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04 NOVEMBER, 2011

What Is Motion Design?

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From the dawn of cinema to Saul Bass to Digital Hollywood in 600 seconds.

From Motion Plus Design, a nonprofit project setting out to create the first exhibition center dedicated to motion design in Paris, comes this wonderful short film on the history of the discipline, from its start right at the dawn of cinema, to its coming of age in the 1940s in the work of experimental artists like Oskar Fishinger and Norman McLaren, to its Golden Age in the 1950s and 60s with icons like Saul Bass and Maurice Binder, to its explosion into omnipresence after the digital revolution.

So where is the boundary between animated film and Motion Design? Although this boundary remains blurred, the distinction lies where traditional animated film features a story in which characters express themselves.”

(See also this 2-minute history of film title sequences.)

For more on the subject, see Jon Krasner’s exhaustive Motion Graphic Design: Applied History and Aesthetics. And for a true treat from the greatest motion designer of all time, you won’t go wrong with the highly anticipated definitive monograph Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design, designed by Bass’s daughter Jennifer and written by renowned design historian Pat Kirkham.

via Coudal

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04 NOVEMBER, 2011

Science Ink: Carl Zimmer Catalogs the Tattoos of Science Nerds

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An anthropology of the geek-rebel, or what astrophysics has to do with the delicacies of the dermis.

Brain Pickings is all about cross-disciplinary curiosity and the unexpected pollination of ideas across different fields. Nowhere does that cross-pollination get more unexpected than between popular science and tattoo culture. That’s exactly what celebrated curiosity monger Carl Zimmer explores in Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed — a weird and wonderful almanac of the lovable geek who immortalized passion for science on their living flesh. Zimmer divides the book into sections around each of the major sciences — math , chemistry, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, astronomy, and even an entire chapter on DNA — and uses each tattoo as a meditation pillow from whence to reflect on the science in question with his unmistakeable essay style of intelligent wit.

A foreword by Mary Roach adds the ultimate cherry on top.

The concept for the project was born in 2007, when Zimmer asked his blog readers whether scientists were hiding tattoos of their science. A surprising number stepped up, and Zimmer began posting images of their ink on his blog for Discover Magazine. The rest was history.

Without intending it, I became a curator of tattoos, a scholar of science ink. I began giving people advice about how to best photograph a tattoo. Rule one: don’t take a picture right after you get the tattoo. Shiny, puffy skin does not please the eye. Tattoo enthusiast magazines called to interview me. All in all, it was a strange experience; I have no tattoos of my own and no intention of getting any. But the open question I posed brought a river of pleasures.” ~ Carl Zimmer

Images courtesy of Sterling Publishing

Tasteful, thoughtful, and tantalizing, Science Ink will make you reconcile your inner geek and rebel, then dust off your old science textbooks for mischievous inspiration.

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03 NOVEMBER, 2011

Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design

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The much-awaited monumental monograph of the greatest graphic designer of all time.

Saul Bass (1920-1996) is one of the most iconic and influential visual communicators of the 20th century — possibly the most famous graphic designer of all time — having broken out of the conformity of the 1950s to shape the aesthetic of generations of designers and animators with his bold and lively film title sequences and graphic design. (His insights on creativity and advice on doing quality work are also a timeless treat for any creator.) Yet no definitive monograph of his prolific, monumental work has existed — until now. Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design, designed by Bass’s daughter Jennifer and written by renowned design historian Pat Kirkham, is a formidable 428-page volume featuring more than 1,400 of Bass’s illustrations, many never before published, that offer an unprecedented look at his legacy and the creative process behind his most celebrated posters, title sequences, and logo designs.

I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” ~ Saul Bass

Publisher Laurence King put together this epic video of the making of the book, to give you a sense of the scale and ambition of the project:

From his iconic title sequences…

… to his unforgettable posters…

…to his legendary logos for mega-brands like AT&T, Quaker Oats, and United Airlines, the monograph contextualizes his most significant works and analyzes each film project individually to dissect its graphic elements and motifs.

Philip French has a fantastic review-and-so-much-more of the book over at The Guardian.

Had Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design been released before the publication of this selection of the 100 best graphic design books of the past 100 years, it would most certainly have been included, and quite possibly would have topped the list — it is, truly, one of the most beautiful, inspirational, important design books you’ll ever lay eyes and hands on.

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