Titans of Tech

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Senior Broadcast Designer

During the technology industry’s peak at the turn of the millennium, tech tycoons like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and a handful of others were leading the charge. To chronicle their achievements, former tech-centric network TechTV commissioned the weekly biography show “Titans of Tech.”

Capturing the essence of these captains of industry lent itself to a typographic approach for the show’s graphic design. Words, both descriptive and defining, were chosen to characterize the personalities of those leaders being portrayed.

Much like an infinite crossword puzzle, these words snake and slide into view, forming a grid of intensifying descriptive language. As more words enter the grid, they begin to form the faces of these iconic titans, until only faces comprised of the data-matrix remain.

To accomplish this, the words were individually animated to travel along the grid, with grayscale values of the positive and negative spaces used to create the facial definition of the featured individual. At the time, my skill at coding expressions wasn’t advanced enough to achieve the given effect procedurally. So I settled for the old-school frame-by-frame approach to the animation. Time consuming, but effective.

VW: “Wege Zur Qualitaet”

ROLE: Shake Compositor | 3DS Max Artist
VENDOR: Xaos, Inc.
ART DIRECTORS: Lisa Slates Connors & Chitra Sriram

VW’s “Wege Zur Qualitaet” dates back to my days at the long-defunct Xaos, Inc, one of the early pioneers of all things Imax, as well as that decades-old cyberspace thriller “Lawnmower Man.”

Clearly a conceptual piece, the ridefilm was commissioned by Volkswagen to depict the metaphorical and creative evolution of the automobile. The idea was to take the viewer on a virtual ride of experimental exploration, both in design and content, while combining mechanics and technology with art and abstractions.

For the two excerpts shown here, the “Forest” of gears and the car-parts “Vista,” I did a tremendous amount of object design and layout, hand-placing tens of thousands of gears and car parts to fill out the given environments. Particular attention had to be paid to where the designated p.o.v. camera path traveled, in order to create the maximum amount of excitement, through near misses and captivating views.

I also handled texture and lighting for these sequences.

Groove Street

ROLE: Director | Flint Artist | Alias Power Animator Artists
VENDER: Academy of Art College

-Groove Street” goes all the way back to the late-90s, being my first all CG project that ended up playing in a brief art installation. Named after a misprint on a business card, intended to say Grove Street (my former residence), it ultimately became a stream-of-conscious visual meditation on my thoughts towards music – which in my case, carried vast significance, since I used to be a music journalist for a half a dozen years.

It goes without saying that “Groove Street” is more than a little rough around the edges. There’s quite a bit of amateur stuff in there. Bad animation. Bad texturing. Bad mattes. Etc. But to this day, I still remain fond of it, with nostalgia running high. Plus, there’s some wickedly strong wacked-out ideas floating around in there, just waiting to be executed with the knowledge I possess today. If only I had the free time …

Why include it? It’s a reminder of where I started. And that’s something I don’t want to forget.

All CG was done in Alias PowerAnimator and composited in Discreet Flint on Silicon Graphics O2’s and Indigo’s (for those that remember, those were the purple toasters and rectangular boxes).

Included is a 3 minute excerpt.