OCT 3rd 2012 (recap): Greased Lightning!

A car can be sexy in the same way a person can be sexy — although the trait is a bit harder to define when you’re talking about sheet metal versus flesh. Part of a sexy car’s appeal is purely physical: proportions and curves, size and muscle. Humans have eyes, lips and hips; cars have headlights, grilles and fenders. But then there’s the truly intangible — the animal attraction that turns mere mortals into drooling buffoons. For this, a machine must be bold, distinctive and aggressively elegant. And there’s the sound, too — a car’s voice. A beautiful car you admire. A sexy one you desire.” – Marc Lachapelle

At SVII this month, we parted the curtains of Angelica’s Bell Theatre with an opening act by German “comedian”, Sven Beiker, also known as the Executive Director of CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford):

Sven had started his illustrious career at BMW, stationed at a variety of locations including the BMW lab here in the Silicon Valley. The CARS institute currently deals with a lot of the electronics research, mechanical engineering, and even legal aspects of cars. Among the interesting tidbits that Sven shared are innovations in the area of secondary use for car parts (such as the battery), especially relevant in light of the relatively short 13-year lifespan cars have to their manufacturers; These folks seem to also be carving a space in the legal and governmental playgrounds as well. After an energetic Q&A, we lifted our glasses to Sven, as he waved goodbye to celebrate German reunification day.

Our intermission was provided by Jessie Chen and Roland Van der Veen – a swing dance showcase with a little bit of cheek and sass to the program’s namesake musical hit “Greased Lightning”:

Missed it? You can check out the original video here:

Next up was Peter Oliver of Switch Vehicles, located in Sebastapol (just across the Golden Gate Bridge):

From a background in software and hardware, Peter had decided to combine his passion for cars and his propensity to have fun into a new project involving electric power conversion. His aspiration? To make an automobile with a 100 mile range, that can carry 3 to 4 people, and cost only $15,000. And thus, “The Switch” was born.

The Switch is a three-wheel vehicle with 33% of the weight on each tire. (The decision to use 3 wheels was inspired by the desire to be classified by the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) as a motorcycle.) Putting his business sense to work, Peter also realized that the hardware industry could give him an edge by allowing him to buy standard parts, and farm out more specialized components to contract manufacturers. The audience was dazzled by the Switch’s many possible configurations… and even superhero qualities, such as one version’s ability to carry 600 lbs of hay. In addition, the building of the Switch also leaves its mark as the crux of various training programs for high schools and prisons.

Finally, Brad Templeton, Google’s car consultant and board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation painted a vision of Robocars:

At first, he cited the many reasons why cars really should be automated and electronic. For example, humans are bad drivers and 34,000 people are killed in America and 1.2 million worldwide every year as a result, many useless hours are spent driving in traffic, 25% of CO2 emissions today are from cars, and 8 cents per mile is continuously being spent on accidents and even more on gas. He also demonstrated that 60% of the land area in LA is dedicated to cars from driveways to parking lots to highways. Brad suggested that if we had small electric robocars they could be called up whenever they are needed, they can also self park 3X tighter and in areas that are mostly out of sight. For this seemingly futuristic system to be implemented, the AI systems needed are not the omniscient ones of science fiction lure, but actually rather simple collision avoidance systems that are fairly attainable. Brad also showed a convincing video of a Google robocar picking up and driving a blind man to and from the store without any human intervention. The video was created by Google-hired Stanford students who had won the DARPA challenge for off road and urban driving, the day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the legal ability to have robocars on the road.

We ended the evening with a lively panel discussion moderated by Max Sims (our auto-savvy presenter from the Images Speak event):

…and discussed issues ranging from the business models around car and battery ownership, to the Minority Report scenario of being betrayed by your robocar. (And can a Jewish man have a robocar drive him to the temple on the Sabbath?)

All in all, our impressive cast of speakers presented compelling perspectives on how the Silicon Valley is innovating in the area of transportation, and in the spirit of SVII, each broke out of conventional thinking in his own unique ways.

Be sure to join us on our next adventure: Design for Experience! (Innovations in User Experience and Product Design)

Pre-registration Tickets ($20) on SALE now!

OCT 3rd 2012: Greased Lightning! – SV Innovations in Transportation

“Fly to work, fly home.. instantaneously?”

Transportation is one of the most pivotal and under-noticed underpinnings of our society. It has inspired science fiction and scientists alike, and shapes life everyday by determining where you can go, and when you can get there.  Much like the river Nile sitting at the crux of whether a civilization can flourish, advancements in vehicles and systems of transportation can oftentimes be the bottleneck for whether or not other innovations are embraced by the culture at any point in time.  

Did you know that all of the major German, Japanese and American automotive companies have research labs here in the Silicon Valley?  
And did you know that Stanford University has one of the most revered Automotive Research programs in the world?

Come hear and join in on the conversation with our three uniquely selected speakers, and see what the Silicon Valley is doing to change the world via innovations in transportation!
Sven Armin Beiker
As the director of the CARS program, Sven is dedicated to re-envisioning the automobile; His motivation is to bring academia and industry together to shape the automotive future. Since 2008 he has been taking care of the program’s strategic planning, resources management, and internal / external communications. Since Spring 2009 he has been lecturing the Stanford class “The Future of the Automobile” to educate students in interdisciplinary automotive thinking and to get students involved with the industry early on. Before joining Stanford University, Sven used to work at the BMW Group for more than 13 years. Between 1995 and 2008 he pursued responsibilities in technology scouting, innovation management, systems design, and series development. He primarily applied his expertise to chassis and powertrain projects, which also provided him with profound insights into the industry’s processes and best practices. In addition, he worked in three major automotive and technology locations: Germany, Silicon Valley, and Detroit.
Brad Templeton
Brad Templeton is Canadian born software engineer and entrepreneur who first made an impact to the online world with his involvement in USENET. As one of the most widely read moderated newsgroups in existence, Brad originated rec.humor.funny over 20 years ago which attracted an estimated half a million readers each day. Brad Templeton also sits as a chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF has long defended free speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights for the online world. Since his involvement, Brad has been a part of a series of victories the EFF has achieved. He currently is also on the board of BitTorrent, Inc. and is an active artist at Burning Man and photographer. He maintains a blog called Brad Ideas.
Peter Oliver
After doing electric car conversions for many years, Peter Oliver co-founded Switch Vehicles three years ago. At that time, their goal was to develop a vehicle that costs less than $15,000 and weighed less than 1350 pounds. They were successful in this mission, creating the Switch, a vehicle that can travel for 100 miles per charge. The street legal vehicles can reach up to 70 miles per hour and the three wheeled, wide body design makes for a very stable ride.  In their preproduction phase, Switch Vehicles have already sold 11 cars to schools and private citizens located as far away as Australia. The company’s new goal is to produce 100 vehicles a month and find up to 25 resellers.
Moderated by:
Max Sims
Principal, Technolution
Max Sims has been teaching 3d design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco since 1994. He worked for Alias servicing industrial design and animation clients and started his own entertainment design and design visualization firm, which boasts clients such as PDI, ILM, Pixar, frogdesign, Apple Industrial Design Group.  Max is the  lead author of Inside Maya 5, and has a passion for combining his diverse knowledge based from experience with clients in various fields of manufacturing, including car design, SW development, game design, visual effects and animation;  His goal is to add a deeper level of design understanding to his proven success as a leading technologist in order to advance the state of the arts. He also enjoy international business, having worked extensively for foreign firms, and advisory board positions with like-minded people. To Max, business, legal and financial models require as much creativity as a museum quality design.
6:30 – Registration (Networking)
7:00 – Dinner Commences
7:15 – Program Begins
7:45 – Intermission (Dance Showcase)
8:00 – Panel Discussion
9:30 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)

SEPT 5th 2012 (Recap): Images Speak

A picture is worth a thousand words…but try saying that with a picture. – Brazilian proverb

While the power behind the ability to communicate through images has long been revered, the different ways images are used in communication are constantly being invented, combined, redefined, and rediscovered. Last Wednesday at SVII, we got a taste of the different ways that people are refining their craft of connecting with an audience through picture-based communication.

After a riveting opening performance by San Francisco-based artist, Scot Sier:

…and delectable food and drinks from the warm hosts at the Angelica’s:

..we embarked on our adventure to explore the leverage of visual media.

It started with Emilio Banuelos, a photographer whose passion is found in the stark truths that can be gleaned from everyday life:

He uses a rather small classic camera because he knows that it is unintrusive and puts his subjects at ease. In order to get authentic images of the way people live, he enters their environments and lives and travels with them (having spent time in Mexico and traveled across the country in a Greyhound bus). When photographing someone, it is important for Emilio that the subject also feels that they are treated with respect and knows that he values their time.  This, in the end, also leads to better pictures:

Our next presenter was Christos Chrestatos, a filmmaker and creative director from New York City:

He took us deep into the process behind the making of one of his music videos, “The Hard Way,” by Gotham Green and Quickie Mart:

Christos reminded us that we naturally move towards things that we love and that make us feel loved, and that unconditional love for your client’s project is also necessary in order to discover and draw out the potential behind a brand’s identity (which is ultimately also a reflection of the owner).  He also drove home the importance of uniqueness supported by rationality (doing things differently, but always in a way that makes sense) when generating creative concepts for a new client.  In this video, he uses broad symbolic imagery in a way that is not typical in the hip-hop music scene. His inspiration comes partially from myths and epic movies that he has been fascinated by in the past; Such experiences give him a deep well to draw ideas from for the projects that he works on now.

Our final speaker was Max Sims, author and expert in Maya, graphic artist, professor, designer and entrepreneur:

He does many things, but the driving force is always innovating and creating. He gave us insight into how you analyze images (and objects) based on the emotions that they elicit–and how to actively design for different emotions. (For example, sports cars tend to evoke strong emotions due to their tendency to value flair over balance in their designs; This manner of taking shapes to their extremes serves the alternative purpose of sports cars which is to double as fashion pieces.) To learn some more from Max, check out:

Of course, we then concluded the evening with a dynamic panel discussion led by our own dashing chairman and founder, Howard Lieberman:

In a way, the evening we had at the Angelica’s was like a history (and projection into the future) of image making–starting off with classic replica making (photography), moving on to directing and integrating (film), and finishing with an elaborate form of creating images from the ground up and inside out (graphic design and modeling). The bottom line? There is still much more to learn and discover about the possibilities behind image making and its unbounded potential to establish meaningful and generative human connections.

To join in on our next adventure together, Greased Lightning!, sign up here: 

And as always…Keep innovating!

– SVII Team

SEPT 5th 2012: Images Speak – The Leverage of Media

(Making a Connection with Those Who Count Through Emotional Relevance)

Date: Sept 5, 2012, 7PM 

Location: The Angelica’s, 863 Main St., Redwood City, CA 94063

Tickets: $15 (Early Bird – Ends 8/28), $20 (Pre-Registration), $25 (At the Door)

– Get an inside glimpse at the speakers’ broad range of personal experiences that has shaped their use of imagery to evoke emotion through different mediums.   

– Be inspired by each speaker’s unique thought and creative processes.

– Learn how to use the power of personal emotion to accomplish YOUR goals, to make your messages more significant and poignant, and to convey the hidden meaning that crosses cultural and language barriers.

At the conclusion of the speakers’ presentations, our founder and chairman, Howard Lieberman, will moderate a panel discussion – where YOU can pick the brains of Emilio, Christos, and Max for what promises to be some of the most inspiring and thought provoking conversations centered around this theme. Prepare to be inspired as we share great ideas, great food, and great networking with a group of like-minded innovators like yourself!

6:30 – Registration (Networking)
7:00 – Dinner and Entertainment (Scot Sier)
8:00 – Main Program
9:00 – Speakers Panel Q&A
9:30 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)
Emilio Bañuelos
Photography Instructor (Academy of Art University)

Emilio Bañuelos has worked as an editorial photographer and consultant for newspapers in Mexico, Panama and the US. His documentary work earned him fellowships from the Poynter Institute, the Marty Forscher Fellowship for Humanistic Photography and an award from EnFoco Inc. In the San Francisco bay area, Emilio teaches documentary photography for the Academy of Art University, and has conducted workshops for the University of California Santa Cruz-Extension and the University of Coahuila and Black Boots Ink.

Christos Chrestatos
Director / Creative Director (Thoughtpusher)
Christos Chrestatos is an experienced filmmaker and director, and also the creative director for Thoughtpusher, a New York City based creative shop specializing in commercials, music videos, fashion films, and “hybrid advertising”.  His work has been featured in the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, XLR8R (leading voice in independent electronic music for the US and many top international markets), RES Magazine (bi-monthly publication chronicling the best in cutting edge film, music, art, design and culture), as well as TV channels in countries like Japan, Canada, and Germany.  Christos draws his inspiration from a curiosity towards the human condition, his love for mythology, and an appetite to create meaning;  He believes strongly in the universal language of imagery (and its ability to resonate with individuals), as well as the power of the narrative in bridging the gaps of global culture.

Max Sims
Principal (Technolution)
Max Sims started his career as a car designer at Opel and Renault then transitioning to the Visual FX industry. In 1989 he started working for Alias Research . Max has consulted to many of the leading manufacturers, design consultancies and VFX/animation houses such as Alessi, ILM, Pixar, Motorola, Sun, and Apple IDG. He is the lead author of Inside Maya 5 and has been teaching Maya and Alias Studio at the Academy of Art since 1994 and Cogswell Polytechnical College since 2000. He is an advisory board member to Multiverse networks, Caustic Graphics and the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute.


8/1/12 Announcement:
We are ecstatic about our lineup of speakers this September 5th.  We will be opening our season with one of the hottest topics in the Valley, especially for THIS moment in history – How imagery can help bring your ideas to life, and ultimately “seal the deal” as your message rides the silver bullet of emotional relevancy for your audience.

Joining us will be Emilio Banuelos, experienced journalistic photographer and professor in the poignant art of documentary photography; Max Sims,  3D Modeler and Designer extraordinaire (from toys to Ferraris!); and special guest from New York City – Christos Chrestatos, Director/Creative Director of Thoughtpusher, rising star in cutting-edge advertising and messaging through film and media.

Look out for more info on our incredible lineup of speakers coming up, and reserve your tickets today!