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manifold_102913

mavs_manifold_750

a while back i came head to head with the work of one of my design heroes, eike k?nig. i’d been asked to redesign the logo for the german band booka shade, after many years of eike having been their go-to design guy. it was frankly a terrifying prospect. whilst i was quite sure eike would probably never see the work i did, i would be immediately compared to him by both the band and their large fan base. settling down to create the logo i realized of course that you just do the best thing you can, and make sure that at the very least it’s nothing like the other guy’s work.

when matthew pusti of makeup and vanity set asked me to do the cover for the soundtrack EP to anthony scott burns‘ forthcoming sci-fi short, manifold, i sighed a similar breath of despair. why? because ash thorp had done the film’s poster and of course once again i would have to be compared to someone of considerable status in the graphics world. suffice to say here’s the poster ash had made –

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.23.06 AM

turning away from it, going for several walks listening to the soundtrack and spinning the film’s ideas around in my head, i realized of course that ash had the visual concept wrapped up. particularly in terms of subtly explaining what the film was about, but not so much as to spoil the film. every idea i wrote down or got momentarily excited about felt too similar to what he was saying with his treatment.

what he didn’t have however, that of course applied in particular to the job i had to do, were the tracks on the EP that had remained unreleased up until now. these were tracks that had been written for, but not actually used in the film. in particular the track ‘yearling,’ which featured original foley work, vied for my attention every time i put the record on.

mulling over these differences i decided to take a different route, one that i’d been flirting with for a while but never really had the chance to test out – a route i like to call the ‘polish’ route. now i must stress this is a route i still haven’t fully explored, but the work i was to do on manifold?certainly gave me the impetus to do so. it is afterall a firmer step in that direction, and excitingly so.

after watching the film several times i began to feel a tingling, almost aching pain in my face. furthermore i began to think about how much value we put in the face and what it means in terms of not just our identity, but our chances in life. how being beautiful can both be a blessing and a curse, and how in many regards you can either be born with a ticket on a certain kind of ride, or a ticket on an entirely different ride. all of this based on your face and how it develops as an image to others.

i then started thinking about how technology is really quite an organic extension of the human form and mindset, and that it wouldn’t be too long before these things merge imperceptibly. in fact i’d written an essay for the IFP on this subject just a few weeks before, so to say the idea was on my mind a little was an understatement. the sense of menace one feels as we start to worry about the increasing amount that technology governs our lives, is really just a greater understanding of our own constant need for distraction from ourselves.

this is when i started to realize what i had to do for?manifold, and furthermore i knew exactly where i was going to start. skipping through the film to a very particular shot, i cut it out and began work. i had to make an image that encapsulated, for me at least, that sense of terror beneath the ever prettier face of technology, and at the same time capture that actual physical ache i felt in my own face after watching the film. as i worked i began to realize that i was also edging closer to this aforementioned ‘polish’ route.

now, by ‘polish’ route i of course mean making a film poster that uses little or none of the imagery from the film and instead offers a more emotional, impressionistic interpretation of its narrative. the eastern-european film posters that have been created in support of US films (with particular reference to poland), are a powerful lesson in creating an image that, to paraphrase jim steinman, you’ll never know the meaning of, but you’ll know how it feels. much in the same way a piece of music moves you in a fashion you cannot put into words, eastern-european posters often remove all trace of the film’s visual, its recognizable characters and its story, and delve headfirst into making an entirely original image. an image that still conveys the film’s ideas, but often in a darker and less conventional style. consequently it’s this approach that has come to feel so incredibly liberating to designers working in US and UK markets. to quote??on the subject??”there?s something captivating about those things that feel inseparable from a haze of abandon, existing to give hope to the creatively forlorn.”

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left: philip gips, US. right: wieslaw walkuski, poland.

when i presented the final cover to matthew pusti, he said it was perfect. i know he would have let me take it even further into the horrifying abstract had i wanted to, but then we both agreed that it was as important to keep things familiar this time around. after all it wasn’t our film and we could just as easily go to poland next time.

you can buy the full manifold soundtrack here, and you can watch a trailer for the film here.

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kaleidoscope pr_101413

Screen-Shot-2013-10-14-at-4.12.26-PM

back in 2008 we created a rather simple and elegant flash website for the art and fashion-based PR firm, kaleidoscope consulting. aware now that their site was useless on a range of new platforms but still very much in love with the look and feel of it, they asked us to recreate the site using HTML5 and javascript. in response we proffered that we might add another dimension to the site, and began to scheme this new black + white edition you see before you.?the result is a site that’s fully iphone and ipad compliant, and features not just a kaleidoscope that can be populated with images from your webcam, but also now hand drawn sketches too.

once again we reached out to mr. doob (who’d previously worked with us on the intro to daft punk’s?tronsoundtrack.com) and asked that this time we might integrate elements of his harmony drawing engine into the site. happily he gave us carte blanche and soon we had a new kaleidoscope engine on our hands – one that caters to both the photogenic and sketchy among us.?for this newly ‘harmonized’ white side of the site, our in-house sound designer and composer gavin singleton (aka accelra) created a new piece of music that felt more suited its hand-drawn, softer tone.

lastly we rebuilt the original site’s entire ‘key’ navigated client section around a wordpress backend so that the client could now more easily and swiftly keep this information updated, along with any other site copy.

we trust you’ll enjoy navigating the site as much as we enjoyed the challenge of putting it together.

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tron soundtrack –
javascript site of the month in .net magazine_032911


we’ve just had it confirmed that the site we did for daft punk’s TRON: legacy score,?tronsoundtrack.com,?was javascript site of the month in the january issue of .net magazine. click here to read the full PDF including a short interview with us about the making of the site. huge thanks again to remy sharp, mr doob, topspin and disney for the hook-up!

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TRON_090910


well, where to even start? it was 20 years ago when my friends and i first saw the original TRON film. my parents rented it?on VHS for my birthday party back home in england. the TV sat at one end of the table and about 8 kids sat around the other end, which was otherwise covered in food, streamers and wrapping paper.

we all adored it, but more importantly a seed had been sewn and over the years i found myself playing TRON games on all manner of gaming systems. the first time was on my best friend’s ZX spectrum 48k+ back in the late 80s (seen above) and the latest, years later, when we stumbled across an?original?TRON arcade machine living out the end of its days at barcade in brooklyn.

now as for?daft punk … it was about 4 years ago that we finally sat down to watch the?interstellar 5555 animated film in its entirety. i was taken-a-back at the quite brilliant and moving concept behind it. consequently i swiftly purchased their second film?electroma, and it was even better. ordinary house DJs these guys were not. requiring further validation for my new found obsession i called my friends?the protomen (with whom i shared a great love of concept-based music) and consulted them on the matter. pretty soon my?entire line of thinking on what?daft punk was about had done a massive U-turn. then, as if waiting for my undivided attention, it was announced that they?were going to score the new TRON film.

tronsoundtrack.com

so there it is. a small testament to years of love for that great old movie, and to the incredible potential of the new one and its soundtrack.

all the site does right now, formerly speaking, is register your interest in the forthcoming soundtrack release. however in order to satisfy the fans out there of the original film, daft punk or both, we packed it with as many tricks and secrets as we could. ?we also made it work on ipads and ipods as well as it would on any desktop. this involved giving a suitable nod to the generation of internet users that would have grown up with the original film. i.e. we threw ASCII art imagery in the source code, built out all the site animations using .gifs, and included another element … but since no one has worked that out yet we’re not about to spoil the fun here.

the look and feel is of course taken from both the dusty desktop computer in the second TRON LEGACY trailer and the sites some of you will have seen when playing the flynn lives ARG. that is of course with the exception of the boom / ripple animation, which was adapted from a piece of code that?mr. doob (of arcade fire video / harmony fame) wrote. all we did beyond that was build it all out using HTML5 and javascript rather than video or flash. we did this so that you can?move the windows on the site with your fingertip on a touchscreen, as well as with a mouse. a touch that again we felt true to the world of TRON.

what’s to come after this? well even we don’t know right now. such is the mystery of these things. in the meantime we wish to extend our?thanks of course to?topspin and?disney for helping us be a part of all this, and hope that we’ve done?enough for now to satisfy even the most rabid fans out there.

end of line.

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