Digital Studio – Week 01

Thanks, Google Images, for another irrelevant leading image. Spongebob vs The Big One

Class

This is the big one. Digital Studio is the first semester lead-up to the final semester subject, Professional Portfolio, which together form our major project, not just for the year – but for the entire course.

Whilst much of the creation of the final work will happen during Professional Portfolio, it’s likely that Digital Studio will prove to be the most important class. It’s where we will develop our ideas, do research and create developmental designs. This was a point driven home in the lecture – the idea should drive the medium, not the other way around.

I think this is only true to a point. Of course, having a great idea, or at least excellent content is more important than using the latest and greatest technology, but as was also impressed upon us during class – this project is going to be a big chunk of our portfolio and how we will sell ourselves to prospective clients or employers. There’s no reason for me to spend 6 months with my head in Maya if I never want to see that program again. I need to present myself via the medium I want to work with in the future.

Whatever the project, we’ll be learning some important ‘real world’ skills during this class, and creating production schedules, mapping production costs and getting an idea of what our time is worth when working on a creative project – a source of confusion and frustration for anyone starting out in the creative industry.

Research

I’ve had an idea for some time that I would like to work with outdoor projection and this has developed into using physical interaction to affect the appearance or state of the projection (or sound). On a basic level of selling myself, outdoor projection is an excellent canvas. The scale and impact of work like this is pretty difficult to ignore, and will definitely stand out when compared to its flatter and smaller cousin, the projection screen.

I’m also really interested in researching the psychology around interacting with large-scale projection. Why would people want to engage in this way with public space? What makes this more interesting (is it more interesting) that sitting in front of a screen? What imagery (or sound) would encourage interaction, particularly when it’s likely to be abstract? What interface would function with a work of this size?

I’ve identified three main areas I will need to research for this project, before creating it…

  • Technologies – what hardware/software will drive the final project?
  • Psychology – how will I create something that will engage with an audience?
  • Reality – what outside forces will be I come into contact with when installing this work?

Obviously the first point is going be what I focus on the most in the latter part of the year. However, because I don’t want the specifics of the technology to box-in this project, it’s the second two points that I would like to concentrate on for now.

‘Psychology’ is the broadest of all three. Because I would like to know how people respond when interacting with visuals and audio, this will incorporate much of my design research.

There are fantastic examples of what can be achieved with large scale projection (particularly augmented projection), with most coming from Europe. I’ve posted many of these before on my blog, but it’s worth taking a look once again…

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Whilst I love each of the above works for their mind-blowing technical ability, they don’t represent a style that I’m particularly drawn to. The more abstract graphic work on the following pieces probably captures something closer to what I have in mind…

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The wonderful shape work found at 00:40 on the above URBANSCREEN clip started me thinking about the graphic style of Saul Bass, most noted for his game-changing title sequences for Hitchcock and others…

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If you’re interested in Saul Bass or film titles, it’s worth looking at Bass On Titles, which whilst being a dry and scripted affair, shows off some of his excellent work (and at a running time of around 35min, won’t steal away a good chunk of your life like some more current design films).

So based on these works (and some other, broader ideas), I would like to start creating my own small test experiments. Quickly produced projects that I can use to research response to different visual, sound and interface designs. I imagine these will be on a small scale and focus on specific elements, to give me a clear set of outcomes. Finding a willing test group could prove to be interesting though.

The ‘Realities’ of the project has a lot of crossover with ‘Technologies’ involved. Because this work will be site-specific, I need to work with the final location in mind. This means I will need to look into things like council approval and also what impact the site will have on the hardware I use. Projectors come in a massive variety of shapes and sizes (and costs), so there’s no point using a consumer grade 2000 lumen projector, when shooting across a main road in the middle of Sydney.

Finally, I need to keep an estimate of production costs for this project. At the moment, things look something like this…

Production Costs - Week 01

Although this is just a rough guide, it will be an excellent tool to help show how much I spend when working on a project. In turn, it will help me to quote clients when working on freelance jobs.

This project feels like it may not only be the culmination of three years of study, but the research component could lead into work I do during an Honours year in 2011. I think there’s enough new territory here to keep me motivated and (hopefully) producing good work, but it should importantly provide me with the means to display some of the skills I have learnt during my time at university.

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