A two quarter collaboration between the New Media Design and Imaging Program and the New Media Development program, this course focuses on bringing interaction designers and developers together to work on cutting edge projects. These projects range from working with non-for-profit organizations on real-world problems to conceptualizing and creating experimental pieces involving new technologies and non-traditional computer interactions. This course represents the culmination of the students’ education in interactive design and development at RIT.
The projects for non-for-profits have ranged from designing and developing an online brand and presence, rich internet applications, e-learning desktop applications, kiosk based exhibits and medical research resources. Students have met the interactive needs for clients such as The George Eastman House, Strong Hospital HIV research, NOAA and others.
The experimental projects have explored interactions based on sound inputs, accelerometers and motion capture to touch screen table tops. These projects require the students to push the boundaries and capabilities of interactive technologies, usability and social networking. This work has been featured at Adobe Max, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, Apple iPhone store, and Siggraph Conference.
3D Form and Space is an introductory course in visualization that extends previous design and image making experience to include 3d modeling. This course provides fundamentals for more advanced studies in 3d creation, virtual spaces and multi-dimensional navigation design. The tools and theories of this course are taught in two distinct styles.
Students are introduced to the actual software and techniques through a series of custom created video tutorials, in class exercises and one on one assistance. At the same time, theories in composition, design, color, photography, film making and viewer perception are introduced to the students through lectures, research and discussions. This method allows the students to focus on learning the techniques of 3D creation without losing focus on why and how they are designing the images.
This course focuses on environmental design, advertising and prototyping. These areas have a direct role in contributing to the students’ future work in interactive design and development. They are given the tools to design and create interactive environments, navigational structures, characters, products, abstract imagery and test simulations and interactions prior to programming them. 3D imagery and spaces are becoming more incorporated into the designers’ realm, it is critical for them to understand how to utilize and harness this creative dimension.
This course extends previous interaction design and development experiences to emphasize building advanced applications that use immersive environments, gaming concepts and 3d navigation systems. Before conceptualizing the course projects, students are given a series of photographic assignments to enhance their understandings of imagery, space and relationships. The assignments help the students explore imagery from a single perspective to multiple views with montages and finally 360 degree panoramic images.
With a better understanding and imagery and panoramic spaces, students are then given in-class challenges to solve using non-traditional scrollable navigation. From simple image transitions, pre-rendered 3d motion to code simulated 3d environments, students explore the possibilities of future interaction design and development of navigation systems. To complete the course students are required to conceptualize and plan a large 7 week project.
The final project must explore an alternative navigational or interaction systems beyond just the “point and click” of buttons. The projects must also remain usable for the designated target. Students prepare a full design document during the project to track interaction design, visual design, research, technical requirements and production timelines.
Students have had the opportunity to work with real-world clients and content during this course. They have designed and developed prototype interactive e-learning and marketing rich internet applications. This experience gives students the ability to push the notions of interaction design while working within the constraints of client requirements. For a personal project or outside client, students create cutting edge interactions with memorable experiences and take-aways.
As a continuation of 3D Form and Space this course introduces 3D animation, advanced rendering and storytelling to the curriculum. A mix of technical custom video tutorials and lectures are used. Students are first introduced to general animation concepts such as timing, camera movements and framing through projects for short advertisements. These projects require the students to refresh their modeling skills from the previous year while quickly apply the concepts and discussions of the course.
An animated “cube” project is given next. This project introduces basic character rigging, but the focus is on developing the story and movements of the characters. By using a simple cube for the character, students are forced to develop their storytelling skills instead of relying on content creation and technical skills. The objective is for the students to see the importance of having a background story and developed characters during the design and creative process. This method gives the students the creative storytelling ability needed to apply to interactive design projects for web. Students are then given the freedom to use more advanced 3D techniques and animations for their final project.
The Advanced Design for Networking course extends previous web design and development experiences to emphasize advanced visual web layout and incorporation of time-based graphics and programmatic solutions. The emphasis of this course is around the design concepts related to visual web page development with interactive and dynamic interfaces. Students are required to create and update a working digital notebook for sharing their concepts, sketches and design process.
Students are taken through a progression of interactive and web design problems. Starting the quarter, students are required to create re-designs for an existing public site that require a high level of accessibility and focus on ease of use. This project forces students to address the design needs of a large and diverse audience while working within the constraints of HTML and CSS. Accessibility, usability, user feedback, information hierarchy, and interaction design are covered within lectures, research and discussions.
The remaining projects of the course focus on creating design solutions that incorporate secondary interactions and animations to hence the user experience while maintaining the usability and visual standards of the previous projects. Students are encouraged to find topics or graphic design concepts to use for the basis of their projects. Having a personal interest in a project often lends to a positive experience when students are faced with creating unique visual design and development solutions for the first time. Like all courses within the New Media Program, students are required to design and develop their projects to a fully functional state.
To read more on this course and my teaching, read Adobe’s
“Putting Design First” feature article.
Through a Special Topics course, students can explore experimental design and animation. This course introduces advanced techniques for creating or controlling visuals. Sound generation, physics engines, cloning, particle systems, fluid dynamics and mathematical integration are included. Students explore unique ways to use standard 3D and motion techniques to create short animations or still images.
During the course students are required to select a single research topic dealing with any form of image creation, manipulation, compositing or animation. To create a more collaborative environment the students are responsible for creating learning aides and final presentations to help other students incorporate any of the research into their own projects if needed.
Topics for this course range from experimental interface design, plant simulation, motion visualization, image compositing, kinematics and liquid simulations. While some projects may be a technical exercise, the students are required to creatively solve design and conceptual problems during weekly exercises.