Learning to put words in boxes

Design Principles posters

Mark spent an afternoon teaching me things about InDesign. It was brilliant fun. Enough to get me comfortable with the tool and learning some basics. Pretty quickly I was happy enough putting things in place on a ‘piece of paper’ that I started making actual decisions about what I wanted where.

We used the draft copy from the Design Principles beta, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

Design Principles posters printed out


I’ve been back almost a week. Heck of a trip. San Francisco was brilliant, thanks in no small part to Frances and Alex (as soon as I’ve processed photos of our road trip to Point Reyes they’ll be up), and New York was definitely New York.

(Actually, that in itself is a good thing. I have bad memories of my last trip there, whereas this time I came away going ‘You know, I could live in that city someday’)


Anyway, lots of difficult work to do now I’m back in London, along with at least one short story and two slow-burn projects to begin working on. I actually have a clean slate now – I don’t think any of the film projects I’ve mentioned on here over the last few months are likely to happen – so it’s a good time to have ideas.

Basically, Onwards!

I have thoughts about ‘Her’

And feelings. But Dan’s done such a good job of pointing out that EVERYONE HAS I feel guilty typing most of them. Just one, then…

A moment of non-diegetic clarity, as I watch one of several montages and have to stop myself applauding Spike Jones for lifting the language of luxury technology advertising so precisely. There were about five sequences in Her when you could have overlayed an Apple logo after a neat 90 seconds and no-one would have blinked.

Dan Hon, in one of his rambles emails, speculated we’d soon be encountering Dogme-style design fictions. I think we already have. I’d also argue that the purest expression of those won’t be ‘films’ at all, just demos captured with a fixed camera or Quicktime screencapture or just the actual service itself… but I don’t think that’s really what he means.

The pier at Queenborough

Also, it’d be disingenuous. My camera is smart enough to decide so many things on my behalf that I don’t have to process them afterwards. The blunt application of available technologies can still lead to beauty, and it’s a beauty not far off what you get in BERG’s films or Apple’s ads or, really, Her. I mean, obviously it’s evidently not as high quality, but an approximation of that look is within reach of a lot of people.

If anything, the Dogme thing to do would be to publish them in the ways most people use, the ‘ugly’ ways. Like Matt Ogle wrote the other day, an upload to YouTube mired in artefacts via 3G is good enough for most people.

I wonder if we should be livestreaming at GDS? Sticking a camera in front of someone for the weekly video was a good idea, but now those films are getting more ambitious and creating a higher barrier to entry for other teams to follow.

Maybe the bluntest way to Show The Thing and show that Work Is Being Done Here is to show work being done on the things here.

The politics of the mode of filmmaking Her apes is questionable – at best. It’s a parade of (mostly) white people living lifestyles of privilege, in front of beautiful sunsets. The devices they use are often not built objects, they appear in the world without context and without construction. We know the OS of Her is the product of ‘millions’ of developers, but we never see what must – presumably – be the sweatshops they strive in.

Meanwhile livestreams share the same DNA as CCTV, and if there’s a time to submit the workings of a public body to the scrutiny of machine vision it’s probably now.