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View Masters

Digital art duo finds inspiration for imagery in such unlikely places as a children's 3-D toy.

July 15, 1996|PAUL KARON

About four years ago, Water Kerner was wandering around the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena when she picked up an ancient View-Master 3-D viewer. The plastic toy superimposed two pictures of a hula dancer to create the illusion of three dimensions.

Kerner was amazed; she'd never seen one before. Maybe the View-Master is primitive compared with today's computer-powered media, but it could be said to be the totem technology for L@it2'd (pronounced "Latitude"), the broadcast design and directing shop founded by Kerner and partner Mindi Lipschultz.

Kerner and Lipschultz are part of a growing movement of digital artists that is defining and redefining the look of electronic media. Though still a small firm, L@it2'd has since its 1993 launch been steadily building a roster of high-profile clients.

Kerner and Lipschultz have been hired to design music videos by Janet Jackson and Rod Stewart and the opening title sequences on Fox Television's "The Sinbad Show." Lately, they've been winning more contracts to design interactive Web sites.

Kerner's background is in fine arts: She studied sculpture and painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Lipschultz went to Temple University Film School in Philadelphia. Yet, when it comes to expressing a vision, the pair's artistic sensibilities meld, View-Master-like, through the use of graphics and compositing software running on Apple Macintosh computers.

"I'm from a film background," says Lipschultz, "and Water has a fine arts background, but any idea that comes out of our heads we can take it and stretch it into any shape and combine with elements from any kind of media."

Before founding their own company, both Kerner and Lipschultz worked in television production; Lipschultz has edited programs for HBO and CBS and has been nominated for an Emmy for work on a PBS series.

But both partners say the Internet will become the driving force in the development of visual imagery and the overall look of media.

"A television show is mostly live actors--the amount of graphics is maybe 30 seconds out of a half-hour," Kerner says. "But on the Web, the visual information is completely graphics."

Freelance writer Paul Karon can be reached via e-mail at pkaron@netcom.com

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Bio Box

Who: Water Kerner, 34, and Mindi Lipshultz, 38

Profession: Broadcast designers and digital directors. Creators of television commercials and title sequences and 3-D animation for music videos, CD-ROMs and the World Wide Web

Hardware: Apple Macintoshes (four Quadra models and three PowerMac PCI machines); Radius VideoVision board for full-screen, full-motion video

Software: Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator and Electric Image Corp.'s AfterEffects

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