Course experience

This is a hard-won opportunity for us to working for real client. We are all really happy with the whole process and all our meeting and working. And I think it promoted our skill in different aspects. As for me, I learnt brand-new software, and my English communication level and strategic thinking ability are also increased a lot.

I really like the feeling of that someone is pushing me on the back so that I need to use every of my skills to finish the final outcome. With the pushing, our working quality and efficiency are also being kept in a high level. I think this maybe a quite similar rhythm with working in the real industry.

Anyway, I really like to experience more about work for real client. It is always helpful for a student to prepare their ability for getting a formal job.

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Visualization and software

I feel much better when our group working went into “make” progress from “talk” progress.

I was not playing a talking guy in the period of deciding our core message and consumer. I was more like the person who gives some advice or try to decide something in some key point of our discussion. I think both of the people are helpful to our decision making in different aspect. The “talking” guys help us more about brainstorming and idea generation. And “Advising” guys help us makes some decision or change our mind in some necessary time and save us from wasting time.

Then when our group went into the visualizing period, I feel more like that I became a core person in the group. We met a lot of challenge of our character making and changed several time of our video style. Finally we decided to keep our video in a more serious way.

The first draft version is some blue Scottish characters with a flag symbol on the body.

Then we tried a more cartoon way to show our storyboard. But we found is maybe too cute to fit our core consumer which is professional people of child protecting.

From hazel’s advice, we play some role playing game to try to understand the demanding of professional people. We acted police, doctor, teacher, social worker and WithScotland worker. It is very helpful for refining the important elements in our final outcome. After some conclusion of this, we decided to make our video in a serious way. So finally we use black and white photo of child protecting as background and black and white or gray characters and icon to make animation.

Then I started to learn how to use Adobe Aftereffect to make animation by watching tutorial video.

And the main process of making our video is:

  1. Make all vector icons by Adobe Illustrator. (Graphic design software)
  2. Put them into AE to make animation and also set up the animation of background photo. (Post-effect software )
  3. Put all part of AE files and sound tracks into Corel Video Studio Pro to make the final video. (Video editing software)

After all, suited with a perfect Scottish accent and soothing background music, our final effect of our video is really amazing and beyond our expectation. The black and white characters look more vividly in front of the serious black and white background photo. And the two things fits each other really good and holistic. Further, our video is not too long. This mean is will not make audience feel boring. But in this short time, our video can provide enough information for WithScotland and also explained the three key point of it clearly. (Connecting, Exchanging, Protecting)

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Personal view of group efficiency

Today I reviewed the whole process of our group work and I think that we can save more time if we choose a more efficient way to make decision.

Our group has a quite good organization and structure. We have two design ethnographers, tow service designer and one product designer. But our working progress did not happen as good as I expected.

I think in the first 2 weeks of our project we are quite inefficient and always feel lost in somewhere. Then I analyzed our working method and tried to fine our some reason for this.

This that period of time we usually work on everything together. All of us was discussing all day to make sure our core message and main consumer. We used this way even we started to make our first step of visualization (storyboard). Then I find out that it maybe not a good thing for everyone works together for one thing. Sometimes we speak a lot and cannot make any decision. In this case, we are just saying as well as wasting our time. It is really hard to settle down something only if someone has any other opinion which may not really different with others. And this cases always ended with someone said that we are wasting time and the thing is mostly the same and we need to make this decision and stop here and move forward. But it is a little bit hard for someone to say something like this, it feels embarrassed sometime. So by that time, we were always the last one group to finish our deliverable materials.

After our frame of our visualization settled down, we feel clearer of our video and working progress. Then our working method started changing slightly.

I can say we worked in a more efficient way in the last two weeks. We divided us into 2 groups: one for visualization, another one for content. Alina, Ying and I became visualizers as well as Fernando and Claire started searching and writing. Fernando also took care of the audio thins which included both finding Scottish accent for recording and find background music for our video. Then things changed a lot. Alina and Ying draw icons and find some photo for me and I put them into the video editing and animation making software to make movie. Sometime Ying can also help me make some part of the video. Claire who is an English speaker can write faster and more professional than the rest of us. She did a really good job of script writing. Despite helping Claire with the content, Fernando also finished his mission of audio efficiently. Our method for this period is more like everyone finish their work and shows it to the group for some suggestion and promotion. So that we were not wasting time on chatting and everyone keep working in the same time. It saved us a lot of time. Then in the end, we finished our whole work in a quick time and everyone can have their rest on time.

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Protected: WithScotland: Stage Three Deliverable

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The Slippery Slope of Stereotyping.

The core of our brief for this project has been about communicating a complex message to a very specific audience. As a team we have had to get to grips with a lot of information, which we have then filtered and designed, to become more engaging and accessible to an audience of childcare practitioners.

In order to develop a clear understanding as to what information we needed to highlight (and which to leave out) for a very diverse audience, last week we created personas to encourage us to think from their perspective.

Personas are generally used in user-centred design, in order to create a general representation of the types of different characters, within a targeted demographic. click this link for more examples of personas being used as a service design tool This then allows designers to see how each demographic is driven by their individual needs and habits, and this can help to create a much better understanding for a team as to the different audiences likely motivations and attitudes, towards what is being designed for them.

Therefore as designers ourselves, with little understanding about the needs of a Scottish policeman, teacher or nurse, who may have a  concern about child protection, the use of  this technique helped us to clarify the type of information they needed to know and what we should then leave out.

We were also able to see how we could cater our client WS’s message to answer their particular needs. This turned out to be a key part of our process for  developing ideas for our video, because we were able to see how the different personas can use the WS resource to exchange information across their agencies, and build upon their individual professional development, in line with government policy:

personas

However, the downside to this technique is that personas tend to be quite stereotypical, because they present a large amount of data in one character. And though  this helped us to be more efficient in our decision making, because it helped simplify and filter our research, and also encouraged us to think like the people we were designing for, it also played a hinderance later on in our project work, when we came to visualising these personas for our video.

Our video concept depicts characters from the three professions, in order to show how they can interact with our clients resource. In trying to catch this audiences attention with our icons, (so that they can know the message is relevant to them) we originally created icon designs that communicated very explicitly as to who they were supposed to be representing.

However, by designing this way we found that during our feedback and review sessions, we were creating confusion, and sometimes even alienating some of our audience as they were put off and distracted by some of the character depictions we had designed.

In the end, the icons we settled for, were as simple as possible in order to communicate our message. And though initially we felt that communicating detail to our message, through our icons was going to be really important,  we have now discovered that less is definitely more, because an audience is more likely to engage and see themselves in a design that is neutral and does not stereotype in any way, through too much individual detail.

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Sounding good


Philippe Put via Compfight cc

No doubt videos are a great tool to present ideas. Ted have turned inspiring lectures a commodity, YouTube is filled with interesting contents and crowd-founding websites like KickStarter shows how important is to present ideas on video.

Thanks to technology affordability today it is quite easy to get access to a HD – High Definition – camera.

But an overlooked aspect of videos are the sound. Even with great visuals sometimes the lack of quality in sound can destroy what should be a very good video.

I am far from be a professional, but here goes some general tips on how to reach at least a “fair enough” sound quality without high-end equipment in a guerrilla way.

Have a scrip: Avoid going freestyle on it. Write first, but revising it by reading out loud so you can actually hear how it sounds and avoid tongue-twisters. Another tip is to leave a good space between each paragraph so you have more freedom to work with timing at your video latter on.

Find a quiet place: Look for somewhere isolated, without people passing by, and with some furniture to avoid echo.

Don’t be boring: Voice-over is efficient but can get reaaaaaaaaally boring. One thing you can do is to smile while you talk, even if people cant see you smiling your voice will sound more approachable / cheerful. The second thing is to really act on your script. You can just read it, but if you really act and work your tone of voice it will sound much more interesting.

Recording: Try to get a proper audio recorder, prefer those with SD Cards (avoiding problems with cables). If not possible a good alternative is a mobile phone. A trick to get a better quality on it is to use the hands free microphone, as smartphones usually have some software to make voice clear and isolate background noise it is a pretty good workaround.

Pos-production: I use GoldWave. It is from the stone ages, have this windows 98 interface but what can I say, it just works for me. Most of the time I just need to increase voice’s volume and clear some back ground noise. It is also pretty good to deal with soundtracks, make looping sounds, fade-in and fade-outs, etc.

Soundtrack: It is far more important than it seems. Having at least some background music disguise minor flaws at your voice recording and avoid a weird silence between one paragraph and the other. You don’t want to get in trouble with copyrights, so try to use Creative Commons protected songs (presuming it is an non-commercial video). Websites like FreeSound and SoundDogs are a pretty good source for this.

Adding a fair enough quality level sound to your video can be tough, but considering the return on your invested time I think it totally worth.

What about you? Any tips on guerrilla sound recording / editing?

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Understanding the System, Understanding the User.

For the majority of our second week on this project, we have been researching into the different needs and requirements of our video audience (professionals working in child care.)

We have done this because we need to ensure that the content of our message is relevant and appropriate for them, in order to maximise the impact and success of our finished video product for our client WS.

WS work across many agencies and professional boundaries through their work in child protection, and so the system that our video is being designed to work in is complex. As you can see below by visualising it for ourselves, it has given us a more specific idea as to who our audience is:

Image

Through this activity, we have chosen to focus our video message even further, by concentrating on tailoring our content to an audience of police, teachers and health care professionals.

By developing personas for each of these professions we have started to develop an angle for our video that shows how the WS website is able to help anyone in these three professions learn, share and exchange information regarding child protection across work boundaries.

Image

 

This has informed our visual direction for the video, because we are now focussing on storyboarding a concept that shows icons of a policeman, nurse and teacher. We intend to show how, through the use of the WS website they are all able to communicate and share concerns and ideas more easily, to help them improve their own professional practice, and more importantly to improve the overall service of child protection across the country.

The next stage for us now, is to develop inclusive icons for these different professions, in a simple and understandable way that does not distract a viewer through stereotype or exclusion.

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