Could Our Inherent Empathic Nature Save the World?

Do you ever wonder how humankind will continue to survive on this planet with all the awful things going on? In this 10 minute talk, Jeremy Rifkin introduces us to empathy, how it works, how we are hardwired to have it, and how it could potentially save the world as technology continues to further the connection between us and everyone else around the world (and thus further our empathic concern for them).

If you want to feel a little more hopeful about the world this morning and have a few wonderful a-ha moments, definitely watch this video!

PS- Another amazing thing you learn in this film… there really were two people, a man and a woman, that started our entire race…Adam and Eve??!

PPS- I also think this is an excellent argument for why socially responsible businesses are the future of our economy– people want to care and connect and will buy products that help them do that and will respect companies that they feel share those values.

Pixar Behind-the-Scenes

I won’t beat around the bush, this whole post is an excuse to show this behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar from the New York Times. I am totally fascinated by animated movies. That may sound random, given that it doesn’t have a lot to do with the other interests I express on this blog, but I am so amazed by how the creators of animated movies have to think up and create an entire world from top-to-bottom!

As they say in the film, in a normal movie, if you have a scene in a grocery story, you just go out and scout the perfect grocery store. In an animated film, you have to create the whole thing from scratch! Even all the little products sitting on the shelves!

Thinking about it puts my mind on the exact same loop as the part in Inception when they talk about how your mind creates buildings and cities etc. in your dreams.

So, I totally loved this little preview into the world of Pixar, creators of my favorite animated movie I’ve seen yet– Ratatouille. The kitchen design alone was enough to make me fall in love (see above). The dozens of black and brass La Cornue ranges (oh the dreaming that animation allows… in real life that would be like $300,000+ worth of ranges!), the infinite copper pots and pans, the black and white tile floor… it’s spot on!

Highlights: That Steve Jobs oversaw the design of the Pixar building and “designed it for forced collisions of people; he felt best meetings were meetings that happened spontaneously in the hallway.” The fact that they cast animators like hollywood casts actors, depending on their strengths and style. The speakeasy behind a false bookshelf with guest book– I want one of those in my house someday.

PS- If you are as fascinated by animation as I am, check out Pixar’s website, they have great little factoids about the films, like these ones below:

Project7 Coffee: “Brew for a Better World”

“How can a cup of coffee change the world?”  For each cup of coffee you buy from Project7, you contribute to one of seven causes.  Just by buying what you already buy, from a different company, you can make a difference.  Check out the video, it’s awesomely done.
LOVE this concept.  In fact, we’re in the process of working on something like this ourselves, but I can’t give anything away yet… pretty exciting!

Must See >> Where Good Ideas Come From

“Chance favors the connected mind.”

Must See >> What Motivates Us

Surprising material about what actually incentivizes us, particularly at work (hint: it’s not just money), animated in that addictively watchable style from the people at RSA Animate.

Jay-Z’s "Hello Brooklyn"

 Sometimes when I really like something straight away upon encountering it, all eloquence and diligently learned SAT vocab words suddenly seem far out of reach, and all I can think of are childish descriptors like “awesomeness.”  I feel (hope) that if I thought about it longer, the analytical side of my brain would kick in and help me describe why I find something worthy of being called awesomeness, but for this Jay-Z video, I think awesomeness is just about right.  So take my word for it and check out the awesomeness.

This video is not the official music video, but rather an independent “tribute” to Jay-Z, Brooklyn, and New York by Greg Solenstrom, which actually in a way makes it even cooler, knowing that this guy produced this video pretty much for fun (ok, and maybe self-promotion) without any direction from the Jay-Z team.  Although I will say that before I knew it was independently done, and I thought it was Jay-Z’s idea, I was like, “Wow, Jay-Z is even cooler than I thought!” Alas.
Solenstrom uses the font Akzidenz Grotesk (the precursor to Helvetica), which, as the font on MTA subway map designed in the late 60′s (and still used today) by Massimo Vignelli, seems a perfect choice, along with tons of still images of Brooklyn treated with the Vanishing Point effect in Photoshop and After Effects to animate the video.

The above video is a non-traditional but fascinating “making of”– meaning it will not teach you how to create a video like this, but rather will boggle your mind and convince you that you could never learn how to do this.  Still, despite the mind-boggling, it’s worth checking out for the appreciation of the video and this guy’s talent that it will give you.  I really had no idea how much work it would take to create a video like this.

A Teachable Moment >> Are you past, present, or future-oriented?

Just discovered this organization, the RSA, self-described “cradle of enlightenment,” has this series called RSA Animate, where they illustrate and animate the talks they have sponsored.  I feel like I could sit down and watch about twenty of these in a row… I’ve already watched three, and it was very hard to decide which one to share here (I’ll have to post more later).

This one is a very interesting 10 minute lecture + animation about how we perceive time.  Apparently, there are six different types of people with regards to how we perceive time, and this affects our work, health, and well-being.

Did you know that the closer people live to the equator, the more present-oriented they are because the seasons don’t change very much throughout the year, so there is a continuing perception of sameness all the time?  I can say as a non-local living in SB, I think that’s true!!  People are never in a hurry and it’s sort of a joke how everyone comments on how nice life is here all the time.
Also, I was totally captivated by this guy’s drawings and the overall animation!  I was totally sucked in by wanting to see how he would illustrate the lecturer’s message… watch it for one minute and I bet you’ll be hooked.
[Fresh Creation]

Revisiting >> Fantastic Mr. Fox

Finally saw Fantastic Mr. Fox!  And it did not disappoint.  Think of the brilliance and detail of Wes Anderson’s directing style mixed with the wit and nostalgia of Roald Dahl’s writing, plus the charm of stop-motion animation, and you can imagine what a wonderful film this results in.

So anyway, now that I’ve seen it, I went back and watched these making-of videos again.  The one at top I’ve already posted once, but I think it’s worth watching again.  I’m just amazed at the detail and intricacy of how all the sets, props, and characters were created, shot, and animated.

There’s no way you can watch these and not want to see the film.

Does this convince you Wes Anderson is a genius or what?

Stop-motion animation!  Amazing!  24 stills for every second of film!  Also, they way they recorded the voices is pretty impressive… usually for animation work, actors just sit in a studio and read the lines… not for a Wes Anderson film!

They photographed every piece of furniture in Dahl’s house and created a miniature of it!

Ok now I want to watch it all over again.

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