Baby it’s cold outside

And I’m not kidding! For over a month now, we in the PNW are experiencing cold temperatures that have brought on more snow flurries and sometimes dumps (even at sea level) than I can remember in… well… ever.  Bring on the cozy sweaters and mugs of hot [insert name of your favorite hot beverage here].  For me it means endless mugs of tea.

Thanks to this constant cold we’ve had a huge dump of snow in the higher elevations (just ask Northern California and Colorado residents) and that means when you live near the mountains like I do, it’s time to ski!!  I haven’t made it up to the mountain yet but maybe in the next week or two.  I can’t wait to hear that shooshing!

Snow was kind of a rarity when I was little – unless we were up in the mountains it was practically non-exhistant.  I would always do my best to leave as much undisturbed snow as possible when my sister and I ran outside to play.  Is there anything as beautiful in winter as undisturbed snow after the year’s first (and sometimes only) dump?  Or those perfect corduroy lines making their way down the mountainside when you happen to get to the lift super early and you’re the first one to leave tracks on your favorite trail?

So while you’re thinking of all that perfect undisturbed snow, take a look at this little beauty:

Beauregard, Steamboat Aerials

Don’t you just love the camera motion?  It’s so graceful.  Kind of like how I like to imagine myself coming down the mountain but often create more of a zig-zag pattern.

Here’s hoping for more good ski weather but maybe a little warmer temperature for those of us living down at sea level…

So Long 2016


This year has been one of the most challenging I’ve had in a long time.  What is it about this year?  Almost everyone I talk to is happy to see the back of 2016 and are ready for a fresh start. I’m not sure about others but I know that for me it’s been an emotional rollercoaster and although it’s been a good ride I’m ready for things to calm down a bit.

Forget world events, natural disasters etc.  I’ve had one of those years where I’ve had work some months and then nothing, not at all unusual in the film business, but the intensity was what got me.  When I had work, I usually had several contracts all at once so I was working 20 hours a day for weeks on end and then nothing. Exhausting.  And then there were all the projects that we thought were going to happen and they fell through at the very last minute.

I make this year sounds like it was pure agony, but actually this year has been a really good one in many respects.

  1. I had more work than ever and several projects that I’ve been working on for three years or more now have finally made their way into the world. i.e. The Human Face of Big Data, CRAZYWISE and The Click Effect.  I even managed to fit in a few shorter films that I directed myself for PLU’s MediaLab and the PSESD.
  2. I’ve had more design projects than I’ve ever expected, especially considering I’m not a graphic designer.  Film proposals, websites (, film promotional pieces (posters, invitations, infographics) and more in the works.
  3. I have a beautiful new niece that I can’t wait to see grow up – but not too quickly please!
  4. And the biggest drain on my emotions – I’ve decided to finally move to California (sometime in the Spring after several postponements) and fulfill my lifelong dream to become a surfer… well in actual fact it’s to find more consistent work and take on a new adventure.  The surfing will be a perk if I can ever stand up for more than 0.5 seconds.  Right now I’m really talented at sitting on my board.

And on that more upbeat note, I’m preparing to venture off to meet my family for the holidays.  It’s my favorite time of year because for a week or two, we are all together which is rare for us.  I guess we can’t expect much else when we all live in separate states and/or countries.

As I sign off for the rest of this year, I leave you with this wonderful little piece that makes me smile even if it does seem a little scary in places.  The world really is a big scary place but I can only hope that this next year brings more peace and joy than we’ve witnessed in the last 12 months.

Karni and Saul

Until next year…

A Magical 3D World

Somehow we’re already well into March and this is my first post for the year.  Yet again, I say oops!  and then follow it with “but I have a really good excuse!”  We’ll see what you think…

Since last November, I’ve been inundated with paperwork and graphic design projects getting The Human Face of Big Data ready for it’s debut into the TV world on PBS.  When I started this process I thought that it would going to take me a week or two to get everything together.  Oh how wrong I was!  I’ve been glued to my computer so much that I began thinking it was an appendage and not an external tool that I can leave for a little while and come back to.  It really wasn’t an option with so many deadlines, but now that the broadcast is over, I can finally start to feel like a real person again and enter into reality.

HFOBD Placard 16-9 General-01

I have to apologize that I never actually announced anything on here but that’s how busy I was.  For those of you with any interest in seeing the film, you can see it here:


Anyway, to move away from Big Data for a little while, there are several other projects on the books that are ‘pending’ and of course I have no idea when they are going to start but I know that when they do, watch out!  So for now, I’m taking a chance to breath and trying to catch up on boring stuff like cleaning my home and catching up with friends that I have shamefully neglected since before Thanksgiving. Ok, so seeing friends is far from boring but I revel in the thought that I’m a real person again and not a working machine.  Did I mention that I’ve been working a lot?

I’m kind of glad that I haven’t had time to write here because I found this video ages ago but wasn’t quite sure it was the right time to share it. Now I feel like it’s time. In many ways, it has a lot to do with upcoming projects, I just can’t tell you which elements it has in common:

Future of storytelling

I found this particularly fascinating for many reasons:

  1. My grandparents used to save their favorite Family Circus comics for us to read when we came over and when we moved away, they would mail them to us in letters.
  2. I grew up watching all of these characters on the big screen – how cool would it have been to have experienced them in 3D?  Admittedly it would have been even more terrifying than I already found them – especially the wolves in Beauty and the Beast.
  3. How is this going to influence art in the future? Only time will tell…

If there is one thing that I can say about the last few months is that the blood, sweat and tears that go into projects are well worth the toil if you really love what you’re doing.  I got a lot out of the last few months and even though there are many things that I’ve loved about them, I’m ready to move on and get my creative juices moving in a different way.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to living in the real world again, and not the digital world of my computer screen or my cell phone.

Until next time – and let’s hope it doesn’t take me so long, right?

Crafting at Sea

What do you do with all the odd bits of plastic floating around the ocean?  Well, it seems that these sailors have found one use:


I’m in love with the editing of the this film – more the the point, the mesmerizing water shots.  It makes me miss the open water and living on a boat while reminding me of how little there is to do when you’re not actively  sailing, sleeping or doing chores.  There isn’t much to do during the few hours of down time.

What a fascinating history of sailor’s hobbies and how we can simulate it today without having to kill sperm whales for materials…

Skate Art

I am by no means a “skater”.  I think I’ve been on a skateboard once in my life and I felt like I was going to fall off and end up with a completely scraped and bruised body.  Yes, I know that it has a similar feel to a surfboard in the way that you steer etc, but there is something about coming in contact with concrete that scares me.  I prefer to go plunging into water even if there are hidden rocks and the possibility of carnivorous predators lurking below.

However I enjoy the artwork.  Not necessarily the graffiti look that is often associated with skating and urban jungles (although I do like some of it), but what I really is the combination of materials and the simplicity of the shapes such as in the work of Geoff McFetridge:


Yes, I enjoy the art but more importantly I like the way that the film was made.  An interview of this kind could be considered rather dry but with the quick camera movements, which admittedly I usually don’t like too much, and the movement around the studio, it actually works.  And on another level, it gives me confidence that there is a future for artists, even with everything moving into a digital culture.

Thank goodness for some things that just work better off the screen sometimes.

I’ve been working on…

There are several difficulties with keeping up with a blog:

  1. There is finding content and the time to post the content.
  2. The perfect timing to share what you’ve been working on yourself and
  3. Actually getting the nerve up to share your recent work, or at least in my case there’s a lot of getting up nerve.

I know, point number three seems completely ridiculous as the reason for all of this is to share my portfolio and to share what inspires me but somehow sharing other people’s work seems to so much safer.  I’ve always been someone that prefers to work behind the scenes, never wanting to draw attention to myself.  I rather like being a kind of ghost in the creative process – have some exciting role, but then when it’s time for recognition I get cold feet.

I’m trying to be better at putting my work out there – otherwise it’s rather useless actually producing it in the first place, right?

So this is what I’ve been up to:

HFOBD Banner emfirno wide

  • Yes, admittedly I’ve been working on The Human Face of Big Data for a while, but the new part is that after several weeks, there is now an official website with the trailer, official screening dates and bios of all the major contributors!  Check it out for details on upcoming screenings – yes, this film could finally be coming to a theater near you in the next few months… This is a  very long awaited release of the film and I hope to announce the official dates soon.
  • You may have also noticed that this site has a slightly different look and format in the last month or so.  I’ve finally had a chance to do the major overhaul that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

    What do you think?  Comments? Anything that you think could be better?  I’m all ears.

  • The film, Crazywise, is moving forward in post production!  I’m still doing the odd research, but mostly helping with keeping things running on the post production front and keeping their project manager sane.  There are so many moving parts that it definitely takes a team!  For more information on that film, be sure to check out their Facebook, Twitter and Blog for updates.  The Crazywise team is pretty amazing at keeping their followers up to date on the progress of the film so be sure to check them out – there are some amazing interviews on their blog already and they are always adding more!
  • And last of all, I’ve been working on pitches for several new projects and getting ready to start another promotional film for one of my clients.  However, for now I can’t share the details but I look forward to sharing updates as everything moves forward.

Enough about me today and back to my usual posts later this week.  Happy Tuesday!

Statistics – Motion Graphics Style

It’s been a while since I posted something that inspires me.  I’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of film screenings and getting other projects underway, and thus, had little time to share some of my findings.

So during a break the other day,  I came across this little beauty:

Neil Halloran

Now it may not be the most uplifting of topics but it’s informative, visually interesting and even better, the visuals enhance the message.  Sharing such devastating statistics and making it interesting would have had me puzzling over how I would even begin to tackle this project for all of eternity.  Well probably not, but because I’m tired as it’s the end of the week, it would seem like all of eternity if I attempted it right now.  It certainly wouldn’t turn out as cool.

I have always had an appreciation for good motion graphics but have become even more enamored by the really good stuff since having to do my own for my last project, A Raincoat by Sonja Silver.  I doubt that I’ll be moving towards using motion graphics exclusively in documentary projects in the near future, but I’d sure love to include something like this.

Happy Friday!

Rejuvenation :: Putting it on Paper

There are two things that I’ve found that help when I’m stressed.  1) Working out any frustration with rigorous exercise and 2) writing it down.  Just getting whatever is bothering me off my chest and taking a few minutes for myself makes all the difference.

Now this is going to sounds silly, but the notebook or journal that I write in makes all the difference as to how much I like to write and how it makes me feel when I do it.  Paper quality is a huge thing.  No one likes to write on rough paper that makes the process even more difficult than it needs to be – because if you’re like me, I can’t seem to write fast enough sometimes.  I need smooth paper for quick pen action.

Another thing is if the paper has lines on the page versus a plain sheet.  If the lines are spaced too far apart of too close together, I have no desire to read write on that kind of page.  The page color, the pocket in the back for storing small moments and even the  cover changes the way that I write and the inspiration can be gone in a second if I don’t like my notebook.

My favorite notebook in a long time has smooth plain pages, perfect for sketches, notes and a nice big pocket on the back cover.  It even has a nice elastic band for keeping the pages together when the additional pieces of paper get too much for the spine.  Recently, it’s been something like these notebooks:

Enrico Mazzanti

I love the diversity of locations that people take these notebooks and that the can inspire so much creativity.  They say that Hemingway used these notebooks when penning his latest work.  This video inspires me to go somewhere new and note my observations.  Perhaps the whole point of Moleskine notebooks?

What inspires you to get your stresses out?

Rejuvenation :: Blom & Blom

I love finding new uses for old items laying around the house.  I can’t say that I’m overly skilled at making things look seamlessly renewed (usually they have a “handmade look”) but I like to know that I’m not giving up on something that has plenty of life still in it.  For instance, my old doll house now houses books and my grandpa’s old army trunk is acts as my coffee table.  Family relics repurposed that house old memories of times gone by.

One thing I don’t dabble in reusing (usually) is anything that needs electrical repairs.  Not knowing how to repair lamps etc. is a little off putting.  However, the gentlemen at Blom&Blom have found just the way to do it:


I love the history of each part that the gentlemen at Blom&Blom use in their creations.  The history of Eastern Germany always seems a little bleak, or at least during the years of communist rule, but the fact that these lights can be made into something original yet practical just proves that anything, however old or seemingly mundane can be made into something beautiful.

Goodwill :: Making Charity Beautiful

If you went to the kind of schools that I went to, giving your time back to the community was always a big deal . We had to log a number of hours each semester just to graduate from my high school and in college, many of my PR class projects were for non-profits.  Usually this was in the form of creating promotional pieces in print or video form and the most we got out of it was a grade and the simple satisfaction that we helped someone else.

After years of volunteering at soup kitchens and fundraising for cancer research, the hard truth of charity can come through and make things look a little drab at times.  Because lets face it – charity makes you take a hard look at what is not quite right with the world and trying to change that is often messy. I know that it’s worth it in the end to help those less fortunate than yourself, but just for once it would be nice for it to look nice too.

And that’s what Michael does – he makes charity beautiful:

Cory J Pop

I realize that this is my admiration for designers coming out again, but this is something rare that as someone in the creative industry, it’s nice to see beauty and charity coming together.  I only wish that my work space looked as nice as Michael’s!  Something to aspire to, right?

And with that, I’m off to start prepping for Thanksgiving as I’ve been put in charge of cooking this year.  How did that happen?  Stories of dried out turkey and a messy kitchen most like due for next week.  Wish me luck!