I Wanted To Be Ebola Czar

October 20, 2014


Damn the bad luck. I wanted to be the Ebola czar. It didn’t happen. I didn’t even get a call from the President. I’ll be talking to my therapist about this next week.

Who better than me to quell the deep fears related to this out of control, menacing epidemic in the U.S.? I mean c’mon–we’re up to a total of 3 people out of 320+ million of us who have been confirmed as having Ebola. You just can’t be too careful. Here is my short list of ideas to conquer this peril:

  • We need to build a wall around the entire U.S. including all the coasts. This will prevent Ebola-carrying terrorists from entering illegally.
  • Planes will fly along the edge of the wall 24-hours a day spraying Ebola disinfectant. [Ebola disinfectant is our new growth industry for those of you looking for an investment tip. You can thank me later.]
  • We need to cancel all the direct flights from Africa to the U.S. (in spite of the fact there aren’t any). This suggestion comes from an esteemed member of Congress.
  • We need to immediately put into quarantine anyone who knows any of the people on the Ebola watch list even if they are only friended on Facebook and have never met.
  • You sneeze, cough, have the slightest fever or display an instance of flatulence, and boom–you’re in a 21-day quarantine in Kansas. It will be a bit like the Guantanamo Bay facility, not like a 4-star hotel.
  • The TSA agents must wear the Ebola hazmat gear at all security checkpoints and in any of their “behind the scenes” work. It won’t make us any safer, but, at least it looks like they are doing something to make us safer which is what they are used to doing anyway–make us think they are making us safer.

My bulleted list is a work in process. I hope the real Ebola czar will see this and call me–assuming he’s not contracted Ebola and in quarantine. Stay safe out there!

Photo Courtesy of Jordi Beernabeu Farrus on Flickr


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Thought for the week:

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


That Awkward Moment When You Learn…

August 30, 2013

…Microsoft stock rose 7% on the news that the CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire in the next 12 months

…a series of car bombings and other attacks across Baghdad on Wednesday, August 29th, killed 86 people and wounded 263, police and medical sources said, extending the worst wave of sectarian bloodshed in Iraq for at least five years. Imagine how big a story this would be in any G20 country and what kind of round-the-clock news coverage it would garner? As it is, this is but a footnote in the news.

…the food ingredient MSG (which has 14 different names and is added to all processed foods) doesn’t make the food taste better–it makes your brain think the food tastes better

…the $1000 stolen bike you’re looking to replace via Craigslist ads has your actual bike for sale for $300

…Miley Cyrus has replaced her Disney career with raunchiness and depravity at the Video Music Awards (VMA) show

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Dave Gardner
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jopoe/

Efexio: studio-quality creatures and effects for home videos

July 16, 2013


Until today, if you wanted to add creatures, special effects, or digital props to your home videos, you’d need lots of money, copious amounts of computing horsepower and disk space, very specialized, complex software, and a highly-talented team of collaborative professionals to make the elements all come together seamlessly.

This is a new day.

It’s now possible to integrate studio-quality, three-dimensional, computer-generated images and animations to video and still images on your iPad®, iPhone®, Mac® or Windows® PC using Efexio, a free application coupled to a marketplace of high-quality three-dimensional computer-generated image (CGI) visual effects to support users ranging from novices to content creators and independent film makers.

An Efexio user need only (1) either upload or shoot a video file within Efexio, (2) choose an effect from their library, and (3) add the effect into their video using Efexio’s intuitive tools. An effect (a creature, prop, or special effect, e.g., an explosion) can be purchased for less than you’d spend on a large cup of coffee at your favorite caffeine emporium.

Here’s a high-level overview of the Efexio:

It is staggering to ponder how far technology has come in the last 20 years that enables this functionality.

A Look Back

Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 film classic Jurassic Park represented a watershed moment in film history. For the first time, filmmakers had the power to create creatures that appeared genuinely, stunningly real. The film was a huge commercial success and an even bigger technological achievement. The film pioneered the computer-generated image revolution in which artists and engineers challenged themselves to make better, faster, and even more spectacular effects.

Spielberg wanted to show his audience something they had never seen before—realistic dinosaurs! If the illusion wasn’t convincing, Jurassic Park would look like a low-budget sci-fi movie. Achieving this realism is far more difficult than you might imagine.

The secret of realistic monsters lies in the realism of their movement exceeding the realism of their appearance. Fortunately, Spielberg was able to achieve both kinds of realism. The appearance was possible as a result of computer-generated images (CGI) while the movement came as a result of 3-dimensional animation. Phil Tippett, Tippett Studio, produced a ground-breaking outcome. He won an Academy Award for his contributions and artistry to Jurassic Park.

Phil Tippett is one of the pioneers of go-motion animation where three-dimensional models were painstakingly animated frame by frame to bring life to the creatures. The CGI revolution made go-motion technique no longer viable but Phil’s knowledge of dinosaur anatomy and ability to visualize how a creature of that size might move and behave made him indispensable to Jurassic Park team. The revolution created by Jurassic Park changed everything for Tippett Studio.

High performance graphical workstations provided by the then high-flying Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, California, were key to making the production of Jurassic Park technologically viable. Even with with all this computing horsepower, rendering the dinosaurs took two to four hours per frame, and rendering the Tyrannosaurus rex in the rain required six hours per frame. Considering the film was produced at 24 frames per second, you begin to get a mere glimpse of the effort and complexity involved.

Special Effects Pioneers at Tippett Studio

Phil Tippett and Tippett Studio have been in business for nearly 30 years. While the tight-knit, family-owned Tippett Studio may not be a household name, you very likely know of their work:

Tippett Studio has a small army of people to bring a computer-generated images to life:

  • Designers
  • Modelers
  • Animators
  • Texture painters
  • Lighters and compositors
  • Coders and engineers

Hours of reviews and critiques are required to meets the standards necessary to make a creature, an effect, a prop, or an environment truly believable. In the pursuit of perfection, team members endure dozens, sometimes hundreds of iterations and refinements in order to produce the best possible image for the client and viewer. This sense of quality is apparent in the animations available for purchase in Efexio.

What Is Efexio?

Until Efexio, studio-quality special effects simply weren’t feasible for other than large production movie studios. Efexio is as revolutionary as the technology that made it possible to produce Jurassic Park, the next step in a long line of technology innovations.

Efexio is (1) a marketplace for special effects, and, (2) an application for integrating effects into videos. The Efexio Store offers downloadable, high-quality animations of objects including dinosaurs, penguins, robots, dragons, fairies and monsters. Multiple animations are available for each creature. With the Efexio application, users can, for example:

  • rotate and adjust the scale of the effect
  • change the lighting and camera angle
  • adjust the path of travel of the effect
  • capture and save still images
  • create an exportable, fully-rendered movie or photo that can be saved, shared on photo-sharing sites or shared immediately via Facebook, YouTube or email

The Efexio app employs an array of new and revolutionary technologies made available for personal computers and devices, while the library of animations provides users the benefit of Tippett Studio’s elite, seasoned team of animators whose skills have been refined through combined decades of work on feature films.

The Efexio marketplace is powered by ground-breaking technology from Pixelux Entertainment and optimized by Tippett FX to enable the integration of film quality effects in consumer created videos. Pixelux innovated a real-time material physics technology called “Digital Molecular Matter” (or DMM) which enables simulated destruction of buildings and cities such as those featured in blockbuster films including “Man of Steel” and “Iron Man 3.”

Just what are Efexio users getting?

  • The capability to leverage Tippett Studio’s years of big-budget movie experience in the creation of unique characters and animations for users at an extremely affordable cost and with minimal learning curve. Standard effects are $1.99 while Pro Versions, allowing output at full HD resolution, run $9.99. Once purchased, there is no limit to the number of times an effect may be used by the licensed user.
  • A rich visual effects marketplace built with an eye on not only quality, but also on price, performance ease-of-use.
  • The ability for people of all ages to get excited about and create video with special effects.
  • User support including video tutorials, FAQs, user guides, and technical assistance
  • A YouTube Tippett FX Community Channel for people to upload videos, share content and ideas and participate in contests. Tips and video creation tips will also be available there.

Here are some examples of video and still images captured using Efexio.

Efexio effects are licensed to a specific named user and may be used on different computing platforms by the same named user. Users may need to disclose to YouTube and other third-parties that they have licensed effects in their videos from Efexio, particularly if their videos are generated revenue from advertisers.
What’s Next?

In a digital world tied together with personal devices, social networks, and an incredible variety of video enthusiasts, video is truly ubiquitous. YouTube reports that one hundred hours of video content are currently being uploaded every minute.

Now, with Efexio, adding studio-quality special effects to videos is within the grasp of anyone who can shoot a video and use a slider bar.

As Phil Tippett offers, “What’s exciting about this tool is that it gives a new generation of filmmakers and storytellers a digital tool kit to activate their own imaginations.”

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


Appealing to Self-Interest

April 15, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: appealing to self-interest

Recently a high school in California faced an usual problem: The girls had started kissing the mirror in the restroom, leaving hard-to-remove imprints. Joe, the dedicated janitor, appealed to the principal for help. The principal immediately announced that the mirror kissing must stop…or else.

The kissing increased. Girls who had not really considered kissing a mirror suddenly saw the appeal. At the end of his scholarly rope, the principal called in a consultant, who brought sage advice to the situation—as we always do.

The consultant suggested that the principal meet with the president of each class in the girls’ restroom to discuss the situation. Initially the principal asked for both their empathy and cooperation in addressing the problem. Then he announced, “I think that once you understand how difficult the girls are making Joe’s job, you’ll use your influence to convince your classmates to stop kissing the mirror.”

To demonstrate the arduous task of cleaning the mirror. Joe took a toilet brush, dipped it in the toilet, and then scrubbed the mirror. That was the last time he ever had to clean the mirror.

Too often we try to effect behavior change by presenting our wants and needs while simultaneously ignoring those of others.

Consultants know better. People change—when they do change—for their reasons, not ours. If we pinpoint their motivations and fears, we take significant strides in the direction of our goals.

When we don’t, we end up with toilet water on our kissers.

Note: This guest post comes courtesy of my good friend and colleague, Linda Henman, Henman Performance Group.

Thought for the week:

“Worrying is like praying for the things you don’t want.” – Source unknown


What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


100 Riffs–A Brief History of Rock and Roll

July 5, 2012

This is pretty amazing: