Trip to Zenith Media

Today I spent the morning on trip with some of my peers and Ian at Zenith Media’s, Print and Packaging plant in Pontypridd.

We were showed around the plant by Alun Phillips, the Business Development Manager there, who knew Zenith Media inside and out. We started the day with a short introductory presentation given by Alun and we were then taken and shown around the whole plant, before being spoilt to lunch. After taking lots of photographs and some films from our trip to Zenith Media, I put together a short montage of the clips.

One of my favourite parts of the trip was that there was just printed paper absolutely everywhere. Wherever you looked there were stacks and stacks of paper, some almost as high as the roof, in every direction. It was great to see the companies that they worked alongside: everybody from small independent book publishers, to big car companies – they even print the prospectus for Cardiff Metropolitan University and we even spotted a sneak peak stack of the prospectus’ for this year, ready for dispatch. The cover of the Cardiff Met prospectus was navy blue with a maze-like pattern printed in a pink holographic foil effect for extra detail and a quality feeling (image below).

It was great to see the huge variety of printing processes that they could carry out in one place all at Zenith Print and Packaging. They had several rotogravure printing machines which are commonly used for high-volume printing due to their ability to produce high quality results rapidly and are great for long runs. It was great to see the machines in work and producing prints – it was incredible to see how rapidly everything moved. There was machines of all different kinds in the plant – some of my particular favourites were the ones that added special effects to prints, such as spot UV coating which creates a shiny, varnish effect which looks brilliant on practically any print (image above). Alun’s enthusiasm for the printing industry was contagious. He proved to us that you can print onto any material at all of any thickness, from paper, to wood, to metal. At Zenith, he says that they often even print onto fabrics to create cotton banners, etc.

Overall, it was great to visit Zenith Print and Packaging – it has helped me realise that it is not only digital design that I cold go into in the future, I can also take the more hands on route of printing. It reminded me just how great of a degree that I am taking because their are so many potential pathways that I could take after graduating. Alun even added that if we were ever interested in carrying out some work experience with them in Zenith, that we were very welcome. I feel that we have all made a great contact with Zenith Media by visiting them.

Digital Me – Finishing Touches

Our final deadline for the Digital Me project is on Tuesday so I am just adding the final finishing touches to all of my submissions before then.

I am feeling confident with the way I am heading and I have not got a lot to do before handing in my finished work for the deadline on Tuesday. I have completed my Research and Development PDF for Persuasion and am currently finishing off the one for Penguin. I have already got a Research and Development PDF for branding that I created last year after completing the Brandworld project, so I have just got to add and change this one accordingly to my further development since then and my newer final outcomes.

For the finishing touches of my CV, online portfolio, PDF portfolio, I have edited some details to add to the overall final look of the finished pieces. After a tutorial with Neil, we spoke about how underlining titles, historically, was not considered needed after ‘bold‘ was invented. Although I have decided against using the bold version of Playfair Display as I think it ruins the beauty of the contrast between the thick and thin lines in the lettering of the typeface, I have removed the underlines of the titles and the overall look of the CV is much cleaner without them. I have done the same thing on my PDF portfolio by removing the underlines of the titles. Removing these underlines have actually added to the consistency of my overall project, because I noticed that the website does not have underlined titles. There is enough definition between the title and the body text because they are different typefaces – the title is serif and the body text is sans serif, the title is in orange and the body text is black, and there is also a big size difference between the two.

To match the removal of all my title underlines, I have edited my ‘I’m Amber‘ logo slightly as well. I have removed the underline below the text, but kept the line above as the image of me is sat, resting on it. I have adjusted the weight of the upper line to make up for it’s staying though.

Digital Me – Further Development

Since last week, I have made small developments to all three of my main pieces: the CV, the online portfolio and the PDF portfolio.

In the PDF portfolio, I have added in the text and the images to each of the project pages, although one or two are still missing that I want to add in. I have made sure that they are the same images used in my online portfolio and that the brief and solution are the same too. I have added in navigation buttons on every project so that you can flick through the projects using arrow buttons and also return back to the home page. After a tutorial, I have increased the text size by 1 or 2 points because it was suggested that it was perhaps just a little too small. At the the end of my portfolio, I have added an extra page which is a ‘Contact’ page and also has an ‘About Me’ paragraph, similar to the CV.

For the CV, I have added in work experience and also written the ‘About Me’ section. Like the PDF portfolio, I have developed my CV so that it is now interactive too. It has icons which link to my social media profiles: Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I decided to exclude Facebook because my account is a personal one and I think it is important to keep my CV purely professional and not mix up my personal life with work. I have also added a link to my online portfolio so that employers looking at my CV can get to my work with one easy click.

On my online portfolio, I have gone ahead and removed the ‘Home’ page as I decided that it was not needed – my online portfolio now opens simply with the text saying, “Hello and Welcome!…“. After originally arranging the images on each of the project pages one after each other in a straight line as individual images down the page. I have now arranged them in a more designed layout (image below: I have taken a screenshot from one of the project pages as an example). I have also spread ‘The Solution’ paragraph between these images because I felt that there was too much text to begin with at the top of each project.

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My next steps are to move on to beginning the Research and Development PDFs for my Subject projects: Persuasion, Penguin and Branding.

Digital Me – the Online Portfolio

Now I’ve created a rough idea of what I want my CV to look like, I decided to start on the online portfolio.

After trialling out a few different platforms on which I could create my online portfolio on, including WordPress and Adobe Portfolio, I settled on using Wix after finding a theme that I really liked and finding it the most comfortable to use.

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In my online portfolio, I have used a serif font which I prefer over the bold sans serif font of Bebas Neue that I used in my original CV design, so I have since changed the typefaces in my CV to match the online portfolio that I am creating. I have changed the I’m Amber ‘title’ to match. The typefaces now used on both my online portfolio and in my CV are Playfair Display for headlines and Avenir for the body text – personally, I feel that this use of the serif font actually suits me as a person and my personally much better than the original sans serif font did. I have kept the tone of the site informal, friendly and relatable.

I have kept the online portfolio simple and professional. There are only four key areas to my site, all linked in the header menu bar: Home, Portfolio, About and Contact. The website is one whole page which you can scroll through in one, separated by invisible anchor points which split up the four sections – each of the menu bar links simply automatically scroll the user down to that particular anchor. I am unsure as to whether the ‘Home’ section of the website is even needed as it does not really do much for the site as a whole and the ‘Portfolio’ itself may be telling enough as a home page.

On the contact page, viewers are invited to get in touch with me either by leaving a message on the website which I will then receive via email, or they can send me a direct email to my actual email address. My phone number is also available. I have reused the icons that I’ve created and used on my CV as buttons which link directly to my email and phone number.

There are still things to change on the site of course, for example I am still working through my past projects and updating them to add to my portfolio.

Final Outcome and Presentation

Today we gave presentations of our final outcomes of the Persuasion projects in front of our clients and tutors.

Before giving our presentations, we had previously created and rehearsed our presentation which we intended to give today. However, earlier in the day today, before our presentations at 2pm, we had some difficulty putting our animations into the PowerPoint as several of the team’s videos were not completed until very last minute which meant we were not left with much time to import the animations into the presentation. Personally, although my animation was complete, the way in which I had rendered and then exported it meant that the file size was much too big to go on the presentation. After adjusting the quality of the animation, hoping to reduce the file size, I exported it again and although the file size was much more appropriate, the quality had been so much decreased that the on-screen text during the animation was pixelated and barely readable. In the end, due to being rushed for time and the presentation deadline fast approaching, I decided to instead simply show my original final film, which was too large to actually be inserted into the presentation, as a separate file directly from the desktop. Other members of the group ended up doing the same.

Even after these initial obstacles, during the presentations, everything went smoothly. Our group made sure to introduce ourselves to our audience before beginning and then spoke about our project title and the organisation that we were working for, and the mission statement and key aim of the communication that we set out to achieve. Next we went on to each taking it in turns to give a short introduction on our own animation and showing it.

The presentations concluded with inviting our clients to view more of our work, such as the storyboards and other development pieces, and to discuss our animations further. Although our client was unable to stay for long due to her own circumstances, we were able to briefly talk about each of our outcomes with her. She spoke about what she really liked in our pieces, claiming that she really likes ‘Steve’ in my own stop-motion animation, and we were also able gain any more constructive critique and where we could go from here. I am really pleased that they still wish to continue working with me in creating the other three videos for their 4-part video series on the topic.

If I were to do the presentations again, I feel that if we had made sure all of our group member’s animations were completed fully in advance – we could have used the extra time to actually insert them into the presentation, rather than have to navigate off of the presentation to get to, open and play our animations. This would have created a more overall professional looking presentation.

Personally, I also feel that I spent too long looking at and speaking to the screen projection, rather than looking out at my audience and speaking directly to them. To improve, I would engage more efficiently with my audience, and client in particular, by having eye contact and by being a little animated, such as using hand gestures to make myself more inviting and to involve the audience.

I felt that I became slightly nervy during the presentation, partly because of the minor panic of getting the animations onto the presentation beforehand, and although the clients and audience had not witnessed this, I think that I ended up rambling and stuttering more than I would have liked to – next time I will consider using cue cards to keep me on track so that I remember exactly what it is I want to say and when to say it.

The Final Touches

Over the last few days before our final presentation on Thursday, I have been carrying out the last final touches to my animation.

I have added multiple details to my animations and trialled out several different ways of doing them in order to get the best outcome.

One of the main things that I have added is  text. I added text to a number of areas throughout my animation, to help back up the most important parts of the voiceover. I have used a handwritten-style font called ‘Ammys Handwriting’ and then to make it seem even more realistically handwritten, I added a fractal layer in AfterEffects in order to make the text move and wriggle over so slightly. One of the things I had to be careful of when adding the text, was that I made sure the text was on-screen long enough to be read by any viewer – to get this correct, I tested it out on my peers.

It was suggested that I change the dots that appear on my stickman character, representing different food poisoning symptoms, to a colour rather than black and although I felt that a colour would not work, I trialled the idea of using a grey instead to see if this would look better. Although I am glad that I tested a different colour out, I have decided to stick with the original black dots as I feel that they work and look better. Because my animation is completely in purely black and white illustrations, the use of another colour does not fit with this and is inconsistent.

The final touches that I added to my animation after adding text and testing the colour adjustments, I finalised the credits that appear at the end of the animation and added the logos of Tenovus and SEWAHSP who support the Zero2Five food industry centre.

Client Meeting and Tutorial

We have one week left until we present our final, finished outcomes to our clients next Thursday 30th March.

Yesterday I had a meeting with my clients in which I showed them the stop-motion scenes that I had filmed so far over last weekend and have put together roughly in iMovie. Before actually showing my clients the animation so far, I had to explain what stop-motion was as they had not seen it before. I was unsure if they would like it beforehand because I was aware that it was in a different style to what they had asked for. Whereas the other members of my group had gone for a vector-style animation created on AfterEffects, my animation is a stop-motion which is very different. However, on showing both of the clients my animation so far, they really enjoyed watching it. They liked how the rough voiceover that I had produced so far was lighthearted and friendly, so not too serious and heavy. Rather than making the viewer scared of the food risks, it just makes them aware of them and that although they are serious, it’s okay if you know how to handle them and obviously, that’s what the video series that I am creating is here to help do. In the voiceover, I have lightened the topic by including short phrases, for example, one particular line in my script is: “…you are more at risk of getting food poisoning, but don’t panic – this is Steve, he’s here to help.” Here the ‘don’t panic‘ works to comfort the viewer, and then the introduction of a helpful character (‘Steve‘) adds to this. The clients admitted that they were at first unsure of the idea of using a character in my animation when I had previously told them this, because they knew from their market research that the viewers from Velindre Cancer Centre had not liked watching and listening to personal stories and actual people talking at them from on-screen. I was aware of this when I decided that I wanted to use a character to create a sense of journey, which is why I chose a stickman. On watching the video, the client agreed with me that my use of the character really worked and they liked how ‘Steve‘ was not human-like: his body (as well as the other stickmen in the animation) are made of single geometric shapes, he has no real facial features – no nose, no mouth – except for a pair of vertical lines for eyes. He is simply an illustration, so is more cartoon-like than human.

At the end of the meeting, I agreed with the client that for our presentation next Thursday, I would finish off the first video, “Food Wellbeing during Chemotherapy”, and have it perfected to present to them next Thursday. I also agreed that I would have all four storyboards finished too. This way it means I can concentrate on getting one video to an excellent standard, rather than having four completed to a rough and poor standard.

Below are a few screenshots taken from my stop-motion animation so far that I showed to my clients today:

Today I had a tutorial with Neil Angove who was really helpful to talk to after my client meeting yesterday, because he gave me several ideas to help improve my stop-motion. He noticed that there were a few long blank spaces in the video which had no visuals, just voiceover. This was because I had had to add in some time where the animated parts of the video had not been quite long enough to fit my voiceover. He said that I could think about my audience, such as viewers who could potentially be hard of hearing – I am going to back up my voiceover with on-screen text, which will also help to fill these blank spaces. Obviously it would better if my text was handwritten and part of the actual original stop-motion, but because this is already completed, I am going to have to add it using other software such as AfterEffects – I am going to attempt to make it as close to hand-written as possible though.