This semester’s speaker:
Andy Van Fleet and Kurt Van der Weil, Visual Logic
Creative Innovation: Using Your Creative Side to Solve Problems, Relate to People, and Build a Business
Andy Van Fleet and Kurt Vander Wiel are co-presidents of the Visual Logic Group, an international user experience consulting firm based in Waterloo, Iowa. They are also UNI alumni! Andy and Kurt will explain tonight how they make the technology we use every day easier to maneuver. They will also help us understand how creativity is involved in every digital solution for our mobile devices, our vehicle dashboards and various internet applications. As websites and web applications become progressively more complex interactive experiences, Andy and Kurt help make the extremely complex seem simple.
Finally, they will discuss how their design and technology work revolves around understanding the way people think. People are the necessary ingredient. In fact the term User Experience might be better off being called “People Experience,” because no matter how innovative and gorgeous a website or dashboard design is, if people can’t positively interact with it, then it’s not successful. Tonight they will demonstrate how creativity and innovation, with people, play a factor in everything they do.
Aaron Schurmann, Phantom EFX
Playing with History: the Making of the Time Travel Game Darkest of Days
Aaron Schurman, CEO of Phantom EFX. He discussed the production of his company’s new game, “Darkest of Days,” and the creative process of building a complex video game that draws on history, art, graphic design, music, computer science, education and other disciplines. He also discussed the future of gaming and the explosion of the creative design industry in the Cedar Valley.
“Darkest Days” is a joint project by Phantom EFX and its sister company 8monkey Lab, both based in Cedar Falls. It is a time-travel game based on real conflicts in history from five different time periods: Pompeii, Antietam, Little Big Horn, WWI and WWII. Gamers use weapons from the period, as well as futuristic ones, and fight to preserve history. The game includes 20 to 25 hours of game play, and has been likened to the “Quantum Leap” concept. The game is recommended for users 17 and older as it includes blood, violence and strong language. The public will be able to play the game on computers in the Maucker Union lobby from 4 p.m. until the conclusion of Schurman’s lecture.
Phantom EFX, which publishes and develops video games, releases a casino game and a slots game every fall. Two of Phantom EFX’s titles have been top-10 sellers in the overall PC Game Category according to the NPD Group: in October 2006 with “Reel Deal Slots Mystic Forest,” and in October 2007 with “Reel Deal Slots Ghost Town.”
Josh Bodnar, Whitehouse Productions
Motion Graphics: the Collaborative Medium and the Future of Digital Editing
When Josh Bodnar attended UNI in the mid-1990s, he never imagined that he’d be winning Emmy awards or editing some of the most daring commercials seen on television. He was just beginning to discover the power of juxtaposed images to communicate complex ideas. Today, Bodnar has developed a signature editorial style that blends the disciplines of design, animation, visual effects and live action, and has built a distinguished career as one of the world’s most innovative visual editors. Specializing in title sequences and high-end commercials, Bodnar is currently based in Chicago as a staff editor for the editorial boutique, Whitehouse. Bodnar will come to UNI April 5 to detail his artistic process in editing with motion graphics, one shot at a time.
In his presentation, Bodnar will dissect “Spoken Word,” an advertisement he worked on for Guinness that doesn’t seem to be about beer at all. The ad features a spellbinding, poetic performance by Jamaican actor, Ainsley Burrows, who talks about his long-fought journey to greatness. “I’m on a journey. It started 28 years, 12 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes, and 14, 15, 16 seconds ago…And in this time, I’ve come toofar, too far to listen to critics, too far to consider defeat, too far to be less than great. 25, 26, 27, 28… the knocks of my journey, mapped out by my scars, are both story and proof that I reach to the stars…my hands in the air my feet on the floor… 41, 42, 43, 44… I’m on a journey, and it won’t stop until I do. 49, 50, 51…” The performance is set in an empty, darkened warehouse and is enhanced by riveting special effects. Bodnar will describe the shooting process, the careful layering of visual effects, his particular editingchoices, and the collaborative process that made this award-winning ad so compelling.
Bodnar’s work is diverse, including Hollywood entertainment; commercials for high-end consumer products, automobiles, and fashion; and short-form documentaries. He won an Emmy in 2007 for editing the title sequence for the Showtime drama, Dexter—a sequence that is instantly memorable as a masterpiece of twisted imagery introducing the serial killer, Dexter. Each extreme close-up examines an element of Dexter’s morning routine: a mosquito caught in the act of sucking blood; a razor nicking skin and revealing a slow drop of blood; the preparation of a blood-soaked piece of steak, the dripping of Tabasco sauce in a pan of cooking eggs, a blood orange cut in slow motion. Of this sequence, Esquire magazine raved, “Dexter’s opening credit sequence is audaciously witty” and the New York Times wrote, “The opening sequence, the most evocative on television, does the prep work, taking us through the everyday ritual of Dexter.” Bodnar was also nominated for an Emmy in 2004 for the title sequence of Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital.
Bodnar is also well-known for his series of commercials edited for Anheuser-Busch, which he developed in 2002. Several spots won numerous awards, including one, shot with the Phantom camera, that garnered the Best Table Top Award by Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP). Budweiser’s “Fresh Pour” is a part of the New York Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection.
Steve Johnson, Journalist
Keynote: The Digital Turn
If you haven’t already heard of Steven Johnson, he is an INCREDIBLY inspiring public thinker who talks in a very accessible and often provocative way about technology and innovation. He also has a number of best-selling books that you may have heard of—Everything Bad is Good For You (2006), Where Good Ideas Come From (2011), and most recently, Future Perfect (2013). Here is his TED TALK, which is great.
Ira Greenberg, Computational Artist
What is a Tree? Analog Meets Digital/Art Meets Math
Computational artist Ira Greenberg discussed the creative potential of code, and the artist’s journey from art to math and back again.Greenberg teaches in the Interactive Media Studies program at Miami University. He has worked in industry and academia across various disciplines including painting, 2D and 3D animation, interactive design, print design, multimedia development and software engineering. His current work builds on organic forms and fuses perception and the algorithmic process, creating wildly imaginative imagery with code, according to Bettina Fabos, UNI assistant professor of Visual Communication. He also takes the syntax of poetry, converts it to data, and translates that data into visual images. For more information on Greenberg’s work, visit www.iragreenberg.com.