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posted : 2005.Jun.03 @ 12.04am
••• | Who in god's face does this Phongsonious creature think he is anyways?

We travelled the circuitous paths of the metaverse far and wide before being pulled though the Poxin anomaly and into shared space and purpose. His unique vision has brought much goodness to the pod: A custom site with all of the Flash , the homepage portal linkbase, the masterful code of Dan Clegg, a redefining of the pod concept and the creation of the Fora.

Many speculate as to the nature of the mysterious Phong. So, we shall endeavor unfold a bit of the astro-riddle here...

Greetings, Sir ~
Thanks for dropping by. Infinite thanks and respect.
We were hoping you had the time to answer a few questions.









posted : 2005.Jun.09 @ 2.57am

»When and how was astro:phong born?

Every day when I was 14 years old, following the mundane patterns of middle-school, a creative vibration bubbling inside my mind had to release itself late into the midnight hours through the form of digital creations. Back then it was a totally gross vibration of Endopod and I rocking out, rendering imagery powered by chocolate milk and sugar as our neurons shook to the loud vibrations of German techno. All the vigor of our youth was channeled through mice and keyboards.

Then I saved up all my money for over a year, mowing the neighbor’s lawn, to buy my little self a new computer so I wouldn’t have to spend hours waiting between POV-Ray renders on my 33MHz 468. Following the delivery of my new little 233MHz machine, I quit my lawn mowing and thousands of optically stimulating hours were spent, between ritualistic Quaking, to learn the new digital web tools that were barely emerging. It was an exciting time riding the fresh edge of waves of the internet from my parent’s basement.

A year later one particular frood by the name of Brad Haima came along and gave me a job doing random graphic design, which continually challenged and grounded my astro trip with a pragmatic approach balancing the podular hax0r fantasy with a universal aesthetic and usability.

The actual term astro:phong dawned while watching Toy Story for the eternaleth time. I distinctly remember the moment when Woody and the crew are lost in a 50s styled diner, in some form of dazed haste. Right around the point where the green alien is tripping out on his multitude, Woody says: “Astro…turf!

Though instead of turf, I noticed a shiny shine across his face and thought phong, which is a rendering method for attaining that quality of highlight- and so it began known as such.

»What is so compelling about working with Flash?

Flash is great because of it’s podular nature. Practically every computer is connected to the internet and every web browser comes standard with flash, so the universal accessibility and recursive power of the platform feels refreshingly spontaneous. Anything I make right now can be immediately propagated over the web, and will look practically the same on any computer it’s loaded on.

It has a long ways to go as a tool for broadcast animation, and could be made to use the processor more efficiently, take advantage of openGL, etc, though regardless it is fantastic and relatively easy to use for a wide range of web productions.


»When you are animating for video work what is your application flow?

The flow changes dramatically depending on the requirements of each project. At times, imagery moves through a digital camera, into Photoshop to be touched up, recomposed, cut up, and brought into Flash, Aftereffects or 3dsmax for animation. Almost every shot I finish goes through Aftereffects for final curves and color adjustment.

I’m actually starting to use Aftereffects for some still image work, due to it’s wealth of plugins and totally modular effect processing. It’s a very flexible system.

Sometimes Flash work with action scripting flows through Director to be exported as QuickTime files, which are then composited and cleaned up with Aftereffects, mapped into a scene in 3dstudio, the renders of which are loaded back into Aftereffects to be finalized. Then the shots are loaded into a Mac with Final Cut Pro for editing.

Occasionally when we need renders fast, we upload them to respower.com, an online render farm with ~650 networked computers running a variety of 3d apps. If a sequence has 400 frames, for instance, this render farm splits it up onto 400 computers, and so each system only has to render one frame. It might take my computer over a day to render all those frames, during which that time it can’t be used. Though with Respower, in the time it takes to render just one frame they’re all done and waiting to be downloaded.

Video work really flows in all directions. I generally keep in mind an abstraction of all the things I know can be done with any program, and creation is dreamt up within these practically limitless boundaries. Test shots are composed, and an efficient flow is established before approaching a fat project, though most of the time it’s just an orgy of experimentation- flying by the seat of my pants.


»What is the nature of your relationship with GNN?

I often dwell in the GNN Bunker in Berkeley, CA doing things from animation and art direction on music videos to t-shirt designs to flash animation for the website.

Stephen, Ian, Josh and Anthony, the founding members of GNN, are each real froods who know where their towels are at all times- thus working with them is both grounded and thoroughly stimulating.

My contributions are not to be confused with that of Sons of Stolen, who design and program the vast website. I’m mostly on the motiongraphic end of things, meditating in the bunker and ritualistically cultivating the guerrilla aesthetic.


»So what's next for you?

A few more music video animation projects involving collaborative experimentation with new artists to establish a higher level of flow for the manifestation and wide distribution of enlightening media.

I’ve been investing loads of thought processes to cognize unlikely ways to use film, video games and animation to propagate the eternal wisdom of the existence- the universal wisdom, beyond religion, which brings harmony to all paradigms. How to use moving images, archetypal characters people can identify with in a narrative to create deep harmony and instill insight with uncanny efficiency using the mediums we have evolved.

Because people in this culture really love to and are very good at surrendering their flow of perceptions to film and video games. This gives the directors of these mediums incredible power to take them all on the same trip, seize their flow of perceptions and take the collective paradigm on a journey- alter the experience and memories of millions- show them the world in new ways, for better or worse.

Some people create horror movies. Others write books filled with wisdom, though while books will never disappear- there is a far larger volume of perceptions being channeled into grosser mediums (film, TV & video games) which in many ways destroys sensitivity to written words.

This is also my condition to a large extent- it’s rare for me to finish reading even one page of a book before becoming either too restless and returning to creation, or becoming too relaxed and slipping into meditation.

What is the best way to instill eternal wisdom and insight into the grossly vibrating minds of our culture using the most accessible mediums? How to appeal to this surrender to media and alchemize it's perceptions into a deeper surrender to truth?

What is the filmic manifestation of the Tao to Ching- channeling the archetypal guru. How to visually manifest the inverse reflections of Alan Watts for the grosser mind to digest? Where are the spiritual deities of western mythology manifesting in film? These naturally lead the mind from gross confusion into insightful silence by reflecting visual truth with universal clarity.

Many books have been written, many poets and musicians do the trick, but who in the gross vibration of mundane civilization comprehends these?

What seed would the pragmatic Buddha of digital experience crafting manifest to plant into the million minds? Attempting to answer these questions is the path of action my being is conditioned to follow- my karma yoga.

We’ll see what the flow has in store.

Imagine the well-organized construction of an enormously gross holographic finger, projected upon the sky and the dusk of an epoch- pointing towards the personal experience of infinity.


Smile
•••









posted : 2005.Jun.10 @ 12.32am
Coincidentally in my early quakage days, it was when I stumbled upon a fledgling website, phong.com (devoid of flash at the time), that inspired (and taught) me to advance my photoshop abilities.

Many moons later, upon strange coincidence I was told stories by my good friend marc that his friend/teacher from CSSA rychard (who I had the pleasure of meeting in person recently), had a good friend named aaron. And again, this time by no strange coincidence, aaron spoke of the mighty phong!

To this day, I treasure the memory of phong's tasty burger.

Here's a few old ones for nostalgia:

I believe I took this straight from a tutorial (dig the l33tspeak):


This was the quake name I went by back in the day. Many a retired desktop bore similar resemblence to this one:


Deep respect







posted : 2006.Apr.06 @ 4.27am
Greetings Damon,
I'd be happy to answer all your questions,
you can find the responses below.

Have a wonderful day!

Blessonious.
.Phong

Also my given name is "Anson Vogt"
which may be more appropriate for use in your research paper.


> Hi Phong,
>
> My name is Damon I‘m in school for Multimedia Arts and need help with a research paper for my internship. I am collecting information in the field of digital design from the pros in the field such as your self, so I can gain a better understanding of what going on. If It’s ok with you I have enclosed a few questions below and would just need them back as soon as you can do them.
>
> Thank you,
>
> Damon Carpentier



Internship Questions


1. How did you get started in this industry?

I started in web design with a vision of a personal webspace, and learned HTML by looking at the code and deconstructing it with a close friend. The beginnings took a long time, although I had a lot of time- I must have been 13 years old when I started doing this and programming 3d graphics. I just kept building momentum, and made iteration after iteration of the vision I had for my website. It took many attempts and untold thousands of hours of experimenting before I really found a deep connection with the art of web creation, and very soon after states of creative liberation had been achieved, the offers for professional work were plenty.


2. What organizations have you worked for including positions since entering this industry? And how did you obtain them?

I started working for Circle Graphics Inc, ( http://circle.bc.ca ) a web firm based in BC, Canada. I got an email one day from the CEO of the company who really liked what I was doing on my website and wanted to collaborate, so I invited him to my house and we had coffee and he hired me on the spot. I started working that week- first remotely from my house until I finished high school, and then full time in the office once I had graduated.

After a few successful years of that I could see it was headed into increasingly larger clients, more money, but with the same monotinous ritual of site building day in and day out- I quickly grew bored of lots of money and corporate clients. So I sold my car to work at home on my website for 6 months straight- when out of the blue some cats at the Guerilla News Network ( http://gnn.tv ) called me with an unbelievable offer to animate oneline music videos with them in Berkeley California. They said they had seen my website and loved the work- they were totally stoked to hire me and had tons of money up front so I've been collaborating with them on web, film, concert visuals and music video animation projectsever since.


3. How long have you been in this field?

I started working professionally in 1998 at the age of 15.


4. What are your duties and your responsibilities?

This spans from meeting with the client to establish the scope and goals of a project to overseeing all levels of creative flow in the art and design of a site, from designing templating systems, to interfacing database programmers, to Flash actionscripting, to 3D modelling for interface design to optimizing images in Photoshop and building the framework of a website in HTML & CSS with Dreamweaver.


5. What technical, intellectual and emotional skills and strengths are required for success in this field?

Technical skills are key in this field- specifically the insight to know one's own habits and know how to teach yourself new ones. Many people cling to a way design was done 5-10 years ago, or too a specific modality- and the rules are changing constantly. In order to keep up with the flow of new technologies the way you're working is constantly changing. Even the masters have many things to learn and so learning new habits and knowing how to teach yourself new techniques is key. There is always new standards and browsers and languages and programs to learn which challenge the whole approach to a design and the real innovators who get the good jobs will be the first ones who taught themselves how to make magic out of that technology.

Second to this, and the root of any successful design is a clear aesthetic vision of how a website is going to 'feel' and 'react' to the users, and knowing how to develop this vision from the highest level collaboratively.


6. What is a typical salary for someone in a position similar to yours?

It depends on how many hours are invested and the level of clients one is working with. This kind of work as it fluctuates depending on the stage of a project (the end phase usually involves much more time-compressed work) A highly skilled worker will make $30/hour, which roughly works out to $4000/month.

If you're in a position of leadership and client interfacing and sales it might be more. If you can manage to create your own firm the baseline for a quotation might be the number of hours it is estimated to complete times $60-120/hour

At the beginning though you may only make $15-20/hour for many years until you've developed a creative vision and technical skills that garner a leadership role.


7. How has the web and graphics design industries changed over the last 5 years?

Macromedia Flash has become more of a major player as it's adapted to the ability to stream data through XML, support video and interact with Javascript. Beautiful interfaces will continue to emerge from this fusion. The emergence of CSS 2.0 (cascading stylesheets) has dramatically changed the way sites are layed out and the kind of features that can easily be implemented and standardized across a many tiered site. Also the emergence of XML and RSS datafeeds has greatly evolved the way in which information is shared across systems. New developments in PHP and the programs used to build sites has made the whole process much more streamlined, although technically more intense. AJAX is the graceful culmination of all these technologies into a visual interface.


8. How have you adapted your self to the changes in the web and graphics industry to continue to thrive?

By always diving fresh into new technologies, getting my hands wet in them and quickly implementing them towards a creative vision.

Many job offers come to me each month by email and through acquaintances for freelance work which I couldn't possible find the time to finish. Though now that I'm established in the industry, what's the most meaningful thing for me is aesthetically fine tuning the fine art of data interfaces and creating beautiful experimental sites for my friends and community.

ie:
http://www.podcollective.com
http://www.techgnosis.com/content
http://spectraleyes.com
http://fleshkandie.phong.com/browse


9. Where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 years?

Towards more integrated data-streams, more video, more beautiful flash-oriented interfaces, very smooth AJAX-styled fusion of intuitive standards for interfacing online communities- interfaces that blur the line between the computer Operating System and what you'd expect from a website, and a closer integration with text and video based chat applications. Developing from a medium for telling just one story/vision to a medium for real-time content collaboration (ie. www.wikipedia.org , www.digg.com, www.cgtalk.com ). With the possible re-emergence of Virtual Reality technologies (now that real-time 3d video technology has been well developed by video games)


10. What advice would you have for me on staying competitive in the web and graphics design industry?

Create your own website and populate it with tons of great content. This is totally key for the Avatars of the web industry. Aim to have many visitors and provide a service to them. Choose one or two types of content to focus on. In my case ( http://phong.com ) it in Flash experiments and Photoshop tutorials. Drive people to your site through entrepreneurial alliances with other sites of a similar nature, and contribute to an online community of creative people in the industry you'd like to work in.

Listen to your visitors feedback, and tweak the interface accordingly- fashioned to your aesthetic.

This in combination with a crazy dedication to the work (untold thousands of hours each year) and a deep-dream-level vision of the aesthetic is a recipe for financial and artistic success in web design!

You've really got to learn to love it all, and see the magic in the web interface...
that you can show anybody anywhere in the world the same vision and have them interact with it.
It's a really awesome revolution in global collaboration
and you can be a driver in it's evolutionary path!



Farewell Damon.






    

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