Sunday, November 12, 2006

the lemonades are dead.
there will be no more posting.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

very busy bee bye bye!

Wow, what a 2 weeks we've had!
Haven't had time to scratch my nose! work work work work!
I even decided that I won't be giving one of the two lectures next semester at Uni, just because I can't affor the time!

I'm sure things will settle down soon

{hearing the echoing voice of Mervat: Dina said expect not to have a life for the first year......}

oh well...


Going to London for a week tomorrow, should be fun and relaxing (sorry March Hare for leaving all the Mad Hatters to you), will update blog once back with photos of her Madgesty (guess who!). If anybody needs anything from London, tell me!

ciao Amman and hello London

{blast from the past}

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

busy bee

so haven't been blogging lately (not that anybody's actually reading this stuff), have been busy with lots of projects, the biggest being me and a close friend (finally) starting our own design/illustration company!!! It's got a huge website section which we hope will be running this time next year, but the company bit has officially started yesterday!!

No office yet, and the stationary isn't printed yet (since we don't have an address) but designed, and we're slowly but surely getting things organized! Will be premiering the name, logo and identity here soo!

"very exciting news Mr. Tea!"
"it is, it is, we all can't wait, my Lemonades!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

designer's faithful companion

Ok, so back to design. If I had to recommend just one publication for graphic designers/animators/web designers/illustrators and even film makers, it would be Computer Arts magazine.

It's truly the best in its genre, and filled to the brim with great articles, advanced tutorials, brilliant showcases of up&coming talents & agencies, and full of reviews of the latest and best software/printers/cameras/scanners...etc all tried and tested.


What's even better is that it also publishes a more specific and detailed magazine called Computer Arts Projects, in which every issue deals, in depth, with a specific area of design. This month's issue is on Typography: basics, classics, how create your own, how to properly use them... and in addition with a CD full of fonts, resources, font software & tutorial files. And this winning formula is repeated in every issue to tackle a different subject each time. Next month's issue of Projects is about Brand Identity -be sure not to miss it.

They've been very helpful to me as a designer and also as a teacher and I highly and strongly recommend you getting these mags, any designer should be upto date with the latest in technology, techniques and styles, and these mags provide that. You can subscribe to them through Aramex, and I saw a couple of issues of Projects at Books@Cafe a few days ago.

Also be sure to check their website, which has ready tutorials (of various techniques in various software), alongside great articles not featured in their mags. www.computerarts.co.uk

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Animation Workshop pt.2

So the workshop's over! And it was a lot of fun, I had an awesome time!

If I had to complain (which we all know I love to do) I'll say that the only negative bits were that it was too short and that we had days of literally doing nothing (watching reels and reels and reels of shorts and movies and stuff -which is not bad, but I'm more of a hands-on kind of person).

That said, I loved how they managed to show us almost every technique of traditional animation (from stop motion to drawing frames, from oil paint on glass to photographed flip books), which was a pleasant surprise as I had the impression that it'd be all digital stuff.

We were taught basics of After Effects -but I'm glad that I'm nerd and learned the software a week in advance- as they skipped lots of important bits and kinda confused some students!

We each had to create a short piece of animation, which was great! And we screened them in the university's theater. In a couple of weeks they will screen all of our work alongside the work of the students from the film making workshop (which started at the same time but is two weeks longer). I'll put the details of the screening here, if anybody would like to come and see it.

Shout to nini Mervat, Khairy, Lutfi, Natasha & my kiddies for making the workshop more entertaining!!!

I might post a short video of my stuff soon, but for now here are some screen grabs!
{sorry about the hideous water marks, but you gotta protect your art!}






"We did a great job Mr. Tea!" congratulated the Lemonades. "We couldn't have done it without your beautiful drawings my Lemonades!" replied Mr. Tea.

I salute you...

"The world's gone mad, my Lemonades"

The point is not who started it, or who did what. It's how far can one side go to prove a point (that is, if there's a real point to prove and it's not just a good excuse to kill a few hundred)... I can just hear them saying "the less of the trouble makers, the better for us".

I can write novels on this, but honestly I'm not going to. Because at the end of all this, there are real people stuck in the middle and I -like so many others- is very concerned and worried. With no internet connections and no proper phone connections, with the borders closed, we've lost communication with many friends (most considered to be as close as family) and it's beyond worrying and seems so unreal. A country that's 4 hours of driving away, yet feels like it's stuck in another time zone: where killing the innocent was as common riding horses.

Now for the title of this post, well I salute CNN, NBC & Sky News (some of the news channels that we can watch here) for taking footage of the incidents from Arabic TV stations, and only showing bits of it - meticulously calculated bits... how convenient that the footage of the limbless, bleeding children has disappeared between the shot of the burnt car and the destroyed building, how sensitive to remove the images of screaming, crying, bleeding and dying individuals and showing shots of random people with no reaction amidst the ruins.

Are people that stupid?? I, who have near to no proper knowledge of propaganda, know that the first rule is to completely remove any material that would make poeple from the "GOOD" side sympathize with the ENEMIES... and they are still using these techniques and people are still falling for them.

"unequal power.
irrationalized and senseless targeting.
killing of the truly innocent.
now really who in their sane mind can be so blind?"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Amazoned

I received my order from Amazon.co.uk today, and am very happy with my purchases. Got two Neil Gaiman books and the Madonna "I'm going to tell you a secret" documentary DVD & Live album combo.

Why the Madonna DVD? Well I've always been attracted to balsy & strong woman, plus I do enjoy her music. Also because this documentary has a special place in my heart, see last November while still living in London, I was very fortunate to attend Madonna's private party, which she held at the Koko club for the launch of her album confessions on a Dancefloor', and as if that wasn't enough, she invited all the attendees to the UK premiere of this documentary



- to which I obviously went! It was a great screening with lots of celebrities like Gwenith Paltrow, Stella McCartney and many more.

Now about Neil Gaiman, well I've always been a fan of the Sandman comics (even before finding out the Tori Amos link), and was more interested in his work after I discovered the Tori link, which is that she too is a fan of his, and always sneaks little 'hello's' to Neil in her songs, or sometimes mentions some of his characters or what have you. And this started a great friendship between them, Tori kept adding her cryptic messages to Neil in her songs, and so did he in his books and comics. It's even said that Delirium (one of the Endless in the Sandman comics) is based on Tori with her flaming read hair.





The reason I bought Stardust is that I discovered that it's being made into a movie now, starring Michelle Pfieffer and Robert DeNiro, and in the Tori forums there was a buzz about whether Tori will have anything to do with the movie.

Why, you might ask? Well in her 1996 song Horses, Tori sings: "and will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?". When the time came for Neil to write Stardust, Tori offered him her home in Cornwall to write it in, but in return he had to make her a tree in the book, and he did. I'm very intrigued by this tree he created, and also want to read the book before the movie's released next year. I love the way the writes and his sense of humor, and I know I'll fall in love with the story.

Now the buzz is that Tori might be voicing the tree in the movie (if not in someway appearing in it as well), not having read the book, I don't know if the tree has a human figure or face or whether it's just a normal tree.

It's also been mentioned that Tori was working a soundtrack, so it also might be for Stardust. Time will tell, but it's all exciting news!

So why also get Anansi Boys? the backcover image of the book had one sentence: "God is dead. Meet the Kids." Now who wouldn't want to read that??

I've read the first two chapters of Stardust now, and will hopefully finish the book this week, so I'll write my review of the book then...

Animation Workshop

So tomorrow I start a 2 week animation workshop, and I'm very excited! [not sure if I'll be able to sleep properly tonight!]

I've heard that we'll be doing some film etching, and oil painting alongside digital stuff, and each person will end up doing a short (maybe a few seconds long) which will be screened at the end, so I'll post my achievements here!

Why am I so excited? well I LOVE animation, Walt Disney is my hero and idol -whatever is written about him, the main fact is that he created an empire by having the guts and risking everything to realize his dream...

Why haven't I ventured into animation before? Well, because I love it so much, I've always been scared to get into it, fearing that if I screw things up, I'll end up hating animation -and that was a risk I never wanted to take.

So what's changed my mind? well, my Wonderland-buddy, Mervat works at the Royal Film Commission (www.film.jo) who are organizing the workshop -and I trust her blindly with my life- so we kind of encouraged each other to take this workshop, and especially now since I don't have an office job, it's the perfect timing to finally get down and dirty with animation.


I understand it's just a beginners workshop, but I'm hoping that instead of ending up drifting away from animation, I'll be even more motivated to better my skills and end up doing a small project of my own in the future (I have been developing a script and finished initial character design and basic storyboards).


Well wish me luck (even though it's only me who writes & reads the stuff here!), and I'll keep you posted with whatever happens my Lemonades, and you too Mr. Tea!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Awful End

...Speaking of children's books, might I recommend the zaniest, funniest most random and lovable book I ever read??

It's called "Awful End" by Philip Ardagh, and here's a short synopses from Amazon:

"When both of Eddie's parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow and smell of hot-water bottles, it's agreed that he should go to stay with relatives at Awful End. Sadly for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud.


Philip Ardagh's supremely daft and extremely funny novel is set in a terribly smelly 19th century world that children will love. Ardagh captures the stench and stealth of the times, turning what could have been a straightforward adventure story into a delightfully pungent, utterly ridiculous but unbelievably gripping adventure story."

The illustrations and story are kind of Tim Burton-esque, the characters feel like they can be one of the neighbors in Corpse Bride (though this book was published in 2000). I'm sure any fan of Burton will love this book.

I would love to see this made into an animated movie -sure stopmotion would be perfect, but let's not copy Mr. Burton!


The story's quite funny, the narrative delightful and random, great little details thrown here are there, enough to build the funny sequences in your head, with characters as loony as the madhatter (if not more!)

Not to give anything away (not that anything will spoil the pleasures of reading such a book) even the secondary characters are delightfully daft! You've got the failed housemaid Gibbering Jane who lives under the stairs in the darkness because she failed the 8 week bed making course, the crazy Even Madder Aunt Maud, who always carries a stuffed stoat with her which she calls Malcom and her husband Mad Uncle Jack calls Sally, and Eddie's parents who the writer calls " yellow and crinkly around the edges"!

Read the book if you want to feel silly and be in a good mood!
[and If you know me personally, I'll lend you my copy gladly!]

rich details vs. imagination

"Children's literature isn't what it used to be." stated Mr. Tea, in his matter-of-fact tone of voice. "not all books, Mr. Tea" said the Lemonades, "we still have great writers who haven't lost the essence and purpose of these books, there's no need to generalize!"

The Chronicles of Narnia
, Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass) & the Little Prince, are some of the most famous and loved children's books, but yet when you actually read them as an adult, you discover that they lack in detail: they set the scene and introduce the characters and describe everything that's going on beautifully, but don't really go into tiny miniscule details like who sat where on which side of what table! The whole battle sequence in the Whitch, the Lion & the Wardrobe was told in just a page and after the actual war was over. These kinds of books challenged our imaginations, made us create worlds in our heads filled with what we wanted them to be filled with (Turkish delights and all!).

Today's children books are filled with details, so filled with them that you have forums and discussions on the net scrutinizing the movie version for not using the correct shade of red in the curtains of a specific scene! It is that crazy!

Just to make one point clear, I am not discussing the stories or styles of writings here, or defending/trashing certain books/authors. I'm just pointing out that in a world were we have so many things that can inspire us and spark our imaginations, we also have lots of distractions (for children & adults alike) which I think is eating away the realm of imagination.

So should children's books be less detailed and contain less illustrations to entice the children's imaginations?? Are extremely detailed books only the tip of the 'imagination killers' iceberg?? (or are they completely unrelated to them?)


TV, DVDs, the lack of reading, the way houses are built in Amman (with minimum gardens & tiny sidewalks) and how the concept of parks and proper playareas is nonexistent - all these factors are imagination killers & restrictors. I remember spending hours and hours with my classic Lego blocks (the days before the rainbow colored bricks and the pirates and castles editions) and still managing to create worlds where pyramids were built and dragons were slain. I remember my mother reading encyclopedias to me as a child (hence my early obsession with archeology and the seven wonders of the world) challenging me to figure out how little people like us built such mammoth wonders, and encouraging me to draw them by imagining how they looked before the were demolished or destroyed.

I see how shallow some (and I emphasize the SOME here, I am writing based on my own experiences and not based on statistics) children are nowadays, how they lack the depth in vision and imagination that we had as kids and which I can still see in my friends today {nini Mervy}. Seeing kids sitting endless hours in front of TV with useless uneducational programs and teenagers who've never lifted the front cover of a non-school related book really hurts.

I am a Harry Potter fan, and enjoy reading the books, hating the villains and cheering our heroes, but what I hate from the bottom of my heart is unoriginality. Unoriginality alone is probably half of "Imagination Killers"! How many books are now filling the shelves of bookstores about magic and dragons and spells and kids with powers? How many books have the words "better than the Da Vinci Code" embossed and embellished on their front covers? How many more Superhero movies will they make? Will they stop at SpiderMan 3, 8 or 11?

Is 'copying a winning formula' the new winning formula??
{why does this feel like a line from Sex & the City??}

"...and how faraway from the title topic have we drifted, my Lemonades?"

Thursday, June 29, 2006

bloody traffic

It's been decided. I'm going to spend a whole day on a random street in Amman, and film the traffic.

I can't believe how people drive here. Yes, there will be people who'll say "oh but you have to see the Egyptian/Lebanese/(fill-in-the-blank-with-country-of-choice) driving, Jordan is nothing compared to them..." Well you know what? I live in Jordan, and I'm sick of the driving antics here, if you're ok with it then skip this post!

Idiots who think they'll reach their destination if they just can get in front of you in a traffic jam.... schmucks who believe that they can still make it in the second the traffic lights turn red - and of course yell their hearts out & honk their horns if you actually slow down when the lights turn orange or don't speed off the milli-second they turn green. The list of idiocity goes on and on and on and on and on. What's even more frustrating, is that it happens in front of the law. People are not even scared! Well why should they? It's not that anybody is going to stop them or give them a ticket.

It is so damn frustrating. And all this, before the town is engulfed by drivers from the Gulf -who in my (and hundreds alike's) opinion are the worst imports on four wheels a town can get.

Somebody should seriously consider filming these maniac drivers, edit the footage and either make a bloody short film about it (which is the new "cool" hype that's sweeping the country -but that's another topic) and show it in 'Mish Saheb Aflam' on JTV or just send the tape to any 'funniest home video' show so the world can laugh at us.

Laughter. That's the only solution to this. Laugh, nod your head, let the idiot that's squeezing you from the left pass, apologize to the airhead behind you who's blowing her horn like mad because you slowed her down, forgive the taxi that suddenly decides to stop in front of you in the middle of the road to drop/or get a passenger, go home, take another dose of sedatives, and jump back into your car for another exciting episode of....

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Meet the World"

The EPICA awards showcase the best in European advertising. I showed my students the whole set of winners from last year, some are creative in concept and simple in design, others are simple and straight forward concepts with intricate and visually impressive designs. The over-all print winner of last year was a Grande Reportagem a Portuguese news magazine. From EPICA:

"The creative challenge of the campaign was to reaffirm the magazine’s unchanged commitment to serious journalism by focusing on topics that are important for people’s understanding of the world today.

This led the creative team to the concept “Meet the world” and to the idea of using flags of different nations as vehicles to transmit it. In each case, the colours that appear on various national flags were usedsymbolizelise a social or political issue that is specific to the country in question."

These are truly amazing ads, basic facts and statistics are transformed into heart-renching statements. Nobody can deny the power of these messages, and not respect the magazine/design agency for its bold approach. I just wish that instead of being used to promote a magazine, this concept would've been used for a more just cause like UNICEF, UN or Amnesty International.

The simplicity and power of these ads show that the strongest of ideas needn't have the most complex visuals or tons of text (Jordanain ad agencies take note).

Let's analyze the reasons for the success of this campaign:

1. Facts. Facts always hit hard, much more than sweet talking and trying hard to convince people with prolonged prologues.

2. People tend to remember short sentences like facts or rhyming slogans more than paragraphs of text, and therefore statistics like these will stick i
n peoples heads and will have them talking about them and discussing them.

3. Recognized visuals immediately create a sense of familiarity (be it negative or positive), and will make people read furth
er on. Associating the colors of these visuals with facts strengthened the visuals even more and got the points across more boldly.

4. The Meticulous selection of the facts and statistics' criterias is also very successful. Disease, Children, Poverty and Ignorance are some of the topics that people can most relate-to or show genuine sympathy towards. Guns, Politics and Non-
Human facts (like accidents or natural disasters) do not have the same strength in moving people's ...

5. Emotions. In serious ads with global messages, targeting people's emotions before their brains is essential. We all know the "think with your head and feel with your heart" saying. Well going against that works even more. Thinking with your heart and understanding the true meanings behind these facts will cause the brain to feel anger, rage, injustice...etc in a stronger way, and can cause it to want to take immediate and strong action. Powerful stuff!

Here are the ads for your comments:




My only design comment on these ads would be that the red tag could have been either moved more to the right, or aligned left with the text of the statistics, because its non-alignment with anything is visually disturbing (especially in the ads which have the least amount of text such as the Angola & USA ones).

Tori Amos






Mr. Tea
announced: "I'm a huge Tori Amos fan". "But who isn't?" added the Lemonades...



I too, am a huge Tori fan, and have been creating wallpapers using her images and song quotes for a great Tori forum that I'm a member in, and I decided to post them here as well. Why you might ask? Because I can, would be my reply!

click on the thumbnails to see the full size wallpaper



Hope you'll like
'em. And if you're not familiar with her work I recommend you checking her out ;) Want suggestions? leave a comment!


















Sunday, June 25, 2006

DownTown

We discussed this today, and I totally believe that they should shut DownTown to cars. They should invest in a HUUUUUGE parking lot right before Al Balad, and then get special busses to keep going round and round for a small fee. Let's break it down:

Pros:
1. No more parking tickets to those who own cars.
2. No more driving round and round to find a place to park, and even once you do find a place you're faced with a parking ticket, so see No. 1 above.
3. Everybody can afford to use buses
4. It's time we learn to use them since apparently we're all "too high and mighty to use public transport".
5. Help the environment by using our cars a bit less.
"but busses pollute the air even more in Amman, my Lemonades!" exclaimed Mr. Tea.
6. Would be great for tourists to see DownTown in a tour-bus format.
7. Same thing goes for locals who've never set foot there!

Cons:
1. Will never happen.
2. Nobody would fund such a project.
3. People will starve if nobody will get a parking ticket DownTown!! (ha ha)
4. Bus drivers will have to learn how to drive busses if there'll be tourists (who can sue) on board! (maybe this should be a Pro?!?)
5. Will NEVER happen.

oh well :p

"Is it buSes or buSSes, Mr. Tea?" wondered the Lemonades. "My dear Lemonades, this is one of the many wonders of the English language, both spellings are correct, and that's why I decided to use both to be fair." replied Mr. Tea, to the Lemonades apparent approval.

"Lunch with us, Mr. Tea?" asked the Faithful Flowerers. "Why yes of course my lovely Ladies, I'm honored you asked" he replied politely, "but what about my Lemonades? Can they come as well?". "You are one, and one you are. One can't come without the other, we assure you, Me. Tea, so there's no need to ask." added the FFs...

I teach Graphic Design and New Media at the University of Jordan, one of my best students happens to be a well-known star in the Jordanian BlogSociety, Roba Al-Assi. We discussed this blog today, and I fear that she's going to visit this space any time soon. We discussed many a good topic today at lunch with her fellow faithful students, and many would be good blog topics. But alas I had soo much Italian food that I can't remember any until I digested the delicious evils!

But I did decide that I'll take advantage of this space to spread some of my design knowledge. There are a lot of amateur designers out there who might benefit from my comments, and I know that some of my kiddies at Uni have forgotten most, so it'll be a reminder to them!

"pass the Tiramisu" said Mr. Tea, obviously four plates-full weren't enough!

Friday, June 23, 2006

CARS

I'm a HUGE Disney fan (I challenge anybody to find a bigger fan than moi in Jordan!) and I love all the Pixar movies too. I was literally jumping up and down when I learned that Disney bought Pixar! Merger of the greats!

"the world will be a great place now, Mr. Tea" said the Lemonades, enthusiastically. "I hope so, my Lemonades" replied Mr. Tea, "It all lies in the hands -or should I say wheels- of their Cars now" he added.

No other Disney/Pixar movie got more mixed reviews, but I wonder, are the negative reviews for the actual movie? Or are those people just bitter that Disney now has a great chance to get back on top of the animation game, now that they own Pixar, who everybody admits to be the greatest animation studio of the past few decades?

I love to read reviews, even if they're negative. They never put me off a movie, on the contrary, they entice me to watch the film even more! 'Cars' of course, was no different. In fact being a D&P movie, I was going to watch it anyway, but the reviews made me more looking forward to seeing it.

So now that I've watched it, what do I think? Well the thing I'm most happy about is that it's like nothing I expected! I knew it would be a good & entertaining story, and I knew that it would have amazing visuals and animation (and BOY DOES IT! In one word: breathtaking!) but I was not sure that I personally would like it. See I'm not a big fan of cars, and however cute the 'Cars' characters looked in the posters, I was still skeptical that I would find it not very engaging or fun. And the movie (thankfully) proved me wrong.

'Cars' doesn't have a real story -I won't go into the plot, as the synopsis of the movie is all over the net- and by real story I mean a big plot with villains and heroes, save-the-day kind of story. It's no Nemo or Incredibles either, no edge-of-your-seat moments, no laugh-out-loud moments, no "the most amazing movie/animation I've seen" feeling.

But what it has -and truly separates it from the rest- is HEART. Imagine sitting in the sun (a very warm sun, that's not too bright, just perfect), sipping a honey sweetened lemon ice-tea, a soft cool breeze sweeping through your hair, and watching a beautiful calming scenery (swimming pool, meadows, the beach.... anything you like), and you have that nice happy warm feeling inside. That's what I felt like after watching 'Cars'!

Call me cheesy or sappy, but this is one of those rare movies where you end up genuinely loving all the characters and wishing that each was given more screen time! This is one Disney movie that I would love to see a sequel for, or maybe just an extended 'director's cut' version.

It also has a nice message in it (albeit not very original and some might argue, over used) about simple rural life versus hectic city life. I just wish that they worked on the plot a bit more, gave it depth or a true message, 'Cars' truly lacks in that department. It's probably the first Pixar movie in which I felt like the story was a draft and not a final perfected one... it just wasn't very satisfying.

All in all, it is a lovely movie, even if it will not break any records, or become a classic (like the Lion King or even the Incredibles), it will not disappoint as long as we don't compare it to other movies and try to appreciate it for what it is and not for who it's done by or what the figures and reviews say about it.

Now that 'Cars' is here, everybody's waiting for the next Disney/Pixar production: 'Ratatouille'! The teaser trailer debuted with 'Cars' and it looks like they've got another winner on their hands! Check out the trailer here!

Also Disney's solo 3D effort, coming this Winter, 'Meet the Robinsons'.

So, first post... What to say? What's the purpose of this whole thing? Why am I even bothering to create a blog in the first place?

Do I feel old and seeing kids using blogs instead of old fashioned diaries and sharing their thoughts with the world is making me feel even older? I don't think I'm old, but I am finding it difficult to keep up with the speedy advances of technology; I don't know what to follow or learn or get into - and I'm not really liking that. Have these kids motivated me to start my own online journal? Time will tell if this is just a phase or if I'll actually end up using this blog for real.

Let's just hope this won't end up like the hundreds of blogs out there trying to sound clever and original!

"Good luck Mr. Tea in your Adventures!", cheered the Lemonades.