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Blog: Creative Inspiration

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Mike CohenBlog: Creative Inspiration
by on Jan 14, 2012 at 2:51:51 am



Weeks are for work. Weekends are for personal enrichment. Maybe that enrichment is biking, skiing, cooking, cleaning (really?!), hiking, reading, going to the movies or theater, or whatever floats your boat. For me, it is keeping a collection of inspiring activities at the ready so when the moment strikes, I have no shortage of ways to stimulate my mind.

This particular weekend is supposed to be icy cold - nothing out of the ordinary in New England, but with a lot of travel coming up I think I'll lay low, watch some inspiring media and exercise the parts of my brain that are dormant during the conference calls, spreadsheets and HR tasks during the week (more on all of these important subjects in another entry!).

Here's a still life of my options - in high school art class we would have had to paint this, but that's because we didn't have digital cameras in 1988!:



I won't go through every item, as some of these books I have not read yet. Over the past year as I spent countless hours waiting for connections at such hubs of international travel as Charlotte, Nashville, Midway and Denver airports, I found myself in one bookstore after another. They all have displays of self-help and business books. I have gotten into the habit of snapping a picture with my phone of any book I'd like to read, then looking online for a better price. Airports are about the most expensive place to buy anything. Well looking at reviews often convinces me that what is on display isn't always worth the paper it is printed on, but through blogs and podcasts I discover other resources.

One interesting choice is "642 Things to Draw." This book simply has blank pages with descriptions of pictures I can draw. Sure I could have a sketchbook but it is sometimes ok to have a little nudge to move the brain where it might not normally go. And no cheating - if you don't know what an antelope or a violin looks like you have to guess. You should see the chainsaw I drew!


Clay Shirky's book has gotten a lot of press and one I am looking forward to. Not shown is "The Accidental Creative" which I have read a few times and passed along to another person in need of some work/life balance.

"The Writer's Journey. was recommended by a screenplay seminar instructor I met here in CT, and is a good review of the hero's journey as used by countless writers of both books and movies. Once you read it you say to yourself, "aha, George Lucas thinks he's clever doesn't he!" But in reality, as I formulate stories for half-written screenplays it is a handy reference.

In the lower right, speaking of King George, is "Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution." This is one of my all time favorite reads.


The book starts with a concise but useful story of Lucas, Copolla and the breakout from Hollywood of these two filmmakers, the creation of ILM, eventually of Pixar and early digital animation, nonlinear editing up to more recent advances in CGI, and how Lucas was driving a lot of the innovation. Yeah we all know this right? But this book is full of anecdotes and a look back at how some of our favorite films were made. On my recent trip to San Francisco I went looking for the warehouse that housed the original American Zoetrope studios, only to find a high-rise condominium tower. So much for historical preservation!

Here are a couple snapshots of the interior:

That's Ben Burtt doing sound effects editing on Star Wars in the basement of George Lucas' original home studio.

And here are some pioneers of the first CG animation:


And speaking of our favorite directors, while I don't subscribe, this anniversary edition of DGA quarterly has some great brief interviews with a host of directors:


Since Spielberg doesn't do DVD commentaries, this visual description of the Private Ryan opening sequence is a fascinating read:


The movies shown are three of my favorites for their technical mastery as well as their longevity. Each from a different era in filmmaking, each was innovative and a challenge to the filmmakers. How fitting that the current issue of Creative COW has Douglas Trumbull on the cover - a living legend of filmmaking innovation. http://newsletters.creativecow.net/newsletters/2011/11-29/index.html



So why the food products? Digestive biscuits, tomato bisque and porridge are three comfort foods perfect for a cold wintry weekend spent feeding my mind - might as well feed my stomach too!

Well, thanks for reading...I've got some reading of my own to do!

Mike Cohen

PS - at least one other member of my household is interested in my copy of Creative COW magazine - get your own!





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Rashmi PadhiRe: Creative Inspiration
by on Jan 16, 2012 at 6:25:59 am

It's really enriching! Like your blog and way of writing.


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Scott RobertsRe: Creative Inspiration
by on Jan 16, 2012 at 4:46:37 pm

Not to sound disgusting, but "642 Things to Draw" sounds like the perfect book to put my bathroom (I get a lot of reading/thinking done in there, OK I'll stop talking). Only $10 on amazon! Thanks for informing me of its existence.


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Mike CohenRe: Creative Inspiration
by on Jan 16, 2012 at 7:57:26 pm

[Scott Roberts] "Not to sound disgusting, but"

You're talking to the king of disgusting!

Mike


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