Saturday, June 5, 2010

Final Project Report

— What’s going well?
Sister Catherine Dunne from the Daughters of Charity came to our class to receive the work we did on the project. She said that we had captured the essence of St. Joseph's Services in the video. She seemed very pleased and thought that the other Daughters would be thrilled also. Sister Dunne said it looked like we gave the project our all and that we produced A+ work. We also recieved a letter from Lisa Sullivan stating the project was outstanding and she was very happy with the outcome. I feel all the effort our team put into the project is appreciated. I am very pleased with everything we did and think it looks professional, polished and cohesive. I am proud of our team and all our individual expertise lent to a unified product that we were able to deliver completed and on time.

— What’s not going so well?
Just have to tie up a few loose ends on the portfolio site and then we are all done! Amelia did a fine job in leading us to make deadlines and I'm sure this one will be met also. It is a very hectic time of year for students as we are trying to complete final coursework. It would have been nice to have a written handout that specifically detailed what was required in the final portfolio to be able to work towards that in the proceeding weeks. However, our team works effectively together so I do not have any doubts that these loose ends will be tied up and that we will be able to present a cohesive, unified portfolio piece for all of us to share. I am optimistic that it will be equally professional and complete as the project we present to St. Joseph's Services.

— My specific contributions to our project this week included the final touches on the brochure, cleaning up over 100 photos for the video, and making finalized notations for the portfolio.

— Any final project reflections?
As I have mentioned before, I would have liked to have seen the text + image be a more consistent theme across the project but since we were working with actual clients, we had to meet their needs. However, I think by adding the textual elements in the video, we were able to incorporate text + image into the project very nicely.
Using the Basecamp website as a project management platform seemed to work for this project. It was relatively easy to follow up on threads and be in-tune to what was happening on a day to day basis. Having different thread for various aspects of the project was helpful to It was also nice to be able to find files, see them as thumbnails, and download them to our individual PCs as needed. Having Basecamp as a management tool adopted program-wide for NMS is a good idea to toy with in lieu of Blackboard but with so many project management tools available, such as PBworks or Google Wave, it really boils down to preference.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Project Report - Week 9

—What’s going well?
It was really good to hear that Lisa Sullivan was pleased with our work this far. It was very motivational to read her letter. I am looking forward to her coming to tonight's class. Also, I'm really please with the progress Joe and I have been making on the graphic standards manual.

—What’s not going so well?
Everything seems to be on time and going great this week. The only thing I have is not being able to get the pictures we're going to use for the video, but again that is largely due to my limitations in being downtown other than class time.

—My specific contributions include redesigning the brochure, a new iteration of my original business card design, and new letterhead. Last week during class time, I sat with Joe and we decided on some of the specific elements, such as color, fonts, stroke weights, etc., that should be used in the graphics manual and outputs.

—I have viewed the rough cut for the video several times thus far and have taken extensive notes. My goals for this weekend is to have all the photos finalized to embed in the video. I am willing to edit/piece them together with transitions in between. However, I know the editing team is working with Final Cut and all I have is Adobe Premiere. I haven't used it recently but I'm sure I can easily figure it out and I would think that I could export files that can translate into Final Cut. This can be discussed tonight with my team members.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Project Report - Weeks 7 & 8

—What’s going well?
It's crunch time! In the last two week, things for the most part have been going super-well. St. Joe's has an awesome video team who has been doing above and beyond by going to various off-sites and gathering footage. We watched most of the footage on Sunday and it is really exceptional. We hit a snag when the board was giving luke-warm feedback on the logos we submitted but if worse comes to worse, we can still provide a graphics manual using the old logo, so even though some time was spent on creating new logos that may not be used, it is of course a learning experience.

—What’s not going so well?
A lot of the work entails the video. Unfortunately, I'm not overly interested in video production which is the reason I never took and editing class. However, I feel I am familiar enough with using a timeline in various editing software to be well-rounded as a New Media Student. Also, am having a hard time making connections between a video and the rhetorical analysis of text and image. However, I'm looking on the bright side of working with an awesome group who has made me more interested in video production. It would be nice if the class was scheduled in one of the CDM labs downtown so we could have acesses to all of the equipment available. I know it isn't NMS equipment downtown, but I know many of us students have taken classes down there because that is typically where the production part of our liberal studies have taken place.

—My specific contributions include a new logo submission of the holy family, creating a business card, and editing 120 photos and resizing them for the website. I also attended the viewing session on Sunday evening.

—What are your goals for next week?
My goal for the upcoming weeks are to be involved in writing the narration script, helping lay down the audio bed, and continuing to work on images so they can be used in montauges in the video. Fortunatley, I can edit images quickly and efficently so that they can be spliced into the video at a hypothetical moment's notice.

—What resources or help do you need from your project team, class, or instructor?
More time!! The quarter is coming to a close and between my other course and a massive project at work, there is only so much time left so hopefully we can pull everything together by the last minute. I feel bad because I do no live in the city so to meet-up outside of class time is near impossible for me. A lot of this work really needs to be done in person due to file size contraints, the impersonal nature of communicating on-line, and the knowledge-base that is more easily shared in person. Furthermore, a lot of time in the begining of class time is taken up by critiquing the city farm project. At this point, i think it will be more benifitial to just do a final critique at the end of the course and devote more in-class time to working with our groups since it is hard to syncronize schedules.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Project Report - Week 6

We're getting closer to submitting logo ideas to St. Joe's. As soon this is and a color scheme is finalized, it is just a matter of producing content in terms of editing video and graphic standards and templates. There are great logo ideas but as we all know, faces are one of the hardest things to draw.

—What’s going well?
I am glad it was decided we would work as a multi-functioning team because others have great ideas and contributions in the final say of the overall look of the project which is going to end with a great result. It is nice that there is a variety of skills at work here.

—What’s not going so well?
Much of the decision making is made during my work day (8-5) and I cannot participate then. When I have time to devote time to the project, I am already steps behind the new milestones because much of that time is sifting through emails to decipher where the group stands and what is needed. Also, it would seem the conversations conducted in the day have already come to a close before I have a chance to comment. This said, I feel I am 'that guy' that didn't contribute enough and makes a bad name for group projects.

—What are your goals for next week?
After Thursday's brainstorming and graphics session, I will have a clearer sense of the goals for the following week. One of the topics I would like to bring up is the photos that are going to be used in the video and perhaps the website. I would like to bring proofs of all the logos that were uploaded because that will give us a hard copy to mark up. This would also be a learning opportunity for anyone to learn basic photo retouching if we like pictures that are too dark or not quite right.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Project Report - Week 5

In the previous week, the St. Joe's team met at the Humboldt Park location. Although the clients pretty much reiterated what we already knew they wanted, it was nice to hear it first-hand. It was also really good to see some of the volunteers and students in action as well as get a feel for the community there. In the previous week, I did a mock up of a new logo, and submitted some interview ideas for the video. Brian C. seemed pleased with my ideas as the video may take a narrative feel and should include stories of the difference the program has made in the participant's lives.

What's going well? - The feeling of doing good for the community is a great experience. Also, getting to know some of peers is nice even though I am graduating this term and will not interact with them in regards to the New Media Studies Program after this. The group is smaller than the City Farms group so I think it works better in terms of communication and knowing how the work flow is going sooner.

What's not going so well? - Since the project details giving the client what they want, there is not much wiggle-room for creativity or for my own ideas to come to heed. Also, in regards to the graphics manual, the project seems too limited for a big group to work on because there is not much to produce. Unfortunately, because most of us have other courses and full time jobs to consider, we are not all doing similar tasks at the same times. For example, several people may crank out a logo idea before I even have time to sit down and get to it, and when I do, I feel I'm behind the others or not doing my share. My guess is there are others that feel the same also. I am glad that we have moved to BaseCamp because I was spending a lot of time sifting through Blackboard to get a sense of what was going on.

My goals - For Thursday, I will have a logo reiteration done, complete with color swatches. I also have a goal to be more vocal in the team.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Multimodality 2

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Multimodality 1

One of the reasons I’ve been studying different forms of media for so long is because I am interested in how the world works. A lot of my theoretical research boils down to advocating media literacy in less advantaged groups. There are data that shows those with less access technology are at a disadvantage of getting staying informed or being able to reach specific goals. This said, the first half of Gunther Kress’ Multimodality (Routledge 2010) seems to be leading up to advocacy of new media literacy. He notes three features that mark our contemporary media landscape – forms of knowledge production, forms and principles of text making composition, and social and semiotic blurring. These concepts stuck out at me because they recognize that new media literacy entails not only being able to navigate technology but also becoming a participant in authoring and composing new media as well as understanding how society is negotiated through communication.

I kept returning to Kress’ explanation of how simple grammar can signify positions of power under a lens of social-semiotics. He writes that the first part of the question “I wanted to ask, could I have an extension for my essay?” distances the speaker from a weak position of not being able to complete a task by putting in the past tense. Furthermore, when this question is auditory, there is nuance in inflection and tone that give the receiver of the message cues of its meaning. I would say this translates into atheistic design choices as well. Kress touches on the concept that choices in color, form and mode are part of sign making and meaning making in multimodal communication. Kress only mentions creativity in passing but it is fairly obvious that a good design by the sender can incite interest of the end of the receiver. For that reason, if a message is to be welcomed by a specific group, the sender needs to be aware of their audience, its culture and the signs that are meaningful within it.

Kress writes that he has a problem with the notion of universals like the ‘universals of language’ or the ‘universals of communication.’ He writes that “the universe of cultures and of cultural difference on our small planet is too vast for such generalization.” While I agree with the whole of this, it does not mean that we cannot make sense of different cultural modes of communication and meaning making, especially when concepts of globalization makes virtually everything so accessible and leads to repurposing. This is to say that there can be one end message – say new media literacy for example – but the way the message is presented can - and needs to - change for each intended audience. The message sent to inner city kids advocating media literacy may differ from the message intended for rural citizens which shouldn’t be the same campaign for the elderly.