Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Flag of Faces Website Launches

We're very pleased to be a part of the new American Flag of Faces website, produced by Artgig and ESI Design for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

From the official release:

"This interactive website invites all Americans to submit photos of their families, their ancestors, even themselves to become a part of this living, ever-changing American mosaic.

Participants can upload digital photos at with a tax-deductible donation of $50 to become part of the American Flag of Faces™. This dynamic website, created and produced by ESI Design and Artgig Studio, opens with an animated red, white and blue flag populated with user-submitted images. Each image can be clicked on and enlarged. Users can also search by name to call up specific individual or family photos.

The American Flag of Faces™ will also become a central exhibit in the upcoming Peopling of America® Center, an exciting new expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Flag of Faces exhibit will consist of a large video installation providing a mosaic of all the portraits submitted by individuals and families who have made America their home throughout the generations."

Now a peek under the hood:

Constructed as a hybrid Flash/HTML website, opens with a waving flag of faces created in Actionscript which utilizes the Papervision 3D library to recreate realistic motion.

From the homepage, visitors are encouraged to add an image to the flag along with a donation. The image upload interface was built using an Ajax library which enables users to perform basic edits such as cropping, rotating, red eye reduction and contrast adjustments prior to submitting their photo.

The Flag of Faces itself is a Flash module that taps into a Microsoft SQL database to dynamically generate the flag and apply red, white and blue color overlays to the individual user submitted images.

The result is an American flag that is a virtual mosaic of individual user-generated portraits.

Pretty cool.

Check it out:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Arsenal - Heading For an Upset or In Over Their Heads?

If there was any question about the quality of Arshavin before his four strikes and four goals against Liverpool on Tuesday, well, let's just say there's one tiny Russian sniper on this team who comes to play every day–end of story.

Of course, we were left scrambling at the office for a good pirate feed to watch the match but it seems at the height of the season, the pickings are suddenly slim to none. We ended up "watching" the epic battle and game of the season, via website text updates.

We're leaking goals at the moment and I'll be happy to see Almunia and Djourou back in the line-up against Middlesbrough this weekend. I'm willing to give Sagna a pass for his mistakes against Liverpool because he was still on jello legs from a bout with the flu. And we'll likely see Adebayor in a tune-up for the really big Champion's League match on Wednesday against heavily favored Man U.

I can't comment much on the Liverpool match because I've only seen Arshavin's fantastic highlight reel and it's difficult to judge a team performance from text updates but from what I've read it seems we're beginning to sag a bit, especially through the middle and back. We know Silvestre is crap, but Denilson and Song continue to play Jekyll and Hyde and we're never sure who will show up.

One thing's for certain, we'll have to be at our best when we face off against the league leaders next week. And we'll have to do it without RVP, Clichy and Arshavin.

The news today seems to indicate Fabregas will be suspended for a couple of matches over the "spitgate" incident. Fabregas is clearly a passionate guy, and I'm sure he'll be pissed–I can only hope he takes it out on Man U. I think he will.

Walcott will bring the speed, let's hope he also brings his guns.

We know Adebayor can change a game in an instant and he's done it to Man U before.

But the newest Man U slayer is Nasri and by all accounts he's one of the few who looked to be hitting top gear against Liverpool so we'll hope that continues.

We've got a few more wild cards up our sleeve in Eduardo, Diaby and the wildest of all, Bendtner.

And most importantly, we've already beaten Man U this season.

Hopefully, we've learned our lessons against Chelsea and Liverpool and we'll come hungry and prepared to secure victory this weekend against a Middlesborough team who is at the bottom of the league and clawing for survival like a rabid raccoon in a garbage can.

It's not a must-win for Arsenal on paper but I think we need all the steam we can muster ahead of next week.

A win against Middlesborough would be nice.

But a win against Man U at Old Trafford would be better than...(fill in the blank)

Bonnie and Clyde in Pleasantville

They're young...they're in love...and they kill people.

So goes the famous tagline for the film classic, "Bonnie and Clyde."

I caught a special screening last night at Jacob Burns, featuring a discussion with screenwriter, Robert Benton, after the show.

Unlike my scoop on Slumdog Millionaire before it broke out, this was an evening in retrospect.

After living through the Tarantino age of ultra-violent cinema, it's difficult to imagine the impact this film had on film culture when it hit American theaters in 1967.

Incredibly violent and heavily stylized for the day, Bonnie and Clyde was accused of glorifying violence and was largely panned by critics upon release.

But audiences loved it, and the critics eventually came around...

I'd seen Bonnie and Clyde previously some years ago, at home, on a not particularly big screen and I remembered liking it, but seeing a film in a real movie theater puts it in an entirely different light.

Two big things that jumped off the screen:
  1. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mucho caliente.
  2. The film is violent.
Yes, the film romanticizes the story of two criminals, but as Benton commented, it's not about the violence, it's about the fame.

It was really fascinating to hear Benton's story about his big break–boy grows up wrestling dyslexia, finds film as a creative outlet, becomes a young hotshot art director at Esquire, hangs with other young creative types–all are passionate about French New Wave cinema, Benton decides to write a screenplay with pal, David Newman, who can actually write, they get some good momentum but the screenplay languishes for years until Warren Beatty comes knocking.

Benton recalled his big break–the call from Warren, and how it was also his first big mistake in his marriage, only six months young. Warren called Benton at his little apartment in New York and told him he'd heard about the script and he wanted to stop by and pick it up (remember, no email, no fax...) Benton was happy to oblige but he neglected to tell his young wife that WARREN BEATTY was dropping by, so she was just kind of bumming around with curlers in her hair and no make-up when Beatty came knocking. According to Benton, she didn't speak to him for some time after that...

Good stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chris Tarry - Taking Over the Universe!

Our favorite whirlwind of creative expression, Chris Tarry, has gone and done it again.
That's right, another website update.

You'll notice the Home page now defaults to News and he's added a blog to keep the fans current with whatever spills out onto the page. The blog is a WordPress deal we installed on his server and he's basically doing the rest. You can get to it from his site via the blog call-out at the top of the page, or you can hit it directly:

I imagine Chris is the kind of guy who wakes suddenly in the middle of the night and fumbles about in the dark as he searches for a pad and pen to jot down his latest bit of inspiration.

Before I was a business owner (and married, and a dad...), I spent a considerable chunk of my life writing like a madman so I know the territory.

It's good to be mad.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Artgig and ESI Design Share Webby for!

The news came in a flurry of emails late last week.

The New York Times calls it "the internet's highest honor."

Our favorite interactive Mountain Gorilla website,, has been recognized with the prestigious honor of a Webby award in the Youth category of the competition.

ESI takes the prize but we're planning to share it – six months at their house and six months at ours.

Check it out:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Arsenal - Half Full

Just finished watching our 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup Semifinals, and I'm not exactly surprised.

In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say it's a good thing this happened now, ahead of our heavyweight Champion's League bout with Man U.

The boys have been spectacular lately, but going into this one against a much healthier Chelsea side, who has also been on an incredible streak, well, I think I already said I'm not entirely surprised.

And it's no shock the fatal blow came from infamous Arsenal killer, Didier Drogba.

Our deputy goalkeeper and birthday boy, Fabianski, did his best Senderos deer-in-headlights impression as Drogba sidestepped him for the winning goal after easily shaking off old man Silvestre.

Damn you, Drogba! You done gone and did it again.

It was billed as the clash of London–two teams on the rise, after picking themselves up off the mat and finding belief in the darkest hours of seasons on the brink of collapse.

Perhaps, we were just letting the hype get to our heads a bit.
Surely, our Frankenstein defense was going to let us down sooner or later.

I missed almost the entire first half due to my son's soccer practice and a major scheduling screw-up. I had planned to watch the big game on a big screen at a local pub with a Setanta feed but that fell through and I was forced to watch on the internet. I really dislike watching on the internet - the small, stuttering screen makes it impossible to get a feel for the rhythm  of the game.

We were up 1-0, thanks to a Walcott goal, when I finally tuned in just in time to see Chelsea even the score through Malouda's shot–also misplayed by Fabianski.

I saw most of the second half but I never felt the pulse and I was surprised that we were doing so little and still hanging around.

Post match stats say we had only four shots on goal to Chelsea's 13.

It didn't appear that Adebayor or Van Persie were imposing themselves on the game so I didn't mind seeing them replaced, and it's not Bendtner's fault that Drogba scored right after he came on.

We were always going to need something a little extra special for this one, a little bit of magic, but Wenger started our best magician, Arshavin, on the bench.

Still scratching my head over that one...

What can you do?

I hope we can turn this into a wake-up call for the Champion's League.

And we go out there and beat Man U.

That's what we can do.

That would go a long way toward making this defeat feel not so bad.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Artgig and Weekly Reader Release Interactive DVD

We're pleased to announce the release of "I Spot Something Hot," an educational DVD for kids, we produced for our friends at the Weekly Reader division of Reader's Digest as part of a Home Safety Council (HSC) initiative.

We were fortunate to be matched with some really good talent on this project including a fantastic illustrator, Kenny Kiernan, and the special vocal and musical talents of Fred Newman, sound effects star of the popular radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

We took on most of the DVD production, including lots and lots of animation, picture and sound editing, DVD programming and authoring, and even the Spanish voiceover casting and sessions for a Spanish language option.

What makes this especially impressive is, I don't understand Spanish - or at least, I didn't.
I know a little now and I can tell you this DVD is mucho caliente.

Check out a clip here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arsenal - On a Run and Making a Grab

Arsenal have played some 50 matches this season in all competitions.

I read an interview with good old Bobby Pires this morning where he called attention to the fact that Arsenal haven't lost a match in three months.

I found this remarkable, especially after feeling for most of the season that we were spiralling down a black hole and yes, even doubting Wenger's plot in many maddening moments of frustration.

So I had a look at the season's fixtures for myself, and found even more astonishingly, that we haven't lost a match since Porto beat us in the Champion's League way back on December 10.

So Bobby was wrong - it's actually four months without a loss.

Of course, there's a whole lotta ties along the way.

And we needed double overtime and penalty kicks to technically beat Roma in the Champion's League.

But we are indeed, on one hell of a run.

As we look down the barrel of the home stretch, it's a do-or-die week ahead as we make our grab for silverware this season.

We play Villareal at home tomorrow in a replay against the Yellow Submarine. We only need a tie to make the Champion's League Semifinals.

And Saturday we'll meet Chelsea in the FA Cup Semifinals.

We'll either be in or out when we head back to the EPL on Tuesday for a match against Liverpool at Anfield.

Yeah, we're pretty banged-up right now but so is everyone else.

Well, everyone except for Chelsea.
They seem to also be hitting their stride at the right time under the magical spell of Guus Hiddink.
I can only hope that their Champion's League match today against Liverpool is a duel to the death and ends with both teams battered and bloody and licking their wounds.
I wouldn't mind at all if guys like Drogba, Lampard, Torres and Gerrard all end up on the sidelines for a few weeks.
Not one bit.

And of course, I'm crossing my fingers, hoping for safe passage for own boys as they face off against the Yellow Submarine at home tomorrow in Arsenal vs Spanish Arsenal - Part Two. We know the Spanish side is a real threat and Bobby Pires even showed he's still got his stuff when he came on as a sub, but they've been dealt a major blow, losing the dangerous Marcos Senna, ahead of the rematch.

Our rear guard is decimated with the loss of Gallas and now Djourou, and Lukasz "shaky" Fabianski doesn't quite strike fear into the hearts of opponents as he fills in at goal, but we should have enough firepower in attack to keep the pressure off the back. At least, to get past Villareal.

It would be nice for a change, to come charging onto the pitch and take this one by the throat early. It's good to know we can change the game deep into the match, as we have time and time again this season, but I wouldn't mind overwhelming Villareal like we did Roma in the first leg of that series, only with some actual goals as reward this time around.

Well, it's almost time for the Liverpool vs Chelsea slugfest.
Let the beatings commence.

Until tomorrow...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Arsenal - Calling Adebayor...

Earlier in the season, my three-year-old son and I had taken to calling Adebayor "Stinky-bayor."

Later, in this very Arsenal thread, I suggested giving Adebayor away if he didn't shape up quickly when he finally returned from injury. In fact, I think I said I'd only give him a couple of games to prove his worth.

It took him exactly 8 minutes in his return against Man City to score.

And earlier this week in a Champion's League Quarterfinal match in Spain against the dangerous Villareal, we found ourselves backed into a corner, down a goal and pressing, but clearly outplayed in the first half.

Who bailed us out?

Good old stinky, himself.

And it was a beauty.

With the grace of a gazelle,the 6' 3" African stunned not only Villareal, but all who witnessed his incredible bicycle kick, to even the score and take a precious away goal back to London.

MMMMM–these words are tasty.

Believe me, I'm happy to be wrong here.

We've got seven games to play in the EPL, starting away to Wigan this weekend.

Then we meet the yellow submarine in the return at the Emirates on Wednesday.

And then a FA Cup Semifinal showdown with a Chelsea team who is suddenly full of belief after thrashing Liverpool 3-1 at their own hallowed grounds.

All this in the span of a single week.

Yeah, we're hurting - Almunia, Clichy and Gallas are out.

We should get Almunia and Clichy back in a week or two, but Gallas is likely done for the season.

It's a big blow but others are feeling the pain, including Manchester United and Liverpool.

It's looking like a limp to the finish.

We're going to have to dig deep.

We need you Adebayor–do not let us down.

Artgig: Show and Tell...

My last memory of show and tell had me standing at the front of the class and talking about 70's rock sensation, Kiss, to the delight of my second grade teacher.

Today's installment is a bit of a stew from various sources - some interesting morsels to snack on as you cruise into the weekend...

From our own Steven Grosmark comes news of the latest in cutting edge technology - "'SixthSense' is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information."
It's like making the world around you, a giant iPhone. Check out the videos from the big brains at MIT to see what it's all about:

Sixth Sense

Not to be outdone, Jim chips in with his own nominee for video of the week, "Muto"–the YouTube sensation is an oldie but goodie, and keeps the graffiti thread alive and well. The artist, Blu, has a sweet website and blog to catch-up on his efforts as he scribbles, sketches, animates and paints his way through the world. I may even pick up the Blu book myself:


And last, from our Aussie office, some Sydney snaps–grabbed by Lis:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Arsenal and the Yellow Submarine

Can't wait to get back to Champion's League action against Villareal in Spain tomorrow.
A win would put us comfortably in the driver's seat for the return at the Emirates next week.
We're still missing Van Persie and Eduardo to injuries and Arshavin isn't allowed to play because he already appeared in the tournament with Zenit.
But Fabregas and Adebayor are clearly back and Nasri should be good to go as well.

I took my three-and-a half-year-old son to the local pub to watch the return of Fabregas on Saturday morning. Before you go and dial Child Protective Services, it's a respectable Irish establishment and they even have a kid's menu. I thought we might get a half out of it, because it's hard to keep a three-year-old interested in anything for more than twenty minutes, but we stayed for the entire hour and a half (if you're wondering, the secret ingredient is crayons). I have to say It's really refreshing to actually sit and watch on a proper screen in English, instead of constantly scrambling to find a working video stream on the laptop.

It was truly a remarkable return for both Fabregas and Adebayor–with Fabregas feeding Adebayor for both goals in a 2-0 victory over Man City. I don't remember either of them looking this good before they went down. It doesn't hurt that the supporting cast is finally hitting their stride. Denilson, Song, and Toure are all looking much sturdier, adding to the always reliable Sagna and surprisingly cool Gallas. 

And I have to say it, we need Adebayor more now, than ever. I've given the guy lots of flack this season, but he more than earned his keep Saturday. Perhaps Bendtner's hard work will pay off after all, in the form of a hungry Adebayor.

It was a rough day for Walcott–he was kicked about like a rag doll and ended the day with a huge ice pack on his knee. At one point I leaped out of my seat and screamed "They're going to kill him!" and my son dropped his crayons and hid beneath the table (just kidding). But it was that kind of day for poor Theo. I hope he can stay healthy long enough to find the goal again. The good news is, he's apparently well enough to play tomorrow.

Tomorrow–Champion's League.
It's like a big chummy reunion, the return of some old friends–former Arsenal squad man Pascal Cygan, who I honestly never paid much mind to, and more notably the great Robert Pires. No true Arsenal fan can dislike Pires. The Pires and Henry show was one of the greatest in football, treating us along the way to an entire undefeated season–that's 38 matches without a single loss. And what do they do for an encore? The team goes all the way to the Champion's League Finals in Paris.

That was over three years ago.
Arsenal was still at Highbury and my son was banging around our house (and shins) in his little walker.

To get to Paris, Arsenal first had to get by Villareal in the semi-finals.
Crazy Jens Lehman saved a penalty kick in the last minutes of the game to sink the submarine and advance Arsenal to the Championship game against Barcelona where, in a trademark moment of madness, he would single-handedly undo all his good work by getting himself thrown out of the game after only 18 minutes of play. Forced into a tactical move, Arsene sacrificed Pires to bring on Almunia, and Pires never forgave him for it.

That was it.
That's the Pires backstabbing backstory–an extra dash of drama behind the scenes tomorrow as we face off against our old friend.
You can't miss him, he'll be wearing bright yellow.

Friday, April 3, 2009 Updated and other soggy Friday news...

Taking a break from a top secret project for breaking news:

We just updated the Artgig website to include some new projects (websites for, Creators Media Group, ESL Flix and Salon Firefly) and get others current in the Portfolio section.

Also included a little Flash example in the Portfolio from an interactive DVD project we recently delivered for Reader's Digest. It's an animated home safety lesson for kids called "I Spot Something Hot." I'll do an official release soon and you'll read all about it here.

In other news:

Working on a new website for a client yesterday and ran into a little problem with their domain because domain name Registrar giant,, was knocked out cold by a malicious DOS attack. So not only could we not get to the client's current website, but we couldn't get to either. We followed the events live on Twitter, and it was amazing to see pretty much denying the problem and responding with useless stock comments. They were still down this morning when we came in and irate users were still complaining about website and email outages. I can see now the website is back online but no mention of the attack.

Talk about denial of service.

Have a good weekend and stay away from

He's Back! The Return of Fabregas

"It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time's up, I'm sorry I kept you"

–Eric B and Rakim "I Know You Got Soul"

Fabregas returns tomorrow against Man City.
It's been a long time.
And you can't say we haven't slept through some pretty damn weak shows in his absence.

Sure, we've picked up the pace over the last month.
In fact, we're unbeaten in 16.
But all that matters now is the one match before us.

The international break has not been kind to Van Persie, Eduardo and Diaby–they'll all be sidelined due to injury.

Nasri's got the flu.

But Fab's back.

Theo's back.

And Adebayor will likely lead the line up front, possibly paired with big, bad Bendtner.

I don't want to pile expectations too heavy on Fab's shoulders.
As Arsene says, he needs games now.
Well sir, here you go–here's eight, and a crack at Champion's League glory and the FA Cup.

I'm sure he's spitting mad to get going.
Like a pent-up spanish bull about to be unleashed.

Excuse me as I wipe the drool from my chin.

I was just thinking about Fabregas, Arshavin, Nasri, and Walcott, all on the same field at the same time.

We'll have to wait for that one.

But it's a quarter after midnight here in New York so technically, Arsenal plays today.

Let's go Gunners.