A Festival of Creative Proportions

New York City’s F5 fest divulges the passion of an industry visibly exposed, but rarely known in the mainstream

Opening titles, mograph, animatics and 3D rendering – these are esoteric terms whose essence very few can explain with the same clarity, eloquence and childlike zeal of a given few. But professionals from an industry called motion graphic design, responsible for some of the most creative works of our time live and breathe these jargons that inform the works of art they so passionately create. Their work seen in many of the TV commercials, movies, music videos and digital marketing campaigns we witness every single day.

The biennial creative conference F5, held for the second time in New York City last weekend, provided a platform for motion design professionals to present their work and creative process. Organized by Motionographer.com, the world’s largest blog for the motion graphic industry, F5 is the equivalent of a South by Southwest for the most dynamic and accomplished motion designers and animators in the world. Amongst those present are the industry’s top producers and creative directors, established filmmakers and visionary entrepreneurs, transforming the Roseland Ballroom into a Mecca of motion design.

Kicking Things Off

Starting the F5 fest was a magically crafted opening title by commercial animation studio, BUCK. Fusing hand-drawn animation, live action and the age-old appeal of puppets, the captivating opener was a well-made video that serve as an apt introduction to the powerful roster of creative talents and executives about to take the stage. The festival’s first speaker, Neil Huxley of the visual effects studio Digital Domain, presented his work on Watchmen and James Cameron’s Avatar. Huxley hailed his involvement on Avatar as a realization of a life-long dream: the chance to work with James Cameron. Part of his presentation included an exclusive peek of the film’s behind-the-scenes process, effectively mesmerizing his listeners.

Character animation studio Nathan Love, and motion design studios Onesize and Buck were some of the notable presentations. Nathan Love infused humor into every presentation, sharing work done for top-tier clients, such as a retro inspired network promo for NBC and a slapstick comedy ad for Baskin Robbins.

Onesize lifted the veil on their own creative process —a mix of organized chaos that, somehow, always yields an exceptional quality of work.

In doing so, it was a presentation that almost every designer and artist could relate to, in terms of the often unorthodox approach to the creative process, whether it be commercial or non-commercial. After all, design as its most avid practitioners defend, is an art and not a science. The Onesize team garnered thunderous applause from a delighted audience who identified well to the speakers’ struggle in trying to accomplish a creative task in a systematic fashion.

Buck’s design genius, represented by their top artists and a sidekick puppet, lightened up the mood of the room as they explained how they concocted the F5 Fest’s beautiful opening title sequence.

F5 Presenters

Aside from motion design studios, two business executives were invited to present their work and speak on their philosophy of design and business. Adam Bly of the Seed Media Group and founder of Visualizing.org, spoke about the power of data visualization and how this artform is crucial in interpreting modern pools of information. Scott Belsky, founder of the Behance network, explained the power of making ideas happen —an ethos that serves as the foundation of the pre-eminent social network for creative professionals.

Interspersed throughout the festival were presentations and showcases by artists like Shantell Martin, who shared about digital VJ’ng and the interactive shows she has held. DJ Kid Koala and audiovisual remix masters Eclectic Method also showcased their work. Interesting presentations by Heather Knight on robotic entertainment, Adam Sadowsky of Syyn Labs on their creative engineering work for music videos and Adult Swim’s Jacob Escobedo and his edgy designs and concepts made up for a line-up  of creative influencers from diverse artistic backgrounds.

The highlight of F5 came from its final presenters. Mark Romanek, revered by the design world for his visionary craft and masterful storytelling, was interviewed by Bevin Mcnamara for his groundbreaking work on music videos. He also shared a live commentary on his movie, Never Let Me Go, and shared his creative process on his  very first and critically-acclaimed film, One Hour Photo. One of the most interesting segments of his interview was when he disclosed how he came about shooting the viral music video Hurt, covered by Johnny Cash before he passed away. Fusing authentic and disarming humility with straightforward chatter on his work and passions, Romanek charmed the audience as he discussed his creative inspirations and milestones.

“Best Investment of my Creative Career”

Concluding two full days of an inspiring event was a dazzling talk by Wayne White, whose work as the art director of Pee Wee’s Playhouse has become the stuff of legend for the 80’s generation. His comical act spliced with profanity and unapologetic mockery of the fine arts glued the F5 audience to their seats  —and earned him the only standing ovation from F5 attendees.

With more than a thousand attendees from across the world F5 has established itself as the leading gathering point for members of the motion design industry. Tweets like “it’s the best investment of my creative career,” and “inspired to get out the sketchbooks” peppered the Twitter stream of #f5fest hashtag.

A mainstream audience would rarely hear about the men and women behind the opening titles of our most-loved films or the animations of our favorite commercials, but F5 has put the spotlight on the designers and animators who has tremendously influenced the way the world is portrayed in motion media.

F5: New York’s Own Brand of Creative Convergence

NEW YORK, NY – If California has TED and Texas has SXSWi, New York has F5, the city’s much-awaited gathering of thinkers and influencers in the field of art, design and entertainment. Every year, over 1,000 people from all over the world participate in this high-caliber and top-notch creative conference.

The annual event, billed as a festival of ideas that explores the intersection of art, design and entertainment, will be held at the historic Roseland Ballroom on April 15 and 16, 2011.

Scott Belsky, founder of the online creative community, Behance Network, will be one of the event’s speakers. Cartoon Network’s Vice President of Design, Jacob Escobedo will also be sharing his insights on animation and visualizing music to the festival’s attendees.

Aside from plenary sessions with world-renowned creative luminaries, F5 has an in-house film festival called RE:PLAY. It will feature short films created by some of the best studios and directors in the industry to be shown exclusively and only during the festival.

F5 is organized by one of the web’s largest design blogs, Motionographer, and gathers men and women who are shaping new standards in the field of media and design. According to F5 2011‘s official site, the event has become an “essential meeting point for future-minded individuals with the power to create lasting change.”

YNY readers interested to attend the event can get a 10% discount off their registration fee by inputting the code “YEAHNY’ when they register.

YNY Careers: Solid and Heavy Business Advice from an Ultralight Guru

Very few people may remember what they were doing when they were three years old, but Graham Lawlor, has a memory forever etched in his mind – making his first sale. He sold a kindle of wood for 10 cents to his neighbor, an item manufactured in-house by his father for the family fireplace. The sale was made at a massively discounted price; the original price he offered was $10.00. Though Graham is unsure of where the profit went, the childhood event offered an amazing glimpse at his budding passion for the world of entrepreneurship.

Fast-track a few decades later, Graham found himself climbing the corporate ladder at Deutsche Bank. While working there, he developed what he calls as the “ideas file”, where he lists down business ventures he hopes to one day implement. From random ideas to inspiring thoughts, Graham’s eagle eyes for spotting possibilities led him to generate more than 70 business ideas over the years.

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The App That Tells You “She’s Available”

Interested to know if your love interest, who happens to be “in a relationship”, finally changes her status to “single?” Well, like in many things in life these days, “there’s an app for that.”

After receiving a hunch inspired by (of all people) his mother-in-law’s comment, 24-year old developer Dan Loewenherz, built an application that will allow you to monitor the relationship status of your friends.  The app he created, called the Breakup Notifier has so far been downloaded by more than 40,000 people within 36 hours from its release.

The Breakup Notifier allows you to select the friends whose love lives you want to keep track of. Whenever they change their status, it sends you an e-mail about the change. The app scans your selected friends’ Facebook relationship statuses every 10 minutes.

Loewenherz developed the Breakup Notifier Facebook app after a conversation between his fiancée and mother, according to ABC:

The pair was discussing about setting up his fiancee’s sister with a guy who’s currently in a relationship, when Loewenherz’s future mother-in-law joked that it would be nice to know when he was single again. “

“I blurted out that I could make something that could do that in a couple of hours. By then, I knew I had to do it,” he said.

Loewenherz did not expect the huge interest for his free app, which he developed in under five hours. He says that he plans to charge users for the Breakup Notifier in the future.

Where are the Italians in Little Italy?

[caption id="attachment_10105" align="alignleft" width="452" caption="Photo credit: Rutgers University "][/caption]

In 1950, half of the 10,000 New Yorkers living in Little Italy identify themselves as Italian-Americans. And the Italian language can actually be heard in the streets, since twenty percent of the population was born in Italy.

Fifty years after, in 2000, census discovered that the Italian-American population in the locale has declined to six percent and only 44 residents were born in the Motherland.

The most recent census, released last December, shows that amongst the 8,600 residents in the 50-square block, only five percent consider themselves Italian-Americans and none of them had been born in Italy.

Factors such as increased prosperity of Italian-Americans and receded immigration from Italy contributed to the dwindling population of residents of Italian descent. The decline, according to the Times, has begun since the 1960s.

Ernest Lepore, owner of an espresso and pastry shop his family opened 119 years ago, said that “when Italians made money they moved to Queens and New Jersey.”

According to the American Community Survey, out of the 8,600 residents living in the heart of Little Italy, almost half, 4,400 were foreign-born. Of those, nine out of ten were born in Asia.

Most of Little Italy these days is considered part of Chinatown, and the boundaries between the two neighborhoods might be erased one day. The impending creation of a Chinatown Business Improvement District will cover all but two square blocks of an area which once had the largest concentration of Italian immigrants in the United States.

<via New York Times>

The Scribe Who Blogs the Beat of Gotham

Very few people would criticize the New York Times as a credible editorial source, and even fewer would do so if invited by the newspaper giant itself for an executive event. But Jake Dobkin’s deep-seated need to be authentic trumps any fear of intimidation, even by an iconic behemoth.

Around the same time last year, Times media critic, David Carr, invited Dobkin to be part of a panel of executives for the paper’s event. Carr sent him guide questions via e-mail in preparation to the imminent competition between blogs and newspapers, where it asked about Times position as a credible editorial resource for New York’s political and cultural affairs. “But the mention of the Times as a ‘credible editorial resource’ sent Dobkin off on a rampage of a response, berating the paper in an email that he also posted on his public Facebook,” reported Joe Coscarelli of the Daily News, who wrote about what Dobkin describes as “one of my more amusing escapades.”

“After I wrote that e-mail, they still graciously allowed me to appear on the panel, where I said much the same stuff to the senior staff at The Times. They listened politely and then David escorted me out of the building, never to be invited back,” said Dobkin. His authority on the field of local blogging is centered on the fact that he had built one of the biggest and most read local blog in New York, the Gothamist.

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Born This Way Viral Video Star, Talking to Gaga Today

She was born to make Lady Gaga cry, in a good way. The YouTube video of a 10-year old Filipina-Canadian, Maria Aragon, has gone viral – jumping from 3,000 views to almost 2 million in less than 24 hours.

Almost officially a YouTube star, Aragon will be heard live this afternoon at Toronto’s Virgin Radio 99.9, where she was flown to after the media blitz swirled her in her hometown, Winnipeg. She will talk to her pop superstar idol, Lady Gaga, on air.

The startling YouTube discovery impressed Gaga, herself, actually bringing her to tears. Yesterday, the Grammy-winning artist tweeted, “Can’t stop crying watching this. This is why I make music. She is the future.” According to Canada’s CBC News, moments after the tweet, the video’s views jumped from 3,100 to 61,000 in a matter of hours.

Lady Gaga discovered the video through infamous celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “We tweeted this video to Gaga last night- and she loved it. She tweeted it to all her little monsters this morning – and they adore it,” said Perez in” a blog post titled “This Little Monster Has Gone Viral.”

Hilton also added that Maria is “arguably one of the most talented kids we have ever laid eyes on.” He also mentioned that Ellen Degeneres has seen the video and was “blown away.”


When Booze and Planes Don’t Mix: Drunk Woman Tried to Open Cabin Door Mid-Flight

This could well be an argument on why cocktails and liquors must not be floating around the jet plane; made accessible to frustrated passengers. WPIX reports that a drunk woman undertook the feat of opening a hatch door, mid-air, on a plane en route to JFK this morning.

The unidentified wonder woman-wannabe was buzzed beyond measure. Conscious passengers, who know that life might be the end of it if her attempt was a success, restrained her. Luckily, no one was harmed.

As soon as the plane landed at JFK, around 5:50 AM, the woman was removed from the plane and transported by the EMS to a nearby hospital. Port Authority Police were also in the scene responding.

Poetry rocks in Urbana’s cove at the Bowery

It bills itself as a quirky and eccentric event, proud of its heritage for showcasing the most innovative voices in poetry. For 12 years, NYC URBANA holds a POETRY SLAM at the Bowery Poetry Club. Every Tuesday night poets of all types deliver their pieces, ranging from political, confessional or even nerdy and hilarious.

According to its Facebook Page, Urbana has featured some of the biggest names in poetry including Billy Collins, Patricia Smith, Galway Kinnell, Sage Francis, and Saul Williams.

The weekly slam competition is geared to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for all poets, as it promises to accept and share the spotlight for all types of poetry. Winners of the Open Slam move on to Semifinal Slams, with winners from Semifinals progress to compete in the Finals.  The champion will get a slot at the NYC-Urbana NPS team.

Every Open Slam winners gets a golden ticket, which Urbana claims as an item that is never for sale. The ticket enables its holder free access to all Urbana Open Slams for the season.

Admission price for the event is $7 and starts at 7 PM sharp.

Bloomberg’s budget leads to thousands of teacher lay-offs

School closings and teacher firings have been in the news for weeks and the budget that Mayor Bloomberg unveiled today only continues the painful narrative that the United Federation of Teachers abhor.

The $2 billion in tax revenue the city gained this month is not enough to save the fate of more than 4,600 New York public school teachers; on top of the 1,500 positions that will be cut through attrition.

The massive head-count reduction would be the first time the city is laying-off a significant number of teachers since the 1970s, according to the New York Times.

President of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Michael Mulgrew, in an earlier statement said ““Instead of making his number one priority attacking teachers, the mayor should join our effort to extend the millionaire’s tax to add several billion dollars to the state budget, eliminating any possibility of layoffs.”