UX “S U C K E R S” Final Documentation

For my UX design final, I decided to continue on with the project that I’d been doing for the entirety of the course that I plan on eventually applying to my capstone. However, despite the fact that it is the same project, it’s changed so much since the course began that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought it was a different one entirely! For starters, in the beginning, the project was originally called The Art of Peace (in pieces), and while this may seem like an artificial change, it ultimately came down to the same thing that a lot of my changes were motivated by: the user research that I did simply didn’t indicate that people were all that interested in playing a video game (i.e. the “in pieces” bit of the title).

In fact, despite my initial impulses to completely gamify the experience, when asked on a scale of 0-10 the importance of having a game component to the success of the project, the score averaged out to ~5.58, showing a degree of apathy considering the alternatives (needing a game component to consider the project a success and not having a game component to consider the project a success). In addition, when asked on a scale of 0-10, how much of a gamer one would consider themselves, responses averaged even lower at only ~4.08.

But yet, those two responses drastically changed the direction of the project… Not only did it change the name from Art of Peace to S U C K E R S, it helped me reduce the number of personas I had to focus on to two in particular, it allowed me to simplify the number of interactions that I would have–which ultimately also impacted my user flow and “app map,” and it helped me focus my wireframes (both pen + paper and digital) and visual prototype to just interactions that had to do with playing video and the location-based components of the project.

Ultimately this is all just to say that I found the User Research phase of the design process quite helpful, potentially even the most helpful of the stages that I went through. And now, since I’m going to continue on with this project for my capstone, I’m pleased to have some more skills in my toolset. In fact, since giving my presentation, I’ve started another survey and started to circulate it through different social media channels. Though, I will say, that this time around I’m going to try harder to get respondents that I don’t necessarily know as I didn’t quite get as much feedback as I would’ve liked from the last survey. I also plan on definitely getting more one-on-one user testing now that I have a higher fidelity prototype, since the last time I did user interviews they weren’t quite the level of professionality that I would normally strive for: they weren’t recorded and the basic wireframing of the app made the responses much more abstract since the app’s direction was still in limbo considering that I still wasn’t that sure about if I was going to include the game aspects or not yet.

On another note, I was also quite pleased with the course because it enabled me to really get in the trenches when it came to defining the visual/artistic direction of the project. I’m extremely proud of how thoroughly I was able to design the aesthetic of the project, especially considering how early I am in to this capstone process! I loved searching through the depths of the internet to try to find the coolest retro UIs and pixelated icons, and even though I wasn’t able to include some cool finds and extra work that I did to make elements that worked with my overall artistic vision, again, I look forward to adding them as the year goes on!

Any how, here’s the link to the current Behance of the project and I hope you contribute to the new survey!

Michael Chang Capstone Documentation – Town

This documentation report will detail the conception, development, and execution of my IMA Capstone project: Town.
chrome_2017-05-05_21-34-10

Overview:
Town is an environment exploration experience that utilizes photography mechanics as its core feature. It is a game constructed in Unity that supports virtual reality headset controls, and is meant to be played with the use of a special trackball mouse controller. Game play is designed to be simple and intuitive: players will be given a “tour” of a city by maneuvering a ball-shaped character around a ring shaped track. Pressing a single button will take a quick snapshot of the city’s environment- But from the ball character’s perspective, not the players.

Inspiration:

The concept for Town came from an interest in video game photography. Recently, modern video games have begun implementing photography features into their games as an incentive for players to express their favorite in-game moments. However, these “photo modes” are little more than just that- a mode where the player can pause gameplay and take photos where they could control depth of field, add filters, and maneuver the camera. They had no contribution to the main content of the game

The aim of Town was to offer players the opportunity to take in-game screenshots that weren’t so manufactured. Instead of letting players capture carefully orchestrated and thought-out photos, Town would surprise players by showing them screenshots from unconventional angles and perspectives.

Photos:

A total of 419 screenshots were taken during development. Below, I have organized them by week to help illustrate the progress I’ve made since Week 6.

Week 6:
This is one of my first screenshots. This was taken using the first draft of my screenshotting script. After taking a series of trial photos, what needed to be changed/streamlined became more obvious to me.

chrome_2017-05-24_13-53-45

Week 7
Finally replaced the wireframe skybox with an actual blue sky. That alone made my pictures look much more pleasing, but in reality that kind of improvement was superficial. There was still a lot more work to be done. I needed to design an environment that matched the aesthetic I carried in my head when I first decided to take on the challenge of Town.

chrome_2017-05-24_13-54-11

Week 8,9
Changed the skybox to a more cozy sunset. I also began adding more buildings to the environment. However, when the photo camera would activate at odd angles, serious clipping issues would occur. Here, you can see the Church clip into a tree.

Screenshot_190

Week 10
By putting restrictions on the camera’s Z axis rotation, I was able to ensure that photos would not be taken from beneath the environment’s plane.

chrome_2017-05-24_13-56-58

Codes Developed:

The code for capturing screenshots is as follows. By attaching this script to the secondary ball’s camera, screenshots will be taken from the ball’s perspective rather than the perspective of the main perspective/VR headset perspective.

First draft:

 

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;

public class Capture : MonoBehaviour
{
// Store more screenshots…
private int Screen_Shot_Count = 0;
// Screenshot taking by touch the button.
public GUITexture Capture_Model;
public GUITexture Show_Screen;
public GUITexture Close_Screen;
// Check the Shot Taken/Not.
private bool Shot_Taken = false;
// Name of the File.
private string Screen_Shot_File_Name, Path_Name;
private string File_Path, Origin_Path;
private byte[] Bytes_File;
private Texture2D Screenshot;

void Update()
{
if (Input.GetMouseButtonDown(0))
// Finger hit the button position.
if (Capture_Model.HitTest(Input.GetTouch(0).position))
{
if (Input.GetTouch(0).phase == TouchPhase.Began)
{
// Increament the screenshot count.
Screen_Shot_Count++;
// Save the screenshot name as Screenshot_1.png, Screenshot_2.png, with date format…
Screen_Shot_File_Name = “Screenshot__” + Screen_Shot_Count + System.DateTime.Now.ToString(“__yyyy-MM-dd”) + “.png”;
Application.CaptureScreenshot(Screen_Shot_File_Name);
}
}

if (Close_Screen.HitTest(Input.GetTouch(0).position))
{
if (Input.GetTouch(0).phase == TouchPhase.Began)
{
Screenshot = null;
Shot_Taken = true;
}
}

if (Shot_Taken == true)
{
Origin_Path = System.IO.Path.Combine(Application.persistentDataPath, Screen_Shot_File_Name);
// This is the path of my folder.
File_Path = “\\Users\\User\\Desktop\\Screenshot” + Screen_Shot_File_Name;
if (System.IO.File.Exists(Origin_Path))
{
System.IO.File.Move(Origin_Path, File_Path);
Shot_Taken = false;
}
}
}
void OnGUI()
{
if (Input.touches.Length > 0)
// Finger hit the button position.
if (Show_Screen.HitTest(Input.GetTouch(0).position))
{
if (Input.GetTouch(0).phase == TouchPhase.Began)
{
Path_Name = System.IO.Path.Combine(Application.persistentDataPath, Screen_Shot_File_Name);
Bytes_File = System.IO.File.ReadAllBytes(Path_Name);
Screenshot = new Texture2D(0, 0, TextureFormat.RGB565, false);
Screenshot.LoadImage(Bytes_File);
}
}

if (Screenshot != null)
{
GUI.DrawTexture(new Rect(Screen.width / 2 – 200, Screen.height / 2 – 150, 400, 300), Screenshot);
}
}
}

 

This code proved less than optimal. Using this script, screenshots would freeze the entire game’s gameplay for 1 second while it saved the photo to the designated folder. I needed something more seamless and quick so that taking photos would not take up so much time.

In response, I made another iteration of the code.

Second Draft:

 

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;

public class TakeScreenshot : MonoBehaviour
{

public bool controlable = false;
public float moveSpeed = 1;
public int resolution = 3; // 1= default, 2= 2x default, etc.
public string imageName = “Screenshot_”;
public string customPath = “C:/Users/default/Desktop/UnityScreenshots/”; // leave blank for project file location
public bool resetIndex = false;

private int index = 0;

void Awake()
{
if (resetIndex) PlayerPrefs.SetInt(“ScreenshotIndex”, 0);
if (customPath != “”)
{
if (!System.IO.Directory.Exists(customPath))
{
System.IO.Directory.CreateDirectory(customPath);
}
}
index = PlayerPrefs.GetInt(“ScreenshotIndex”) != 0 ? PlayerPrefs.GetInt(“ScreenshotIndex”) : 1;
}

void Update()
{
if (controlable)
{
if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.W) && Input.GetKey(KeyCode.LeftShift))
{
transform.Translate(0, 0, (moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime) * 4);
}
else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.W))
{
transform.Translate(0, 0, moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime);
}
if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.S) && Input.GetKey(KeyCode.LeftShift))
{
transform.Translate(0, 0, -moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime * 4);
}
else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.S))
{
transform.Translate(0, 0, -moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime);
}
if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.A))
{
transform.Translate(-moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime, 0, 0);
}
else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.D))
{
transform.Translate(moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime, 0, 0);
}
}
}

void LateUpdate()
{
if (Input.GetMouseButtonDown(0))
{
Application.CaptureScreenshot(customPath + imageName + index + “.png”, resolution);
index++;
Debug.LogWarning(“Screenshot saved: ” + customPath + ” — ” + imageName + index);

}
}

void OnApplicationQuit()
{
PlayerPrefs.SetInt(“ScreenshotIndex”, (index));
}
}

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Room for Iteration:

The environment I created didn’t match the aesthetic goals that I envisioned at the start of work. Above all, I would like to take time to gradually improve the game environment little by little. I would also like to perfect the movement of the ball character using the rolling-ball mouse.

Implementing an in-game gallery to view screenshots would also be an excellent addition.

Acknowledgements:

Unity Forums

EyeImagination

PrimativePro, a plug-in that lets you edit meshes and shapes inside of the Unity UI, instead of in Blender

Blender forums for helping me model a bench!

 

Capstone Documentation

Awake Project Documentation

The project

The project “Awake” is an experimental virtual reality experience, that consists of the usage of the HTC vive Headset and the body of the user as a controller, this was achieved by using biological sensors and the arduino, which is an open source hardware platform. The goal behind this was to create an experience where mind and body where both being attended to in the virtual world, Guided meditations and biological visualizations where two instruments that were used to achieve this goal. With the advancement of technology everyone talks about how this takes us away from being closer to others and experiencing life, this has been a huge topic of controversy over the past 10 years and I want to argue with this project that technology can actually be used to enhance our experience.

Initial ideation:

Creating a virtual reality experience in which the user can use his body in order to affect the objects in his surroundings and thus visualizing his levels of calmness or concentration, while being guided through meditations and mindfulness exercises.I was inspired by my journey through my 4 years in college where i dedicated much of my time to technology but at the same time was very close to the spiritual side of things and took some experimental mind and body classes in new york city. This was a way of bringing those two things together, allowing technology to ultimately help my spiritual guidance. Users of this experience i predicted would be able to even if for just a while take their minds off of their daily loops.

Initial expectations

At the beginning when i was researching to put together the hardware and software that i needed for this project I ran into some research by MIT media lab in which they were using a EEG scanner which is sensor that detects electrical patterns in your brain and transforms that into data. When i first saw this i flipped out and thought what the majority of people would think, Holy crap i can use my brain to control things in a computer. But like almost always sometimes things seem too good to be true and when i did some further research in Emotiv which is the name of the company that produces these EEG scanners I found out that things were not as they seemed. The computers were not “reading your mind” they were in fact trying to identify similar patterns of electrical impulses when you thought about something specific. For example you could raise a concentration parameter by thinking about concentration but not actually concentrating. So this was the thing, It was not really reading if i was concentrated or not it was just reading if i was thinking about it. So my initial dreams of recording levels of concentration and Calmness were destroyed. The idea was to have the subject in a room in the middle of the galaxy and that through his levels of concentrations could allow himself to get rid of all physical things in the VR world and start floating through the galaxy.

What actually went down

So after my dreams were destroyed by what at this point i consider “Fake” brain scanners I starting thinking about ideas to replace this that were closely linked to concentration, and then i thoughT HEARTBEAT! So i started investigating what were the possibilities of using your heartbeat in order to modify the virtual world inside of VR. So i finally found a sensor that could track your heartbeats and that was compatible with the arduino Uno which was perfect. So the plan was to use the heartrate of the users in order to effect certain objects in the virtual world but I found that piping in information from the arduino to unity was not as simple as I thought, so it transformed into more of a heartbeat visualizer inside of VR. The rest of the experience was enhanced by guided meditations and virtual interactions in the space room.

Naomi: Capstone Documentation (Greenspan)

**** NOTE ON LATENESS!! So so sorry, had saved post as draft to add last minute stuff to, forgot to post!

Ideation:

The idea for my capstone project took over a year to finalize. Initially I had planned something much more ambitious. Though I always intended to work with Augmented Reality interwoven with animation for my project, my initial intention was to create a 3d animated scavenger hunt that would guild the user throughout the city of Shanghai using a map and geo-markers. However, time limitations, as well as my own skills and lack of a team, made creating something so huge impossible.

Over months of thought and downscaling led me to the idea of an AR Children’s book. This would allow me to create something that, at its core, was based in the same skill sets and ideas I wanted to center my project around — animation, storytelling and augmented reality.

The Evolution Through Process:

During the creation process of this project, I found my project evolving a lot. My initial idea was to follow in the footsteps of existing AR books, mixing 3d Augmented experiences with 2d illustrations in a book. However, during the early planning stages, I realized I wanted to make something that was more grounded in building off of the story itself, and thus less gimmicky than other AR books I’ve seen in the past. I also wanted my augments to work seamlessly with my illustrations, so I decided to work in 2D instead of 3D. Likewise, I realized I wanted to focus on my augmentations and animations, making these things the focus of my project. As a result, I decided to work with LayAR, a relatively simple, easy to work with augmented reality creator website, instead of making my own application, instead of working in Unity as I had planned at first. While in the future I want to make my own app, for the purposes of this 10 week project I wanted to focus on doing a few things well, instead of sacrificing quality for the sake of quantity.

The Story:

I kept the story for the project very simple. It is as follows:

Harry is an eight year old boy who has just moved to a new town with his mother. He loves video games and comic books and to draw. He is very creative, but very shy. On his first day of his new school (the day depicted in the story) he is terrified, until he makes a new friend, a happy-go-lucky, gutsy little girl named Milly. She helps him to not be so scared of his new surroundings.

The way that my project tells this story is through a layered narrative. The pages of the book itself show Harry unhappily going about his day. Everything appears as it should in a day in the life of an average eight year old.

The augments provide the second layer of the narrative. When each page of the book is scanned with the LayAR app, a GIF animation overlays on the existing page. These animations depict the way that Harry’s over-imaginative mind is seeing his surroundings.

The Process:

I decided to ‘write’ a simple story that needed very little text, so that I could make the illustrations and augments the centerpiece of the project because AR is a largely visual medium. I chose to draw half of my illustrations first, then went over them to augment the images. All of my illustrations and augments were drawn/animated using Photoshop CS6.

In order to get the best experience given my choice of compositing software (LayAR) I created GIF animations for the augments instead of videos, which provided a looping experience for each page so that the reader wouldn’t be too held up my augments and could continue reading at will.

The project was composited by importing each image into Layar, and then overlaying the GIF animation on the page, so that when the user scans the physical book page with the LayAR app, they are able to see the augmentations.

Harrys_First_Day

PRESENTATION SLIDES

p01  p01augmented

 

Max Bork Capstone Documentation — Social Credit

My project started out significantly differently from the way it concluded. In this documentation I will start with a brief explanation of my original idea, including original inspirations, research ideas, and project planning. Then I will explain why that idea changed, including feedback I received from professors and peers, as well as the move that I made to switch my project. From there I will explain inspiration for my current project and give an overview of the original idea for my second iteration, based around the Social Credit System. This portion will include my plan for my project, how the project evolved and finally concluded, what I would like to improve in my project, and an explanation of my research paper and its connections with my project.

 

I will also elaborate more fully about my process itself and the flow of my ideas and the learning that I did in order to accomplish what I did with this project. That will include the evolution of my thought process as well as an explanation of those people who assisted me and the sources that I used.

Finally I will conclude with a self evaluation of my project compared with my original ideas. I will also evaluate all that I learned in the process and elaborate about what I would have done differently in the process.

The Original Idea — My original idea was to focus on internet censorship in China. I wanted to use the idea of the “Great Firewall”, a name used to describe China’s online censorship regime, to explore censorship. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a real physical wall, and using the physical characteristics of the structure itself to impress an idea, namely the idea of the pervasive nature of censorship in our everyday lives. I was particularly inspired for this idea by a previous project that used the Kinect to interact with a person’s silhouette and projectors. I was impressed by this project because it seemed like an IMA project, it fit the parameters very well and it also was exploring a similar idea. I liked that it had a strong physical component that allowed users to interact with the technology, enhancing the overall ideological effect.

Some of my original inspiration, including Liu Bolin hiding in sunflowers

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 9.16.43 AM2H2A4222Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 9.21.53 AMScreen Shot 2017-02-13 at 9.16.43 AMliu-bolin-sunflower

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 9.21.53 AM

liu-bolin-sunflower

2H2A4222

Firewall03-2b

I was also inspired by the works of Liu Bolin, a Chinese artist who is famous for “hiding” in a background by painting it onto himself. This realm of contemporary Chinese activism really got me thinking about how I could involve my project in the dialogue of Chinese politics, particularly surrounding censorship. Because from the beginning, I knew I wanted my project to have a political backdrop. I think IMA is at a unique crossroads between the humanities and technology that enables us to use our knowledge of technology and new media to express complex ideas that would be difficult to get across with in more conventional ways, such as academic papers. That’s not to say that an academic paper is not valuable or worthwhile, but I think something like these capstone projects can significantly add to the overall experience. I wanted to use this unique position to enter the fray of a political debate that means a lot to me personally. Internet censorship is certainly that, and now that I have done more additional research, I have found that social credit is perhaps even more urgently important, and it is also perhaps more topical at this moment in the contemporary Chinese political environment.

Moving forward with my idea to impress the pervasive nature of online censorship, I was considering having almost like a cave sort of structure that people could walk into. The idea that I had was to project images of deleted social media posts onto the wall, so that it would literally be a wall of censorship. I wanted the physical size of the wall to carry the weight of the unseen background of censorship in everyday Chinese (and international) society. In early feedback sessions this idea was changed and improved upon several times. Professors and peers gave me new ideas like trying to somehow involve the Mexican American border wall in my idea, and making the wall have projections on both sides. I liked these and many others. Professor Fitzgerald also convinced me that it would be better to use screens rather than projections. Seeing as I have little to no experience with projection mapping, and I was starting to realize the full scope of all I would have to accomplish, I agreed.

My original research paper idea was strongly influenced by research that I did last semester at the NYU New York campus with Professor Lily Chumley in her class: Culture and Media in Urban China. My research in her class categorized some of the many different political usages of censorship in China. I categorized censorship into three primary groups: active, reactive, and preemptive. Within these categories I examined how censorship can be used for a political weapon. This was the idea that I wanted to explore in greater detail in my capstone paper. My research for Professor Chumley provided an excellent basis for this project, and in the end it also helped me with my final idea, not only with sources but also simply as a set of experiences to draw upon when formulating my new idea and doing my new research.

A Screenshot of my final research for Professor Chumley

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.39.10 PM

The Switch — I will now explain a bit about why I changed my idea from the Great Firewall to the Social Credit System. It was primarily feedback from peers but also Professors Shirky and Pudasaini that pushed me to make the change. The biggest problem with my project was not necessarily a technical issue, because I had reservoirs of deleted material, a plan about how to display it, and a fairly reasonable timeline, but rather the idea and corresponding metaphors. The problem as I was made aware was with the directional nature of the idea of the Great Firewall. To portray internet censorship in China as a literal wall that keeps outside information from entering China is not only incomplete and incorrect, but it is also potentially problematic. Portraying censorship in this way assumes somehow that external ideas (namely western and liberal democratic ideas) are the most important and relevant in the Chinese government’s decision to censor the internet. Looking back now I should have realized that at the outset, particularly given the nature of my research for Professor Chumley. After getting a great deal of constructive criticism on the subject, I realized that I was at a sort of ideological dead end, and I had nowhere to turn so to speak. So I decided to change my idea to something more theoretically sound and also more politically topical and fresh.

With this in mind I sent an email to the IMA faculty outlining the problems with my project and proposing two ideas for a new project, one of which was Social Credit. Professor Shirky responded, prompting me to go the direction of the Social Credit System. I was hesitant to change my idea so late in the game because of previous admonitions against this and also because I knew that it would be good to stick with an idea from start to finish, but in the end it still seemed like the best thing to do. Additionally, there is quite a bit of existing scholarship surrounding internet censorship in China. Social credit on the other hand, being a relatively new and unexplored topic, does not have as much existing material. I thought this was good because it meant that my research could potentially have a greater impact on the overall academic and political conversation on the topic. This was appealing to me and I got positive feedback on it. I also chose to switch to social credit because it had many ties to my original idea, which meant that I would not be switching my entire frame of reference. Both were generally Chinese political issues surrounding technology and popular use of the internet, and I thought this particularly relevant for the context of IMA. With this I began my new sojourn into the Social Credit System.

Social Credit — Now that I had my new idea I felt a great deal better about my project. I felt that my theoretical basis was much more sound and it had a very positive effect on me to have the explicit support of Professor Shirky and others in the department, including my peers. But strictly speaking, there was not that much by way of existing material for me to draw on for inspiration with relation to social credit. What I did find, however, was very interesting, and the more I learned, the deeper I was drawn into the idea. One existing work is the well known Black Mirror episode: “Nosedive”, which explores a society based around a social media peer rating service. This was very topical and got me thinking, particularly about how peer to peer relations can have a strong impact on social credit scores. This had not been part of my original understanding of social credit, and to be fair, we still do not know exactly how the real Social Credit System will be calculated, but based upon pilot versions and some educated speculation it is fair to assume that the people someone associates with can have an effect on that individual’s score. In addition to this, I learned that social credit scores like the Sesame Credit score are currently being used on the Chinese dating site Baihe.com. This was particularly influential in my thinking because it made me think about how social credit can affect people’s interpersonal relationships, above and beyond their financial and political lives.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.39.34 PM

Black-Mirror-Nosedive_unume6

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020161101234127

1_zhima

QQ20150129-1

Sesame-Credit

This revelation about the social nature of social credit gave me the idea to include the personal identification portion of my final project. Originally the idea was to have a sort of booth (which drew on my original idea for the Great Firewall project) where people would take a test and be given a social credit score. But after talking with professors and peers in class, I got the idea to have a picture identification portion. The idea was to have the test taker be required to identify someone else in order to simulate the effect of someone else’s score being an active force in calculating score. I wanted to explore how this could generate paranoia, mistrust, confusion, and underlying social tensions. Professor Fitzgerald suggested that I have my quiz take a picture of the test taker and store that picture for a later test taker to identify. I knew that this would be a challenge for me given my inexperience with coding, but I went to Luis for help and was soon on my way (this will be a theme in my documentation, Luis was very helpful and patient with me). In the end, rather than storing the information, my final code simply drew on the immediately previous users for the picture identification section. So although it cannot store pictures for a long period of time, after one person takes the test, each user after that will have a picture to identify. This felt like a total victory to me, and from this particular episode I learned a lot about how to integrate bits of functional code into a larger whole.

Other inspiration came from existing pilot versions of social credit score calculators like the Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial, which is behind the social credit calculator Sesame Credit (芝麻信用). I was also strongly influenced by the large body of news articles and editorials relating to the Social Credit System, particularly an extensive article from the Wall Street Journal. As the semester went on, I gradually began to notice more and more references to social credit. For example, on high speed trains, there is always a notice on the intercom that warns passengers to buy their tickets early, lest they incur a social credit demerit. Additionally, I have started to notice Sesame Credit advertisements in conjunction with other companies like Ofo Bike. On the Shanghai subway there are Ofo advertisements that say that if you have a Sesame Credit score of more than 650, you are exempt from the normally required deposit. So although there was not much for me to build on in terms of previous art, there is day by day more material relating to social credit as a whole.

Ofo/Sesame Credit add (please forgive the non edited image)

WechatIMG1 1

The Final Project — From the outset I wanted my project to be a quiz that could generate a social credit score for the user. But originally I wanted it to be analogous to the real Social Credit System, with questions relating directly to the real factors mentioned in the 13th Five Year Plan, which first outlined the Social Credit System. It was the first round of user testing that showed me that this might not be the best idea. I found that with this system there was little to get the user truly invested in it, particularly because it felt sort of unreal and there were no stakes to it. This was a constant struggle in my project, even to my final presentation where I got feedback from Marianne regarding this concept. But at this point, classmates like Richard and Maggie, along with others, suggested that I make my final version to be a social credit system for NYUSH. Immediately I was attracted to this idea because I knew it could bring the issue down to a more manageable and palatable scale for the user and I also was very much excited about the idea of taking some shots at my least favorite university policies.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.42.50 PM

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Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.50.04 PM

I met with Scott to talk about my next steps for the project, particularly coding. He directed me to p5.js and suggested that I read up on that and work towards a test that could take down the user’s name, their picture, and then prompt them to identify previous users and include that in the calculus of the score. He also suggested to me that the test did not have to work fairly, strictly speaking, or that it could be entirely rigged or predetermined. This was a revolutionary idea for me and made me realize that I could make the code work in pretty much any way I wanted to.

In the end, my code was based off of several sources that I found online, and then put together with the help of ideas from classmates, professors, and Luis. The baseline for my code came from a personality quiz that I found online. It was enlightening for me to examine this code, and in going through it and editing it for the first user test I learned a lot about how it worked and how I could edit it. Specifically, it was a multiple choice quiz that had a number value assigned to each option for each question. Theoretically the correct answer for each question would have the highest assigned value. But in something like a personality test there is not necessarily a correct answer, and for my purposes, I could tailor it to favor an answer that might mirror university policy with a higher number. Then it had a function that would add up all of the answer values that the user selected in order to generate an aggregate score. In the original personality test, this score would be assigned a personality type that would display at the conclusion of the quiz. I edited it to have each aggregate number value correspond to a Social Acceptability Test score rating: “Poor”, “Needs Improvement”, “Good”, or “Exemplary”. With each of these scores I added a description of the consequences that come along with each score. This was the mechanism that I wanted to use to add stakes to the test. Without a sense of what might happen after the test, there would be no follow through, no emotional closure to the entire project that would bring the message home. I designed the feedback to have that kind of effect. I also rigged the quiz to give out more unfavorable scores than favorable, because I thought this would be more interesting.

I assigned higher values to questions that I thought were particularly irrelevant, because part of the point that I was trying to get across is the inherent subjectivity of the Social Credit System. My idea is that it is based upon the subjective societal expectations or the targeted political or business goals of a ruling group, and that this may as well be something entirely random, since it cannot apply to everyone in a society as large and varied as China’s.

Luis helped me not only to understand much more about javascript, CSS, and html, but also about how to connect them together. He also helped me to find the code that helped me to take pictures and store them for the next users. Luis’ help was absolutely instrumental in completing the coding portion of my project, both in technical terms, and in terms of getting me feeling like I was capable of making something worthwhile despite my own inexperience. After he helped me with the functional parts of the code, I had a significant coding confidence boost and set out to format my quiz to look like an NYU website. I looked up the necessary fonts and color values and other characteristics that might help it look more NYU and I patterned it after one particular NYU page. In this process I learned quite a bit about html and CSS formatting, and each progressive victory made me feel more positive about coding, for my project and in general. Definitely a positive experience.

I had originally wanted my project to include a physical component like a booth and stickers for each respective score. There had also been some thought in my mind about somehow including social media profiles. But Scott and Professor Greenspan suggested that I focus specifically on the quiz component, and maybe include those portions later on, perhaps for the final show. I think these could do a great deal to solve the problem of stakes and feedback.

Self Evaluation and Final Thoughts — I think that my project was a success in some ways and could have made significant improvements in other ways. I think that I was successful in exhibiting the theoretical ideas that I wanted to get across, namely the subjective nature of the Social Credit System, the pervasive nature of the proposed system, and the troubling social ramifications that this system might entail. To me, it was also a total success because I feel much much more positive about coding. It always surprises me how tiny successes in coding can give me such a big morale boost. I would spend half an hour or more trying to get a purple bar to pop up at the top of the screen and when I would finally figure it out I would feel like I had engineered the Golden Gate Bridge or something. So finishing this whole thing was pretty huge for me. I think my project was also successful in getting people to think about social credit in a more serious way. Most of the time when people hear about it they just ask me about Black Mirror. But after taking my quiz everyone who I talked to seemed to have a somewhat deeper understanding, and often a troubled sense of foreboding for what the real system might mean. It might sound strange but this was definitely what I was going for. I am happy with my project for those reasons.

But despite these successes, I think that there are certainly significant areas where my project was unsuccessful or could have made serious improvements. Firstly I think it could have had a greater deal of complexity. I could have added additional layers, perhaps at the very beginning and end that would give the user a greater sense of empathy in their quiz and to enhance the stakes in getting a positive score. A physical component (much like the receipt function in Dave’s project) I think would help with that. That is what I would have wanted to do with red, yellow, orange, or green stickers to correspond with each score category. But ultimately the code is what would have been most important to improve upon or at least expand.

I also think it was very important to make my page look very much like an NYU page, and there was a lot more that I could have done to improve on that. Ultimately my project could have had additional components to enhance its complexity and realistic nature. There are also certain bugs that could have been worked out. For example, the first person to take the quiz will not be shown a picture of the previous user because… there is no previous user.

If I could do things differently I would try to have a greater deal of feedback from the very beginning, because then I wouldn’t have to change my idea. But I think I would also just want to start on the code itself earlier, rather than simply working on formulating ideas for in the first weeks of the semester. I would also tell myself to not be discouraged about code. That is something that can be paralyzing and have a strong effect on the project. For me, and I’m sure for others as well, morale is very important in projects like this one.

Code:

html:

jquery:

javascript: 

css: 

Acknowledgements —

-Luis, for all his help in coding

-All of the IMA seniors, for being there in the lab and helping, giving advice, and commiserating

-Professor Shirky, Scott, Matt, Professor Greenspan, Sakar, and all the IMA faculty for their help and support

-all of the online resources listed below:

 

“How to Manage Multiple Screens for a Multi-quiz Game in P5.js?” Javascript – How to Manage Multiple Screens for a Multi-quiz Game in P5.js? – Stack Overflow. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017. <http://stackoverflow.com/questions/37288187/how-to-manage-multiple-screens-for-a-multi-quiz-game-in-p5-js>.

NYU Image. http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/e/identity/d/9-5_nyu-logo-lg_white.png

“Thread: Javascript Personality Quiz Help.” Www.webdeveloper.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017. <http://www.webdeveloper.com/forum/showthread.php?147109-Javascript-Personality-Quiz-help>.

“User Input and Output in JavaScript.” UniversalClass.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017. <https://www.universalclass.com/articles/computers/javascript/user-input-and-output-in-javascript.htm>.

“Web Developers → Insert Image in JavaScript?….” DSL Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017. <http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r6916658-Insert-image-in-JavaScript>.

HTML Images. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017. <https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_images.asp>.

 

入柜 Project Documentation by Tyler Rhorick

Original Ideation

Originally unsure of what I wanted to do for my capstone, I decided to attend the Ideation Workshop offered last semester in search of ideas, even though I was initially skeptical. In this time, we were asked to go through each of the works that we were proudest of and try to break it down into concepts and small descriptions. At that time, I had identified the following projects as being those of which I was proudest of:

  • “Am I Not Human?”- A short documentary about what it means to be LGBTQ in Ghana.
  • Sewn Together- A project where I interviewed local seamstresses in Accra, Ghana, made a physical quilt out of pieces of fabric collected from said seamstresses, and posted the quilt online where users could find out where that piece of fabric was collected and a bit about the seamstress who gave it to me.
  • Sleep on It- A project I worked on in Accra, Ghana where I created pillows out of my fellow classmates’ fabric scraps for in return for a story communicating their biggest challenges while studying abroad.
  • Mystical Magical Peacock Peepshow- A project consisting of 2 “peacock chairs” that would use its feathers to attract two different users in two different spaces to have a shared experience together.
  • The Symphony of Street Food- A project communicating the experience of walking down famous street food street Zhaozhou Road through ambient noise, the sound of food cooking, and the favorite songs of local merchants.

After breaking these projects apart, I realized that the common theme connecting all of the projects I was proudest of, with the exception of the Mystical Magical Peacock Peepshow, was using tech to share real human stories, not necessarily challenging tech itself. As a former Global China Studies major, I look back now and think that this was probably painfully obvious to everyone else but me, but it changed my perspective from wanting to do something that had to be technically impressive, to wanting to create something that would just be a medium for telling the best story- whether that was technically simple or hard.

As for the topic of the story and how I would tell it, I initially struggled on this until I was reminiscing one day about my experiences in Accra as I was talking to a sophomore about studying away. In talking about my time abroad, I realized that what I enjoyed most about my time abroad was working with the Solace Brothers Foundation, an NGO working with LGBTQ people in Ghana, doing my short documentary about what it meant to be LGBTQ in Ghana, and my independent study project where I was talking to local seamstresses and made something physical yet highly inter-related, so I wanted to see if I could in some way replicate and combine those experiences in Shanghai.

Since I was deciding to focus on LGBTQ in Shanghai, I started doing initial research to try to fuel the ideation for my project to see what might be an ideal physical means to communicate these stories. In this research, I came across a study that reported that only 23% of gay men and 39% of lesbian women were ready to “leave the closet” and thus allow others to become privy to their sexual identity. This is when I thought it might be interesting to use my time exploring what it meant to be in and out of the closet and interview LGBTQ members in Shanghai about the factors that are keeping them “in the closet” or the factors that might have made them hesitant to leave the closet. Since this would be topic I would exploring, I thought that it might also be interesting to make the physical thing that I would construct be an actual closet, since this seemed like an appropriate way to force people not out of the closet, but rather in so that they could hear the stories of those in Shanghai’s LGBTQ community.

Original Project Proposals and Modifications

Here is the link to my original project proposal. By the time that I had made this proposal, the idea of constructing a closet and what that would mean was just a tentative proposal. I didn’t know what tech I would be using to make this possible or what the user interaction might be inside of the closet to communicate the stories of those I planned to interview.

Here  is the link to my second project proposal. At this time, I had finalized that I wanted to go with documentary film as the primary story telling technique, but had still not decided on the final interaction. At this time, I had the idea that I might make an interaction playing with opening and closing the door of the interactive installation as a commentary for who is inside and outside of the closet. After further consideration and after this project proposal was submitted, I decided that this idea might be limiting because it forces classification of the project’s content in a binary direction of closeted and not closeted, which may not be truly representative of the content that I would be getting, since many people might find themselves somewhere in the middle- or out to some, but not to all.

Scrapping the idea of the door being the primary means of interaction, I decided to turn my attention to the items inside of a closet to see if I could in some way transform those items into a means of interaction. Since I had taken Talking Fabrics and did my independent study working with fabric, I decided that working with clothing might be the best way to approach the project, especially since clothing is often tied so closely to identity.

At first, I had thought about crafting a hanger rod that would use wire hangers as a sort of switch with Arduino programming that could detect when the circuit had been broken, as shown in my paper prototyping below:

 

tpr226_5-1-2017_23-23-42.1

As I was brainstorming this design, however, there were 3 problems I could not reconcile (1) How big would the pole have to be in circumference to be able to accommodate all of the different circuits that would need to be contained within the pole? (2) How would the programming have to react to multiple hangers being off the hook at one time? What would play? (3) Would users put the hangers back into the grooves so that the programming would work for future participants? (4) What would I have to do if I decided to expand the project? When I presented this rough idea in class, another question came up which was what would people end up doing with the hanger while the clip was playing? Would they be expected to hold it? If they didn’t want to hold it, where should they put it?

Because I realized that all of these questions presented real problems for the way that my project could be interacted with, I decided to scrap that idea and go forth with another one. The next idea I had came to me when I was scanning into the AB one day with my NYU card still in my phone case. I wondered after this if I might be able to embed an RFID into clothing in a way that it would still be readable to a reader. I ultimately decided that it would be wise to put the RFID cards in shirt pockets. The following is a paper mockup of me playing with this idea:

tpr226_5-1-2017_23-23-42.2

After mocking up an idea of how this set up would work, I realized that there more pros to using the RFID system, since content could be more easily added for potential future iterations. During this stage, the only problems I identified were (1) will the RFID work and (2) how will the user know to move shirts to the reader. Since I decided that this second problem could be solved with the design of the space, it is at this point that I moved on to the technical development of my project and apply for budget from the Capstone Budget Review Committee. That written proposal can be found below:

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.34.59 PM Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.35.19 PM 

Technical Developments

When it came to the technical developments, there were two main tasks (1) configuring the RFID with an Arduino to use serial communication and (2) finding a software that could take that serial information from the Arduino and activate video.

RFID and Arduino (First Try)

Since I had never worked with RFID Readers prior, I decided to look on the internet for a tutorial that might be able to give me an example of how to use the RFID reader. What I came across was this (http://www.circuitstoday.com/interfacing-rfid-with-arduino) tutorial from circuitstoday.com, which included the follo­­wing schematic:

Picture1

After wiring the Arduino and using the sample code, I checked out some RFID cards from IMA that were meant to go with the reader. After trying multiple times, it seemed that my cards were not being sensed and I spent a good deal of time trying to look at the wiring of my Arduino and code to see if I had made an error in going through the tutorial.

MVI_6683

After realizing that both my code and circuit seemed correct, I began to suspect that the error might be with the RFID cards I had. To test this, I borrowed my friend’s RFID keychain that she used to get into her apartment, which worked with the circuit and code I used.

MVI_6689

After realizing this I went to IMA faculty Scott Fitzgerald, who was about to teach his class about RFID’s the following week, to discuss my project idea and he let me know that what I was considering seemed more than feasible and that he would order new readers.

Video Software

Waiting for the new readers, I began to explore MAX MSP as a means to use serial communication data from Arduino to control video. I originally planned to use Processing, but was afraid that using processing with such high quality videos would present problems down the line. As I was doing this, the card readers came and I saw Sun Jingyi working on her Network Everything weekly assignment, where she was using Processing and the RFID readers to control video. After seeing this and seeing that the videos seemed to retain their original quality, I asked Sun Jingyi to lend me the code she was working with and began experimenting with other film work I had done. After experimenting it seemed that the quality was not being corrupted and that the processing power of my computer could keep up to maintain the video quality as long as nothing else was playing. With that, I ditched the idea of using MAX MSP and switched back to Processing, since I am much more familiar with Processing and this could allow me more time to conduct interviews and work on design.

RFID and Arduino (Second Try)

After Scott’s class was done with the new RFID readers, I discussed with him how to use the new ones and what were the differences between it and the older model. He told me that the new ones were more powerful, which was ideal for my project, since my design would have a shirt between the RFID card and the reader. He told me I should switch to the Arduino Mega and even showed me an example code in the library I needed to download with the new reader that would serve the purpose of my project. After setting the circuit up, I tried the cards with a T-shirt in between the card and the reader, which worked great, so I began constructing a prototype of a hook on a Styrofoam structure, as shown below:

IMG_6699

Interviews, Filming, and Editing

While all of these advancements were being made in the technical and design aspects of the project, I was actively trying to schedule and film interviews. Having done this kind of project in Ghana before, I knew that I would need to build trust in the LGBTQ community before there would be people from Shanghai ready to talk to me about their identity. Because of this, I started attending LGBTQ themed events around the city, joined several weChat groups made for LGBTQ people in Shanghai, and reached out to Shanghai PRIDE and professors Celina Hung, who taught a class on Gender and Sexuality at NYU Shanghai, and Lixian Cui, who had done research on the mental health and family dynamics among the LGBT population in China, to see if they had any connections to the community. While working on that, I decided to use the trust I already had in the NYU Shanghai community to make a survey that asked students who identified to one of these communities if they would be willing to participate.

survey

 

Once I had respondents and contacts, I started scheduling 1 hour long interviews and began filming. To do the filming, I relied on skills learned in Documenting the African City at NYU Accra and decided to use a similar filming technique as I used in my short documentary Am I Not Human? where I only showed the torso of my interviewee. I did this (1) for anonymity and (2) to give the impression that this person could be anyone and everyone. When it came to editing, I chose to reinforce anonymity and distorted the voices of all of my interviewees. When it came to editing, I used Adobe Premiere.   

User Testing  

For user testing, I decided to recreate the schematic I had drawn when I came up with the idea for the RFID. The success of the user testing was that the Styrofoam model was designed in a way that effectively communicated to the user what they were supposed to do. There was a small problem where some users did not realize that only pink hangers could be used to access content, so it was recommended that I find another way to further emphasize that they were not part of the project, but simply window dressings for the space. Another problem that was revealed in user testing is that the project felt more like a store than a closet because of the spacing between clothes and the moving hanger rod that I was using for the demo.

Final Fabrication

For the final fabrication of the project, I decided to ditch the rolling hanger rod and opt for more closet feeling materials. Having measured the space prior, I looked up closet components on Ikea’s website and planned a trip there to put together a space that would feel more like a closet. As for the criticism that users were unsure as to what hangers were part of the exhibit and which were not, I decided to exclude other t-shirts from the exhibit and make a design with a t-shirt silhouette to further the point. In addition to this, I also made an exhibit description that further communicated that only pink hangers could be used and added lighting to the part of the exhibit where the content hangers would hang. Since the shirts I had bought did not have pockets on them, I had to sew on pockets and thus decided that it would be a nice element to use the embroidery machine with the project’s name on it. Nicole Chan helped me remember how to use the machine (Thank you Nicole!) Here is an example of how the embroidery turned out:

IMG_6698

Here is the description I made for the project that is at the front of the project: Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.52.41 PM

Here is the modified hanger icon that indicates to users that they should put shirt hangers here:

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.53.01 PM

Here is a video of the final project working.

Here are the slides to my final presentation.

Here is a Google Folder with my final codes.

Special thanks to Roopa, Jingyi, Nicole, Scott, NYU Shanghai, and all of the storytellers featured in my project!

 

Inside Voices — Anna Schmidt Capstone Documentation (Pudasaini)

title

Introduction
My project, Inside Voices, was originally inspired by the experience of dormitory living and the conviction that dorm rooms can be better designed (and the resources devoted to them better allocated) in order to promote the wellbeing of their inhabitants. Inside Voices was built on the idea that things as simple as installing a pull-down screen in the middle of the room to allow for a greater measure of privacy in double-occupancy dorm rooms or changing the color of the walls from a grey-ish beige to a creamy white can have a marked impact on the comfortability and hominess of a living space.

As I progressed in the process of developing Inside Voices, I moved away from the dormitory ethos and towards a broader examination of the human experience of dwelling. I was drawn to the nuances of the frictions that arise in the process of inhabitation — what comforts and pain points are implicit in occupying a space?

Inside Voices seeks to explore this question by constellating the elements of dwelling in a digital medium; it leverages the triptych format of Instagram to juxtapose the comforts and discomforts of the lived environment. Each entry represents one person’s living space and is comprised of a horizontal row of three pictures, the first being a “general” overview of the space, the second being their favorite aspect of their space, and the third being their least favorite element of the space.

Inside Voices on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inside_voices_the_project/
Inside Voices Website: https://insidevoicestheproject.squarespace.com/

Iterations
The seminal inspiration for Inside Voices (and for my research essay) was my experience of living in college dormitories and temporary housing for the past four years. Specifically, during the first semester of my freshman year at NYU Shanghai, I found it very difficult to make the adjustment from living at home (or at least what I considered to be my “home” home in Chicago with my mother and my toy poodle) to living in a college dormitory in Shanghai with hundreds of other teenagers and communal bathrooms. The transition was jarring and took a real toll on my mental health, as my new environment did not afford me the restoration (defined by Dr. Gary W. Evans of Cornell University as “recovery from cognitive fatigue and stress” (Evans, “The Built Environment and Mental Health”)) that I needed in order to function healthily.

However, after a trip to Ikea during fall break and the subsequent addition of better lighting and a carpet (among other things), I found that my room felt much more like home. Although I was still unable to access the same restorative quality that I found in my home in Chicago, my room was now much more conducive to my feeling comfortable and at ease and, in turn, my mental health took a marked turn for the better.

Richard Neutra said that “a good house is ‘the fulfillment of the search — in space — for happiness'” (Lavin, “Open the Box”). Inside Voices was initially inspired by the conviction that Neutra’s search can be fulfilled within the confines of the dormitory environment (which is now the seminal premise of my essay), but has since evolved into the documentation of the search itself.

room plan

In its earliest iteration, my project was was intended to be a redesigned dormitory room that would, working within the limitations of real-life budgets and legal codes, implement the design elements I have been researching so as to maximize the comfort and restorative properties of the space. I began by using online prototypes (pictured above) to plan and alter the design of the typical double-occupancy dormitory room. My plan was to make and assemble furniture to create a model dorm room, but as I pursued this idea, it became increasingly clear to me that the changes that would be feasibly implementable and the interaction that could realistically be achieved within the model dorm room would not be substantial enough to capture the essence of the restorative process that I was hoping to evoke.

My second ideation of the project was to invite friends into my own living space and allow them free reign to rearrange/redecorate it and inhabit it for 24-48 hours. In doing so I hoped to observe how various people would interpret space differently and how their preferences would differ. However, I ultimately felt that, much like my first idea, this exercise would fail to dig very deep into the concepts that were really of interest to me. Not only did it turn out to be a bit of a hard sell to get people to redecorate and temporarily inhabit my room (shocker), but it was also still not as personal of an interaction as I hoped for.

This led me to realize that it was imperative that I work with the pre-existing living spaces that people were already occupying; in this way I would be able to capture and study the harmonies and tensions that naturally arose for individuals in the process of dwelling. This realization brought me (albeit rather belatedly) to the final form of my capstone project: Inside Voices.

Inspirations
My initial inspirations for my capstone project were primarily architectural projects. Early in my process, I thought that I, too, would be constructing a physical space, and so took inspiration from projects like the Tietgen Dormitory (Lundgaard and Tranberg) and Urban Rigger (The Bjarke Ingels Group). Both unconventional dormitories, these structures both make more efficient, effective use of available resources to redesign dormitory living (quite literally) from its foundations up. Without placing added strain on the resources required for the dormitory buildings, Urban Rigger and the Tietgen Dormitory are designed such that they provide for both greater spatial economy as well as for greater restorative potential for their inhabitants. Additionally, 10 Smart Sqm (Tengbom) is a sustainable, affordable, stand-alone housing unit containing all of the amenities (a bathroom, a kitchen, etc.) that a student would need within 10 square meters.

However, as my project evolved and I settled on Instagram as my medium of choice, I turned to other Instagram-specific projects for inspiration as to how I could leverage the platform to the advantage of my project. For this I referenced the work of artist Amalia Ulman, who created a months-long performance piece staged on Instagram in which she (unbeknownst to her followers) created and played a character whose scripted Instagram posts relayed a narrative of her moving to Los Angeles to pursue the life of an “It Girl”. Her work was remarkable to me in that it was so native to the Instagram landscape that it was effectively indistinguishable as anything other than Amalia’s own Instagram until the project ended and she chose to reveal that what had appeared to simply be her own posts were, in fact, part of an Instagram art installation.

obrist

More similar to my own project is the work of Hans Ulrich Obrist (work pictured above), an art director who uses his Instagram to catalogue handwriting samples of his friends and acquaintances. Rebelling against the idea that word processing and the digital will render the hand-written word obsolete, Obrist chose to use a digital medium not only to preserve but to propagate the sharing and spreading of handwriting.

Inside Voices takes cues from the works of both Obrist and Ulman by taking advantage of the native format of the Instagram feed to constellate a short, self-contained narrative of each individual space while at the same time promoting the sharing and crowd-sourced creation of these narratives.

Process
My first focus for Inside Voices was to begin to collect material to post on the Instagram page. In order to cast a wide net, I reached out to friends and family and, in turn, asked them to reach out to their contacts. The result was that I got a wide range of people from different locations and demographics to participate, which I was very pleased with. I had been somewhat nervous that the posts would essentially be limited to college students in living situations comparable to mine, but the diversity of submissions was a nice surprise. For these initial submissions, I relied on contacting people directly or from one degree of separation.

As I continued to receive submissions, I began to post the sets of images to the Inside Voices Instagram account and work to flesh out the Instagram page. User testing was highly instructive during this phase, because seeing other people interact with the feed quickly called my attention to the areas that were lacking or that needed further explanation. I had initially thought that the aesthetic cohesiveness of the feed would be of great importance and had considered using photo editing software to add borders and other visual cues to the images to highlight the grouping of each triptych, but upon conducting user testing found that the users themselves didn’t feel this to be necessary. Probably the most important realization that user testing brought about for me was the need for a supporting medium through which to further explain Inside Voices; I found that when people would interact with the Instagram, they would invariably need me to explain the concept and that the Inside Voices Instagram was not able to stand alone as self-contained project.

website

At this point, I began working to create the Inside Voices website, where I included a more in-depth explanation of the project as well as instructions on how to submit to the Instagram account (shown above). In subsequent rounds of user testing, I found that the website made the experience of the project much more robust and that users were able to quickly and easily grasp the concept of Inside Voices

 

IMG_1294

I also worked to refine the Instagram page itself by honing the bio and leveraging hashtags to increase the visibility and reach of my posts. Additionally, I switched from a basic Instagram account to a business account, which allowed me to include a website link in the bio, add contact information, and access analytics on the axes of reach, impressions, profile views, follower demographics, and top-performing posts.

Reflection
Inside Voices accomplished what I hoped it would in that it successfully explored and documented the juxtaposition of the comforts and discomforts of dwelling that, specific to each person, arose as they have undergone the process of dwelling in their space. This was highly instructive to me as I have been working on my essay , “Dwelling In Dormitories”, which seeks to explore the ways in which dorm living can be ameliorated and which avenues of improvement are most important to pursue. The commonalities among submissions helped me to gain insight into the patterns of dwelling and to pinpoint the facets of a living space most essential to restoration and comfort.

Going forward, I think that developing a mobile-friendly app that could be linked from the Instagram page and through which users could submit their photos would give Inside Voices both a more robust and more streamlined user experience. Hopefully this would boost engagement and act as a catalyst of sorts to overcome some of the activation energy that currently hinders the inflow of submission.

Works Referenced

Evans, Gary W. “The Built Environment and Mental Health.” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 80.4 (2003): 536-55. NCBI. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. 10 January 2016.

Evans, Gary W., Nancy M. Wells, and Annie Moch. “Housing and Mental Health: A Review of the Evidence and a Methodological and Conceptual Critique.”Journal of Social Issues59 (2003): 475-500. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.

Heidegger, Martin. “Building, Dwelling, Thinking.” Trans. Albert Hofstadter. Poetry, Language, Thought. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 323-39. Print.

Heilweil, M. “The Influence of Dormitory Architecture On Resident Behavior.” Environment and Behavior4 (1973): 377-412. SAGE Journals. Web. 12 May 2016.

Lavin, Sylvia. “Open the Box: Richard Neutra and the Psychology of the Domestic Environment.” Assemblage 40 (1999): 6-25. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2016. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3171369>

Le Corbusier. “Eyes Which Do Not See.” Trans. Frederick Etchells. Towards a New Architecture. New York: Praeger, n.d. 83-138. Print.

 

Sarabi: Capstone Documentation (Greenspan)

The Process

From the beginning, I viewed this capstone project not as the culmination of my IMA career, but as another project I could do to learn a skill. I received encouragement from Professor Greenspan and other other Capstone faculty to do this.

I originally proposed making a carbon emissions app I’ve never made an app before and because I’m interested in conservation issues. When I did further research, I realized that there were already a plethora of carbon footprint trackers  on the market, and the ones I checked out (like Oroeco and Rippl) are already pretty well done. I wanted to do something something else.

After I ditched the App idea (I still want to learn to create an app, but that can wait) and moved on to creating an installation. After discussions with Professor Shirky in late January, I realized creating an installation of the sort I wanted wouldn’t make sense in the context of NYU Shanghai because students are either a) blind to their environment or b) de-sensitized to attempts at controversy on campus.

Believing that I wanted to still attempt to create controversy and deciding to go back to my original notion of creating something digital, I tried to figure out how to create a controversy online. I thought I would use Marcus Harvey’s Myra and Maggie. After yet more discussion I moved from wanting to create Myra and Maggie and on to creating a game surrounding the “crowd experience” of the Shanghai metro. By this point, I settled on the idea more because it seemed to satisfy the professors than because I felt particularly drawn to the project. The only part of my project I retained for myself was the opportunity to learn a new skill. Somewhere in the first three-four weeks I went out and spent two days taking photos and video of crowded spaces in Shanghai, but I ended up not using any of the footage.  By week 4, I was deciding between using JavaScript and Unity, but by week 5 I found a Unity 2d Frogger tutorial for about $20 and decided to use it to try to get used to Unity. I spent a few weeks trying to follow the tutorial, but I kept running into issues with the tutorial because the version was so outdated.

By week 8, I found a new tutorial on Udemy and a set of 3D models which greatly expedited my ability to create a game in Unity. As someone who started with zero Unity experience and no C# foundation, I came out of this experience with knowledge of the platform and facility with C#, which  I consider a success.

The Idea

After deciding that multiplicity was the aim of my project, I zeroed in on the experience of the Shanghai metro during rush hour. The experience often leaves the rider feeling panicked and crushed, hence the name of my game. Crossing the road is frustrating and sometimes scary, but there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully navigating the situation. The experience is so familiar to not only the NYU Shanghai community but to the Shanghai community in general that the game’s ability to make an impression exceeds the confines of our community.

The Actual Documentation/ Demo

Demo: http://www.screencast.com/t/4JiJBcXDSiQ (video of the scene that the developer sees that switches to the in game view)

Hierarchy: http://www.screencast.com/t/VKUvb2Zaz (video of the parts of the developer screen)

Visual Studio: http://www.screencast.com/t/70fEBcRSuHx8 (video of the code. it’s just a glimpse)

Project Files: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8nNtTOKx9T1UWpwbkItcTB3Q1U?usp=sharing

 

Maggie Walsh Capstone Interactive Project Documentation

Maggie Walsh, New York University Shanghai Interactive Media Arts Senior Capstone
Designing Participation: See What We Saw

Narrative of the project

My project is meant to augment real life communities through the use of technology. With a focus on the community engaging in emerging coffee culture in Shanghai I have chosen Seesaw Coffee as the center of my research and project. After weeks of research into the people and culture of Seesaw Coffee, I designed an installation to bridge the gaps in the community’s social network .  Two email-print enabled printers are put in two separate Seesaw stores in Shanghai. They can print photos sent to it, only from the store that it is not in. The photos are then hung up on a physical display in the Seesaw store. 

 


Audience

  • Direct Audience: People that will directly engage with the installation.
    • Seesaw Customers
  • Indirect Audience: People that will interact with the project in a more observational manner.
    • NYU Shanghai Students/Faculty
      • Particularly the IMA Community
    • Ethnographers
    • Designers
    • Interactive Installation Artists

Goals

    • Successfully Identify a community in Shanghai 
    • Observe the community, and make assumptions about the people inside the community.
    • Successfully design an installation that contributes to the community.
    • Install the installation in a place important to the community

Location

    • Two Seesaw Stores: I specifically chose these locations because they seemed to contrast perfectly in distance. One was located in Puxi, and the other was located across the river in Pudong. Additionally, the Jing’an location is the original, and most popular location, which is why I felt it would be a perfect location to install an installation most interested in finding the true community of Seesaw. Also, the fact that the century avenue store wasn’t far from school was quite convenient. 
      • Jing’an (Original) Location
        • seesaw1378286492
      • Century Avenue Location
        • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Timeline

I originally had a quite different proposed timeline than the one I ended up with. Here is a screenshot of the original calendar I put together for myself.

China February 2017 - Feb 2017

China February 2017 - May 2017

China February 2sads017 - May 2017

I found that the timeline of my project did not line up well with the schedule of assignments in the capstone studio course. Therefore, I had to drastically adjust my own schedule. I cut my research and ideation much shorter in order to have a prototype going early on. This was not always the intention of my project, but due to time and other constraints, it is what happened.

Another thing that messed up my timeline a bit was Seesaw itself. I had originally discussed with them and decided to install the project in April. Once I waited a few weeks and checked in on them, they now wanted it to be installed in May. This made my installation and building timeline a little messed up as well. Ultimately, it gave me more time to work on the product though, which was time. Although, I would have loved to have more user testing with the end product.


Budget

    • I would like to thank professor Scott Fitzgerald for helping me so much with the budget and its application. My project was heavily reliant on expensive equipment, and I appreciate the time he spent advising and helping me obtain what I needed for a successful project. 
    • I would also like to thank NYU Shanghai for the resources they provided me with in order to complete this project.

Process

  • Research Process:
      • I would like to thank professor Clay Shirky for helping me so much with my research process. He even accompanied me to a Seesaw store and sat with me for one of my observation sessions.
      • I became close to many of the workers at Seesaw Coffee, and I liked to ask them about the environment of Seesaw because they spend hours on end there.
      • By frequenting different Seesaw locations I narrowed my focus from all of the eight branches, to two of their main locations. center my capstone on the original store on Yuyuan road, as well as the newly built shop close to campus on Century Avenue. Both of these stores offer a spacious layout which is conducive to customer interaction. Therefore, they are good places to install a piece of interactive art. I will now go on a bit to describe a few of the main things I drew from my research at Seesaw.

  • Research Discoveries:
      • Depending on the time of day, or even time of the week, people had different motivations for going to Seesaw Coffee. Though, one thing I learned was that most people go there to sit down and do something, whether it be talk with friends, or open their laptop and work on a project. My assumptions were much different than this fact I found. I had previously thought that the consumers of Seesaw coffee would be more of a “grab and go” group of people. Aside from the original Seesaw, their seven following stores have all been located in upscale International malls with close proximity to many office buildings and subways. My instinct was that many people would run in, get their morning coffee, and run out and go to work. Yet, while sitting and observing the people here, as well as speaking about customer behavior with a barista, I came to discover that most people that go to Seesaw drink their beverage in the shop itself.
      • People in New York City, and America in general, have very different perspectives when it comes to coffee consumption. In America, places like Starbucks overflow in the mornings and afternoons as people rush to get their boost for the day. Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and many other coffee brands have implemented apps that allow customers to order their coffee on an app so they do not need to wait in line when they arrive at the store. Grab and Go. The culture of Seesaw is far from fuel, it is a recreational, calming activity. Customers go to Seesaw for an experience, not only to keep themselves awake. To many people in China, the concept of coffee as fuel has not yet infiltrated the social structure.
      • Seesaw provides a location for people to engage in “coffee culture.” Magazines entitled “Coffee Culture” line the walls of the Century Avenue store. Monday nights at the Yuyuan Road location, a project is propped up and people meet to discuss China’s coffee culture. There is a thriving community of people that is developing around this company, that is only five years old. Not everyone who walks into the door of Seesaw is going to be as crazy about coffee culture as some people, but I believe many come in there because of an interest in this community. This project is about exploring this community and figuring out what exactly it is that could benefit them.
      • Thresholds and barriers to entry are something to consider when thinking about communities. How easy is it for someone to join the community, and how exclusive is the community. In analyzing this community, I have come to understand a few of its characteristics.
        • Age: Many people who frequent this store are in their late twenties to early forties. A young adult emerging professional vibe is in full swing here.
        • Money: Following the trend of young and emerging professionals, is a young and emerging middle class. Coffee, in many cultures, has come to be known as an “affordable luxury.” An item just expensive enough that it buys someone in a middle class position partial entry to a more luxurious lifestyle. You can think of other affordable luxuries as the latest iPhone, boutique gym memberships, haircuts at more expensive salons, etc. To many, a cup of coffee from Seesaw is relaxing and, may I say trendy, way to use their new found affluence.
        • Fashion: I am sure this one does not come as a shock. Many people in Seesaw cafes have a similar “Aesthetic.” Neutral colors paired with hip accessories don the bodies of most that walk through Seesaw’s doors.
      • One thing that stood out to me during my research period was the place people chose to sit. Furniture arrangement was always in my mind. I asked myself a few of the following questions,
        • “What part of the shop do people prefer to sit in?”
        • “Which seats are the first to be occupied?”
        • “What are people doing at certain seats? For example, Do they tend to interact more if sitting at the communal table?”
        • “How long are people staying in Seesaw?”

  • Ideation 
    • Two of my original ideas
      • Photo board
        • This one, clearly, went on to be my final project. It originally included an installed camera, like a Photo Booth where people would take pictures, but has since evolved into a mobile based app.
        •  Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.19.05 AM
      •  Interactive Toy?
        • Do you know those toys where you put your hand or face in it and it makes an imprint of it using small metal pins? Well, I wanted to create that toy, but over a long distance. Where whatever you did, was translated into an imprint that would be shown in another Seesaw store. But, that involved much more tech than my other ideas.
        • Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 8.08.52 AM
    • My favorite Idea
      • A telephone booth that was just a paper cup was heavily inspired by my paper prototype, which was a paper cup telephone. I wanted to let you talk to people across shanghai using just a paper cup!
    •  Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 7.57.55 AM
      • A more thematic and advanced iteration of my favorite idea
        • I would live to work with this project again sometime in China, because I am interested in seeing how people would interact with it. Ethnographer Tricia Wang  wrote an entire piece on how Chinese people talk to strangers, and I think this would be such an interesting experiment!
        • Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.01.13 PM


  • Project Inspirations

    • Tweenbots
      • http://www.tweenbots.com/
      • I like this project because it is very cute! It is a small robot with a smile, it executes just enough “life” to make people care about it. It is also not a very difficult task for people to complete, because if they are passing the robot, all they need to do is point it in the right direction.
    • Poetrics
      • http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/a-london-billboard-is-displaying-poetry-generated-by-the-people
      • This project was on display when I went to London to study abroad. It had a microphone and when you spoke into it, it generated a poem based on the words people said. It didn’t really affect me much, but it definitely caused people to participate, which was cool.
    • Archive of Mind
      • http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2016/08/148_211045.html
      • When I went to Seoul, I went to the Modern Art Museum. This project inspired me because it was easy to participate in as a user.
    • Knit the Bridge
      • https://knitthebridge.wordpress.com/about/
      • I like this project because it gathers communities together to create one thing.
    • Everything Must Go!
      • http://greylockarts.net/everything-must-go
      • Matt and Marianne told me about this project during Collective Methods. I like how they made value out of items that people found no value in, and also gathered materials as donations.
    • City of Memory
      • http://www.cityofmemory.org/map/index.php
      • Although this project is online, I like that it takes personal accounts from everyone and hosts them online in one common narrative.

  •  Consultation 
    • Ultimately, my consultations with Seesaw Coffee is what made me settle on the project I chose. They liked the idea of a picture based project, and did not fully understand the phone booth project.
    • They also were the ones who pushed me in the direction toward using a mobile phone for picture taking rather than a stagnant camera, which in retrospect was probably best.

  • Project Decision

From observing, I found that there were a few things I wanted to do for this community.

  • I wanted to lower the barrier of entry for people on the outer perimeters of engagement.
  • I wanted to define the community in a more perceptible way.

The installation will be a wall of photos in two separate Seesaw locations. The photos will be acquired from entries sent in by customers using their personal mobile phones. Here is a step by step process of how the installation will be built, as well as how I expect users to engage.

    • Scan a QR code that takes you to a web page.
    • I plan to create a QR code that I can place around tables in both Seesaw stores.
    • I plan to make a laser cut sign of sorts, one that will match the aesthetic of Seesaw
  • On the Webpage take a picture of yourself in Seesaw.
  • Send the Photo to the opposite Seesaw store.
    • For example, if you are in Century Avenue store, the photo you take will be printed out in the Yuyuan store.
    • I need to code a way for my web page to automatically send an image to a specified email address.
  • Hang the photo on the wall in the opposite seesaw.
    • All of the photos received will be printed out on a printer with its own email ID. The photos will then be hung on the walls in the Seesaw store.
  • Motivations?
    • 1. People can have their photo on the wall of Seesaw. It makes their engagement with this location more tangible and able to be seen by other people in the community, “validating” their presence and belonging in the community
    • 2. This is a more material motivation, but the managers of Seesaw have agreed that if you go to a Seesaw store, and your photo is on the wall, they will give you an extra stamp on your coffee card. This means that you would have had to have taken your photo in one Seesaw, and had your photo print out in the one you go to to get the stamp.

  •  Design Process 
    • Interface Design
      • Initial Iteration
        • SeesawInterface3SeesawInterfaceSeesawInterface2SeesawInterface4
      • Final Iteration
        • IMG_0409IMG_0410IMG_0411
    • Installation Design
    • Photos of Final Installation:
      • IMG_7539 IMG_7540IMG_7538IMG_7537 2

  • Prototyping and User Testing
    • One example of user testing that I brought to class was this QR Code. To me this part of the design was important because it was what would draw people in to my project. It was the “face” of the project in a way, but this was not something I considered until after the user testing class. Here is my first iteration of the design.
    •  IMG_7543
    • I was told that the sign needed to be a bit more alluring, so I “renovated” it. Now, I think people would be more intrigued to read the sign. I also got from user feedback that I shouldn’t put words on it. It was distracting, and no words made the entire thing more mysterious.
    • IMG_7536
  • This screenshot was also an impact of user testing.
    • IMG_0420
    • I never had made an alert that popped up once the photo was sent. I had photos being printed multiple times on the printer because people never stopped pressing the button, and people also had no idea what they were sending pictures for. I wanted to save a bit of the info to put after they had sent in a photo in order to allure people to continue with the process. I still don’t think this model is perfect, but it will require more user testing to perfect.

 


  • Building
  • Fabrication
    • I used the laser cutter to create my display stands, as you can tell from the images above. There was a lot of trouble with the laser cutter when I went in to cut my final stands, but luckily Marcela helped me a lot.
    • Initial File:
      • Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.24.34 PM
    • Final File:
    • Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.24.41 PM
    • This was the sign I made with the laser cutter for the center of my installation. Unfortunately, because of the struggles the cutter was having that day I had to do many runs through in order to cut the board fully. This made some of my thin lines a little less stable, which cause the holes in the “e” and “a” to fall out.
      • IMG_7540
  • The fabrication that was involved in the making of the installation itself was not as complex as it was time consuming.  It involved building Ikea furniture, and lots of rope.


  • Coding

Luis, Roopa and Matt were a lot lot lot lot of help with the coding portion of my project. They helped me with nodemailer.js, encryption of the passwords I was setting for my own email addresses, sending the files in an email form, deploying to heroku, and everything in between!

Here is my index.html file

Here is my app.js file


Tools and Data

    • Printers
      • IMG_7541  IMG_7542
      • My father works for a company that supplies most of the world’s digital photographic papers. He put me in touch with a man from Epson who was very helpful in guiding me towards materials and machines that would help me best accomplish this project, especially from within the China. Thank you Jeffrey Smith!
    • Nodemailer.js

Lessons Learned/Challenges

    • Working with a company that has different motivations than you is difficult.
    • You can learn to do anything if you have the proper resources and help. Like back end web development.

Acknowledgements

    • I would like to thank professor Clay Shirky for helping me so much with my research process. He even accompanied me to a Seesaw store and sat with me for one of my observation sessions.
    • I would like to thank professor Scott Fitzgerald for helping me so much with the budget and its application. My project was heavily reliant on expensive equipment, and I appreciate the time he spent advising and helping me obtain what I needed for a successful project. 
    • Thank you Jeffrey Smith for guiding me towards materials and machines that would help me best accomplish this project, especially from within the China.
    • Luis, Roopa and Matt for helping me so much with the coding portion of my project. It would not have worked without your advice and I appreciate that so much.

Capstone Presentation Slides

MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (14)  MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (13) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (12) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (11) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (10) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (9) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (8) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (7) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (6) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (5) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (4) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (2) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE (1) MAGGIE WALSH CAPSTONE

 

Documentation || Capstone || Kevin Pham

In order to make it easier to understand my project and the entire process that I went through in order to complete my capstone, I will break up my documentation into sections. First I will provide an abstract, describing my project in a quick, concise manner, that would mirror that of me explaining it to someone who has never seen or heard of my project before. After that I will discuss the inspiration, the ideation and finally the implementation phases of my project before finishing it up with concluding thoughts.

Abstract

An interactive video documentary, detailing the people and experiences that meant the most and had the biggest impact on Kevin’s college experience at NYU Shanghai. Intended to have a different experience for each viewer, the project functions as a choose-as-you-go format, allowing any viewer to watch whatever they feel like they want to watch as they navigate through Kevin’s story.

Inspiration Phase

So the inspiration for my project began when I was studying abroad in Accra. I started thinking about what exactly it was that I wanted to do for my capstone project and I kept thinking about how I came to NYU Shanghai and Accra in the first place. What I kept thinking about was how important it was for me to push myself out of my comfort zone and explore a place that I had never been to before. It was through my experiences that I realized that the places that I had been to were significant, but rather it was the experiences, better yet, the ones in which I shared with other people that served as incredible catalysts for my personal development. My time spent at this institution had changed me. I wanted to find a way to honor this so my original idea was quite broad and without much direction.

I walked into the final semester with this romanticized idea of “making a documentary of our final semester”. Whenever someone asked me, that was all I said. It didn’t have much direction, but I was thinking I wanted some kind of way to honor my time here and somehow find a way to wrap up the whole experience with a way that could bring people together and think about everything that happened. I had thought about how I wanted to shape this documentary and I settled on the idea of following 6 of my fellow classmates and documenting their experiences during the semester. The 6 I chose would be from different backgrounds and seemingly different social circles as I wanted a way to show how different people lived and find ways to listen to their experiences and bridge the gap between circles with a final message of how all of us have really connected with one another by being at this school. I found out really quick through feedback that this was an idea that wasn’t grounded and had little to no substantial development. It would’ve turned out to be a big mistake if I went through with this.

All I knew for sure was that I wanted to do something with video. It is something I really enjoy doing and I knew that it was the best direction for me to head in so that I could make a capstone project that I would enjoy working on.

I ended up discussing more with Sakar and Max Bork and they both had suggestions for me to try to revolve the project more around myself. I had discussed my reasoning as for wanting to do the documentary in the first place because of the impact that other people had on me being a significant part of my college experience, so why not revolve it around them? Why not base the whole project around my own experience? And then with another suggestion of trying to make it more interactive and a short form style, in which users can click on what they want to watch (knowing that most people struggle with maintaining focus and continuing to watch videos if they are longer than one minute) and each experience would be different for each viewer. Because there are a variety of videos and each of them are so personal to me, I wanted to make it this way because I knew it wouldn’t be easy for any random person to sit down and watch everything. To an outsider, they can view what they want. But to someone who is close to me, they can watch a little closer and know more about what is there. And with this, I set off to the ideation stage.

Ideation Phase

So my original idea would have been to follow around a bunch of people and just film randomly whatever it was that they were doing. While that was fun to do for a little bit, it quickly proved to be really unorganized and didn’t seem like it would get much of anywhere. This would prove to be really difficult and if I had gone with this route, I would’ve ended up just filming a ton of stuff without getting anything substantial. What made matters worse was that I didn’t actually have an idea of what it was I was talking about in the documentary. That is the real driving force behind me eventually leaving the idea behind because there wasn’t anything that I could think of that could tie everything together.

I had decided I wanted to change course from the longer documentary and come back to a shorter one that would be easier to watch. So here is how I decided to break it up:

  1. -An intro video that every single viewer would start watching
    1. -Branched off into sub-categories that reflect the most important experiences that I have had in college.
      1. -Then there are interviews with friends of mine that have made significant differences in my life while at university.

To explain a little more of why I went through with the decision to go with this format, I have to explain some of the personal reasons as to why I wanted to embark on this project. It has been a dream of mine to just go and make videos where I am just talking on camera. Whatever it is, just to chat about whatever I wanted. But it has been something that has never materialized because I have always been so scared to try because I worry about failing. Talking on camera makes me so nervous and I was never one that really wanted to do it because of that fear. So this capstone project presented an opportunity to go through with that as it really is a personal project that revolves completely around me.

WechatIMG1

This is an example of the web that I had outlined. As you can see, the subcategories that I have chosen have their relevance and then that goes deeper when they are accompanied with interviews of friends of mine that I have associated with those categories. For example, if a viewer were to choose to watch my basektball section, they would have the opportunity to watch stories about Alex Brickhaus or Ian Soder. In the interviews with people, there is nothing that explicitly states that they are connected to the category (unless the interviewee mentioned it). It is just has to be understood that this is someone that is connected to my category.

It is easy to understand how my project is broken up. We have the main intro video that everyone watches. Then we have subcategories where I personally talk about things that have made a big impact in my college career. I specifically chose activities and experiences that have connection with other people. The reason why I decided to add interviews of my friends in is because they have made significant impacts in my life at NYU Shanghai and I want that reflected in my project. I asked 20 of my friends in the senior class that have made the biggest impact on me during my time at NYU Shanghai and I asked them to interview with me.

So understanding the topics that are in my capstone, I will explain the function of the videos and the platform that I chose to stream the videos on.

YOUTUBE

So while I could have chosen another platform like just uploading it all to a website, I decided that Youtube and its built-in annotation system is the most convenient and makes the most sense for an interactive video project. Here is the LINK TO A VIDEO whose style inspired me to follow in the same sort of way in order to accomplish my capstone.

So I chose Youtube because it has quick loading speeds, convenient to upload and compile it all in one place. The annotation system works incredibly well as an interactive piece. If the point of my project is to allow users to have a unique viewing experience, I need them to be able to click around on the videos and just go from one video to another really quickly. Youtube can provide that for me. I don’t have to jump around because everything is already there and it can be standard. People don’t have to navigate away from the page or anything. With the annotations that pop up, making clear which other videos people can click on, viewers can just click around as they please. And since the videos are intended to be short, people can figure it out quite easily as what they have to do, thus satisfying the interactive part of the project.

Implementation Phase

So for the actual implementation of the project, it was a learning process that I went along with. The subcategories that I had were straightforward, just me talking about the things that meant the most to me during college. It was the interviews with my friends that was the thing that I needed to think about the most and how to solve that issue.

So my original plan was to cater each interview with my friends as that was a way I could best show people what my relationship was like with these people. Here is a mock up of how the project would go, a sub category + an interview:

I got a suggestion from Professor Greenspan that really helped me shape my interview portion of the project. She asked why not just standardize each interview and ask the same questions? I thought about this further and realized that this was the way that I wanted to go about my project as it made the most sense. By catering each specific interview, while yes it did personalize my relationship with the person more, it took away from the entire theme of the project as it revolved around me. It sounds selfish to say out loud, but it makes sense to me; standardizing each interview to make people answer the same questions would guarantee that more attention would be brought towards me and my own experiences in college. These interviews are only intended as accompanying pieces to a much wider project. So the questions that I decided on were:

1) Can you recall the earliest memory of me that you have?
2) 10 years down the line, what will you remember most about me/our friendship? Be it a memory or an impression, whatever.
3) If you could describe our friendship/what our friendship has meant to you in one word, what would it be?

These questions were simple enough that they were able to answer exactly what it was I was looking for from my friends but at the same time still keep it involved mostly about my experience.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 10.56.28 PM

So in a time period of three to four weeks i conducted interviews with my friends are based off of the time that they had available. During the interview, I asked them to provide as much detail as possible and to feel free to say whatever it was that they wanted to say. For filming, I decided to go with natural lighting as opposed to lighting from external lights. I wanted a natural look and I was not interested in bringing forward more lights that would just turn the interviews into something super serious. What the interviews meant to me was not just a session in which I asked people questions so that they would help me finish my capstone, but rather, and most importantly, a way for me to sit down and have a conversation with my friends and for both of us to reflect on shared experiences together. For the technical and equipment aspects of the filming, I used the following:

FILMING:
-Sony A7rii + 16-35mm lens (25 fps)
-Canon 70D + 17-85mm lens (30 fps)
-Rode VideoMic Pro
-Tripod
-Microphone Stand
-Audio-Technica AT897 Short Shotgun Mic
-SLR Cable (Male-Female)
-Tascom DR-40 Digital Audio Recorder

After the interviews were conducted and all the videos were filmed, the editing stage was entered. Here is a quick look at the editing settings that I used for exporting:

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 10.27.51 PM

For the programs that I used, Adobe Audition was used for the audio pieces and fixing any background noise as well as bumping up audio levels and Adobe Premiere Pro was used for assembling the videos and matching up the audios, eventually creating the videos.

For the programs that I used, Adobe Audition was used for the audio pieces and fixing any background noise as well as bumping up audio levels and Adobe Premiere Pro was used for assembling the videos and matching up the audios, eventually creating the videos.

For editing, I didn’t use the audio from the actual camera, but rather the audio recorded from the external devices like the VideoMic and the shotgun mic as the sound quality for those far outweigh the camera’s internal microphone. While I was editing I found that I had set the external mic too far away from the interviewee so I had to bump up the sound levels in Audition. There was also this white noise that kept persisting no matter what I did to try to get rid of it and it just wouldn’t so I had to denoise that in Audition as well. I matched up the audios in Premiere and I also got to work on cutting down the footage. Overall I ended up having 17 interviews (some conducted and edited later because of schedule conflicts that didn’t allow for me to finish by the initial deadline. THose videos will come later) and from all that footage I acumulated over 35 GB of footage and audio. With each interview, participants’ answers were cut down so that they would be ideally under one minute (to make it easier for people to watch) but no longer than two. That required a lot of decision making on what to include as a part of the video and what to remove. During the editing, I broke apart the answers of my friends so that there would be one video for each of their answers.
As a final result as of the timing of the first deadline for the project, I had a total of 32 videos so that people could go through and watch. No video ends on its own. There is a way for the viewer to always get looped to another part of the project. So the annotations at the end always provide a way for the viewer to go back and view other parts. If the viewer neglects to click on another part of the video, they can also just click on the Capstone playlist to go and watch every single video.

Thoughts and Reflections

At the end of this project, I would like to say that the thing I am most disappointed about is the fact that I couldn’t get exactly everyone that I wanted to talk to in the videos. There were people who just could not help me with the interview or others that ended up interviewing so late that I could not edit them in time for the deadline. That is something I wished I was able to accomplish. For the most part, I was on top of reaching out to people for the interviews. I did whatever I could do on my part, I just couldn’t get some of the other people to help me. Not to put the blame on them, it is my job. But in hindsight I think I need to be more careful about putting so much weight on others to do something.
I am still happy with what happened during this project. At the end of the day, it is a personal project. I did it for me and my friends to watch and to enjoy. It is built around my experiences and how they contributed to it. So I am proud of how that worked out. I pushed myself and I got comfortable filming myself on camera and just talking. So that is something that makes me happy. I am comfortable with where I am at technical wise. I know how to work and set up for interviews and filming and I am comfortable with the design choices that I made for the platform and for the aesthetic. I think I made the best decisions for myself and for this project to work in the best way possible.

Moving forward, I still want to keep the same platform, but now that I have more time, I can work on the other people’s interviews so I can add them to my project and fully complete it, and release it to them so everyone can watch.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

None of this would be possible without my friends as at the end of the day, this is a project that is built just as much for me as it is for them. I love them all dearly and no matter what, I greatly appreciate the fact that they opened up their hearts and granted time for me to go through with them and reflect on our experiences together. I feel honored to have heard their answers and for them to share their own experiences with me. I am proud to call them my friends. In no particular order, here are some of the most important people that I have come to know at NYU Shanghai:

  • Paul Maxwell Bork
  • Zhang Zhan (Morris)
  • Nicole Chan
  • Alexander Brickhaus
  • Ian Soder
  • Kevin Akinfolarin
  • Tin Luu
  • Kinsa Durst
  • Lancy Huang
  • Debra Chia
  • Xiaoyang Sun (Shawn)
  • Qi Lu (Nicole Lu)
  • Yichen Sun (Casillas)
  • Oliver Barry
  • Krista Young
  • Mike Chen
  • Yongxin Zhu (Leon)