Final Essay – Updated 12/12/08

Betsy Blakeley
GrC 452 Paper

Graphic Communication: Looking Toward the Future

Print has always been and will remain a fundamental part of the Graphic
Communication industry. I do not see print becoming obsolete, as there will also be
value added by printing. Perhaps not for every project, but for many products, there
is value in print. It may not always be necessary, but print often improves the
product. However, much of the Graphic Communication market is moving away
from printed mediums and into digital ones (online publishing, video, websites,
etc.). I recently read a book for GrC 411 (a class about strategy and emerging trends
in the Graphic Communication industry), which talked about the new paradigm of
print. How does print function in a digital world? You cannot fight technology, and it
is necessary to reassess how you fit into the digital marketplace. Business will not
be the same. Your clients and their demands will not be the same as they used to be.
You must change our business strategy. For printers this can mean specializing in
Variable Data Publishing, quick printing, or marketing and design. The point is,
though print will always be relevant, technology has changed and will continue to
change our industry.

As technology is undoubtedly at the forefront of the Graphic Communication
industry, I believe that our department needs to take strides to embrace the ways
technology can carry its students and its industry forward. I think it is important to
reevaluate the industry and respond to the changes it has made. As a Design
Reproduction Technology graduating senior, I feel it is important to understand and
have the ability to utilize a large scope of technology (design software, html code,
the web, digital motion software like Flash, VDP, databases, etc.). Personally, as the
time to begin job-hunting approaches, I wish that I had more experience working
with websites and interactive media, as I believe these skills are becoming essential
to a graphic designer. I love the education I have received at Cal Poly. I think the
“learn by doing strategy” is fantastic, and could not imagine going into the
workforce not having the skills I have learned by being educated in this manner. I
have learned so much in the Graphic Communication department, but I feel I had to
really practice the skills on my own.

I think as a learn-by-doing school, there are a few ways we could learn more
technology by “doing-it.” I think it would be beneficial for the most relevant
programs (perhaps by concentration) to be included in the students’ tuition (Adobe
Creative Suite, an FTP program, etc). I believe students can better learn the
technology when they are able to use relevant programs outside of class and various
open lab hours. I also believe it would be beneficial to the bottle neck of the design
series in the flow chart to enable students to learn the different Adobe programs
sooner, so that they may continue to progress and delve into these applications
throughout their undergraduate career. I truly believe that a high competence in
these programs is important if they are relevant to the students’ field.
I think that the curriculum offered/required should be updated to either include
more technology or be more concentration specific. I think it would benefit students
to receive added technology courses in their field/concentration and less core/
general printing knowledge. I see value in all of the core classes, but they seem a bit
slanted to PIM students. I think that combining some of the printing classes or
eliminating some of the labs could be appropriate for the core curriculum. Other
concentrations could feel the same way about the design series. Taking more
concentration specific classes would allow students to delve deeper into their
respective areas of study. With fewer core classes to take, DRT students could learn
more about web design, EPI students could do more movie editing, flash, and code,
and PIM students could learn more about imposition software, database
management systems.

Aside from increasing the students’ access to technology and technology classes, I
agree with Tom that professors should foster the use of relevant technology in dayto-
day labs and classes. Perhaps students could learn about their poly web address
earlier, create a simple site in 201, and create a working portfolio for all of their
class-work. Students could publish all of their work for classes to their sites, and
becoming very comfortable with publishing themselves. As Tom said, being able to
publish and market yourself is possibly more important than what you can do. You
could be the best designer, code writer, or printer, but if no one knows about you or
what you can do, it is all for nothing. In order to be able to move forward in the
industry, we have to be able to put ourselves out in the market. The more relevant
technology we learn, the more desirable we will be as we enter the workforce. I am
sure we are all familiar with the long lists of technology skills required or preferred
by companies when we check job postings. The more programs we learn, the more
qualified we are in the job market. I strongly believe that the Graphic
Communication Department should do all it can to keep students on top of today’s
technology. I have suggested requiring students to own relevant software, altering
the curriculum to be more concentration focused, allowing students to learn more
relevant technology, and practicing technologies in everyday classes more
extensively. Whatever changes the department decides to make, I think any strides
we make to improve our knowledge of working technologies in the industry will be
very rewarding.

UGS Promotional Video – Updated 11/17/08

Objectives

The objectives of this lab were fairly simple. We were given the task of creating a UGS promotional video using footage of the press room and interviews of some of the managers. It is possible that the videos could be used on UGS’ new website.

Procedure

The procedure for this video project was fairly simple. I imported a folder of assets that Tom put together into Final Cut Pro. The folder had video footage, the UGS logo, and a few sound clips to play in the background. After watching all of the interview footage, I picked out my favorite parts using in and outs, and dragged them into my sequence. I picked out enough clips to fill about a minute and a half. I then looked through the footage of the press room and got together my favorite clips from that as well. I stacked the press room clips from a few seconds after a new interviewee would begin talking through the end of their clip. After I was pretty pleased with the sequence of the clips, I focused on the sound. I brought in some background music and faded it in and out of the movie. I deleted all of the sound from the press room clips. I then adjusted the speakers’ voices so that they would stay around -12 decibels. For one of the “base voiced” managers, I adjusted the range of the highs and lows of his audio clip to bring it above the music. I set the music clip to about -18 decibels so that the interviews could be heard over it. I used fade-in and fade-out audio transitions between each speaker so that the transition would be smooth rather than abrupt. All I had left was to add some finishing touches. I placed a PNG of the UGS logo in the bottom left corner of the screen. I also created a text page at the beginning of the video which read “University Graphics Systems.” I faded this into the first speaker’s interview. I then exported the FCP file to Quick Time and uploaded it onto Vimeo.

Week 8 – UGS Promotional Video


UGS Promotion Video from Betsy Blakeley on Vimeo.

Summary and Conclusions

This was a fairly simple project to put together. We learned more about the importance of Audio settings and transitions.

Project Significance

I thought that it was really neat to put something together for UGS. I think that this project could be a useful thing to have in our portfolio. I think this type of video is very common, and the skills needed to create it could be very useful in potential jobs.

Closing Thoughts

I enjoyed this video project. I feel like I am much more comfortable in Final Cut Pro. The time it takes me to create a video now is much shorter than anything I was creating in the beginning.

Wihire Splash Video – Updated 11/12/08

Objectives

The objective of this lab was to create a splash video to precede any video posted on Wihire’s website. Wihire is an online system linking employers with college graduates. The purpose of the splash is to help their branding.

Procedure

At the beginning of lab last week, we were introduced to the owners of wihire and given some information about wihire and the tone they would like their splash page to take. We were also given a folder of graphic assets for Wihire (brochures, logo, pictures, etc.). I began by creating PNG files in Photoshop. I found a few vector images of businessmen and a businesswoman that I brought into Photoshop. I change the fill colors around, and then saved each person as a separate PNG file. I also saved the “wihire” text from the logo on an empty background. I used PNG files so that transparency would be preserved. For some reason, Final Cut Pro does not work well with Illustrator PNG files, and thus must be created in Photoshop. I then browsed through the folder of audio clips and selected my favorite. Now that I had all of my assets created, I imported them into my Final Cut Pro library. I started by placing my Wihire logo where I wanted it because the placement of other objects would be dependent on this. I then typed up text boxes for the words “connect,” “inspire,” and “succeed.” I placed them under the Wihire logo in the proper place. I then added in the people. I created motion and by expanding and moving the people individually. As each person comes on the screen, a new word appears beneath him or her. I tried to let each person enter on a new beat. Then there are the three people above the phrase; “Connect. Inspire. Succeed.” The people then fade out as the wihire logo fades in. I added a transition effect to create the fading.

Week 7 – Wihire Splash Video


Wihire Splash Movie from Betsy Blakeley on Vimeo.

Summary and Conclusions

It was really neat to be able to create our own piece with less direction. It was nice to have the freedom to create our own versions on the splash video.

Project Significance

I think the most significant part of this project was working with a client for tone and direction, and then having the creative freedom to make it happen. The owners of Wihire came in, gave us an introduction to their company, then left the rest up to us.

Closing Thoughts

I really liked this project. I can’t wait to see the splash videos that other students came up with. I am becoming more comfortable in Final Cut Pro, and was able to make this splash video fairly quickly. The most time consuming part was to create the different PNG images that I was using. I hope Wihire enjoys it!

Animated Web Ad in Flash – Updated 11/06/08

Objectives

The main objective of this lab was to create an animated Web advertisement for AT&T using Flash Action Script 2.0. For this lab we were learning to create motion in flash over time. We also were supposed to learn a little more about Action Script coding.

Procedure

We started out by doing a practice exercise in Flash this week. Kevin explained how most of the tools were used in Flash; they are inconsistent with the rest of the Creative Suite tools because Flash was recently purchased from Macromedia. We moved different shapes around the plane and morphed them into different shapes with different colors. After getting a feel for animation across the timeline, we started our AT&T web ad project. Kevin gave us a psd of the final outcome of the ad. We hid layers to isolate the background, which we saved and then imported into Flash. We then went back to the psd and cropped and saved both instances of the “Learn more button”. We imported these into our Flash library as well. We next typed out the text in the web ad in its final position on our Flash project. Using the timeline, we set key frames and placed the different text boxes outside of the plane, and other key frames corresponding to their final position. I had to work to adjust the timing of the different text boxes, but it turned out well in the end. We then added the Learn more button, and had to create an action script to tell the button to use the blue “learn more” version when a mouse was hovering over it. We didn’t quite get to linking the button to AT&T’s actual website. We then wrote an action script telling the video not to repeat, and to stop playing after the 1st floop.

Week 6 - Flash Web Ad



Summary and Conclusions

This project was pretty basic Flash and a good introduction. I learned about basic movement and the concept of the timeline in Flash. It was also interesting to see how people take apart a psd document to use for animated Flash – it made it mush easier.

Project Significance

This project taught us how to create basic motion in Flash. We also learned Action script for mouse-ons and ending a loop. I think I could make a web ad for a business if given the correct assets.

Closing Thoughts

I really like to be able to see the end result of our projects and feel like I made something. I hope that I will still be able to use the programs we have learned when I am on my own, without the help of classmates or the instructor. I think to become comfortable in Flash I will need to practice more at home with a Flash book to stumble my way through the process.

Video Player Skin in Adobe Flash- Updated 10/29/08

Objectives

In this week’s class we were introduced to Adobe Flash as well as Action Script 2.0. The main objective of the class was to create our personal Adobe flash player skin for one of our previous videos. Before, we had been using Vimeo’s skin.  

Procedure

The first thing we did was to resave our iPod commercials without any compression. This is because Flash automatically compresses QuickTime movies that are imported into Flash. If a movie is compressed multiple times, the quality becomes extremely poor. The goal of the class was to create a flash player skin for our video. We first experimented by editing premade skins (changing around colors of the buttons, etc.). Then we created our own skin from scratch. We imported our commercials into the new flash document, and created a square frame around the .swf file. We then added a play & pause button to stop or start the play of the video, a seek bar to scan to different parts of the movie, and a volume bar to adjust the audio of the video. The final object we added was a logo, which was basically our initials in a text box. We then had to write action scripts for the buttons so they could carry out their functions. This was fairly simple; we just had to match up the name of each button with the action that the button is supposed to do. We also wrote a script for our logos so that on the mouse up command, a new browser window would open with the GrC 452 website. In order for this to work properly, we had to transform our logo into a movie clip. Naming was very critical for the scripts to work properly; if you did not match the object name exactly, the script would not run. The next step was to embed the movie into our blog page. We previewed the video in HTML, viewed the source code to find the object tag, which we pasted into the HTML code of our blog pages. We had to tweak the code a bit by adding “/”’s so that the video would be found in the route folder. After a few more adjustments, we loaded our index pages, .swf movie files, and .flv files into the directory for our sites. And there you have it. 

Week 5 – Flash Skin

Summary & Conclusions

This was pretty neat, I had no idea it could be so easy to create your own unique flash player. I struggled a bit because I missed the last hour of class, but after watching the tutorials a few times, I was able to pick up on everything. It is amazing how important it is to have all the tiny details correct in flash and other web programs.

Project Significance

This was a great introduction into flash. It taught us so to create our own flash player skins, as well as start working with action scripts.

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoyed this. I really want to learn how to create animation in flash for websites. I think that flash is an important program to be comfortable with I the industry today.  

iPod Commercial in Final Cut Express - Updated 10/21/08

Objectives

This week we set out to make an Apple iPod-esque commercial using green-screen footage of the Hip Hop Congress. We had a couple different objectives and requirements. The main objectives were to use the ChromaKey to separate the dancer from the green screen, learn to use various transitions, portray depth through scaling and moving objects, and overlap two (of the same) dancers side by side.

Procedure

Before coming to class, Professor Antl had videotaped the Hip Hop Congress dancing in front of a green screen. They all danced to the same song, so they moved consistently to the same beat. I imported the footage of the dancers as well as the separate audio file into Final Cut Pro. Because there was a lot of background noise with the dancing footage I deleted the sound track and replaced it with the actual mp3 of the song. I then used the ChromaKey filter to get as much of the green as possible (to just leave the dancing silhouette). I changed the dancer images to black and then filtered the dance clips to my 12 favorites. I cut them using the slice tool and dragged them into the order I liked. I decided I wanted to have fun and experiment with motion in my background. I drew a ray like shape in Photoshop and imported it as a PNG file into FCP. I lowered the opacity on it and laid it over different color backgrounds and am old piece of paper image for texture. I edited the background colors to change as a new dance clip comes on. I also had a lot of fun with the video transitions between the color changes. I wanted to keep the silhouetted dancers simple, and have more fun with the background. I then took one of the longer dance clips and duplicated it on a track directly on top of it. I changed the motion properties so that the two dancers started separately and glided towards each other, becoming one. Lastly, I added some apple logos that followed a curve path from behind the dancer to the front of the screen while growing in size to create depth.

Week 4 – iPod Commercial


iPod Commercial from Betsy Blakeley on Vimeo.

Summary & Conclusions

This project taught me a lot about different motion, filters, and transitions in Final Cut Pro. I also learned how to filter a green screen and create depth.

Project Significance

This project increased my comfort in Final Cut Pro. The skills we learned are very important in illustrated movies/commercials/promos/splash pages. It was neat to see all of the different effects, motions, and transitions you can work with to enhance the project.

Closing Thoughts

I had a lot of fun with this project. It was neat to be able to bring some creativity into the film editing. I was really challenged when it came to creating depth, for some reason I struggled a lot with motion and anchor points. By the end of this project I feel much more acclimated to Final Cut Pro.

Creek Day PSA in Final Cut Express - Updated 10/07/08

Objectives

Our second lab was a follow-up to last week’s introduction to the course and Final Cut Express. Last week we started “learning the ropes” of the program and became comfortable with basics of the program like importing, motions, transitions, and using different effects. This week our objective was to utilize Final Cut express to edit and create a public service announcement for this year’s Creek Day. After creating the thirty second spot we had to export our clips and put them online in Vimeo accounts.

Procedure

We were given a folder of clips, logos, and a voice over clip to use to create the final PSA. After importing the clips, I began cutting out pieces that I liked or thought would fit well together and with the narration. After organizing the snippets, I added some background music to the video. I used a “motion” at the end to scale or zoom out on a the painting of the creek, and typed a frame with contact information. I also overlayed a png logo file over the whole commercial. I added some fade in/ fade out and other effects to create smooth transitions. Once I was satisfied with my commercial, I rendered it, then exported it for the web. We all created Vimeo video hosting accounts and loaded our commercials onto our sites. And here is mine…

Week 2 - Creek Day PSA


Creek Day PSA from Betsy Blakeley on Vimeo.

Summary & Conclusions

I am pretty happy with how my video turned out. I have only edited video footage one other time using Mac OS X’s iMovie. There is a lot more that can be done in FCE, may more transitions, scaling, rotating, overlapping, positioning, and filters to use. I really enjoyed using this program and being able to create my own edited clip (though Tom had done a lot of the work for us).

Project Significance

This project gave us a great introduction to Final Cut Express. The project was fairly easy, as we were given all of the assets, but it was a good way to get comfortable in FCE and explore the tools and possibilities of the program with out having to produce our own illustration, artwork, footage, or sound clips. After this lab I feel comfortable using FCE and think I can move onto a project that is more challenging.

Closing Thoughts

I had a lot of fun in this lab. I think it really helped prepare us to put together a clip or segment with our own elements. I am really excited to be able to start brainstorming ideas for my own clip as well as using Illustrator and Photoshop to put together elements to be used in the video. I am also starting to realize how much work it must take animators/ illustrators/ movie makers to put commercials, advertisements, introductions, and other short spots together. I am very excited to see what everyone comes up with in class for future projects!

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