5 Reasons Why You Should Donate Your Old Shoes: Save Lives With Safe Water

Think about all the shoes you probably own. How many of them do you actually wear? If you’ve been waiting for a reason to get rid of some of your old shoes, this is it.

Don’t just trash them. Donate them!

For the fourth consecutive year, The Iona Group and Float, in partnership with St. Ann’s WATCH program, are co-sponsoring a shoe drive from August 1-31 throughout central Illinois. Drop-off locations are primarily located in Morton or Peoria, but check to see if any of the more than 75 locations are located near you.

The drive will benefit WaterStep, a nonprofit based out of Louisville, Ky., that helps save lives with safe water. Believe it or not, more than 1 out of every 10 people on this earth lack access to safe water. That’s nearly 750 million people, according to a 2014 study released by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. WaterStep is trying to spread safe water through one person, one family, and one community at a time.

Since 2012, we have donated nearly 50,000 pairs of shoes to WaterStep with your help. This year, our goal is to collect and haul away 30,000 pairs of shoes.

This shoe drives benefits every single person  involved. Here are five reasons why donating your shoes makes a difference.

1. Get rid of your clunkers.

Free up space in your home by getting rid of that old  pair of shoes you’ve had for far too long. No matter what condition your shoes are in, you can donate them. And if you lost a shoe? It doesn’t matter. Feel free to donate that sole shoe, too (get it?). Shoes are just a starting point. You can also donate sandals, boots, heels, and anything else you put on your feet to ride your bike, mow your lawn, complement your working clothes, and more.

2. Go shopping for new shoes.

Use this shoe drive as an excuse to treat yourself. Once you get rid of your old pair of shoes, you’ll likely want to replace them with a new pair, right? Take advantage of that coupon that just came through your mailbox or your inbox and get yourself some fresh kicks.

3. Help provide funding for safe water equipment and training.

“So,” you might be asking yourself, “how does donating shoes actually help to solve the planet’s water problems?”

When you donate your shoes to one of these drop-off locations, WaterStep then sells them to an exporter. WaterStep uses that money to develop projects that include water filters and water transportation or chlorination systems, repair wells, and to educate communities about the benefits of safe water.

4. Support local businesses.

When the exporter buys shoes from WaterStep, those shoes then turned around and sold to merchants from all over the world. The merchants then take shoes back to their own regions and sell them to support both their local economies and their families. WaterStep has shared with the team how some merchants make monthly visits to the exporter, buying enough shoes to take back and sell at home before starting their process over again.

5. Prevent abrasions and health hazards.

As you might imagine, many regions of the world are not as developed as the United States. Feet can be damaged in many ways – from traversing rugged terrain to debris strewn about the land to stepping on a bee – and the resulting wounds could get infected. A scratch similar to what our children may encounter on the playground could cause serious injury or even death to those in less fortunate places because they didn’t have the proper footwear. By selling these shoes in their homeland, merchants help prevent these types of injuries from happening.

You can make a difference. All you need to do is donate your old shoes.

Visit one of these drop-off locations in central Illinois and help bring safe water to someone who needs it, or donate to WaterStep today.


Eyeo Festival 2014, A Designer’s Recap




In this ever-changing industry, artists and designers instinctively grow and change with the technology of the era. This past week, I attended the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The festival assembled an incredible set of creative coders, data designers and artists. They conducted fascinating presentations, unique workshops and interactions.

There were a few of the presentations that resonated with me and were very inspirational.

I have been focusing on mobile design, and was inspired by an interactive architecture project built by Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin during a TED Conference in Vancouver.

View The Making of Unnumbered Sparks Video

Janet Echelman is a sculptor who creates textiles made of braided fiber, and Aaron Koblin is a digital artist who works at Google. Their combined skills allowed for a project in which people used their mobile phones to cast kinetic projections on a building-sized net. Their gestures of tracing brightly-colored paths across their device was projected as splashes of color on the large texture canvas.

My long adoration of typography initiated my admiration and interest in the work of Luke DuBois. His work of Hindsight is Always 20/20 is an interesting tie between typography and portraiture. Luke took the State of the Union addresses from each president and sorted them according to words used most frequently. He then generated eye charts for each president, with the more frequent words larger at the top of the chart and the less frequent words smaller at the bottom. Additionally, eye chart information appears in the margins concerning the use of the chart as a testing device. Luke says in his essay that, “The aim of the piece is to make a statement about the perennial political metaphor of vision, without which much of the rhetoric of presidential politics quickly deflates. The choice of words employed by a given presidential administration to articulate its message is in many ways its signature. Looking back, we can use this vocabulary to test the metaphorical eyesight of the nation throughout its history.” Luke displays the work so that they actually worked as 20/20 charts to the view.

I found the work by Tahir Hemphill very innovative and unique. He created a semantic and sentiment of lyrics from American hip-hop artists. He focused on whether artists such as Drake and Tupac had more positive or negative words in their lyrics. He was inspired by Picasso’s light paintings, which give something that is temporal and doesn’t exist in a visual format. He then utilized a robot arm to create the light paintings of the data, and then he took photographs of each artist’s result. You can see the results here.

Lastly, I connected with Stefanie Posavec because she is a designer who was inspired by data and used it as her medium. She did an artist residency at Facebook in the Analog Research Lab and created interactive pieces on the floor that converted a month of a couple’s Facebook interaction data into dance steps. This portrayed how couples publicly show their relationships on social media. The dance steps were timed to an 8-step count and were an accurate representation of a couple’s digital movements and interactions in the real world. You can view examples of the work here.

The festival allowed me to reflect on myself as a designer, encouraged me to think about projects from a conceptual standpoint, and inspired me to look forward to my future growth as a designer. This festival taught me where the future of artistry is going and what large possibilities exist for future endeavors for the company and myself.


CINEMA 4D Integration with After Effects CC Animation





Designers have always wanted to have better built-in 3D tools within After Effects. Now we have that ability. This year, Adobe and MAXON released the ability to collaborate a pipeline between Adobe After Effects software and MAXON’s CINEMA 4D. This has allowed artists a way to have seamless 2D/3D integration between the two softwares. Adobe After Effects CC now comes with CINEWARE. CINEMA 4D Lite (or CINEWARE) is a feature-limited version of CINEMA 4D that is included for free with the new Adobe After Effects CC. Now we can create, import, texture and animate 3D content that is rendered within After Effects along with many other features.

(Below is a screenshot of CINEWARE being used in After Effects)


There are a few setbacks to these new elements, but nothing daunting. Since CINEWARE is part of the new After Effects CC, you have to upgrade your license to After Effects CC. CINEWARE can’t be used with older versions of After Effects. MAXON explains that rendering directly inside CINEWARE is limited to a resolution of 800×600 pixels and renders cannot be saved. Rendering in After Effects CC is, of course, not restricted to any defined resolution, and will be rendered at the given project resolution automatically.

A benefit of CINEWARE is that it is within the After Effects CC installer, which avoids confusion during the installation process. Some of the new features are really exciting. Animator Nick Campbell explains that you can use multiple CINEMA 4D files within one After Effects file. One way is to select the .c4d scene layer in After Effects in order to open and edit the file in CINEMA 4D. You can also import a .c4d project file directly into After Effects as a footage item or insert an After Effects camera back into a .c4d project. Cameras, nulls and lights can be extracted from .c4d files, which allow you to use your .c4d cameras and lights directly within After Effects. The Adobe blog explains that you can tell CINEWARE to render the .c4d scene using either a selected camera from the C4D project, or an After Effects’ camera. You can separate your imported .c4d project file into a “multipass render” directly within After Effects. This creates a separate layer inside your After Effects timeline of either a preset selection of properties or ones you’ve previously set up inside the C4D project.

The company who created CINEMA 4D, MAXON, explains that in CINEWARE you can choose which layer or passes you want to use for compositing in After Effects CC. You can use 3D content multiple times in a composition and use layers to create various setups. Along with the use of the CINEMA 4D camera parameters, you can adapt them to the After Effects CC coordinate system and use them as if they had been originally created in After Effects. Lights imported with your CINEMA 4D scene can also be converted to native After Effects CC light sources and edited. Almost all of the features in CINEMA 4D are included in CINEWARE. For greater specific details you can view MAXON’s Product Comparison Chart.

I believe that artists have waited a long time for something as smooth as this process. As with anything newer on the market, since it is the first time for this integration, there are a few bumps in the road. However, with time they will improve. I, for one, am looking forward to a greater ease of creating animations and tools that allow for significant creative endeavors.

Video Production Support at the Farm Progress Show

Known as the “world’s fair of agriculture,” the annual three-day Farm Progress Show (FPS) is the nation’s largest outdoor farm show. Held alternately between Decatur, IL and Boone, IA, this year’s show featured some 600 exhibitors, including DuPont Pioneer, who contracted with The Iona Group for media preparation and on-site A/V support.

The Pioneer “tent” was 180’ x 100’, had an interlocking, hard floor, and was air-conditioned! This helped provide a more comfortable, enjoyable visitor experience, especially when temperatures outside were in the mid-90s. Inside the tent were dozens of “stations” highlighting the various products, services, and technologies offered by DuPont Pioneer. Included in many of those stations were monitors that played looping videos, which Iona compiled prior to the show.

Photo: Inside the DuPont Pioneer tent

In addition to the numerous videos playing inside the tent, Pioneer also utilized a 9’ x 12’ Jumbotron outside of their tent. The purpose of the Jumbotron was to provide schedules and information to attendees walking outside the Pioneer tent, but mostly to draw them into the tent. To do so, we “broadcast” portions of live presentations happening on the Pioneer stage from various ag experts speaking on a number of key topics. There were also hosts for these presentations, and we had them do “promos” out to the Jumbotron to entice visitors to come into the tent. Tim Martin ran camera, BJ Aberle was the audio engineer, and I ran the video switcher that fed the signal to the Jumbotron.

Photo: Jumbotron outside the Pioneer tent

Photos: Tim Martin mans the camera (above); BJ Aberle in the control room (below)

As with most things technical, there are always challenges, and this year’s FPS was no exception. We had some challenges with cable connectors and getting a signal from our control room to the Jumbotron, but once those issues were corrected, the show went very smoothly, and our client was very pleased with the final outcome.

Team Prepares for Teaching at Bradley University’s Interactive Media Department

Several members of our team are once again preparing for another semester of higher learning as they expand and enrich the minds of Interactive Media students at Bradley University. Bradley University’s Department of Interactive Media in the Slane College of Communications prepares its students to be critical thinkers in a continually evolving field that requires interdisciplinary, theoretical and application knowledge in the design, development and production of interactive and mobile media.

Chad Udell and Jim Ferolo will be teaching “Introduction to Interactive Media” where students will learn the tools and aesthetics of media production such as word processing, photography, audio production, videography, visual literacy, desktop computer interface and production software.

One of the classes Department Chair, Jim Ferolo, will be teaching is “Basic Interactive Media Authoring” where students will learn the acquisition and computer processing of text, photographs, video and sound files. This will lead into incorporating processed files into documents for computer multimedia. The goal of this class is to teach students to solve problems in multimedia communication through the theories and cultural effects of visual communication and new media.

Heather Ford will be teaching “Intermediate Video for Interactive Media” where students will be introduced to High Definition video essentials while expanding their knowledge of lighting and cinematography; including non-linear editing and motion capture fundamentals. Students will utilize programs such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Cinema 4D.

Matt Forcum will be teaching “Digital Animation”, a studio course exploring computer modeling and animation using the Cinema 4D software package. Students examine the theory, history and practice involved with creating quality modeling for print media, modeling and animation for time-based audio-visual media.

BJ Aberle will be teaching “Sound Design”, instructing students in the theoretical and practical elements of sound composition. Specific areas of study include: music, field sound recording, studio tracking, aesthetic analysis and electronic sound generation. In response to the creation of new types of entertainment, students will explore digital game technologies, 3D sound processing and generative audio structures; mixing in non-linear environments and final mastering. Students will use ProTools and Unity software in the class.

We look forward to an exciting semester at Bradley University as we impart our knowledge of multimedia to the young prospective members of the industry.

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