Friday, September 30, 2011

Digital Dad

I finished my eBooks with Indesign and Dreamweaver 5.5 class today. While I was trying to break down what I'd learned and how I can apply it to what I need to do, one very important kernel emerged. I am my father. I've known this for a long time and anyone who has ever met Ken Kaufman already knows this. Old news. Those who do know both of us, have you noticed the physical morphing as well? Me into him I mean, not the other way around. Ever since I started running I look more and more like my father! This is kinda cool since my Dad also looks a lot like George Clooney. But it's giving me gender identity issues. Dang I wish I had a picture of all three of us together, then you'd really be able to see the similarities. This'll have to do:


See what I'm talking about? Creepy.

Anyway. So I'm in this eBook class and the teacher—who was amaze-balls—is explaining embedding videos into EPUB files via Indesign, fixing it in Dreamweaver and adding the poster images by regular old fashioned HTML and CSS. He asks if there are any questions, that got me to thinking about slideshows. If we can add videos with poster images and skins, how come we can't have interactive slideshows? Basically I want to have a multi-state object, or multi-page document (i.e. event kit) on one ebook page. I can do this in interactive documents, but it's a PDF. How can I get it to be an interactive EPUB? His answer was sadly knowing a Java or QUERY developer to do it for me. Rats.

Since my subway ride home from the class, I think I've figured out a short term solution to this. I can't tag a .swf file in Dreamweaver to do it the way I'm currently thinking—I don't know how. I don't know how these developers are getting flash onto Nooks and that new Kindle Fire, but I don't think it's thru CSS and regular HTML mark up....thus the Java Script suggestion I guess. Anyway, I can make a slideshow in Indesign or Flash and output it as a .swf. I can take that Flash file (however it's created) and convert it to a .mov file which can be embedded into EPUB. So it's not an actual "pages inside of pages" construction, but it's a messy workaround. I'll create a separate EPUB of only multi-state object documents in case anyone wants to look at them closer. I don't need 40+ pages within in one "chapter", it's annoying. But I don't want to only have movies of my work, that's not accurate either. We'll see if eBooks can catch up with what we want it to do.

So that brings up my main point. No one has done this yet. Or rather I should say few have done this. Because if people were doing this, it would work. It would at least be possible. Right now there's handfuls of dorky people sitting on subways, traveling around, and muttering to themselves about code. And this is how I've become my father. He doesn't wander around places muttering trying to figure stuff out (just kidding I know he totally does). But he can something, take it apart and make it the way he wants. He's always done this. I'm fairly sure parts of the space shuttle have been in our living room for this purpose.  And while the content might be different between us, I'm proud to have that ability. I'm proud of myself to be able to see something, understand it's construction and rip it apart. Or at least try to make it the way I want. I know I got this from Dad, he showed me how to do this as a kid and now as an adult. For example, he's currently building his own house "off the grid". Is he an electrician? No. Is he an architect? No. Does he even really work? No. Just builds things and learns how to do it as he goes. The main difference might be that when he does it, it's always kinda great. But I'm getting there.

Class info for anyone who's interested, it's hella awesome.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Ooo tomorrow's the big day ya'll! I start my first EPUB class tomorrow at 9 AM. Exciting. But here's the silly minor detail, I never learned HTML or CSS. Oops. I was going to try and at least fiddle with it tonight, just for like a few hours so I wouldn't be totally lost. But I've got a crap ton of freelance that's due. Double oops. Yet here I am blogging about it. Ah well shit can wait.

I got a promotion kids!! Hells to the yea. Senior Designer. Holla. I'm super duper excited. I hope it'll let me get in there and do it up right. While I understand the need for print, I want to work as hard as I can to eliminate it. Ok, not entirely but mostly. I mean who cares, am I right? Books, smooks. It's all about the EPUB fools.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Catch it on up

Side note I have the I Dream of Genie song stuck in my head. And now you do too! Look at us making strides to keep connected.

Today I was working on yet another book trailer when I realized, it sure has been a while since I showed off. So for ya'lls viewing pleasure I present Carrier of the Mark.

Ok so maybe showing off isn't the right term. Because this trailer, while super cool, doesn't look as sharp as if done by a professional video editor. I have a lot of video editor friends and colleagues and I know they'd be able to see a lot of imperfections. But wait my friends! This is done in Flash and iMovie. Ah, yea now you see what I'm talking about. Total show off.

On my extremely long list of "To Learn" is Final Cut. But truthfully it's taking a bit of a backseat to HTML and EPUB. I mean I'd rather have the ability to show off this stuff online in portfolios and websites then anything else. That being said, what I've been fooling around with via interactive documents have greatly increased my Flash capabilities.

Case in point will come in a few months after this Lovetorn is approved and finalized. I just started it today and I have to admit it totally rocks. This video will be done in vectors only which gives me a ton of freedom. Oh and also since I don't know anything other then Flash and iMovie...well it's the only way to go with vectors, see learning!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heads are gunna roll

*Update at end of post

Ok so maybe you shouldn't drink and email. And maybe you shouldn't drink and email your landlord— especially after a day full of bad news and frustration (ohh yea phishing, trolling and passive aggressiveness all in one!) But god effing damn it I'm super pissed off!

We all remember my whacky ceiling of doom right? It's so stupid to even hyperlink this because it's only two posts away and I'm pretty sure only two people read this stupid thing. So all three of us together, say it with me now party people:

It's best to say this while pretending to be Ty what's-his-face from Extreme Make Over.

What's so hard about this? There's a leak, you come over here but on your knee pads, SARS mask or what the shit ever else you use to tar a roof and you tar it. Or whatever. Fix it.

Oh what's that you say? You did fix it?

I don't believe you.

I don't believe you because that stupid piece of crap sideways New Jersey/dog from Corpse Bride water stain is still on my ceiling. It's staring at me. It laughs at me at night. Quote the watermark, Nevermore.

Nevermore will HH feel safe in his brand new home I've recently carted from IKEA for him. I lugged that Swedish shit up 3 flights of stairs and now you wanna just sit back and laugh at me? Ah, hell no mother effer!

So what does my genius butt do? Drink a bunch of wine and fire off email #3 to my landlord explaining my frustration, demand and urgent request for a freakin' paint job.

I'm a good tenant! I pay my bills! I want representation from Sherman Moore. I want him to scream me at the top of his little paint boy lungs:

FUMES Sarah FUMES! Quick open the windows and keep away flames, we done effing fixed this piece of crap apartment that shakes, rattles, has uneven floors and the occasional mouse. But damn it the ceiling looks fine! And you can rest assured your more precious asset will be protected. I mean how else are you going to earn enough money get out of here?

My thoughts exactly imaginary little paint boy.

So tomorrow when the wine has drained from my head I'm sure I'll regret my email even though it's civil. The Texan in me will beg and plead to delete this post too, so if you caught it before I sobered up, consider yourself lucky. Yea I'm talking to you, lonely reader. It's ok, it's just us. I'll leave it up.

* Correction: You should totally drunk and email your landlord! My ceiling is fixed. Oh happy day! HH can be returned to his home and I can find something else to obsess about.

Smell the paster!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Portfolio Examples!

Well this has been a frustrating few days. Let's take that frown, turn it upside down and celebrate with some accomplishments.

My online portfolio / mystery-of-how-to-showcase work examples is coming along. So far I've got my online activities in an order I like. The little one sheets will zoom full screen and the booklets will have turned pages. I'm not even going to try to code flash snippets into this blog (check for updates in six months!) So here's a few screen shots:

First page of Activities!

A few pages later...

I mean seriously look how cute those little characters are! I like them all grouped together. Hooray for picture books!

Moving along, an ongoing puzzle might have been solved yesterday—well we're getting closer to solving the How to Market Sarah's Work Without Looking Like a Super Dork issue.

So here's what I came up with. The Card section opens blank with a "play" button appearing. I like this nod to the obvious especially in this seemingly portfolio for children. It is not edgy or an example of breaking design trends—it can't be, that would be absurd. So how do we acknowledge this without apologies and still seem cool? How can I show that I understand this could quickly turn into a circus without doing so? But I also shouldn't ignore that this is in the same market for those who would love to visit a circus. Does that make sense? Perhaps's a work in progress.

Basically, trying to find a way to tastefully add animation to a page full of illustrated characters has proved difficult. Those one sheets you see above are animated, true. But to enlarge for the viewer is a much different feel then something "exciting". Most websites I see are so over animated it's annoying. Lord help the sucker who is still creating animated giffs (self shout out.)

I think we can enjoy a little tongue and cheek while showcasing clean work, in a variety of forms for a wide range of clients.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Phantom Contractor or Act of God: You Decide

A few super things have happened since we last chatted. See how sarcasm bursts through that freshly typed sentence!

My ceiling...

See that bumpy curve deal in the middle—the part that's not the color of an unattended healing flesh wound? That was spurting mad amounts of Irene. However, once she was done and after we collected a nice chunk of brown water in our recycling bucket (what was handy at the time, also the use of "we" sarcastic as I was alone—more themes!) the dripping stopped. Miracles upon miracles when the rain stopped the dripping stopped.

Still, being the tremendous tenant that I am, I emailed my landlord the next day explaining the damage. I figured, Hey! Let's start fixing this sad sack of water drops! Let's turn these rusty colored tears of weeping sadness into clogged up holes of joy!

It's been a week and I'm still ass deep in water stains in the shape of New Jersey.

Sideways NJ? Dog? Tell me what you see in the comments! 

Full disclosure: I'm not a licensed roofer or an effects-of-long-standing-stagnant-water expert. However, I think I can safely assess that many a-changing orange shapes on a-ceiling does not equal a-nything good.

I know that a lot of people give contractors a hard time, and I fully understand why. My landlord said I should contact her contractor myself (theme alert!) I spoke to him immediately after the "hurricane" and I stupidly assumed he would take my claim seriously and patch the roof. I called him twice last week—a super duper sunny week might I add. He assured me he would take care of it. He never called back. He never asked for my keys. He never painted my ceiling. I assumed he never did boo.

This evening after an afternoon of raining cats and NJ dogs, I lugged my stuff home from work, ready to unleash the unholy power of "You gotta be kidding me with this friggin leak!" and found . . . nothing.

So what happened:
A) Contractor fixed a leaking roof in a timely manner. Told no one. Did not repair interior damage.
B) Contractor did not fix a leaking roof. Rain water currently swirling into shapes of New Hampshire, Vermont, and/or contemplating a nice Massachusetts.
C) Act of God in the rarely seen "protective" format.

I ask you, which is the most believable? It will continue to rain here all week, maybe I should pull a Rick Perry and pray for it to stop. Otherwise I have a feeling that we're dealing with "Situation B". I can see it now: my ass will have to scale up the fire escape to put a tarp over the crack by (you guessed it) myself.