Zbig Week! Tango

The piece that really put Zbignew Rybczy?ski on the map. This video was made in 1980 in Poland and let me just point out that you kids today have no idea how good you have it. It wouldn’t be hard to knock out something like this today in Adobe After Effects but this was done Eastern European old-school, with scissors and planning. Put down your Xbox360 and your iPhone and your other fancy whatchamacallits and watch all eight minutes. Marvel at the creativity and sheer amount of work that made this possible.

Add Erica Goldson To The Hero List

Erica is a high school valedictorian who may have written the best speech ever given in a high school. . Go read it now but here’s a little bit of it.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers.
I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him.
But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.
I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost?
I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

The Economy Sucks…

Yes, the ecnomy is awful and headed towards a worse place with high unemployment but…

It’s never been within the reach of so many people to educate themselves on so many different subjects.

It’s never been easier to find bargains, comparison shop, or research purchases.

It’s never been cheaper to start, manage and promote a business.

There’s never been a point in history where artists had access to so many different tools in all media, from the visual arts to music to filmmaking.

Which means nothing to you if you don’t take advantage of it…

When Tools Are Free

The three images below aren’t photographs. The rooms and objects in them don’t actually exist anywhere. They were all creating in a computer graphics package. If you click on the images, you can see them in more detail, too.

Each images was made with different software programs. One piece of softwares costs about $5000, another about $2000 and the third software package is open source and totally free. Look at the images – can you tell which one is which?

3d-room-kray

3d-room-indigo

3d-room-vray2

Three different artists, three different software programs, three radically different price points. One big barrier to entry. One large barrier to entry. No barrier at all.

$5000, $2000, totally free

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to do computer graphics it would have cost you a million dollars for the computer. At least. Twenty years ago, the price of admission was around $20,000. Today, any computer you buy for $600 at Best Buy would smoke the $1,000,000 or $20,000 hardware options by a factor of at least ten.

What happens when the tools become totally free? What happens when any laptop recording studio is a hundred times more powerful than the gear the Beatles used to record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on? What happens when HD camcorders are $150 and your video can be broadcast worldwide, right now?

The art doesn’t get better. There isn’t mor a hundred times more good art floating around, is there? But I don’t think it’s all worse, either. There were plenty of bad albums in 1967, too.

There’s just MORE. A lot more. And it’s not going to stop.

One thing that happens when tools are free; you don’t have THAT excuse anymore. You can’t say, “If only I had the money for that ONE piece of gear….” The tool is available. What are you waiting for? Then it’s a matter of whether you put in your time. Pay your dues. Make it work for you.

So, here we are in 2009 and the tools are out there. Do you really have a story to tell? Do you really have anything to say? Some feeling you want to express, some way you need to connect to other people?

That’s free, too. Now, what are you waiting for?

My Shoes & Hats

After a very productive start to my new year’s blogging, I’ve ground to a halt. I got busy in the past few days with…well, a lot. Like a lot of people, I do a lot of different things, which reminded me of the work of Edward De Bono, a writer on subjects of creative thinking whose work I’ve learned quite a bit from. 

He has two books that are related, one called Six Thinking Hats and the other is Six Action Shoes. If you Google the titles you’ll find a few summaries online or click the links; plenty of used copies on Amazon mean you could pick up both book for around five bucks plus shipping. Without getting into considerable details, both books illustrate an important idea – that you can’t think or act the same way in all situations. 

De Bono creates a nice metaphor of hats and shoes that serve as a reminder that sometimes we need to wear the ‘black hat’ of critical thinking and at others wear the ‘yellow hat’ of positive thinking, for example. He discusses these different modes for both thought and action and after getting the gist of De Bono’s idea you might find yourself in a situation where you say to yourself something like “Okay, time for the black hat.” 

For me, even just the past few days have reminded me of the different roles I play and how differently I approach them. IFor example, since Friday….

1) I shot a video interview with an effects supervisor on the film The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Shooting the video required being the tech guy setting up the equipment, a manager dealing with my son Shane, and an producer / editor making sure I got the material I needed to be able to put the story together.

2) I was a reporter, breaking news about Ann Coulter and potential voter fraud on the Huffington Post. As a marketing person, I promoted the story on Twitter and by emailing it to important bloggers I know.

3) As a comedy writer, I posted a piece on 236.com based on a weird idea I had about a Disney version of Slumdog Millionare. As a graphic artist, I mocked up a fake poster to go along with the story. 

I’m really leaving out a lot but you get the idea. We’re entering a new era for creative people where wearing just one job hat won’t do for many if they want to be successful. Musicians and poets need to also be computer experts and sales people. Programmers need to be market researchers and graphic designers. 

Of course, they don’t really NEED to…but it’s getting tougher and tougher to succeed if you are having to rely on other people.

The pace and pressue of this change is enourmous. One way I keep sane is by not trying to be ‘myself’. I realize that different roles require different skills and I relish the change. When I write a fact based story like the Coulter piece, I go into logical, methodical, clear explanation mode. If it’s an opinion piece, I switch between a focus on facts and on my inner sense of the truth of the matter is in spiritual sense. When I write comedy for 236.com, I let myself go crazy, turn off my inner critic, experiment and really trust my own instinct of what’s funny to me.

So, who are you? How do you change yourself from project to project? And who do you need to learn to be in order to take your own work to where you want it to go?