Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ephemera - the ultimate film graphics resource

One of the most fascinating innovations of web culture is the ability to resuscitate vintage designs and images. These vintage images are sometimes referred to as ephemera (lasting only for a brief time) and they are an amazing resource for any filmmaker looking for materials and inspiration to add to their cannonry of useful graphics.

The internet has allowed for artifact ephemera to be scanned and shared as electronic images to be used by designers, students, artists and anyone else that wants access to a world of CopyLeft images.

Adding your own ephemera to the web's array of collected imagery is enjoyable. When I was in second or third year university I had a very satisfying time scanning cut-ups from old documents and using them as frames for my websites. One of my earliest ventures into using ephemera was putting together the elements of an hypertext story using HyperCard. In film I have used these graphics for creating credits and even used them as part of the set design

Ephemera will have rich details that you may want to preserve with the ink and paper. What type of paper are you scanning, is it parchment, fine-line, line and wash, mounting board, backing board? 

You can enlarge smaller images without losing resolution and also bring prominence to all those ink bleeds, grains, and scuffs that make ephemera so enchanting.

Here is some free scanning software for those wanting tools used by professionals and hobbyists. These are Windows only programs.



I have also included in this post below some links to ephemera pages on the net. They are all terrific resources for browsing the unusual and the unique. I have provided a teaser image from each site so you get the gist of what they have. Happy treasure hunting.

Vintage Printable

Travel Brochure Graphics


Using these public domain images to create new concepts is a productive way of 
redefining the image - and for the amateur filmmaker becomes a veritable treasure trove. A helpful way to think about how these vintage prints can be used, especially when taking only parts of their sum, can be found in the development of logograms.  

Logo spoofs as created by designer Mario Amaya. Check out his Blog here.

When context and white space come together combined we are able to visually communicate ideas and concepts, with new meanings. Design is not just making pretty shapes (as Colin Wheildon might say) but communicating with a sometimes abstracted orthography. 

There was an interesting exercise that was conducted by Dave Pescod, a senior lecturer in Graphic Design. The name of the exercise was called 'Type as Image' and it particularly focused on assisting Graphic Design students to "explore language in visual and literary form, and to understand better how each form articulates itself and interacts to develop and affect ideas." Just as we should be always 'playing' around with form concerning our lexical priming, design re-writing is essential for progressing our visual perceptive repertoire.

Ideograms are words, logograms or morphemes that represent ideas. They contain contextual information that acts as signifiers for the viewer. They play around with leading, kerning and tracking in order to spatially give meaning to the micro white space within the image or by adjusting the macro white space to give meaning to the image in its entirety. The steadfast Gestalt.

Here are some Ideograms used in the world of commercial produce and design.

The Versace symbol of Medusa represents the Goddess.

Advertising Logo, as designed by Paul Rand. Who also designed IBM's powerful and bold striped Typeface.

The Logo to the famous Volkswagen has an interesting history. You can read about it here.

The progression of the Sony logo over-time. You can catch some of its history on the Sony site.

The Google logo intially designed using Gimp by Sergy Brin.

The Twinings typface is the oldest logo in continuous use in the world.

The Chupa Chup logo designed by none other then Salvador Dali in 1969.

The Bluetooth Logo is a bind rune (ligature of two runic symbols) Hagall and Berkanan.

The Warner Brother's logo representing strength, power and supremacy.

As our ideogram scripts evolve, we are becoming more and more conversant. Already new generations have some form of fluency in it. Much more so than my generation who are still providing a running commentary alongside it, but I've noticed that young kids will see something like this ...

And select it for a function implicit within their visual lexicon. Without hesitation or needing to figure out what they want to do with it. Without displaying the obvious here on my Blog, new generations will see a big yellow 'M' and work out if they want to eat or not eat, see a round red button with cursive white letters and work out if they are thirsty or not thirsty. If they want to switch on an electronic device, they simply look for this symbol ...

If that symbol is not there, they look for a similar one, whereas, my generation would look for some form of button or switch in a familiar vicinity or place rather than the actual ideogram itself. I've lost count of the amount of times I've been searching in the right area not finding what I'm looking for and my fourteen year old boy points out to me what I've missed, which has usually been right before my eyes the whole time, I just hadn't translated or understood the ideogram that would enable me to continue with what I needed to do.

Feed me, Seymour!


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Further reading ...

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