kottke.org posts about Khoi Vinh
From Fusion, a 45-minute documentary about the making of Zootopia.
Fusion spent two years with the production team of Disney’s smash hit film. In ‘Imagining Zootopia,’ you will travel with the team to Africa to explore the animals in their natural habitat and find out how the storytellers and animators dealt with the very real themes of prejudice and bias.
I found this via Khoi Vinh, who writes:
A lot of careful thought went into how to render the emotional truth behind experiencing racism, and the documentary takes a detailed look at the filmmakers grappling with that. However, it also betrays one of the unfortunate truths of the production; the movie is commendably bold about addressing prejudice, but it’s evident from watching the documentary that of the five-hundred plus people who contributed to the film, hardly any were non-white, and even fewer were African-American.
For a criticism of Zootopia’s racial allegory, read Devin Faraci’s A Muddled Mess of Racial Messaging… And Cute Animals.
Khoi Vinh is coming out with a book soon called How They Got There: Interviews With Digital Designers About Their Careers. It is, as Tyler Cowen would say, self-recommending. Vinh explains a bit more:
You can read terrific profiles of many of these folks elsewhere, but the conversations that I conducted with them are both narrower and more in-depth. They focus squarely on how these folks discovered their callings in the design profession, how they got their first big breaks, how they put together successful careers in digital media. There are some wonderful, insightful, brilliant, hilarious and amazing stories captured here.
Basically, this is the book that I wish that I could have had handy when I was just starting out, when I was trying to figure out how to get from A to B career-wise. Even better, what I found when I was writing it was that the conversations were so interesting that I felt newly inspired myself. I think you’ll feel similarly.
Forget the book (I mean, it looks great), but Khoi, where do you find the time for everything? Three kids, two or three side projects, regular blogger, startup VP…you’re almost as productive these days as Beyonce is.
Update: How They Got There is now out and available for purchase.
Ok, so New App Friday isn’t a thing, but it is today! Three apps from pals launched yesterday:
From the crew at Tinybop comes Homes, an app for kids that lets them explore houses from around the world. Their previous apps, Plants and The Human Body, are favorites in our home.
Neven Mrgan and Matt Comi have been working on Space Age for several years and it shows…this game is immaculate. The soundtrack, by Cabel Sasser, is worth a listen on its own.
Wildcard is billed as a better and faster way to use the Web for on your phone. I haven’t played with it too much yet, but it seems a lot like RSS for mobile (if that makes any sense). UX was done by Khoi Vinh.
Seeing so many people I know really knocking it out of the iOS park makes me think I should build an app of my own.
After writing Design is a Job and noticing no one had written a book for clients who hired designers, Mike Monteiro of Mule Design decided to write one: You’re My Favorite Client.
Whether you’re a designer or not, you make design decisions every day.
Successful design projects require equal participation from both the client and the design team. Yet, for most people who buy design, the process remains a mystery.
In his follow-up to Design Is a Job, Mike Monteiro demystifies the design process and helps you prepare for your role. Ensure you’re asking the right questions, giving effective feedback, and hiring designers who will challenge you to make your product the best it can be.
Monteiro recently wrote 13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations and gave an interview to fellow designer Khoi Vinh.
I’ve been doing the primary research for this book for 20 years. I deal with clients every day and I see what works and doesn’t work and I’ve screwed up more times than I’d like to think about. But every lesson in that book is field tested. This book has zero percent theory in it. It was written on a factory floor.
During the 1930s, animators at Walt Disney Studios developed a list of 12 basic principles of animation through which to achieve character and personality through movement. These principles were laid out in The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. #6 is “slow-out and slow-in”:
As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow-out or slow-ins for shock appeal or the surprise element. This will give more snap to the scene.
Animator Vincenzo Lodigiani recently visualized the principles using a simple cube shape. You can see them individually here or all together in this video:
In a nod to the increasing prevalence of animation in app design, Khoi Vinh notes:
It’s a good reminder that as the overlap between interface design and animation grows wider, designers would do well to take note of the many decades of insight and knowledge that animators have accrued.
Khoi Vinh tells us how he really feels about coffee.
In the West, and particularly in urban centers of the United States, we’ve turned coffee into not just a daily habit, but a totem of conspicuous consumption. They are “rituals of self-congratulation” (a choice phrase I believe I read from Sam Sifton, but which I can’t seem to source) wherein we continually obsess over certain coffee purveyors or certain methods of brewing coffee - each new one more complex, more Rube Goldbergian and more comically self-involved than the previous brewing fad.
I don’t drink coffee either (don’t even like the smell), but as someone who regularly indulges in other addictions and “rituals of self-congratulation”, I don’t take issue with other people’s enjoyment of coffee…as long as I’m out of earshot when the “perfect grinder for pulling a great shot” discussion starts.
Coffee, like almost everything else these days, is a sport. Everyone has a favorite team (or coffee making method or political affiliation or design style or TV drama or rapper or comic book), discusses techniques and relives great moments with other likeminded fans, and argues with fans of other teams. The proliferation and diversification of media over the past 35 years created thousands of new sports and billions of new teams. These people turned hard-to-find nail polish into a sport. These people support Apple in their battle against Microsoft and Samsung. This guy scouts fashion phenoms on city streets. Finding the best bowl of ramen in NYC is a sport. Design is a sport. Even hating sports is a sport; people compete for the funniest “what time is the sportsball match today? har har people who like sports are dumb jocks” joke on Twitter. Let people have their sports, I say. Liking coffee can’t be any worse than liking the Yankees, can it?
Mixel, a free iPad app from Khoi Vinh and Scott Ostler, has launched. Khoi explains what it’s all about here.
Our app is called Mixel. It’s a collage-making tool and a social network rolled into one. With Mixel, anyone can create and share digital collages using images from the Web, Mixel’s library, or your own personal photos from Facebook or what’s right on your iPad.
Mixel is such a great name…can’t wait to play with this when I get home tonight (I left my f’ing iPad at home today).
Khoi Vinh has a new book coming out next month called Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design.
“Ordering Disorder” is an overview of all of my thoughts on using the typographic grid in the practice of Web design. The first part of the book covers the theories behind grid design, the historical underpinnings of the grid, how they’re relevant (and occasionally irrelevant) to the work of Web designers — and a bit of my personal experience coming to grips with grids as a tool.
The second part of the book, which makes up its bulk, walks readers through the design of a full Web site from scratch, over the course of four projects.
Vinh did the art direction for the book himself, so it’s bound to be purty (and grid-y). The perfect early holiday gift for the web designer in your life.
Fresh off several years as Design Director of nytimes.com, Khoi Vinh gives his opinion of the current batch of iPad magazine apps. I think he’s right on.
My opinion about iPad-based magazines is that they run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They’re bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all.
The fact of the matter is that the mode of reading that a magazine represents is a mode that people are decreasingly interested in, that is making less and less sense as we forge further into this century, and that makes almost no sense on a tablet. As usual, these publishers require users to dive into environments that only negligibly acknowledge the world outside of their brand, if at all - a problem that’s abetted and exacerbated by the full-screen, single-window posture of all iPad software. In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city - with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you - these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.
Khoi Vinh, design director of NYTimes.com and Subtraction, will be answering questions from readers all this week. Look for Khoi’s initial responses later in the day and week.
Khoi has some thoughtful notes (+photos) about his experience with a digital photography class he’s taking. “The more I learn about photography, the less interested I am in close-ups that fetishize surface textures, and the less impressed I am by well composed but basically inert subjects that don’t communicate a narrative of any particular stripe.”
Khoi Vinh on the move…he’s the new Design Director for NYTimes.com. From the outside, it’s one of the best jobs in web design and it’s been filled well. (via waxy)
Paragraph looks like a neat idea. It’s a writer’s workspace located near Union Square here in NYC. It’s like a gym, except for writers. You pay a membership fee and then you can show up and use the facilities (desks, kitchen, your own locker for your stuff, wifi, etc.). More on Paragraph at designer Khoi Vinh’s site.