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IMD 153 Chapter 4

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  • 1. CHAPTER FOUR Multimedia Development The steps in multimedia development can be grouped in several ways, such as preproduction, production and postproduction. The phases presented here are planning, creating and testing. The three phases of multimedia development and the steps they involve are outlined below. Phase 1-Planning - Step 1: Developing the concept - Step 2: Stating the purpose - Step 3: Identifying the target audience - Step 4: Determining the treatment - Step 5: Developing the specification - Step 6: Storyboard and navigation Phase 2-Creating - Step 7: Developing the content - Step 8: authoring the title Phase 3-Testing - Step 9: Testing the title The Planning Phase Step 1: Developing the Concept Every multimedia project originates as an idea. The idea for what was to become a series of very popular titles. The process for generating ideas can be as unstructured as brainstorming sessions or as formal as checklists with evaluation criteria. A series of questions might consist of the following: - How can we improve it (make it faster, use better-quality graphics or updated content) - How can we change the content to appeal to different market (consumer, education, corporate)? - How can we take advantage of new technologies (virtual reality, speech recognition)? - How can we make it disposable? One of the tenets of marketing is to “find a need and fill in”. Because manufacturing is market driven, companies rely on customer and employee feedback to help generate new ideas. This could be in the form of product lines (help desk) or feedback from retailers on why products are returned.
  • 2. Ideas can provide the vision, but they must be presented in a way that can guide the development process. That is, they must be stated clear, measurable and obtainable objectives. Step 2: Stating the Purpose Once the concept has been developed, project goals and objectives need to be specified. This is perhaps the most critical step in multimedia planning. Goals are broad statements of what the project will accomplish, whereas objectives are more precise statements. Goals and objectives help direct the development process and provide a way to evaluate the title both during and after its development. The following are examples of goals and objectives. GOALS Broad statements of what a project will accomplish: “Be the leader in educational CDs” “Create products that take advantage of emerging technologies (such as the internet)” “Use multimedia to reduce our training costs” The goal for a specific multimedia title must fit within the overall mission of the company or organization. The following are objectives that would be useful to a development team. OBJECTIVES Precise statements of what a project will accomplish: “To develop an entertainment title based on the book Tracks, which chronicles one women’s journey across the continent of Australia. The title will include an interactive map that shows her progress and allows the user to view photographs and text about any selected map location. Sound clips will provide narration of the author’s adventures in her own voice. The title will be rich with photographs of the outback and music native to Australia. The product will place in the top five for its category at the annual CD awards this year.” Step 3: Identifying the Target Audience The more information a developer has about potential users, the more likely a title can be created that will satisfy the users’ needs and be successful. Audiences can be described in many ways, in terms of demographics (location, age, sex, marital status, education, income, and so on) as well as lifestyle and attitudes. Developers must determine what information is needed and how specifically to define the
  • 3. audience. Companies want to identify as large audience as possible in order to maximize potential sales. The larger the audience is, however, the more diverse its need and the more difficult to satisfy their needs. Step 4: Determining the Treatment The concept, objectives, and the audience can help determine how the title will be presented to the user. “Look and feel” can include such things as the title’s tone, approach, metaphor and emphasis. Tone, many multimedia titles intended for home use, such as games and recreational titles, include humor, whereas those intended for business use are more serious in their tone. Titles intended for children tend to be whimsical, whereas training titles are straightforward and conservative. Approach, some titles, especially children’s games, focus on exploration. For example, clicking on the sky causes an airplane to appear. Other titles, especially adult-education application, provide a great deal of direction. Users are provided with menu choices and generally must follow a predetermined path in order to complete the title. Another aspect of approach is deciding how much help to provide and in what form. Some titles provide a “host” or “guide” that is available to assist the user. Metaphor, the Explorapedia title uses space travel as the theme for exploring different areas of content such as Nature and People. The TOEIC test program uses a mountain-climbing metaphor in which the user starts at the “base camp” and proceeds to a higher camp until the summit is reached. Emphasis, budget and time constraints may ultimately dictate the relative weight placed on text, sound, animation, graphics, and video. For example, a company may want to develop an informational title that shows the features of its new product line, including video clip demonstrations of how each product works. But if the budget did not allow for the expense of creating the video segments, the emphasis would be on still pictures with text descriptions that might already be available in the company’s printed catalogs. Step 5: developing the Specification The specifications list what will be included on each screen, including the arrangement of each element and the functionality of each object. Specification should be as details as possible. The more detailed and precise the specifications, the greater the chance of creating a title that will meet the objectives of the project on time and within budget. The goal in creating the specifications is to be able to give them to the production team and have the team create the title.
  • 4. Although specs will vary from project to project, there are certain elements that should be included in the specifications for all titles such as target playback systems, element to be included, functionality, and user interface. Target playback systems, the decision of what computer to target for playback is not difficult. Companies developing commercial titles intended for the business market are guided by the fact that 80 percent of desktop computers are Windows based system. Companies developing for the K-12 education market are faced with majority of the computers being Apple systems. Many companies targeting the home market develop for both platforms. Elements to be included, the specification should include details about the various elements that are to be included in the title. For example, should the resolution for the graphics be 8 bit, 256 colors? Should video be designed to play back at 15 frames per second? What are the sizes of the various objects such as photos, buttons, text blocks, and pop-up boxes? Functionality, The specifications should include how the program reacts to an action by the user, such as mouse click. For example, clicking a door it might cause the door to open. In addition, specification should include how the object changes based on a user action. For instance, when the user clicks on button, how does the button change? The user needs the feedback that the button has been selected, such as the button appearing “pressed.” User Interface involves designing the appearance – how each object is arranged on the screen- and the interactivity-how the user navigates through the title. In computers, interactivity is the dialog that occurs between a human being (or possibly another live creature) and a computer program. (Programs that run without immediate user involvement are not interactive; they're usually called batch or background programs.) Games are usually thought of as fostering a great amount of interactivity. However, order entry applications and many other business applications are also interactive, but in a more constrained way (offering fewer options for user interaction). On the World Wide Web, you not only interact with the browser (the Web application program) but also with the pages that the browser brings to you. The implicit invitations called hypertext that link you to other pages provide the most common form of interactivity when using the Web (which can be thought of as a giant, interconnected application program). In addition to hypertext, the Web (and many non-Web applications in any computer system) offer other possibilities for interactivity. Any kind of user input, including typing commands or clicking the mouse, is a form of input. Displayed images and text, printouts, motion video sequences, and sounds are output forms of interactivity.
  • 5. The earliest form of interaction with computers was indirect and consisted of submitting commands on punched cards and letting the computer read them and perform the commands. Later computer systems were designed so that average people (not just programmers) could interact immediately with computers, telling them what programs to run and then interacting with those programs, such as word processors (then called "editors"), drawing programs, and other interactive programs. The first interactive human-computer interfaces tended to be input text sequences called "commands" (as in "DOS commands") and terse one-line responses from the system. In the late 1970's, the first graphical user interfaces (GUIs) emerged from the Xerox PARC Lab, found their way into the Apple Macintosh personal computer, and then into Microsoft's Windows operating systems and thus into almost all personal computers available today. Step 6: Storyboard and Navigation Multimedia borrows many of its development processes from movies including the use of storyboards. A storyboard is a representation of what each screen will look like and how the screens are liked. The purposes of the storyboard are: - To provide an overview of the project - To provide a guide (road map) for the programmer - To illustrate the links among screens - To illustrate the functionality of the objects The storyboard comprises hand-drawn sketches on 8.5-by-11 inch paper turned sideways to more closely represent the dimensions of a computer screen. Each frame represents one careen of the title and presents a rough layout of the elements to be displayed on the screen and their approximate size and location. It is not necessary to put the exact content, such as a particular photo or graphic. It is important to show where text, graphics, photos, buttons, and other elements would be placed. Another feature of the storyboard is the navigation scheme. One of the most significant aspects of multimedia is the nonlinear interactivity. The linking of screens through the use of buttons, hypertext, and hot spots allows the user to jump from one screen to another. The links are represented on the storyboard. There are three types of navigation schemes including sequential, topical, and exploratory. A sequential navigation scheme takes the user through a more or less controlled, linear process. Example is games with a story line that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. To keep the user on track, interactivity
  • 6. might be limited to clicking on objects that cause an action, such as playing a sound or animation or displaying a graphic or text. A topical navigation scheme allows the user to select from an array of choices or even search for specific information. Examples are multimedia encyclopedia, interactive shopping catalogs, and information kiosks. Topical navigation schemes often have many layers. An exploratory navigation scheme provides little structure or guidance. It relies on user interaction, usually the clicking of objects displayed on the screen. Many games use some form of exploratory navigation. The Creating Phase At this point the focus changes from planning to production, including creating the content and authoring the title. Step 7: Developing the Content The specifications indicate the content to be incorporated into the multimedia title. There are numerous content issues that need to be addressed: - What is the level of quality for the content (photorealistic graphics, stereo sound)? - How will the content be generated (repurpose existing content, hire content experts to write text, employ graphic artist and other professionals)? - Who will be responsible for acquiring copyrights and licensing agreement? - How will be content be archived and documented? This chapter discusses the sources related to these elements: libraries of clip art, sound, and video. If the multimedia repurposed existing content obtaining the material might be relatively easy. If the original content must be created, especially animation and video, the process is more involved and often requires contracting with outside supplies. Graphic designers and photographers would be contracted to create original artwork and pictures: actors would be employed for video production and narration. Step 8: Authoring the Title
  • 7. If the planning phase has been completed properly, the authoring requirements would be fairly straightforward. It would be a clear indication of what needs to be done. There are several considerations before using any authoring system. 1. The playback system (Macintosh and/or Windows-based computers)-some authoring programs work with only one platform. 2. The emphasis placed on animation-certain programs have fairly sophisticated 2-D animation tools. 3. The expertise of the programmer-programs differ greatly in the approach they use (metaphor) and their scripting language. Authoring a multimedia title can be simple as creating an electronic slide show using presentation software such as Compel. You could select a background, type the text, scan some graphics, and import clip art, video, and sound. You could even create buttons with hyperlinks. These types of titles might be appropriate for in-house training, lectures, conference presentations, and sale presentations. If the goal is to create a commercial-quality stand-alone title, authoring plays a significant role. Scripting becomes a focal point in order to provide the functionality called for in the specifications. It is critical that the programmer work closely with those designing the user interface and those providing the content to help ensure that the specifications are being met. The Testing Phase Step 9: Testing the Title Testing can start at the very beginning during the concept stage. Small groups of potential users could be shown a prototype of the proposed title. The prototype could be as simple as an electronic slide show presentation with enough content and interactivity to demonstrate the concept and determine its
  • 8. feasibility. Throughout the creation phase of the title, it is important to test the design and the function. Testing the design involves how the user interacts with the title and asks questions such as; does the user understand the navigation scheme, terminology, icons and metaphors? This allows the developer to see what users do, why they interact the way they do, and what their feelings are as they progress through the title. Testing the function of a multimedia title involves making sure it works according to the specifications. There are two formal processes of testing which is Alpha testing and Beta testing. Alpha testing is usually conducted in-house and is not restricted to the development team. Beta testing is the final functional test before release. It involves selected potential users that could number in the thousands. Companies try to make it easy for beta testers to provide feedback by giving them an e- mail address to contact or a disk containing a questionnaire that each tester fills out and returns in a prepaid package. A goal of beta testing is to get feedback from a variety of potential users.

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