PPRD 2 – 2nd Year Reflection

June 12, 2009 at 3:17 pm (Evaluation, PPRD 2)

My first year wasn’t the best year of study I’ve ever accomplished, although to an extent I feel that’s always the case when something new is involved, as it takes some time to adjust. The second year is where it all starts to connect. The main goals for this year were to gain much more technical knowledge of the software I intend to use (music production and graphics/motion graphics), as well as gaining a proper plan for my next steps in life after the course. To a certain extent this has been achieved, although due to mitigating circumstances I haven’t been able to focus as well as I would have liked too of during crucial periods of the year. This has been an unfortunate stress on my mind, which I do believe has had a negative effect on my work completed over these times.

The year started really well with some innovative and exciting projects, mainly the Motion Graphics unit. The brief looked to utilise all the skills I had gained studying Graphic Design at college, typography, use of space and balance and timing, something I know all about as a DJ. I chose something I would stay enthusiastic about, a drum and bass track called Deep by TC (Roni Size Remix). It’s fast, exciting and keeps the listener on their toes whilst appealing to the right target audience.

Because the lyrics are so fast I decided early on not to complicate things with imagery, and as this was kinetic typography that worked just fine. The main focus of the work would be the transitions between words and the attention to detail when considering timing and font choice. I spent many a late night trawling trough type fonts to find the right ones for the right words. But this pleased me in ways; attention to detail is something I’ve always been strangely interested in.

The process of making it was intense from start to finish. As well as the number of words I had to animate, I wanted each one to come in perfectly in time. This was a majorly important aspect in the success of the piece, as it would have looked rubbish out of sync. Key framing each movement was time consuming to say the least, and then working out how each composition would link together smoothly was at times near impossible. But I stuck at it, and was so pleased with the final outcome. I feel it’s precisely what I wanted to achieve and it almost couldn’t have gone better. I just wished I could have done it to the whole song!

After Effects was also a program I really wanted to expand my knowledge on, and the tutorials we had really helped develop my understanding of the program, however minimal it may still be. I feel much of my work in future will use After Effects, and next year will concentrate on progressing even further in the area.

Advanced Web Design was a unit I was originally dreading, although by the end found it quite a challenge. I have to admit, this is something I’m not usually interested in and so found it hard to gain enthusiasm at first, although as we got into it it became more interesting. I still wouldn’t pursue a career in it but it certainly developed my knowledge in something I knew very little about. There are many cool things you can do with coding I’m sure but it’s just something I don’t find hugely interesting.

The unit focused on developing our understanding of Action Script 3, and whilst it did do this, I still don’t understand it to a comfortable level. The logic behind it’s fine; it’s the definitions and structure I can’t seem to grasp. A complete dictionary of terminology with explanations would be immensely helpful when learning coding.

The brief asked us to pull an RSS feed from the Internet, which would then transform a set of random graphics using Action Script in Flash. As the feed would need as many changing numbers as possible I chose to pull a feed from the Premier League table, using the clubs emblems as the images. From the table I picked the teams overall points, number of games played and goals scored as the information used to manipulate the images. After much tweaking of the code, it almost did what I wanted it to do, although the unit was not about the final piece, it was about starting to get to grips with coding.

In complete opposite to Advanced Web Design, the Sky project looked fun and imaginative whilst still firmly industry based. The brief was to come up with the next step in Sky Interactive entertainment, something new and out of the box. Our group’s idea focused on two areas, a social networking site and motion tracking control of the interface. At first it sounded sweet, but from the feedback we got it soon became clear there was only one thing we should be concentrating on, the social networking aspect. This for me is the natural progression in how company’s connect with their customers, as the demand for on demand viewing services and social networking sites will only continue to grow as time passes, so why not merge them? I honestly believe this could make a huge amount of money for a company like Sky, and feel it’s only a matter of time before something like this is made.

The unit was presented to Sky for real at their base in London. It was an incredibly useful insight into working with a client in real life, and I think we all learnt a lot from the opportunity. One of the main things I learnt from the unit was the power of a good presentation. It’s so much easier to express your ideas when you have a real understanding of what you want to say. I was pleased with the feedback we got from Sky; they agreed it certainly seemed like the next step in online entertainment and feet if the idea was developed it could be a huge success.

It was when we got the briefs through for the Professional unit things started to go wrong. At first it took me ages to figure out what I wanted to do, and then I needed to save £400 for the software I needed to complete it. The original idea was to create a short DJ mix using Ableton Live, with an accompanying VJ style promotional video for the purposes of distribution. By the time I had saved the money and made the mix (which was incredibly fun to make using Ableton, I’d had my doubts as a vinyl DJ but great program, worth every penny), I’d had a family bereavement and was in an unfit state to complete my work.

In ways this helped me understand where I actually wanted to go. I needed the kick to get me doing what I always to do, organise and promote my own music event. This quickly became a reality, and so it seemed the sensible thing to do would be to incorporate that into my Professional unit. As well as organising the event, I designed the promotional material and will complete a short promotional video and a set of motion graphic pieces for promotional uses on the web. This is a live project, and will give me bags of experience where I wouldn’t gain any otherwise. I’m fully committed, the flyers are printed and the acts are booked, it has my full enthusiasm and I want that to translate to the course. This is also a long-term plan, as we plan more events in the future.

Another added bonus to this is as we get more of a reputation we can start introducing visuals to the equation. I’d love to try VJ’ing and this could be a goal I can focus on achieving throughout my final year on the course. I feel this is something I can really get my teeth into and contains many prospects for progressing my technical abilities in areas I’m interested in. We have plans to expand to areas such as Brighton, Bristol and London, and there is even scope to produce media such as magazines and mix CD’s, and events such as festivals given the right business plans and appropriate time. As this unit is still ongoing and won’t be handed in till august there will still be much to reflect upon after completion, although even then it won’t be over. The work will be based upon the first night and it’s promotional material only.

I feel there is much still to learn over the next year, and much I heed to do to progress my career plan into a reality. I definitely feel it’s possible and within reach, it all hinges on the progression of my technical abilities to achieve my overall goal. The focus will be on motion graphics and VJ’ing, with promotion and event organising as a side project for live experience. I also aim to start music production as I feel this is another aspect I need to learn in order to complete an all round set of skills that should assist me through my professional life.

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