Working with Jigsaw

A complete riot. I was crying by the end. Enjoy!

Splitscreen: A Love Story

Working at Vimeo, there’s no shortage of Staff Picks to go through and watch in the archives. This was Staff Picked originally in 2011, but I just happened across it today!James W Griffiths is the director of this short, and I don’t have much else to share other than the video description:

Shot entirely on the Nokia N8 mobile phone. Winner of the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.

For context the N8 was released 9 years ago. It had a 12.1 megapixel resolution which was unheard of at the time. But also, not great when we’ve been spoiled 4K+ resolutions as of lately. It also had a 16GB SSD, and a SD memory card slot.

It’s extraordinary and really wonderful what we can achieve around such simple medium constraints.

Mitski : A Pearl

From the video description:

This music video was initially created on the computer using several pieces of 3D animation software. After the digital version was finalized, all 1,480 frames of the video were then individually printed using ink jet printers. Once an image was printed, it was then painted, drawn, and illustrated on top of using traditional animation techniques. Lastly, the newly illustrated frames were scanned back into the computer and sequenced into the final film.

This animation film is another work of art from the Brooklyn studio, Art Camp. Ravishing, delicious and ambitious — just a few words to describe just how amazing this animation is. The style, the process, and the music pairing are a match made in heaven.

It’s just so fucking good.

Neighborhood Golf Association

From the video description:

For the past 10 years, street photographer Patrick Barr aka Tiger Hood has become a local legend known for bringing golf to the streets of NYC. It’s a game that requires only three items: a golf club, a newspaper-stuffed milk carton, and a crate. What was initially just a way for Barr to pass time has gained traction from major news outlets and celebrities on a global scale. However, street golf seems to overshadow his true passion… photography. Barr’s archive consists of thousands of mind blowing film photographs of NYC from the 1990’s to 2000’s. His goal was to preserve a time and place that he predicted would dissolve in the coming years. With his archive as evidence, he predicted correctly.

Spectacular. I love stuff like this. I’ve personally never witnessed street golf in the city, but eagerly await my chance to take a swing if I ever spot Barr on the putting green. Amazing photography.

Director and Producer, Nicolas Heller is hosting a screening of the documentary (RSVP here), at Project Farmhouse on March 2nd.

Exit 12: Moved by War

A remarkable and moving Staff Pick. Directed by Staff Pick creative alumni, Even/Odd and Mohammad Gorjestani and commissioned by Square, Inc.

If you ask me, dance is the perfect medium to capture, distill and convey the depth of tragedy, complexity and sadness of war and loss. I just love this quote from Román Baca, the dance company director of Exit 12:

Every story is not being told, and every voice is not being heard. Veterans are emboldened when they are able to share their lives not only with other veterans but other people.

That is so very true. I’m happy to see Baca chasing his dream. Moreover, I’m happy to veterans helping each other, and inviting us into the wrinkles of this complex catharsis that we can all heal from.

You can read more about this Staff Pick at the Vimeo Blog. Follow the Exit 12 dance company online here.

Arena

A film from Páraic McGloughlin. His short-film was voted Best of the Month earlier this year. While it’s not my favorite video for 2018, it really stood out. From the video’s description:

A brief look at the earth from above, based on the shapes we make, the game of life, our playing ground – Arena.

Created using Google Earth imagery.

A superb interview is available as well from the site, Directors Notes.

Finally, it’s 2019

Looking back on 2018, I haven’t been this happy, or this productive in a very long time. It feels good to reflect on this past year. By comparison, when 2017 drew to a close, I came to the conclusion that it was a difficult year. It ended with mixed feelings of nostalgia, regret, and a lot of uncertainty.

2018 was a totally different ballgame though. I began the year with two very simple goals in mind:

  • Skill building
  • Health

That’s it. Underpromise and over-deliver 😁

I busted my ass at work (at the time, I was working for an ad agency). I learned lot’s of things there, (and re-learned even more outside of work hours). Let me tell you right now, there are merits to skipping happy hour with your co-workers and going home to work on side-projects (or just going home to relax).

I finally picked up React (and Typescript for that matter). Spent a lot of time with Shopify’s tools (for a side-project), went back to Ruby for a bit and spent a considerable amount of time with tried-and-true PHP.

While on the subject of PHP — I joined Vimeo full-time, as a Front-end Developer. Thanks to amazing and open environment here, I learned even more regarding React, Git best practices, and how to write good PRs. As a bonus, I became a better Designer — mainly via feedback and collaboration. The tried-and-true iterative design process has been missing from my work-life since college, and it feels good to be part of a team that treats design as a first-class citizen. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about Vimeo as time goes on.

I focused most of my energies on mental health, which I recommend to anyone and everyone for the year 2019. Taking time to relax more did wonders (although leaving the “Ad World” really did most of the leg work here, I do not miss the hours or the pressure). Exercising more self-control with screen-time when I’m off work was a big one for me too. I tried cutting back on video games as well (even if I wasn’t entirely successful with that, it is for the better).

I’ve also begun to switch gears in my morning/evening commute routine too. Listening to more audiobooks than news or podcasts has been a mostly positive thing. Mainly because when commuting home in the evening, it can be really stressful. Nothing is more dreadful than a packed, hot, humid subway car, full of hundreds of sighs and negativity as millions of New Yorkers head home after a long day in the office. For whatever reason, there’s something very soothing about audiobooks, even at the height of the evening rush-hour.

Which leads me to my running routine. However irregular the days may have been, I ran more in 2018 than the year before, which is good I suppose. On the days I did decide to run, I wouldn’t run further than 2 miles at the most. My regret for 2018 is that I probably should be doing more than just running. Perhaps a more varied selection of cardio that involves my other limbs like swimming, rowing, or something.

So yeah, 2018 was a pretty good year for my personal goals. But I have so much more in my life than just myself.

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Love you babe ✨😘

A post shared by Stephen Petrey (@smpetrey) on

My girlfriend, and best friend, Leah Constantine (@dumbcurator) joined The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a highly prestigious institution of art and history. But a week before that, in May of 2018 she graduated from The Pratt Institute School of Information’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science. Simply put, Leah’s amazing. Here’s her website.

In 2018, we didn’t travel as much as we would have liked. And that’s okay. For the most part, we stayed in NYC all year. I travelled to Texas for my step-father’s birthday and I was happy I did, because we skipped Thanksgiving with our families to save money. It panned out well for us, because for one, we did another road-trip to Texas for Christmas. And for two, we wanted to begin saving money for trips elsewhere for 2019. 

Also, there was a lot of really good movies I watched in 2018!

All in all, 2018 was a fantastic year of growth for my girlfriend and I — honestly can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this year. For 2019, I’m going to focus on several things:

  • Focus on fitness and continue to monitor my health
  • Eat better (less meat, more greens)
  • Travel when possible
  • Make a dent in my student loans
  • Maintain one side-project at a time (instead of say 3 or 4, just keep it simple for goodness sake)
  • Read more books

See you next year!

See the Last 10 Branches You Worked On in Git

As part of my ongoing effort to become more effective at Git, I stumbled into an interesting problem. At Vimeo, we have a lot of branches named after issues reported in Jira. Some branches take on the name of the project or component or a very specific fix. We also have branches that don’t follow naming-conventions at all. It happens. Anyways, somedays, I forget the name of the branches I’ve worked on, say yesterday. Other times, I forgot what work I did on which branch. I grew tired of tab-switching between my terminal and Jira or Github to go and find my work history. I don’t need to see my commits, I just need to see a list of recent branches.

So, I began googling around the web, and came across this post. It’s a good solution I think, David Walsh seems to agree too. Basically, it lists the most recent branches you’ve worked on. But ideally, I’d rather opt for an alias in my .bashrc. I don’t want to clutter up my .gitconfig. That’s, just like my opinion man. Without further ado, here’s my alias in my .bashrc:

# ~/.bashrc

alias recent-branches="git for-each-ref --sort=-committerdate --count=10 --format='%(refname:short)' refs/heads/"

Stupid simple, readable and short. Just the way I like it. There are of course, more complex solutions to this simple problem. But I’m not a huge fan of those longwinded solutions. Anyways, when I run the recent-branches alias in my terminal:

➜  example-repo git:(feature-pages) recent-branches
nav-bar-component-fix
GH-48
features-pages
FR-47
XR-73
VP-71
new-privacy-policy-page
VP-70
VP-49
GH-46

Nifty huh? As you can see, the alias command is really just one long git command. It takes a count=10 flag. So if you need to see more branches in your history, just inflate the value accordingly. Enjoy! ✌️

The Mauritania Railway: Backbone of the Sahara

This train is nearly 3-kilometers in length. It’s among one of the longest and heaviest in the world.

Rummaging through old Vimeo Staff Picks during some downtime this morning, I came across this beautiful short. Miguel de Olaso, (aka Macgregor), is a Spanish filmmaker who typically specializes in high-speed racing filmography, commercials and short-films.

He has a knack for the unique camera movements and well-paced storytelling. I have a deep fascination and love for locomotives and foreign lands — so naturally this film was an absolute treat for the eyes.

Despite being rich in natural resources such as iron, gold and copper, Mauritania maintains a severely depressed GDP. Their primary transportation network is a single railway that pretty much dissects their country (across a portion of the Sahara that borders several other countries). In many ways, Mauritania’s economic future seems dim. But in other respects, it represents the tenacity of a growing, natural resource-rich nation and their relationship with their lifeline — The Mauritania Railway.

You can read more about the making of this short, here. Absolutely nuts. Enjoy!

I’m Joining Vimeo

Life update! I’ll be joining Vimeo as a Front-end Developer. I’ve dedicated my career to building websites, so needless to say I’m super excited!

I’m an amateur videographer and photography hobbyist at best, but I’m a huge advocate for filmmakers. I regularly write about neat videos I come across on the web. I’ve been a user of Vimeo for a long time. So, for the first time, (in a very long time) I’m very excited to be joining a company I believe in. A company whose products are constantly improving, and inspire millions to upload their films for the world to see. Furthermore, Vimeo’s Pro, Business and Live Tools are simply one-of-a-kind. If you’re into collaboration and video editing, it’s worth checking out.

I can’t wait to see what comes next for Vimeo. I’m even more excited to grow alongside such an amazing organization. ✌️

The Seashore Library

There is an overwhelming sensation of solitude that overcomes you when you peer deep into the ocean from a solemn place. It’s soothing to ponder life’s mysteries by the seashore during a calm season. I’d venture to say there are more merits to visiting a beach in the offseason as well, devoid of visitors would make for a compelling place to think. I recommend it to anyone seeking solace or contemplation.

Gong Dong, the founder of Vector Architects designed an incredible library marvel that sits just above the northeastern shoreline of Nandaihe in Qinhuangdao, China. It’s a quickly growing prefecture-level port city (meaning it’s not as large as a sprawling province and ranks above county administrative status). We can expect more architectural marvels to be built here as the city continues to grow.

The film below illustrates the architectural vision for the library (there are English subtitles available). In the film, Dong states he was initially inspired by a print of an Andrew Wyeth painting, an American artist who regularly explores solitude and nature (among other complex themes).

Wyeth’s career began as a realist, and he was later influenced by impressionistic works. He considered himself to be an abstractionist, which is apt, considering his dreamlike scenes and ethereal intimacy with the land and sea. His works often leave you feeling like you’re witnessing a simulation. There’s certain spiritual relationship with the unspoken in his paintings — captivating the emotion of the solitary subject.

You can see more photographs of The Seashore Library below, or visit ArchDaily for the complete archive of photos.

Greenpeace Ecosystem

Elliot Lim is a freelance director, designer, and animator based in the Bay Area. Elliot has a wide and varied resumé of work (some notables include HBO, FX, AT&T, and Jarritos).

While jumping around a bit on Vimeo this morning, I found some of his handiwork. This short in particular was completed for Greenpeace was absolutely astounding. Lim has a beautiful hand in illustration styles, motion, and direction. Really top-notch stuff. Enjoy.

Farewell – ETAOIN SHRDLU

The entire process of breaking a story and getting it to print is just bonkers. It’s hard to fathom making such deadlines today, let alone 40 years ago.

Over the July 4th weekend of 1978, the New York Times switched from a Linotype typesetting process to phototypesetting (or cold-typesetting). Filmmakers Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss were there to document the end of an era for the historic paper. Amidst a still-looming print deadline, and rigid schedule to switch to an entirely modern process the next day — the entire process feels like total anarchy. With minutes to spare, they make the deadline.

As for the mystical etaoin shrdlu, it’s a non-sensical phrase generated by the typesetter, running their fingers vertically along the Lintotype keys. It was used as a signal to editors that a known mistake was made by the operator. Because operations had to move quickly, it was common to see etaoin shrdlu make it into products such as this one from a 1903 edition of The New York Times.

From the film’s description:

A film created by Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss documenting the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times. This film shows the entire newspaper production process from hot-metal typesetting to creating stereo moulds to high-speed press operation. At the end of the film, the new typesetting and photographic production process is shown in contrast to the old ways.

There are interviews with workers at NYT that are for and against the new technology. In fact, one typesetter is retiring on this final day as he does not want to learn the new process and technology.

This is the first time the film has ever been available in HD from the original 16mm master film.

See more printing, journalism, and typographic-related films at: printingfilms.com

I have so much respect for these hot metal typesetters, editors, and journalists. This was a tough-as-nails job. They crafted an entire process around the machine’s unforgiving mechanical problems to ensure a daily paper was possible.

It’s really something to behold. The Linotype was a marvelous (and very dangerous machine) feat of mechanical engineering but by the late 1970’s it was time to say goodbye as the digital age was upon us. We’ve come a long way.

Further Reading

99 Locations of New York

I’ve been a New Yorker for about 2 years now, and while I’ve barely scratched the surface exploring this town — it is most certainly replete with annoyance, anxiety, humor, mystery, romance and among other things, meditation. The geography of sounds here are boundless and seemingly amorphous from week-to-week.

Commercial and Music Video Director Menzkie , shot this short in 2014 and I’ve honestly been looking for a film that communicates and describes what it feels like living here. I think this is it. It’s an old Staff Pick, but I thought it was worth re-sharing.

I love the sound design. It is pretty apparent it’s a mix of recordings and SFX. But it totally captivated me. Good stuff.

Thoughts on IGTV

Video is a huge driving force on this planet.

We’ve had so many huge moments in history captured by it. The moon landing, the Challenger Disaster, OKGO’s Treadmill Music Video, and of course 9/11. Which in its own right was of huge historical significance — it was probably the most-watched event in history thanks to the web. So many servers melted that day serving live-video to hundreds of millions of people across the globe, check out the March 2018 episode of The Talk Show and you’ll get a better sense of what I mean.

So let’s dive into this news. Instagram (or should I say Facebook?) is taking a gamble on long-form video. There’s been no shortage of contenders, from Beme to Portal to the more well-known, You’veTube and of course Vimeo.

From Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder & CEO of Instagram:

IGTV is different in a few ways. First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.

[…]

Also like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel.

I don’t think this is a risky move at all, nor a creative one from Instagram. But, everything the team at Instagram has done in the past 5 years has been top-rate. Their engineers are smart and calculated and know how to scale a product with such finesse, it really is incredible to behold. I’m actually a little shocked they didn’t launch with 2 or 3-hour video capability.

That being said, Instagram is getting into long-form video hosting, not because they want to but because they have to. For one, if they don’t compete, Instagram loses traffic to You’veTube. They want to change that. For two, it’s pretty evident people are re-posting content on Instagram. It’s annoying, it’s not the original content, and no one like being phished for likes.

There’s a special hell for people who enjoyed re-posting content verbatim or claiming it as their own. Or worse, when people sue creators claiming defamation when in reality, it’s Fair Use.

I think IGTV presents an interesting value for the Instagram product. It’s the same reason You’veTube introduced You’veTube Music. It’s all about directing audiences to the proper product for use. Without You’veTube Music, regular You’veTube videos would be getting wildly popular plays while the original music creators would be losing out on the metrics. I suppose there are too many slime videos on Instagram, perhaps there will be a slime video channel on IGTV? Fingers-crossed there is because I’m getting sick of seeing all the weird content on the Explore tab.

Food for thought from Marques Brownlee:

It’s clear that IGTV is a solution designed to solve a problem for original content creators. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

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