Good title sequences are much rarer than they should be, an aesthetic often only considered by those making the opening credits of a Bond movie or the show True Detective. Title sequences are about setting a tone and style for a show and do so by doing either very little or a lot. The episodes and show may chance but the title sequence is the one item that ties everything up, alluding to what an audience knows and will find out if they stay tuned.
Art Of The Title knows this best and, to celebrate, they selected their top ten favorite title sequences of last year. The selections span from video games to movies to television shows and even promotional sequences. While just ten sounds paltry, their picks span a variety of styles and forms. For example the brilliant opening sequence for the decent game Alien: Isolation not only falls into an homage category, echoing the original Alien, but set the tone for a decidedly creepy (yet glacially slow) game. It’s place at number ten points out how stellar a year it was.
It’s a good little list, considering many of the titles were part of wonderfully considered and executed design efforts in entertainment (which is a rarity). There is even the wacky inclusion of “Too Many Cooks” which is just as absurd as the video but—hey—it truly is at its heart a title sequence.
Read the full list and see all the sequences in question by clicking here.
When I was working on a now cancelled socially conscious news show, I was responsible for producing a few segments that were high tech shows-and-tell that showed how technology can benefit the developing world. This meant that I was constantly trolling design websites to find objects like Yves Behar’s Kernel Diagnostic and Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun, doing my best to get my hands on them to share. This was often a difficult, frustrating task but the results were always remarkable.
This has left a special place in my heart for design projects with good intentions, ones that seek to offer solutions through creativity. While reading Wired recently, something caught my attention that certainly fit into this world and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about flying a prototype out to Los Angeles: Architecture and Vision has created a “water tower” out of bamboo that extracts water from the air, harvesting the resource for those in dry environments. It’s a novel idea executed in an exceptional way.
The tower—which they call WarkaWater, after the Ethiopian Warka tree—is composed of bamboo poles wrapped in a thin mesh net that catches water from rain, fog, dew, etc. It all funnels into a water tank and, apparently, it can collect almost thirty gallons of water a day. It requires no electricity, requires less than a grand to build, and is even designed to keep birds away.
The project is literally huge and has gone through many design incarnations, their most recent being the most viable, useful effort. Yet, like many designs for social good, the funding for clever projects like this is quite minimal and the creators have turned to Kickstarter for funding. They’re raising money through mid-February and, if successful, they should be able to start more serious testing of the tower this year—and they hope to employ the towers in Ethiopia in the next three years.
At a certain time of day, usually in the afternoon, both of my dogs get up from a nap and stretch in unison. They do not plan to do this together but they do on several occasions. It’s a remarkable little sight that always reminds me of two little people bowing: it makes me feel like a king. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to photograph this despite my best efforts. They are either not standing next to each other or it’s too dark. More often than not, the scene is too fast and my timing too imperfect: it is a moment I will just have to explain to people.
This is why photographer Tao Liu is particularly special: his work the result of pressing the capture button at the right time. Be it out of waiting or being really good at knowing when to take a photo, his photography is exciting in that it points out how ridiculous the most mundane shit in life can be. His photos are funny and relatable and, as you can see on his Flickr, quite abundant.
According to Peta Pixel, Liu is fairly popular street photographer in China—where he lives—and is a self-taught artist. His photography and style are born from his (assumed) former job as a water meter reader. He would take photos of little things that caught his eye on breaks and when walking to or from work. Obviously what he saw has hit something very relatable as he has become incredibly popular at pointing out life’s little idiosyncrasies.
If you recall almost a year ago, we shared similar work by photographer John Goldsmith. Both artists point out how ridiculous life can be and that, if you stop to take the time or simply look at something another way, you can have a good laugh at it. And, again: photography like this relies on expert timing. If I had an ounce of Liu’s capturing capability, I’m pretty sure I would have a pretty sweet double downward dog bowing photo Instagrammed by now.
Incredibly it’s been five years since the last album from Sufjan Stevens came out, the challenging, sprawling Age of Adz. That album to me is his pinnacle, a masterpiece that he may not be able to trump. This statement will be tested soon enough as his new album Carrie & Lowell is being released on March 31.
The preview below sounds like a return to his older work, with sort of an Illinois or Seven Swans sound to it. It’s quite lovely though I hope he still plays with the experimental side of music making as well, like the fantastic “Impossible Soul” from Adz. Clocking in at over 25 minutes and it’s an incredible song hat hits about every high and low you can imagine.
With how fast technology in film has advanced, you would have thought that creating using stop motion would have become a thing of the past. This is far from the truth as new cinematic formats like Vine and YouTube have illustrated that they are avenues for stop motion to thrive (despite the meticulous and somewhat stressful process it entails).
The latest example of exemplary IRL animation is a little video by Japanese coffee makers Maxim Stick. According to Design Boom, they created 1000 cups of latte art to tell the Up-like story of a boy and girl meeting, falling in love, and growing old together. It’s a very cute representation of love and, as the ending suggests, lattes” warm the world.”
While only a minute and a half, the microfilm is a showcase of very careful work. Each cup used in the video is a cocoa dusted panel in a moving comic. You get a glimpse of this at the start, when you see the initial cup being made. Because I am easily frustrated and have very little patience for creating in this manner, I have nothing but respect for the people who make this video because you know it must have been incredibly difficult given the medium and style. The result is absolutely perfect though: all the hard work and caffeination definitely paid off.
Christoph Koeberlin is a Berlin based typographer, graphic and type designer who on the side runs Typefacts, a blog dedicated to the world of type. Recently he published a post highlighting what he thought were the best fonts of 2014. I’m not usually a fan of lists like these but Christoph’s is spot on with an eclectic number of typefaces that I hadn’t seen before. The list is numerous with eleven of the fonts being highlighted because they stood out more to him.
I’m a big fan of Ryman Eco by Dan Rhatigan & Gunnar Vilhjálmsson, GT Sectra by Grilli Type, and Caponi by Paul Barnes, Christian Schwartz & Miguel Reyes. You’re sure to find a least a few gems in the list.
By now you’ve probably seen or heard of Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, which explores how famous creatives structured their days. This interactive infographic takes that concept one step further by charting out said creatives and gives you a clear way of visualizing their time. To me, Franz Kafka seemed to be the most messed up, while personally I would love to have Picasso’s schedule.
A well-known effect on astronauts out on long missions is the dip at the halfway point, when the excitement has worn off and the return home seems unbearably distant. There is no way to know how a human mind will encounter passing the threshold of no return, when the Earth recedes from sight, and the pitch black enormity of deep space and the impossibility of ever turning back sinks in.
That’s an excerpt from an exceptional long read piece by Elmo Keep titled All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go, which explores the company Mars One, a “start-up of sorts that intends to send people on a one way trip to Mars. He writes about the company, it’s co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp (who’s a bit of a weirdo) and highlights many of the numerous challenges that colonizing Mars would present.
What really sells the article for me are the incredible illustrations by Josh Cochran, a long time friend of TFIB. He masterfully communicates a number of complex concepts in the simplest ways, things like eating insects, the effects of cosmic rays, what the lack of vitamin D can do to you. Funny enough Josh did a space/astronaut themed wallpaper for the site back in 2008 which you can still download. It’s cool to see how his style has changed, he’s become more confident I feel, and he’s really hitting new highs with his work.