Radiance 3.0.0

May 31st, 2020  |  Flamingo · Substance · Swing · Trident

It gives me great pleasure to announce the fourth major release of Radiance. Let’s get to what’s been fixed, and what’s been added. First, I’m going to use emojis to mark different parts of it like this:

💔 marks an incompatible API / binary change
😻 marks new features
🤷‍♀️ marks bug fixes and general improvements

Dependencies for core libraries

  • Gradle from 5.6.1 to 6.4.1
  • Kotlin from 1.3.50 to 1.3.72
  • Kotlin coroutines from 1.3.0 to 1.3.7
  • Batik from 1.11 to 1.13

Substance

  • 😻 A more flexible skin accent system
  • 😻 New skins – Graphite Sienna, Sentinel and Harvest
  • 😻 Support color references in color scheme files
  • 😻 New Caps Lock indication on focused password fields
  • 😻 New association kind for checkbox and radio button “boxes”
  • 💔 Revisit APIs for loading color scheme bundles
  • 💔 Remove the title pane heap status widget
  • 🤷‍♀️ Use Helvetica Neue on macOS Catalina
  • 🤷‍♀️ Visual refresh of checkbox marks
  • 🤷‍♀️ Support for fallback fonts (CJK, etc)
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for incorrect usage of HIGHLIGHT_TEXT association kind on renderers.
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for background of popup menus opened from toolbar buttons.
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix improved contrast across core skins.
  • 🤷‍♀️ Multiple fixes for table rollover hightlights and animations
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for some components under very large font sizes
  • 🤷‍♀️ Performance fix for column selection in large tables
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for icons in file chooser drop downs
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for incorrect bounds of maximized frames on secondary monitors

Flamingo

  • 💔 General evolution of command button APIs
  • 😻 Support for toggle split buttons
  • 😻 Add API to wire notification on ribbon spinner changes
  • 😻 Add API to wire notification on ribbon task selection
  • 🤷‍♀️ Multiple focus traversal fixes for ribbon content
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fixes for clipped wrapped ribbon components
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix to not use round corners on command buttons in menus
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for crash in narrow command button panels
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for crash in showing keytips on toggle anchored ribbon commands
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for crash on showing keytips on undecorated windows
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for dynamic changes to ribbon gallery content
  • 🤷‍♀️ Fix for large icons on internal frames
  • 🤷‍♀️ Use the public Taskbar API to set the ribbon frame dock icon

Trident

  • 💔 Move all public APIs to org.pushingpixels.trident.api package
  • 💔 Remove generic UI toolkit support and leave only Swing support
  • 😻 Add support to provide dynamically computed from / to values on timelines.

Neon

  • 💔 Move all public APIs to org.pushingpixels.neon.api package

Photon

Plasma

This release marks a special milestone for me. The very first Substance release happened exactly fifteen years ago, on May 30th 2005. I didn’t quite imagine that I’d be here today, still working on the same codebase.

There’s still a long road ahead to continue exploring the never-ending depths of what it takes to write elegant and high-performing desktop applications in Swing. If you’re in the business of writing just such apps, I’d love for you to take this Radiance release for a spin. Click here to get the instructions on how to add Radiance to your builds. And don’t forget that all of the modules require Java 9 to build and run.

Here’s to the next fifteen years!

Continuing the ongoing series of interviews with creative artists working on various aspects of movie and TV productions, it is my pleasure to welcome Almitra Corey. In this interview she talks about her path through the various positions in the art department in her career so far, working on projects rooted in realism, collaborating with different directors across the arc of a season of an episodic production, clearing artwork, and what stays with her after a production is over. Around these topics and more, Almitra dives deep into creating the worlds of the gorgeously crafted first season of “High Fidelity”.


Almitra Corey during scouting on “High Fidelity”. Photo by Jesse Peretz.

Kirill: Please tell us about yourself and the path that took you to where you are today.

Almitra: I started working in production in 2004 about a year after moving to New York from Virginia and it was in kind of an accidental way. I started in the Accounting Department and about 1.5 years later made the move to the Art Department. When I made that move, it clicked for me that I had been doing production design in college, but didn’t know what it was yet.

My college degree is in Sculpture & Extended Media, and I also had a minor in Film & Photography, and an interest in Art History as well. I had planned on becoming a curator or a gallerist all through undergrad. When I moved to New York after college, I worked for the French video artist, Pierre Huyghe, on a couple of projects. We were making films, but it was in the constructs of the art world. I wasn’t thinking about it as a movie or a TV show, as I hadn’t put everything together yet. After that he helped me get a job at the DIA Museum as a docent. Working in the art world was exciting and also made me realize that it wasn’t actually what I wanted to do after all. A few months later I got a job through a friend of a friend helping out in the Accounting department on a TV show and never looked back.

After working in Accounting for a short period, I realized the Art Department was what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a Scenic Artist for a while, and then I wanted to be a Decorator for a long time, and eventually I made my way to Art Directing. I did a few movies with a great Production Designer who’s a dear friend, and after working with him for a couple of years as well as designing a handful of short films and music videos, I was hired to design my first feature. That was “The Invitation” with Karyn Kusama in 2014, and I’ve been a Production Designer ever since.

There’s not a lot of people I know who had the path that I’ve had, starting in Accounting, then being an Art Coordinator for about 5 years, and then Art Directing. Most people start as Art PA or Art Director, or go straight to Production Design. But I didn’t originally want to be a designer. I came up in New York under traditional, old-school designers who had been working for 30+ years or had a background and a degree in architecture, theater design or production design. It didn’t seem like something that was in the cards for me.

I loved the idea of Set Decoration, but after doing a couple of smaller projects as a decorator, I realized that I was more drawn to designing.


Set design for “High Fidelity”, record store. Courtesy of Almitra Corey.

Kirill: As you look at these first 15 years of your career, are you still surprised by some things when you join a new production?

Almitra: Every time. It’s funny because it’s such a cliche that everybody has always said since I started working in film and television. Every show is different, and it is true.

The last couple of shows I’ve done have been wonderful, and also unique. There was nothing bad about either show. They were incredible and I’m proud of both of them, but they were both very new structures for me. I’m doing the fourth season of “GLOW”, and I’ve never been on a show that existed before. I’ve only done pilots and first seasons, and it was a new thing for me – coming into a show that was this incredibly well-oiled machine. They had three seasons under their belt, and “GLOW” is an iconic show.

You join all the people that had been working on it together, and you come in as the new person. But so did Jeff Waldron, the Director of Photography, as he is new this season too. My whole department is new as well, except for Construction. It’s the same construction team who’s been there since the beginning, and that made it possible to come in pretty smoothly. Every day there was something new. It can be the the communication style, or the type of budgeting, or just little logistical things – but they were brand new to me.

Kirill: Do you find that in the last few years the art department is expected to do more to match the depth of storytelling and meet viewers’ expectations on the sophistication of the worlds you’re building?

Almitra: I’ve never done multiple seasons of a show. I’ve only done one season so far each of the three different shows. But the answer to your question is yes.

I just recently rewatched the whole season of “High Fidelity”, and I definitely was already making mental notes of places that I can grow the sets in the potential second season. It wasn’t that I was watching it and picking out mistakes or things I didn’t like. I’m actually quite happy with the way that show turned out, and I love the way it looks. But there were places where I was thinking about the story and Rob as a character, and how her set can change, how the store can change and grow with time in a realistic way.

“High Fidelity” specifically, but in general also the shows I work on tend to be rooted in reality and realism. I want there to be a reason behind everything we put on the sets – as much as possible.


Set design for “High Fidelity”, dive bar. Courtesy of Almitra Corey.

Kirill: Do you worry how your work will be seen in 20-30 years, or will you be happy that some of that work is still relevant and finding its audience after all the time that will have passed?

Almitra: I don’t necessarily worry about how “my” work will be seen in 20-30 years. I don’t think I’ve done any projects that I feel wouldn’t hold up visually. There are a couple of movies I’ve done that I can see finding another audience throughout the years.

I did a movie called “Lucky” with Harry Dean Stanton. That movie was quiet, beautiful, small, and well-loved by people who saw it. I think that’s a movie that I expect will have a little bit of a resurgence at some point. It was a beautiful performance, and it was Harry’s last performance before he passed. Another example for me is “The Invitation” that is such a perfect story. I think it will hold up for a long time because it’s an iconic, suspenseful horror-thriller film, and I think that it’ll be relevant for a long time.

I think about those two movies holding up as a whole, being around and being relevant for a long time. But I don’t necessarily think about my work independent of the whole.

Kirill: Do you find it hard to talk with people about what you do for a living? How do you explain what a production designer does?

Almitra: I have a couple of quick and easy ways to describe it to people. I just say that everything you see on the screen that’s not an actor is pretty much my work and the Art Department’s work. That’s the quick and dirty response that includes all of the departments under the umbrella of the “Art Department”.

If I’m describing it a little bit more in detail, I’ll talk about building a set, or what Construction and Set Decoration do more specifically under my whole department. I’ll say that Construction builds the house, and Set Dec makes it a home. I think this is a common way PD’s can easily describe the job to give a general idea of how it works and what we actually do in a practical way.


Production design of “High Fidelity”, dive bar, by Almitra Corey.

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Continuing the ongoing series of interviews with creative artists working on various aspects of movie and TV productions, it is my pleasure to welcome Richard Bloom. In this interview he talks about his path through the various positions in the art department in his career so far, the changes in the world of episodic productions in the last few years, differences between feature films and episodic television, and what stays with him after a production is over . Around these topics and more, Richard dives deep into creating the worlds of the beautifully crafted “Briarpatch”.


Richard Bloom scouting the dunes for Episode 9 of “Briarpatch” with location manager Dennis Muscari behind left shoulder.

Kirill: Please tell us about yourself and the path that took you to where you are today.

Richard: I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I discovered my love for theatre in high school, and then went to college in Virginia where I double majored in theater and business.

I knew I loved theatre and design. But right after I graduated from college, I got an opportunity to intern on a film in Los Angeles. So I got in my car and drove from Williamsburg to Hollywood. Then the next day I showed up at the production office of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”.

Within a couple of weeks that internship turned into my first PA job. And at the end of physical production I had come to meet Mike Myers, and he asked me to be his post-production assistant. So what I thought was going to just be a summer in LA turned into a much longer stay. I ended up working for Mike for a few years as a writer’s assistant. I learned a ton. It was a master class in Hollywood.

Ultimately, I knew that I didn’t want to be an assistant. I wanted to get back into design, so once I left that job, I picked up the crew list from “Austin Powers” and called the art director. As luck would have it, he said that he was going to start a project that week. I showed up, not really knowing what I was getting into.

That project was a small movie called “Donnie Darko.” And Alec Hammond, the designer, asked me if I wanted to be the art department coordinator. I jumped at that offer and then that project went union. It was pretty lucky. I owe a lot to Alec.

Soon after, I met Bo Welch and worked as his art coordinator for many years on many projects. Then slowly I became an assistant art director (thanks to Bo and Maya Shimoguchi), then an art director, and then many years later a designer. I’ve had design opportunities over the years, but “Briarpatch” was the first project that really felt right. It’s also the first series for the showrunner, Andy Greenwald. He’s a fantastic writer and a fantastic guy. I was excited about collaborating with him, and so I said “yes”.


Production design of “Briarpatch” by Richard Bloom.

Kirill: If I take you back 20 years ago, and then from that time jump straight to “Briarpatch”, would you say that the changes the art department has undergone through this time have been gradual or drastic?

Richard: I think it’s been fairly gradual over the years, but for the particular jump from “Men in Black 2” to “Briarpatch” it would be pretty drastic. If making a blockbuster is like running a marathon, making a TV show is like running a marathon of sprints. You have new scripts coming in all the time and a new director showing up every week. You are opening 3 sets a day and prepping 3 more and scouting the next episode. It’s a non-stop cycle. It’s pretty intense.

On “Briarpatch” we were shooting each episode in 8 days, which is quite lean in terms of shooting days. But the appetite is of course to compete with the shows that have bigger budgets and more resources. We had a small crew running at full steam for the episodes. But luckily, the crew was top notch.

I was really blessed to able to bring an art director from LA, Callie Andreadis. She is amazing, and we really have the same shorthand. Our propmaster Jonathan Buchanan also came from LA, and he was fantastic. He was off and running on his own. And then, of course, we had a really strong team in New Mexico lead by our set decorator, Kevin Pierce, and location manager, Dennis Muscari, and our construction coordinator, Robert Fritz. We all had to be on the same page early on, because once we started going, there was really no stopping. And luckily, all the departments worked really well together.


Sketches, plans and set photos of “Briarpatch”, courtesy of Richard Bloom.

Kirill: Did it help for the continuity of the show that you were the art director on the pilot, and then some months later you started doing the whole series?

Richard: Definitely. We had shot the pilot earlier, in the fall of 2018. Brandon Tonner-Connolly designed it and I art directed it. It was a really good taste of what was to come and I got a feel for all that Albuquerque has to offer. The writers’ room hadn’t started when the pilot was shot, and although Andy had a lot of ideas where the show was going there was still a lot to be imagined.

We didn’t build any sets on the pilot. It was all location based. So one thing that I knew coming back for the series is that we were going to build the hotel hallway and the hotel room, and we probably weren’t going to be able to afford to go to the lobby of the hotel in many of the episodes.

So I wanted to redesign that hotel hallway to bring in some of the architectural elements of the lobby. That way, every time you’re up on the 9th floor, you also have that feeling of that hotel lobby down below. Taura Rivera, the set designer on that set really nailed it and our construction team did such a nice job with all the wood and tile details and the fake elevators. I was pleased with all the changes we made. It shot really well.


Production design of “Briarpatch” by Richard Bloom.

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Aberration

May 18th, 2020  |  General

The original for the quote is behind a paywall, and it’s about four loosely related sections. One of them is borrowing from this story and expanding on the larger ecosystem of the recent crop of “intermediaries”:

In the old economy of price signals, you tried to build a product that people would want, and the way you knew it worked is that people would pay you more than it cost. You were adding value to the world, and you could tell because you made money. In the new economy of user growth, you don’t have to worry about making a product that people want because you can just pay them to use it, so you might end up with companies losing money to give people things that they don’t want and driving out the things they do want.

I think we’ll look back at the late 2010s / early 2020s as some kind of a weird aberration in the global market as untold billions of dollars were burnt trying to upend industries, with no solid business plan other than the vague promise of innovation, customer centeredness and dreams of striking it rich. Well, the last part obviously is working for the very very few who are still managing to squeeze incredible amounts of money from a) investors, b) creators of the thing and c) consumers of the thing. While at the same time destroying the very market they have set out to “rescue”.