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April 27, 2020

Blue Stag Selects: April

Not Mine Poem - Blue Stag Selects

Welcome to Blue Stag Selects: April edition, where we serve up some of the most inspiring and interesting stories we have seen each month.

Celebrating and showcasing the innovative work that is shaping and influencing our culture today, April Selects include polluted water popsicles, medical illustrations and a crowdsourced film about social distancing.

Medical Illustrations - Blue Stag Selects April
Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins

Medical illustrators helping the world to understand viruses

A medical illustrator’s role is to give an identity to viruses or medical anatomy. They have to visualise things that are invisible to the naked eye. These illustrations need to communicate the potential dangers and raise awareness.

When coronavirus broke out, the world needed a way to visualise this dangerous virus. Tasked with this were Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins. They created a brand/identity for the Coronavirus that is currently affecting the world. They created the ‘poster child’ image for COVID-19. It has helped governments and the media around the world communicate the dangers of this new virus.

The images are created using Autodesk 3ds Max. They arranged the virus’s parts and tested different colours, textures and lighting. They want to create something that looks like you can touch it, giving it a presence as well as a name.

It’s a true art form that’s overlooked in the design world. Medical illustrators take the invisible and make it visible. They help both professionals and the public understand a very complex concept.

Their work requires a lot of precision, as creating something inaccurate can be dangerous. They have to keep up to date with the latest research to ensure accuracy. What could be correct today, can change in an instant. It’s quite a different aspect of design, they ‘brand’ a virus and give it an identity. The image that Eckert and Higgins created is both beautiful and terrifying.

A Social Distance - Blue Stag Selects April
Ivan Cash and Jacob Jonas

A Social Distance – A crowdsourced film

A Social Distance” is a collective look at global life during COVID-19. Ranging from a 93-year old Malayan grandmother to a 19-year old Slovenian man. The film features dozens of people from the 30 most-affected countries.

This is a crowd-sourced project by Ivan Cash and Jacob Jonas. It compiles clips of people’s hand-washing practices. Their stocked and bare fridges. And emotional messages about their worries.

Jacob Jonas’ background as a choreographer shines through, as elements of movement and dance seamlessly pull the film together. This ties elegantly in with the music, created by featured musicians from their homes. Despite its anxiety-producing subject matter, though, the compilation is uplifting and hopeful.

They all echo each others’ sentiments of optimism during these uncertain times. They have joined together despite being thousands of miles apart to create something wonderful.

SpaceX Starship Rocket - Blue Stag Selects April
Official SpaceX Photos

Starship – A space travel rocket built in a field with scraps

Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation rocket, designed to make access to space as cheap and reliable as a journey on a commercial airline.

With Starship, SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to build a vehicle that takes people to Mars. However, Starship will enable so much more. Starship will have the ability to launch cargo and people to be into space at a scale never before seen. And will get from point-to-point on Earth quicker than any commercial airline.

Most aerospace prototypes are built in spotlessly clean factories behind closed doors. SpaceX is building prototypes of their Starship in Texas, in the open air, for the world to see. What’s more, SpaceX is taking big risks with the project:

  • They’re using stainless steel to build Starship, a material considered old-fashioned in rocket design.
  • They’re choosing to power Starship with an engine design that had never flown until SpaceX’s own prototype engine flew in August last year.
  • They are using unconventional materials and building techniques more akin to those found in shipbuilding than in aerospace.
  • They rapidly iterate and improve upon the design of Starship as they build their prototypes.

Even if you’re not in the rocket building business, this project is massively inspiring because SpaceX shows that:

  • You shouldn’t be afraid to try something different.
  • You can always learn from mistakes.
  • Use technologies that are considered ‘legacy’ if they help you deliver a better product.
  • Designing and building is a learning process, which is constantly evolving.
Polluted water popsicles - Blue Stag Selects April
Hung I-chen, Guo Yi-hui, and Cheng Yu-ti

Polluted water popsicles highlight a huge problem

Don’t be fooled by these organic looking ice lollies. They have been collected from 100 different water sources across Taiwan. Each one was tainted with sewage and pollution. 90% of the trash in the water is plastic, including bottle caps and plastic bags. This toxic water was then frozen into popsicles and recreated using transparent polyester resin.

Leading on this eye-opening project are three students from the National Taiwan University of Arts. Hung I-chen, Guo Yi-hui, and Cheng Yu-ti aim to raise awareness about the huge problem of water pollution. This issue is due to rapid economic growth and urbanisation.

To present their project, they have designed packaging for each popsicle. Featuring the number, the location and colours and patterns to compliment the lolly. The execution and attention to detail of this project is incredible.

Not Mine Poem - Blue Stag Selects
Lorena Medina

Not Mine – A visual poem encapsulating life in lockdown

This is a visual poem from Cannes Lion-winning director, Lorena Medina. It captures the way she has been feeling during the pandemic and how her life has changed.

Usually, Lorena works with crews, meeting and validating ideas with people and travelling around the world. In this poem, she describes how this life has come to a full stop and what she has found filling her time instead.

The film blends full colour and black and white photography with quirky animations. As well as an obligatory mention of Zoom in connecting with people during the lockdown.

“In one of my daily walks with my dear dog Linda, I came up with these series of reflections about the first month of isolation. This is an intimate view of my thoughts in which I open up my heart to the melancholy, fears, uncertainties, love and routines of a life within my life. I couldn’t create, and therefore I did.”

Lots of people went into lockdown with a feeling that this was the ultimate time to be creative. No outside distractions and lots of time to be productive. What we didn’t realise is the profound effect this different life with minimal interactions would have on us.

Star Rating Simulator - Blue Stag Selects April
New Zealand Transport Agency

Rightcar Safety Simulator – Visualising car safety ratings

Communicating car safety ratings can be a bit dry and boring. Getting people to understand and engage with this information can be a difficult task. But, this AWWWARD winning safety simulator website achieves it simply and effectively.

This website was produced for the New Zealand Transport Agency. Its purpose is to increase awareness about car safety when purchasing a new car. Rather than displaying a star rating to try and communicate this issue, they’ve chosen to visualise it.

Using a safety bubble and a cute little character, the star rating has been brought to life. The character’s facial expression changes as the safety rating decreases. Once you reach the one-star rating, only the torso is protected by the bubble, the character is in a state of terror.

This site was designed and developed by Resn, a digital experience design studio in New Zealand. Their aim is to “infect minds with gooey interactive experiences and saturate the internet with digital miracles.” And to be fair, they really achieved a gooey interactive experience with this website.

Thanks for reading Blue Stag Selects: April! If you’d like to catch up on last month’s here’s Blue Stag Selects: March. Check back next month for our next selection of inspiring and interesting stories from around the world.

Dan Sargent

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    There’s a rustle in the Welsh woods that has been whispered about for generations. They believe it to be Blue. They say it’s not sasquatch, but Stag. All that’s been spotted is the odd antler in the overgrowth or hoofprint on the forest floor.

    We’ve taken matters into our own hands and set up a series of cameras to try and locate Seb the Stag for ourselves. Brave visitor, can you help us in our quest to unravel the mystery and marvel at the myth?

    Launch forest cam
    Number 4
    Craig-y-Nos Country Park
    51.8815° N, 3.4435° W