Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Multi-media Design I

The return of this course is welcome to the Digital Information Design program. It has been two years since we have run this class and should see a new approach to the design and development of sequential media for the web. This marks the first entry to the blog for the class.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Games in flash

This worked better than expected and my hat goes off to my students and their willingness to stick to the objectives set in the class. After the Symphony project we embarked on simple games in flash. I had delivered a very basic shooter game to demonstrate hitTestObject and hitTestPoint in flash as well as the Point class to distinguish multiple points on an object to detect collision. With this as a starting point for the development of the code and the keyboard input they had learned from the symphony project they had the basis for any number of games. The project called for extensive descriptions of the story, motivation of the 'player' and the environments, and characters in the game. This also followed some discussion of the nature of 'Flow' (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) and how games can induce this state of mind. The results for a majority of the class were significant. They will be on display in April in the Lewindowsky Gallery at Winthrop University.

As a final note concerning the class I have come to the conclusion that the demonstration model that I have been following works well if only the principles are explained and the start of the code format has been established. If students are forced to finish and offer suggestion about how to complete the exercise they seem to pick up the general concepts of coding if not the syntax. This is critical in that the concern for typing it in correctly falls away. I ask for the general concept of completing the code, what the benefits for doing it that way are, or how can it be more efficient, or if that falls into best practices. This all hinges on the fact that I know more than one way to skin that cat and can guide them to a successful solution. I typically have my method and a predetermined solution but often that is not how students think about the order of coding and yet still offer innovative ways of getting at the same thing done. This is an enlightening way to teach because (as many of us have experienced) I have learned a great deal from my students.  

Friday, November 20, 2009

Charlotte symphony has visuals

My VCOM 362 class just finished a group project for the Charlotte NC. Symphony that generated mini-animations using keyboard input. One student "played" the animation generator (animatorator?) with the Symphony ensemble which was displayed on a large screen over the stage during the performance. There were many comments and congratulations on the work the students had done and the final visuals that were displayed. Thanks to Dr. Ron Parks for his invitation to produce something for his piece of music, "I thought I had better let you know".

This is not a new idea, I had just seen another version of it at SIGGRAPH 2009 (at least my 3rd) where a young man used 3D animations. His controls allowed for pan and tilt views of colored explosions as well as forward/back/left/right motion. The audience was somewhat skeptical of the final product that they were experiencing in part because of his lack of experience with the visuals and also because of the monotony of the repeated animations. There also seemed to be a disconnect between the selected 3D objects and the music (mainly jazz - it was in New Orleans).

We had the advantage of restricting the animatorator to one set of visuals that pertained to the lyrics of the song which happened to be a love letter. Illustrations that related to the song were also very specific. We had a short rehearsal before the final production which helped to set the tempo of the piece but could have been better had we had time to practice. You could see that with the same dedication to playing an instrument one could be an accomplished player.

Technically speaking we had set up the applet with a number of arrays to separate the various stanzas, giving us more flexibility to introduce more images, texts and animations, etc. We did not use the full keyboard in order to simplify the playing and we generated random 2D coordinate positions on the screen to give a more spontaneous feel to the visual. Once an object was placed on the screen you could populate around the origin of that object by repeating the keystroke. This gave the player more control over concentrations of the objects so that the overall composition of the screen had some focal point and balance. We assigned an 'erase' key so that objects could be removed from the stacking order and so we could minimize the amount of objects at quiet points in the music or we could populate the screen for more visual impact and create visual excitement at high points in the piece. Other controls included scale and orientation. We also set tonal value (white through black) to each object and no color was used.

I will post some screen captures in the coming days.

Progress on blogger feed snippets

I have been working on the snippet project to get a small portion of these posts included on my website. This really is for another client of mine who has a blog and a website and would like to combine the two without leaving one for the other. Within the blog you need to create an rss feed that broadcasts to the site that will display the snippet. Flash will take the xml code that is posted by blogger and parse it into the page. Using the Namespace class and connecting to the Atom directory within Blogger to link the blog to the flash page.

// myNamespace:Namespace = new Namespace("");

Now connect to the feed using the feeds/ link generated by the rss to populate text fields in the website. You can restrict the number of characters and the number of text fields (snippets) that are displayed on the site. Send me a note for more detailed information.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Snippets of blog for another site

I am trying to set this blog inside another site. At least the posted portion of the blog where people can see snippets of the blog posts and click on a "more" tab to see the rest of the story. This post is operating a test and I will do so through out this phase of the project. Good luck.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day one in interactive design

I have a class of seven and looks to be a promising group. We will approach web design as an experimental activity because of my interest in building new user experiences. Many of the students are familiar with flash and all know basic web programming. It will be interesting to see if they have the skills from the previous class to take the material and create better sites.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to WebMeat

I have started this blog to mark a new period of technology writing for me. I will be using my PDA to add to the blog and highlight, discuss and review new design and usability ideas on the internet.

I will also be giving a lecture at the 'Old Town New World' conference held here in Rock Hill. SC. you can register here.