Planning a Successful Multimedia Project (In 6 Easy Steps!)

Filed in How-to, Multimedia by on March 9, 2010

Have you ever considered working on a multimedia project, but didn’t know where to get started? Or how to finish? Here are some tips for how to go about planning and creating an effective project.

Plan early, plan often: Things to consider.

The first keys to a successful project are to know where you are starting from, and what the project should accomplish when it’s completed. Here are the considerations you may wish to make when planning your project.

For Whom?

For Whom?

1)      Who is the audience for your project? Think about your target age range, and how it affects the complexity of visuals and vocabulary. Consider the background of people who might see your project, and the types of references that will be well-understood. Also, think about any special interest groups who your project might be targeted towards, and the sort of information those groups might find important.

If you are making a project to fulfill a class requirement, remember to consider more of an audience than just your professor. By thinking about who else might see your work and targeting a more thematic audience, your project will be easier to plan and the result will be much more cohesive.

Practical?

Practical?

2)      Consider the circumstances for your project. Multimedia takes time, and usually, quite a lot of it, so be sure that you are thinking about a project that you will be able to accomplish in the time frame that you have. In general, still images and video with relatively few cuts and trims can be done in a short time-frame. If you are adding interactivity, consider web browser technologies like hyperlinks as a fast and relatively powerful means to engage the user. In general, writing  programming code (like Java/javascript/Flash Actionscript) will add development time to your project, but with the benefit of greater customizability.

Weigh the choice of technology carefully, and don’t let a specific bit of software dictate the form that your project will take. Remember that a complex and innovative project that feels rushed and unpolished will not have as much impact as a smaller, more reasonable project that feels purposeful and complete.

Big Picture?

Big Picture?

3)      Write down the message, or intended take-away point, for your project. This may require a bit of thinking, but ultimately, when someone is done experiencing your work, there ought to be something that they are thinking. It could be as simple as “Wow, I wish I was there,” or “I really ought to recycle,” or “So that’s how that works.” Or maybe, you want to create a certain specific feeling, give the user a certain experience, or open up avenues for thought and discussion.

Whatever the case may be, the intent is particularly important. Knowing the intended message will help you develop you project, and it will result in a more impactful final result.

Get it all written down: Next steps

As you develop an idea for a multimedia project, don’t rely on your memory to pull it all back together later. There’s tremendous practical value in converting your ideas into something tangible, even if you don’t think you will forget—putting words to your project will usually help you clarify the planning steps above.

You should, after thinking about audience, practical concerns, and impact, have some idea of what form your project will take. Here are a few of the common documents you may wish to create for a project.

1)      Create a script. The script is simply a line-by-line recitation of dialogue and actions that might occur. It is common to denote people or characters in capital letter, and actions or stage directions in italics, but you can do whatever is appropriate for your project.

In the case of an interview, you won’t know what your interviewee will say, but your own questions should be planned out in advance so that you can be sure that you ask everything you meant to when the interview occurs. Also, it’s a good idea to go back later and note your interviewee’s key points and the times they occurred in the video to make the editing process easier down the road.

2)      Put together a storyboard. This step is frequently overlooked, especially in smaller projects, but it’s a valuable way to plan before you go out and film. You can start with just a series of boxes—use the attached file below as a template, or create your own. Number each box, and write in the “location” for each visual point of interest. Then, make a small sketch, showing what each scene or interaction point should look like. This is where you would want to think back to things like intended impact, and decide what kinds of angles and content would best achieve your goals. If you are creating a static work, such as sculpture or imagery, try doing concept art sketches and reference photos!

Download a sample storyboard template here.

3)      Create a “shot list.” Look through your notes, and decide which materials you will need, and where you hope to get them. You might check out royalty-free stock image/video/sound websites, or you might need to create resources yourself. By writing down what you think you will need and how you plan to get it, you will get a much better sense of the scope of your project.

So, that’s it: three main considerations to think about, and three pieces of documentation to work on. By following these simple project planning guidelines, your project will gain clarity, depth, and purpose. You’ll also find that now you have a road map already laid out for how to do the work!

Below are some additional resources that may help you through planning a product, including tips for faculty looking to assign projects.

WPI’s Academic Technology Center, tips for multimedia projects:
http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/ATC/Collaboratory/Learning/MMP/mmp-tips.html

WPI’s Academic Technology Center, tips for assigning projects:
http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/ATC/Collaboratory/Idea/mm-why.html

Free Digital Media Training Videos from Adobe:
https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/tutorials.html

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