Semester wrap up

You’re wondering mostly if I’m able to ever get anything done in time for deadlines, and if I’m putting the most hours that I can into the project that I’m working on. You’re wondering why my work is so inconsistent.

Mid-Term Assessment

  1. At this point in the semester, I definitely predicted that I’d have less hours that I currently do, so by the end of the semester I’ll probably be way over my predicted practice hours.
  2. I don’t think that my idea of sophistication in my work has changed; it still involves a lot of clean work, with a lot of visual language and a clear idea in the presentation of what information is the most important. I think that the general movements that I had within my animation were sophisticated, although it was hard to catch all of the little mistakes that ended up happening before turning in the final report. I thought that the overall layout  turned out really well, and I worked really hard to make sure that there were no extraneous movements so that I could emphasize the right information. I also really liked my color scheme and the weather icons that I created.
  3. I already knew some of the really basic stuff within AfterEffects, but this project really helped to expand my knowledge of what different effects could be done, as well as how to work with compositions within a project, since I hadn’t done that before. I also really had to think about movement frame by frame, and try to get the timing down in a way that wasn’t rushed or too slow.
  4. I think I would have liked to play with the ease in and ease out feature a bit more.
  5. I’m not sure how one measures value; what unit would that be in? I think this project has a lot of creative learning value. I think that it ranks higher than the stop motion animation that I made for George’s Image Methodology class, because while that one also used AfterEffects, it didn’t really go in depth with all of the effects that the program is really useful for. I also think that this project ranks above a similar information project, my seafood flowchart, since both deal with motion within information, although through different methods. I think that the flowchart ranks higher than the stop motion animation though, because it deals with conveying a large amount of information visually, like this weather report. The biggest difference between the flowchart and the weather report is that I felt I had more control over the information in the animation, and it led to more creative challenges in movement than the flowchart.
  6. I feel like my creative “me” is probably about 40 percent myself, but I feel like the rest of my processes are influenced half and half by the teacher and my peers. I’m just a really internal person, and I really value outside perspectives, but the majority of my processes come from me, since I hate to rely on other people’s ideas too much.
  7. Do you have any suggestions on where to look for internships?

Visual Identity: Mark

This mark project involved going out into the world! We chose one place out of a list provided, and as mine was the Barton Creek Greenbelt, I had to visit this place, collect information, and create a design identity that could then be represented in my mark. This project being the first step in introducing me to the concept of “branding”, I had the most trouble with figuring out how best to convey the identity that I created, which was that the Greenbelt is a place for exploration and finding new things. I had so many ideas that touched on exploration. Eventually I chose to abstract the trails within the Greenbelt because I found that navigation was a key part of exploring the Greenbelt. I also had to play around a lot with the shapes of different Gs that frame the trail, in order to find one whose shape provided a good round contrast to the straight lines of the trail, and context to the overall map.

The Weather Report

The idea for this project was to show a lot of data on a screen and be able to use motion in a way that emphasized certain parts of that information. Using the weather data from four different cities of our choosing, we had to make it clear whether location, weather, or time had hierarchy over all of the other data during each segment, without making any data actually disappear. I based the order of my information on the flow that I thought made the most sense in terms of transitioning from one hierarchy to the next, so I showed where all of the cities were, introduced each of them by time, and finally ordered the days by weather. My decisions were based upon how I could make the text the most legible throughout the whole animation. While there are several bugs still in the actual motion pieces, I think that my flow of information and the weather symbols that I created made it an easy-to-follow weather report.

Process Work/Research for Visual Identity: Mark

This process work, from which I’m including several sound clips, images, and initial writing, was prescribed in order to help me formulate several of my design directions for my Mark project. By visiting the Barton Creek Greenbelt and experiencing it in these different ways (through hearing, sight, and writing respectively), I was able to formulate several different design directions. In my research, I really wanted to determine what stood out to me the most while I was visiting, that made the Greenbelt distinctive from other places in Austin. As seen below, my visual focus was on a lot of the trails, which was one of the design directions I ended up discarding later in the process. The sound recordings and the writing really stood out for me later when I decided to go with exploration as my design direction.

I’m standing at the beginning of the trail near the Barton Creek Greenbelt Entrance on 360, one of the seven that I found while I was researching access points. It is exactly as I remember it, although the circumstances are far different. The overpass of the highway still looms to the left of the hidden parking lot, and although the cars driving on it are close, the sounds are somewhat muffled and they already seem farther away. The trees all carry that dusty southern feel to them, despite the coolness of the afternoon, the heavy moss growing on the tops of the tree branches, and the sound of a large amount of water flowing quickly down the hill. It is very likely that it is my memory causing them to feel like this, since the first and only time I’ve ever come to this place was years ago, in the molten middle of summer. The weather at the moment however is quite pleasant; the sky is blue and the leaves are green and birds are singing everywhere, although I can’t see them since they flit by too quickly.

I start down the trail, made up perhaps once of rough gravel but now mostly of the footsteps of past hikers and way goers, whose boots packed the dirt into the clearly defined trail that I continue to follow down the hill. The sound of the river gets louder and I know that it’s the river because of my previous visit from years before (which may take some of the surprise away and might slightly be considered cheating). The bird calls also start to become numerous as I start moving out of the brush and into more open spaces. Coming alone now is so different from when I was here last, sweating in a line of other eleven year olds who came to learn about how the greenbelt worked.  

The water is very clear, and very blue with the bright sky above it, and I can see straight down to the bottom, even in the very deep areas. Just as one would expect from spring water. The last time I came here, we were in the middle of a drought. Parts of the riverbed had been dusty and dry , with a sluggish stream instead of the snake of water that runs beside me now. My favorite part of the greenbelt from my previous trip had been a tiny waterfall that we had been lucky to find in all the dust. That waterfall is what I aim to find now that I’m back.

My first challenge appears when I run out of path. The first ten minutes of walking has been leisurely, since the path is very clear and there isn’t a lot of undergrowth blocking my way. However, I reach a dead end when a tiny creek about ten feet wide appears in front of me, and on the other side of it I see the broken end of a bridge that my eleven-year-old self clearly remembers crossing. So now I’m stuck. I take the opportunity to look around a little bit more at the side trails that I’ve been seeing to my right, and find one that follows the creek that I’ve encountered and now I see that there’a little crossing if one doesn’t mind getting their feet a little wet. Obstacle number one has been overcome.

Obstacle number two is more gradual. As I keep walking along this new path the trees change into thick cedar groves, and the undergrowth on either side of the path becomes thicker. It’s also taking me further away from the sound of the river, and although I know that the rapids are supposed to fairly loud, I can barely hear them through the trees. Altogether I start to feel more lost, but the trail is still fairly clear. Or at least I think it is…

It’s actually starting to get thinner, and the trails keep branching off to different sides. This is when I decide that I’d like to see water again, and I take one off to the left. Thankfully, this trail opens up and I can hear the water rushing again, and finally I can see the river, althought there’s still plenty of underbrush blocking me from being next to it. I keep following my little dirt trail, and cross a little rocky stream, and I start to think that things look familiar again.

Finally, there’s a tiny opening in the undergrowth, and I have to duck a little to get through it. But when I come out on the other side, there is the large pebbled beach that I remember, and the one dead tree that clings to the side of the river, and to  my left there is the waterfall that I’ve been looking for, ten times bigger than the one in my memory. It’s loud, and it’s flowing quickly, and the water swirls by the pebbles on the beach where I stand and gurgles around the dead tree’s trunk. The water is still clear, but the turbulence plays tricks with the light in the water and makes it hard to see just how deep it is. The sun is high, and I’m warm from having walked so far, although thankfully nowhere near as hot as I would be in the summer.

My final obstacle is simply finding my way back to the beginning of the trail, and the whole walk goes much quicker now that I know where I’m going. Throughout the whole hike I’ve barely come across more than ten people. The solitude that I started with at the beginning of the walk hasn’t been broken the whole time, and all of the trails that I have yet to explore only contributed. I decide that I like walking in the greenbelt alone and during the spring much more than when I’m eleven and dying from the heat. I also decide that I’ll be back to find more places to explore.”


End of term assessment essay

  1. I’m not sure how many hours I would consider excessive, since I believe that putting as many hours in as possible is better than doing a set amount per week. I guess a good amount would probably be about 3-4 hours a day, which would give me personally a pretty good amount of time per day to play around with different ideas, and try to come up with the best solution for my project. That way I can also come back to the project every day and look at what  I’ve done the previous day with fresh eyes. Anything less than that would probably result in much less sophisticated work. Two hours day definitely doesn’t cut it, because that’s not enough time spent playing around with ideas. Unfortunately, most of my outside hours were spent on the more complex of my maps, the flowchart, and so I didn’t give myself enough hours to really make the bar graphs and the personal geography map really interesting in terms of design. So for that last week I was spending at least 3-4 hours a day on my flowchart, but not enough on my other two maps.
  2. In terms of sophisticated work, we talked about the simplicity of the information shown, how comprehensive it was in its visuals, meaning how quickly and efficiently could the data be displayed and understood by the viewer. We talked about color a lot, and how it helped the comprehensiveness of the overall map, and of the visuals. Of all of my maps, my flowchart was the most successful, since it had the most comprehensive visuals, didn’t rely too heavily on words, and when printed out I thought the colors were really successful together and fit with the theme of seafood. My personal geography map was successful I think, in conveying its message, and all of the lines and visuals were pretty clear since I used one of the symbols for walking that everyone already knows, the footprints. I struggled a bit with the colors here and I definitely could have spent more time on that, and it wasn’t very rich in terms of information, so I think I also could have added a couple of interesting parts. My graphs were the least sophisticated in my opinion; the colors turned out alright, and the graphics were sufficient, but I wasn’t able to spend enough time on them to really get them above basic default design.
  3. I got the most feedback on my flowchart map, and so that’s probably one of the reasons why it turned out to be the most successful map. I mostly got a lot of feedback on the complexity of my choices, and whether or not I was making them into more than just yes or no decisions. That ended up with me using a rubric within my flowchart which definitely wasn’t something that I thought I was going to use in the beginning. I also got a couple of cautionary comments on the heaviness of the background color, which led to me adding a couple of color accents at the top to take away some of the  weight and add a little more movement to the overall map. I also had some comments on my original graphs, since the way I had presented the bar graph was confusing, so I ended up getting rid of it in favor of a different bar graph.
  4. I found the most challenge in the flowchart graph, and it was the one I cared about the most, so I spent the most time there really trying to work out plausible solutions. When I was able to find the most effective ones (in my opinion), that’s when I was enjoying myself the most. A close second as far as challenge goes would have to be analyzing all of the information from Tony Pierce’s excel sheets; there was just so much information that it was hard to sort out what I wanted to do and what I didn’t, and once I had that information it was hard to visualize it in an interesting way.
  5. I did end up going to the East Austin studio tours and seeing Hollis and Alex’s work on display, but as far as workshops go, I wasn’t really able to attend, either because I’ve been busy working on stuff for other classes, or because the workshops are usually Saturday mornings, when I’m working. I will be submitting some of my copper plate engravings that I’ve been working on for printmaking to the student juried exhibition, since I spent so darn long on those.
  6. My life outside of school has definitely negatively impacted my schoolwork; because I have to work every weekend at home, and because it’s so hard to get days off from my manager, I have a really limited amount of time during the week where I can go into the labs that have Adobe on the server and really work on my design files, and that time became even more limited because I also had to work on my printmaking editions, which I also can only do on campus, and that takes much more time to do. And because I work at Starbucks, and because I have to get up early every weekend after weekdays with little sleep, I have even less time on weekends because I can’t function without napping at least an hour. So overall, just a lot more stress. (I should probably quit.)
  7. When I think of my ideal classroom environment, I think a lot of the environment that I had in printmaking this semester, where all of the work that everyone was doing was hands on, and so everyone would look in on each other’s work just because it was easy to see what other people were working on, and commentary felt really open. Everyone was learning from one another, which I feel represents the ideal class the most. When everyone’s working separately on computers though, it feels very isolated, and unless one person is actively asking others for their contributions, a lot of the students just stay behind the screen, and there’s not a lot of collaboration. I will include myself as one of the hiders, but I did collaborate a bit with other people outside of class time.

Mapping Project: Cognitive Map (decisions decisions)

This was a flowchart project! It’s a fairly simple idea: make a decision map that guides the viewer through a series of choices that answer one question, and end with multiple solutions. We specifically had to graphically display the various choices, the information that went into making those decisions, and then graphically represent the results. Unfortunately I don’t think I incorporated enough graphics to guide the viewer through the decisions solely on symbols. I chose a topic that involves a lot of information that usually could only be conveyed through text, although through the making of it I really tried to narrow the choices down to a couple of words and a symbol for each choice. I also drew a lot of the choices from prior knowledge that not a lot of people know, so I had to be really aware of that when deciding what to include. I used round decision points because of the many directions that each point could take. These round points then led to the underwater theme that makes up my whole flowchart, and really accentuates the theme: seafood.


Mapping Project: Information Map (visualizing information)

Visually displaying a small set of information from a big database was the challenge of this project; I was given an excel spreadsheet of all of the financial records of an anonymous “Tony Pierce” over the course of a year. I then had to isolate specific bits of information from the spreadsheet and map it to come to a new conclusion about this data that couldn’t be found in the spreadsheet. I chose to look through Tony’s records of all of the events and movies that he went to throughout the year, compare the number of events to movies watched, and the price difference between the two categories. By displaying this information, it’s easy to see that while Tony went to more movies throughout the year than events, he spent far more on the tickets to those events than on all of the movie tickets combined.