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April 2016

When in Lebanon!

In Lebanon, we hear bad news all the time – poverty, unfairness, water shortage, no electricity, bad – or no – Internet, inequality, a vacant presidency, not to mention the emerging waste crisis, the possibility of catching the plague, and to top it all off, Skybar-less summers 😛

The media coverage and current news are only producing one result: depression. With the reality of a 24/7 shower of bad information, the best thing to do in this situation is to stay positive and look at life in a different way.

Our personality and perception of life set the tone and stage for how we live, and while there are many forms of therapy that can help us survive, I find that the combination of design, humor, and a happier color palette is one of the best solutions.

Now, without taking you through the long and agonizing process of my thesis on Humor in Design, I will just be content in sharing with you a few examples on how different shapes bring different meanings, and how a small change in colors makes even the most aggressive statements a bit perkier. Visual communication’s main goal may be to connect people and transmit messages, share slogans, and sell products, but it is also to easily and certainly brighten up a bad day!

Print Print Print Print Print

Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt…

And yes, you got it! It’s the famous filler text commonly used to demonstrate the graphic elements of a document or visual presentation. Replacing meaningful content with dummy text allows viewers to focus on graphic aspects such as font, typography, and page layout without being distracted by the content.

Since university, we’ve been taught to use the dummy text, paying little attention to what it says.

But yes! Its not just a meaningless paragraph that was randomly stocked with letters.

Yes, it gets interesting! As a start lorem ipsum is derived from Latin dolorem ipsum, translated as “pain itself” which comes from a line in section 1.10.32 from the book “De finibus bonorum et malorum”, a 1st-century BC Latin text by Marcus Tullius Cicero, with words altered, added, and removed to make it an improper Latin.

But who is Marcus? Marcus Cicero was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator,political theorist, consul… to name a few. The book’s title, “De finibus bonorum et malorum”, is translated to “On the Ends of Goods and Evils”. It consists of five books, in which Cicero explains the philosophical views of Epicureanism, Stoicism, and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon.

In conclusion, there is a lot of meaningless stuff that we encounter everyday, but rethinking them makes us dig new paths in our meaningless world!

It’s an interesting book to read, but the ironic part is, will the generations of the next couple of millenniums be using random scripts from our daily lives as random, dummy texts?

Discover 5 reasons to use Fireworks instead of Photoshop for Web Design 


Adam Kobeissy
Digital Designer

Autodesk acquires Arnold Render

Arnold is one of the leading render plugins in the world of 3D graphics. It is a fast and efficient Monte Carlo raytracer. The realism that it delivers, added to the simplicity of its interface, is what made Solid Angle’s masterpiece so popular.

In the press release on April the 18tth 2016 at 8:00 am EDT, Autodesk announces the acquisition of Solid Angle, the company behind Arnold*.

“Arnold started as an experiment at Cinesite a little while ago but has quickly become our primary renderer. What impressed us most apart from the blazing raytrace speed, low memory consumption and stability with everything & anything you throw at it, is the elegant ease of use, allowing artists to focus on their art rather than technicalities.”

Chris Nickel, CG Supervisor, Cinesite

Arnold has taken the VFX industry by storm, making a name of itself and getting integrated in the pipeline of over 500 studios worldwide, on projects like Oscar winning. Ex Machina to TV series like HBO’s Game of Thrones.





SolidAngle started selling Arnold on their website since 2014, making it accessible to the public. The main concerns come mainly from non-Autodesk users that have been rendering via Arnold since its release on other 3D software like Houdini and Cinema 4D. Their concern is that they would stop developing the software any further, as it happened to other Autodesk purchases, or that they will focus mainly on the development of this plugin on the Autodesk main software, Maya.

We all hope for the best for this new acquirement by Autodesk and, with the industry moving forward, we have to keep ourselves  up to date on the technological advances of the 3D world.

*Press Release:

Wondering how to choose your 3D Application

Giuseppe Boschiero
Technical Director & 3D Generalist

Lebanon’s new car plates design

So everybody has been fussing around the fact that the Ministry of Interior is changing the Lebanese car plates, which will have a built-in electronic device to keep the record of our cars and enable easier tracking of violations.

By doing so, the Ministry is erasing any sort of class differentiation, illegal customization and all emblems from license plates in line with a new traffic law that will hopefully go into effect this April.

Well, we were assigned to the design of the new car plates back in 2013 and we have been waiting ever since for them to see the light.

This is how we did it:

Our influence was European and more specifically, German. We chose DIN 1451, as main font, which was the standard font for all Germany’s industrial applications and is heavily used in traffic signage and vehicle registration.


The US car plates are also designed using a wider choice of fonts, which are similar in character to DIN 1451: same thickness, condensed, systematic with wide and clear counters. Size and proximity, line and type thickness are key factors in License plates since they are small canvases viewed from a distance. Any intricate detail will be lost from afar, taking into consideration that the cars are in motion, and most probably at high speed.



Colors were also carefully chosen, sorting categories put by the ministry. All license plates are printed on reflective sheeting that is covered with tiny glass reflective beads.

This means that too many or too bright colors will make it hard to see.



Rebecca Mourani
Associate Creative Director



Best Practices for tailoring your Facebook Videos

Based on the latest data from Facebook, more than 500 million people are watching 100 million hours of video on the social networking site daily, for an average of about 12 minutes a day per viewer. Facebook is still the platform with the highest social reach compared to other channels like YouTube and Instagram. Consequently, finding ways to tailor video content for Facebook seems to be a good idea.

How would you benefit from Facebook videos and improve your brand’s digital marketing strategy?

Here are the 6 best practices to tailor your Facebook videos:

  • Better to directly upload your video on your Facebook timeline instead of sharing it from YouTube
  • Create shorter videos: Facebook adopted a lower video length than YouTube to keep users moving and tied in to the News feed.
  • Bring your story to life quickly: users often quickly scroll through their News Feed looking for content to watch or share.
  • Promote your product or brand in the first few seconds.
  • Use attractive visuals to get clicks even with the sound off, since videos on Facebook auto play without sound.
  • Don’t miss the video’s tag option to drive organic reach, a feature you can’t find on YouTube.

Top 5 Most Watched Brands online in February 2016: Source Tubular Labs.

#1. LEGO with 184 million views

#2. Red Bull with 161 million views

#3. PlayStation with 140 million views

#4. Barbie with 79 million views

#5. Samsung Mobile with 79 million views

Finally, after viewing your video, a user has the chance through Facebook call-to-actions such as learn more, watch more or sign up, to be redirected to other destinations. This is the ideal way to let the user live your whole brand experience, while driving traffic to your website and other social media channels.

What’s Next?

Sabine Menassa
Digital Marketeer

Track Mattes & how to use them

Track mattes define the layer’s visibility according to the previous layer/the layer on top.
To find them you need to click on Toggle Switches for 4 columns to appear:


Mode | T | Track Matte | Parent

There are two kinds of track mattes:
Luma and Alpha

  • The Alpha matte, as the name gives away, uses the layer’s alpha channels to pick what can or can’t be visible.

So let’s say we want bananas to be coming out of the gramophone’s horn.

You create a shape layer of the place that you want to contain the bananas


Put the layer over the bananas layer then select alpha matte from the track matte list.

It pretty much works the same way a clipping mask would work in software like Photoshop or illustrator.


If you select Alpha inverted matte, the shape layer works the opposite way: everything but that shape can contain the bananas layer.

  • The Luma matte uses black and white:
    Everything white is visible, everything black is invisible, and all the 50 or more shades of grey differ in-between both visibilities.

Duplicate the gramophone’s layer; go to effects – Black & White from the effects and presets panel. Here, the changes depend on the colors present in your footage, picture. My goal is to write “Luma” behind the pink horn, so I’ll need to isolate the background from it.

By adding a maximum of red, the red colors become white while reducing the blues and cyans (other major colors in the picture) you create a more pronounced contrast of black and white.



Write “Luma” in a text layer, and place the black and white layer on top of it.

Your layers should be in this order:
-B&W gramophone
-Luma Text
-Initial gramophone

Select “Luma inverted layer” and then let the track matte do its thing.



Vickie Boschiero
Junior Animation Art Director