Archive for Simon Bloom

Project Stages and and Testing Plan

In order to get a better idea of the scale of my project and what it would involve time-wise I have started to break it down into separate stages. In no particular order here are some of the steps involved in the creation of the Flash portion app portion of my project.

  • Work out layout from mock-up.
  • In Flash create layout or various sections and frames etc.
  • Work on navigation between different content sections.
  • Create buttons, apply rollovers.
  • Create introduction + transition animations.
  • Work out and create borders for content pane.
  • Possibly look at some kind of magnification tool for gallery portion to enlarge either all or individual portions of a selected image.
  • Convert the video files (music videos, vlogs etc.) into the various different formats.
  • Prepare any flash-based video files.
  • Create links to social-networking + external sites (for those using the DVD in an Internet connected environment.

Beta Testing

After creating a prototype of my project I will need to test this to make sure that it works as expected so that I can iron out any problems for the final release.  In order to do this I will utilise user testing in order to obtain feedback on the success or otherwise of the beta version of the project.

I will ideally test representatives of my target audience. This however may prove to be problematic as one of my groups of end-users will be music industry professionals, so it may be difficult to obtain a sufficient number of them for my testing. The second group however that my product is aimed at is music lovers and specifically existing fans of my client. I could however for this test use a sample of people who like music of a similar genre.

Testing Plan:

Methods of testing: This will vary slightly for the different elements of the DVD. For the Flash application I will mainly be using observation (personally making notes of peoples individual interactions with the product). As testing will take place on a single, or couple of computers in one location using a screen-capture application may also be of benefit. It could provide as source for statistical analysis providing figures such as how much time is spent on individual sections of the portfolio application.

Standalone DVD player use: Possibility of using questions more than observations as I send DVDs out to people on my clients mailing list either with a paper questionnaire, or a link to a web based questionnaire to obtain my feedback. Alternatively I could set-up a couple of DVD players in a location and ask a representative sample of people to perform certain task whilst I observe them. This strategy may yield more useful information that just a questionnaire, however it means that you won’t get the feedback of existing fans. I may combine multiple forms of testing in this case.

Either in questionnaire testing or observation there are a few tasks that I would like all participants to try carry out, to give me an idea of how the end-user would experience the DVD.

Questions to consider:

  • Find out the the email address of the client.
  • View a music video.
  • Find out what the clients musical influences are.
  • What are the lyrics for a certain song.

Next Week-

For next week I am going to try and follow some of my objectives as set out in my project outline. By doing this I hope to produce a working prototype of at least some of my project.

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Thoughts on plagiarism:

Need as with reports, essays, and other forms of academic work to correctly reference the work of others within your project. The recommended form for this is using the Havard method of citation http://www.lmu.ac.uk/lskills/open/sfl/content/harvard/ .

When writing and developing code, care too must be taken to properly acknowledge the work of others. Further to the tradition form of referencing in the academic fashion it is also often both possible and advantageous to references withing the work itself. For example when working on code, in my case actionscript for flash, I could comment on what various portions of the code do. This allows me to show that I understand the code and its application. Similarly by using this method I could signpost where I have either directly used code or modified code from another source. Whilst I will be doing this with flash, it is also possible to do a similar thing in most other common programming languages. I am also aware that as far as my project is concerned, its generally quite difficult to see something that has been developed in flash and to directly see how this effect was produced. Unlike say with html code I cannot simply click view source and see the code behind the magic. Due to this I almost automatically have to think how with my experience of Flash I would go about achieving a similar effect. Whilst I have the end result as a template on which to work back from, there may be many ways of reaching the same or similar effect. Even if not copying the code word for word, I need to make sure that I reference the original to show where I started out from. It is not enough to change a few names or tags within the code and to declare it an original work. It is only if you take a basic concept, utilise its basic principals, but essentially rework/redesign it that you don’t have to references the original. I however even in thes situation would probably go with the side of caution and either provide a reference or some other form of acknowledgment of the original inspiration for the idea.

The other angle we discussed in todays session, and it was one that I had not previously put much thought into was protecting my own work. In producing a new work I may wish to protect my intellectual property rights. We outlined a few methods that may help us with this including, emailing a copy of the work to ourselves.

Deep Thought… Project Analysis

On looking at the slides from last weeks session, I went about trying to break down and analyse my project using a number of the different frameworks outline including SWOT and PEST.

SWOT 

Strengths-

  • Compatibility mans it should reach satisfy the largest potential audience possible. Flash is quite adaptable and by downloading flash player results can be viewed on OSX, Windows and various Linux distos.
  • Potentially already established target audience through fan-base of my client.
  • The development of this DVD could serve to produce a template that could be applied to other artist and projects in the future.
  • Relatively low development costs.
  • Large Flash community with a plethora of online and print information and help available.

Weaknesses

  • Limited initial market.
  • Can’t guarantee platform compatibility, especially with mobile devices where formats could change rapidly.
  • If there was a need for mass duplication of the final DVD the costs for this could prove to be quite expensive.
  • Limitations of DVDs as a format.
  • Either a computer or a DVD player is necessary to initially access the content, can’t be transferred/ accessed directly on mobile devices. 
  • Difficult to quickly change or update content.

Opportunities

  • Specific target audience.
  • Promotes myself within the industry.
  • Enhance the functionality of the DVD.
  • Provides a replicable format.

Threats

  • Compatibility / usability issues with multiple formats.
  • Reliant on some externally produced content.
  • Dependent on the quality, and success of the musician as to how wide-spread the product is distributed.
  • Would need to outsource mass DVD reproduction.

PEST ANALYSIS

Political

  • Some users of the product will be part of the structure of record labels/ music industry the politics of this may come in to play e.g adhering to in-house styles and preferences.

Economic

  • Music industry professionals look at product as a potential indicator as to the economic viability of an artist.
  • Initially unlikely, but the project could potentially reach a stage where by it becomes a commodity that fans of the artist would purchase.

Social

  • Music lovers / musical experts.
  • Want interactivity.
  • Social networking.

Technological

  • Early adopters.
  • Technically capable / literate.
  • Use multiple platforms / devices e.g. PC, DVD player and a mobile phone to view content.

SMART OBJECTIVES

  • Specific: Appeals to, and satisfy the needs of two specific groups of people.
  • Measurable: Feedback from clients / users via a forum or questionnaire?
  • Attainable: Achievable objectives and possible to produce given resources and time-frame.
  • Realistic: Designed using readily available software e.g. Flash, Adobe Encore etc. Existing readily available and well supported delivery medium of DVD.
  • Time-Limited: Outside of the constraints of the assignment deadline I would have to work to the time-scale of my client, especially if there is a specific time that the DVD’s need to be sent to record labels etc. For me as a freelancer, TIME=MONEY. 

Defining The Project- TIME. SCOPE, COST.

  • Time: Fairly short development period. However involves time-consuming tasks such as reversioning content for various platforms, possibility of completion clause in the contact with my client.
  • Scope: IN – Producing a hybrid DVD, optimising content, making menus, animations etc.
  • Scope: Out – Making promotional website / social networking page, producing some of the content, disc duplication etc.
  • Cost: Software + Hardware, could be quite expensive however I already own the relevant equipment and software to produce the project, consumables for example blank disks to show the client drafts however this is low as the media is cheap.

MOCK RISK ASSESSMENT

My project does not have many risks in terms of health of safety but here are a few remote possibilities.

RSI

  • I have identified the risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) sitting and typing, staring at a screen and operating a computer for long periods of time.
  • Efforts to minimise risks : Taking regular brakes from working at the computer and walking around this takes me away from the screen and allows me to change my posture.
  •  Adusting my positioning of seat, keyboard / mouse  and monitor until I feel I am in a comfortable posture.
  • Blinking regularly to keep my eyes refreshed.  Have an eye break focusing them at a distant point. Adjusting settings on the monitor so that text is clear and I do not have to strain to read it.

Electrical Malfunction

  • It is possible given that I have a lot of electrical eequipment in one place that there may be an electrical malfunction. Especially given that I have many running from a single power socket.
  • Control measures: Turning off / unplugging eequipment when not in use. Using a residual current detector and surge protector to help keep eequipment safe. I have a fire extinguisher available that is suitable for electrical fires.

Some none health and saftey related issues:

  • Data Loss: I backup project files in case of power surge/drive failure.
  • Issues with software: Consulting project documentation/ user guides.

Must Get Job in a FLASH

After looking at a variety of media job advertisements on website such as the Guardian’s it is clear that my project would aid my employability. Many of the positions are specifically centred around experience of, and working with flash. Others are classed as multimedia design, webdesign or even just general media designer, however many of them have flash experience as one of their key criteria. This seem to be in part down to flash’s versatility, it can be used for web design, standalone applications, as well as animation. With broadband take-up now being at such a high-level and generally people have fairly fast computers, flash being used for web design has boomed. We have reached a point where web users expect a content rich, visually impressive interactive experience from a website. Flash is one of the most popular ways of developing these elements. As my project involves design using flash it will give me the valuable opportunity to develop my flash skills through practical application and also build up my portfolio.

Job Example 1:

Junior Flash Designer

Employer: WORKSTATION Posted: 12 Nov 2008 Reference: JFD10412IT Contact: Ian Taylor Location: South East – Hertfordshire Industry:IT & telecoms – General IT & telecoms – Internet Marketing & PR – New media Media – Creative Media – New media Contract: Permanent Hours: Full Time Salary: £15000 – £20000 per annum

I’m recruiting for one of the world’s great medical communications agencies. Their philosophy is to bring complex ideas to life for professional audiences everywhere.

If you’re a Flash designer who likes the sound of working on a diverse range of projects other than bog standard Flash sites then this job should be just what you’re after. A typical day could see you designing for games, plasma screens and other multimedia platforms.

Working under the guidance of senior members in the team this role is an ideal opportunity for a 1st or 2nd jobber to develop their career in Flash design. As well as a varied work day this role comes with an excellent benefits package.

Please email me your CV immediately including a link to your online portfolio.

http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/770564/junior-flash-designer/

Job Example 2:

Flash Designer

Employer: CREATIVE PEOPLE Posted: 05 Nov 2008 Reference: 6270 Contact: Miss Anne Scranney Location: Hertfordshire Industry:IT & telecoms – Development IT & telecoms – Internet Media – Creative Media – New media Contract: Permanent Hours: Full Time Salary: £excellent

Based in Hertfordshire, our client is looking for interactive Flash Designers to design and develop web pages, games, plasma screen and other interactive media. The successful candidate must have solid creative ideas as well as excellent Flash skills and a strong background working with HTML and CSS. A competent working knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator is also essential. This is an excellent opportunity for a skilled Flash Designer.

http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/765273/flash-designer/

Revised Project Propsal

Aim of project: To produce a DVD in order to promote the work of a local singer / songwriter.

Project Medium: Hybrid DVD.

Client Background: Katie Morris is a currently unsigned singer / songwriter / musician that is passionate about all aspects of music and has a particular for soul music. She is currently unsigned, without an agent and looking to break in to the music industry. With a number of demo tracks already recorded Katie’s aim is to produce a demo DVD showcasing her work. This will be sent out record labels and talent agencies that Katie has an interest in working with. The DVD will also be sent out to her fans on request through her myspace music page in order to solidify her fan base.

The audience / end-user 

  • Record Labels A&R employees: These are the people that are responsible for talent scouting and bringing new artist to labels. As professionals within the music industry they will have high expectations and will need to be wowed in order to consider and artist. There seems now also be the expectation for artist to have already been involved in some level of self promotion before being signed.

 

  • Existing Fans: People we are already in some way interested in Katie’s music. By having a professional looking product such as an interactive DVD it will help to set Katie apart from other on line musicians and reinforce her image as a serious artist with a future. It could help to promote Katie via word of mouth and the video files provided on the DVD are designed to be easily shared in order increase her fan base.

 My personal guiding brief for the project 

To produce a DVD that showcases multimedia content across a variety of platforms, whilst incorporating a design that is reflective of my clients unique style. 

Product Overview

The promotional DVD that I will create for my client will be a hybrid video/data disk.

The DVD will be a content rich multimedia experience that will provide easy access to a variety of material showcasing my client. This will consist of a portion of the DVD containing music videos, photographs and contact information for the artist. This will be created with DVD authoring software such as Ulead DVD Workshop or Adobe Encore. My aim is to make the Disk fully DVD-Video compliant so that it can be played on a standalone unit without a computer. I will be responsible for creating some of the content for the disk and designing the menus, some of artwork will be produced by my and some of it will be sourced from my client. The design will feature animated menu background and different sections for individual type of content. For example there would be a link from the main menu to sub-menus including: Photographs, Music Videos, Biog and contact.

 

DVD Main Menu

 

I will also create a secondary data portion of the DVD that will contain video content that been optimised for transfer to, and playback on, a variety of mobile devices. This will include, iPhone, PSP, and standard 3GP mobile phone versions of a music video. These will be transcoded into the appropriate codec, resolution etc. for the specific device. I will convert the master files using a video conversion program called SuperEncoder. I will then also supply instructions on typically how you would transfer this to your mobile device.

 

 Being an enhanced DVD will allow the end-user to access additional content and features. This content will include musics videos, audio song samples, photographs, lyrics etc. My intention is to create a flash based menu system that will incorporate these features in a user friendly and creative fashion. I want to try and create an executable interactive flash animation that will act as unifying front-end to the content available on the disk when used on a computer.

Development

At all stages of my products development and production I will focus on three main criteria:

  • Variety of Features: Video playable in a DVD player, video formatted for mobile devices, photographs, lyrics and other artist info etc. Can be used either in a standalone DVD player or a computer.

 

  • Usability: Being able to access the content quickly and simply. I will look at how many click/interactions are necessary. This will be especially important in the case of the industry professionals, whom are likely to only allocate a relatively short amount of time to assess each potential artist. I will provide readme files and instruction documentation on the disk. If inserted into a DVD player the first play message will inform users that the disk can also be used in a computer and a similar message will be presented on the flash menu.

 

  • Design: For both the fan and music industry professional market design is key. It will be necessary to catch the eye of the viewer and entice them to pay attention and access the content. It is also my aim to incorporate the ideas of my client as the DVD is essentially an extension of their creative image. I will keep in close contact with my client so she can sign-off on the various stages of the project.

 

 

 

 

Draft Project Proposal

 

Aims: Produce a promotional DVD for a local aspiring singer/songwriter.

 

Key Requirements:

 

  • Eye catching visuals.

  • Easy to navigate.

  • Reflective of personal style.

  • Accessible through being compatible with multiple platforms and devices.

 

Skills required:

 

  • Video editing.

  • Flash Skills.

  • Photoshop Skills.

  • DVD Authoring skills (Adobe Encore/ Ulead DVD Workshop).

 

Content involved: photographs of the artist, audio, video, brief biog and link to the artists myspace page.

 

 

I will need to utilise a number of technical and design skills in order to create a professional looking (and working) promotional DVD. This DVD will have the purpose of promoting a currently unsigned artist and will be given to record labels and agencies to showcase the talent of my client. The DVD will also however be available to be sent out to fans on request through the artists myspace music site. With these two linked but distinct objectives in mind the DVD music be designed so that it meets the needs of both fans and businesses.

 

My self-set guiding brief for this project is:

 

To produce a DVD that showcases multimedia content across a variety of platforms, whilst incorporating a design that is reflective of my clients unique style.

 

Product Overview

 

The DVD will be a content rich multimedia experience that will provide easy access to a variety of material showcasing my client. It will take the form of an enhanced DVD. This will consist of a portion of the DVD containing music videos, photographs and contact information for the artist. This will be created with DVD authoring software such as Ulead DVD Workshop or Adobe Encore. My aim is to make the Disk fully DVD-Video compliant so that it can be played on a standalone unit without a computer.

 

I will also create a secondary data portion of the DVD that will contain video content that been optimised for transfer to, and playback on, a variety of mobile devices. This will include, iPhone, PSP, and standard 3GP mobile phone versions of a music video. These will be transcoded into the appropriate codec, resolution etc. for the specific device. Being an enhanced DVD will allow the end-user to access additional content and features. The content will include musics videos, audio song samples, photographs, lyrics etc. My intention is to create a flash based menu system that will incorporate these features in a user friendly and creative fashion.

 

In creating this DVD I will focus on three main criteria:

 

  • Variety of Features: Video playable in a DVD player, video formatted for mobile devices, photographs, lyrics and other artist info etc.

     

  • Usability: Being able to access the content quickly and simply. I will look at how many click/interactions are necessary. This will be especially important in the case of the industry professionals, whom are likely to only allocate a relatively short amount of time to assess each potential artist.

     

  • Design: For both the fan and music industry professional market design is key. It will be necessary to catch the eye of the viewer and entice them to pay attention and access the content. It is also my aim to incorporate the ideas of my client as the DVD is essentially an extension of their creative image.

Tasks for the week

I aim in the following week to complete a number of tasks in order to progress with my project. I need to develop a variety of mock-ups; I will create one that will demonstrate what the menu system will look like on a standalone DVD player. I will also create a mock-up of what the menus will look like on a computer with the flash designs. Video Clips resized for, and super-imposed onto various mobile devices. I will not have the complete design or the actual content because much of this, I will only get when producing the actual DVD for my client. I will instead produce a number of templates showing how the product would work, with a fairly generic design. The second area that I need to work on in preparation for next week is gaining flash skills. At least enough to be able deliver a workshop on a specific feature during the next session. I have already started reading about the program and will use online tutorials in order to further my understanding.

Skills Gap

 Whilst I have played a little bit with Flash before, I have not had a great deal of experience doing anything beyond the basics. I am more familiar with the DVD creation portion of my project having used both Ulead DVD Workshop and Adobe Encore to create a number of DVDs for a variety of purposes. I therefore need to re familiarise myself with Flash and expand my knowledge and skills in this area. Luckily there seems to be a wealth of information and tutorial both freely available on-line and commercially in print. I have purchased Teach Yourself: Flash 8 by Mac Bride to help me to get to grips with the application. I also own Flash 8, so I will be able to go through both the tutorials in the book and on line to enhance my Flash skills that I will need to successfully complete my product. On the Internet there is a wide-range of different tutorials covering various aspects of Flash from a basic introduction to the user interface, but also tutorial focusing on very specific tasks within the program such as 3D Logo Animation.

 

Very Brief Flash Intro

Flash is an extremely flexible tool that has perhaps been most commonly used and associated with the creation of graphic and content rich-websites. Flash was previously Macromedia branded and now comes under the Adobe brand umbrella. It is a program that allows for a mix of point and click graphical tools, similar to graphic applications (e.g. Photoshop) and a code based interface in the form of Actionscript. In recent years the use of Flash for multimedia based websites has boomed, perhaps partly due to the wide-spread take up of broadband Internet and faster home computers. For me one of the most interesting features of Flash is that it can be used to create scalable content for a great variety of devices and platforms. Everything from interactive informational kiosks to mobile phones have utilised Flash. I intend to use Flash for my project as it should enable me to produce menu that will be both visually attractive and provide easy access to the variety of content on offer within my DVD.

 

Flash Logo

Flash Logo

I think… therefore I scamper.

  • Substitute: Substitution of medium; Changing the format of the promotional product. Alternatives are Blu-ray, CD-ROM, Website Delivery, Mobile Site, Bluetooth nodes, USB Key.
  • Combine: The combination of multiple forms of content. Text, Image, Video and Sound. Combining compatible platforms for the product- DVD Players, PC/Mac, Mobile Phones, iPhone, PSP etc.
  • Adapt: Adapting the DVD format by using it as a video delivery format and as a data format allowing for Flash menus and Web-linked content.
  • Magnify: Magnifying the role of special and interactive features instead on mainly focusing on the movie/video.
  • Modify: Individual components such as videos, audio, text etc. are available for use in a DVD. The difference with my project is that all of these features are tightly integrated into a complete multimedia package.
  • Put: Could put the concept to other uses by changing the content to general entertainment, instead of just a promotional tool.
  • Eliminate or minify: Minify the length of the video clips so that the main video content is less than an hour long, this will free up plenty of space for the data portion of the disk.
  • Reverse / Rearrange: I will make a first play video that will highlight the extra features of the DVD and how to access them. This is a reversal of the normal approach of watching the main video on a DVD and then going to explore the extra features. 

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