The Mac Lab

Specialists vs Generalists

by on Jun.28, 2009, under Blog

veggies_progression_smI’ve poured hours into the quest for inspiration every day this summer and every day I’ve thought: Enough! Get on with the creation of the new tutorial and policy videos. But every day I’ve had a feeling, a feeling I’ve learned to trust. And every day it’s been right. The last two pieces just fell into place and the recording sessions will begin tomorrow.

I should mention that what you see here is only the tip of the iceberg. We passed 500 inspirational images yesterday. How many have you seen? How many links have you clicked? (Every image is a link.) Been to our third party Vimeo Channels lately? Over 100 great videos there. This is all foreshadowing where we’re headed next year. Expectations are rising but so is the focus of our curriculum. And it’s all due to a sudden moment of inspiration. (Read the second paragraph.)

There’s a movie that’s built around a sudden moment of inspiration. Well, there’s a lot of movies that fit that bill but I’m thinking of this one (got a copy for Father’s Day). In the Mac Lab, this was our change of tempo. But unlike the movie, we’re no one-hit wonders. We’ll be cranking out hit after hit next year so long as I do my job. My job? Well the part I’ve been concerned with —  the 90% unseen part — is coming together nicely. The last two pieces I spoke of are the absolute certainty that typography will play a much stronger starring role in every class, as will many layers of collaborative interaction (ignore the subject matter and the title and focus on process).

0629: That movie I mentioned is set in 1964, the start of the British Invasion and the year music became a force in my own life (I turned 9 in May of that year and spent hours glued to the radio, much to my parents’ chagrin). Mac Lab veterans can attest to the fact that music is almost always playing in class (and a surprising number actually like what I play). Music is my first love. From my POV, it represents humanity’s ultimate collaborative accomplishment. (Yes, I know we landed on the moon and mapped the human genome. There’s just something transcendent about music.) That I never learned to play along is one of my great regrets. (I do juggle to music, though. Something I started in 1979 after this night.) I’ve got a grainy tape of this episode of TNG and it touches me on several levels (especially the flute and what it represents), always ending in tears for the beauty of the story. But back to collaboration, music, and the Mac Lab. In 1981, MTV happened (scathing and interesting info) and the visual/music mix rocked my world. Most younger readers can’t imagine how MTV changed our visual world. Directors made 3 to 4 minute mini-movies, packing information into ever more creative cinematography with ever more rapid camera cuts. If you weren’t there, you might not be able to imagine how profound these changes were. Since we’re going to be Rotoscoping, a-ha seems a natural example. This tragic talent really pushed the envelope too. That I find myself in a position to help kids realize multimedia visions of their own is a dream come true.

0630: Whoa! That was scattered. Continuing that theme… Tunisia brings us to 105 (10 in Africa). So, back to the story. What’s music, typography, icebergs, TNG, collaboration, and a-ha (among other things) got to do with vegetables? (Andrea C) Well, we’re all good at something (or can learn to be). Andrea’s veggies tell a story. She likes photography. The top third of the image is her original photograph. She learned to wield the pen tool masterfully. The middle third attests to that. And finally, the bottom third demonstrates that she learned to hand-color the pen-tooled portion. She turned her photograph into an illustration using skills she’d acquired. Wonderful! But as anyone in the Mac Lab knows, not everyone learns to put the pieces together. What to do with the flatliners? And believe it or not, this and this led directly to this — the a-ha moment of clarity. (Don’t worry. I’m not going to follow Archimedes’ celebratory lead.) There’s too many details to lay down in this post but if you can get past the peeing of pants in the Artist’s Comments and read the “art by” credits, maybe you’ll see what I have in mind. The same may be applied to this oh-so-cool typographic animation. Only a very talented artist might create that alone. However…

Visitor Update: Someone from Windhoek, Namibia spent 50 minutes on the site. Kind visitor, if you come back, share your story. Are you a student? Teacher? Artist? It would be fun to know how you found the place and why you chose to stick around and explore. You’re our first visitor from Namibia, the 106th country to grace our little site. Please drop us an email or leave a comment.

P.S. It’s not Big Brother watching, it’s Curious George. 😉

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43 Comments for this entry

  • Michael Werner

    I’d be kinda interested in seeing a general class inspiration demographic.
    If they listed their inspirational source with their work, get a neat little perspective.

    I have seen a few pieces from the students that just made me wonder where the heCK they had that flash of brilliance or nudge from.

    In unrelated news:
    Is an amazing looking site.

  • skocko

    I’d be kinda interested in seeing a general class inspiration demographic too. It was one of the required elements for the final that many of the kids blew off. Those that followed through have an additional link adjacent to some of their projects. You can be sure that it’ll be part of the curriculum next year. (Or why have I spent over 100 hours (easily) building it so far this summer?)

    If there are particular pieces you want to know more about, ask away. The stats show that there are lurkers about and word will probably get back to the artist.

    Note: There’s nothing wrong with lurking (reading without commenting). I do it all the time when visiting blogs and forums.

    Unrelated reply: Amazing looking? You like the design? I like the content. Am going to try that to see if I can cut down on the spammers.

  • skocko

    Don’t like typing Captcha characters to post? (Neither do I but I’m tired of getting pounded by spammers.) Register and it goes away. (Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.)

    Wait a minute. Why am I seeing it? Hmmm. Back to the settings.

    P.S. It’s not case sensitive (you don’t have to type caps).

  • Michael Werner

    I haven’t messed around with it YET. But I plan to. It’s apparently become the business standard. Which I suppose is why a career in webdesign is so appealing to me. You can be doing it 20 years and it will never be the same job.

  • Michael Werner

    Oh you already have it up and running!

    the ‘leave comment’ button was slightly elusive to me.

  • skocko

    The elusiveness must be due to the template I’m using. I’m wondering if I should keep it (template or Captcha). Don’t want people to skip commenting due to it.

    As for the job never being the same, same with me. I love learning. Getting paid to do it is gravy on the dream job.

    IMPORTANT: If you try to comment and get an error due to typing the wrong words, your message is gone. This is poor coding! The workaround is to hit the back button. I got three more errors so I cut the text, reloaded the page, pasted, typed the Captcha words, and it worked. Almost as if once it’s wrong (I tried it without typing to see if my Admin status made me immune), correctly typing it won’t work after that.

    Seriously rethinking Captcha…


  • hayes

    Have tried Akismet? It is a plugin. It is supposed to be good at fighting spam. However, since I don’t have my blog up and running I haven’t tested it, yet.

  • skocko

    Yep! Akismet’s up, running, and snagging double-digit spams per day. Only one false positive in the past month. It’s good. I’ll probably dump Captcha tomorrow.

  • Michael Werner

    haha, like I said, haven’t really worked with captcha + wordpress. I am thinking with an issue like that WordPress would have a workaround or alternative.

    I can assure you that captcha WOULD be the final intensive for lurkers to not post. At least in some cases.

    I’ve lurked on a few boards and when I saw captcha I ended up keeping my comments to myself just because it’s a few too many keystrokes and clicks for my taste.

  • Michael Werner

    intensive? INCENTIVE.

    ‘passenger-hours clerk’

  • skocko


    Now, back to our regularly scheduled deprogramming 😉

  • Hannah Johansen

    We’re talking away
    I don’t know what
    I’m to say I’ll say it anyway
    Today’s another day to find you
    Shying away
    I’ll be coming for your love, OK?

    Take on me, take me on
    I’ll be gone
    In a day or two

    So needless to say
    I’m odds and ends
    But that’s me stumbling away
    Slowly learning that life is OK.
    Say after me
    It’s no better to be safe than sorry

    Take on me, take me on
    I’ll be gone
    In a day or two

    Oh the things that you say
    Is it life or
    Just a play my worries away
    You’re all the things I’ve got to
    You’re shying away
    I’ll be coming for you anyway

    Take on me, take me on
    I’ll be gone
    In a day or two

  • Michael Werner

    Hannah, did you graduate the maclab?
    Also do you do commissions? I know someone looking for a line-art illustration of a scene from Phantom of the Opera.

    In an unrelated subject:
    On a scale from 1-10
    How good are you at tracing in Illustrator?
    How good are you at logo-design?

    I’m kinda talent hunting for an Illustrator for future work and someone who can produce consistent work of this quality:

    I’ll make a detailed post on it the moment the site goes live but we are still getting a good deal of customers via word-of-mouth and I will eventually need an Illustrator. You just happen to be one of my top 3 picks at the moment.

  • skocko

    Michael, the district will be stripping those files in the next month or two in preparation for the next school year. Better snag what you want to keep. (4:30 on a weekday?)

    Hannah, I told you logo design skills would be useful. (Just wait ’til you hear her response!) 😉

  • Hannah Johansen

    Wow! Okay. I did graduate the mac lab. Now I need to buy the programs and a tablet. I knew I would have to, so why bother procrastinating? I’ll go shopping today.

    I would say an 8 at tracing in illustrator. I became pretty proficient with the pen tool, and very proficient with pencil tool, rougher lined sketches.

    I find designing logos a challenge, as Skocko might suggest 😛 I actually used a tutorial and learned a lot about logos from the design you linked. Right now, Im only a 7. I could definitely pursue learning if I need to. :)

    I’ll be watching for that post.

  • Hannah Johansen

    Guess what Hannah gooooot?

    Went and bought the adobe creative suit cs4… it was only 300. Omg I love being a student. And of course…. An intuos 4!!!! *w* Hopefully the medium is ok… 😀

  • skocko

    Way to go, college girl! The medium is perfect. (Though I’m going to order mine, medium rare.)

  • Kim L.

    Hannah and Mr. Skocko,

    Your going to fall in love with the Intuos 4. And for anyone else out there that’s getting one, you will too 😀
    OMG!I just got it yesterday 😀
    It’s amazing!!! 😀

    I still need to get another photoshop though, you know the CS4.
    The only photoshop i have is adobe photoshop elments 2.0
    lol XD
    [Couldn’t help laughing :)]

    Hannah, What’s the creative suit CS4???

  • skocko

    Congrats on landing the tablet. Use it well.

    A creative suit is something an artist wears when he gets dressed up.

    The Creative Suite is another story. Buy it through your college bookstore for the best price (not much more than Photoshop alone costs with the student discount).


  • Hannah

    Hahaha I really did but a creative suit, it’s quite like a Snuggie but with more… kerning.

  • Kim L.

    haha 😀

    Thanks Mr. Skocko for clarifying about the “suit” 😉

    Speaking of Snuggies… is our Senior Mural ever going to be done (eyes roll) :/

  • skocko

    If you want motivation, I’ve heard the faculty doesn’t think you guys will finish.

    I’d want to prove them wrong if I were you.

  • Kim L.

    2 things…
    and little story about this, which by the way I hope this does not happen again. I’ll tell you the 2 things first:

    1.I would LOVE to prove someone wrong about THIS haha

    2. Where is the Senior Mural?? The school is under construction.

    Little story behind this Senior Mural… that I’m starting to get tired of is..
    well…What really ticks me off is ASB didn’t give us enough time. We should have had at least a month worth, they gave us like 4 weeks or whatever. it was way too short. Lauren and I talked about this so many times and on Sat. when we came in. They should of gave us the “go.” Instead of always asking them if we can work on it.
    ASB said that they were going to hang the two that were done for graduation. I was so mad that the two that we worked or behinds on, weren’t up there.

    I know ASB has a lot on their hands BUT, they should of let us handle it and gave us time AND worked on the weekends like we’ve agreed. But even when we all agreed, we only had I think 4 weekends to go and no one couldn’t do it. And I understood Hannah’s plans with her family, but other than that, I would think they would be able to go. Finally, I was like you know what, I’m just going to call whosever number I have, and ask whos game to go on Sat. and I didn’t call ASB but, they came and watched and then left, instead of helping out.

    Augh… :/

  • skocko

    1. I hope you do!

    2. It’s where you left it but there’s no way to get at it until mid-August when they reopen the school.

    3. Don’t point fingers. Just find a way to finish it and have the last laugh.

  • Kim L.


    so mid-August??
    I thought Sept.

    O wait that’s when shcool starts

  • skocko


    New slogan: Stay in school. It’s sh-cool!

    The big crane is down at Valhalla. I’ll let you know when they let us back in. Meanwhile… How ’bout you round up Oliver and whomever else and post something in response to my call to students in the latest post (0721 entry).


  • Kim L.

    Hahah 😀

    Yay! I made a slogan 😀

    Anyways 😉
    Yea, I saw that crane its amazing! 😀 haha

    So, ok koo 😀
    yea, ill call people up and see if they would love to finish. I know I would 😉

    No, thank you ^_^

    P.s. The linework that Chris made is absolutely stunning 😀
    I love line work and it looks awesome 😀
    Good Job Chris

  • skocko

    He’s never going to see your comment here. Post it over here. Along with the rest of your reply… including the true confession of your childhood truancies in the Mac Lab. For shame! Taking advantage of poor, trusting Mr. Skocko like that!

  • Kim L.

    Your yelling at me again >>

    ok, ok,

    I’ll write up my “confession” 😀 haha
    and seperate the comment to chris’s work on a new comment there. yea?

  • skocko

    Not yelling. And you don’t have to post anything unless you want to. (But you should let Chris know what you think of his work.)

    P.S. You’re not mooing, are you? 😉

  • Kim L.

    yes, i will tell him 😀

    what?? haha

    Now your calling me a cow??

  • skocko

    If you’re not reading my Facebook or blog updates, YES!

    Now that was yelling! 😀

  • Kim L.

    😉 I’m not mooing….

    I’m meowing =^.^=

  • Kim L.

    I already wrote my Confeesion on the post that saids “Now or Never” 😀

  • Kim L.

    I meant Confession haha

    Oh, my, gosh.
    lol 😀

    I’m doing sooo well today :)

  • skocko

    “MOOOOOOOOO!” she says.

    (Some kids just don’t read the blog!)

    Hint: 0723 and 24

  • Kim L.

    Are you talking about watching your videos??
    I thought about doing that but,
    sadly I can’t view any of the videos :(

    it freezes up my computer

    (and I hope I’m not speaking “cow”) MOO!
    (Maybe my name should by TC=Tardy Cow??);) haha

  • Kim L.

    naw, I like my name TG ^_^

    sounds better 😀

  • skocko

    They’re not my videos. They’re on the Contour site (left side).

  • sarib belinda a

    those video were o.k i really like the second one it was cool

  • Jake P

    hahaha wow mr.skocko that first video was very true.

    the other one made my brain hurt because i was the kid who tryed to read them all and said thats alot!!!

  • Josh H.

    Great video…

    I want to know how they know all that information?

  • joshua l

    this is a cool class i might give it a try

Learn it all.