Gaussian Blurred Rap Videos
Gaussian blurred rap videos is a single topic blog that myself and co-worker Rhys Hillman launched today. The concept is pretty simple: You screenshot a frame from a rap video and apply a 30 pixel gaussian blur filter to it. It takes about 10 seconds, and you’re left with an aesthetically pleasing composition.
It’d be cool to apply the blur to the whole clip, but that takes a bit more manpower; the point of this exercise was to get the content finished and published within a week, and then spend another few days emailing the link around to see if it gets a bit of traction. Move fast, break things etc etc. I’m all for photoshop intensive tumblr content like thumbs and sport balls but I just honestly don’t have the time for all that clone stamp work.
At 7:30 pm, almost 7 years ago, I downloaded this image off Volcom’s homepage.
Why I downloaded it, I’m not exactly sure. There’s two reasons. 1: I liked the look of it as a desktop background and/or 2: I needed ‘inspiration’ for a school project. At the time I was studying the second unit of Visual Communication at High School, so artistic reference would have been something in high demand.
What I can remember: The image was found in the ‘media’ section of the Volcom website. I’m pretty sure this design was briefed in with the sole purpose of plastering Volcom logos on thousands of teenagers’ desktop wallpapers.
Their black and white logo was already a familiar face to me; scribbled in the back of exercise books by my peers and I, not because we all skated (a few of us did), but because it was easy to draw and looked cooler than bombing your own name.
Skateboarding was a huge way to forge teenage identity, and although a company logo like Volcom’s says a hell of a lot about who you are, nothing was (and in some cases still is) as powerful as a photograph. The exotic locations of Southern Californian backwater towns and unattainable swag; tight jeans that were still years off the mainstream market.
The photo was king. In magazines like Slam or Thrasher they usually ran good ones at full bleed; well light, urban stair scenes warped into hyper-real visions, the ever present distorted fish eye lens.
It took me until somewhere near graduation to email the editor of Slam magazine, naively asking him how to achieve a photo that looked that special, skateboard magazine way. This thirst for a certain photographic aesthetic would quickly giveway to night-party photography, especially the now defunct Streetparty parties.
Date unknown. (should find this out). Emulating the flash/long exposure style of certain party photographers.
Here you can see my ‘inspiration’ for my own watermark; for whatever reason I was obsessed with that crudely drawn Streetparty logo…
The image here isn’t static though, it’s an image sequence. A collage is really not the quickest, easiest nor most efficient way to show Rowley performing a flip trick (a 5 second video clip is), but it sure looks cool. Back then, collage was graphic design. It was what was popular ergo, everything else was boring and not worth designing.
It was easy enough to use the pen tool and scrap together objects, the problem was the ‘open brief’ theory, where your brain is swamped with just too many damn options. The designer here has shown restraint; Exaggerating the art direction of the photo shoot with a few cheeky objects sprayed across the spread: an in house designer’s wet dream.
Lastly, I was shocked to recognise the typeface choice. Back then, I probably could have told you that it looked ‘different’, and that it would have played a minor role in the reasons my brain made the split second choice: yep, click, download. But I really couldn’t have told you anything about the typeface, I simply couldn’t see it.
It wasn’t until about 4 years later, during my second year of University, that I properly noticed and identified the typeface. I interviewed an artist for our school magazine that I was art directing, and while researching for the article, I saw a piece of his that I loved.
Haylock, Brad. Crazed and Defused. 2008. The Narrows, Melbourne.
The font was Friz Quadrata. I didn’t think much of it, until a year and a few more hundred beers and coffees later when I recalled it for my graduation poster.
The aforementiend poster: A series of 4, A3 risographs that documented slang words and phrases that friends had invented.
Coincendece? Probably. Maybe Brad had been indirectly influenced by Volcom’s marketing team like me, or maybe he’d come across Friz earlier, say 2003 at the theatrical release of Kill Bill.
I guess this is how we work as designers, constantly drawing upon memories, things that ‘like’ or might use someday. That might be why people find it hard to talk about their design work: so many of the choices they made that led towards the finished product were entirely subconcious and driven by years and years of looking at and thinking about things.
I didn’t know command + i = text readout of layers!
Here’s a photoshop file that I’ve been working on since Tuesday, turns out I make a lot of layers!
BG, Player_960x540 copy 2, Shape 7, arrow, in, img, Vector Smart Object copy 3, Shape 7, arrow copy 2, Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris sem t, out, ON IMAGE OR DARK BACKGROUND, Hotspot Interactions copy, Content panel example, Shape 8 copy, Shape 8 copy 2, Shape 8 copy 3, Shape 8 copy 4, Shape 8 copy 5, Tag/Callout Box Hex#: 1c1c1c, Idle player background Hex#: 252523 (+ subtle pattern texture), Hero button Hex#: f06b46, Light typography Hex#: f2f3f3, Dark typography Hex#: 292727, Swatch, 23, Loading, Vector Smart Object, Loading, Contain copy, img copy, Black & White 1, EXTENDED SCENE, Hover - More info, hover, Contain copy, img copy, Black & White 1, Thumbnail, thumb, Thumbnails, Link looks like this #999898, Hovered link looks like this #ffffff, Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris sem t, Body - Interstate - Light compressed, 17px, #ebe9e9, Body links - Interstate - Bold condensed, 17px, Body, hex_btn copy 5, BLACK WHEN ON ORANGE, ON IMAGE OR DARK BACKGROUND, LIGHT ALTERNATIVE WHEN PAIRED WITH BOLD, Subheaders - Interstate - Bold & light compressed, 28 px, #ffff, Subhead, MEDIUM 45PX, LARGE 75PX, Headers - Interstate - Bold compressed - #ffffff, headers, Shape 5 copy 4, Skim milk powder, Shape 5 copy 6, Football Oval, Call out - Interactive images, callout, Vector Smart Object, Vector Smart Object, Vector Smart Object, Hue/Saturation 1, Group 3, Active hotspot, Hover state, On click, Hotspots, little cube, Shape 8, Info copy, little cube, Pin, Map Marker copy, little cube, Shape 8, Info, little cube, Pin, Map Marker, ‘Click to expand’ icons, Actual size, Interactive marker, More info, Click to expand, Modal box - Collapses to ‘more info’ icon, hex_btn copy 2, x - inactive copy, Vivamus enim lectus, dapibus a aliquet sit amet, imperdiet non , LOREM IPSOM DOREM, popup_warning copy 2, modal box, twitter, Facebook icon, Social icons, Social icons, X - rollover, X - rollover copy, X - rollover copy 3, x - inactive, arrow copy, x - inactive copy 3, Active, Hover , Playhead controls, Exit Buttons, Shape 1, Shape 1 copy, pause copy, play copy, pause, lo, mid, high, x, vol, vol play, x copy 2, vol copy 3, vol x, btn_styles, hex_btn copy 6, Shape 6 copy 5, Shape 6 copy 4, CLICKED, btn_hover copy 2, hex_btn copy 6, Shape 6 copy 5, Shape 6 copy 4, HOVER, btn_hover, hex_btn copy 6, Shape 6 copy 5, Shape 6 copy 4, CLICK ME, btn_norm, Secondary Buttons, Secondary buttons, hex_btn copy 4, Shape 6 copy 3, Shape 6 copy 2, CLICKED, btn_hover copy, hex_btn copy 4, Exposure 1, Shape 6 copy 3, Shape 6 copy 2, HOVER, btn_hover, hex_btn copy 4, Shape 6 copy 3, Shape 6 copy 2, CLICK ME, btn_active, Primary Buttons - Interstate, Bold compressed, 32px - #f06b46t , Primary btn, Layer 7, Hotspot gif here, Style Guide, Player_960x540, 23, Vector Smart Object copy 4, Group 4, Loading - numbers, Vector Smart Object, Vector Smart Object copy, Vector Smart Object copy 2, shapes, Copy, Loading - copy, Preloader, hex_btn copy, ENQUIRE, btn_replay copy, hex_btn, REPLAY, btn_replay, btns, Contain, img, Player_960x540 copy, EXTENDED SCENE:, NAM LEAVING HOME, Group 2, 1, Layer 6, 2, Shape 5 copy 2, Layer 5, Gradient Map 1 copy 4, 3, arrow r, arrow l, THIS IS WHAT YOU MISSED OUT ON, Interactions, twitter, Facebook icon, Share - Appear on hover, Share, Click thru #2, Vector Smart Object, Vector Smart Object copy, Vector Smart Object copy 2, random shapes, hex_btn copy 3, CONTINUE, btn_norm copy, YOU COMPLETED 2/21 INTERACTIONS, Click thru #1, End Frame, bg_img, Shape 5, Chocolate ration, noun project_2, Shape 5, Salmon & pasta in cheese sauce, noun project, hex_btn copy 2, Shape 6, x - inactive copy, Shape 6 copy, Vivamus enim lectus, dapibus a aliquet sit amet, imperdiet non , ROLLOVER RATION ITEMS FOR DESCRIPTION, popup_warning, hostpot 2, Interactive Image, Shape 7, arrow, in, img, Vector Smart Object copy 3, Shape 7, arrow copy 2, Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris sem t, out, Actual size: 43x50px , Hotspot Interactions, ADFA, hex_btn copy 2, x - inactive copy, Vivamus enim lectus, dapibus a aliquet sit amet, imperdiet non , LOREM IPSOM DOREM, popup_warning copy, little cube, Pin, Map Marker copy 3, little cube, Pin, Map Marker copy 4, little cube, Pin, Map Marker copy 5, little cube, Pin, Map Marker copy 2, little cube, Shape 8, Info copy 2, Shape 5 copy 5, The library, Map, arrow r copy, arrow l copy, img, Vector Smart Object copy 5, Vector Smart Object copy 6, Vector Smart Object copy 7, Vector Smart Object copy 8, Vector Smart Object copy 8, Group 6, Vector Smart Object copy 8, Group 7, Photo Gallery, container, timeline, hotspot, hotspot copy, hotspot copy 2, hotspot copy 3, timeline, pause, play, x, lo, mid, high, vol, vol, volume control, volume control copy, Shape 2, slider, Play Bar, x - onclic, X - rollover, x - inactive, btn_close
The more we use these apps, the better we get to know them. The app doesn’t become more efficient, we become more efficient at using it. We make up our own shortcuts, we prefer working full screen, or we style a unique layout of toolbars and actions to save as a preset. At my work, when all the creatives upgraded to Adobe CS5.5, there was a collective groan heard as we booted Photoshop out of the box. Back to sleeping in a hotel bed, everyone quickly got to work dirtying the sheets.
Elimination > Substitution
We love to personalize stuff, and for me that’s a process of elimanation rather than substitution. When I started my job I had a desk lamp, I never used it, so it got the boot. If I have an app on on my iphone that I haven’t used for a week, it’s off the home screen. If I don’t use it for a month, it’s gone. Call me a minimalist, but that’s just the easiest way to properly use stuff. Clearing away all the dead wood makes it easier to visualize the cabin you’re about to start building.
A lot of apps understand the idea of doing one thing ultra focused: In Instapaper, the nav bar disappears after one scroll. Scrolling = reading. And reading means reading, not looking at icons for other functions.
In the writing arena, I’d argue that no one has iAWriter beat: “As soon as you type the title bar disappears and all you see is the clean typing sheet, distraction-free, ready for your ideas to take shape…(Creating a) noise free writing experience.”
If I have to write something, I need minimal distractions, and I count buttons and menus as distractions; a reason why I lean away from Microsoft Word and towards programs like text edit, tumblr and Google docs.
Start typing to begin…
Why can’t this design philosophy be used more freely across other basic tasks on the computer? With Google’s omnibox leading browser interactions, and browsers (starting to) lead OS interactions, we’d start from there.
• The user would begin by typing a simple task, and suggestions would instantly flood in: By simply typing the letters c,a,l would have “Call Mum” populate the field. Designspiration already employs this technique on their site.
Really nothing new here, as far as omni-box stuff goes. In fact, my current workflow, is command T to create a new tab in chrome, type out a shortened phrase that Google already understands eg. “gmail” (I’m happy to type 5 letters rather than wait for suggestions) and smash enter. Boom. Email.
There’s something really liberating (as liberated as you can get when you’re simultaneosly glued to a screen and a chair), typing over the top of everything else, doing away with all the buttons, frames and containers that usually clutter our computer screen.
Many things we do on a computer all the time are slow, bloated and carry way to many features. Let’s take a look at email. When I launch gmail, 90% of the time I’m doing one of two things. Looking for bold text that tells me I have new mail “Inbox (3)” or I’m heading about 5 pixels north and clicking that red button. That’s it.
So how would a prompt based email message work? Once you’ve omniboxed your request, you’d see something like this (above). In this screen, the user has already locked into new mail mode. As soon as a task is completed the type falls back, lowers in opacity and generally gets out of the way. All that is important is the now, the current. Which is in white.
This really isn’t that left-field, Gmail now uses a simple pop up box to write new messages as of a few months ago. It sits in the corner or the browser window waiting to spring up, rather than stretch itself across the whole window.
It’s clear that this is the way speech-directed stuff is going (eg. Google Glass) “Ok Glass, film this junkie on the tram.” “What did you say c*nt!!!”
In the meantime, and while we still have unobscured faces, we’ll be using those big computers on desks. And we’ll be needing them for simple, civillian tasks like adding, messaging and planning.
We’re all pretty good at typing stuff. And we like shortcuts. My brief stint at playing Memrise (I hot streaked 92 learnt things before i dropped it from my bookmark front bench), taught me that arrow keys, the return key and numbers 1-6 are actually quicker and more intuitive than clicking everything with a mouse.
Apps stripped down to their bare necessities is a lean, mean and scary sight, and only a few less steps away from them “disappearing inside us completely.”
EDIT (31/3): This idea already exists in the form of the app Alfred. It’s free, and I’m downloading it as I type…