Author: Josh

Mad Men 1960s Timeline end of an era is looming. It’s approaching the end of the 60s for Don Draper and the people of Sterling Cooper & Partners and it’s nearing the end of one of the finest runs in television history for fans of Mad Men. Its seventh and final season starts Sunday April 13th on AMC.

Since it’s the middle of the day and I’ve consumed zero martinis and because we can’t help but chart every little thing here at SmartDraw, I thought it would be fun to use a timeline to look back at some of the more memorable episodes of this outstanding show, which not surprisingly coincide with some of the most important events of the 1960s.

Some of these events were so momentous that nearly everyone in the world was affected by them and this was reflected in the lives of the characters of Mad Men. Other times, these events served as a subtle backdrop to the main storylines, infusing them with an underlying sense of dread or uncertainty – a reason to retreat into the arms of a mistress or an excuse to have one more drink.

Before each season, fans have enjoyed pondering how these moments in history would affect their favorite characters. And the end of the 1960s should provide many more opportunities for drama and great storytelling. It will be sad to see it go, but Mad Men is bound to make great TV history one last time.


(UPDATE: Go here to view a final historical timeline for all seven seasons of the show).

Game of Thrones Headcount – Charting the Many Deaths of the Epic Fantasy Series“Valar morghulis”, or “All men must die” is a phrase known well by Game of Thrones fans and it’s an apt mantra for a TV show that kills off many and often – even leading characters and fan favorites. It seems like bleak fare for Sunday night entertainment but the millions of fans around the world who tune in each week don’t seem to mind. In fact, they can’t get enough of it.

With the fourth season on the verge of premiering on HBO on April 6th, we here at House SmartDraw thought it would be fun to break down the many deaths that have happened thus far the best way we know how – with a Game of Thrones Headcount infographic. Keep in mind that the doomed in question are characters whose demise we see on screen and are often characters known by name. Deaths that occur on the periphery, battles and killings that are alluded to but happen off screen, are not included as they would be nearly impossible to measure and are surely in the hundreds or thousands. Still, the headcount is high. We even speculate as to the fate of Westeros’ most cowardly yet endearing baker boy with a Hot Pie Chart. But “words are wind”… I’ll let the charts tell the story:

Game of Thrones infographic

Film and Video Production: How Wes Craven Does It (And So Do We)

Film and video production requires careful, detailed planning and management. The right tools are essential. So today, I’m going to share a few trade secrets of Wes Craven… and of ours here at SmartDraw.

Producers, directors, writers and crew members can all benefit from using diagrams such as project plans, floor plans, mind maps and org charts. While they may not sound like film and video production planning tools at first glance, using them will make everyone’s job easier and promote more effective communication with the rest of the production team.

Project charts can help plan out the entire production from pre-production to shooting to post-production. Floor plans are helpful for planning out a scene for set designers, actors and crew or map out an electrical plan for the gaffer and the lighting crew. With an org chart, you can clearly map out a complicated cast of characters or display the hierarchy of the crew. Finally, use a presentation template to import illustrations and plan out every shot.

SmartDraw has been used by independent filmmakers, corporate film and video production companies and blockbuster movie directors, like horror film legend Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream).

Not only does it include all of the diagram types mentioned above, but also dozens of handy forms like timesheets for the cast and crew, travel forms, and invoices to name just a few. Plus, you can link all of them together with hyperlinks so it’s easy to navigate between diagrams. Doing this makes it function like a mini website.

“I use SmartDraw for many things, and keep finding new uses,” said Craven. “For example, I use it for organizational charts to lay out characters and their relationships when I start to break scripts down for production. This results in a comprehensive blueprint of characters, which is extremely handy and powerful. I can bring these blueprints to staff meetings where they are used for pitches, or when I go to a studio to speak about a script.”

In addition, Craven uses SmartDraw for project planning, for making calendars laying out production schedules and travel itineraries. He even used the program’s floor planning capabilities for a major remodel of his home. Craven added, “I’m sure I’ll continue to find new uses for it, and I always recommend it to friends.”

Project Planning

SmartDraw project charts are an intuitive way to plan out every element of your film and video production. In the mind map view, you can visually lay out the tasks that need to be accomplished and figure out how they relate to each other.

Production Plan-Mind Map view

In the assignment view, you can figure out who among the production team is responsible for which tasks and monitor its progress. Assign responsibilities visually during production meetings and leave all crew members with a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

Production Plan-Assignment view

In the project view, you can set the start and end dates of assignments, edit the duration of tasks and add dependencies. For example, principal photography cannot begin for this shoot until the crew has been assembled.

Production Plan-Project view

View the entire life of the production in a timeline to give a clear scope of what has been accomplished and what lies ahead.

Production Plan-Timeline view

All tasks are managed properly and schedules and assignments are clearly communicated, using project charts.

Floor Plans

With SmartDraw floor plans you can map out a studio and coordinate the layout of your scene. By searching through the symbol libraries in the SmartPanel, you can find symbols representing cameras, lights, monitors and people to represent your actors.

All areas, walls and shooting spaces are measured so you can best plan out your shot. Camera operators, lighting crew, actors and everyone involved can know exactly what to prepare for, before the day of the shoot.


The gaffer, an electrician responsible for the lighting plan of a production, may want an electrical plan of the space in which you are going to shoot to prepare for all electrical needs and restrictions. You can create one of those with SmartDraw as well.


Org Charts

SmartDraw organizational charts can benefit your production in a number of ways. For instance, producers or directors can build an org chart of the crew so that everybody knows who’s who.

Org Chart-Film Crew

Writers and directors can get together and create an org chart of all of the characters in a film, to better understand their relationships and communicate with the actors that play them.

Org Chart-Cast



The SmartDraw presentation tool can help you develop a storyboard from the screenplay. Storyboards are visual representations of the action to be shot in a film or video. They can be helpful to the cinematographer or camera operators as they line up shots during production. It’s easy to import illustrations for each scene, lay them out in the sequence that you want and label them according to scene and shot number, location and characters involved.



There are a number of forms included with SmartDraw that could come in handy during the production cycle. Timesheets for talent and crew, invoices for rental equipment and materials purchased, checklists for each day’s schedule of shots, order forms, shipping receipts, daily expense sheets, and many more templates are available.

Timesheet     Invoice     Shotlist


SmartDraw makes it easy to gather all of these helpful visuals together, in an easy-to-manage system, using hyperlinks. For instance, just right-click on the director in the org chart, select Add Hyperlink, and navigate to the project chart where you can find the director’s assignments.

hyperlink1       hyperlink2

You can navigate from the Production Designer to the floor plan, or from the storyboard to the screenwriter, and back and forth between all of these diagrams. The result is a set of simple-to-use production tools that everyone on your team can easily access.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Wes. Or Freddy. Or Jason. If you dare.

Film and reels image used under Flickr creative commons license. Click here for source file.

Aging in America – A Troubling Infographic and Helpful Resources Aging Population

Life expectancy in the US is increasing, and it’s doing so dramatically. In 2011, a newborn baby could expect to live 79 years, up from 69 years in 1960. In 1900, a lifetime lasted only about 47 years.

Today, our odds of becoming centenarians are impressive. If you’re 55, you have a one-in-eight chance of seeing a 100th birthday. If you’re 20, your odds are about one in four.

Living Longer Isn’t Always Living Better

senior infographicBut living longer isn’t necessarily living better for many Americans.

In years past, older people in the United States have relied on family to provide care and support.

Shifting family trends, such as marriage later in life, divorce and an increasingly mobile younger generation have changed the status quo. Many seniors often can’t rely on spouses, children and other family members for help.

65+: A Fast-Growing Demographic

The older population is growing-and it’s growing fast. The number of people 65 and older in the US is forecast to double in the next 40 years. And the older this group gets, the more likely they are to be living alone; even as they approach the age at which they may need help from others the most.

Organizations That Offer Help to Seniors

Thankfully, there are many organizations throughout the country that offer services to seniors. Often free of charge, these groups help those in need of assistance with day-to-day tasks or just a friendly face to check up on them.

One such organization is ElderHelp of San Diego. As a volunteer with ElderHelp, I’ve seen firsthand the difference we can make in the lives of seniors who may not have many people in their lives, or anyone at all, to support them.

ElderHelp offers great services such as rides to appointments and errands, help with personal care, grocery shopping, home repairs, yard work, and dog walking (my favorite) – to name just a few.

Often, our seniors just want a friendly visit or phone call to know that somebody cares about them. And the good news is that groups like ElderHelp exist all across the United States, ranging from local senior centers to far-reaching national organizations (see the map below to link to a few of the many nonprofits that are out there).

senior map

If you or a neighbor, friend or family member is having trouble going it alone, there are people that want to help. Or perhaps you want to lend a hand yourself. Get in touch and see what they can do for you… or what you can do for them.

Follow the links from the images above to access interactive visuals which you can download if you’d like. Also, if you have organizations in your area that you’d like us to add to our map, please respond in the comments section below.