My Video Project

Sigma Nu Flag Football

Without further ado… Here is my final product for the video project. I decided to focus on differences in the pre-game rituals of five players on the team. I also wanted to show that regardless of how we get ready for the games we still come together and gel as a team.

Special thanks to:

Coleman Bramlett, Warren Smith, Harrison Goudiss, Brandon DiTullio, and Lane Erwin

Credit to:

We Ready by Archie Eversole and Enter Sandman by Metallica

The Strategy and Framework Behind User Experience

Response to Krug Chapters 3 and 4 and Garrett Chapter 2

Krug

As human beings, we like consistency. We want things to follow patterns and be easy to figure out. Such is definitely the case in web design. We like when it’s easy to find what we’re looking for online. Therefore, it’s extremely important that designers follow at least some of the expectations and conventions of web design.

amazon

In chapter 3, Krug gives a helpful recommendation for designers. He advises to “innovate when you know you have a better idea, but take advantage of conventions when you don’t” (32). Also, it’s important to keep in mind that clarity trumps consistency.

role_clarity_pic

I also found the three tips for successful visual hierarchy to be interesting and helpful. They are:

1. The more important, the more prominent (size, bolding, color, etc.)

2. Things related logically are related visually (group items by position, visual style, etc.)

3. “Nest” things to create sections and what things logically fall under

I definitely intend to use these strategies when we make our websites.

In chapter four, I like Krug’s rule that 3 mindless clicks equals 1 click requiring thought. The main point he makes is that it’s crucial to maximize the number of mindless clicks to make the website easy to use. If thought is unavoidable, then guide the user with information that’s brief, timely, and impossible to miss.

Information-about-disabling-right-click

Barrett

There are so many nuances behind web design that I had no idea even existed. Barrett goes into the five planes (strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface). Together, they provide the framework for user experience problems and how to solve them. All the planes are interdependent on each other, and each level is restricted by the level below it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.25.02 PM

One of the themes I picked up on is flexibility within design. Garrett describes how important it is to not finish working on any plane before work on the lower planes has finished. You can’t build the roof of a house without finishing the foundation!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a video on the user experience and the flexible thought process behind it.

Later on, Garrett creates a dichotomy among the five planes between the product as functionality and the product as information. Functionality has to do with tasks, and the process of steps users take to complete them. Information has more to do with an information-rich user experience and how users make sense of the info users provide.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.27.53 PM

I found Garrett’s conclusion to be interesting as well. He discussed user needs as far as goals for the site and what the user wants to get out of the experience. The skeletal and surface planes are the most interesting to me. The skeletal plane has to do with information design (presentation of info) and the surface plane involves engaging the senses with the finished product.

Overall, I liked Garrett’s model and found it helpful in understanding the user’s experience.

Easy Does It in Web Design

Response to Krug Chapters 1 and 2 and Garrett Chapter 1

Krug

When I go on a website, no matter what it is, I expect to be able to find what I’m looking for easily. According to author Steve Krug, the key is to make websites in such a way that people don’t have to think. Making information self-evident is the goal, but realistically everything can’t be self-evident so at the very least it must be self-explanatory.

Web Design

The average web user should be able to get it without having to ask questions. If the designer doesn’t make things obvious and easy, then we get frustrated when using a site that requires significant thought.

Later, Krug goes into how we expect users to carefully view our websites when they actually glance and scan them. We design as if it’s good literature, but in reality users look at websites like they would at a “billboard going by at 60 mph” (21).

billboard

Oftentimes users are in a hurry. Also, we’ve gotten really good at scanning as a basic skill so that’s all we do. Combined this with the fact that we don’t need to look at everything to use a website and guessing is simply more fun, and it’s easy to see why we look at websites like billboards.

Garrett 

User experience is a big deal. We often don’t think about the people who design our products, but they deserve the credit for simple and efficient products and the blame for complex and ineffective ones. User experience has to do with how the user feels when interacting with a product.

In this video, Kelley McDonald discusses engaging the user through user experience.

A person can characterize product design in terms of aesthetic appeal and functionality. Some products, like chairs and tables, have user experiences that are built into the products themselves. Others, however, like phones and airplanes have many different specific functions. Thus, the design process is different and that’s why it’s so important that user experience design supports product design.

walnut_wood_ladder_back_restaurant_chair_-_solid_wood_seat__1

An interesting point Garrett brings up that I found surprising was how users blame themselves when technological problems arise.  He also touches on how crucial it is for a business to convey content in the best way possible to reflect organization within their business and to beat the competitors.

Web users

User efficiency is important because time is money, and saving employees time through efficient business tools directly correlates to saving money. Providing users with positive experiences is key, and user-centered design makes it so that the designer takes the user into account in every step of the design process.

Here’s a TEDx video on user-centered design that brings up some interesting points.

Why Editing’s So Important

Chapter 8: The Aesthetics of Editing

With our video projects now on the horizon, it’s crucial that I understand the crux of good editing. Like a lot of things, it can make or break you, and although it goes unnoticed it’s still one of the most important elements in production.

In their work “Visual Storytelling,” Ronald Osgood and Joseph Hinshaw discuss several interesting aspects of good editing. I thought it was interesting how unrewarding good editing is because that’s exactly the point. The point is to make video (tv show, movie, etc.) so smooth in its transitions and cuts that the viewer never thinks once about the production techniques.

B-Roll

Osgood and Hinshaw also emphasize the importance of using effective cutting techniques and b-roll.

b-roll

The use of b-roll, or “footage that visually describes the story,” is most common in nonfiction storytelling (231). Everyone knows the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I guess that’s true, but sound is helpful in getting the most meaning out of an image.

This video shows the importance of b-roll quite well.

Building Suspense

What really interests me is creating suspense through editing. They used the example of cutting to a building and then a door versus a door first. Cutting to the door first creates anticipation and suspense for the audience so the viewer will ask “what does that door lead to?”

suspense-1

Continuity

In this section, they talk about how this is maintaining consistency from shot to shot while telling the same story. There are two main kinds of continuity, which are physical and technical. Physical, for example, is the clothes the talent wears to create consistency from scene to scene. He or she will only changing clothes when it’s logical. Technical involves making sure lighting, audio, and image quality are consistent throughout. This is just as key as physical continuity.

Montage

A montage is an effective way to sequence scenes. Instead of going for continuity, the producer strives to vary the cuts to focus on different parts of the scene. For example, Rachael Ray and her cooking show would have shots of her and the table, the ingredients, and her hands preparing the dish. A montage adds variety to video and draws in the audience in a way that might not be possible otherwise.

RR_rachael-ray-peoples-choice_s4x3

In this video, it shows an episode of the Rachael Ray show and nicely details the different cuts of video and their effectiveness.

Splice Edit

videopad-video-editing-software-240

One form of editing that I intend to use in my video project is splice editing, or L cut. This occurs when picture and sound start at different times. I remember using this on an 8th grade project I did on Dicks Sporting Goods. For my project now, I anticipate I’ll use it to create suspense. I can see how this is a very effective tactic.

Applying Elements of Photography to Our Slideshows

To me, I think it helps to evaluate someone else’s work in order to give yourself a new perspective. I think it helps you figure out what you did well and what might need improvement.

For class, we were assigned to evaluate a partner’s slideshow using two of Zettl’s six elements of photography. I decided to look at my classmate Amy Beard’s slideshow and pick out a few photos that embodied the essence of figure/ground and magnetism.

Figure/Ground

In order to understand this concept, I picked out three of Amy’s photos that clearly show the figure, or subject, and the ground.

cheese1

In the above picture, the foods (pimento cheese, jars, etc.) serve as the figure. The two shelves make up the ground.

greenbeans

Same idea here. The buckets of green beans make up the figure, and the shelf is the ground. Pretty easy to understand.

grains

Last one as I’m sure you get the picture… The bags of grain are the figure and all the shelves (what they rest on) are the ground.

Magnetism of the Frame

Magnetism has to do with the specific directional pull within a photo. I chose three examples from Amy’s slideshow.

scale

In this photo, the main focus is the scale. The scale is significantly off-center to the left, so that is the directional pull.

swcbuilding

In this photo, the main subject is “cafe & grocery.” Although it’s fairly central, there is a pull from left to right as you read it. There is also a natural pull right as the building is more shifted in that direction.

jams

Here, there is a shift left and toward the bottom. When looking at the jams, the first thing you look at are the closest jams and you work your way over as the objects “pull” you from left to right and bottom to top.

The Dream (Flag Football) Team

My Slideshow Project

For my slideshow, I decided to focus on my fraternity’s flag football team. I wanted to give the viewer a behind-the-scenes look into my pre-game rituals as well as what we do as a team before and during the game. I took all the photos on my iPhone, and I tried to get as many horizontal photos as I could, but I had to take some of the more dynamic and exciting photos vertically. My goal was to make it as specific and realistic as possible, so I hope you enjoy it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For my slideshow, I edited many of my twenty photos in photoshop. Here are the before and after looks of five of my pictures.

Before:                                                                                        After:

Digi Comm #1              Digi-Comm-#11

For this edit, I used the tilt shift under the guided section of photoshop to blur my computer screen. I wanted the visual hierarchy to be clear and the focus to be on the flag football game on the screen and on me looking at it.

Before:                                                                                        After:

Digi Comm #2                    Slideshow-#22

For my second edit, I wanted the photo to “pop” more. I adjusted the brightness as well as the color saturation. I liked the way it turned out. It’s the second photo of my slideshow, so I wanted it to be memorable and set the tone.

Before:                                                                                        After:

Digi Comm #33                    Digi-Comm-#3

For this edit, I obviously made the photo brighter, but I also played with the shadow effect under guided as well as increased contrast to make the play stand out more on the paper.

Before:                                                                                          After:

Digi Comm #4                            Digi-Comm-#44

For my fourth edit, I wanted to make the photo brighter and really contrast the colors. I especially wanted to contrast the my jersey, the grass, and the red tree in the background. I like the edited version much better.

Before:                                                                                           After:

Digi Comm #5                      Digi-Comm-#55

For my final edit I’ll share, I wanted to make the jersey stand out like in edit #4, but I also wanted to make the trees, lights, and sky resonate. To do this, I adjusted the saturation, brightness, and contrast.

I hope you enjoyed watching my slideshow that gave you a glimpse of my rituals and role within our Sigma Nu flag football team. Thanks for watching!

May the Force Be With You

The Two Dimensional Field: Forces Within the Screen

When it comes to screening, video, and photography, forces within the screen are very important. They are fairly simple and straightforward, but in my opinion they can either make or break an artist’s work.

In this piece we were assigned for class, Zettl discusses six major types of field forces. The three I find most fascinating are:

1. Main directions

2. Psychological closure

3. Vectors

Main Directions

To begin, Zettl focuses on the difference between horizontal and vertical orientation. While horizontal implies calmness, tranquility and rest, vertical lines indicate something more dynamic, powerful, and exciting. Through using the example of the gothic church and renaissance building, it is easy to see the difference between the two. However, before reading this I had never thought about what horizontal and vertical lines communicate.

Renaissance architecture with horizontal emphasis:

renaissance-architecture-in-telc-by-ernesto-huang-in-renaissance-1350285520_b

Inside of La Sagrada Familia basilica (vertical emphasis):

sagrada-familia-022513-061_650x366

The combination of the two make for a realistic image of our everyday life, especially in cities where buildings are vertical and everything else is horizontal. This is natural because of gravity and our tendency to stand on horizontal lines.

Psychological Closure

This force has to do with our built-in survival mechanism of visually filling in space to come to complete and natural patterns/configurations. Closure involves ordering and grouping visual objects into patterns. We really have been doing this subconsciously all our lives. The whole that we perceive from the parts is called the gestalt.

closure_aI thought the analogy of the gestalt to music was easy for me to relate to given my musical background. The three notes are like the three parts and the chord is the gestalt. The chord sounds much different than if the notes were played separately. Just as the individual parts look much different than the whole.

A major theme I noticed in this section was the emphasis on making it easy for the viewer to decipher the whole and create visual rhythm through proximity, similarity, and continuity. In order to facilitate closure and create a more efficient and relate-able experience for the viewer, there must be enough stimulation whether its a high or low definition image.

Gestalt

Just like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory desperately needs closure, the viewer does too and is more likely to be receptive to an image if it is logical and comes to completion.

Vectors

These are also really interesting to me, and involve the directional forces that point the viewer from one thing to another inside or outside the picture. Each vector has a magnitude and direction. Understanding of vectors is crucial to camera placement prior to taking pictures and after in the editing process.

Graphic vectors are accentuated by strong vertical lines, like this:

free-vector-look-up-highrise-buildings-vector_003605_city2

The magnitude of a vector has to do with its directional certainty. It’s based off graphic direction, mass, and perceived speed. A fast zoom in or zoom out can create higher or lower magnitude, although it’s implied at that point. My favorite kind of vector is an index vector. I like certainty and am resistant to change, so I like how index vectors point unquestionably point in a single direction.

Two people clearly looking at each other is a great example of an index vector. Here, it’s happening in one of my favorite movies, Parent Trap.

two-people-who-desperately-need-each-other-but-are-too-scared-to-say-it

Culture and its Power to Shape

Images, Power, and Politics by Sturken and Cartwright

In my everyday life, I am constantly being affected by images. Whether I’m browsing Facebook or Instagram, watching tv, or reading a magazine, images make up a significant part of my life. Without a doubt, images have influenced me as a person.

In chapter one, Sturken and Cartwright argue that we make meaning of the material world through understanding objects in their cultural contexts. We construct meaning through the process of representation.

I thought it was interesting when they talked about artists who push the boundaries of representation. They used the example of the painting of a pipe with text underneath saying “this is not a pipe.” This painting embodies the idea that representations and objects are completely separate. Furthermore, images produce meaning but cannot fully invoke the experience of the object.

ma-31824080-WEB

To me, the section on subjectivity versus objectivity in photography was surprising. They talk about the debate between the two, but I think it’s pretty clear that there is a significant amount of subjectivity in terms of choosing, composing, lighting, and framing in photography.

silhouette-photographer-tripod-sunset-sunrise

Lastly, the section on images being produced within social power and ideology piqued my interest. The easiest thing for me to relate to was the fact that television and film construct familiar ideologies through images as far as romance, love, gender norms, etc.

Viewers Make Meaning by Sturken and Cartwright

To begin chapter two, they discuss the production of meaning from images. There are three ways this is done:

1. Conventions that structure the image

2. Viewer’s interpretations of the image

3. Contexts of the image

In the section on interpellation by images, I thought it was interesting how consumers can pick up on how images are made for them even though their knowledge is unique. This occurs especially in advertising, particularly in ads that promise an idealized future self.

In this coca cola ad, there is definitely a promise for you the consumer to be related to on a personal level by having your name on the bottle. I definitely see the idealized self in this commercial.

I think one of the most powerful ways to relate to the viewer is through creating the image so that it’s speaking directly to the viewer. Whether this is through the topic and how easy it is to relate to or the actual creation of a person looking into the eyes and soul of the viewer, this strategy is effective.

Open-Your-Eyes-224x300

Toward the end, they emphasize the three positions viewers take as decoders of images.

They are:

1. Dominant-hegemonic reading

2. Negotiating reading

3. Oppositional reading

I thought number two was interesting in how it shows that cultural interpretation is a struggle and consumers are active meaning makers instead of passive recipients when decoding images.

Lastly, I liked when they talked about American (and Australian) Idol and the oppositional reading of the show’s blatant product placement (coke cups) and how the show arguably exists only to provide entertainment through cheap programming.

article-2201439-14C54B23000005DC-470_468x286