Archive for Jess Garland

Conclusion/ Summary

I am coming to the end of my project. I have carried out user testing on a  variety of representative users and asked them to do the representative tasks- move the cube around and move the picture on the face of the cube around. I realised that my instructions on how to use the cube were not detailed enough. I changed this minor fault and then tested it again and people had no trouble operating it.I have taken into consideration screen resolution, colour and fonts. It is not designed for the internet, so browsers etc are not an issue. Once I had changed the instructions learnability, efficiency, memorability and usability were all brilliant- I have designed it to be very simple and easy to use and it is. Very few errors were made and people were satisfied with the way it looked and worked.

The project demonstrates my ability to use Flash even though I am a photographer, and this is designed to be used on my Photography freelance business card CD. Not only does it show off my images, but it also shows that I am innovative and think ‘outside the box’ by finding a different way to present my images unlike many other photographers. It also demonstrates that I am able to work software that is not considered part of the ‘Photographer’s toolbox’. This is appealing to a full-time employer who needs a photographer, but who may want these skills now and agian- it would save him from hiring  a freelancer to do tasks like this.

Further ideas for development-

I did originally plan to have audio to talk about each picture but did not have enough time- this would be the first aspect I would develop. I could also deveop the cube into a ‘rubic’ cube game, where instead flat colour there is a picture on each side.

I have enjoyed this project and most problems I have overcome without too much hastle using some of the techniques mentioned throughout my posts.

I think this cube will be very useful to have on my CD business cards and improve my CV a great deal.

Targets

Targets to reach (my gantt chart summarised)

By week 8-

Research other sources and ways to do what I want to do in flash. Start to research the code I need to do what I want to do.

By week 9-

Continue to research code, find lots of different ways that people construct code to do the tasks I need. Use ideas from all these and start to write my own code which does what I want the best possible way.

Create the button that will be used as a joystick to move the image (with my personal logo on it). There must be two versions, so I can create a rollover.

By week 10-

Start writing my code in flash and making the project come to life.

(Be sure to make notes on my code so that it can be seen that I understand what I am doing)

By week 11-

Work extremely hard to get the project completed.

By week 12-

Product testing. Make sure it is easy to use and bug free. Do people think the images are suitable? Test on photographers (potential employers) as well as people who are in the target market as potential clients- these are the people that will be using my ‘cube portfolio’ when it is produced.

If there are any problems, fix them.

Write my project up and hand it in

(I will need to hand in my project early as I will be out of the country doing my production project when the assignment is due in)

Plagarism and understanding code

Plagarism has been spoken about a great deal by teachers and lecturers extremely seriously since school, through college and in university. It is obvious that it is an extremely hot problem. Plagarism can be a tricky domain in web design as you learn from looking at other peoples codes and developing their ideas- what counts as plagarism in thihs subject? There is a simple answer to this, anyone can copy code; we need to understand the ideas and principles behind it, if we understand it we can develop a new code that does a similar thing using several different sources to produce what we want. I have found several useful pieces of code and here I am deconstructing it to understand what it means and whit it is doing: –
Skew-
Function skewObj(obj object y scale ,mcW movie clip width , mcH movie clip height P+O, pt1, pt2 refrence points
Function distance (pt1,pt2){
Var dy variable distance= pt2.y – pt1.y; The distance when you change movie clip y
Var dy = pt2.x – pt1.x; The distance when you change movie clip x
Var side variable side = math sqrt square root (dy*dy+dx *dx)
Return side;
}
This code is basically telling the images to follow Pythagoras’ theorem- when you change one side, the other sides change proportionally with it so that when the cube changes the images on it skew appropriately. So the 2D images are in proportion and turn with the ‘cube’ to make it appear 3D

The theorem applied to my project is basically saying *obj._yscale (which never changes) of object at the time divided by obj.mc(movie clip) ._xscale xscale + yscale relative to how its been rotated- changes as to how the ‘cube’ is rotated.

This shows that I understand the code I am using.
Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s code as your own. I need to take the principles behind the code and make a code that works in a similar way, understanding the principles behind the idea and code I use.
I will keep a record of resources I use and reference anything I use in my assignment by keeping a logbook of code with annotations to show I understand code I am using and researching.

Project Management and Problem Solving

If my project is to be successful I need to plan it and my time carefully and appropriately.

First I need to define my project: –
Time- very important. I can organise this using a Gantt chart, I can also use SMART objective, risk matrix and SWOT analysis to organise my project and time.
Scope- I know what the limits are with this project- directly linked to time. My main constraint will be time, it is a challenging assignment I have set myself following the guidelines of the brief set for us. I hope that this project will be on my CD business card portfolio, acting as a PR strategy, which will hopefully increase my revenue as a freelance photographer.
Cost- Nothing, just my time and my images.

Project Management consists of: –
A brief- what I intend to do- create a 3D cube to show off 6 of my images
Setting Objectives- how I intend to do it- I will plan my project using a Gantt chart. I plan to get all my research done by 15th December and create the project in Flash over Christmas.
Risk Assessment- what could go wrong, I need to allow time to sort anything that might go wrong out. I have considered the Risk Matrix to find out how much risk I am taking. I have found that is possible that something may go wrong, however consequences are marginal, so my risk is moderate. I am willing to accept this risk and allow enough time to sort it out.
Resource assessment – do I have everything I need?- I have all the resources I need- tutorial sites, other information online and in books. I have images to use and the programme I need (Flash) to build the cube, as well as enough time.
Task allocation- all tasks will be allocated to me, I will follow the Gantt chart to make sure I have enough time.
Progress reporting- Keep track of progress- I will keep a record alongside my Gantt chart to ensure I am on target. If I fall behind I will make sure I catch up and if I am ahead of target I will keep going at that speed.
Quality assessment- does it do what the client wants? I must TEST IT! If it could be better I must adapt it. I must therefore allow extra time for this.

Developed proposal for project

 Since presenting my draft proposal ideas to the class, I realise that my flash cube would not necessarily be best suited for a website, however, it would be extremely effective to go on a CD business card as it will be a simple, quick and easy way to view an example of my work. This also means I can concentrate making the cube in flash, without bringing in PHP into the coding.

My main objective is to produce a cube that the user can control and turn to view all 6 faces. Each face of the cube will have a picture on it. The pictures will actually be still movie clips, so that when the viewer clicks on the image an audio will play that explains the meaning behind the picture they see on the screen. This is a very innovative way of presenting images in a photography portfolio, usually photographers show a slideshow of images which has become standard, and actually very boring.

The target audience of this cube will be my clients and/or prospective employers. Of course if I were applying for a job I would present more images, but this project will be an excellent example of my flash skills. Prospective customers will be handed this on a CD business card, so it must be extremely easy to use, simplistic in design and fast to work.

To understand the standards in the industry I have been viewing other people’s websites and seeing how their portfolios are presented, some examples of these being:- http://www.chrisbiggs.co.uk/, http://www.rankin.co.uk/, http://www.stephenlewisphotography.com, http://www.mariotestino.com/main.htm, http://www.wjpphoto.com/, http://www.martinparr.com/, http://www.perceptivephotography.co.uk, http://www.simonmurrell.com, Looking at these, I see most photographers present their work in very similar ways, after searching for four hours, I did not find a photographer that used a cube to present their work. I think it fills a gap in the market and will bring photographers, (who often seem behind with the times when it comes to the web) up to speed with other professions.This will be a very challenging project for me as I only have a small amount of experience in Flash and this will be very advanced. I have bought books on how to use he programme for more advanced tasks and will make the most use possible out of the tutorials I found on the internet.

I think this project will be very useful for me to learn Flash in more depth and it vill be very rewarding if I manage it bug free!The cube will be an excellent way to show off my flash skills as well as my images on my business card.

A tutorial on Accessibility and Usability as part of the Flash group presentation-

USABILITY- Design isnt just about how something looks, its about how it works as well. To be a good web designer you need to get into the user’s head and know what they want, what they expect. Make things quick and easy to find, a focused design with a standard orientation.

Why is this important? If people become frustrated or annoyed at the way your site for example works, they will leave, if things are easy to find, people will find them. You must research your target audience, what do they expect?

5 Quality components as laid out in our lectures last year-

  1. Learnability-how easy is it to do basic tasks?
  2. Efficiency- once learned, how quickly can people do the tasks?
  3. Memorability- how fast do they re-establish proficiency on return?
  4. Errors-how many? How severe? Easy recovery?
  5. Satisfaction- do they like the way it works?

Also, utility must be taken into consideration- does it do what people need?

Testing for usability- Research the target market and get them to do representative tasks. Note what they do right, where they go wrong, and where they struggle and change the design accordingly. Keep testing after your initial findings until it is perfect!

People’s different browsers, screen res, and limited colour and fonts must be considered.

ACCESSABILITY- Think about

  1. legal issues-discrimination
  2. Market issues- excluding potential users.
  3. Search issues- search engines don’t see what people are looking for, be specific.
  4. Compatibility issues- PDAs, mobile phones, touch screens etc.
  5. And what if your user has a disability? Eg. Blind, deaf, or unable to use a mouse?

Do your users use assistive technologies? Keyboard only, touch screens, screen readers, screen magnifiers etc.

So… Make sure your images have <alt>tags, use headings and heading tags, front load your paragraphs, put the most important information at the top (this should be done anyway), make sure the text can be resized, make transcripts of audio and video and check colour combinations for the colour-blind. Use accessibility testing tools.

We see that most of these issues can be dealt with by being considerate towards your reader and spending some time making sure you are not discriminating, testing for accessibility is extremely important.

Draft proposal, Cube in Flash

I have been brainstorming the best possible way to present my portfolio so that it is quick and straightforward for the user to see and use, as well as being able to insert audio footage of my ideas- ie explaining what the images are about.

I have decided to create a cube that the user can navigate round, with an image on each face. The cube will be turned by a joystick type button next to the cube and when the user clicks on a side, the image will appear large on the screen and the audio will play.

I have researched how to do this and it appears to be very difficult, so a great deal more research will be needed! Here are links to some useful sites ive found so far! :-  http://www.petitpub.com/labs/media/flash/3dcube/ ,    http://www.gotoandplay.it/_articles/2004/07/skew.php?PHPSESSID=a0860be74755ebcd7966ee467bb14c69,      www.adesblog.com,   www.flashsandy.org,  I have also bought ‘Flash Game Programming for Dummies’ to help me through!

Creating a 3D cube using flash will involve using flash, PHP and javascript.

Here is an example of the code involved according to the first site I quoted.

stop();
var images:Array;
var outText:String=””;
var done:Boolean=false
this.onEnterFrame = function(){
if(!done){
done = true;
images=urls.split(“|”);
for( var i=0; i < images.length; i++){
var loader = new MovieClipLoader();
images[i]=”http://static.flickr.com/&#8221; + images[i];
outText+= ‘\r’+images[i] ;
image=this.createEmptyMovieClip(“image”+i, getNextHighestDepth());
loader.loadClip(images[i], image);
image._x = 80*i + 4;
image._y = 3;
}
report.text=outText;
}
}

I have created a cube shape in flash and am researching how to achieve a distortional skew when I add my pictures to the sides of the moving cube.

First I will need to put each side of the cube into a seperate layer and turn them into movieClips. Then, to distort a movieClip I will need to make the picture by multiple stripes and control them respectively. This is going to be tricky!

The common to dynamically skew a movie clip is to make a tween to render the skew angle, however this wont work for images in a cube, my best bet is probably to put a movie clip in a stratched movieClip.

MovieClip itself does rotation and _parent does stretching, The _parent can also do rotation and the movieClip can also do stretch. So, with a combination of stretch and rotation I could make the square movieClip skew to the cube shape. 

A cube will work on 3 axis- x-up, y-across, and z- around.

Now, the tricky bit will be knowing how much _rotation and _xscale and _yscale we should apply to _parent and movieClip itself, however I must also take the z axis into consideration if the viewer will be able to control the movement of the cube.

Tocalculate the relationship of skew angle and _parent._yscale I will need to do some maths! The stretchig of _parent._yscale will increase the skew angle and shrink the _parent.yscale will shapen the skew angle.

As I do not want the cube to play as a movie, but the direction that it turns in to be controlled by the user, I will aso have to research how to ‘rotate around a 3d (x,y,z) axis’ manually.

I think this has great potential to be a very interesting (and challenging!) project- bring it on!

Jess Garland

Prior to this project I created an interactive portfolio to be used on A CD business card using Flash, so have some experience using the programme. I would like to develop these skills further.I encountered some problems with my last project so would need to concentrate on areas I had difficulty with. One of the main faults with my last project was usability/ accessibility which I have researched this week in great detail. I can see that I need to be far more conscious of the design- not just the aesthetics but the way everything works..As a photography specialist, these skills will be extremely handy when I enter the media industry as I will be able to update my own promotional material. It will also make me more employable as I will have a wider range of skills under my belt.

I have decided against the idea of creating an interactive game portfolio; primarily because after taking a step back and thinking about my industry, I realised that my users will not have time to play a game to see my work. I want to interest them but provide a quick way for them to see my images and gain their interest.

I have researched what is new in the Flash World and realise that audio slideshows are becoming more important. A game could be too interactive, a slideshow allows the viewer to be entertained. People are often interested in the thinking behind the images, Creating a slideshow would allow me to add audio sections to demonstrate this.

This will also give me an important skill which I can continue to utilise to update my site. Therefore I can keep it fresh and interesting so that people revisit it to view new photographs I add and allow them to understand how/why I took them.

I have done a little research into using Audio in Flash, it is fairly straight forward to import audio into the programme and control when it is played. Action movie control will allow me to control when the sound stops and starts in relation to the images.

Flash support several formats of file, I would probably use mp3 as it is the smallest size, and therefore quickest to load. Flash would also allow me to add a sliding control for the volume so that viewers can adjust this to suit them. As far as Usability/Accessibility is concerned, I would need to make sure my audio had the transcript attached to the file as not to discriminate against the deaf, or people without speakers.

I think this idea is very promising and look forward to it developing as I continue to research.

INTERVIEW WITH A FLASH PROFESSIONAL

I emailed a bunch of people, a man called Drew Trujillo, who specialises in Flash got back to me, here are his responses to my questions:-

What do you feel is important in Flash and the New Media today?


capturing, analyzing, visualizing and sharing data. in my case, i’m in love with color so i tend to focus on the colors of paintings and photography. using flash along with php and mysql – although it could have been any middleware and database – is a huge benefit because we’re beginning to see the CS3 apps evolve in functionality, allowing us to extend the original purpose of online flash experiences like In The Mod: Color Analytics (ITM). 


adobe illustrator cs3 is probably the best example in the new creative suite that allows us to create – within AI – a swfPanel, which basically is a floating window with a swf that is imported either from your hard drive or a server. so now i can create a custom swf that communicates to the same php scripts that i have already developed for the web site and have the web site basically exist within AI. the advantage being that if you want to use one of the color palettes from the ITM website (without using the swfPanel), you have to go through multiple steps to download, unzip and import the palette into the Swatches Panel of AI. with the ITM swfPanel, after finding the palette you like, it’s as simple as clicking a single button to populate your Swatches Panel. magic! here’s a video of it here


in addition, swfPanels within AI can actually control Bridge, Photoshop and After Effects in the background and this is of great importance because you can actually create your own custom über-applications now. this not only improves your workflow, but from a creative perspective we can now create experiences in print, video and online that we would not be able to do by hand. 


What do you like about flash?

it’s ubiquitous. it’s a single format. the content can be layered. 


i wasted a lot of time in the early years of the internet focused on design and technology issues like how to make images and design elements look nice when i had to slice-n-dice them around copy. font issues. compatibility issues like dhtml on one platform/browser versus another. no thank you – i’d rather create. 


for the longest time, we’ve chased this concept of create it once and publish it anywhere. with the new CS3 apps and the ability to integrate swfs into the mix, i think this concept is finally becoming a reality. 




What inspires you creatively?

colors. paintings. photographs. architecture. life. natural systems like how ants forage for food – with the idea of emulating that behavior in order to define brushstrokes. 


one of the main things i like to do is go out into the world and really soak in the art, flowers or environment i’m in. there are tons of inspiring moments floating around us all of the time… it’s just a question of whether or not we’re open to them. 


i remember standing in front of a van gogh painting at the getty museum in LA in 1993 and simply being blown away by the illusion of movement he created from the colors he choose and his brushstrokes. a seed was planted and it took 12 years for that to come to fruition as In The Mod. 


Do you have any suggestions for creating an interactive Photography Portfolio using Flash?

make sure it’s easy to update and to navigate. eg., on DrWoohoo.com, i simply upload a new image to the directory online and it adds it to the cue. with that said, even though it has a VCR panel to control playback of the images, it really needs the ability to reveal a thumbnail panel so the user can easily jump around non-linearly. 

His comments have been very useful and I will take his views into consideration when I am planning my project. Thanks Drew 🙂

A brief introduction to- Flash.

Flash addresses a complete range of multimedia solutions, these include video, audio, rich interaction through Actionscript (its programming language) Flash has the tools needed to build complex and intelligent games, websites, simple animations, slideshows and much much more.

Flash works mainly around a timeline utilising layers to organise separate aspects of a design.

Through flash a creator can make engaging vector graphics, produce small files (SWF) that users can smoothly download, and flash has a playback device that can interpret the downloaded movies through flash plugin, nearly 99% of users have this plug-in.

These types of files can be downloaded on demand within flash movies-

  1. Sound: MP3, AU and AUFaudio files can be downloaded into a flash movie through actionscript.
  2. Video: Shock video and DAT video can be loaded directly into flash.
  3. JPEG Gragpics
  4. CodeYou csn break up your code and re-use it/have it reused over and over again as files that can be downloaded off your website. Splitting your code up into external files is the basis of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) which is an efficient way to re-use code.

After interviewing Drew and researching into the Flash programme a little i relise how important Flash is becoming in the industry. Drew has pointed out how he works and what he looks for in a prospective employee. The guidelines he has given me are extremely useful indeed and my brief outline of flays underlines the programmes possibilities.

Jess Garland

I’m 3rd year Media and Comms and specialising in photography. Taking Web and New media hence I’m posting here..

I’m thinking about creating a funky slideshow of pictures in flash though need to seriously develop that idea! Going to need to talk to specialists in the industry and gather some inspiration!

I want to have some sort of interactive slideshow of my work to add as a link on my website so that people can gain an immediate insight of my style and what i do. I have never viewed a photographers sight that allowed me to do this- you usually have to spend ages sifting through images to see what theyre all about..

Perhaps if I could make my Flash slidehow as a game, this would interest people more and they would see my work as they ‘played’. I have never experienced a photographers website that houses a game portfolio and perhaps this would be a good way to express myself and grab the attention of potential clients.

Need some more ideas and see whats going on out there at the moment in a more focused way but I think I have a good vague idea to build on. Bring it on…