Friday, September 24, 2010

Shooting in the mud

On Wednesday we filmed the second scene for our interactive video. The main character cycles to the park, falls into the mud, meets the Park Manager and hears about the problems in the park. We also tried to film the prologue with the "unknown evil force" in daylight, but in the end we decided that it will probably work better when shot in the dark, because that gives a much scarier atmosphere. Last but not least, we have picked a name for our video and our group. The video is called "The fairytale of the farmville-freak in the peculiar park" and it is produced by "La Rev Film", which is an anagram for Farmville. You can watch our project progress here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Yesterday, we had our fourth lesson of Graphic Design. The assignment for this time was to pick two photographs, and two infinite verbs, and put them in a 2x2 grid, like so:

Photo 1 / Verb 1 Photo 2 / Verb 1
Photo 1 / Verb 2 Photo 2 / Verb 2

It turns out that it is very difficult to find a verb that fits both images, and isn't just an obvious description of what happens in the picture, but enhances, changes or narrows down the meaning of the picture. When you have finally found the right verb, the hard work is not over though: you still have to pick the right design for the verb and the right place. When you don't pick the right place for the verb, it will interfere with the message of the image, or the verb won't be noticed at all. When "designing" the verb, you will have to take the following things into account: legibility (colour and brightness of the verb in relation to the background), typeface (must enhance the meaning of the verb) and size (the verb must be seen, but not cover up too much of the image). In the end you must also think about an interesting contrast between the first row (different pictures, same verb) and the second row in terms of meaning.

Designing in this way actually is somewhat similar to designing a billboard: you want to give a photo a new meaning by using one word (or at least the minimum amount of words), and the text has to be easy to spot, but not deduct from the meaning of the photo. You also don't want to confuse your audience, but instead the meaning of your visual language should be immediately clear, and it should tell the same story to everyone, instead of having a different message to every viewer.

The assignment for the next two weeks is rather exciting: we have to design a postcard that promotes the Creative Technology programme. The advice of our teacher was to sketch, sketch, sketch, cry, doubt and sketch again. Next week we have to present our first proposal. I'm looking forward to what everybody comes up with!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recording the first scene

Today we finally got to shoot our first scene for the We Create Identity project. Everybody had really been looking forward to starting with the actual filming instead of just sitting down to brainstorm and design the scenes.

In the first scene, a boy, or a girl, depending on the choice of the viewer, is sitting in front of the computer, and passes many hours there playing Farmville, striving to get the highscore. When the main character reaches the second position on the Farmville score chart, he or she gets a message from the Park Manager, asking for help. But since the main character is obsessed with and addicted to Farmville, he refuses to help the Park Manager out and decides to keep on playing instead. Unfortunately for the main character, right at that moment the Farmville server breaks down, which is coincidentally located in the park. The first scene ends with the main character furiously biking towards the park.

As luck would have it, I ended up being the male main character for this scene, and I had a great time thinking of ways to make the main character that much more emotional and interesting. Due to our approach to script writing, the scene we filmed was not fully fleshed out before we started filming, but it got additions or alterations on every take based on the quality of the take before. When we were all happy with the end result of one shot, we moved on to the next one.

At the end of the day I think I can say that all of us were pretty happy with the outcome of the first scene, and I am really looking forward to shooting the next scene on Wednesday. You can see how far we have proceeded with our project here.

CreaTe meets...

Today we got the chance to meet some people from the industry. Each professional told about his experiences in the field and how they could be relevant to us. The point of this meeting was getting acquainted with some people who work in the industry, in order for us to set up projects in the future that are both interesting and relevant to society, with their help. You can see the list of speakers here.

After this our teacher told us about the goals for the We Create Identity course, and that he doesn't like to have strict assignments, but rather wants us to use our own initiative and creativity to create something original and worthwhile. He then proceeded to ask whether we had all designed a logo for our groups and whether everybody had read the Ximpel documentation, and both of these questions were answered negatively. For our group the reason for not designing a logo was that we consider a name and a logo as a last-touch element, something you only create when you know what your final product is like and when you are ready to present it to the world. Maybe we should learn to be more like (proud) artists, and put our identity on our ideas, even when they are not finished yet. As to not reading the Ximpel documentation, this is due to the fact that the website is not really the epitome of user-friendly and logical website design in terms of being easy to navigate. It is sometimes really difficult to find the exact content you where looking for in this maze of links. A suggestion from my side would be to use a sidebar for easy navigation, just like on the Google site. Another reason for not reading the documentation is the fact that we were focusing on using YouTube with annotations instead of Ximpel for our interactive video. In this way, the interactivity can be designed in a visual / what-you-see-is-what-you-get way instead of by typing code.

In the afternoon we had a so-called open podium where everybody is allowed to freely express his or her ideas. The problem was that nobody had prepared anything to talk about, so most people wondered what to say once they were asked to get up on the stage. I think it is easier to speak to a crowd when you have gotten a topic beforehand, so that you can look up information regarding that subject, and thus are able to speak in an informed way. Nevertheless, it was interesting to experience that out of nowhere, a discussion about the amount of friends people have listed on Facebook arose. It was also interesting to hear everybody's opinion on the Creative Technology programme so far, and everybody seemed to agree that we had a little too much Technodrama's in the Introduction to Computer Science course.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The script for our interactive video

During this week we have completed the first part of the script for our interactive video. We have decided that the video will not be too serious, but more like a comedy. Since nature is a seen as a serious topic, we try to keep the viewer entertained by being a little silly about it. An example of this is the first time you meet the park manager. He will say to you: "I'll be back", and after that, you will get asked whether he will really return or not.

Another thing we want to achieve with the video is a sense of immersion, so that it doesn't feel like another person is making the choices in the story, but it is really you who decides. We do this by offering the viewer the choice between being a boy or a girl right at the start of the video, and also by (hopefully) filming most of it from a first-person perspective. Our script can be seen here.

The Little Man's Computer

On Thursday we learned about computers on the lowest (machine) level with Introduction to Computer Science. The lesson started with the assignment to name devices that are computers, and of course they are all around us. It turns out that 90% of all processors that are manufactured today end up in so call embedded devices, from washing machines to cars.

After this introduction we were told how programming code is handled by computers. There are three terms that are important to this process: Compilation, Interpretation and Emulation. With Compilation, so called higher level code (programming code that is easy to understand for humans) is first translated into machine code or low level code. When an application is executed, the machine instantly gets this low level code to work with. With Interpretation, on the other hand, applications are saved in high level code, and when they are executed, the high level code is translated to low level code on-the-fly. The advantage of using this method is that you don't have to compile the high level code for every different architecture you want to use it on, but you can just use one piece of high level code on all architectures, since it will be translated on the moment of execution, specifically for the architecture you use it on. When however Interpretation can not be used, for example, when the high level code is not available to you, you can use Emulation. An emulator translates from machine code suited to one (processor) architecture to machine code suited to a different architecture.

At the end of the lesson we got to try our hands at low level programming ourselves. Using the Little Man's Computer we had to program a couple of simple applications such as adding two numbers. For the last assignment we had to program an application that could divide one number by another number, and the result had to be split into two parts: the "whole" part and the fraction part. While this may sound easy enough, it proved to be quite difficult, because we could only add and subtract, and couldn't multiply or divide. By doing this assignment it became clear to us that using low level code is overly complex, and it is far more convenient to use a high level programming language.