Designing furniture for a micro-house on a micro-timeline

March
12
2014

Though their names have yet to be announced, the students who will have the good fortune to live in the micro-housing prototypes being constructed at Savannah College of Art and Design weigh heavily on the minds of the designers and builders who are quickly making SCADpad® a reality.

Plans for the SCADpad prototypes.

Teams are constructing the SCADpad units in Savannah for transport to Atlanta.

SCADpad's kitchen taking shape.

It was late January when I visited one of the first SCADpad reviews, where students from industrial design, interactive design, design for sustainability and furniture design presented their initial ideas for tricking out the three SCADpad prototypes. Fast forward six weeks, when I caught up with the furniture design students again, and I was floored by their progress. At the beginning of winter quarter, the group was just beginning to grapple with how to design furniture for the extended living areas that will surround the SCADpad micro-community: a shared gaming area, rapid prototyping area and lounge area.

Furniture design students present early concepts for modular pieces with the goal of maximizing adaptability.

A panel of faculty provide their feedback on the students' initial ideas and pose challenging questions.

One of the biggest questions they faced was how to simplify the furniture enough to make it adaptable for SCADpad residents. Senior Rachel Biancofiore (B.F.A., furniture) gave Thread a peek at how they tackled it:

Also during their initial review, school of design dean Victor Ermoli challenged the students to incorporate illumination into their designs. Here’s senior Ben Engel (B.FA., furniture) on what they came up with for lighting and workspace solutions. Keep your seats, "Star Wars" fans.

 

 

 

 

On top of the puzzles one would expect to encounter while exploring new frontiers of design, the furniture design students are operating according to an expedited schedule to allow time for Kentucky-based outdoor furniture company Brown Jordan to manufacture their collection and deliver it to Atlanta for an April move-in. Typically, the students have as long as ten weeks to move through ideation and revisions in order to deliver production drawings. For SCADpad they did all of this in six. Those six weeks also included time they spent consulting with the other student teams on their own challenges, like helping industrial design develop planters for the SCADpad units.

We’ll have more on the solutions those students created soon.

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ADDY Awards bound: what makes a winning ad pop?

March
7
2014

Every year, advertising faculty from Savannah College of Art and Design review work done by our students from fall quarter to fall quarter. The best work competes in the annual SCADDY Awards. This year, the awards were held entirely online. By featuring student work in a digital format, agencies, recruiters, and prospective students can now review the outstanding creative being produced at each of our different locations. Students competed for Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention in nine different categories:

  1. Magazine Ad Single
  2. Magazine Ad Campaign
  3. Digital/Online Advertising
  4. Out-of-Home
  5. Non-traditional Advertising
  6. Advertising Copywriting
  7. Advertising Art Direction
  8. Advertising Typography
  9. Integrated Campaign (mixed media)

At the end of the judging, Best of Show was picked from one of the nine Gold medalists. Here are three winners that we'll submit to the professional ADDY Awards.

Ad: The Great Invisible
Category: Typography
Student: Luis Fabrega (M.F.A., advertising) from Panama City, Panama


The assignment was to do the entire marketing campaign for an indie movie about the BP oil spill. Luis did a great job on the entire campaign, but this poster was singled out for its excellent blend of typography and subject matter.

Ad: Advil Migraine
Category: Magazine Single Ad
Student: Sinping Ku (B.F.A., advertising) from Taipei, Taiwan


The draconian simplicity of this ad for Advil is extraordinary. No copy. No tag line. No nothing, just pure idea. Love how it requires the consumer to put two and two together to understand the ad.

Ad: Fitbit Force
Category: Digital/Interactive
Student: Pablo Isaza (B.F.A., advertising) from Baton Rouge, LA and Rushil Nadkarni (M.F.A. advertising) from Mumbai, India



It’s always a little hard to describe a fully integrated campaign in a small space such as this. But this campaign brought to life the benefits of the FitBit bracelet in a fluid and fully connected multi-media campaign. The faculty chose this entry for Best of Show because it was a good idea to start with. And then it was well-executed, well-written, made interactive and shareable, and it worked in all media.

After 30 years in the advertising business, Luke Sullivan is now chair of the advertising department at Savannah College of Art and Design. He’s also the author of the popular advertising book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising and the blog heywhipple.com. His new book, Thirty Rooms To Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic, comes to bookstores in September 2014. Follow him on Twitter @heywhipple.

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Unearthing history with 'The Green Book Chronicles' series

February
24
2014

Growing up white in northern Ohio in the 1960’s, I was told that a tavern owned by my family many generations ago may have been part of the Underground Railroad. As a result, I thought a lot about the Underground Railroad as a child and felt proud that maybe, just maybe, my relatives had taken risks to do the right thing. Little did I know, as an adult I would have the chance to bring stories about a different kind of Underground Railroad to life with the help of fellow faculty and students from animation, television producing and motion media at Savannah College of Art and Design.

This project began when I met award-winning author and playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey. Calvin’s children’s book, Ruth and the Green Book, and a play based on the same, is the story of postal worker Victor H. Green, who helped African Americans travel safely throughout the Jim Crow south by publishing The Negro Motorist Green Book. Between 1936 and 1964, Victor used his resources at the post office to compile the “Green Book,” an ever-growing network of white and black-owned businesses, including restaurants, hotels and beauty parlors that would welcome African American travelers during segregation.


The cover of the 1940 edition of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” Esso Gas Stations were one of the primary nationwide sales outlets for the "Green Book."


The cover of the 1949 edition of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.”

The scope of Victor’s guide expanded over time to include international destinations. But when publication of the "Green Book" ceased in 1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act, awareness of the guides faded. Calvin wanted to change that by preserving the oral histories of people who had actually used the "Green Book.” I said yes, but let’s insert some visual appeal. And so our film “The Green Book Chronicles" - a mix of live action and animation that tells the story of the "Green Book" in the context of the Civil Rights Movement (sort of a Ken-Burns-meets-NPR’s-Story-Corps with mixed-media animation) - was born.


World War II veteran Wilbert Verrett and his wife, Dr. Joyce Verrett, used the "Green Book" on their honeymoon to Pensacola, Fla. in 1964. Interviews were shot on the green screen in SCAD Atlanta’s TV studio to allow the addition of photographs and other background elements in the final edit.


In 1955, Freddye and Jake Henderson opened the first African American travel agency in the U.S. Their daughter, Shirley Henderson Coleman, was interviewed for "The Green Book Chronicles."

A year and half later, our short film has grown into a one-hour film with enough material to create a short series. Twenty-nine SCAD students have shot seven interviews, completed six animated segments and produced the ten-minute trailer for the project. And the stories keep coming.
Rotoscoping drawing begins over live video footage shot as reference for the“Niagara Falls Romance” animation segment created by students Danielle Paulet and Jeff MacDonald. The final Niagara Falls scene was created by compositing 2D animation characters over the vintage postcard background.

Calvin and I are gearing up to raise funds for completion of the one-hour film by this fall. Along the way, I’m witnessing SCAD students from all over the world learn about American Civil Rights history, hopefully reinforcing that helping others through tough times is universally inspiring. One story can be the key that opens doors to previously untraceable history, as our journeys introduce us to others who change our lives…like when I met Calvin Ramsey. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that the story of “The Green Book Chronicles” is taking me along with it. I bet my northern Ohio ancestors would think that was pretty cool.

Becky Wible Searles has been a professor of animation at SCAD for 12 years. Previously, she owned One Eighty One Productions in New York City, where she designed, directed and produced short form clay and mixed-media animation for TV, including projects for Nickelodeon, Kool-Aid, AT&T, National Geographic and Showtime.

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Tim Rollins and K.O.S. team up with young artists

February
20
2014

Hanging amidst the exhibitions of celebrated contemporary artists at SCAD Museum of Art is the work of 14-year-old Winter Jones.

I never would have suspected that I would have the chance to put one of my pieces inside of a museum as good as this.

Who better than Tim Rollins and K.O.S. to introduce Winter and his 7th and 8th grade classmates from Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts to the art world. The collaboration between Winter’s class and the New York-based artists was a condition of sorts that Tim set for bringing the exhibition Rivers (Feb. 1 - June 8, 2014) to SCAD Museum of Art. Because, quite naturally, he wanted to interact with the community.

And so, among staples of the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. collection inspired by literature like Harriet Jacbos’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is the piece that bears the untested marks of middle school students like Winter, Darkwater III (after W.E.B. Du Bois).

The students saw their work - first edition pages of the text "Darkwater" dipped in watercolor and gold acrylic - displayed on museum walls for the first time this week during deFINE ART.





Judging from their reactions, the students' encounter with Tim and K.O.S. was one opportunity that made their possibilities seem endless.

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Olympic urbanism: the Games’ legacy to our cities

February
11
2014
Tags: Academic

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, you’ll forgive me if I have more on my mind than figure skating, ski slopes, and curling. After months of studying the impact Olympic Games have on our cities for my graduate thesis, "Olympic Theatrics on the Global Stage: Evaluating the effects of temporary and permanent event structures on historic urban landscapes," it’s nearly impossible to acknowledge the Games at face value. As Sochi has already been marred by viral images of unfinished facilities and technical malfunctions at the opening ceremony, here are five things to think about while rooting on the talented athletes in Sochi.

1. The Olympics are no longer about sport
Instead, hosting the Games is an unsurprising justification for urban renewal efforts. Driven by financial and political motives, the Games provide opportunity for infrastructure improvements, economic gains through tourism, redevelopment schemes, and the city’s self-promotion to the global audience. This approach is referred to as 'Olympic urbanism,' defined by identity, regeneration, and the intended legacy of the Games. While the participants demonstrate extraordinary feats of athleticism, the sporting events are a mere façade to the administrative agenda.

2012 London Olympic Games. Credit: Rex Features, Canadian Press.

2. Planning decisions have significant long-term effects
In designing for the Olympic Games, host cities have several options: reuse existing buildings, construct new permanent facilities, or create temporary structures for the short-term use. Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) created a building stock of megastructures that have mostly been abandoned due to high maintenance costs and limited post-Game function. Olympic construction should include a feasible long-term use plan before a city is selected to play host.

Olympic Abandonment: 1984 Sarajevo, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing. Credit: Huffington Post/Business Insider.

3. Hosting the Games comes at the expense of local residents
The Olympics are intended to be financed by fundraising efforts of the host city’s local planning organization, but it is not uncommon for the tab to be unwillingly picked up by local taxpayers. As the Olympics have reached a mind-blowing height of cost, the expense paid by locals is not only financial but also includes environmental and social consequences. Planning should engage local community members and organizations with focus on the long-term benefit. Sochi’s struggle with social equality and environmental conservation have been no secret while generating construction costs greater than any other Olympic Games in history: $51 billion compared to Beijing’s $40 billion in 2008 (the most expensive Winter Games prior to Sochi were Vancouver’s for $7 billion in 2010).

Credit: Mother Jones

4. The Olympics are detrimental to historic urban landscapes
Recent trends over the past 30 years favor mass demolition within the existing built environment to create a blank canvas for the Games. This tendency obliterates all historic integrity and sense of place specific to that region. With the need for large buildable area and little availability of open space, the Olympics are an undeniable catalyst for resident displacement. The dislocation of 6,000 people in London (2012) is seemingly minor compared to Beijing’s (2008) 1.5 million people. Sochi has reportedly displaced 2,000 families in preparation for this year’s event. The ideal solution would require host cities to implement a layering strategy to integrate new construction with existing heritage.

2008 Beijing statistics by David Trayte.

Historic hutong demolition by Jose Antonio Soria/CCCB.

5. The Olympics are not stopping anytime soon
The Modern Games have been held for almost 120 years without any signs of slowing. The Games are more often harmful to our cities than not, but it is important to acknowledge the lengthy Olympiad timeline that continues to grow. A sense of permanent Olympic identity should be evident in every host city, allowing the event to succeed while being sensitively integrated in the existing landscape. Only with the incitement of a preservation voice can the Olympic adage of “faster, higher, stronger” rise above displacement, destruction, and disregard.

Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park by Andrew Gunners, Getty Images.

David Trayte (B.F.A., Architecture, 2011; M.F.A. Historic Preservation, 2013) is a preservation specialist for an architecture firm in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also volunteers with cultural landscape initiatives. His preservation interests include modern heritage of the recent past, cultural landscapes, and the integration of contemporary design with historic resources.

 

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Is that real? Uses for virtual and augmented reality in TV

February
9
2014

The Virtual and Augmented Reality panel at aTVfest, with Janet Arlotta and John Howell from North Carolina-based (n+1) designstudio, opened my eyes to how 3D and motion media are giving producers on live TV sets unlimited possibilities.

For a producer, a physical set is like home base. You block segments around the set. You visualize how the host will engage the audience and cameras. You know exactly where to perch to make eye contact with your talent while the make-up artist touches up their foundation.

A few of the sets I became cozy with over the years:

From that reference point, I assumed that a virtual set would be totally disorienting and cold. (Could an audience really relate to augmented reality over the cushiness of Oprah’s coach?) But the case studies Janet and John presented demonstrate that these increasingly used and essential methods for engaging an audience create storytelling opportunities that vastly outweigh the temporary discomfort of operating outside of a traditional set.

With clients like Inside Edition, Food Network and Tennis Channel, some of the best work with virtual and augmented reality isn’t happening in sci-fi, as I erroneously believed, but in nonfiction television, especially sports. And it’s all done in real-time, not post-production.

Virtual sets like, UFC’s for example, have smaller space requirements but posses more specialized features, like ‘baked-in’ lighting and shadows, which mean less man hours needed for live broadcasts. For Tennis Channel, a virtual set offered a two-in-one for US Open coverage: one set for "US Open Tonight" and one for "Breakfast at the Open." That’s two shows built around one desk, sitting on one green screen.

Probably the best known use of augmented reality in TV is the neon first down line, now ubiquitous in NFL games, along with the line of scrimmage and the world record marker that you’ve seen hovering above Olympic swimmers.

John Howell shows how ESPN diagrams a soccer play using augmented reality.

But AR also means ESPN can diagram plays using animated 3D players, and that CNBC’s hosts can walk in and around the financial data they’re reporting using corresponding infrared dots on their hands and Steadicam.

Then there’s social media. No, not the kind that sits in a screen beside the talent on a set. That’s so 2010. Sean “Diddy” Combs approached (n+1) designstudio for help with the set for his new music network REVOLT.  With social media interaction being a major player in REVOLT’s mission, (n+1) took that traffic out of the screen and literally made live Tweets float in the air around the talent. Instead of a Twitter wall built into the set, AR enables those screens to move and fly around the hosts.

And you thought Oprah’s coach was immersive.

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Promotions: strategies for attracting a television audience

February
8
2014

Whether scripted or unscripted, television content doesn’t have an audience without promotion. The Promoting the Product panelists at aTVfest shared their approaches for attracting and building an audience, as well as proven methods for mutual promotion in today’s integrated media environment.

Here, Frank Radice, former president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a consultant on the soon to launch El Rey Network, describes his approach to building a promotional strategy around Machete filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, who inspired the channel's brand. Sound designers, take note, you're a major player in this process.

 

For an established network, like those in the Turner Entertainment family, integrated marketing as become a staple. In this clip panelist Rick Dascher, executive director of Turner Entertainment's creative agency The Sponsor Shop, breaks down the meaning of integrated marketing and shows how his team partners with corporate sponsors to achieve mutually beneficial promotions.

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Demystifying TV development: how to hone your pitch and sizzle

February
7
2014

One of the hardest things about selling a show idea is trying to figure out what your target, be it a network or production company, is thinking. The perfect formula of what they want and how they want it always seems elusive. aTVfest’s Demystifying the Development Process panel, including National Geographic’s Tim Pastore, Discovery Channel’s Joe Weinstock, UP TV’s Barbara Fisher, Creative Differences’ Dave Harding and Crew Neck Productions’ John Scheinfeld, gave their pitch-weary audience a veritable playbook for how to present their ideas and what to avoid.

In this excerpt, Tim Pastore walks us through what he looks for in a paper treatment.

Here Joe Weinstock emphasizes that paper can only take your pitch so far and the need to be resourceful about getting your characters on camera so a network can get a feel for them. Low budget? No excuse. Hint: Skype.

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Executive Producer Tim Gibbons's truths for surviving TV

February
7
2014

Hosted by TV Week's Hillary Atkin, aTVfest's Q-and-A with Tim Gibbons, the executive producer of HBO’s monumental comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm and BET’s runaway hit Real Husbands of Hollywood, two shows that thrive on improvisation, fittingly gave the audience an improvised list of Truths for Surviving TV. Here’s what Tim knows that helped him evolve from $20-a-day production assistant to six-time Emmy nominee.

Talent will help you keep a job but a friend will help you get it
Tim’s dream was to work in TV, so in 1976 when a friend called him for a day player role as a PA with Dick Clark Productions, he was ready. The process of getting the gig sounded simple, “Someone said Tim could be a PA.” But it’s through nurturing and growing a network, and making genuine friendships in the business, that Tim has had such a successful run in the business.

Every job I got since then has been the same. I don’t think I was ever hired once by sending out a resume. It’s because someone I knew said, ‘What about Gibbons.’

No job is beneath you and there are no shortcuts to the top
Once in the door at Dick Clark, which Tim called ‘my college,’ he made an effort to know what every role at the production company involved. Then he broke into comedy as an associate producer, learning budgeting, scheduling, how to work with writers and the costume department, all knowledge that would serve him when he became a show runner.

I became a sponge. I tried to learn about every department and every job, whether it was a tech job or Xeroxing scripts all night.

Know when your time is done and go
Tim lasted four years at Dick Clark Productions, riding the ranks, which went from PA, to head PA, to coordinator, and on up to associate producer, the role Tim was angling for. Though 20 dollars a day had turned into 300,  Tim was passed over for the next position up and knew he had to leave or remain stuck. So at 27 he took a lateral position as production manager on President Reagan’s inauguration. Not exactly the promotion he was looking for, but a gig that gave him experience coordinating a major production and a stepping stone to his next job.

Sometimes reputation is helped by a dose of chemistry
The opportunity to work on Curb came knocking three times. Tim was under contract with Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but HBO kept calling on the strength of the previous work he’d done for them. Their enthusiasm about Tim, though, didn’t excuse him from a final interview with Larry David, who wanted to get a feel for him. While in the interview Larry made a bald joke about neither one of them having hair. Tim laughed and Larry later told him that’s why he got the job. Reputation got Tim in the door, but being relatable to the ultimate decision-maker sealed the deal.

He was testing me to see if I had his comic sensibility.

Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
Regardless of the accolades that have come Tim’s way, he most credits persistence for his longevity in the business. Of the 20 PAs that Tim started out with, he’s one of only two that are still working. Persistence, he said, is what helped him sell a show he pitched 56 times. Persistence is what will distinguish you and help you get ahead.

In the job world you’re selling you and you have to be better than the 20 others who landed in LA that day and want the job.

Whether you got your start in the 70s or are just now shoving off, some things, it seems, don’t change.

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A letter to future television writers

February
6
2014

I teach a class at Savannah College of Art and Design where students write original television pilots. Lucky me, I get to read exciting material from writers who are just finding their voices and have something to say. As a teacher, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Oh, and just as an aside, having pitched my share of series to both network and cable executives, and having watched or sampled at least 80 percent of all new series over the past umpteen years, I can say without reservation that a lot of my students’ work is better than most of what makes it on the air. I am not being hyperbolic here. That is my sincere belief. And you know what? I’m sure that any professor who teaches a similar class at a college with a student body as talented as SCAD’s feels the same way. And they’re right, too. 

That’s both the good news and the bad news.

The bad news: the odds against a writer making his or her way into an office to present an idea for a new show to an executive who can actually make that show happen are astronomically high. Maybe 10,000 to 1. Really.

The good news: those executives’ very lives depend (nope, that’s not hyperbole either) on beating those odds. So they take meetings and meetings and more meetings—which are only a fraction of the meetings their assistants take.

And what comes out of those meetings? The great Ernie Kovacs once said: “Imitation is the sincerest form of television.” We get shows we’ve already seen before. By the way, that quote was from about 60 years ago. Some French guy once said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose,” which roughly translated means: “Hey, Betty White was hot in the 50s, and here it is 2014 and she still gets ratings. Give her another show.”

Do I blame the executives who are charged with making money for their studios and networks and thus go after shows and stars that have worked before and therefore will hopefully work again? Not a bit. That, after all, is their job. And I’m a smart guy. I know how to work a remote.

Let me tell you who I admire, though: the executives who said, "Let’s take a chance on shows like Mad Men, and Orange is the New Black, and The Walking Dead, and Justified." You get the idea. Shows that are different, shows that have made television great again.

So what do I tell my students? Be bold, take a chance. At no time in the history of television has there been such space and appetite for originality. Go ahead, create something that would have made Ernie Kovacs puff on his cigar and say, "Must've been written by one of them SCAD kids."

Chris Auer is the chair of film and television as well as dramatic writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His career as an Emmy-nominated writer and producer for sitcoms, dramas and soaps spans more than 25 years. Meet Chris at aTVfest (Feb. 6 - 8), where he'll moderate Q-and-A sessions with cast members from Justified, The Walking Dead and more.

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