Saturday, 4 April 2009

Aim High!

With six assignments now in the bag, and only one remaining on the first year of the HND Interactive Media course, I feel now is a perfect time to reflect on the weeks gone by. Both A5: Builder and A6: The Big Picture came with their own degree of difficulty, however, having now successfully completed four assignments I felt I had what it took to achieve significantly improved results.

I went into A5 slightly apprehensive, as coding is something that I’d had no previous experience with. As it turns out my fears were unfounded, taking to the language relatively well. However, I must say that with out the help of the assigned guru’s (in my case Dan Dunsire) I’m sure the whole process would have proven much tougher!

Fortunately, all the hard work and dedication paid off, with A5 receiving a straight pass and A6 a merit! To simply to pass both assignments would have been fantastic, but to achieve the standard that would justify merit grade really pleased and motivated me for the remainder of the year.

Now several weeks into the final assignment my motivation for the course has never been higher, now knowing what is needed to achieve higher grades and having the inspiring result of a merit I feel very confident in the run up to the summer break.

Initial stages of A7: Rasterized (a client based assignment, involving such as the re-design the Raster-Noton logo) have gone reasonably well, although I have noted certain areas that could be improved. A better use of sketchbook work for initial ideas generation have been implemented for all design aspects of this assignment, something I now know is essential in achieving a successful design process.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

R-N092 - Death of a Typographer.

Byetone’s latest release, R-N092 - Death of a Typographer is arguably the most imaginative dance-centric release of the Raster-Noton discography to date. Exploding with all out, action packed digital excellence, containing a creative merge of sound, aesthetics and science. This album really is a true head ‘bender’. The release was recorded in a winter week in Berlin with the exception of pre-released single “Plastic Star” which was created in sunny Athens.

Olaf Ben
der, a.k.a. Byetone, is one of the co-founders of the Raster-Noton label and is also responsible for the sleek, minimalists look of the album labels design. Bender is considered a veteran of the electronic arts, providing an evolutionary, fresh approach in the creation of the new brainwashing beat that is Death of a Typographer. At just 0:49 seconds, track one "Intro Bios" (Intro) provides a brief yet hard-hitting introduction into the albums mind warping sound, consisting of a combined mix of reality and electronic excellence. The constant clash in tone and tempo create a unique bilateral feel, leaving the conscious mind to wander in a trance like state.

With the scene set you’re eased into a zone of electronic hedonistic pleasure. Deep in the underbelly of “Plastic Star” (Session), the spontaneous tone gently shifts up a gear, drifting into what can only be described as electro musical perfection. “Straight” and the tone takes an interesting twist, the initial beat slow and reduced in comparison to the predeceasing tracks. However, as with “Plastic Star”, beat and tempo increase slightly throughout, providing an elevated, hair raising experience. As cool as this may be, the track does become somewhat repetitive by the time the four minutes, fourteen seconds is up.

“Rocky” (soft) and it’s back to the familiar sedentary flourish of ever increasing tempo. By this point in the album a predictable theme is beginning to be set, resembling the pre intended ‘snap shot’ feel. The tracks methodical beat combined with a high pitch beep and flat tone introduction create an intense energetic flow. “Black is Back” introduces a slightly faster tempo from the off, with several short spells of silence. Tone and tempo continue on a climatic build, eventually flattening out to reveal an abundance of eccentric sound which gradually tapers off into smooth fattened tone. This track proceeds to flow perfectly into “Capture This” (Part 1), again increasing in momentum.

However the transition from “Capture This” (Part 1) to “Capture This” (Part 2) was quite the opposite, kicking off with a fast complex tempo, unlike the mild, subtle beat of its predecessor. “Heart” at 7:45 is quite a lengthy track, although well worth the listen and the wait! Familiar in many ways yet individual as all tracks featured on the album, “Heart” drops into a deep, dark sound. The track culminates with what sounds like the exit of the artist, notifying the completion of a masterpiece.

Ten tracks down and you are left mentally exhausted, deeply entwined and intrigued into the fascinating sound that is Death of a Typographer!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Ding ding, round two.

As semester two commenced I received the unfortunate news that A3: Sounds Like a Plan had been referred. To be honest this was something I was expecting and had already prepared myself for the worst! I felt I had a strong package in respect to the academic written work, although I knew that my ideas generation phase of the assignment was weak and inadequate and feared this would cost me a pass, which ultimately it did.

A new submission date was set for the referred work leaving me less than a week to complete a whole new screen design from scratch. Along with the referral work for A3, we had also been issued our 5th & 6th assignments to be cracking on with, A5: Builder & A6: The Big Picture, providing me with a huge amount of work to get through. On a lighter note I received my results for A4: Typecast, which I’m pleased to say I passed, despite making a huge error during the typography exam.

With A3 now completed and re-submitted I feel I can focus my full attention on the forthcoming assignments, having already created a production schedule for both (something I deeply regret not doing for previous assignments). With the addition of this schedule I now have a clear view of the project objectives and believe it will help immensely with my time management and planning.

Moving into our third week of our second semester and we’re now well underway with both assignments, researching our Photoshop topics (curves & levels) for the group presentations of A6 and the introduction to XHTML for A5. I have to say I was quite apprehensive about starting the technical coding side of web design, however I’m really enjoying it so far and believe that I’ll take to it well.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Trial & Tribulation.

Semester one of the HND Interactive Media course is over, and what a rollercoaster it’s been! Having looked back over the last fifteen weeks I’m amazed at the amount of knowledge I’ve gained on the modules covered so far. My enthusiasm for the course (as expected) has remained at a high level from the very beginning and feel confident this will be the case throughout the remainder of my time at Wakefield college. However, my commitment to each assignment has varied considerably, quite often making the mistake of focusing more time on one than another.

The referral of our second assignment (A2: A Journey of 1000 Miles) really knocked my confidence and having been informed this would be the easiest module of the sixteen had me questioning my ability to successfully complete the course, as I feel I’d done everything possible to attain a pass. However, after considering my referral points I realised the amendments that needed to be made weren’t too significant and would be fairly straight forward to correct to enable a pass.

Once A2 was passed and out of the way we were assigned our third and fourth assignments of the first semester; A3: Sounds Like a Plan and A4: Typecast. After reading both assignment sheets I was very excited and eager to get started, although worried that being faced with three assignments running simultaneously with one another I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Also the fact that project planning is not one of my strong points feared I would be unable to dedicate an equal amount of time to each project.

Unfortunately as expected this did in fact become an issue, with me spending the majority of self study time on A3 whilst A4 took a back seat. Hopefully this hasn’t effected my overall grade of the assignments and I’ll be able to achieve my first clear pass of the course, thus allowing me to focus my full attention on the projects ahead. Having now completed a quarter of the HND Interactive Media course I now intend to asses my approach to previous tasks, learn from my mistakes and create an action plan that I can utilise throughout the rest of the course, ultimately making me stronger and more capable of achieving success.

One area of my study I know needs more focus is A1: Sketchblog, an assignment that is ongoing throughout the duration. This assignment involves the use of a sketchbook used to collect pieces of annotated inspiration and develop our early design ideas using evolving thumbnails during the ideas generation process of a project. Unfortunately I often find myself too eager and jump straight into the electronic design phase rather than spend time drafting thumbnails.

I am aware that this needs to change if I’m to attain a pass for the Sketchblog assignment, therefore intend to address this issue by allocating a sufficient amount of time to ideas generation and learn to develop my designs in the correct manor. We are now about to begin our second semester, which to be honest is quite a scary thought! Nevertheless I’m looking forward to it, putting into practice everything I have learnt during the past fifteen weeks.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Back to the grind stone.

I have to say I feel this could be the most difficult post yet, simply due to the fact that it’s been such a long time since the last! The Christmas break was a real double edge sword for me, I was glad of a rest as it gave me time to relax and wind down whilst leisurely getting things in order for A3 and A4, however the time out really did interrupt the flow of the assignments having a strong effect on my get up and go!

Prior to the holidays we were well under way with the mini assignments of A4 and have now completed an additional four to the previous Hokai and Vodafone projects, Type Trumps, Saints & Sinners, Grid and Story. I really have enjoyed taking part in these mini projects and feel I’ve learnt a lot from them in respect to issues such as time management and production/project planning, not to mention the design knowledge and experience gained.

All in all I would say that I’ve done reasonably well with all six projects with the exception of Saints & Sinners! Unfortunately I feel I may have made the mistake of choosing the wrong route for this design and feared turning back and starting over which resulted in a less than satisfactory piece.

We’ve now had our first week back at the grind stone and I must admit I’m starting to feel the pressure with both A3 and A4 deadlines fast approaching. The majority of the work is now complete and I feel that a good few days hard at it should see the end of them, I just hope that everything is in order, no mistakes have been made and that I might actually get my first clear pass of the course.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Perfect planning prevents poor performance.

In general the last few weeks of the HND Interactive Media course have been very enjoyable for me… Not that I wasn’t enjoying it before! It’s just that I now feel like we’re moving more toward the design element of the course which to be totally honest is what I enjoy doing most. Oh and not to forget, we now have the results from our A2 (A Journey of 1000 Miles) referred assignments… Which I’m pleased to say I passed!

The bulk of the academic writing for A3 (Sounds Like a Plan) is almost at an end and feel that the run up to Christmas will enable us to really get creative with our design ideas. Likewise A4 (Typecast) has taken a design twist with the introduction of several mini assignments (with much shorter timescales). Having now worked on two mini assignments (Hokai paint label) and (Vodafone job ad) I’ve become all too aware that my time management skills leave little to be desired!

When you’re working to a 4-5 hour time scale you really do have to be precise with your time management planning, finding yourself quite easily lost in the moment and completely loosing track of time! Personally I think I need to be more stringent with the planning of these mini projects, for example allocating sufficient time for ideas generation, creation, tinker time and print.

Week twelve saw our first presentation of the course, which I have to say, could have gone a little better! Again I think the reason for the poor conduct boils down to the aspect of time management (or rather lack of it) within the group. I suppose I just feel that when you’re working within a team it’s important to be at your best, as it’s not just yourself you’re letting down!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Playing with Fireworks.

Since my last OLJ (Online Learning Journal) entry the HND Interactive Media course have received results for A2. Unfortunately my assignment was referred along with sixteen others due to several minor mistakes. Upon hearing the news my mood dulled somewhat but at the same time felt selfishly relieved that I wasn’t on my own.

Feedback received and I was feeling much better having realised that referral points were few and fairly easy to amend, however now faced the daunting task of submitting for the second time (with no room for error!)

On a brighter note we’ve since been appointed our next task of the course in the form of A3 (investigation into the web design pre-production process) and A4 (gaining an understanding of typography), two assignments that I’m really beginning to enjoy, although the extra workload hasn’t gone unnoticed!

Along with the additional work of completing multiple assignments we now have the added elements of merit and distinction criteria, involving such things as keeping time sheets (which in actual fact is more challenging than it may sound) not in a technical sense more so just remembering to keep a track of what you’re doing and when!

The course definitely seems to have been kicked up a gear over these last few weeks with work flowing thick and fast, from typeface identity exercises to ideas generation with a little added extra thrown in for good measure!

The HND Interactive Media department (years 1 & 2) were requested to put together design ideas for the 2008 Wakefield College Christmas e-card which I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in. This provided a great opportunity to get to grips with the workings of Adobe Illustrator & Fireworks which I had no previous experience with. Fortunately my design has been short listed along with five others, so to say I’m pleased right now would be an understatement!