This blog is dedicated to all things Frank – past, present and future.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Christmas Card


Inside:

Whether you like it or not.

To see our past Christmas cards, click here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jeremy & Me


In my last post I mentioned the loss of my friend and coworker, Jeremy Yuricek. With this post I'd like to celebrate some of the work he and I created for Toyota. Jeremy was integral to our “Happy Hands at Home” projects. These were projects (film, print, digital) that we created entirely in-house. Typically, we had a very limited budget when it came to these projects – that's why we did them in-house! In many ways, these projects were more rewarding to me than our more high profile ones, mainly because I got to create something out of nothing with my friend.


"Prius Storybook"

Our Chicago region asked us to create a video featuring the Toyota Prius for the Shedd Aquarium. My team came up with a storybook concept and Jeremy took the art directors hand painted illustrations and brought them to life using a mix of stop-motion photography and After Effects animation. Currently showing before every aquatic show at the Shedd Aquarium.

Collaboration: Rebecca Snyder, Jonathan Granof, Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Jeremy Yuricek


"Picnic" (Eli Really Does!)

We needed a storm to disrupt our picnic scene in this Toyota/Eli Manning spot, but it was a nice day and we didn't have the budget to hire a fancy special effects team. So Jeremy rose to the challenge and created the storm in the sky by compositing multiple stock footage scenes.

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Jeremy Yuricek


"Only Better"

"Only Better" was a campaign we ran during 2011. Jeremy helped get it off the ground by shooting an internal mood video (see the full mood video here). The video talked about how Toyota is constantly improving, while depicting an evolution of a logo design in time-lapse. The client liked the mood video so much they had us cut it down to :30 and they aired it as an anthem spot (above). P.S. Those are my hands.

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Tim Leake, Jeremy Yuricek


"Puzzle"

We shot this for Toyota Parts & Service. Jeremy filmed my hands (again) trying to complete a puzzle, with one irregular shaped piece. We always joked that we needed to shoot one more "hands" spot to complete the trilogy.

Collaboration: Ari Bazinsky, Mariam Farooq, Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Jeremy Yuricek


"Handmade"

Another spot for Toyota Parts & Service. Stop-motion animation showing the creation of a handmade car.

Collaboration: Ari Bazinsky, Mariam Farooq, Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Jeremy Yuricek


Toyota Parts & Service posters
The idea is in the headline: "If you're not using genuine Toyota Parts & Service, you're no longer driving a genuine Toyota." One morning Jeremy and I met up at a Toyota dealership in New Jersey and we took some photos of badges on the backs of vehicles. We then hired a 3D designer to alter the names. Above are just two of the posters (we did a total of 4). "Yarish" was featured in an issue of Archive magazine (Vol. 3 - 2011).

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Tim Leake, Jeremy Yuricek


"Dasher Personal Training commercial" (Life After Santa)

I've shared the "Life After Santa" campaign on this blog before (here). For the most part, I took the lead on this project (shooting and editing) but Jeremy was my righthand man. He was responsible for lighting and sound during the reindeer interview sessions. He also color corrected all the videos, did some shooting, created websites and even starred in "Cupid's Story" (at the 2:50 mark). The most fun he had was when I asked him to create a cheesy commercial for Dasher's personal training business (above). He did a great job.

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Tim Leake, Alexi Maslatzides, Jeremy Yuricek


"Lessons"

After the big Toyota recall we created this spot to reassure our customers that we are still driven by quality. Jeremy took my illustrations and animated them into a :30 TV spot.

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Tim Leake, Jeremy Yuricek


"Presidents Day Sales Event"

Jeremy took our art directors artwork and brought it to life. Funny animation.

Collaboration: Mariam Farooq, Jonathan Granof, Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Jeremy Yuricek


"Weather"

This campaign was created for our Denver region. We did 7 spots, each depicting reasons to own a Toyota, especially in Denver (like weather, above). We called it the "Flip" campaign because of the way Jeremy animated the art.

Collaboration: Frank Fusco, Freddy Jana, Marc Stolove, Tim Leake, Jeremy Yuricek


"3D FJ"
Toyota's FJ Cruiser is a unique vehicle that could only require a unique approach to creating a special website. Tim Leake and I created a simple, printable PDF which could be assembled into a 3D cut-out that featured an optical illusion. Mirroring the optical effect of the cut-out, the site's interface was a floating cube that rotated within a 3D space. When we presented the concept to Jeremy he wasn't sure if he could pull it off. But being the persistent and determined person he is, he made it happen.This project was in consideration for Cannes Cyber Lions in the Interface & Navigation category. (Check out the website here.)

Collaboration:  Frank Fusco, Tim Leake, Jeremy Yuricek


If you'd like to see more of Jeremy's work, check out his website.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 10 Music Concerts I've Been To



A friend of mine at work is always categorizing things as his "Top 5", "Top 10", "Top 50" – mostly when we're talking music or movies. We get into debates about them and it's fun. A few weeks ago I looked for my book of music tickets (of concerts I've been to) because I had a few more to add to it. As I flipped through all the performances I've been to I started a pile of my favorites. I then narrowed it down to my Top 10 (which wasn't easy to do). Here they are...

1- KISS @ Madison Square Garden, NYC (7/28/96)
I was too young to go to a KISS show during their heyday in the '70s, and granted, back then I liked them more for their makeup and costumes than their music. But by the time I was in junior high school I started appreciating the music, big time. But by then Ace and Peter were long gone and KISS ditched the makeup and costumes. I never dreamed I would ever see the original lineup live, let alone in full makeup and costumes. But it happened and it was AWESOME!

2- Larry Graham & Graham Central Station @ Tramps, NYC (8/2/95)
For some this is an odd choice because many people today have not heard of Larry Graham & Graham Central Station. But you all know Larry because you've all heard Sly and the Family Stone and he was their bassist. He's also the guy that invented the slap style of playing the bass. Back in the early to mid-'90s I went through my Funk phase and Graham Central Station was at the top of the list (along with Parliament/Funkadelic). This reunion show was a big enough deal that Prince was in the house. In fact, he walked right past me, came up to about my mid-chest...and he had heels on! Larry Graham & Graham Central Station put on a funking good show.

3- Beck / Evel Knievel @ The Grand, NYC (4/1/94)
Beck and Evel Knievel live, April 1st. Sounds like an April Fools joke, but it' wasn't. Mellow Gold was only a month old when Beck came to NYC to open for Evel. Before playing his first note, Beck took the stage smashing his guitar to pieces as his band violently attacked their instruments creating a bed of noise. His set was then a mix of Mellow Gold songs plus some other guitar heavy songs Beck had written prior to Mellow Gold. I miss that version of Beck. After his set a screen lowered and they projected a montage of Evel Knievel's greatest jumps and crashes. The screen raised and there was Evel Knievel, my childhood hero, wearing a red, white and blue leather suit, complete with cape. He stood at a podium, gave a speech and fielded some questions. Great night.

4- George Clinton & P-Funk All-Stars @ The Ritz, NYC (4/23/93)
Remember when I said I went through a Funk phase? Well this was the show that kickstarted it. I first heard of P-Funk as a kid when I was thumbing through a KISS magazine put out by Creem (which I still own). The cover subhead read "KISS vs. P-Funk: Whose Show Is Bigger?" and there was a one page article on them. Many years later, in 1993, a friend said I had to go with her to see George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars. She'd seen them a number of times and said they were a blast so – remembering the Creem article and how wacky they looked – I went to The Ritz in Manhattan to see them. The show started at midnight and they played for four hours straight. The next day my P-Funk quest started.

5- Black Sabbath @ PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ (8/4/13)
Here's another band that I was too young to see in their prime. By the time I heard their music – in 7th grade – they were already broken up (at least the lineup with Ozzy). They're one of my Top 5 bands (can put a Top within a Top list?). So seeing them live was a dream come true, even though Bill Ward (the original drummer) wasn't a part of it. Ozzy can't quite hit the notes he used to but Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler played flawlessly.

6- Lollapalooza 1994 @ Downing Stadium, NYC (8/5/94 & 8/6/94)
Lollapalooza shows were always a lot of fun. I went to the first one in '91, and the ones in '92, '94 and '95 (I skipped '93 because I didn't like the lineup). My favorite was '94 mainly because of the Beastie Boys and Smashing Pumpkins. George Clinton & P-Funk All-Stars (favorite show #4 on my list) also played but by that time their shows started to decline (P-Funk is already a large band, there's no need to bring in outsider "guest singers" and giving them the spotlight – especially when they're a young blonde white girl). But the Beastie Boys were great. For me their peak was their albums Check Your Head and Ill Communication, and they had just released the latter. They played their mix of rap, hardcore and funk jams (with the help of Money Mark and DJ Hurricane). Then the Smashing Pumpkins rocked the stage. They were still touring the Siamese Dream album (their peak for me). Billy Corgan is one of my favorite guitarists. I went both days, both great.

7- The Monkees @ The Paramount, Huntington, NY (12/1/12)
The Monkees were the first band ever on my radar. As a kid I loved their television show and my mom got me their first two albums (which I still own, one of which was signed by Davy Jones when I worked with him – but that's a different story). I also raised my kids to be Monkees fans. So when I heard they were touring I had to take the family. Our seats were great, seven rows from center stage (although the people in front of my mom – she went too – stood the whole time, blocking her view). This particular Monkees tour was quite special in that Michael Nesmith was participating. He's always been the hold-out when it comes to Monkees reunions. He, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork performed 29 songs spanning their short-lived time as a band – including lots of deep cuts you normally don't hear. Unfortunately, there was one key thing missing, Davy Jones. He passed away in February of 2012. But Davy was at there in spirit and was represented in videoclips. In fact, the most emotional moment of the night came toward the end, when the trio and a randomly chosen audience member led the crowd in a massive singalong to Davy's hit, “Daydream Believer.”

8- Bad Brains / Circle Jerks / Vernon Reids' Living Colour @ 1018 Club, NYC (7/13/87)
This is the first show I went to with friends (I'm not counting the time my parents took me to see Sha Na Na). The Bad Brains were my favorite hardcore band (still are), so I was there to see them. I liked the Circle Jerks but I never got into them as much as the other guys I went to the show with. Also on the bill was Living Colour, although they were billed as Vernon Reids' Living Colour. This was a year before they hit it big with "Cult of Personality". The Bad Brains were intense. I had fun slam dancing (before it was called moshing), riding the crowd, and I even dove off the stage once. I forget how we got into the city but I remember going home we all piled into my friends brothers car – way too many of us. Someone was sitting on my lap the whole trip and my leg fell asleep so bad that when I tried to get out of the car I just fell over because I couldn't feel it. Good times.

9- Flaming Lips / Wilco @ Madison Square Garden (12/31/04)
What better way to spend New Years Eve than with the Flaming Lips? Their shows are exactly like the countdown – confetti, costumes, joyous jubilation. Kim and I had seats on the floor close enough to the stage so it was extra fun when the Lips released the jumbo-sized beach balls into the crowd. Kim was about four months pregnant with Casey and he was dancing around in her belly as the Flaming Lips performed. For some reason, the Lips were the opening act. Wilco were the headliners. Not an easy task following a Flaming Lips performance. I'm not really a Wilco fan but I enjoyed the show because guitarist Nels Cline recently joined the band. I knew Nels from the experimental music scene I followed in the late '90s/early '00s. He gave them a different edge. Both bands took the stage to bring in the new year. Happy New Year!

10- The Big 4: Metallica / Slayer / Megadeth / Anthrax @ Yankee Stadium, NYC (9/16/11)
I went to this show with my friend Jeremy (the "Top" guy I mentioned at the top of this post). Metallica is one of my favorite bands, but I had only seen them once before. I almost saw them open for Ozzy in '86 but that show sold out just as we got to the stadium. I had also never seen Slayer live, even though I've been a fan since '85. So that was a treat. I used to be an Anthrax fan in the mid-'80s, not so much now, but it was still good to see them live. Same goes for Megadeth. But it was Slayer and Metallica that made this show special for me. Both put on great shows. (I've since seen Slayer again live. Also great.)

Like I said above, it wasn't easy narrowing down my Top 10 Concerts, I've been to so many. Ask me again a month from now and the list may change.

Editors Note: I wrote the above post a couple of weeks ago when I was in LA on business. I was waiting till I got back to publish it because I was going to share it with my friend Jeremy, who was the inspiration for the post (and mentioned in Top Concert #10). Unfortunately, when I got back to the office on Monday we got word that Jeremy was rushed to the hospital the day before. The report was that he had bacteria or an infection on his brain, but the doctors weren't quite sure what it was. Two days later Jeremy passed away. He was only 35. He's survived by his wife and beautiful 3 year old twin daughters. He was a very good friend who I looked forward to talking to everyday at the office. I miss him already. RIP Jeremy Yuricek.

Friday, October 4, 2013

KISS Expo 2013


Last year I took Casey and Chloe to the NJ KISS Expo (here's a photo, and another), so now I'm on the mailing list. When I got a postcard promoting the 2013 event I showed it to the kids. Of course they wanted to go...I raised them right.

Like last year, there were a lot of vendors selling KISS memorabilia. Casey, Chloe and I were all kids in a candy store.


We got there around 3pm because Casey had gymnastics practice in the morning, so we missed the Q&A session with Tommy Thayer. I'm not a fan of Tommy but I was curious if any of the fans would get on his case about being an Ace impostor. From what I read, the crowd was cordial.

But we did get there in time for the Q&A with Lydia Criss (Peter's ex-wife). She also has a book for sale. She really had nothing new to share.


A KISS tribute band (KISS Nation) played throughout the day. They usually do the whole makeup thing but today they were "Unmasked and Unplugged". Casey really liked them, especially the guy playing the Paul Stanley role. He did sound a lot like Paul.


Our haul (below). Both kids got Gene dolls. Casey got the Psycho Circus Paul action figure. Chloe got the Paul Stanley car. I got the Super Teen Special magazine from 1977.


Casey and Chloe already informed me that we're going to next year's KISS Expo. Fine by me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Fuscos Go To Germany (August 2013)


Many years ago my mother started researching our family tree (on the German side). In her findings she found we still have relatives in Germany. She reached out to them and started a correspondence. In 2003, she visited them with my sister Kathy and my cousin Arianne. In 2006, two of our German relatives visited us in America. In 2009, my mom went back with Arianne. This year, she took my family.

Our first destination was Cologne (click on the photos to view larger).

Kölner Dom

Authentic Köln graffiti

Then we stayed at the African themed Hotel Matamba at Phantasialand. Phantasialand is very much like Disney's Epcot Center with it's cultural themes. The kids loved going on the rides. They thought this is what Germany was all about.

The view of Phantasialand from the Hotel Matamba courtyard.








Then we went to Koblenz to meet our relatives at the Deutsches Eck (where the Moselle river meets the Rhine).

Kaiser Wilhelm Statue.





We met Gisela and Elke and took a cable car to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. (That's my mom all the way on the left.)


View of the Deutsches Eck from a cable car.

At Ehrebreitstein Fortress, Rhineland-Palatinate.

Elke's daughter Katherina met up with us for a boat ride on the Rhine.



Casey getting into the German spirit.


Then we went to Beltheim and met some more relatives.


Casey and Chloe with Lucas and Leon, in Beltheim.

Beltheim is so small that once a year the local fire department cooks up a vat of pea soup and distributes it to the whole town. When you hear the vans loudspeaker announcement, you stand in front of your house with an empty pot and they fill it. They give you a choice of 'with sausage' or 'without sausage'. Our relatives chose 'with sausage'.


Then we had lunch at Schmausemühle in Gondershausen. This place was literally in the middle of nowhere. We took a narrow dirt road down a forest mountain for 5 miles and there it was.


Then we went to Castle Kastellaun for dinner with the relatives.


Casey's becoming a connoisseur of German beer.

Leon, Lucas and their dad Christian, with Chloe and Casey at Castle Kastellaun.


Family photo at Castle Kastellaun.


Then we went to Boppard.




Gisela, Casey, Kim, Chloe, Erik, my Mom

Elke teaches equestrian vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). We went to a recital.


Elke's daughter Katherina is one of her students.


After the recital our kids got to ride the horses. Chloe's showing us her moves.



Then we went to Beilstein.



Casey took this photo.


Burg Metternich Castle.


Overlooking the Moselle from the Burg Metternich Castle.

Chloe took this photo of me at Burg Metternich Castle. Great composition.

Then we went to Cochem.



Then we went to Trier.

Trier Cathedral.

Porta Nigra in the background. Some floating gold-guy in the foreground.

The view from the Porta Nigra in Trier.


Then we went to the Technik Museum in Speyer.




Inside an actual submarine.





Then we went to Heidelberg.

Königstuhl, Heidelberg.


Heidelberg Schloss.


The Old Bridge, Heidelberg.

Kim was relieved to find a Starbucks in Heidelberg.


I preferred the local Heidelberg cafe.


The Fuscos officially had a great time in Germany. Thanks Mom.