The Mac Lab

Tag: coincidence

Landmarks and Breakthroughs (Week 10)

by on Nov.08, 2010, under Blog

mark_l_self_portrait_01_smAt some stage in the process of creation, the creative product—whether painting, poem, or scientific theory—takes on a life of its own and transmits its own needs to its creator. It stands apart from him and summons material from his subconscious. The creator, then, must know when to cease directing his work and when to allow it to direct him. He must know, in short, when his work is likely to be wiser than he.
—George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity

The Mac Lab is currently undergoing a bit of re-creation as we modify the policies, procedures, and expectations to make the experience more rewarding for all of us. I’m well aware of how circumstances seem to mysteriously align sometimes to allow for yet another piece of the puzzle to slide into place. I’m also cognizant of my own place in the process and I try to behave as proactively as possible to facilitate positive results—to take advantage of what Cyril Connolly wrote in Previous Convictions:

It is impossible to undertake any kind of research without being perpetually made aware that the truth is plying us with suggestions, the past prodding us with hints, and if no benefits result from such assistance, it is not the fault of our heavenly helpers but of our all too human obtuseness.

So? What does this have to do with you?

When you’re working on your own projects, please don’t forget your own place in the process. Embrace and utilize what’s written above as well as the quotes from last week. As artists, you need to be aware of the ebb and flow of circumstances in order to ride the crest of your own creative wave. The 5 Stages are your ally in this endeavor. Everyone is capable of tapping into their own unique flavor of creative energy. Like all good things, it takes a bit of effort though. Those who refuse to try are simply cheating themselves.

The Mac Lab Tip of the Day: Moving the page to right here. Bookmark ’em, Danno. Here’s the first tip. Count on a new one every day.

Monday’s Good News: Paint the World with Light is the cover story for the December issue of School Arts Magazine (educator-only). Here’s the article: Page 1 and pages 2 and 3. Did you notice that the article mentions F L O A T? Time to get to work capturing your own submissions for this world-wide collaborative project.

Tuesday’s Even Better News: Wait until you see the splash the Video/Photography Team is about to make! All will be revealed tomorrow.

Kudos: Mac Lab Rookie, Mark L, scores with his first self portrait. Notice anything familiar about his pose? Look at the background over Mark’s shoulder. Check the Wall of Fame. Yep, he based his pose on big brother Christian’s winner from last year.

1109: Philip Behnam has extended an offer to mentor current students in the art of poster design. He’s available from 6:30 to 8:20, nutrition break, lunch, and 7th period. Interested? See his offer here.

The Ad that Launched a Thousand Sales: The wait is over. What are Zipbuds? See the ad. An Epic Win for Steven, Christopher, Kyle, Philip, Christian, Danny, Fadi, Evan, and Collin’s jacket. 😛

Tip of the Day: You are a Desktop Picture (Wallpaper)

Scholarship Opportunity: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are now accepting submissions. There are 14 categories to enter and many scholarships to be won. The deadline for entries is December 17, 2010 for Art and January 28, 2011 for Video Games. Categories. FAQ. Click to register.

1110: I want your finished self portraits. Well, I want those good enough to feature in the gallery. Not sure? Check out last year’s gallery or the year before that. When you’re sure, rename your Illustrator file (using your own first name and last initial): and put it in my Drop Box. Don’t know how? You must not have watched this Tip of the Day. What? You have more than one great self portrait? Great! Name the second one: and drop it in too.

Tip of the Day: The Missing Toolbar Video.

Coming Up Next Week: Your own logo/identity designs. Here’s last year’s gallery and the year before that. Want to get ideas over the next four days? Logos on the Inspiration Page: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 (and watch the video there)

1111: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to create your first logotype.

1112: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to cycle through typefaces.

1113: Today’s Tip of the Day features a tour through the Character Panel.

1114: Today’s Tip of the Day features some OpenType Secrets.

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Getting it Right (Week 25)

by on Mar.15, 2010, under Blog

fadi_g_840_smMuch of our success as a species is due to the deliberate and conscious application of explicit knowledge, but there is no denying the power and creativity of the unconscious. We seem to have an ability to know what to do in complicated situations without being able to explain how or why. We act on impulse, on a hunch, making snap decisions that very often turn out to be the most appropriate.
Lyall Watson

Despite having a very specific intent for this message (using a different title wrapped around this event), I just heeded an unanticipated impulse to search for the post recalling the inspiration for the birth of the blog and was amazed at the interconnectedness sitting there. [New impulse] I’ll make you a deal. You read that post (yes, the whole thing) and I’ll cut this short today. I will say that you’ll find links to this comment and this post. And it’s there that you’ll find our connection to this guy.

So what? Those are the other two instructors organizing Paint the World with Light. That’s when we met. And that leads directly to the announcement that the window of opportunity for light painting has just reopened. Yep! After a Skype video conference yesterday, we decided that the book could be stronger with one more directed push. Some of you will be playing a role of your own in helping your peers around the world. Details to follow but first I have to update this gallery.

Now, do your JOBS (thanks Fadi) and make the most out of the last third of our year together!

0316: We passed 350,000 page views (since April 3, 2009) yesterday and one of the visitors was from the Republic of Botswana (the 142nd country to frequent our little corner of the Internet).

Assignment: The final in here will involve showing what you know, as usual. Some of you don’t seem to be taking the Elements of Art and Principles of Design (begin reading at the Principles of Design heading) as seriously as you should. I will be looking for proof in your work and in your responses during the Q and A in the presentation. (The end-of-year final will be more formal than the semester final.) Color Theory will also be front and center as will Typography.

A Fundamental Truth in The Arts: You have to learn the rules before you break them. Look at this painting. A 15 year-old kid painted that. Look at it again.

The family moved to A Coruña in 1891 where his father became a professor at the School of Fine Arts. They stayed almost four years. On one occasion the father found his son painting over his unfinished sketch of a pigeon. Observing the precision of his son’s technique, Ruiz felt that the thirteen-year-old Picasso had surpassed him, and vowed to give up painting.

Pablo Picasso learned the rules before he began to break them. I expect no less from you.

0317: I hope you understand that there’s a common theme running through this year’s blog posts: Master the fundamentals and open a world of creative opportunities. Ignore the fundamentals and dwell in The Nine Circles of Flatliners.

Let your memory wander to the top of the page and read that quote once again…

Much of our success as a species is due to the deliberate and conscious application of explicit knowledge, but there is no denying the power and creativity of the unconscious. We seem to have an ability to know what to do in complicated situations without being able to explain how or why. We act on impulse, on a hunch, making snap decisions that very often turn out to be the most appropriate.

Work for that Stage 4 Moment via the deliberate and conscious application of explicit knowledge. If your knowledge seems to be something less than explicit, perhaps you need to immerse yourself in the fundamentals I pointed to in yesterday’s update. And when in doubt of what to create, turn here and here. And for goodness sake, don’t forget this or this either!

0318: We’ve been talking about how your personal perspective shapes what you perceive. Think about this one.

Via jnack. YouTubed. Explained. Always credit your sources (as they did) because someone will always catch you if you don’t. (But they did, so they’re covered.)

As for the future of publishing in the Mac Lab… Our printer is keeps churning out beautiful work, our Galleries are alive and well (though in need of updating), our Vimeo Channels keep expanding, and the blog lives on. But we have two new publishing platforms to address: the large and the small.

Coming soon to Valhalla: A 72″ HD display to be mounted above Finance where the old marquee resides. Guess who’s going to be generating the content for consumption? Seriously exciting projects for next year! (But no one says we can’t start right now.)

Coming Sooner to the Mac Lab: This (only one for testing) and this and this. Our content and apps will, of course, work on this and this too. Too cool!

Grossmont College Scholarships: Details here.

0319: Sir Ken Robinson claims that education is broken. He says:

…It means that everything is changing far faster and far more profoundly than most people really get, I think. And there are both great opportunities and great challenges and some risks in all of this. And our education systems were never designed to meet these challenges. And my argument today is that we can’t really just improve them [education systems] we have to radically transform them.

…Their [teachers] job is to create the conditions under which people will grow. And those conditions include understanding the nature of talent and motivation. The need to feed people’s spirits and their energies. And instead of that we’ve got this very competitive system of mass education. And it’s failing.

There’s more, but I can’t help to think that the model we’re developing in the Mac Lab is a move in the right direction — in a direction Sir Ken would approve. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment and please add your reasoning to the response.

You may watch the entire video here.

Jobs: We have more customers! See Jobs Page for details

Reminder: Mac Lab Saturday School™ is tomorrow. I’ll show up around 5:30 to get the Final Cut Studio installation started.

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Applied Artistry (Week 23)

by on Mar.01, 2010, under Blog

kevin_facepaint_smPerhaps to fill the vacuum, that nature does abhor
The story chose this vessel, to be its metaphor
Dueling with the either-or, in land of right or wrong
I, gray matters of the heart, cross common censor’s song
Rhythm technicolors in, the lines that drew this hint
Rock and roll with punches thrown, anger isn’t it
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

Most of you know that I try to be fair. Try is the operative word because I believe the critique and assessment of your artwork includes a subjective component.

Note: Most of my peers would disagree, citing standardized rubrics. Out of left field, J. Evans Pritchard just flashed in my mind and a quick search revealed this lucid counterpoint to my own position. I wonder, however, if that erudite Norwegian considered the off-screen action before rendering judgment. Of course the instructor would cover fundamentals in his own fashion. For instance, in the Mac Lab I’ve sent you on an Art History Webquest, introduced the 5 Stages of the Creative Process, the Elements and Principles of Art and Design, and now send you (once again) into The World of Color Theory (follow the links on the bottom of each page there).

I honestly want each and every one of you to succeed and I’ve stacked the deck in your favor. Oh, but the Galleries and Posters and Wall of Fame… some students have, do, and probably will continue to petition for inclusion. If I had my way, every one of you would be featured at one time or another. But you have to understand that persuasion isn’t part of the process. It may not seem fair that I’m the judge and jury but I am rooting for you. Trouble is, it’s up to you to connect the dots and some of you continue to ignore my instructions…


Work hard, dig for inspiration, go the extra 10%, and submit your masterpiece (Kevin L)…


The point, my dear student, is that there are differing ways to achieve artistic goals and I’ve tried to open as many doors for you as possible. Yes, sometimes I feel like the guy at the board (and I’m sure that sometimes you feel like the guys in the audience) but I’m trying my darned best to innovate and inspire. The rest, as I’ve said, is up to you.

Student Blogs: Zack Tatar joined the ranks of Mac Lab student bloggers.

0302: Less than half of you chose to explore The World of Color Theory yesterday. What happened? Longing for Groundhog Day? Well, thanks to the slackers, you’ve got it. ALL OF YOU. NO EXCEPTIONS! Return to the top of the page and begin again.

Note: If you don’t want to do this again tomorrow, you might want to impose a little peer pressure on the flatliner beside you. Oh, and there are 14 pages at the other end of the Color Theory link.

International Update: The Republic of Suriname is the 141st country to visit the blog.

0303: Who knows what Christian’s talking about? A shame for those who don’t. (The answer’s right on this page.) It’s that kind of attention to detail that will determine who goes on the field trip to Sony Online Entertainment next month.

Got Jobs? Check the new page.

0304: Don’t be a twit. I’ve been reminding you about this since the week before school started. Last time was right here. And you read it twice because that Tuesday was Groundhog Day.

So, I guess the real question is: What planet are you from?

0305: On the failure to recognize the back of one’s own hand is the title of a scholarly paper written about a scientific study. The Abstract reads:

Subjects were able to discriminate photographs of their own hands from other hand photographs but were unable to recognize their hands amongst a group of other objects when they were unaware that their hands were in the photographed set. It was concluded that recognition of even this highly familiar stimulus is dependent upon selection of the appropriate identifying cues, and that this process depends on expectation.

From that study, I must conclude that expectation is the key. The failure of approximately 90% of my students to decipher the clues scattered in updates (the past two days) is as shocking to me as the findings of that study. How many clues do you need? Yes, the video I link to is blocked at school but every single one of yous should be able to fill in the blanks.


Trust is time to ask yourself, to find the strength to ask
Questions free the answering, unbinding them our task
Faith is time spent wondering, what we’re meant to find
Imagine it’s your purpose, adventure by design
Belief is time to listen, but who has time for that?
Especially when the answers, knock expectations flat

Hey, didn’t we read that recently? And what about…

What preconceived notions do you bring to the blog each day? Do you expect to be inspired or bored? Challenged or tortured? Did you even read the quotes (above)? Do you realize that the preconceived notions you’ve decided to embrace will either enhance or diminish your experience each day? Think about that for a minute. In a very real sense, your preconceived notions can be a help or a hindrance.

Do you remember that? (Read the first two quotes you’ll find there.)

Assignment: No one — AND I MEAN NO ONE — works on ANYTHING other than solving the riddle. This includes before school, between classes, at breaks, or lunch. Need another clue? When I wrote: What planet are you from? I wasn’t asking a question, I was pointing to the answer. Once you discover the answer, you may either work on your projects or give clues to others but you may NOT just give the answer away. If you begin working before finding the answer, or if you choose to blurt out the answer rather than giving clues (and torturing your classmates — can be great fun!), you will join us tomorrow for Five Hours of Fun™ in the Mac Lab.*

*Since many of you are having trouble connecting the dots, I better say it plain and simple: If you don’t complete the assignment as written above, you WILL be assigned Saturday school. Mac Lab Saturday School™ will be tomorrow from 7:00 to 12:00. As always, I’ll get here around 6:15, ready to inspire and inform. (Hint, hint)

Stumped? Want a final hint? Read today’s update again and remember that YOU’RE SITTING IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER THAT’S CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET! And remember what the original question was… way back on 0303.

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Thinking Out Loud

by on Jul.27, 2009, under Blog

kimber_smA beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.
Frank Herbert / Dune

So, I woke up early (surprise) knowing the direction this post would take (kinda-sorta since I started this yesterday afternoon) and, like Harry Potter after the Felix Felicis (though I only drank Diet Coke), I cranked open my 42 morning tabs, took numerous right and left-click turns, added videos to our channels, images to Inspiration, and posted comments and tweets rather than taking the direct route to the task at hand. Along the way I found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. Delicate care indeed! The final tab led to the page that contained the image that pegged the coincidence meter. Note: If you haven’t been reading the posts [0725] and/or don’t know that Valhalla‘s colors are orange and white, that probably won’t make any sense at all. Bottom line, it was time well spent. And now, back to our regularly unscheduled reprogramming…

I’ve so been busy looking in both directions (forward and back) that I’ve only just realized how hard a time I’m having in letting go of the graduates. It’s the blog’s fault, of course. I’m certain of that. It’s brought some of us even closer and I got stuck right here in the middle without even realizing it. Silly sentimental Skocko. Every year it seems that stronger bonds are formed with the students (well, some students). Due to the interactive nature of the blog, I’ve grown accustomed to a (semi) rich dialogue accompanying most posts. When writing, I’ve been trying to bridge both worlds and there’s just too much riding on the new to risk it with longings for the old. So, without further ado (adieu, old timers… you’ll always be welcome here), time to look to the future (Kim L).

Reading Dune (see opening quote) is a lot like teaching, except that instead of starting over once (I got about 100 pages in way back when I read it the first time, was completely confused, and returned to page one) I get to start over year after year. It’s fun finding new ways to solve old problems. It’s even more fun sketching out new goals for the kids. Two examples are expanded and more focused creative freedom as defined by the image I saw earlier this morning (though I’d exchange the word LOVE for KNOW) and a public art show (though we certainly won’t be smoking death sticks while creating art or drinking Tiger while viewing it). The rest of this week’s additions (and quite possibly all additions up to the start of school) will be dedicated to defining (or at least brainstorming) the plan for 0910 in the Mac Lab. Though I’ve written about it before, this post and these comments (from there down) began the process in earnest. It’s time to lay a few more cards down before taking off on our vacation later this week. But first I’m going to continue reading this old friend. Sure, I’ve already read it, a dozen or more times if you must know. It’s one of those wonderful books I’ve worn out before and will again.

Must find that delicate balance between work and play, don’t’cha know. 😉

Later… In the if you build it, they will come category, I just received confirmation that we’ll be getting 5 licenses of Final Cut Studio for free! Well, not really for free. I invested in a 3 year Maintenance Agreement in January of 2007. Timed it just right as we got FCS 2 in May of ’07 and will be getting v3 for the fall. Lucky, huh? Maybe I should head to Vegas! (I don’t gamble but I do play this game. A short 65 days away!) And somebody wake Shaun C so I can ask him if this is for him. He wants a career in animation (or so the story goes) and I want to give him a solid shot. (Especially since he’s going to be spending almost the whole day in the Mac Lab. It pays to take care of required classes early!) We’ll also be getting a couple of licenses for these sweet After Effects plugins too (with a deep education discount) and, well, I don’t want to spoil all the surprises. Let’s just say that the Mac Lab is going to be a dream-come-true playground for the serious digital artist. All of this comes with an entry fee though. The dedicated students get the cool programs.

0728: I find myself returning again and again, both physically and mentally, to a few lines I read in Dune yesterday: Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we all not possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? The reason I keep coming back is that this time I heard it differently. You see, it made an impression on my thought processes years ago (read that if you dare) and has always been front and center as a nagging question: What am I not perceiving? But yesterday I had one of those moments. You know, either this or this. (It’s hard to tell as the two are separated by such a slim margin.) Yesterday the words illuminated the creative process rather than primary perception (if that makes sense). Along the lines of ee comings: Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question, now I just have to find the question. And for those who didn’t dare

At some stage in the process of creation, the creative product — whether painting, poem, or scientific theory — takes on a life of its own and transmits its own needs to its creator. It stands apart from him and summons material from his subconscious. The creator, then, must know when to cease directing his work and when to allow it to direct him. He must know, in short, when his work is likely to be wiser than he.
— George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity

Note: I’ve taken it as a given for some time now that the blog is wiser than me. 😉

0729: A big hello to whomever stopped by from Guam yesterday (110 countries and counting). Perhaps you were also our 20,000th visitor (since GA started keeping track in April). Dune keeps surprising me: It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. That Princess Irulan is a fountain of wisdom. Now if I can shock those fictional beliefs out of a few more students this year… While searching for links to George Kneller (The Art and Science of Creativity guy), I ran across some food for thought. Some of the points are relevant to the Mac Lab’s radical departure for old school educational practices. Considering this conversation, Hayes might find it of interest too. Received confirmation that we’ll receive a free upgrade to v8 when it comes out. Oh, didn’t I mention we were getting a few copies of this for 3D? Forgetful me. Probably forgot to tell you that pricing for this fits into the budget too. No gaming in the Mac Lab! Unless, of course, it’s a game you’re creating in class. We’ll be starting with the 2D version so all students will get a shot to pitch their ideas. (Hint: Set the WABAC Machine to this post and try to imagine what I have in mind. Search and destroy missions might work if your protagonist is a white blood cell. If he’s just another guy with a gun, probably not.) Depending on the level of student participation, I may look for additional funding for the 3D version as well. I’ve begun to brainstorm out loud about our initial projects but failed to stress how we’ll begin ALL classes with foundations in the core Adobe apps: Illustrator, Photoshop, Bridge, and Dreamweaver. Kinda like I forgot to stress the Adobe apps in this entry. Oh well, live and learn. As Baca knows and as I’ve been know to say, you can’t win if you don’t enter (but read all the rules first).

0730: Dreamweaver + Bridge, Acrobat, Encore, or Flash? Or maybe Flash Catalyst + Photoshop and/or Illustrator? Hmmm… I’ve been researching Adobe options all day and each has its benefits. We’ll probably be using Bridge for the initial portfolio (6 weeks) to keep things simple and add Acrobat and/or Encore for the second and third portfolios (12 and 18 weeks) to give you more creative freedom without huge time investments. The second semester will offer other choices for advanced students but I’d like to keep the portfolios as sweet and simple as possible so you can focus on your projects. We’ll be skipping the text links for the most part but there’ll be a writing component so text will play its part. I’d say I can’t wait, but I really can. Summer’s been wonderful and I’m not ready to let go yet.

Oh, and not to change the subject but my credit card just got a one, two, three workout! 😀

0731: Visitors from the Faroe Islands and Mozambique bring us to 111 countries. Shouldn’t it be 112? No, I just noticed that Google’s been counting something called not set as a country. We’ll skip that one and just add up the ones we can find on a map, so 111 it is. (Do you know why that map is unique? What’s the real value of Bucky‘s version? Search for your own answers and think about how those other maps have distorted our perception of what the world really looks like.)

Well, it’s here. Today’s a frenetic day of last minute chores and preparation. Tomorrow morning we leave on a two-week road trip, up one side of the state to Oregon (with multiple friends and family stops along the way) and back down the inland route to our quaint condo in the mountains. Internet access and time to post will be somewhat unpredictable so… I’ll talk with you later… Today? Tomorrow? Who knows? Catch up with your blog reading meantime. There’s more tucked away here than many of you can imagine. Be good to one another.

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Coming Out of Our Shell

by on Jul.13, 2009, under Blog

baby_turtle_smEvery start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
— Albert Schweitzer

That’s right. Like Baca’s beloved baby turtle (They’re great with just a pinch of salt! Sorry, inside joke.) the Mac Lab is going to extend its collective neck and look around the school for collaborative projects in the fall. C’mon, quit moaning. Many of you will be coming to me later in the year asking if it’s okay to produce your WWII posters in class for an Humanities assignment. (And I always let you, don’t I?) Here’s Robbie Fikes’ (he’s a grad now) “What if the Axis Won the War?” poster. (It’s part of the eclectic collection of prints on our door that often stops people in their tracks.) Speaking of that, here’s some WWIII posters with a nod to designs of yesteryear (via). Our primary partner is Mr. Bradford (Chemistry). Here’s an example of a fun way to communicate chemisty concepts with graphics. Here’s another unrelated video that explains how we got into this economic mess (that’s already impacting our classroom directly). And what about a book report no one will ever forget?

I could go on and on (I think you already know that) but this is the reason I’m at this fleabag of a hotel (see tweet) writing at this cramped desk — to learn new strategies to initiate deeper collaboration with core subjects. Mac Lab Veterans already know how I pushed this last year. Was it quixotic? (Look it up.) Probably. Is this week going to transform our curriculum? Not completely, but to use eduspeak, it will inform my teaching practice. (Alter my strategy.) Not such a stretch as I’ve been moving in this direction anyway. Think about it. Who’s going to be the first to pitch an idea that requires our 5D? (A camera that records video like this.)

Bottom line: The projects we’ll develop are the projects that win competitions. Prizes are nice but these are meat for your portfolio and resume sandwich (soy-based if you’re a vegetarian). That’s sustenance for the next phase of your journey into your own adventure: life after high school. Dang! As if to confirm this message, a bird with feathers in it’s beak was perched on the fire escape outside my window. (Kinda late in the year to be building a nest, isn’t it?) It flew away when I reached for the camera.

I guess the moral of our little story is: It’s always the right time to build for the future.

0714: Azerbaijan makes 108 countries to visit our little blog. (I love the geography lessons. I knew it was one of the breakaways from the old Soviet Union but I didn’t know exactly where it was located on a map.) I can’t hear 108 without flashing on Bull Durham and Annie Savoy’s wonderfully bizarre 108 rant. (I’d compiled my own 108 connections in pre-WWW days. Thank you, TBL for making the world a smaller place for seekers.) Hey, look, another info-graphic video dealing with tangential meanderings. Amazing what’s right there at our fingertips!

That was fun. I’d not intended to write any of that, but, you know… Now, with only a few minutes left, I should tell you that I got my wish yesterday. True, it was a modest wish, but little things add up. My fear that this would have been a week better spent recording videos for you proved unfounded. There’s a terrific group of teachers here and hearing what they have to say is worth the trip alone. The day also included a few applicable ideas from the all-day sessions. The moment of the day was at the intersection of Visual Literacy and a teacher’s comment about a student’s A-Ha! moment: Now I know how to read an image! I’m not sure if that connects with you but it sure rocked my perceptual world. That’ll shape and inform a few lessons next fall!

Today’s goal is the same: Give me one or two solid ideas to help my kids learn. Think about it. We already have a pretty solid program so the addition of seriously worthwhile projects is a boon for all. But it may be a little hard to focus at times because my mind is sure to wander. You see, tomorrow two-thirds of the teachers are going here and one-third here. I’m not sure how they divided us but I do know my dream came true (if you catch my drift).

0715: Yesterday I rambled about the 108 countries who’d visited since I added Google Analytics in April. Since school let out in June we’ve had 1,125 unique visitors from 66 countries and 41 states. Comparison map. And now all those kind folks will get to see the higher quality Best Work video I uploaded last night. I’m not sure why the HD version glitched so badly. This one slows down at the same point (very strange) as well but doesn’t suffer the horrible pixelation. If you’d like to download a copy, the link’s at the lower right on this page. Heading behind the scenes at DreamWorks today. Of course a coincidence popped up to mark the occasion (via). No slight intended. (Though Pixar is king of the hill, imho.) We also get to discuss topics with an industry panel of heavy hitters before boarding the buses for our field trip. It’s going to be a great day!

0716: Sorry for the delay. The roller coaster of life took me up, up, up, and then… I’ll skip the gory details of the food poisoning episode last night that continued past noon (a sure winner on America’s Grossest Videos) and focus on the ups. Quick overview. (Don’t be a fool! Click the links.) Panel Discussion Highlight This came up again later as even DreamWorks is involved. Don’t dismiss the look of the site. This is an unbelievable ladder to climb; and like all ladders, you start at the bottom. Keynote Highlight. Again, don’t underestimate the impact on our program. Hey, this USC grad helped to start it (I like how ILM helped to start IML). We’ll be using new strategies that will help you succeed no matter your career plans (as evidenced by this new minor). Next up, face to face with industry reps. First with a very funny guy who recruits and hires. Three out of their four lead designers majored in literature. It’s all about the story. How do you draw people into the game? Oh, almost forgot to mention that I’m going to follow his recommendation and will be adding this to the lab next year. Interested? Next up, another funny guy who just started QuickFest. Tons of great advice. “You want to work for me? Learn to spell!” (Are you listening, Baca?) “Show up on time. And that means early!” Like everyone else, he advises: lose the ego, volunteer, and do more than you’re asked to do. (That was universal advice.) Tons more to add but even if that was the whole story for the day, I’d be raving about how worthwhile this entire trip had been. But there was one more thing left to do…

We didn’t get the promised two hours at DreamWorks. We got three. What a fan-friggin-tastic place to work! Go here. Roll over COMPANY, click CAREERS, and watch the video. They hired 55 new employees straight out of college in both of the last two years. They’ve started an outreach program and are connecting with multiple CSUs. Two of the hires last year came from SJSU (where I got my BFA). If you don’t read that, you’re a fool and you missed: Recent graduates of our program have gained employment at major studios such as Walt Disney Feature Animation, PIXAR, Industrial Light and Magic, Electronic Arts, Blue Sky, and DreamWorks… (Wow!) Our “tour guide” was the individual who screens new applicants. The information she shared was from an insider’s perspective. We were shown successful demo reels and portfolios. Go here. Roll over STUDIO, click ANIMATION 101 PRODUCTION PROCESS (they changed the site since last week!), then scroll through the slides. That’s the short version. It’s a little more complex than that. Aspects of their production pipeline will be find their way into the Mac Lab’s workflow next year.

Way more to add but I need a break.

Coincidence of the day: Just got an email that says: CONNECT is designed to introduce high school students interested in film to top film industry professionals for an intimate day of workshops and networking. Students are exposed to a full day of screenings, question and answer sessions and a unique mentoring luncheon. Over 250 of the most promising and enthusiastic film students are hand-picked to participate each year. One of the speakers for this year will be an animator from Dreamworks! Yes, of course I signed us up. Now, who will step up to be considered in the first few weeks of school? Applicants who read the blog will receive special consideration. Post a comment if you’re interested. CONNECT is Friday, September 24 (in San Diego) but they’re sending the applications out the last week of August.

Coincidence No. 2: Looks like we’ll be having a new presentation next year. I’ve been hearing great things about the Gnomon School this week (missed the face to face with their rep yesterday). One of their counselors just contacted me. Oh, it’s going to be a great year!

0717: No clock in this “luxurious” room but I managed to wake with a smile to Surfin, USA. I love technology. Analog technology ain’t bad either. As I was packing up the room (leaving today) I noticed a note on the pad beside the bed. This is a perfect example of why you should ALWAYS have pen and paper at the bedside. I slept so hard I didn’t remember writing anything until I saw: EVIL SPELL PROCRASTINATION scrawled on the pad. (I write in all caps thanks to a year in this program before switching to this.) The memory crystallized instantly. I woke in the middle of the night remembering something Jim from Obsidian had said: If I had magical powers and I could curse someone to make sure they were never successful, I’d make them a procrastinator. He said procrastinators never reach their full potential. Kind of obvious but I’ve told you before how important that pen and paper is and I’ve told you when and where ideas happen most often. And yes, I’ll have a pad on the passenger seat in the car (I can write without looking at the paper. Neatness doesn’t count.) So, a question. Answer honestly. Do you have a way to capture your ideas in the middle of the night? Do you have paper and pencil/pen next to your bed within easy reach? If not, why not? How many killer ideas have been lost because you chose to ignore my advice or worse, you’ve — insert spooky, dramatic music — PROCRASTINATED?! It isn’t an evil spell. It’s a self-inflicted wound. (Note: I tried a tape recorder but all I could hear were incoherent mumblings. Easier to read a few key words.) Heal that wound. Start today. Put the implements by your bed AND BEGIN USING THEM NOW. Watching TV? What if an idea pops up? Write it down. And that little bird (or one who looks the same) just landed on my window sill and made eye contact. You don’t ignore signs that confirm TRUTH. Well, not unless you’ve been cursed.

0717: Ah, good to end the day back home. Odd that no one’s chosen to answer the question. Oh well. Getting late. G’night all. Dream well.

0718: This post is so long, I doubt if many will get to this point so I can semi-safely stick in a tribute to Walter Cronkite and lament the degeneration of his once-trusted profession. Dream Yet Complete is the same age as some of my high school students. Time has been kind to the story; if anything, it’s more relevant than ever. When I think back even further and ponder the depiction of the press in Stranger in a Strange Land (one of my favorite books but one of my least favorite parts of it), it saddens me that Heinlein‘s ridiculous characterization is growing ever more prescient. I’m not about to ask anyone to read all of DYC but I will challenge those few reading these words to check out: Chapter Three | The Press. It contains a reference to Cronkite but he’d never have stooped to the level of the talking head you’ll find there. I happen to agree with Bruce Hornsby‘s take on the same line. I’m certain he wasn’t slighting Mr. Cronkite’s most famous words either when he wrote:

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Oh, but don’t you believe them

As we dreamers know, there’s always hope. Change happens. Don’t give up. Don’t give in.

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