Final Paper: Response to Tom's Manifesto

Since my first day in the Graphic Communication department, the same question has been brought up again and again in different forms: What is the future of print? Is print going to die? Are we headed for a paperless future? I think first and foremost, one must define one’s scope of “the future.” One hundred years ago, there was not the proper context for an average American to image the possibilities of our world. A Blackberry, a plasma television and a GPS system were beyond the scope of what was thought possible by the average person. So, if we are asking, “Will people still need printing 100 years from now?” then the answer is a resounding, “Who knows?” For all we know, all trees will be protected by the government and paper will be outlawed. Instead, let us focus the question of print’s role in the future by defining the future as the next thirty years.

I will jump ahead to my ultimate conclusion and then double back to explain. No, I do not believe print will become obsolete in the next thirty years. I do believe that more and more items will go paperless, namely business forms, bills and classroom readings. The “green” movement is proving itself to finally be a movement that the average American can get behind, and soon enough it is going to be a financial impediment to be seen as environmentally unfriendly, even if you are not in a field which is known for breeding bad polluters. Electronic paper and its correlative, the hand-held Kindle-style e-book, are going to make newspapers and magazines into completely different creatures, business-wise. In the future, one might need only purchase a given magazine once, and then hook it up once a month to a wireless connection so that the next issue could be placed on the pages.

For older folks, there will of course be a sense of reluctance. For many, reading contains a tactile element lost while scrolling down a screen. Spreading open the Sunday paper is a tradition for many, a tradition they will not want to lose. For younger folks, reading the computer screen is more palatable than reading a large, ominous textbook. The necessity for younger readers is more about improving the light and contrast for better situations for alleviating eye strain. Teenagers less than a decade younger than me have grown up with even more rapid technological advances than the ones I observed in my younger days. These kids have never owned a CD player and do not see the worth in a computer that does not have a working internet connection.

These young consumers seem less likely to demand more paper than my generation, and since there is currently a downward trend in printing consumption, it stands to reason that it will continue. However, I believe that, for at least the next few decades, certain printed items will be too “sacred” to eliminate. Diplomas and certificate meant to bestow honor upon the recipient will still be printed on fancy paper with gold foil and raised lettering. Bibles will still be printed and left in motel bedrooms. Cops are still going to print tickets.

“That being said,” to borrow a phrase, it is important for Calpoly’s Graphic Communication department to carve out a section of itself to focus much more on web programming and design. Yes, Graphic Communication will still need to expose students to printing, as well as prepress and bindery. However, the industry is constantly moving more toward automation and further away from craft. So, the GrC department must ask itself if there is still worth in having students hand bend metal to make dies for the Kluge die-cutter.

The future is web design, Flash animation, and interactive communication. Calpoly simply does not offer enough courses to allow someone to major in web design. The university’s motto is “learn by doing” and if one wishes to work as a web designer, than they should do that which they hope to learn. I took GrC 339 and I’m glad I did. I discovered a passion and felt like I gained a truly competitive edge. Then, that was it. I did not have a lot of other options. There is a CSS-based class but it did not working scheduling-wise. I took this class, GrC 452, and I’m glad I did, because, once again, I found something I really enjoy doing: writing, filming and putting together short movies. But, in a little over two days, I graduate and that is it for my formal education. In some ways, and I understand that this is more a reflection upon my education than a supposition regarding the future of GrC, I feel that I had to fill up brain space with a lot of out-dated information and that much too late in the game, I found out what I wanted to learn and learned it. I would have loved a curriculum much heavier in print design, web design, animation and video editing than in actual printing and prepress. I know that learning those things makes me a better designer, because I now understand the end process and its capabilities and can thus make better initial decisions. Yet, I feel like I just did not get enough opportunities to be guided in the sharpening of my design “chops.”
What can Calpoly do? Well, for starters it can acknowledge the legitimacy of teaching the internet in a scholarly manner. A concentration dedicated to web design would be a good start. It could include programming courses, web business courses, and classes on search engine optimization.

The trouble is that the information is so new and constantly changing that the old paradigm of textbooks and historical research do not hold up. Perhaps this is connected to the fact that younger students do not want to read large textbooks (I guess that could have always been true.) I for one did not buy a single textbook this quarter for any of my classes. This could be remedied by taking a more modern approach and requiring students to buy a subscription to Lynda.com instead of textbooks, with tutorials instead of assigned reading. Technology is constantly changing and sometimes the instructors have to struggle to stay a step ahead of the students. This is tough to remedy. I like that we had a guest speaker this quarter that was fresh and young and on the cutting edge of the industry. That’s what the school needs to do. Let the young teach the young. Kyle Olsen has been teaching 339 this quarter, and it sounds like a lot of people learned. If our generation is both the creator of the tools, trends and content, and we are the consumers of it, we ought to be the teachers as well. Perhaps Calpoly must figure out how to build a better network of students helping students learn the newest things around. Maybe then, graphic communication can feel safe about its role in the future.

SLO County Creek Clean-up Day Video- 10/10/08

:::OBJECTIVES

My main objective was to understand the very basic elements of Final Cut Express, namely how to cut video into desired segments, how to transition between those segments and how to add audio into the mix. Also, since the original video had a specific purpose, my secondary objective was to make a video which served the purpose at least as well, if not better. So, I attempted to use around 15 clips and the music provided to make a 30 second advertisement for the San Luis Obispo County Creek Clean-up Day Video. A final objective of mine was to learn how to use Vimeo for the purposes of video storage and sharing.

:::PROCEDURE

Using the clips provided by Tom Antl, we were asked to make a 30 video advertising the San Luis Obispo County Creek Clean-up Day. From the clips provided, I had to pick at least 15 and add in the voiceover and background music. I set down the audio first and attempted to find a background track that would set the mood I was aiming for. I wanted a video that seemed like the kind of things parents of young children would be interested in. Once I had my voiceover and background vocals, I tried to find clips that worked with the pace of the words and music. I chose to only use special transitions at the end and to have hard transitions between scenes that switched with changes in the music. I placed the painting, the logo and the text and worked with them until they were the right sizes and in the right locations. Then I sat back and watched my video.

:::MY VIDEO


SLO County Creek Clean-up Day Video by Danny Saucedo from Danny Saucedo on Vimeo.

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

Had I had a bit more time, I think I could have made the video a little sharper and a little more interesting, but considering it was my first attempt at creating something within Final Cut Express, I'm happy with the end result. I'm anxious to move on to the next project to see what I can do with a more complex project.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I think the project's significance is pretty self-evident. This was our first real foray into the world of Final Cut (for most of us at least). This was my first chance to make a "professional" video, and I think I already learned a lot about the process. This video will be my benchmark with which to observe my improvement. I can take whatever videos I make in the future and look back at this one and see how much I've learned.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

This lab was challenging, but fun. I feel like Final Cut Pro works from a different paradigm from the Adobe Suite, so it may require more adjustment time before I really feel comfortable. So much of it still feels a little counter-intuitive, though, there's also a fair amount that is quite obvious and logical. Making this one video has already started me on analyzing the way that local advertising is edited and put together. I'm excited to see where this class takes me.

 

"Up in Arms" iPod Video- 10/21/08

:::OBJECTIVES

My main objective was to grow my understanding of Final Cut Express, including the editing of clips, audio and transitions, and the use of duplicated and altered elements. My secondary objective was to create a unique look for my video. So, I did my best to adhere to the parameters of the assignment and use the techniques we were shown in lab, but I still tried to find something that made it special for me and more than just a recreation of the classic iPod commercial.

:::PROCEDURE

We started with a video of the Hip Hop Congress getting down to some dance music in front of a green screen. Using the techniques taught to us by Tom Antl, we removed the green and were able to isolate the dancers. This, coupled with solid colored backgrounds, allowed us to make the basic iPod commercial that we all know so well. I chose to use clips that showed Rachel Churny dancing, since I know her. I was really interested in experimenting with the doubling up feature. I took clips of Rachel twirling her arms and doubled them up over and over again. I was pleased with the effect and so experimented with it a second time. This time I also experimented with changing the color of my dancer. This turned out slightly differently than I expected, but I was still quite pleased. At this point, my video did not suit the audio that was selected for it. So, I slowed it down even further and set it to a Beirut song. Beirut's music is influenced by Balkan music and old Parisian music. I felt that Rachel's dancing was reminiscient of that style so it felt right to put it all together.

:::MY VIDEO


Hip Hop Congress - "Up in Arms" by Danny Saucedo from Danny Saucedo on Vimeo.

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

First and foremost, I'm happy with my video. I only wish I had had more time for experimentation. I would have liked to have been able to cut the video so that it fit the music exactly. With more time, I might have included some text. It would have also been cool to cut back and forth between my ideas or to have more complicated graphic interaction. However, when this assignment was first given, I assumed the best I would be able to accomplish was a rudimentary copycat of the classic iPod commercial. Instead, what I ended up with felt unique and interesting. I felt like I took an idea and ran with it.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I think the project's significance was its de-mystification of the whole process. The iPod commercials stand out as these bastions of good design. They're crisp and captivating and there was something very new and cutting-edge about them. So, to find out that, in a few short weeks of experience with Final Cut, we were able to do the basic things necessary for the creation of something so good was very reassuring. The success of this project will be a real help in my approach of the next project.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

I'm glad this lab came early in the quarter. It was a real morale booster as far as making me believe that I will be able to create complicated video projects. This lab makes me think that all it takes to make a really professional video is time and lots of video (and, of course, an understanding of editing). We were a little limited in both areas. If we had enough video we could, obviously, pick only the best looking, most dynamic segments. Of course, in order to deal with the necessary amount of video, we would also need a lot more time to go through and edit all of it. That is not to say that any of this is a shortcoming of the course or assignment, but rather this is a benefit of professionalism.

"Up in Arms" iPod Video: Flash Edition- 10/30/08

:::OBJECTIVES

My main objective was to the basics of Flash and its capabilities. Once I learned what the day's assignment was, my objective became to figure out how to best present my video in flash format. Having only opened flash twice in my life, I was really just looking for a little context, so that I could learn the basic navigational skills to figure out how to, on my own, expand my knowledge and competency within Flash.

:::PROCEDURE

We started out by re-exporting our videos in a more compressed format than the version uploaded to Vimeo for the previous week's assignment. This is where I went off track. Tom and I thought that everything was taken care of with the video, so I re-exported, however, the audio was still offline, so my video did not export with the music I had put it to. This would later disappoint me. Anyway, without knowing it, I continued on with an inaudible video through the rest of the steps in the process. We experimented with customizing the look of our video. We were shown the various ways that one can display their videos and how to execute those methods. Then we worked on our actual videos. We also learned how to draw within Flash and how to place non-video elements.

:::MY VIDEO

(Here is the failed version of the video with a customized skin, but no audio.)

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

I like my customized skin. I think it suits my video well. I was a little disappointed by the fact that the skin did not snap to the edges of my video, it's just a tiny bit off, but it is not terribly noticeable. I was also very disappointed by the lack of audio, but it was a simple mistake, so I'm not freaking out about it. Also, I was really pleased with my ability to draw within Flash. It has a weird handling to it, but I was able to create more or less what I had in mind.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I think the project's significance was to give me a fresh new look at Flash. My only experiences with it were brief and I felt unsure of what to do within the program. This was a start over, and having an experienced person talk me through it really helped. So, this project marks the beginning of what I hope is some fluency in this program in the future.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

My only closing thought is that I'm excited to continue our Flash lessons. I have long been interested in Flash, but just haven't learned it. I'm really looking forward to knowing more about how to use Flash since it seems like a really awesome program.

AT&T Flash Ad- 11/5/08

:::OBJECTIVES

My objective was to increase my competency in the basics of Flash, increasing my knowledge of its limitations and its capabilities. While working on the assignment, I additionally worked on an abstract animation, where my goal was really just to have some fun with the softward. On both the assignment and my own mini-assignment, I was just looking around trying to get my barings.

:::PROCEDURE

Since we were recreating an existing AT&T advertisement, we first started by looking at the real advertisement to see what we were up against. We then went through Photoshop in order to create from scratch the elements we were going to need in Flash. We opened up Flash and learned how to work on different layers and how to apply "tweens." We went through and place all the elements on the background. We apply some motion to the text and then placed our button. For the button we applied Action Script so we could program the button to look different ways under different conditions, and so that it would achieve our goal once it was clicked.

:::MY VIDEO

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

The more I work within Flash, the more I realize that it is something like the lovechild of Dreamweaver and Photoshop's Animated Gif tools. I could have created the bulk of the ad in Photoshop and still had the same amount of animation. I could have created a button with rollover capabilities that linked to something else in Dreamweaver. However, I could only have done all of that within Flash. In the end, I had a versatile, dynamic and useful advertisement.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I have come to really appreciate the breadth and depth of Flash's capabilities. Already, I can imagine so many ways to use Flash to achieve personal goals. While working at my summer internship, I was asked to make a lot of banner advertisements, and most of them were supposed to be animated. Since I had no Flash experience, I did it all within Photoshop's Animated Gif toolbar. As an intern, I don't think it mattered that I wasn't capable of working on the "bleeding edge," but as an employee at a design firm, or in my case at a record label, it will be more than just useful to know Flash, it will likely be necessary.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

Working on the small mini-assignment I gave myself was a surprisingly easy task that I was able to squeeze in between moments of working on the real assignment. I was shocked at how clean and professional my shot-in-the-dark actions ended up looking. I showed my roommates and they were very impressed. I am now going to have to go out and buy this product, because I think that with a little bit of practice and tutorial textbook, I could really get into this.

Wi Hire Splash Video- 11/13/08

:::OBJECTIVES

Originally, this assignment was given out as a Final Cut project, but once this became fair game as a Flash project, my objective became to take my idea and make it a reality within Flash. The assignment was to create a five second splash introduction for videos which will be displayed on the Wi Hire website, a social-networking style job-search website. My objective was to make something simple and dynamic enough to be memorable but not overly noticeable.

:::PROCEDURE

Since I'm still new to Flash, I decided to sketch out my idea in detail, first, so I could figure out what my different elements were and how they would need to move. This gave me an idea of what I needed to create within Photoshop. So, I then opened Photoshop and chopped up the company logo until it was broken down into all the seperate "pings" I needed for my Flash animation. I then went into Flash and created the frames I had sketched out. In order to get the "sliding out" effect, I initially created three layers: the "Wi" half, a white layer behind it, and the "hire" half. The "hire" half slides out from behind the white layer, but it appears to slide out from inside the "Wi" half. Then, I just animated in the symbols above the "i" and I was done.

:::MY VIDEO

 

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

Working once again within Flash only re-inforced my opinion from last week that Flash is like a suped up version of Photoshop's Animated Gif tools. This time around, I did mostly what I would have done in an animated gif, but faster and with a cleaner end result. I did not experience any difficulty carrying out my original idea. Had I been given more time, or rather, had the assignment been for something longer than 5 seconds, I have no doubt I could have used Flash to expand on my current idea.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I think the significance here was that we all created something real and useful in a surprisingly short amount of time. I now feel confident that, were an employer to ask it of me, I could create something of this caliber as easily as I could do any other Adobe task. With time, I think Flash will be as much a part of my reperatoire as any of the other Adobe programs.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

Having worked now within Flash once again, I can say that I'm really starting to enjoy it. I've already begun piecing together in my mind the ways in which Flash websites are put together. I look at sites like Homestarrunner.com, which is entirely Flash based, and for the first time, I can say, "Oh, I see how they did that." And now I think, "a little more practice and I can do that." So, practice I will.

UGS Promo Video- 11/19/08

:::OBJECTIVES

The assignment was to create a minute and a half long promotional video for UGS. We were to create it from clips of UGS employees being interviewed and footage of the Heidelberg press being set-up. The stated objective, I would assume, would have to be something along the lines of "creating a short video explaining and persuading someone to do business with UGS." My personal objective was to use the time well, that is to say, not include "dead" time or flubbed words. At only a minute and a half there isn't time for little flaws. Furthermore, I gave myself the objective of ensuring that I had a good soundtrack and that the footage fit well with that music.

:::PROCEDURE

The first thing I did to start working on this project was to watch Tom's video. I did this to get a basic understanding, firstly, of what was expected of us. Secondly, I wanted to take a look at the footage in context to see what I might want to do with it. Next, I sought out the right music. We were provided music from a current sports commercial. I found it to be a bit too theatrical, so I searched for something different. I found a track by "Dr. Dog" that suited my tastes. Then, I created a clip the right length to match up with one beat of the song. Then I copied the clip over and over again, and sped them all up. Then I used the tool which "drags" the clip around, so that I could change the clips. I then made a longer clip of an interview and copied it over and over and dragged it around. I through clips over the cuts to provide transition and then I through the UGS logo on either end.

:::MY VIDEO

:::SUMMERY AND CONCLUSIONS

In summation, this project ended up being a lot easier than I expected. I thought that filling a minute and a half was going to be tough, especially since I had spent the last few weeks on Flash, doing small projects. Even while watching Tom's video, and looking at its component parts, I thought for sure I'd be spending hours and hours in the EPL Open Hours to finish it. However, I quickly realized the potential for repeating editing modules and simply editing them once again. Once I realized that, it was simply a matter of choosing what each module would be, and that didn't take too long after all.

:::PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE

I think the significance here is that, even after weeks of not using Final Cut, I was able to easily get back into the swing of things and get my point across. Since one of my objectives, as listed above, was to pick the appropriate music for the footage, and then, more importantly, to fit the clips to the music such that they seem like they go together. Since I'm a (semi-)professional musician, this gives me hope that I'll be able to put together my own music videos and multi-media projects.

:::CLOSING THOUGHTS

I would like to think that, given the footage available, I did a good job of presenting a positive and professional face for UGS, which is what I imagine the point of all this was. I don't know if it would really convince anyone to work with UGS, but I think it's certainly possible. I enjoyed completing this, it was easier than I'd hoped, and I hope UGS enjoys it.

Storyboard: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4

 

 

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