20 Questions Tuesday: 231 - Bill Meeks

Today I get the pleasure of asking a video artist, yes, I said it, a video artist, 20 Questions.  The artist in question is one Bill Meeks from Meeks Mixed Media.  Bill is a multi-media triple threat.  I don’t know exactly why I called him that but it sound really good.  He is an incredibly talented video editor and has created boatloads of animated title sequences and his work can be seen all over TWiT and the Geek & Sundry Channel on YouTube.  I became aware of the talents of Mr Meeks whist watching the NSFW Show on TWiT.tv.  Bill is a consistent presence within the chat rooms for multiple TWiT shows and has participated in many of the antics associated with the NSFW Show hosted by Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young.  I really loved his entry into one of the show’s 10 second film festivals and felt he was robbed of the win in that contest.  It is humor like that which makes me want to get to know him better.

Without further ado 20 questions with a guy whose work I am envious of, but know diddly-squat about.

I have a M.A. in geography, so the concept of “place” is always interesting to me, and I love the idea that where someone has lived tells a interesting story of their life.  It is their geographic story.  I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. My fam moved to Montgomery, AL when I was 3, moved northeast of Birmingham, AL where I stayed until I was 18.  I went off to college in Kent, Ohio, and then grad school in Columbus, Ohio where I got married.  I have been in the Columbus area for the past 15+ years. Question 1:  What is your geographic story?

I was born in a small town next to Houston called Katy, Texas. Brushwood lived there back in the day as well although we didn’t know each other. When I was 3 we moved to Stafford, VA for a few years then moved back to Katy when I was 7 or 8. When I was 12 my grandmother got pancreatic cancer so we moved to Wheeling, West Virginia to be closer to her. I stayed there through high school and moved out to L.A. when I turned 18 where I stayed until I moved to West Liberty, WV at 19 to go to college. College wrapped and I moved to Philadelphia for about a year. Then I went back out to LA for about a year and a half. On a trip home to visit family I connected with my now wife, who had been a friend of mine in college, and we got an apartment in Pittsburgh. After we got married we moved to Cleveland for a year and a half and then back to Pittsburgh, where we stayed until moving to Atlanta two years ago. Whew! Had to start with the longest question, didn’t you?

There is a good chance that things will get longer as this goes on.  You never know where these questions will go.  Sure there are points that these typically all hit, but in between those points it is anyone’s guess.  So, you have a pretty interesting geographic footprint, Question 2: Where do you truly feel “Home?”

I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host was saying that it takes about three years for a place to feel like “home.” I thought about it and in my adult life I’ve never stayed anywhere for three years. The house I live in now holds the record at 26 months. Maybe because of that no one place really feels like “home” to me. It’s more circumstances. When I’m lying on the couch with my three kids lying on top of me while we watch a movie that feels like home. Talking to my wife while she drives on a road trip feels like “home”, To me home isn’t a place. It’s the people around me.

Home can definitely be a grouping of people and not necessarily a place.  For me, Columbus immediately became “home” because I moved there with my wife.  She is home to me. Where she is, is home.

The masses demand this question.  Question 3: Cake or pie? which specific kind and why?

Cherry pie, because it is delicious. Also pie is a better choice than cake because cake is so light and fluffy that you can eat a decent amount before you get full. With pie generally a piece will do you well.

There is a place in Columbus called "Just Pies"  that has world famous Cherry Pies.  I say that only to make you jealous.  My mom was a cake decorator when I was growing up, so I have a soft spot in my heart for cake, but I think pies tends to win out for me, unless it is cheesecake and then we have an immediate winner.

Question 4: So I know you are the creator of wonderful motion graphics and video, when did you realize that was something you could “do?”

I am jealous, you jerk. I was always interested in TV growing up, but there were two moments that really locked in video work for me. When I was 15 the local computer club I belonged to did a tour of the local TV station. We stopped in to the 3D animator’s office where he was using Lightwave 3D to make on-screen graphics and promos for the station. I’d always heard of computer animation but I didn’t realize it was something that could be accomplished on just one machine. Seeing somebody do it made me realize it was achievable.

The second moment was a party at my sister’s apartment right before I started college. She had a computer with Windows Movie Maker and a cheap $10 lapel mic from Wal-Mart and with a little spit, Spackle, and a few stills from King Kong I found online I put together a small narrative. Charles Johnson vs. King Kong! Charles was my sister’s boyfriend. King Kong climbs the Empire State Building then sees a Photoshopped giant Charles humping the Statue of Liberty. Shocked he falls, and our hero tells us was beauty killed the beast over the sounds of Charles humping. Award-winning stuff. But it gave me a rush I still get every time I hit play on the draft of a project.

Truth be told I am not big on the fruit pies.  Only really well made apple pies.  Blueberry and cherry have never done it for me.  I am a lemon meringue guy.  So, just to make you hate me more, we have an incredible cherry pie within 3 miles of the house and I don’t eat it.  Wasteful, I know.

The video editing path is fascinating.  I am okay doing still work in 2-D, but the idea of adding motion and depth kills me.  My hat is off to you, good sir.  The cap has been duly doffed.  I love the word “doffed,” but it is rarely used, and only in conjunction with hats.  Question 5: What is a word you really like that is rarely used?

Now I’m not only jealous but I strongly dislike you. My word is Jejune, which means stupid, immature, and childish. I like to blindside people with it and make fun of them when they don’t know what it means. I guess that’s pretty jejune of me.

Oooh, I haven’t heard jejune for a long time.  I love that.  There are so many good words out there just discarded on the side of the road, disused, forgotten, and rotting slowly.

Question 6: Since the new year is coming, what goals are setting for the new year?

In the grand scheme: to top this year. In more exact terms I’m getting some new gear and something of a production budget to work with so I’d like to increase output in “fun” content, or stuff that I do because I absolutely want to. Little projects I’ll be building from the ground up. I’d also like to get back in shape, but that’s so cliche. 

New gear is always fun.  You could have chosen a significantly cheaper interest though. Quality AV equipment is pretty costly.  I do think that the cost of entry is a pretty significant barrier, not to mention the learning curve.  Yikes.

So I make maps for a living, and when I see poor cartography (see any maps in USA Today) I get infuriated by the ineptitude and complacency and the cost of the map compared to what I am making right now…  Question 7: do poor tile sequences just completely piss you off as much as bad maps do me?

Cost of entry is actually better than it ever has been, but it’s still expensive to get the best stuff. I generally don’t get pissed off very easily but when people get too trendy or too derivative it gets on my nerves. Yes, your name in 3D letters with particles flying around it might be a cool thing to show your friends, but it was stale two years ago in the marketplace. A thousand people have the exact same thing and while it might not set off any alarms in the average person but it won’t make you stand out.

It is amazing how quickly things get stale in the digital realm.  It makes it difficult to stay on top of having an online presence for anything creative

Question 8: Do you see any slowing down on the production of technical equipment due to physical limitations or is the sky the limit and changes will continue fast and furious?  (ie. 720, 1080, 2k, 4k, etc…)

It seems like most advances in the digital space stay popular for about 10 years. HD has been popular for five or six years now so we are due for a change over. They are trying to make 3D happen but I don’t think it’s going to. I can see 4K getting big in the next few years. As for what comes after 4K I don’t know. We can go bigger or we can go to some sort of interactive standard, but that’s for smarter and with a bigger investment fund than me to sort out.

You are clearly an avid viewer of the TWiT network, and since I live on podcasts due to my boring job (I take in about 38 hours of podcasts weekly), Question 9: Do you consume many podcasts, and, if so, which ones?

A ton. I’d say I probably listen to more podcasts then TV or Movies. My first podcast was Coverville but the first one I really became a big Fan of was Raging Bullets (A DC Comics fan podcast). I of course listen to a ton of TWiT and Revision3 shows. NSFW, Framerate, MacBreak Weekly are favorites on the TWiT side. Revision3 it’s Film Riot, Breaking it Down, and Scam School. Outside of that here is a list of podcasts I enjoy in no particular order: The Nerdist, WTF with Marc Maron, Fatman on Batman, East Meets West, Breaking Bad Insider Podcast, Radio Free Skaro, Comedy Bang Bang, Nerdist Writer’s Panel, Scriptnotes, and everything NPR/PRI put out. I also host a podcast about ABC’s Once Upon A Time called Greetings From Storybrooke (greetingsfromstorybrooke.com). /shamelessplug

*Editor’s Note:  Google these other podcasts your damn self.  I have neither the time nor the energy to link all these damn things**

I have not been able to get into podcasts about other shows.  I have tried a few, but they just don’t seem to resonate with me.  One of the main reasons, I think that is the case, is that I haven’t really gotten into the shows that those podcasts are about.  I know I am blaspheming to a degree by saying this, but I have not watched Breaking Bad, I am not a fan of The Walking Dead, and I have never gotten into Madmen.  In fact, we do not have cable, and I only stay semi-current with one show, Arrow.  I like the treatment of the character, but he really does need to have the goatee as part of his costume.  Get on that Arrow producers.  Anyhoo… Plug away on your podcast.  If I watched Once Upon a Time, I would definitely subscribe to your podcast.

Since this is the middle of the 20 questions… Question 10: What are you currently in the middle of right now?  Could be a book? could be a life shift? What is waiting for you at the end of this thing you are in the middle of? (Other than this 20 Questions)?

I’ve heard good things about Arrow, but I haven’t got around to watching it yet. Smallville kind of left a bad taste in my mouth as far as live action DC superheroes on The CW. It went way too long and didn’t give Superman fans nearly enough pay off.

Right now I’m in the middle of writing a script for a video. After that comes recording then lunch then editing. What is really waiting for me at the end of the day though is the XBox 360 my wife bought the kids for Christmas. I’m probably going to set it up tonight to make sure everything works and get Minecraft downloaded for my son Liam. I don’t celebrate Christmas but I still have to do all the tech stuff.

I have been watching Arrow on hulu, so I get it a week after broadcast.  It is fun and they are treating it very seriously.  There is some camp to it, but it seems to be grounded in a consistent reality.  I heard that Smallville started out great and the end of it just wilted.

Question 11:  Fill in the blanks:  I feel that I am mostly ________.  Others Feel that I am mostly ________.

I feel that I am mostly a decent person, a hard worker, and pretty fun to hang out with. Others Feel that I am mostly balding.

Balding?  Hadn’t noticed.  I have heard that you are indeed an enjoyable person to be around.  I think both statements may be true here.  They are not mutually exclusive categories… clearly.  Nor is there any causal relationship.  Decency, hard work, and fun do not bring about baldness or vice versa.
As you mentioned beforehand, you have moved all over the place and have consider home where you have a couch and kids lounging on you.  Question 12: Where would you like to live, if you had your druthers?

I’d love to move back to Los Angeles. I was doing pretty well there last time and loved the atmosphere. As of right now it probably won’t happen because it would be WAY too expensive to live in a safe neighborhood and in a big enough place for the kids, but it’s always in the back of my mind. Someday, maybe.

Cost of living out there is definitely crazy high.  One of my wife’s friends just moved out there from Central Ohio and is re-adjusting to a significantly smaller residence for her family of three.

Ah, unlucky 13… Question 13: Do you have any superstitions or rituals to speak of? Superstitions like “crossing a black cat’s path” or rituals being more of an odd sequencing of actions to bring about an outcome.  If this is unclear, let me know and I will try to ‘splain it better. 

My lucky number is actually 13 just because it’s silly. I really don’t have any big superstitions. Pretty rational overall. I do find myself occasionally stepping over cracks when I’m out walking to spare my mother’s back, but when I realize I’m doing it I stop myself. My wife is pretty superstitious though. She always stops me when I mention a situation is going good because she thinks that will make the same situation go south. Silly, but I humor her and try to watch proclaiming success.

Proclaiming success is not something I have to worry about.  So, at least that is not a problem for me.  It is interesting that your have Lucky 13 in your back pocket.  There are worse things to have than a lucky number. For example a rapid monkey.  That would be much worse than having 13 as your lucky number.

Time to get creative.  Someone once asked me what I would be most afraid of.  I chose Vampire Bear (the ursine variety, not a hairy gay dude).  Question 14: What would you be most afraid of?

A strange dog clawing at my eyes as he pushes me towards the unprotected roof of a skyscraper. All my greatest fears, one twisted scene.That sounds rather frightening, indeed.  Especially if that strange dog is a little yappy dog.  ooooh I dislike the little yappy dogs.

Question 15:  Who is your guy in the DC universe and what is your opinion on the New 52?

Superman. Superman. Superman. Superman is not only my favorite comic book character. He’s my favorite fictional character. In his best stories he inspires me to be a better person. I’m a fan of anything Grant Morrison has done with the character, but I also love the Julius Schwartz era with weird powers and imaginary stories. I even have a Superman tattoo. The New 52 is fine and I really liked Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Actions Comics, and Demon Knights. I’ve been saving up my favorite titles though to blow through a few story lines at one time though.

So, the upcoming Superman film is rather exciting to you. It does seem as if they have it correct this time around, if the trailer has anything to say about the movie.

Question 16: Red underwear over blue tights, or no underwear? As a comic book arts guy I have my opinions, but I am curious what a Superman fan thinks

Love the trailer for Man of Steel. I was completely against the project based on the news and rumors but the trailer completely sold me. You didn’t see a ton of Superman but it really felt like they got Clark right. Red underwear over blue tights. I like the classic look. Very circus.

Visually, even if it seems silly, the underwear over tights work better.  It breaks up the blocking of color and creates some more interesting forms to immediately recognize.  I was not sold on the idea of a new Supes movie, but I have to say, this most recent trailer makes it seem like they got the character correct.  Well done.

It is too bad that I only got to Superman until just now, this has been super fun to ask these Superman questions.  Question 17: Is there any question that I did not ask you, that you feel I should have?

Let’s see. Superman, video production, family, podcasting… I think we covered all the bases. Wait. Music. You never asked me anything about music. Favorite Band in Barenaked Ladies pre-Steve’s departure. Favorite song is Break Your Heart by the same. Also love Harvey Danger, The Decemberists, Say Anything, and used to be really into the punk scene. I ended that when I had to get a tooth rebuilt after a bad incident in a mosh pit though.

Sad to say, I really have moved away from music lately.  I listen mostly to podcasts now.  I am old…. so… so.. old

Question 18: Any questions you have for me?

I’ve shied away from new music lately. Just haven’t found anything that lights me up. Now, for your question.

Who would win in a fight: Ninjas or Ninja Zombies? Please include your reasoning in detail.

I find that this is actually a bit of an easy question.  Ninjas beat Zombie Ninjas any day of the weak.  Ninjas are all about subtlety and misdirection.  Zombies are base level organisms.  They lose all training and abilities when they re-animate, so it is not like they are zombies with ninja abilities, they are merely zombies.  They are merely zombies in fancy pajamas.

Question 19:  What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you? 

I guess it depends on the zombie lore you subscribe to. I personally think that at least within a month or two of turning the zombie ninjas would retain a decent amount of agility and muscle memory… the base level ninja stuff. Plus, every micro-battle won by a zombie ninja would recruit another zombie ninja to their side. I think eventually the zombie ninjas would win out.

As to the question: A slightly better understanding of current self? That’s probably BS though. I have enjoyed the questions popping in every little while though. A welcome distraction. Also, I have your wallet.

I immediately consider a 20 Questions a success if anybody gets some kind of better understanding of self.  That is a one I consider in the win column.  My wallet is useless… I work for the state.

Question 20:  What is next?  Be as concrete or vague, as real or philosophical as you want.

Fun stuff. 2013 is the year of fun and merriment and a little light vulgarity. Around the end of January/Early February keep an eye on my site (meeksmixedmedia.com) and my Twitter (@billmeeks) for some very exciting projects. Until then I’ll be upgrading my gear, planning things, and editing my Nanowrimo Novel. Thanks for asking me to do this, Scott. It has been a complete blast. I’ll miss our missives throughout the day. *tear*

This was absolutely a ball of fun!  Thanks so much for taking the time to answer 20 Questions.

…and just because the 20 questions is over, that doesn’t mean we can never talk again.

Everyone who needs animated title sequences should hit Bill up.  He is a badass.  

To Recap:
The wife is out of town for a week
And the 4 year old is pushing boundaries
Seriously pushing boundaries
She seems to do that when only 1 parent is present
I would go to work and she would test my wife
Now that the wife is out of town, the girl is going bonkers with power testing
She is probing the boundaries like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park
The movie, not the book
Clever Girl
The wife gets home on Monday
And then I will sleep
Have a great weekend everyone