Educational Media (Online/DVD): Various titles Client: City University
Agency: Talking Dog Media
Team: Writer/Producer, Char Easter; Flash and design: Melanie Smith, John McColloch, David Rosenfeld
I was responsible for creative and operations of all content including coursework, graphics, and tutorials in Flash, Director, film/video formats. I also managed a team of writers for the online portion of the coursework, which involved establishing comprehensive style guides as well as mentoring the interactive writers to think past static to write for motion.
CHALLENGE: T-Mobile needed a single source for agencies working on campaigns to download style guides, fonts, logos and other brand assets. There was also the challenge to maintain creative consistency across T-Mobile’s campaigns with various agency vendors working in isolation.
APPROACH: Taking the client directives, I organized a secure intranet site into three sections: Share (view and upload campaigns, creative briefs, etc.); Brand Overview (view guidelines); and Toolchest (download assets). Time and budget were a constraint, so I negotiated with the client and my manager to allow a user test phase by conducting the user tests onsite at the agencies who were participating–to save them time. To test the design, I worked with the dev team to build a protoype for a user test. I named the site Creative Share.
SOLUTION: The user testing helped me identify terms that were confusing, discern what features to add or delete, etc. Creative Share gave vendors DIY access to resources with a CMS to manage their work (upload campaigns in progress and delete outdated samples). T-Mobile was able to refresh brand assets for all vendors in a centralized location and stay out of the handoff process.
PRODUCER/WRITER, MSN Branded Entertainment Experience Team, Seattle. For Toyota, we leveraged Bing maps into the site features to create an animated road trip route that synced with locations on the fly in the video. Users could also create their own routes and add pushpins marking their favorite road spots. I wrote copy in the tone of the site and managed and maintained content working between the editorial and development teams including editorial calendars, alerts and user-generated content. Designer: Kris Bergen, Editorial lead: Jeff Chavez. http://appetiteforlife.msn.com, http://msnbeet.com/work/appetite_for_life
PRODUCER/WRITER, MSN Branded Entertainment Experience Team, Redmond. Reveille teamed up with MSN and MSNBC to create Fit to Boom, a web series featuring baby boomers who have embarked on major, health-driven life changes. Their stories, by design and evidenced in the abundant user comments, inspired viewers to consider their own life changes. A contest awarded one winner $20,000 to fund their life mission. Designer: Richard Worsfold, Editorial lead: Jeff Chavez, OMM Awards 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToshK8wSy7k
WRITER/PRODUCER. MSN Branded Entertainment Experience Team. The Halo 3 Fan site was poised to build excitement for the Halo 3 launch, which proved to be the biggest entertainment event of 2007. It debuted videos by Peter Jackson and the Silverlight player. I wrote the site copy as well as articles that got me into some highly coveted press events at Bungie Studios. As a producer I managed all content, working with the design and development teams and coordinated the video and article refreshes.
INTL PRODUCER/WRITER, MSN Branded Entertainment Experience Team, Redmond/London. As the Editorial lead for the London MSN office, I worked across Seattle, NYC, and London teams, as well as multi-tiered stakeholders including the Oscars review team. I collaborated with UK dev and design to create a UI that guided women through the process to create a 30-second ad. The winning ad aired during a commercial break at the Oscars®.
by Char Easter
FLIGHT TO GUATEMALA
The plane has begun to roll. The flight attendant who is announcing take-off protocol has a whiny voice. What key is that? I’m sitting next to Frank, who introduced himself. I want my cough to go away. We’re taking off. The window seat is treating me to sunlight – a prelude to Guatemala.
It’s Christmas. I found my gate in Chicago and a wine shop with a music-theatre bartender. I told him that people say Guatemala is dirty and dangerous, and he said, “Like I am.”
Lens, Nikon, scratched up 20mm 1.8
Guatemala is less then three hours away. We’re leaving the US and there’s no turning back no matter what kind of bacteria-laden food lies ahead. I wish I would have brought more food, but was thinking about all the scrutiny you get driving into California. Flying they don’t care. Just don’t bring nail clippers. Someone would have to have some major attitude to hold up a plane with nail clippers. It should be a mandatory script for actors auditioning to be bad guys. (more…)
My little go-girl Avatar article on the Womanity – no longer live, created by MSN for Thierry Mugler – has been riding the rough and tumble wave of controversy surrounding James Cameron’s film sensation. My editorial of the movie gained over 500 likes/love votes due to the strong emotional bond its audience attaches to the movie. The opinions are polarized; people hate it or they defend it like a mother bear protecting her cubs. Since feedback that gets shared is statistically fated to be negative, the article has inspired a rather motley crew of comments – oddly enough, mostly from men. Created for the fashion giant, Thierry Mugler, Womanity, if the name doesn’t tip you off, is a site that strategically targeted women. Its beautiful and very imaginative design had an artistically crafted look and feel that you navigate via your mood. It’s so femme, it’s not even gay. Although I support androgyny – no high heels for this girl – Womanity’s feminist orientation is hormonally off topic for men, hence the tone of my article. Not that no boys are allowed, but it’s like a guy wandering into an aromatherapy-infused woman’s empowerment seminar. Therefore, I offer this space to read the article and continue the discussion if so moved. My comment: the article’s illustration by Andrea Ventura is stunning. I thank her. – Char Easter
Women Rule Pandora: The Heroin’s Journey
By Char Easter
Given Avatar’s techno-tree theme, I can see how my female friends were won over. Well, most of them. So what is amiss? The movie is about saving the planet and communication, after all, two feminine directives. And for a scientific spin, the Na’vi talk to the trees in a data download of electrochemical communication. The tree roots form an energy network like synapses between neurons. How cool is that? Visually, these good forest vibes turn the planet of Pandora into a woodsy rave in black light; all the better in 3D.
And there are the tough chicks, Mother Nature’s bodyguards – a pilot (Michelle Rodriquez as Trudy), a scientist (Sigourney Weaver as Grace), and a shaman warrior (Zoe Saldana as Neytiri) who work together to oppose the evil villains, a corporate pin head backed by an abominable military fanatic, who join forces on a strip-mining mission. As the story goes, the Sky People’s attempt to bulldoze the Na’vi culture for profit is foiled by a mystical Mother Nature played by a psychedelic jungle. The swashbuckling, climatic battle reminded me of a cross between Xbox’s Halo 3 and Snow White when the woodland animals rallied to fight off the evil witch.
But the heart-warming animal army is not the only fairytale theme in this movie. Like all good prince and princess stories, Sully, our magical hero boy, conquers the dragon (literally) and saves Pandora. Sully gets his avatar on and the prince and princess live happily ever after, or until the sequel when the bad guys return with advanced, viperwolf-proof AMP suites.
But what is wrong with this picture? Cameron has a legacy of strong women characters in his stories, and Avatar is no exception. But Sully’s triumphant upstaging at the end is questionable. He did transform enough to respect the Na’vi culture and be reborn as a Na’vi. And he served as a bridge between the two worlds so we, the audience, could superimpose ourselves over a human as the hero. But an oppressor turned savior is still an aggressive stance.
Imagine Neytiri in a Hollywood story meeting with James Cameron. After he reads her the Avatar script she crosses her elegant blue arms across her strategically constructed chest and narrows her big gold eyes at him and says, “Let me get this straight… James. A Human, a child who knows nothing of our ways, comes in to our tribe, and my mother decides I should be his teacher! He wins me over as a spy for his people who are planning to crush us. Then he becomes my husband and our mightiest warrior and leads the fight to save our people from his Humans? No way. Women rule Pandora.”
There is a Neytiri out there now writing a script that will transform the Hollywood formula into a heroine’s journey. And when she does, James Cameron, look out.
A letter I wrote to Best Buy with TEXT IN CAPS added by Alfonso Adinolfi
Bellevue, WA store June 17, 2006
NOTE: The commentary in caps, added by a friend, does not lesson the validity of my claim regarding a bad customer experience and the sincerity of my dissatisfaction.
I am a documentary and digital media producer [WITH A REALLY CUTE BUTT]. Around Christmas 2005, I bought a DV recorder JVC GR-D270 from Best Buy in Bellevue, WA. I was looking for a camera with an analog-in feature, which the previous version of this model camera did have. The JVC website specifications indicated it had the feature [AND THE INCOMPETENT, ASS EATING, FUCK STICK PARADING AS] a Best Buy salesperson assured me it had the feature.
As it turned out, this [PIECE OF SHIT] camera did not have the [GODDAMN, MOTHERFUCKING] feature. Because I was two days late [FOR MY PERIOD] and over the 14-day policy when I returned the camera, I was told [TO TAKE A FUCKING HIKE] that my only option was to return the camera for a store credit minus a restocking fee. The cost to me to return the item was approx. $60.
I told the manager that was unacceptable given the circumstances [AND THAT I WOULD PRAY TO GORGO, DARK UNDER LORD OF THE BLUE DIMENSION, THAT HE DIES IMPALED UPON A MEAT HOOK]. He said that was store policy and there was nothing he could do [UNLESS I SLEPT WITH THE ENTIRE STAFF OF BEST BUY AND SELECT DOMESTIC FARM ANIMALS] and he gave me the Best Buy 800 number, which I called. The representative I talked to gave me his name and gave me an option [BUT DUE TO YEARS OF DRUG ABUSE I CAN’T REMEMBER EITHER OR I SURELY WOULD HAVE MENTIONED IT HERE].
I called him back later several times leaving [INCOHERENT GRUNTING NOISES], my number and a message [ABOUT APPROPRIATE PIZZA TOPPINGS] but my call was never returned. I also had emailed the manager of the Bellevue store asking to be contacted [VIA CARRIER PIGEON OR SIGNAL FLARE], which I never was.
Thanks to your policy, I still have a [CASE OF HIVES AND A] camera I do not want and the worst possible feeling about [INFINITY, PEOPLE WITH REALLY SMALL HANDS AND] shopping at Best Buy. I have not walked into the store since [AS MY MINIONS CARRY ME EVERYWHERE I GO].
Unless I am allowed to return this camera with a full refund, I will never shop there or recommend the store [UNLESS I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM AND EVEN THEN, I WILL NOT FLUSH]!
I realize you have your policies, but if this is the result, I can’t say it’s working for you.
Halo 3 Single Player Studio Visit: Bungie Studios, Kirkland WA
by Char Easter
Published 2007 on MSN
Infiltrating the force field that makes Bungie Studios so mysterious is a feat reserved for Master Chief and other superheroes. For the average Microsoft employee (like me) with a company badge that is rendered inadequate at all Bungie Studios entry points, it takes a very rare and special invitation. So when the opportunity came up to be part of the Halo 3 single-player studio visit for reporters from around the world, my fate was sealed. Not even a rare sunny Seattle afternoon could deter me from walking the hallowed halls of the famous Bungie headquarters and getting some coveted, hands-on gameplay before Halo 3’s release on September 25.
By Char Easter
Ask a couple how they first met, and they usually have a good story. The same could be said about my introduction to the Halo universe. My first game-play moment was a Halo fan’s dream come true. I was surrounded by the Halo creators at the Bungie headquarters in Kirkland, Washington. It was Halo ground zero. Along with the Bungie staff, I was playing among world-class gamers who were there as reporters for an exclusive sneak peak at Halo 3. I was directed to an empty console and decided to play it cool and not let on that I was a first-time gamer.
I glanced around the room and noticed the reporters lost in the game. Except for their darting eyes and deftly moving fingers, they had left the physical world for the one the Bungie developers had so meticulously crafted. Occasionally, one of the gamer’s monitors would signal that he’d achieved a new level. I could barely log in. The contrast between the other gamers’ skill level and mine was laughable. Regardless, I put on my headphones to begin the fight. Master Chief Junior was on the move.
The first thing I noticed was the music. It was rich and tribal and had a tempo that inspired hunting and killing. I imagined a military vehicle in Iraq with a sound system. Then I noticed the barrel of a gun. “That would be mine,” I thought. This basic and seemingly obvious realization was my genesis of self-awareness. I am not me with a gun; I am Master Chief, hope for humanity. I wondered about the gender — is there a female Master Chief in the works? How could gender matter? It’s not like there is a lot of social interaction involved. My agenda is fairly focused: Get guns. Find enemy. Shoot enemy. Besides, I’m role-playing. I’ll be a boy.
Looking around, I checked my “20” — a military term for location. I was in a large dark stone cavern with soldiers running about and shouting orders. I think one of them said something to me, but the interaction was stilted. The fact that he was a computer-programmed comrade made him all the more efficient, so my slow response forced him to move on. What if I had been wounded?
I sized up the soldiers’ appearance. After all the hype, just how lifelike were they? Without having played other games, I had no frame of reference. My next question was who were they — friend or foe? I had assumed they were Marines and I was one of them. Good, Char. What now? “Try moving,” I thought.
I ventured out, hearing only the sound of my footsteps until I encountered something with which I would become all too familiar: my worst enemy, my motor skills. Suddenly everything was dark and my progress was stymied. I was stuck in a corner. My fingers fumbled with the controls, trying to make the connection between the buttons on the console and Master Chief’s choreography. It is something we take for granted, this brain-body connection, but now, I had to learn how to walk again. I wheeled around like a caged wild boar, or more like a bumbling giant in cement shoes. My point of view was disoriented, and then I saw part of my leg. I couldn’t shoot, which was another problem. Where was the shoot button? I let it go, reasoning that people like me should not have guns. Not only did my lack of motor skills put me at a disadvantage with the enemy, but I was a menace to myself.
Pungent and Dreads
Words by Char Easter. Photos by Cheryle Easter
The “F” in fashion for this story stands for festival. Every summer offers up a series of subcultural pow wows, where adventurous folk leave their day jobs, or crafters and seekers make it their day job, to gather without modern plumbing. They view art, hear music and above all, dress up. From the Oregon Country Fair to Burning Man to Beloved, each festival has its own brand of lunatic fringe fashion. One of the longest running is the Rainbow Gathering. So my sister and I borrowed her boyfriend’s 1971 pop top VW bus and headed deep into the Pinchot National Forest of Washington state to find the latest collection of free-spirited, back-to-nature wear. The question before us: what defines subcultural fashion in 2011 and has it changed from the first gathering in 1972? Our motto: cute matters; even in the woods.
For the surrounding towns of loggers and mill workers, it was an international invasion as 30,000 crunchy Rainbow Gathering goers stopped for supplies on their annual pilgrimage home to “the family.” One local from Cougar, a nearby town, described the scene as, “Pungent and dreads.” Perfect.
While hitching a ride from our parking spot along the 7 mile, car lined, narrow road to the main camp, we met Peter, a serial summer festivaler who was heading to the Oregon Country Fair after Rainbow. He likes the Rainbow Gathering because of its self-organization and anarchy (it’s all volunteer and free) and described the fashion as, “where punk and hippie intersect,” with a lot of Steampunk thrown in. Steampunk — a Road Warrior/Victorian mix — is a street savvy, survival look, straight out of a Charles Dickens book. It depicts a gritty, sci-fi/fantasy traveler who can survive the mud and dust and the amped-up fashion of a festival.
But the black leather of steampunk is balanced with a wild mash up of looks dominated by faery, hippy, and urban wood nymph. If in doubt with what to wear, make it colorful. The bright and bolder the better, with pink and stripes and crazy hats. Think Alice In Wonderland meets Lord of the Rings. This is no time to be subtle or elegant. Subculture festival fashion is getting in touch with your wild child.
Because the woods can be cold and there was snow in the camps, we saw lots of layers and wool with boldly striped mittens, arm coverings and zany leggings to brighten up the gray. But as the sun came out, the wool layers came off — just as my father predicted — and the body paint was manifest. The photos below are like a Rainbow Family photo album. Mini video to come. Keep the love.
Photo captions in slideshow:
Charlie and Daisy (mud girls) – When the sun shines, the wood nymphs appear. This was either Charlie or Daisy, who’s bright spirits and wild abandon put the festive in festival.
Juanita – shown in stripped mittens with hula hoop. We found her hula hooping on this large log chanting, “Safety Last”
Nikolas – the face and body paint and rainbow parasol were the crowning glory on this very put together, mythical, woods god
Steampunk boys in the meadow
Lovely Rainbow couple keeping the ’70s spirit alive with free flowing skirt and pants with a Genesha elephant scarf for accent
Emily – wearing a chain mesh bra she made herself
Stephanie – wearing suspenders to hick it up
Fairy on lily pad
Justin, John, Fred, Alicia and dachshund (not necessarily in L-R order) – summing up a collection of looks that equal Rainbow fashion
Quoted in article: Peter Apicella – “Where hippie and punk intersect.” He offers crafts, massage and astute festival philosophy. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a sextile planetary event this Monday evening and Tuesday called Merkaba. My friends who are tuned in to these type of astral power opportunities, performed a ritual at Golden Gardens to direct the energy for the greater (and personal) good and to invoke a spiritual awakening. I had an awakening Tue., but it was financial. I really need a job — now. Hello, IRA.
What is a Merkaba?
It is known as the divine light vehicle allegedly used by ascended masters to connect with and reach those in tune with the higher realms. “Mer” means Light. “Ka” means Spirit. “Ba” means Body. Mer-Ka-Ba means the spirit/body surrounded by counter-rotating fields of light, (wheels within wheels), spirals of energy as in DNA, which transports spirit/body from one dimension to another.
What’s Happening Exactly?
The Moon in Taurus will form a Grand Earth Trine with Venus in Virgo and Pluto in Capricorn. Then, there’s a Grand Water Trine consisting of Saturn in Scorpio, Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter/Mars in Cancer. So we’ll have two, interlocking Grand Trines. And…those planets will sextile each other. The Moon will sextile Jupiter/Mars, which will sextile Venus, which will sextile Saturn, which will sextile Pluto, which will sextile Neptune, which will sextile the Moon. This is similar to the Harmonic Concordance in 2003 that was a catalyst for a major wave of conscious awakening–all harmonious aspects, all hooked up together in an unbroken circuit. The most intense period is on Monday (roughly) 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT to absolutely use that time–set your own intentions and connect to source, be in your zone.
On Tuesday come to Golden Gardens between 7 and 7:30—we plan to be down by the north end of the beach. Let’s use the energy of the event together to enhance our intentions for our selves and the greater good. Bring snacks, things to drink if you like. Looking forward to seeing you!
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