Hand Drafting Lovers Rejoice – 100 Posters Still Available

Christopher Schwarz at Lost Art Press announced that they have 100 of the Anarchist tool chest posters still for sale. I thought these had sold out months ago but apparently there was a small batch lurking in the stockroom.atc_poster1_img_2463-1

Detail of nice crisp detail of the poster by Steamwhistle Press. Photo by Chris Schwarz

Detail of nice crisp detail of the poster by Steamwhistle Press. Photo by Chris Schwarz

The drawing is of a traditional English styIe tool chest as outlined in Chris’ now-classic book, The Anarchist Tool Chest. The original artwork for the poster was drawn back in January in pencil, in a late-19th century drafting style on the last remaining bit of well-made 1000H cotton vellum I still had in the studio. The poster, of which only 1000 were made, is beautifully printed on #100 paper stock using a  hand-inked polymer plate on an old offset printing press and each is hand-signed by Chris. This may be one of the last examples of hand drafting you’ll see printed in poster form. My drawing board has fallen into such disuse in the past 6 months that a baby bat has taken up residence under my drafting machine arm.

tool chest perspective cutaway

Last Minute Holiday Gifts For Set Designers

Beware. This is what happens when you give a set designer a crappy holiday gift. source: Awkwardfamilyphotos.com

Beware. This is what happens when you give a set designer a crappy holiday gift. source: Awkwardfamilyphotos.com

So, it’s just 12 days until Hanukkah and 13 until Christmas and you still haven’t gotten that special set designer in your life a gift. You could just give up in defeat and buy them that same aged cheddar cheese sampler you got them last year, ( which they carefully hid underneath your car seat and is the reason it smells like mold inside ) or you can get them something decent like one of the the items on the list below. At this point you’re probably going to have to resort to hideously expensive 2nd day air shipping, but who’s fault is that??

Best Value  –  Spike GPS device for smartphones and tablets – $299

The Spike GPS device for smartphones and tablets

The Spike GPS device for smartphones and tablets

That may sound like a lot of money but that’s 50% off the introductory price of $619. I got one of these during their Kickstarter program in 2013 and have been thrilled with it. This device does everything my $500 Bushnell rangefinder does and a lot more. Take a photo of a building up to 200 meters away and then take measurements off the screen, even after you’re back at the office, even weeks later. Easily get accurate heights, door and window sizes, measure billboards, estimate square footage. You can instantly send the photo to someone else with the measurements, GPS coordinates and square footage. Soon to come are the capability to turn your shots into a Sketchup model and point cloud scanning of irregular shapes. For iOS and Android devices.

This offer is only good until December 23 with the offer code FRIENDSOFIKE14.

By Hand & Eye – $16.00

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Another gem from Lost Art Press, this is probably one of the best design books written in the last 100 years. It outlines the world of design without a rule and using only dividers and proportional methods. I covered this in a previous post and always recommend it. It’s so popular that it’s currently out of print and only a digital version is available. Buy them this and a good pair of second hand dividers from Ebay and you will completely change the way they think about design.

Drafting Apron – $25.95

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Harkens back to the days of graphite dust, arm protectors and a time when you didn’t have to worry about hours of work disappearing from a computer failure. Hide a box of Tombow pencils in the pocket and watch them weep with joy.

 

WE Wood Watches – $75 to $150

we wood watches

WE Wood watches are beautiful analogue timepieces made from a number of hardwoods and use precision movements. Each one is absolutely unique due to it’s wood case.They’ll have something nice to look at while they’re waiting for their render to finish or that endless production meeting to come to an end.

FastCap ProCarpenter Lefty/Righty Tape Measure – $8.99

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Most measuring mistakes that occur while doing a survey come from misreading numbers upside down when you’re measuring from right to left. This tape solves that problem by having the numbers read correctly no matter which way you hold it. The same company also makes the Flatback tape which works like a flexible story pole, making it possible to easily measure round objects. You need this.

 

 Magna Tip – $2.49

MagnaTip

This little guy will save you when you’re surveying alone and have a metal surface to stick it to. It attaches to the end of most 1″ wide tape measure and becomes a third hand. Especially good if you’re trying to measure something overhead. A great stocking stuffer.

 

Tape Tip – $4.95

Tape tip

Another little device that’s a lifesaver when you’re trying to measure inside corners. Attaches to the ends of most tapes. Inexpensive enough you can buy one for your whole art department.

GripTip – $3.00 for two

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OK, you’re saying, enough with the survey stuff. But this little gadget will save you someday when you’re trying to measure that stone or brick wall and the end of your tape keeps slipping off. The serrated edge will bite into just about anything and stop the cursing fast! At $3.00 for two, you can afford to have several in your kit.

Smartphone Projector – $27

smartphone projector

For the gadget lover, this is a low-tech projector option that works with palm-size smart phones, not the phablets. Made from cardboard, the device works with simple lens physics as the image and light from the phone is projected by way of a convex lens onto any white surface up to 6 feet away. You’ll need a dark room though, it won’t work in a brightly lit space. A great way to share when you don’t happen to have a 27″ monitor in your bag.

Geometrigraph – $14.95

Geometrigraph set

First manufactured in the late 1800s, these two stainless-steel templates were designed to make it possible to create curved, parallel or perpendicular lines as well as circles, angles and a range of polygons from 3-sided to 20-sided. By using the inset shapes of various curvatures with the circles and polygons, you can create an unlimited variety of ornamental designs.  All this can be done without using any other drawing instruments; all that is needed is paper, a pin, and a sharp pencil or fine-tip ballpoint pen. Two nickel-plated steel T-head anchor pins are included.  The templates are suitable for designers of inlay in wood, graphic artists, quilters, sign-makers, innovative youngsters, etc. The set comes with a 16-page instruction booklet explaining the various uses as well as showing numerous examples of typical designs. Remember the Spirograph? Well this is it’s Granddad.

Tape Measure Uniform – $42.00

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For those times when you need to stand out and let people know there’s a Art Department professional on the job. Or, more likely what it will be saying about you is, “Yes, I am a proud member of the Art Department and I have gone completely insane from breathing Spray77 and Zip Kicker fumes, living on stale coffee, doing endless revisions and dealing with constant software issues. So just stay away from me and no one will get hurt.”

 

 

Really, Really Last Minute Gifts

When you realize you’ve really screwed up and forgotten someone and have no time to run to the store, much less order anything, you can always gift a good app.

Log onto the Apple or Android store and gift your so-important-you-forgot-about-them friend one of these apps and your reputation will be saved:

I own and can recommend all these apps.

BuildCalc – construction calculator – $19.99

Magic Plan – indoor mapping, survey tool – free, pay per use

Photo Measures – saving and sharing measurements – $6.99

Artemis – professional director’s finder – $29.99 *

pCAM – camera info calculator – $29.95 *

Sun Surveyor – sun and moon calculator – $6.99

Stereo Calc – 3D stereo film calculator – $39.99 *

Moviola Pro Camera Guide – extensive database of camera info – $3.99 *

I.D. Wood – samples and data for 200 kinds of wood – $4.99

* iOS versions only

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: German Government Offers Huge Tax Incentives To Hollywood Studios

FÜRNHEIM, Germany (ADAC) – On Monday the German government’s federal film commission, the DDFLM, announced that they were now going to offer a 90% tax rebate to American film production companies who shoot 100% of their films within the country. In a packed room at the Forstquell-Brauerei the commission’s president, Max Furzmann, said the move was  to compete for the American studio projects with states such as Louisiana, New York and Georgia, and countries such as Canada who offer large tax rebate incentives to lure film productions there.

This deal has apparently been in the works for some time as a source at Universal Pictures in Los Angeles reported that there are plans to dismantle all of the sound stages at Universal Studios and rebuild them in Europe. Universal representative Michael Dorftrottel, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “What do we need stages for anyway? Everything’s done in a computer now, isn’t it?”

Removing the stages will allow Universal’s new upcoming Harry Potter attraction to encompass the area now taken up by the only part of the studio actually used for making films. It will also allow the studio space to provide much larger climate-controlled covered parking areas for upper-management.

Late Monday, the Louisiana Film Commission held a press conference where they announced that the state, known among industry insiders as ‘Hollywood South’, was considering increasing the current film tax incentive rate to 95% in response to the German rebate program. This suggested rate increase is still apparently being hotly debated among the state’s legislators. Petroleum oil companies, who currently purchase most of the tax credits from the studios to apply to their own tax debt, are encouraging the state to increase the incentive rate to 125% claiming the increase would be very beneficial to the state as well as to the corporation shareholder’s stock portfolios.

Furzmann did not explain the German tax incentive in detail during his remarks but instead presented a short animated video by Jan Vetter, Dirk Felsenheimer and Rodrigo Gonzáles of the FKK group which outlines the various aspects of the program.

 

 

UPDATE: The Georgia state legislature held an all-night session which resulted in plans to raise that state’s tax rebate incentive to 300% of labor and sales tax. Also, 20th Century Fox Studio announced they would follow a similar course of action as that of Universal Studios and have completed tearing down Stages 14, 15 and 16 with plans of replacing them with much needed office buildings along Pico Blvd.

 

Just Shoot It

Quote

Scene from Days Of Heaven - Production Designer Jack Fisk

Scene from Days Of Heaven – directed by Terrence Malick – Production Designer Jack Fisk – cinematography by Nestor Almendros

“It’s one of those foolish truisms that a lot of what is perceived as great cinematography actually is really good production design or really good location choice. Often it’s that easy – it’s so damn good, just photograph it.”

Stuart Dryburgh , Cinematographer

The Motion Picture Art Director – Yesterday And Today

Back in the 1940’s the Art Director’s Guild, known then as the Society Of Motion Picture Art Directors, created a chart outlining the exciting responsibilities of an Art Director, which is posted below.  In 1994 I created a revised version which, I thought, seemed like a more accurate representation of the job. Looking it over today I think a newer version is in order. Your suggestions are most welcome.

The responsibilities of the motion picture Art Director of the 1940’s.

The Art Director of “Today”

A Short Lesson In Perspective – Mandatory Reading

I think of myself as a pretty thoughtful, conscientious  person. Or I did until this week when I realized I had forgotten my wedding anniversary. The only thing that saved me was that my wife had forgotten it too. In our mad dash to keep our careers on track we sometimes let milestones pass us by without noticing them until they’re way back in the rearview mirror of life.

This article, A Short Lesson in Perspective, is by former advertising Art Director Linds Redding. The work conditions he describes are a near mirror image to those in the film and television industry today. The siren song of technology has allowed us to do things much faster and easier than we could have years ago. But that speed and efficiency has come at a big price, and one you sometimes don’t notice right away.

Redding was diagnosed with esophageal cancer several years ago and it took that to make him realize that he was letting his job eat him alive. When he realized what his creative advocation was costing him, he began to ask himself, ‘when is the cost for having a creative career not worth it anymore ?’

Stop what you’re doing. Read this. Is this you?

A Short Lesson In Perspective

The Leadholder Museum

A. W. Faber patent drawing for leadholder

The humble leadholder has been around a lot longer than you would think. Actually since the American Civil War, when the first perfected-for-manufacture holder was patented by John Faber of Germany in 1860. If you hung out with Art Director Harry Otto, you would know these things. Harry forwarded me a link to a website called Leadholder- The Drafting Pencil Museum, which is another example of how you truly can find anything on the internet.

It features documentation on just about every lead holder ever made, all the way back to the 1560’s. It might not sound that fascinating but once you see the site you’ll end up spending quite a bit of time there, ever if you’ve never used them.

The site is nicely designed and has some great history of their use including vintage catalogues, ads and blueprints of various makes and models. You never know, these could be the Hummels of the 21st century. (Considering what some of these things go for on Ebay, you may have your kid’s college fund sitting in your desk drawer.) So, ditch that gold and buy some vintage leadholders. Get started here: Audrey’s Pencils.