Digital Me – First Tutorial

Over the last few days, I have been working on developing my brand style ready for my first tutorial today.

I began with attempting to self-brand myself using my name rather than an actual logo. Finding a photograph of myself that was able to actually interactive with the ‘title’, I’m Amber, made me realise that this was the style I liked best. Unfortunately the photograph is not high quality enough for me to be happy with and I want to capture a better one, but this has at least helped me decide on a favourite style. I should be able to use I’m Amber in both ways, with and without the image of myself sat on it.

name ideas

After testing out a few different fonts and style, and picking a favourite, I began experimenting with colour and of course I had to use my favourite colour orange (Pantone 144 CP) that I use in so many of my projects. After all, it is my colour, “amber”.

I have put together an initial rough CV layout that I think works well alongside my personality and overall brand. My next step is to begin creating the online portfolio layout in consistency to the CV. As my CV is not fully completed yet, I will be able to make changes accordingly if needed – I think it is necessary to keep myself flexible in the beginning ideas generation and design stages of this Digital Me project.

cv first idea

Although I had more or less decided that I would not use my pre-existing logo (used on some social media), I wanted to put it into my CV just so that I could confirm or disconfirm in my tutorial if I was choosing the right way to go. Sure enough, my logo was pointed out as being probably unnecessary, so I am going to go ahead and remove it. Although the logo is not needed, they agreed that it was a great touch to have an image of myself interacting with the title, I’m Amber, as a personal touch. In my tutorial, it was picked up on by my peers that the use of the key colour orange worked really effectively as it doubled up well as being the colour “amber”, just like I am, Amber. The typefaces that I have chosen are Bebas Neue for the headlines and Champagne & Limousines for the body text.

Client Meeting and Exhibition

This afternoon we had our second client meeting in which we showed them our initial ideas and how we were developing them.

We opened our meeting by showing the small exhibition that we had set up on our given topic of ‘racism’. Our client seemed impressed by our setup and was interested in how we were using it to help us and relate back to our work on their own brief.

exhibition

We explained how and why we had chosen to display our existing poster campaigns on racism, by theme. We wanted to focus on the more ‘lighthearted’ and ‘witty’ theme, rather than the aggressive, as we felt that this had more relevance to their own campaign. The ’emotive’ and ‘informative’ themes also had some use, but we do not want to make either of these themes too heavy in our own animations. We spoke about how we felt cancer was a very serious underlying topic, so we wanted to add a small amount of wit and humour to take some weight off. Our client agreed with this, and said that if our animations were able to get a smile, or a giggle, out of someone going through cancer treatment (or their families), it would be wonderful. Showing this exhibition has helped me confirm that by having a positive and upbeat vibe in my own animation, I am heading in the right direction.

When it came to showing our own individual ideas, I presented our clients with my storyboards that I have created so far – currently 3 out of 4. I also gave them copies of their own that they could take away with them to look over in their own time. It was great to get feedback from the clients, which overall was very positive. She seemed to really like how each of our ideas were slightly different but still all worked really well for what they needed.

Video 1: “Background information and the importance of ensuring food wellbeing during chemotherapy.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Video 2: “Top 10 tips on food safety.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Video 3: “Risk associated foods and the safer alternatives.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When looking through one of my storyboards, Ellen (one of our clients) pointed some minor points that could possibly be changed. It was great to get the constructive critique from her as this is exactly what I need in order to be able to go away and develop my storyboards further. My next step is to make minor edits to my existing storyboards and possibly change some scenes that I am no longer happy with. For example, in video 2, one of the modifications that I need to make, suggested by Ellen, is that cans do not technically have ‘use by’ dates on, they have ‘best before end’ dates instead. The dated labels that they are more interested in are the ‘use by’ ones. Although I could use the cans as purely representative, I want to change them to a relevant product – Ellen suggested milk cartons as an example of a ‘use by’ labelled product.

Apart from these minor changes, I need to complete the fourth storyboard that I am working on and also, to finish the scripts for the voiceovers of each of the videos – I will need to record them in order to get the timings of the animations right.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that earlier in the day before our client meeting, we spoke to Wendy who suggested that we did not actually have to create the animation. I relaid this suggestion onto our client during our meeting, and admitted honestly that personally, I felt that I would not be able to make it to the standard as, let’s say, somebody on the animation course, but would still happily make it for them if they still wished me to. I mentioned that there was the possibility of getting in touch with the animation course in University so that we could perhaps work together in order to achieve a better final outcome. The client put me more at ease when she said that they would not actually be launching the videos until the end of this year, so we had plenty of time to work on them. On saying this, I have decided that I will fully create both the script, voiceover and storyboards, and will aim to complete the actual animations too, but perhaps I will focus on just one within our time constraints and then continue to work with them outside of my other projects in order to complete the others. Our clients did not seem too fazed that I felt my animating skills were not as strong as others, and seemed pleased that I would be happy and willing to continue working with them – they were also open to the idea of getting in touch with the animation course to help further improve our creations. At the end of the day, it’s a great opportunity for me to be working on a live brief with real-life clients – it’s something that I can put on my CV too.

First Animation Attempt

This morning, before our client meeting, I decided to test out my animation.

When I arrived, I was lucky to meet Tom who is the guy to speak to when it comes to using the software down in the AV suite. He helped me to set up the recording pieces and gave me a lesson on using the stop-motion software. He introduced me to a new programme that I not used before, called ‘DragonFrame’ – it is very similar to iStopMotion but a more professional version – it’s very easy to use and I much prefer it to iStopMotion after today.

Once left to it, I tested out one scene from my storyboard and animated it. I chose to use the first scene of video 1, where my hand enters the screen and hand-writes the title, “Wellbeing during chemotherapy.”

It took me several attempts to get it right, but I managed it in the end. I tested it out in pencil to begin with, which didn’t work due to the lighting which reflected off the pencil once on the paper, making it hard to read. One of the most difficult things I found was getting the size and positioning of the handwritten text right on the paper, because it was hard to tell when looking at the live capture preview on the Mac screen. In the end, I got around this obstacle by very, very faintly pencilling in corner frames onto the paper, so that I could see which part was on screen – this solved my problem and I was able to get the text correct. Next time, I may have to, again, very faintly mark in some straight lines which I can write on because, it was difficult to write in a perfectly straight line from the angle I was at. My attempt using pen was much more successful. I was really happy with the outcome of this very short 10-second clip, but it made me realise just how long the process would be – with a bit more practice and maybe working on the scenes little bit at a time like this, I should be able to piece them all together afterwards to create the full animation.

Before meeting our client, we spoke to Wendy, who suggested that we didn’t actually have to create the animation. Instead, we could just fully design it and focus on the character design and scenes – similarly to the way in which we worked on the S4C project: we designed the storyboard and then they got together with a team of professionals in order to bring it to life. Personally, I feel that I have been holding back on my animation design because I have been creating it to the standards of what I, myself, can make – which wouldn’t be as much as a real animator. I consider myself a designer, not an animator. This is the exact reason that Wendy had suggested perhaps not making the full animations. She even suggested that we could get in touch with lecturers and students on the animation course in the university, and perhaps they could help us when it comes to the actual making of the animation. Wendy suggested having an honest conversation with our client to admit that, creating it myself, I would not be able to achieve the quality and standard as someone on the animation course would, and although I am happy to design it for them, and would put my all into making it for them if they still want me to, it would be more ‘basic’ than an animator’s effort. After admitting all of this, I still believe that I’d really enjoy making the animation if they were still happy with this as I think it’s a great opportunity for me and I love the fact that it allows me to work outside of my comfort zone and enables me to push the boundaries and develop a new skill.

Ideation Stage Tutorial

This morning, my group had a tutorial with Ian in order to discuss our ideas so far and what the next stages for us were.

Although I do not yet have any proper visuals, I have been brainstorming a range of different ideas over the weekend and making notes on each to find which ones have the most promise and would work best for what I want and need to do. I do not want my video to be too serious. Because obviously cancer is so much of a serious issue already, I feel that any more deadpan-style information being give, would be almost scary and could frighten viewers off. I want my videos to be light-hearted and friendly, even though they are there to address a serious issue and people need to know this. Considering the time constraint we had, but wanting to do an animation rather than photographic film, I have decided to create a stop-motion film.

Looking back over my notes from our client meeting last week, I picked out a key bit of information that they had mentioned. They said that from their market research, in which they visited Velindre Cancer Centre and showed patients a range of existing campaigns and videos, they discovered that the viewers seemed to really engage with a sense of journey. I decided that I’d take this idea of a ‘journey’ and create a video which tells a story and has a narrative which the viewers can relate to. Deciding that I wanted to create a journey, my next step was to create a character to take this journey. I had to keep in mind that we only have about 4 weeks do create and finish 4 videos for our clients, so my character could not be too overly complicated. I have decided on a stickman.

After testing out a range of designs for my stick man character, including a variety of different hairstyles, in the end, I came back to one of my more simple stick man designs. I created some short strips to test out movements, such as walking.

My next step from here is to  write a script for each of the 4 videos and create a storyboard for each too. I am going to work on one at a time, starting with the top 10 food safety tips. By doing it this way, I will hopefully have a full script, list of scenes, and storyboard for at least one full film by next Tuesday 14th, because this is the day that we next meet our clients to show them how we are coming along with our ideas. As well as my written and drawn visuals, I hope to also have a very short moving image example that I will create on the iStopMotion software and machines that we have available to us in university, to show my clients so that they can get a better and clearer idea of what I am going for and what it will look like on-screen. In today’s tutorial, Ian suggested that before I begin the actually making of the video, that I have a recorded version of my voiceover script, so that I can then make my video around it – this means that I will be able to see where each bit of animation needs to go and also how long each part needs to be, depending on the voiceover length and timing. The voiceover will act by filling in any gaps in the visuals of my film, audibly – this means that I can afford to miss out some details in my visuals as the voiceover can make up for it – this will be necessary, again, because of our time constraints.

For our coming client meeting, as well as individual ideas, we also intend to have a mini-exhibition set up as a group to display a range of campaign examples all based around our given ‘side-topic’ of racism. We have decided that we are going to display examples of anti-racism campaigns, grouped by theme. For example, wit, aggression, emotive and informative. We will show a range of different styles of campaign, for example, posters, videos. We are hoping to relate our display to our clients by showing them how we feel that a theme of aggression would not work for their brief, whereas a light-hearted form of wit, would. After showing our exhibition, we will then go into individually showing our ideas and how we are developing them.

Research and Inspiration

Inspired by Cath’s talk that she gave us on persuasion techniques, I decided that my next step of the process was to do some research into some existing pieces.

After my meeting with my clients and understanding that the outcome that they desired was a series of short food-wellbeing videos, it made sense that I look into existing animations already out there. This helped me to see what worked and also what didn’t work so well. I began by looking at what ‘food safety’ videos were already out there, but then moved on to a wider research area.

What worked:

I really like the idea of using simple black and white illustrated drawings which lead me to looking into the technique of using stop-motion.  Some other animations that worked really well was the actual use of real food, and although my clients said that their market research showed that viewers weren’t keen on the idea of having food on-screen (as it could bring on feelings of nausea), if I used the food carefully and in the right way, it could work. I also discovered ‘Gulp‘, the largest stop-motion animation ever made, which although I am probably not capable of during this project, was pretty inspiring and amazing to watch and learn how it was created. Considering my clients have already got a booklet that is key to their campaign currently, which uses icons and small graphic pictograms, I believe that the illustrated stop-motion idea has the most potential.

What didn’t work:

Although I found loads of great animations and videos that are already out there, some videos did not work so well at all. When it came to actually ‘food safety’ videos, seeing the use of photographic film to film live food preparation, I can definitely see how this could perhaps bring on feelings of nausea so would not want to use this technique in my own videos. Also, the use of somebody standing and talking into the camera does not work, even if they are ‘doctors’ or ‘professionals’ – personal stories do not work.

After realising that I think I wanted to go down the stop-motion route, several animations shone out to me the most. One in particular was ‘Manipulation‘ by Daniel Greaves. Although this animation is rather old and was created in 1991, it is still a brilliant stop-motion animation which mixes both illustration and photographic image to create an incredible animated pieced all based around a stickman character who is drawn to life. This is one of my favourite animations and I think it would be a great opportunity to create a modern version of it in relation to my food safety brief.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 00.21.44

Research Stage Tutorial

Today was our first tutorial during this project, to talk about our research so far.

Our group’s tutorial today was with Ian Weir. We showed the research that we had collected so far, including our creative briefs at the stage that they’re currently at. My research included what the food safety risks are for cancer patients and what some of the foods are that they should avoid. I also looked into who both, the Velindre Cancer Centre and ZERO2FIVE are, and what they do.

As a group, we made a list of questions that we had put together for the client – the questions covered what we found was missing from the brief that we believe would be useful to know. The questions included:

  • Ask for the booklet.
  • How long a video would you consider suitable?
  • Where will the videos be shown? – on your website? on social media? etc.
  • Is our target audience purely those who visit and are caregivers to patients at the Velindre Cancer Cancer, or is it a wider audience?
  • When should we expect to receive the nutrition and food safety messages for the video from the researchers at ZERO2FIVE?
  • How many videos do you want in the series?
  • Is there a brand? – for example, Cardiff Met or Velindre Cancer Centre?

After showing Ian the questions that we intended to email through to our clients, Ian suggested, why not meet them? – after all, they are located literally on the university campus. Ian also made clear that he personally felt that, the clients were possibly asking for and expecting a bit too much by asking for a series of videos – he suggested that just one single video would be more realistic considering the time constraints that we have. The clients, not being designers themselves, would most likely have very little, if any, knowledge of how to make a video and how long the video-making process takes. We will need to see if we can come to a compromise with the clients to create a more doable outcome for them.

From here, we plan to contact the clients in order to ask if we can meet up to introduce ourselves and talk over the brief with them.

 

Persuasion – What is it?

Today we spent the day with Wendy Keay-Bright, being introduced back to the Subject module, for our new project, ‘Persuasion’.

Firstly, what is persuasion?

Persuasion attempts to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviours in relation to an event, idea, or object. Persuasive communication achieves five things: stimulation, convincing, call to action, increasing consideration, and tolerance for alternative perspectives. Graphic design is a potent tool for good or bad, as we can see in war propaganda or political promotion. However, even with all of the awareness and understanding we now possess as beings, we have still failed to eliminate things like, cruelty, oppression and war. Practically every decision we make as designers has an ethical dimension, requiring us all to balance the forces in our own small way as responsible individuals.

A designer’s social responsibility

As designers, one of our purposes is to communicate messages, so we have something to say – we have a perspective. Things that we need to ask ourselves before starting the message: Who you we working for, who are we trying to communicate with, and how do we chose to do that? – What kind of tools do we use – even the paper we use is a statement and that’s before we’ve even put anything on it. We designers often imbue our work with meaning, over and above what is required by the client or perceived by the end user. Our work can be a form of artistic self-expression, a manifestation of a political religious belief, or an expression of social engagement. We always need to ask ourselves: How does our work impact on other people?

A designer’s responsibility to persuade

Clients will look to designers to put across their message most effectively and having agreed to a commission, this is exactly what we should do. However, we should be mindful of what we are actually persuading people to do. We might, for example, not wish to participate in creating desires for certain things that people might not really need. Alternatively we may see demand as necessary for a successful capitalist economy. Another example is that, we may not be happy persuading in favour of a cause or reason that we do not agree with or feel is right/appropriate.  It is up to us, as an individual, to decide.

Conflicting principles within a design

The choice of font, the crop of an image or the relative size of element on a page can all influence interpretation in different ways. This responsibility should not be undervalued. Modernism advocates aesthetic neutrality, implying that design should facilitate the conveyance of messages, but not be part of the message itself. The counter argument is that this is impossible to achieve – trying to conceal the role of design is lying in itself.


Mini workshop:

In pairs, we got given two juxtaposing words between us, which we then had to explore the meanings of through the use of text, image and composition.

The words that my partner and I were given, were: hazy / straightforward. We began by looking through a thesaurus to find other synonyms for the words in order to help us get a better understanding of the definition of each word.

Hazy = clouded, dim, dull, opaque, unclear, vague, indefinite, blurry, foggy, fuzzy.

Straightforward = direct, truthful, sincere, unconcealed, level, like it is, unequivocal, forthright, candid, genuine.

To show the words through text, we made ‘hazy’ hard to read and unclear by overlapping the word several times and adjusting the colour and opacity. We also overlaid a block of black tint to add to the blurriness. For ‘straightforward’, we kept it simple, unconcealed and easy to read with bold red text on white.

To show the words through image, we used the idea of mapping out a journey from A to B. For ‘straightforward’, the journey is clear and direct making it easily navigable, whereas for ‘hazy’ the journey is muddles and unclear with multiple options of making the journey – this would most likely lead to a longer and more confusing route.

To act the words out as a composition, we used the journey idea again. The character acting out ‘straightforward’ took the simplest, quickest and easiest route, whereas the ‘hazy’ character took the long way round and couldn’t find or see where they were going clearly at all.

This metaphor could relate to the way in which we choose to work – some people will work in a ‘straightforward’ manner, getting to their final outcome quickly and efficiently, whereas others prefer to take the ‘hazy’ way round in which they may branch off into several side paths before eventually ending up at the finish line and final outcome.