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GrC 452 - Graphic Communication Blog - 12/20/2008

Graphics in Motion Blog entries will be posted as course progresses.

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:::Motion Graphics- Application beyond the classroom - 05/25/2009:::

Its been just a little over 6 months since my last entry, most of that time has been spent trying to figure out what was next for me. I've received some very exciting and encouraging emails from some of my GrC 452 students since class ended. Some have secured summer internships and even jobs in motion graphics, digital video, and/or Flash related related fields. Its great to see this because in all cases those students were still asked to involve themselves with print related projects in addition to their responsibilities in video and motion graphics.

Since teaching GrC 452 I have been working with a startup sports media company in San Diego as their video production director. Startups are as chaotic as they are exciting, and my experience working there has been just that; a whirlwind of responsibilities and daily challenges all rolled into one position. One of the cool things about this position is that in addition to my managerial responsibilities I still get opportunities to create marketing collateral for use in print and in motion graphics.

Here is an example of a concept piece I did for the up coming Sports Force Online site launch.

Sports Force Site Launch - Concept Video from Tom Antl on Vimeo.

Another project I got involved with was creating the product video for The product was a photographic exposure calculator to help photographer of all ability levels better understand the relationships between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings.

This is a another great example of digital video and motion graphics application in the graphic communication industry. All of the graphics used in this video project were re-purposed from print graphics to be used in the video production.

One new aspect of video I had to get really comfortable with was working with the inventor to capture the voice-over audio for the product video. Apple's Soundtrack came in very handy and we were able to get through the entire recording process in only 6 takes. The quality is very decent considering we used only the built in microphone on a Canon GL2 to record the audio voiceover track. - Product Video from Tom Antl on Vimeo.

:::Running Camp Documentary - Giant Sequoia National Park - 12/20/2008:::

Class may be over for the quarter but that does not mean that this site or my involvement in video is going anywhere. I wanted to post this for everyone to review and enjoy because I have been working on it for the better part of a year now. During the summer of 2007 I followed a high school running camp up to the Giant Sequoia National Park and filmed 104 runners during the week long training camp. It is very exciting for me to finally be finishing this project and hope you enjoy it.
Click the image to watch the video:

Running Camp Clip

:::A Quarter in Review - GrC 452:::

Keeping up with Technology in the Classroom - 12/02/2008

One day after class I was asked a question by one of my students that I think many instructors in the field of graphic communication get asked: "Do you think print will become obsolete?". The question was asked within the context of a discussion we were having about new technologies and emerging forms of online communication such as websites, podcasts and online video. My response was this: In my opinion print has weathered many emerging technologies in communication, the telegraph, the radio, television, the web, and now online media. All of these easily qualify as significant developments in how we communicate, but none of which replace print. Print will be a part of how we communicate for years to come, it will evolve to work with many of these new technologies. Many times company's will have marketing collateral in all of the formats listed above, and in many cases they still consider print as a significant form of communication for their marketing efforts. Print has an elegance that can not always be captured online or in video. So it is for that reason and through my personal observations that I believe print is here to stay.

That being said, as instructors how do we stay on top of all of these emerging technologies? Traditional forms of media have lost ground to the newer mediums of digital communication such as world wide web. Change these days is synonymous with technology, and it has arrived at the printing (graphic communication) industries doorstep ready to be addressed and implemented. I suppose the first thing we must accept in academia is that ignoring the advances in our industry will not help and will end up haunting us down the road as the information age facilitates our students to have access to these developments faster than we as instructors can identify, qualify, and then disseminate the information in the classroom.

* Continued from homepage

Students are an inspiring bunch, and I am not talking about those individuals who show up for fear of their parents wrath. I am talking about those who are inspired enough to show up ready to learn, to question, and pose alternative view points on the subject matter. For those students I've tried a few times to explain my teaching approach, so I suppose that is part of what this piece is all about.

This class was designed to address new types of digital media, and their application within the graphic communication industry. These new forms of media are to ink as the web is to paper, making them significant in the ever expanding scope of graphic communication. I always liked the term "Graphic Communication", it is all encompassing and conveniently expandable as our industry progresses. But getting back to teaching and students I wanted to point out that there are many forms of new digital media and only 10 weeks to cover them. It would be an impossible task and unfair to the students to try and brush over each one within the 10 week quarter system. The solution I came across was to poll the students after registration closed. So I sent them the survey below to better understand who I was going to be working with the following quarter.

Based on the feed back I received from my students I was able to fine tune the curriculum and understand where I needed to spend more time.

GrC 452 Student Survey - Sent 08/22/2008

Note: Survey population was made up of 12 student responses within my class section.

1) Have you used Final Cut Express/Pro before? (No: 100%)
2) Are you familiar with .mov, .wmv, and .flv video formats? (No: 50%/Yes: 50%)
3) Have you ever created a hosting account to host a website? (No: 66%/Yes: 33%)
4) Are you familiar with FTP program(s) to upload content to a website? (No: 17%/Yes: 83%)
5) Have you ever purchased a website domain name online? (No: 66%/Yes: 33%)
6) Are you familiar with wysiwyg website editors? ie: Dreamweaver or GoLive? (No: 17%/Yes: 83%)
7) Are you comfortable with adobe photoshop & illustrator? (Yes: 100%)
8) If possible would you want to spend two labs covering the basics of Flash? (Yes: 100%)
9) Are you familiar with animated .gif files and how to create them in photoshop? (No: 33%/Yes: 66%)
10) Are you familiar with the .png file type? (No: 50%/Yes: 50%)

One of the very unique things about the class is that it was designed to be both web and classroom oriented. This is a hot topic in academia; how do you enhance classroom learning by incorporating the web? I am not at all suggesting that I figured it out, but do feel comfortable saying (going into week 9) that I found an approach that worked very well for me and my class. I should point out that I happen to be lucky enough to teach at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and if you've spent any time on campus you'll probably know its slogan, "Learn by doing". To give the students this learn by doing experience I wanted to give them a learning platform that was universal both in the academic environment and in the real world. Each student was given a subdomain and blank html template of this website to manage, it is the place where all students posted their completed projects and lab write-ups during the quarter.

These student subdomains are password protected and can only be accessed by students in my section and the instructor.

*The student blog login can be found at the top of this page.

By doing this the students now have a social online environment among their immediate classmates but private from those not enrolled in the class section. This allows a very cool thing to happen, students begin to learn from each other during the quarter. All of the students in GrC 452 can see each others write-ups and finished projects. This is exciting because each project includes a procedure section which in a few cases has led to students being able to work through project issues by reviewing each others proceedure write-ups. This online platform could be modified and applied to facilitate interdisciplinary learning as well. By modifying and restructuring it to accommodate multiple sections it would allow classes from different departments to work together and help students further understand the relationships between many departments and the industry's they represent beyond the classroom.

Now the usual question I get at this point is "How to do you prevent cheating?".

I consider students learning from each other and blatant cheating two separate things. I believe that students are far less likely to cheat when they are subjected to review and judgment by their peers. When the only point of judgment is between a single student and the instructor some students are willing to compromise. But far fewer students are willing to produce poor work when they know it will be reviewed by their peers as well as graded by the instructor. This also applies to cheating, if a student can clearly see that his or her work has been plagiarized by another student within a single class section then what is the point, everyone in the class including the instructor is going to know. This is no different than publishing work beyond the academic environment, students should get used to everyone being critical of their work.

By using the web in this way, it has made it much easier for me to review student work and in many cases allowed me assist when someone gets stuck. I can always address an online issue from home and make recommendations immediately via email.

The advantages and value-added benefits of conducting this course in this manor for the students are tremendous. After 10 weeks of projects and lab write-ups each student has a published online portfolio that they can use to demonstrate their course work to potential employers. In addition to completing their weekly projects and accompanying lab write-ups, students are consistently drilled on the process of uploading content to their website via FTP. This is a critical skill set that not many students knew well prior to this class. Having the ability to publish yourself is almost more important than all of the weekly projects assigned during the quarter. If you can not communicate with your audience or target market then it is all for nothing, we are in the business of teaching graphic communication. I'll make the analogy that not knowing how to publish online is the equivalent to being a press operator that can load the paper and plates but not understand how to turn the press to the "ON" position.

As I said before, we are in the business of teaching students. Our products are our graduates, our internal customers are our current students, and our external customers are the companies that hire our graduates. Keeping these relationships in mind let's make better graduates, let's prepare them for the future by keeping our thumbs on the expanding areas of the graphic communication industry.

-Tom Antl - 12/02/2008

:::Group Final Project:::

Week 9 - GrC 452 finished up with the final group video projects where students were presented with a product (in this case Cal Poly) and had to conceive the project from start to finish. All graphics, video, audio, and project storyboard were either designed or chosen by the group members. This was an exciting final project because for the students it was the first time they were given complete creative control to meet the projects promotional objective.

It was great to see the students take ownership of these projects and create something all their own. For me it has been a fantastic 10 weeks for me and I hope someday to build off my experiences in the classroom here at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

:::UGS Promo Video:::

Week 8 - During week 8, GrC 452 students were charged with the responsibility to create a video to promote Cal Poly's premier student run printing enterprise, University Graphic Systems (UGS). Students were given fewer guidelines for this project but were required to include the UGS logo and feature interviews with the current UGS management team. Each promotional video was required to be 60 seconds in length and raise awareness of UGS, its services, and to illustrate the educational value of UGS to Cal Poly's "learn by doing" philosophy.

This was an exciting project for both the students and for me as the instructor. As the students mature their skill sets in digital video editing and integrating re-purposed graphic assets into their projects I have been able to identify individual styles and approaches. This is fun for me and is reassuring that the students take the course curriculum seriously and understand its importance in the ever expanding field of graphic communication.

:::WiHire Video Intro:::

Week 7 - This week GrC 452 began the first of three real world projects. During the next 3 weeks students will be exposed to 2 different real world company's with real world online digital media needs. A local San Luis Obispo start-up company called WiHire challenged the students with a great first project. The students were required to create a branded video intro 5-10 seconds in length. Each student was provided with current company marketing materials, digital copies of the WiHire company logo and given a 10 minute presentation by the founders describing their business and project objectives.

Each student had to create a intro video from scratch, using their creative intuition, motion graphics skills, and project outline. The exciting part about this project from an instructors stand point was that although not required, some students opted to do their projects in Flash after only two labs! This was very exciting and satisfying because I worried that the Flash instruction may have been too detailed to learn in just two class sessions. I have been pleasantly surprised with many of the projects I have seen so far this quarter, many exceeding my expectations. Please take the time to review some of the student projects here: Click Here

:::Flash - Session 2 - AT&T Advertisement:::

Week 6 - GrC 452 continued to focus on Adobe Flash, this time students were required to recreate an AT&T Flash advertisement from a customer supplied layered Photoshop document (PSD). From the PSD students exported the necessary layers to their project folder and then imported all graphic assets into Flash. Kevin McGinn from Etna Interactive was good enough to spend another evening with the class leading the Flash instruction. The students had a general understanding of the proper use of layers and basic action script from the previous week but were challenged by the introduction of motion and shape tweens.

This particular project from an instruction stand point was very challenging because there are so many steps in Flash and communicating them to the class as a whole is difficult. Students struggle with different areas of the project and the constant stopping and starting to keep everyone on the same page was stressful for both myself, Kevin and the students. For a project this detailed a handout will be required in the future for the students to use as a reference and follow along.

The project over all was successful as students have expressed their excitement and enjoyment of the project and learning the basics of Flash. The project was designed to introduce students to the most common effects, motion properties, and action script that they would expect to find and be required of them if working on a Flash project for a real life client.

:::Flash - Session 1 - Creating a custom Flash player:::

Week 5 - This week GrC 452's focus shifted from FCE to Flash, we will continue to work in flash through the next class period. This class period we focused on teaching students the basics of how to skin and brand their very own flash player. To help facilitate the Flash lectures I enlisted the help of a recent GrC graduate Kevin McGinn. Kevin has been working at Etna Interactive for the past year and a half in their growing web/media department.

The class went through all of the steps required to convert a video edited in FCE to the Flash video format and build a player to view the video content online. Once each student completed their Flash players we walked them through the steps to upload, and embed the proper code required to view their Flash video's on their individual student blog pages. The video tutorials for the lesson may be viewed here:

:::iPod Style Green Screen Video Project:::

Week 4 - GrC 452 hit the ground running this week with an introduction to green screens and the Chroma Keyer filter in FCE. Students were taught the process of isolating and removing the green screen background, and then added their own custom backgrounds using effects and transitions of their choice in FCE. We chose to do an iPod style 30 second video featuring the black silhouette dancers as seen in the original iPod commercials. Students were required to include graphic assets within their project video and apply motion properties to those graphics using motion key frames. Many thanks to the Cal Poly "Hip Hop Congress" dance club for donating their time and dance moves in front of the green screen for this class project. An example video can be viewed at the link below. ("See Kevin's demo Flash player"):

This was a fun project because as the students over-all understanding of Final Cut Express increase I am seeing much more creativity in the finished projects uploaded at the end of the week.

:::Working with Illustrations in FCE:::

Week 3 - GrC 452 did not meet this week because I was feeling very sick and unable to present the lesson plan. The missed material will be rolled into deferent class periods as we move forward during the quarter.

:::Public Service Announcement TV Commercial - SLO County Creek Day:::

Week 2 - GrC 452 began covering basic to intermediate digital video editing practices as well as exploring web video hosting services. Students were introduced to the concepts of source video and non-linear editing practices. Using actual video clips and audio tracks originally captured for a TV Public Service Announcement (PSA) commercial which aired in September of 2007, students were required to create their own version of this PSA. The video was required to be 30 seconds in length and utilize a variety of transitions, filters, and effects. Each student was required to choose theme music to go with the voice over audio track provided to them by the instructor. In addition students were required to include the SLO County Creek Day company logo and poster graphic.

After completing the second lab I am sincerely looking forward seeing what the students will create this quarter. We have two companies coming to class where students will have the opportunity to use their creativity and editing knowledge to create a short marketing video and splash introduction video clip for use in video website branding.

I am both pleased and impressed with the student progress after two weeks of instruction and am excited to move forward with the rest of the quarter!

:::Introduction to Graphics in Motion:::

Week 1 - GrC 452 began with an overview of the digital video import, edit, and export workflow we will be using in class. Students were introduced to the Final Cut Express (FCE) user interface (UI) and began an exercise that demonstrated how to give graphic assets motion properties in FCE. We explored the importance of .PNG files when working in FCE and the proper workflow to export this file format from Illustrator and Photoshop.

:::My Winding Road:::
Tom Antl filming in Tahoe

Way back when I graduated from the GrC Department in 2004 I concentrated in Print Management, but I think it may be called something different these days. Upon graduation I was hired at Apple Computer, I decided I didn't like that after 4 months so I left and was hired as a plant manager at The Ligature in SF. I didn't fit in at that company either so I moved on to a wonderful company called Moquin Press in Belmont California. I stayed there for 2 years working in a few different departments which included estimating, customer service, prepress, proofing and even a short stint in shipping. In August of 2006 I was hired in by Cameron Financial, a local mortgage bank in SLO to handle their marketing and advertising design work. This was great, I was well paid and living in SLO. I even sent UGS some of the simple print projects we had from time to time. Unfortunately in mid 2007 the bank went under due to bad loans and a boat load of debt they couldn't manage. So once again I was on the job hunt, but this time without a job at all. I did have some money saved up so I decided to strike out on my own and start filming weddings as a freelance videographer. (Note: I had been filming my buddies skating and surfing from age 15 just for fun, obviously making me qualified to film the most important day in most peoples lives.) It was perfect timing, most of my friends were just getting ready to get married so I had plenty of business during the summer months. I taught myself web design by starting with a template and slowly personalized it until it reflected me and my business.

Here is my first website (after many revisions):

I got a lot of experience just by learning to edit and create short online versions of my videos so I could market myself. I started with iMovie and worked my way up to Final Cut Express.

Since then I have filmed, and edited dozens of projects, created several marketing videos for entrepreneurs, SF bands, and branding agencies... even one local SLO TV commercial. Somewhere along the way I was asked to teach part time in the GrC department by Dr. Penny Bennett which I happily accepted in December of 2007.

There isn't one definite path into the multi media industry, but teaching yourself will take you a long way. You'll do a lot of small free/low paying freelance projects, building your portfolio before you start getting the big bucks... which sometimes isn't all that great either. On the other hand, after a lot of self promotion and small projects I am now on speed dial with several small to mid size marketing companies from San Francisco to Kansas City. Basically every time I taught myself how to do something new I would send them a link to show them my latest bag of tricks, and eventually they started to get some ideas of how they could use video/multi media to market their clients via this new medium of communication: online digital video. Once you are established and can work efficiently you can charge a premium for your services.

Never forget your print & web knowledge... it is invaluable and is almost always the foot in the door at an agency or marketing firm... the multi media knowledge is the ace in your pocket.

Keep doing things that interest you, they almost always end up paying off in the end. These are the words of a recent grad that thought he had it all figured upon graduation, got completely lost professionally, and then reinvented himself over 4 years... GrC is a great place, make it whatever you want it to be.


P.S. Stay in touch with your teachers and advisor post graduation... all but one of the jobs I was hired into after graduation was due to networking through the GrC department & GrC Alumni Association.

:::30 Second video PSA:::

This video is a short 30 sec PSA I did for SLO County Creek Clean Up Day last year. You can see The Land Conservancy logo placed in the bottom right corner of the screen. There is also one other graphic that had to be imported into the video at the very end of the clip. This PSA aired locally on TV in San Luis Obispo county during the summer of 2007.

30 Second video PSA

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