I recently worked on another project at Radar Studios, and while I was there I met the very talented Tucker Barrie. So, of course, when Tucker called me a couple weeks ago to ask for help on a project I said yes. And when I say I "helped him" I really mean I "pressured him into animating a sequence he had given up on because of lack of time." I'm a good friend. The video above is what he made for Sprout Home as part of a Chicago area advertising contest.
Anyone who wanted to could pitch a concept to any of the 30 businesses signed up for a free commercial. Each business chose their favorite pitch and worked with the filmmakers (to varying degrees) to help/hinder the creation of the commercial.
The whole thing culminated in a competition/award party at the Double Door and that was also streamed online. There are a variety of metrics that could have been used to select a winner - running them online and comparing click through rates (you know, actual engagement), expert judge decisions, how the clients felt about the finished work, etc. But instead of anything practical the organizer went with the super realistic popular vote option, which, aww shucks, just happened to drive a whole bunch of traffic to his mediocre web properties while a lot of people (mostly students) were left begging family and friends to go to the website to vote during the ≈20 minute voting period at around 10:30 on a Tuesday night. Because that's totally how the real world works. But come on, it was for a pseudo-charitable event that wasn't so charitable that you would actually have to prove it was a legal charity, but was still charitable enough to make people do things they wouldn't otherwise.
So, as I'm sure you've figured out, the winners were a lot more about who had a ton of facebook friends than who was actually good. And it's been my experience that the best creatives are often the least likely to have a huge network of friends - they're like Tucker, making a priority of giving up sleep to try to make better work over socializing.
I will say the judges were, by far, the highlight of the event - saying harsh things about each commercial that were clearly just a tip of the criticism iceberg. Unfortunately, in spite of actually having relevant careers and experience, they had no actual power. If they did Tucker would have definitely finished in the top 3.
The takeaway here is that self promotion is rarely a way to create a good event. Long ago I figured out that the worst craft fairs are the ones created by crafters as a vehicle to sell their own stuff. If you make a great event you won't have to worry about self promotion, other people will promote you for you.
The best part of being friends with creatives is that I spent a Tuesday night drinking with a bunch of great people before landing in a booth at Big Star for tacos during what was, for many of us, a rare night of being away from our work.
And Tucker has a portfolio piece that received rave reviews for the quality of it's craft from actual professionals.
It's only recently that I've reached the point with 3D modeling that I can just open up Blender and make what I want on the first try. I've been doing some sort of 3D off and on since high school (Video Toaster on a Commodore Amiga!) but it's always been project centric - hyper focus, refresh exactly what I need to to do this one thing, then walk away for long enough that the knowledge starts to fade. I think I've finally dedicated the time and focus to move past that. I've managed to recapture the sort of untroubled experimentation that allowed the systems used by draw software (Claris Works then, Illustrator now) to so permanently imprint their methodologies into my brain. You need to know everything in the toolbox before you can pick the best tool for the job.
These were a first physical prototype based on some of the things I've been working on. They're modeled in 3D with a bit of random fractal action for interest. I'm really enjoying that place where you use a generative system to make things and then curate the most appealing of what's generated. I flattened them with a clever little Blender add-on designed for the purpose. Laser cut, hand painted and sealed with an epoxy resin for flame resistance. The candles in the picture burned all the way down without incident which was almost a little disappointing. I sort of like that I spent so much time on them and they could burn away when I use them. I'm really happy with the deep oxblood color I was able to mix up.
If you want the gory details of design and construction I posted them all into a project on Instructables for you to enjoy at your leisure.
I have designed a huge range of other models that I really want to render out as physical objects so that's on my list of upcoming work.
After originally posting a Lemon Cream Cheese Muffin recipe and recieving a great response, I had a lot of requests for a version that doesn't use any lemon extract. Fair enough, it's hard to find (especially outside of the US, apparently) and you can get your hands on lemons/lemon juice most places. As it turns out, I was able to make a much more moist and ridiculous muffin with straight lemon juice*, so I now present it as version 2.0.
*Also works with orange juice.
Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins 2.0
- 1/2 cup shortening or coconut oil
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup lemon juice OR orange juice for orange flavored muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 8oz block of cream cheese (you might want to have a second block for backup)
- powdered sugar for garnish
- cupcake/muffin liners
Up to an hour before you start put the cream cheese in the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Mix the shortening and sugar until combined. Add the baking powder and salt, then the 2 eggs. Mix in the lemon juice and then the flour. The batter will not smell delicious, but it comes around when it's baked.
Pull the cream cheese out of the freezer and unwrap it. Sprinkle the top with a little granulated sugar and use a butter knife to carefully cut it into 12 cubes. Keeping some sugar in the process will help the knife cut a little easier.
As before, fill a muffin tray with liners, fill each cup half full. Drop a cube of cream cheese in to each and push it down a bit. It's up to you if you cover the cream cheese with more batter or not, it works either way. If you have left over batter either make some plain muffins (still delicious!) or start cubing another block of cream cheese and making more muffins until you run out of batter.
Bake for about 30 minutes - the tops should be a touch brown around the edges. Let them cool completely before eating. It's probably safest to keep whatever you're not eating right away in the fridge.
If you've been here before you've inevitably noticed that I've made a tiny change in the layout. Sure it took a while. But I made a brand new layout. And I carved it. Out of wood. Okay, "carved" is a bit of hyperbole, but it took a lot of effort either way.
I still have a lot of small changes to make, but I was impatient.