Dave Addey dissects an 80's classic to examine its sets, props, signs, and more

According to the about page of typesetinthefuture, the Venn diagram of “people who are interested in sci-fi” and “people who are interested in fonts” have “a remarkable overlap”. While that may be the case, it’s still cool to have Dave Addey take you on a sightseeing tour of design curiosities in a movie many other people have cut into in many other ways. Not just limited to identifying fonts, Addey goes so far as to analyze architecture, investigate interfaces, scrutinize signage, and do a little logospotting. Highlight: when he identifies that the metadata on a photo actually comes from the leftover scraps of a Letraset sheet.

Bill Hammack explains the history and engineering of an object we often take for granted.

Honestly not much to say about this one except wow I love it when the design history of an object is so clearly explained — the problems that necessitate its existence, how it evolved over time, the clever tricks developed to optimize efficiency, safety, cost, or any other number of factors. Sure it’s not the most interesting history in the world, but I think we often forget how much story there is to tell about even the things we regard as the most mundane.

Martin Enthed talks shop about the process for rendering hyper-realistic images of furniture

I don’t know if you’ve looked at an IKEA catalog recently, but if you have, you might be surprised to learn that 75% of those images are computer generated. Probably more at this point (this article is from two years ago). Martin Enthed explains how he and his team create computer graphics that look real enough to stand up to scrutiny next to photographs. While he discusses some technical things (including how each and every computer is used for rendering power as soon as its user goes home at night), illuminating for me was how he got the traditional-minded higher-ups of IKEA communications to accept using CG in their catalog — and the one time that people complained that the CG looked awful by pointing out 200 terrible product images, those turned out to be photographs (while the 2 or 3 they said were good turned out to be CG).

Oh also: the second image on the page — the one of an office with white cabinets and a desk and a chair? That’s a gif. Wait for it.

Garson Hampfield, preeminent crossword inker, details the ins and outs of an overlooked trade

If you know me you know I’m obsessed with crosswords. I’ve tried making them in the past, and boy are they difficult. But one of the aspects of professionally constructed crosswords that is often underappreciated is the process of inking and gridding them — mostly painstakingly and by hand! It’s a time-honored tradition that doesn’t get a lot of press in today’s digital era, but Garson Hampfield will tell you about the amazing process and history behind the field. Highlight: Hampfield compares two puzzles by two different inkers to show just how influential different styles can be.

Michael Heilemann takes us from concept to production of a single, eminent vehicle

There’s not much I love more than deep dives into creative processes, and this particular piece is especially iceberg-y because it’s essentially a double whammy: not only is it the story of how George Lucas and his early collaborators (Colin Cantwell, Ralph McQuarrie) developed the concept of The Millennium Falcon and the stages it went through along the way, it’s also a story of how Michael Heilemann pieced together that history. There are some missing puzzle pieces and some conjectures, but to me that makes this all the more interesting. This is, without a doubt, a real legend. Highlight: Something that I sort of realized but never really considered was that 2001: A Space Odyssey really revolutionized spaceship design. Heilemann touches upon this, showing examples of pre-1960s sci-fi — all the ships are smooth, shiny and chrome. 2001 ushered in the era of greebled surfaces.

(Shoutout to Lian Chang for bringing this one to my attention!)

Bradley "Gmunk" Munkowitz goes behind the scenes in creating ornate and futuristic interface graphics for the movie Oblivion

Look at this. This is just flat out beautiful. Not only that, but it has the very iceberg-y quality of something that someone spent hours and hours toiling over but that will only be seen for a few seconds at a time. As an added bonus (or curse?), you won’t be able to watch a sci-fi movie after this without paying very close attention to all the screens.

Watch the reel at the top of the page, click through the slideshows, and watch the interview with the director (and Gmunk) about their process. You get to see him nerd out over grids, I love it. Highlight: As intricate as the whole thing is, Gmunk still humbly refers to it as “just dots, lines, and circles, really”

Creating the perfect interface for mixing colors reveals hidden complications

What color is halfway between yellow and blue? If you answered green, you’d be wrong: well, you’d be right in one way, if we’re talking about paint, but you’d be wrong in many other ways, including the way many computers interpret colors. If that sounds complicated, it’s nothing compared to what the team at FiftyThree had to go through to build the color mixer for their iPad app, Paper. Turns out there are many many different ways to interpolate colors, and none of them are quite how we experience reality. Highlight: The team actually found a method that reflected real life too closely, and had to take a different approach from there.