Internet&Media&Personal28 Oct 2011 11:58 am

In early 1994 I was working at the Time-Life Building, as technology lead for Time Warner Interactive’s East Coast office.  It was an exciting location, 22 stories above Rockefeller Center, in a building buzzing with Time-Life’s empire of magazines editorial staff.

One of my goals was to configure the TWI offices with the 1994 version of a digital media production studio.  This would enable our producers to create interactive television content for Time Warner’s planned Full Service Network deployment, scheduled for April in Orlando, Florida.

As I set up the studio, I received impromptu visits from editors of just about every magazine in the house who had heard about the new, cutting edge project: Sports Illustrated, Money Magazine, Martha Stewart (herself) Living, and others.  They had heard the hype about our planned digital TV convergence, and wanted to get the inside scoop.  These were journalists after all!

Late one afternoon Walter Isaacson, Time magazine’s Editor of New Media popped into my office.  He asked me how FSN was coming along.  I knew it would not be ready for the scheduled April 15th launch, and TWI management had me on gag orders.  So, reluctantly, I had little to give Mr. Isaacson.  In reality, two months from the proposed launch, there was also very little to even demo.  We were still waiting for the TV set top hardware and operating system to be delivered by our technology partners at Silicon Graphics (SGI).  If I had told Walter what was really going on with the ill fated FSN project, I would have been in serious hot water with my immediate TWI superiors.  So, zip it I did.

Looking back, I wish we had chatted on a more honest and realistic level.  I doubt that knowing the truth, the outcome of FSN would have been much different.  It was the wrong design at the wrong time.  Time Warner Cable was attempting to create its own interactive digital movie on demand network.  These were the early days of cyberspace, and the Internet was regarded with great suspicion and skepticism, especially by an established print media giant.

Isaacson is a contemporary of mine.  We are both born on the same year, so I enjoy following his career, and am especially impressed by his recent writing of the Steve Jobs biography.  Now we can carry the FSN in our pocket.

Art&Personal&Projects09 Apr 2010 07:40 pm

Too much brandy?

Over the last three weeks I’ve been back at it with a whole new batch of “human conditions” illustrations for my good friends at Superstock.  To justify paying for the recent Poser 2010 upgrade, I’ve been using it to set up the character poses and then outputting the files to .obj format to import into Maya (ew, geeky, gory file format details!).  Once in Maya, I set up a number of cameras in 3D space, create a few props for realism, add my favorite X-ray, flesh and bone shaders, test render, and then render my 8K images in layers.  The layers then need color correction and polygon touch up in Photoshop as part of the final compositing process.  (Spell check still doesn’t like compositing, haha.)

Below are a few of my favorites.  I’ll have done over 100 of these after another week or so.  Endless good times. (Click thumbnails to see the big pictures.)

Art&Media&Personal19 Feb 2010 02:59 pm

x-ray of wrist with carpaltunnel syndromeI have over 300 computer-generated images in circulation through a stock photography agency, most of them are 3-D images modeled, textured and rendered using Autodesk’s Maya software.  I receive monthly statements and royalty checks for sales made, and at times they have been substantial.  It’s a very good business relationship. The trouble is, the agency never tells me who purchased the image or where it is being published.

Today I was thumbing through an investment magazine, SmartMoney, and I saw an image in an article about disability insurance and carpal tunnel syndrome.  The image looked familiar, so I checked my computer files, and sure enough, it’s mine.  The trouble is, my stock agency didn’t attach my name to the picture credits.  Not a deal-breaker, but it might help my sales if I had a credit next to my images.  Then clients who like my work could ask for more, and I’d know for sure if it was one of the many I’ve done.

x-ray of sore throat side view

Another similar image appeared in one of those catalogs full of gimmicky personal and household devices, and those images rarely get credits, and that’s OK with me.

Art&Personal&Spiritual27 Apr 2008 12:19 pm

Praying for lower gas prices

Oil is king, oil is god, and oil must be prayed to be merciful upon us poor miserable auto drivers. We witness a sign of the times in this SF Chronicle photo by Paul Chinn of Kendall Guy, an Oakland pastor (left), and Rocky Twyman praying for lower gas prices after filling Guy’s car.

Praying to higher powers tends to be one alternative employed by humans when dealing with situations beyond their control. Who knows? It may help, although finding inspiration to invent more energy efficient modes of travel may make God and Mother Earth smile upon us.

Recently, I’ve had two graphic design encounters invloving church and religiously influenced themes. The first was an offer through an IT recruiter to work in Flash on a large website. The work was to be performed on location at the production facility, Golden Era Productions, which is the promotional media arm of the Church of Scientology. Plans leading up to the assignment in remote Hemet, CA including paid room and board were nebulous, and after a few days the offer was withdrawn and I was told by the disappointed recruiter “the project had been put on hold.” Perhaps somebody was praying for me, or against me. I’ll never know what unique adventure I may have missed.

The second anecdote is a bit more of a hands on experience. A stock photo agency I often work with requested a 3-D rendering to be used for a breast exam publication. The breast image was to have the nipple removed at the request of the client.

In professional visual design you learn that revisions are a part of the job, so after submitting the first image (below left), I was advised to try and cover over as much of both breasts as possible by crossing one arm over them (below right). The client turned out to be a religious institution, and perhaps too much 3-D simulated, de-nippled breast could be fertile ground for Satan’s tempatation. Approaching breast examinations in the church is a delicate undertaking.

3-D Breast Exam rendering #1, pink x-ray look 3-D Breast Exam rendering #2, pink x-ray look, arm covering breasts

Version 2 and further revisions were still found to be too revealing for the client. (How do you show a breast exam without showing breasts?) So that my efforts were not a total loss, I decided to innovate, and insert a cross to aid in concealing the terrible breasts. In this version (below), I employed the cross style used by the Scientologists, perhaps giving this image some kind of blessed double whammy.

Breast Exam with a Scientology style Cross, version #3


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Internet&Personal09 Apr 2008 08:29 am

Social Networking iconic version 4No sooner had I completed my LinkedIn profile, then I began receiving e-mail nudges from my Plaxo account. How socially, professionally networked must I be?

Through the serendipity of search engines, Mike Arrington of TechCrunch found my Social Networking image and posted it in a thought provoking article, I Saw The Future Of Social Networking The Other Day. Nice.

If you have not read TechCrunch before, you are missing the bouncy beat of new software announcements and Silicon Valley startups.

P.S. The image mentioned in this article apparently was removed from Arrington’s original article after AOL bought TechCrunch. Draw your own conclusions, I have mine. May 6, 2012.

Humor&Personal21 Nov 2007 08:06 pm

Tan Tan Bo by Murakami

It’s been a good year. Thank you to everybody who’s been nice to me…

and for Christmas I’d like a Taser.



Media&Personal30 Aug 2007 09:18 pm

Owen Wilson Positive NegativeReports of a suicide attempt by Owen Wilson are all over the news. Poor guy, maybe sometimes he felt like he was tied to the whippin’ post. The pain was great, he felt the urge, but only went part of the way… a suicide chump.

Let’s face it, we’ve all contemplated Death. Do we wait it out, it may surprise us too early, or do we take life into our own hands?

To take your own life, I can only imagine, would require the ultimate careful planning and discipline of execution. If your intent is half-hearted or sloppy, you will certainly botch it. You could enlist the help of others: park on a railroad track, drive into on-coming traffic, thus taking the innocent others with you on your sad trip.

There was the recent hip double suicide of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, writer and artist. Frank Zappa did not choose to die, cancer got him.

My guidelines for suicide prevention are as follows (listen up Owen):

1. If it gets really bad, travel someplace far, far away and see if a new perspective helps.  Consult your travel agent for places that are still fun: Norway? Thailand? Hawaii?

2. Get outside yourself. Get a pet. Make new friends. Do charity work like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Owen, come hang out with me a few days. Let’s party. Then kill yourself.

Seriously Owen, since Bottle Rocket, I like you, so before checking out, give me a call and let’s get things right.

Music&Personal25 Dec 2006 03:25 pm

James Brown memorial

The sudden passing of James Brown reminded me that I have an number of photographs I shot of him in a concert performance at the Madison (WI) Civic Center in April of 1981. So here are a few of the photos displayed in fond memory of a dynamic, energetic character.

James Brown - Hot Pants

His singing style was one that I could vocally imitate, and get friends laughing at my explosive delivery of the James Brown catch phrases, “Hot Pants!” “Popcorn” and of course a big “Huh!” from the diaphragm… or the gut for you rednecks.

James Brown - God Bless

James Brown in concert


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