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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:40 pm 
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Introduction:

Thanks to digital technology, today we can mix and match different forms of media that were previously separate. An obvious example of this would be visual novels, which use images, words, and sounds to tell a story. But when you think about it, there are really endless opportunities to create new media - interactive novels, comic books with sound, and so forth.

Here are just a few examples of recent media that have mixed media elements in unusual ways:

Image



But here's the big question: If you were working on something, a story, for instance, and you could use ANY kind of media at ANY time, what would you pick? What are the benefits and drawbacks to all the different forms of media? Why would you use animation instead of still images? Why would you use text instead of dialogue? Why would you make something interactive?

That is why I am doing this project - to serve as a guide for everyone who is currently working in the creative arts. My hope is that people who read this will better understand they different elements of media, and be able to use them more effectively.




Tentative Table of Contents:

The game will be broken down into several sections. Once the player has read through a section, other ones will be unlocked. I have an outline made up, although it might be a little confusing:

1.) Introduction

2.) Elements
    A.) Introduction
    B.) Visual
      a.) Still
      a.) Moving
    B.) Auditory
      a.) Sound
      a.) Music
    B.) Linguistic
      a.) Written
      a.) Spoken
3.) Interactivity (or "Applications of Elements")
    A.) Introduction
    B.) Static
    B.) Dynamic
      a.) Active
      a.) Passive
    B.) Randomized
4.) Sample Media
    A.) Sample Instructional Material
      a.) with commentary
    A.) Sample Story
      a.) with commentary
    A.) Sample Game
      a.) with commentary
1.) Credits

1.) Options


I tried to number and color code the list to make the order in which they are unlocked clearer. For instance, the main menu will display "Introduction," "Elements," "Interactivity," "Sample Media," "Credits," and "Options". However, when you start up the program for the first time, only "Introduction," "Credits," and "Options" will be unlocked. The rest are unlocked in order. For instance, "Elements" is unlocked after reading "Introduction". And then "Interactivity" is unlocked after reading "Elements." I really hope this isn't as confusing as I suspect it is...

Here is a hypothetical partial mock-up of the menu screen. It still requires illustrations in the right side of the image:

Image




Elements of Media:

Let's start off by clarifying the different main elements of media. These are the basic building blocks of media that you can mix and match.

Image


These are probably all obvious, but I'll go ahead and give some overly-long descriptions for them:

    Linguistic
    These elements are coded information that are meant to be deciphered in the mind of the audience
    • Written - These are images that convey a coded meaning.
    • Spoken - These are sounds that convey a coded meaning.

    Auditory
    These elements use the audience's sense of hearing to convey meaning.
    • Sound Effects - These are sounds that are arranged with the intention to seem like believable noises.
    • Music - These are sounds that are arranged WITHOUT the intention to seem like believable noises. Usually they are arranged with some kind of pattern or structure to them.

    Visual
    These elements use the audience's sense of sight to convey meaning.
    • Still - Still images.
    • Kinetic - Moving images.


Okay, this might be getting a little complicated, so let's give some common examples:

Image

Hopefully this helps clarify the different basic elements that are used to create media.




Interactivity: (or "Applications of Elements")

There are a few ways that you can apply the elements listed in the previous section. Basically, these methods deal with interactivity on the part of the audience. Let's take a look:

Image


    Static
    This means that the element cannot be changed, no matter what. For example, all the elements in a movie are static - the audience cannot influence them, and they are the same each time you see them.

    Dynamic
    This means that the audience has some influence on the element.
  • Active:
    This means that the audience can intentionally influence a media element. For example, in video game a player actively and intentionally has some control over various elements - mainly the visuals.
  • Passive:
    This means that the audience can UNINTENTIONALLY influence a media element. For example, a video game may be designed to change its music based on a player's reactions. Or an even more subtle example would be a live play where the audience's reactions may slightly influence the performance.

    Randomized
    This means that the element is designed to be different each time the media is played. This is rarely used since it allows neither the creator nor the play to have as much control. But it is possible, and it is used sometimes.


Some media uses a combination of these methods. For example, a video game may have dynamic visuals (gameplay), but static music. Or a game may have some randomized visuals, and other dynamic visuals (such as Diablo, which has randomized dungeons, but normal gameplay).




[Questions and comments are welcomed]


Last edited by AlexisPius on Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:16 pm, edited 17 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:55 am 
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It's a good topic to tackle, but I'm not sure what sort of "deliverable" would represent your work. Do note though that visual novel engines have been used in interactive museum kiosks, tutorials for grade schoolers, even billboard advertisements. They're rarely mentioned in this forum, because this forum does have a preference for creative anime-style works made in the traditional form of presentation.

So I'm kinda curious if this will be some sort of long-running lecture series or if there's going to be an actual sample fictional piece of media which will be used as an example to illustrate various techniques.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:21 pm 
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DaFool wrote:
It's a good topic to tackle, but I'm not sure what sort of "deliverable" would represent your work. Do note though that visual novel engines have been used in interactive museum kiosks, tutorials for grade schoolers, even billboard advertisements. They're rarely mentioned in this forum, because this forum does have a preference for creative anime-style works made in the traditional form of presentation.

Deliverable?


Quote:
So I'm kinda curious if this will be some sort of long-running lecture series or if there's going to be an actual sample fictional piece of media which will be used as an example to illustrate various techniques.

I'm so glad you asked! No, this will be a single educational program made using Ren'Py. I'm still trying to figure out programming and such, so I posted it in the "Ideas" section instead of the "In Progress" section.

It would be broken down into sections, and once the player has read through a section, other ones will be unlocked. I have an outline made up, although it might be a little confusing:

1.) Introduction
2.) Genres (or "Goals" or "Purposes" or "Focuses")
    A.) Introduction
    B.) Rhetoric (or "Tools")
    B.) Distraction (or "Entertainment")
    B.) Aesthetics (or "Art")
3.) Elements
    A.) Introduction
    B.) Visual
      a.) Still
      a.) Moving
    B.) Auditory
      a.) Sound
      a.) Music
    B.) Linguistic
      a.) Written
      a.) Spoken
4.) Interactivity (or "Applications of Elements")
    A.) Introduction
    B.) Static
    B.) Dynamic
      a.) Active
      a.) Passive
    B.) Randomized
5.) Sample Media
    A.) Sample Tool
      a.) with commentary
    A.) Sample Story
      a.) with commentary
    A.) Sample Art
      a.) with commentary

1.) Credits
1.) Options


I tried to number and color code the list to make the order in which they are unlocked clearer. For instance, the main menu will display "Introduction," "Genres," "Elements," "Interactivity," "Sample Media," "Credits," and "Options". All the rest are sub-menus. And when you start up the program for the first time, only "Introduction," "Credits," and "Options" will be unlocked. The rest are unlocked in order. For instance, "Genres" is unlocked after reading "Introduction". And then "Elements" is unlocked after reading "Genres." I really hope this isn't as confusing as I suspect it is...

There will be some short pieces of sample media at the end, with optional commentary, that demonstrate what a finished piece could potentially look like. By short, I mean that each will only take a few minutes to complete.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:15 pm 
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Oh, wow, this looks very interesting. Thank you for sharing and creating this. I look forward to seeing it finished. Are you planning on releasing this project to places other than LSF? I could see this as a media presentation for art schools and the like. My one nitpick is that visual novels can have "spoken" portions. Many commercial visual novels include voices, so in a way, visual novels are capable of doing everything on your chart.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:32 pm 
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kaleidofish wrote:
Oh, wow, this looks very interesting. Thank you for sharing and creating this. I look forward to seeing it finished. Are you planning on releasing this project to places other than LSF? I could see this as a media presentation for art schools and the like.

Well, I don't know many other places, but by the time I finish it, I'd like to at least have my own website set up. Do you have any suggestions on other places to release this?

Quote:
My one nitpick is that visual novels can have "spoken" portions. Many commercial visual novels include voices, so in a way, visual novels are capable of doing everything on your chart.

Ah, yes. I noticed that, but it's tough to create a definition that encompassed everything, so I just went with the most common elements. For example, video games can vary greatly, and some movies may include written text as an important part of the film.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:32 pm 
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Ah, and I would also like to add that most silent movies, if not all, were also narrated by somebody in the theater playing the piano, organ, or other instrument so music does need to be included, but as you have stated with all media it is passive to the main information being given. I'm not sure about the Tools category, particularly News since I don't believe it's a separate entity from the others. It could be and often is both educational and propaganda. Err... actually, news could potentially fit into all the other categories! I think if you just scrap that part it would be fine.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:59 pm 
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Oh, and Kaleidofish, I am glad that to hear that you are excited.

Tetiel wrote:
Ah, and I would also like to add that most silent movies, if not all, were also narrated by somebody in the theater playing the piano, organ, or other instrument so music does need to be included, but as you have stated with all media it is passive to the main information being given. I'm not sure about the Tools category, particularly News since I don't believe it's a separate entity from the others. It could be and often is both educational and propaganda. Err... actually, news could potentially fit into all the other categories! I think if you just scrap that part it would be fine.


Ah, yes. As I said to Kaleido, it is hard to account for every variable in the different media forms, since there are often a lot of differences between the same form of media. For instance, no one ever just sat silently in a room and watched a silent movie, there was usually at least someone playing a piano. But rarely did the films actually come with musical scores, so the pianist just had to use some unrelated song. Therefor I didn't count music as an element in silent films.

And more importantly, one problem is that this whole project is intended for the people who are creating media - all the the writers, directors, illustrators, etc. out there. It's not intended to be used by people to analyze other people's media.

In other words, it does get confusing if you try to guess what someone else is intending to do, because you can never know for sure. For instance, is The Daily Show meant to be news or entertainment? Is a documentary meant to be educational or entertainment? Are certain "video games" meant to be art or entertainment? Oh course we can never know. But the reason I include that is that I think that someone who is creating media should know explicitly what they are trying to accomplish with it. And perhaps more importantly, it is possible that different elements may work better with different genres. For instance, maybe "games" are an innately visual medium? I still need to investigate this part further.

However, I should point out that this is all subject to change, and out of everything it is the "Genres" section that I am most unsure about.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:24 pm 
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AlexisPius wrote:
Well, I don't know many other places, but by the time I finish it, I'd like to at least have my own website set up. Do you have any suggestions on other places to release this?


I wish I had an answer for that, sorry. I did some searching around for educational game development websites, but couldn't really find any that would be appropriate. You could try posting it to indie game development sites (like Indiegames.com), artist forums and the like, since they sound like they'd be your intended audience. Thanks for answering my questions. Wish you the best of luck in completing this!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:18 am 
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kaleidofish wrote:
I wish I had an answer for that, sorry. I did some searching around for educational game development websites, but couldn't really find any that would be appropriate. You could try posting it to indie game development sites (like Indiegames.com), artist forums and the like, since they sound like they'd be your intended audience. Thanks for answering my questions. Wish you the best of luck in completing this!

Thank you.

I shall look up related sites.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:01 am 
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I think you need subdivisions for each category so you can better address the differences between them.

For example, certain types of poetry would have a Still Visual using text to illustrate a picture or an idea. Just as certain visual novels have a spoken element to them. Just as certain plays use static visuals.

It works generally, but it should be addressed.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 7:50 am 
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yukipon wrote:
I think you need subdivisions for each category so you can better address the differences between them.

For example, certain types of poetry would have a Still Visual using text to illustrate a picture or an idea. Just as certain visual novels have a spoken element to them. Just as certain plays use static visuals.

But that's just it, that's a good example!

This project is about how those six basic elements can be combined in different ways. I would argue that adding an illustration to a poem can potentially completely change the piece's impact on the audience.

Although this does raise a couple of good questions... for example, what constitutes a single work of media? Is a collection of short stories one piece of media, or several? Does the creator's intent matter? And who counts as the creator if there is a team making it? Sorry, I'm rambling now.

==========================


Also, as an update - I removed the "Genres" section and added the "Tentative Table of Contents" and created this mock-up of what the title screen might look like. It still needs illustrations in the right side.

Image

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