Creating a Multimedia Project: Some helpful thoughts

Filed in How-to, Multimedia by on March 29, 2010

Every project begins with an idea. It might be some thought you’d like to express, a topic you want to explain, an answer to a “What if” question… But once you’ve written it down and planned out what form it might take, it’s time to think about actually making it!

Think about Technologies

This is actually the last step in the planning process, and the first step in creation. You want to make sure that all of the ideas related to the communication of your message have already been worked out before you choose a tool for the job, because it’s going to be much tougher to switch tools partway through your project. As you choose software and hardware to create and implement your project, think ahead and try to anticipate problems.

  • Aside from the main content in your project, will you need alternate forms of media?
  • Do you need someone else’s assistance to create drawings or animations?
  • Do you need to obtain permission for any resources, or purchase anything?
  • Will your project be interactive? Who will test it?
  • Does your project need to be maintained or updated over time?

Get your blocking done first

One major hurdle to avoid is paying too much attention to detail too early in the project. When you get started, it’s important to make something like a “draft” of the whole thing before focusing on the specific details. It’s very easy to wrap a lot of time into getting just one little part of a project done perfectly, and if the rest of the project isn’t getting worked on, you will almost certainly run out of time. It is always best to create something that is a bare minimum representation of what you wish for your project to be, and then start working on the details. This way, if the deadline catches up to you too quickly, you’ll be able to spend the last bits of time you have on adding details, not on trying to just get to the end.

Working on a video?

String all of your materials together first with basic trims to establish the order of the presentation. Add in audio to get a sense of the pacing. Consider what materials may be missing, if any. Once this is all set up, then you work on fine-tuning the timings, transitions, effects, etc.

Working on an image composition?

Create a sketch, even if you’re using only photographic elements. Then lay out (or draw out) the pieces required. If you’re drawing, consider your lighting and shadows as you create; if you’re blending photos, hold off on those details. As you put together graphic elements, feel free to deviate from your sketch—the initial drawing is there help you to pre-visualize the piece, and to rationalize changes; not to constrict your creativity.

Working on an interactive project?

Consider all of the ways in which the user will interact, and be sure that these methods are accounted for first. If you are writing you own computer program, make sure that you have written methods to accommodate every kind of interaction you need (clicking on objects, viewing animation, text entry, dialogue boxes, keyboard and mouse movement controls, and so on). If you are using a devopment tool (like Game Maker, Flash, etc), make sure that you know how to add the functionalities that you need, and set up as many as you can in advance.

Once the working framework is in place, treat your interactive project like any of the others—put all of you materials in first, and worry about timing, color, graphical embellishments, and so on after you have a basic, working project.

Get help early, get help often

It’s hard to plan the timing and division of work for a multimedia project if you don’t know what sort of work you will need to do. As early as possible, make sure that you learn about the tools that you will be using, and specifically, be sure to learn how to do any special effects, user interface tricks, image blending techniques, etc, that you think your project might need. Once you get working on your project, you can lose a lot of time if you have to stop to learn something that has turned out to be more complicated than you expected!

Have fun

Doing a multimedia project is often hard work, but it is creative work. If you’ve followed the planning steps from a previous blog post, you block out your project before diving into the details, and you look into learning the tools in advance, you will almost certainly find the process enjoyable.

The Academic Technology Center at WPI offers workshops and web pages for students, faculty, and staffto help with learning teaching and learning related technologies.

For more info about worshops (for the WPI community), see http://www.wpi.edu/Regi

For our Teaching with Technology Collaboratory, see http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/ATC/Collaboratory/

For our Learning with Technology Collaboratory, see http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/ATC/Collaboratory/Learning/

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