Download Frequency
Latest version: 1.1   (March 31, 2001)


While still working on the Mad Season skin, I was asked to create a skin for the New Line Cinema film 'Frequency.' Within a week, I'd been sent a package containing 3 photo-CDs of still photos from the film's set.

I began slowly making my way through the hundreds of photos, trying to figure out what to feature, from a movie I hadn't seen. After a week of looking and considering, I was lucky enough to catch a trailer for the film while at the movies. I realised that the key was the HAM radio from the movie. Not only was it important within the context of the film, but it would lend itself nicely to a Winamp skin.

I culled from the set photos every image of the radio that I could find, and began to construct the skin (from scratch, I might add - though photos were used for reference, none were used as part of the skin).

The skin itself was created over a period of four days, in a series of 18-hour sessions. The greatest difficulty I was presented with came as I was finishing the main window. In looking at the photos I had singled out, I suddenly noticed the radio appeared to be 2 different colors, depending on the lighting that was being used. As the photos were all from the shooting sets, colored gels were undoubtedly being used to establish time of day and to create a visual identity/differentiation between scenes meant to take place in 1969 and 1999. Because of this, sometimes the faceplate of the radio appeared to have a greenish finish, and sometimes very blue.

I stopped working and spent an evening researching online, looking for other photos of Heathkit HAM radios. The only ones I came across were black and white photos from vintage manuals. They proved useless, so I made the only reasonable decision I felt I could under the circumstances - I split the difference, ending up with the slightly blue grey of the finished skin.

This skin set a high bar of quality for me, and the photorealism of the skin still startles me, looking back at it. I like the reflections and interaction of light on the knobs. The slight texture to the surface gives it a very tangible feel, but what really does it for me is the apparent use the radio has received - the scratches in the enamel around knobs, screws and other moving parts. Those subtle details really made a difference.

Months after the skin went online, I was contacted by the webmaster of a large resource page aimed at HAM radio users. He wondered if I'd permit him to post the skin on his pages. Of course, I granted him that permission, and was shortly thereafter flooded with thanks from HAM afficionados. Since I'd questioned whether I got the coloration right on the 'Frequency' radio since the day I chose to go halfway, I asked around for a final answer.

It turns out the green I had started with would have been absolutely correct. Rats.

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