antibiotics finally seem to be doing their thing. Updates with slightly more content should resume shortly.

In addition to wandering around in a haze and attempting to sleep under my desk, I’ve been working on graphics for a series of short films about Japanese internment during WWII. Certainly not the cheeriest topic, but interesting nonetheless. I didn’t know much about it going in, so I’m learning a lot from this project — even if I can’t go crazy-creative with the visuals.

I’ve also gotten to design several proposals for documentaries my company’s hoping to put into production. I really like proposals. There’s just something very satisfying about the process: you’re taking something still in the planning stages, condensing it into a solid presentation, giving it a visual style and adding a bit of polish. It definitely makes potential investors go “Oh, you’re really serious about doing this…” way more than a Word document can, and helps everyone involved get a sense of what the film will look like.

I always get really excited about film proposals and they in turn make me excited about the films. :-)

It’s Photoshop Phriday!

This week’s Photoshop Phriday feature on Something Awful was “Reverse Magazines” — take a magazine, find the reverse of the title (i.e. Bad Housekeeping or Illiterate’s Digest), and make a cover for it.

So I had some fun with Cosmpolitan:

A tornado stole my husband!

My first Photoshop Phriday. And I got in! I’m very excited.

Check out the rest of the magazines, though — there are ten pages of covers posted, and lots of great ones.

Stop working for free, guys.

Okay, so user-generated content is all the rage, and there are a million contests where you can make a commercial and win money.

I’m all for the democratization of television and whatnot. Putting your own short films on YouTube is one thing. But here you’re doing a huge company’s work for free. Win $57,000 for your video about ketchup? Sounds great! …until you think about how much Heinz would be paying an ad agency to produce just one nationally-broadcast commercial. But this way, they get a huge range of choices for free (tons of really creative people sent stuff in), and are getting the actual content they use at a discount.

Sure, it would be cool to see your work on TV, especially if you have talent and make interesting, original things that really deserve to be seen. But odds are good you won’t win, and in most of these competitions the company takes ownership of all submitted ideas — whether they pay you or not. One of the cable networks had a “win the funds to make your sitcom pilot!” contest a while back that had some of my friends really excited… after all, they’d been kicking around some of their ideas for years. Then they realized the network got the full rights to every show idea suggested. Even if they didn’t make the first cut they’d’ve been unable to sell their scripts elsewhere. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT. Same goes for most of the make-us-a-commercial gigs. You could lose the contest, then they could re-make your idea later as a major campaign and you wouldn’t see a cent.

Basically, what I’m getting at here is that if you’re any good you shouldn’t be working for free — especially for people who could easily afford to pay you. YOUR IDEAS ARE VALUABLE. Go make something amazing, and don’t do it to sell ketchup.