The return of Polaroid
Chosen by James Frost, director
When in early 2008 Polaroid announced it was abandoning instant photography, I felt utterly depressed. As long as I can remember, Polaroid pictures have been a part of my life. We Frosts used to document family Christmasses with my dad’s SX-70. I used Land Cameras in college and both SX-70/600 and Land Cameras in my job for either lighting references or for that valuable snap of a set-up or quick souvenir moment of your crew etc…. After my son was born the first photograph of him at home was a Polaroid.
When the news broke, I felt like I’d lost a good friend. Then I heard about Florian Kaps, an Austrian artist and businessman. I was already a contributor to his website (polanoid.net) which is attempting to become the world’s largest Polaroid archive, but upon hearing he had gone a step further and purchased the old equipment from the Polaroid factory in The Netherlands, partnered key Polaroid employees and Ilford the film manufacturer, and launched The Impossible Project to bring Polaroid back, I was filled with excitement and hope. This year is the year I’m hoping to be reunited with my friend, and I can’t wait.
Chosen by Jeremy Leslie, magazine designer and magCulture founder
I remember plugging my new 56k modem into my Apple Classic II and going online for the first time. This was in the mid-90s when a home internet connection was rare and there was no Google to help navigate. The first thing to do was download the only available browser, Mosaic, and start exploring the ‘information superhighway’.
What did I find in my travels? Raw HTML text in default fonts presented in black and white, punctuated with the occasional postage stamp-sized image. Colour was reserved for identifying hyperlinks. Could this ever go mainstream?
Zoom forward 15 years and we all know that’s exactly what’s happened. The web is central to most businesses and many homes. On its pages, we take many design elements – colour, images and animations, for example – for granted.
Yet despite all these improvements those same default fonts – Arial, Times, Georgia etc – remain central to the online visual experience. Yes, you can add logos and headlines as graphic images, but that’s impractical for longer runs of text that rely on HTML to be searchable and updatable. Such text needs font files present on the end-user machine in order to render a typeface, and until recently web designers have been limited to that common set of fonts regarded as universally available.
At last, though, that limitation is beginning to break down. The third iteration of the CSS rules introduced the @font-face rule, and all major browsers now support it.
What @font-face lets the designer do is specify and licence a chosen font, which is downloaded from the web server in a similar fashion to graphics and Flash movies. Not only does this provide a broader choice of font, but also gives better control of the font, with properties such as letter-spacing – long available to print designers – now specifiable for the web.
The final hurdle involves overcoming the risks of font piracy inherent in making font data so freely available for download. This is now being resolved, with start-up TypeKit providing a licencing platform for foundries including FontFont and Underware. Other foundries, including Peter Bil’ak’s Typotheque, have introduced their own technology to make their faces available to web designers. It’s early days for this new technology but I’m looking forward to far more sophisticated online typography over the next few years.
graphichug.com (to see @font-face in action)
Chosen by Mike Woods, head of digital, Framestore
Whether or not your TV is HD ready is fast becoming something of an outmoded concern. James Cameron’s hugely impressive-looking Avatar feature film has got the world excited about ‘stereoscopic 3D’ viewing. Post-production companies both big and small are a-buzz with talk of stereoscopic 3d projects, manufacturers are making high-end cameras to shoot 3D with – while others, including Sony, are working on the hardware (tv sets and special glasses, see right) to enable 3D viewing in our homes. US firm Spatial View is already producing lenticular kits that enable users to view specially formatted stereoscopic 3D projects on their iPhones without the need for special glasses.
Meanwhile, media companies are working out not only how they can deliver 3D content to us all, but also what kind of content we might want to view in 3D. Producing stereoscopic content costs a reported 40% more than bog standard 2D content so it’s unlikely that every single music video or tv ad will utilise the technology just yet. However, reformatting 2D films, music videos and commercials and making them 3D is not only possible but happening already. Regardless of whether or not you want to watch an old classic such as Casablanca in 3D, stereoscopic 3D is coming. Right out of every screen imaginable, straight at you.
“3D has to be seen to be believed,” says Framestore’s head of digital Mike Woods. “Sky is about to change football forever with its 3D coverage. This is the direction of 3D for me. Large event-driven moments. Football, X Factor, gigs, feature films – anything that is an ‘experience’ will be invigorated with 3D coverage. We’ve started with the hardest project first. Avatar is a technical masterpiece, and the steep learning curve has left us well equipped to deal with any CG/post-3D scenario. 3D may have been faddy in the past, but it is here to stay this time.”
Chosen by Flo Heiss, creative director, Dare
“Imagine a world with free wireless broadband connections. Everywhere. uk provider The Cloud o≠ers a subscription-based Wi-Fi service. But what if you could speak for free on your phone, listen to music for free, watch films for free? Everything digital will be free. Real experiences, however, will become very expensive.”