GrC 452 Final Essay

Matt Delmanowski GrC 452 12/12/08

GrC 452 Final Response In regards to Tom’s blog post, “Keeping up with Technology in the Classroom”, I felt that it was very well written and brought up some really cool and important thoughtprovoking ideas. I personally take a lot of pride in being a Graphic Communications student, and I feel that many of my classmates share that same enthusiasm. I think we are extremely lucky here at Cal Poly not only because of the great hands on experience, but because many of the teachers in the GrC department are knowledgeable about our major and they are very much aware of the future of our industry and that changing technology is an integral and inevitable part of it. Understanding these changes within the industry seems as if it’s becoming more and more important as technology becomes more advanced. I think Tom understands this and he reflects this in his article.

At one point he states that Graphic Communications is “all encompassing and conveniently expandable as our industry progresses.” I couldn’t agree with him more, and this is one of the reasons why I chose to become a GrC major. I wanted to do something that had many different options and career choices, and allowed me to experience many different things. At first glance I thought GrC just entailed printing and page layout, but once you really look into the classes that are offered here, it is definitely much, much more than that. GrC deals with so many different forms of media and design such as print, web, photography, video, animation, etc, etc…and all of these are continually expanding, making Graphic Communications a very broad term. These days it seems that most majors are extremely narrow and are becoming more and more specialized, so to me I find it refreshing that GrC is the complete opposite. In order to stay ahead in our industry we must constantly be aware of all the other aspects that fit under GrC.

In my complete honest opinion, I think that GrC 452 was an important class for me to take. I originally signed up for the class because I needed the units and it sounded somewhat interesting, and I really wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting myself into. However after the first couple of class meetings I was pleasantly surprised because it was much more interesting and exciting than I initially anticipated. I’ve always been interested in pursuing new forms of media, and I feel that this class definitely helped spark my interest in video and web production. This class also helped cement the idea that online and digital media is and will continue to be a viable and important part of Graphic Communications. At the beginning of the quarter I had little to no experience in Final Cut Express and web stuff, but by the end of the quarter I was comfortable in all the programs we used and I felt like I really improved a lot and learned some extremely useful skills.

Tom also discusses in his blog about the fact that he implemented the use of FTP (file transfer protocol) and subdomains in order for us to upload all of our work online to a class website. At first I was a little reluctant of the idea, but I now think that it was a very unique and helpful experience for everyone in the class. It allowed me to become more comfortable around uploading stuff to the internet, and helped my skills in Dreamweaver. Also, I loved how we were able to keep our work compiled into a single personal blog. I’m almost certain that this will greatly come in handy when we’re applying for jobs, and it’s a simple and interesting way to present our work to potential employers. In addition to that, it was also interesting that we were able to view each other’s work. Though unconventional, I think that it was a great idea. In the Graphic Communication industry it is important to be able to discuss and share your ideas with others, and I liked being able to view (and appreciate!) other students’ work. And like Tom said, it really is beneficial to allow others to be critical of your work. It makes you push yourself harder in order to achieve better results. I also agree with him on the topic of cheating. I don’t think any of us had any inclination of copying other student’s work. The work we did was all so creative and different, it would’ve been more difficult to recreate someone else’s work than to make your own anyways. I personally was excited about most of the projects we did, and I took pride in designing and creating my own videos and animations. By creating a class blog, I think it was awesome that Tom was able to implement learning between the students, and it was very beneficial to all of us it seemed.

Overall, I strongly believe that more classes like GrC 452 should be taught at Cal Poly in order for our industry to continue progressing. These new technologies are becoming the norm in terms of communication and human interaction, and will continue to grow for many more years. As far as actual print goes, I think Tom says it best when he says, “Print will be a part of how we communicate for years to come, it will evolve to work with many of these new technologies.” I too feel like print is here to stay. While web and digital video and photography are great, there’s still nothing quite like a physical printed piece, because its something we can touch and feel, and it exists within our actual three-dimensional world and not within a computer or television monitor. While interactivity on the web does help, it will not replace certain types of printing, especially in terms of things like product packaging, which cannot be digitized. But I am definitely excited for what the future holds for our Graphic Communication industry, and I think we are lucky to be a part of the change that is going on within it.

Project 6 — UGS Promo Video

:::Objectives:::

The objective for this weeks project was for us to design and create a short commercial/informational video about University Graphics Systems, better known as UGS. We were once again given some video footage of the pressroom and interviews of the UGS managers, and we had to arrange it into the commercial using Final Cut Express.

:::Procedure:::

The first thing I did was to take the stock video and edit it down into smaller clips. I found short scenes that I wanted to use and I put them on my timeline. From there I was able to arrange those clips into a better sequence. I did that until I had the commercial all lined up, and it made more sense verbally and graphically. After that I made the intro with the UGS .png logo, and made it so it scaled down to the bottom-right corner for the rest of the video. I also did a little color correction on it using an effect in Final Cut. Next I tried importing the song “Immaculate Heart II” by American Analog Set to use for the background music, but I had some trouble with it so I had to rip the music off of a CD instead and convert the file to AAIF. I put that into Final Cut and added some fade in effects and lowered the dB volume so the people being interviewed could be heard more easily. I then did a little more editing with the video so it lined up with the music and I exported it as a Quicktime movie.

:::Video:::


UGS Promo from Matt Delmo on Vimeo.


:::Summary & Conclusions:::

This project was sort of cool because we were given a lot of different resources and we each got to make it into our own video. To me it seemed a lot like our Creek Day project, but this one was longer. I found it to be a little more challenging and time consuming to work on a longer video, because there’s a lot more elements that you have to keep track of. Also, for some reason my audio track got really messed up when I converted the file. I was pretty bummed, and I have no idea what happened. However, I still got some good experience with Final Cut but I'll probably go back later and fix the audio problems.


:::Closing Thoughts:::

I personally didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the other projects, probably just because it was really similar to the creekday one. The audio problem in mine was also probably part of it. But it was still good practice!

Project 5 — WiHire Splash Video

:::Objectives:::

In our fifth project, we created another promo video in Final Cut Express, however this time it was for the new company WiHire. They needed a short splash intro clip to put at the beginning of all their videos on the WiHire website, so two representatives of the company came to our class and asked if we could each do one. As an added bonus, if they decided to use one of those clips the person who created it would receive a fifty dollar gift card. This was cool because it gave us a little more incentive to win. We were pretty much free to design it however we wanted, just as long as the clip included their logo and was under ten seconds long.

:::Procedure:::

My first order of business was to extract the content that I needed from the Photoshop files that the WiHire guys provided us. First I had to find the layers of the logos I wanted, and then make cutouts of them by slicing them and saving that specific part as a .png file (so the blank space would be transparent in Final Cut). This was a little frustrating when I imported them to Final Cut because the background color of the transparency would be slightly off, and so I eventually figured out that the reason for this was that there was a drop shadow in the .psd files. I had to go back to Photoshop to turn off the effect and resave the slices. I then chose some appropriate music and edited it so it fit within the 10 second timeframe. From there I was able to begin arranging the logo elements into a sequence and added transition effects so it was synchronized with the music. I had a few ideas of what I wanted it to look like going into it, but a lot the content was spawned from trial-and-error and me trying out different things.

:::Video:::


WiHire from Matt Delmo on Vimeo


:::Summary & Conclusions:::

Since the clip only had to be a couple of seconds long, it didn’t really seem like it was going to be too tough of a project. But once I got started, it was definitely more in-depth than I originally perceived. This is probably because the project was somewhat open ended and we could do a lot of different things with it. Also, since it was such a short video content-wise it allowed us to pay more attention to minor details, and the $50 gift card made it a little more competitive too. I didn’t want my clip to be anything too crazy, because from the splash videos I’ve seen on other websites I personally prefer it when they’re clean, sleek, and simple (WiHire seems like they’re going for a legitimate business look, so I thought it would be best to make something that fits with that profile).


:::Closing Thoughts:::

I definitely was interested in this project and really wanted mine to look nice. It was more of a real life scenario where you would be working with a company and trying to find a viable way to best promote what they stand for. I feel like I learned some cool things by making this clip and I’m pretty stoked about how it turned out.

 

Project 4 — AT&T Flash Ad

:::Objectives:::

In this project we continued working in Flash to create a fake animated advertisement for AT&T. We had to take the Photoshop design comp and turn it into the Flash animation.

:::Procedure:::

Kevin again helped us through this project step-by-step, which was quite beneficial. We started in the Photoshop comp, and took all the different elements and put them into Flash by converting them to symbols. This allowed us to animate the text for movement and other action. We took the symbols and moved them at different key frames and inserted motion tweens to give the moving effect. By doing the tweens at different times we were able to control the sequence and timing of these movements. After that Kevin showed us how to code the “Learn More” button in Actionscript and how to make it have a rollover effect.

:::Video:::



:::Summary & Conclusions:::

I’ve done some Flash work in previous classes, so I thought that this project was pretty easy because I already understood a lot of it. However it was still a good experience hearing Kevin explain how to do things the right way. I’m pretty sure everyone learned some import things about Flash, and it was really helpful.


:::Closing Thoughts:::

This project wasn’t as cool as the other projects, but still fun. I really like Flash and I want to learn more about it, so this was definitely good practice.

 

Project 3 — Flash Video Player

:::Objectives:::

For our third project we started working in Adobe Flash. Our objective was to create a customized flash player for our iPod video from last week and upload it to the internet.

:::Procedure:::

It seemed to me that Kevin helped guide us through most of this project, which was actually quite helpful. He started off by introducing some of the basics of Flash and showed us how to use preloaded video player components that are included in flash. We were able to change the color and rollover effects of the buttons and skins, which was pretty cool. After that we finished with the player skin we put our video onto it and then began placing and naming the various elements and buttons of the player. The next step was to code the buttons to do their specified functions by using Actionscript. That part wasn’t too bad with Kevin helping us. Then we saved it and put the html code and the .swf file into Transmit in order to upload it.

:::Video:::



:::Summary & Conclusions:::

Many of us weren’t real familiar with Flash, and so for many of us it was a good learning experience. Learning how to use the given elements in flash was really helpful, and overall I thought it was really cool how it related to our previous iPod project, and that we created the movie AND the player.


:::Project Significance:::

I have had moderate experience using Flash, but this project taught me a lot of things I didn’t know. I thought it was good to learn how to make a customized Flash player, because you could make the skin and the elements match the theme of a particular website or something. Also, I think it’s good for marketing yourself and branding, because you are able to put your logo on it and have it link to your website.


:::Closing Thoughts:::

I liked the project, and it was nice having Kevin in to guide us. Now every time I watch movies on the internet I’m like, “hey, I know how to do that!” Pretty awesome.

 

Project 2 — iPod Commercial

:::Objectives:::


In this second project we were instructed to design and create one of those iPod commercials with the dancing figures. We were able to get some members from Cal Poly’s Hip Hop Congress club to perform dance moves in front of a green screen while being video recorded. With that footage, we had to edit and cut different scenes, and key out the background to make a commercial.

:::Procedure:::

I started this project out by taking the given video footage and keying out the green background by messing with the ChromaKey filter. This allowed me to tune out the green and make it appear black with only the dancer visible. Once that was done I put a black bar on the side of the screen and reduced the halo around the dancer. Once I had it looking ok I applied a sepia filter and changed the color of the dancer to all black. After that was done new color layers were added to make the background different colors. My next step was to edit the footage and shorten it down to just 30 seconds, and apply the audio track. After I had the video looking how I wanted I added multiple dancers by copying that segment to a new video layer and moving the dancer in the wireframe mode. The moving icons were also added afterwords by using the pen tool to create a path for it. Lastly I added some slight effects and transitions to help the video flow smoother.

:::Video:::


:::Summary & Conclusions:::

This was an interesting project that gave some good insight into how green screens can be used to create cool effects. Also, I think it was good that we learned how to make other effects like the moving icons and different backgrounds. Overall it was a lot of fun and I feel like I learned quite a bit.
:::Project Significance:::

This project was intended to give us experience with other features and abilities of Final Cut. We learned how to key out backgrounds and change its color using the ChromaKey filter and a green screen. We also learned how to change the background color and to make multiple dancers by using new layers. Green screens are used a lot today in filming and television, so I thought it was really cool that we were able to see firsthand how it works and what goes into getting that effect (gotta love Cal Poly’s “learn by doing” philosophy).


:::Closing Thoughts:::

Yeah, this project was waaaay cool! I never would’ve thought that I could make something like an iPod commercial, so I definitely enjoyed doing this. I didn’t think it was too bad in terms of difficulty, however I did have lots of problems with rendering in Final Cut for some reason. I was nearly done with the project, and every time I went to render it I would get that little rainbow spinning-thingy and my computer would freeze up, and so I’d have to restart it. I also tried opening up the files on a different computer, but all I would get is a pop up saying “general error”. Sooo I don’t know what the heck happened, but it’s really frustrating. Other than that, good times!

 

Project 1 — Creek Day PSA

:::Objectives:::

For this first project we had to make a faux public service announcement in Final Cut Express using given video footage. The announcement was regarding Creek Day, and revolved around creating a commercial that appeared professional and informative. It had to be 30 seconds long and include certain graphics, text, and audio. Other than that, we were free to be as creative (or uncreative) as we wanted.


:::Procedure:::

To start out, the first thing I did was to import the narrative audio track so I would know exactly how long the announcement was supposed to be, and so I could line up video segments to correspond to the audio. I did some minor editing to the track in order for the sound levels to be heard at an appropriate level. I also added in some background music which I found on the server. After that I basically just browsed through the given video to find good footage to use for the PSA, and then trimmed them down to a specific length. I started at the beginning of the PSA and worked chronologically to the end. This step was probably the most time consuming for me, because I wanted my scenes to match up with the narration and to transition well with the music. Next I added the phone number and web address at the end of the announcement along with the required graphics. Finally, the last step was to add transitions and effects to the cut video. This was to make the video look smoother and helped to blend the different scenes together.


:::Video:::



:::Summary & Conclusions:::

Overall I felt that I had few problems in completing the public service announcement. This was my first real experience using Final Cut, however I think that it’s a pretty straight-forward program. I personally thought that it seemed kind of like a mix between Adobe Flash and Garage Band in terms of its controls and functions, and its interface was fairly simple to become acquainted with. I liked the project and enjoyed the chance to be able to explore Final Cut. The only criticism I had towards the project is that I would’ve liked to have had a few more minutes to apply some fine-tuning, but I learned a lot and that’s what matters most.

:::Project Significance:::

The basis of this project was to help us become acquainted with the fundamentals of Final Cut Express. It incorporated audio and video editing, and it gave us a pretty good feel for the controls of the program and the logistics of it. In addition to that, I also learned about adding graphics and transitions into my PSA, which I thought was pretty cool.

:::Closing Thoughts:::

Fun project, learned a lot. I also liked how we uploaded it to the internet…I emailed the link to my mom. Yeah, she was pretty stoked.

Sample Link


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