Sunday, October 31, 2010

Visual Language: Shannon and Weaver Model Reading Response

In Visual Communication From Theory to Practice, they first cover the Shannon and Weaver communication model. At the time, it was created in relation to telecommunications, but was found to be applicable to all forms of communication. 

Their model was extremely simple, with a spot for Source, Transmitter, Noise, Receiver, and Destination. There was no section for feedback, which they continue to describe as a necessity in design and advertising. The presence of a beta testing stage allows for a test run, a period to iron out the wrinkles in the project. It also is a great way to gauge public reactions, and to take estimates on statistics like sales figures and the effectiveness of the message being conveyed. It's much like public speaking. When giving a lecture, it helps to see nods or other bodily gestures as feedback to know that the audience is understanding the message. If there is no feedback, you can't know that your message is getting lost, or going over someone's head. 

The noise was also an interesting section. Listening to a professor talk while they make far to many hand gestures is difficult. The extra fluff or stuff that gets lost creates a barrier that the viewer or listener must deal with. They mention the arts and crafts movement and the movement away from redundancy. This moved into modernism and the push for minimalism. Function over aesthetic. However, in transmission, and the sending of information, redundancy helps to cement an idea or get it across faster. This I agree with to an extent. There is certainly an extent to where repetition of an element is too much. Repetition generally causes a design to lose it's initial sparkle. 

Visual Language: The Berlo Model Reading Response

Berlo's model was by far more interesting to me. There were many details not included in "A Communication Primer".

The model starts with listings of elements beneath the 4 main parts of Sender, Message, Channel, Receiver.

Sender: Communication skills, knowledge, social system, culture, attitudes

Message: Elements + structure, content, treatment, code

Channel: Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting

Receiver: Communication skills, knowledge, social system, culture, attitudes

Sender and Receiver both share the same qualities because they are essentially the same, especially when feedback becomes part of the scenario. We are all sending and receiving data constantly. The schematic still focuses on the relationship between a 1 on 1 sending receiving situation rather than a mass of people.

In the section under Sender, which also applies to receiver, Particularly thought the section on communication skills was the most important. The other 4 seemed new to me though, and they were interesting reads. The knowledge of the content that is being sent or received is completely imperative. If I were to receive an essay written by a scholar on a subject I wasn't familiar with, the terminology and level of writing would soar over my head, creating noise and distance between me and the message. The same can be said for social systems. With each generation comes a new barrage of slang terms. These words become noise between that generation and other generations without understanding of these terms. The writing style also fits in here. If I were to read The Divine Comedy, the writing style and wording particular to that time period are going to become a barrier between me and the content I'm interested in.  Attitudes also become a big deal. If the receiver has no interest in the message being sent to him, such as spam mail in our inboxes, then the end result will be far from what the sender originally intended for that person to receive. The most interesting point however was his mentioning of touch used in social communication between the British and the French. Touch in that situation becomes an additional level beyond spoken word and even body language. With multiple channels conveying information, the message can be both more concrete and easily understood, or distorted by misunderstanding of the channel and it's intentions behind it.

The Message section explained the importance of encoding. In the encoding process, the sender must consider which code will be used, how it will be encoded (in order), and with what means. If using images, icons, symbols, or anything based in a worldwide acceptance of meaning, the sender has to consider with what extra information and contexts that message will bring to different cultures. Hierarchy also plays a major role. The elements that become placed in front of the others by aesthetic techniques or subject matter are going to come across to the viewer in the same way, assuming that the receiver has the same level of interest in the elements.

The Channel is a very broad section. The fact alone that he classified channel in terms of our senses limits this down exponentially. I loved that. Rather than rooting channel in what is currently available to us, such as television, computers, verbal language, writing and books, music, etc., the senses keep this nearly limitless amount of possibilities as a simple and timeless experience. Rather than you experiencing the message through email or what's on your screen, you receive the message through sight of the information on the screen, which is being encoded to you through the eye.

Visual Language: A Communications Primer Response

So, starting off the next project, we have started studying communication, and the process of broadcasting information. This video on is a 1953 instructional film for IBM, explaining this process and the noise that interfeers with this transmision.

In todays world  communication is sent in infinite ways, be it by computer, music, television, by mouth, by body language, by icons and symbols, or even the signals your brain intercepts and decodes when interacting with any of these communications. This video did a great job of bringing this complex process into a simple diagrammatic experience.

Using this diagram, explains the information transfer process in a nutshell.

  1. The Sender has information
  2. The Sender encodes the information
  3. The Sender transmits or sends the information
  4. Various noise, be it audio, visual, physical, mental interfere and alter the information
  5. The Receiver gets the information
  6. The Information is decoded
  7. The Receiver then attempts to understand the information
However, it leaves out a major aspect of the broadcasting process. The feedback.  In a game of telephone, it's crucial that the beginning sender gets feedback, or return information from their receiver. This allows for mutual understanding unless the noise is so great that the feedback is also distorted. With feedback, a person can attempt to fix the noise, or the connection, and can correct any mistakes made in the encoding process that may have become noise itself. 

The simplicity of this diagram also leaves out many aspects of our decoding and encoding process. All aspects of our lives such as politics, culture, social constructs, etc. effect how we send and receive information. In the film the narrator mentions if you speak chinese to him and he can't speak or understand chinese, then he can't understand the message. Well beyond that, there is a further level of understanding. Through the process of understanding the chinese, there is a barrier or translation that must be overcome. A word in one language might have other meanings or contextual information that comes with it that the receiver misses out on. If you watch a Japanese move that has English subtitles or has been swapped with English dialogue, there is information lost in that transition of Japanese culture and linguistics to the English dialect. This can be said of any communication of differing culture or mode of communication that hasn't reached a worldwide agreement of meaning. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visual Language: Tropicana Article Response

I thought this article brought up some valid questions that I've considered myself a few times. While it's true that a company should always look at new personas or ways to present themselves to the public, there are certain elements of ethics that can sometimes become a safety for the consumer to attach to. When a company has a reputation and has existed for a long time, people become comfortable with their advertising and design elements, and see them as a form of reliability. Companies like Morton's salt that have been around for many years barely change their design, sticking to that sense of nastalgia. However, it's also true that new design can real in a new generation of consumers. While I might not agree with Pepsi's new logo, the generation after me might, and it is securing new generations of consumers that keeps a company going. So while I do believe that keeping old design elements, I find myself a Coca Cola fan. Using their series of products, they've managed to use old design elements for classic products, while using newer ones for new products.

As for the quick feedback that these companies are receiving in terms of their newer designs, I find myself confused as to why companies like Tropicana aren't getting public response on their new advertising and design before spending the money to produce it. I understand the need for surprise to grab an audiences attention and to gain press, but we shouldn't ignore the need for constant criticism from peers and public groups.

Visual Language: SoyJoy Process Post

So the final critique for the modes of appeal project starts tomorrow. This post will show some of my process throughout the project and explain some of my concepts and reasonings.

To start out the project, we learned about the 3 modes of appeal, and how to use those effectively to persuade an audience. The project was to redesign a products packaging using the 2 modes of appeal that it isn't currently using, and to make it look better of course.

For my packages, I chose Mrs. Meyers basil liquid hand soap, SoyJoy fruit and nutrient bars, and Nescafe instant coffee. The 3 backages were different materials and had considerably different forms. Mrs. Meyers was using Ethos, SoyJoy was using Logos, and Nescafe was using Pathos.

After passing our package choices by Jamie, we started doing thumbnail sketches for each product, attempting to create concepts for the 2 modes of appeal that each product was not utilizing.

My best sketches seemed to be SoyJoy's. I think I might have been biased toward SoyJoy from the beginning, but the relation between fruit and the human body was an interesting concept. After deciding on which package we wanted (SoyJoy), then we began a round of digital iterations. I also couldn't find an online eps of SoyJoy's logo, so I had to vectorize it myself.

The Berry direction worked best for Pathos. The bright colorful and fresh fruit helps to pull at the consumers hunger and healthy habits, while the words represent the benefit of each berry eaten. For Ethos, I liked the direction using a SoyJoy bar in place of a fitness aid. This created an interesting dialogue between the importance of SoyJoy's nutrients, and the activities of reliable and consistent athletes. They create a sense of trust in the consumer that SoyJoy is a necessity to their diet/ work out routine.

The Berry direction however was too crowded, and very illegible. The full bleed imagery also didn't work well with SoyJoy's persona. The bike direction also didn't hit it off to well with my peers, and while working, the idea of being 100% U.S. grown popped into my head.

With our concepts firmly in hand, we began to fully design them, and mock them up in real size. The photographic images in both directions switched into vector artwork, using flat plains of color and representing the simplicity of ingredients that SoyJoy uses in their ad campaigns. I created my first box, designing around the sides for my Ethos direction, and I created many iterations for the placement of text and image for my Pathos direction.

The colors needed to be worked out for the Ethos direction. The soil was too dark, and the sky wasn't quite blue enough.

The side was also begging for a mission statement. I digitalized the nutrients table so that it would be clear, and because I thought it was a necessary experience. Overall, the design for the box went well, and I moved on to the final box. As for the Pathos direction, I chose a pale yellow, with luscious reds and magentas for the berries. Things popped, and I moved on to designing the final box for it as well, using the same template as the Ethos box. The berries were arranged in a sort of balancing act, reflecting the life of the consumer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prague Astrological Clock Tower Video: Projection

First let me say that this video's format is something completely new to me. I've never seen such a vertical format in an online embedded video. It's a little awkward on the screen and some of you might have to zoom out a bit, but it works wonders in terms of presentation. So I came across this video celebrating the 600 year anniversary for the Astrological Clock Tower in the city square of Prague. Some of the parts showed excellent use of physics and in terms of a linear narrative, it worked wonderfully. I can't wait to use projection in the environment someday.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Visual Language: Digital Compositions

So, with a handful of concepts from each mode, we have started our digital compositions.

The first 3 are for my pathos (emotional) appeal. They just went through critique, and I've decided to go with with first direction. Assigning adjectives that we all want in our lives to delicious looking berries or fruit. The appocoliptic imagery was too random, and didn't necessarily speak to SoyJoy. The 3rd direction was also rejected. It was meant to convey a sense of concentration. Showing berries in berries to promote the idea of a lot of fruit in a small package.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Visual Language: Class Critique and Concept Directions

So, returning to SoyJoy. After my meeting with Raynoldo during our mini critique last friday, I've narrowed down to the 6 best directions to go to. (At least from the ones I've already created. Some new ones might reveal themselves as I work.) These 6 are obviously divided as 3 concepts for each of the two modes I'll be using, which were Pathos and Ethos. The bullet points following each concept are the ways Ray and I thought would work well graphically.

Photography or Illustration will appeal to the consumers emotions rather than vector lines and shapes. Perhaps even a combination of the two. Maybe the SoyJoy bar and the rest of the image are different rendering methods?)

1. The human figure, male or female, placed in a dramatic scene, but armed with a SoyJoy bar in their pocket, hand, somewhere on their person. (If rendered analog, charcoal might be nice, or some other rough tool. The lighting should be dramatic in terms of the dangerous aspect, but the Person with the SoyJoy bar should be even and calm.)

  • Man standing before a destroyed city.
  • Woman Staring down a tidal wave or storm.
  • Kid staring down bullies.
  • Kid on a bike looking at a huge hill.
  • Cowboy with SoyJoy in place of gun.
  • Boxer staring down another boxer.

2. SoyBeans or fruit in place of an important body part or organ. (The human body will be photographic to help relate to the consumer, but the Soybeans/ Fruit might be rendered with something simple. Pen and ink, colored pencil, and Watercolor all sound interesting. I might even try drawing with the fruit or soybeans themselves and see what I can do with them.)

  • SoyBeans as 2 halves of the brain. (Think Healthy)
  • SoyBeans as Lungs 
  • Berries as Heart
  • SoyBeans as muscles

3. Using the fruit in SoyJoy to represent certain things we all want; Happiness, Strength, Stability, Relaxation, Health, Simplicity, etc. (Photography or a medium with intense colors.)

For the SoyJoy brand, I think that an all photographic approach would establish more credibility with the consumer, and really get the point across of SoyJoy brand bars being a health supplement and betterment to someone's life, fit or not.

1. The SoyJoy bar finds itself in place of some fitness tool or aid.

  • In place of Ipod for runner.
  • In place of water battle holder on bicycle.
  • SoyBean in place of Yoga ball
  • In place of weights.
  • In place of punching bag.
  • In place of jumprope handles. 

2. SoyJoy bar partially buried in farm soil. (Grown on U.S. soil.)

McCoy Lecture

The McCoy lecture reviewed ways of creating and conception an idea, whether that be in writing ideas on post it notes, or working in an open collaborative space. It was very relative to all of our classes, but certainly visual language first and foremost. We were taught to create ideas in a quick and analog process, using paper, pencil, really whatever is around, and Mr. McCoy brought similar processes to light. Particularly those pertaining to prototyping, and creating simple "props" of our projects in order to simulate the experience, and perhaps better it for the final product. Cardboard and duck-tape were an excellent example, since you can cut and work with them anywhere in a quick and rough fashion. 

He also talked to us about going out and experiencing the project yourself. Now this was geared toward his role as an industrial designer for sure, but it could be said of any part of design. In his example, he was reinventing the shovel, and in order to gain more footing on the product he was redesigning, and what could be bettered about it, he would ideally go out an dig a hole, using the shovel. I recently did a presentation over Tronic studios. In one of their video pieces, they were recreating the surrounding environment for a 57 story tower. In order to make the video experience seamless with reality, Tronic set out to the rooftops to laser tape measure the distances between all the buildings and other elements of the surrounding area around the tower. This is a level of dedication and craft that I will certainly try to create in my work process. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Visual Language: Benneton Reading

In these readings on Benneton, I found the transformation of the companies message to be an amazing thing. While it's true that their advertising has carried heavy messages, some too hard for people to swallow or accept, Benneton's decisiveness in what they stand for creates powerful imagery, imagery that someone will stop and look at, regardless if they like it or not. While some might hate this tactic to be used as advertising, I embrace the idea. Sure it's rough, but the effectiveness to which the company gets it's viewers attention is well worth it. The David Kerby ad really pushed the importance of aids close to home. In a world where advertising is everywhere, standing out is quite difficult, and the slap in the face sort of advertising they've created over the years has become it's own sort of entity in advertising. One that's not afraid to say "This is happening" and we don't care if you like it or not. I also believe that their strategy of release is brilliant. As they release the images, Benneton's work becomes stronger, and more accepted with those companies or areas that refuse to release their ads. Benneton really has become the epitome of a picture equals a thousand words.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Visual Language: SoyJoy

So I've chosen to design for the SoyJoy packaging. I'll be using Ethos and Pathos for my modes of appeal. I'm not certain as to my concepts yet, still sketching, but I'll upload some scans of my thumbnails later.

Some adjectives I've put together to sum up the SoyJoy experience:

  • Wholesome
  • Healthy
  • Simple
  • Moist
  • Fruity
  • Bold
  • Succulent
  • Complete
  • Tempting
  • Uncomplicated
  • Sumptuous
  • Baked
  • Fresh
  • Hearty
  • Lean
  • Organic
  • Whole
  • Luscious
  • Light
  • Natural
Hopefully using these adjectives will bring some ideas to the surface, or at least influence how I take any photos of fruit in the future. I personally like the idea of keeping the fruit to the minimal, but the fruit is a major selling point and attraction for the hungry consumer. So we'll just have to see.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Narrative: Project 5

This is my final file for the project 5 turn in (formerly refereed to as "the combination".)

Narrative: The combination from Brandon Lyon on Vimeo.

By printing out the text and recording it digitally, I was able to create transitions that give space between the elements of text and audio. I was originally afraid that both elements couldn't run at the same time, however, with these new little breaks created by the fades and focusing, I found that my brain at least, could take them both in at the video's pace. I originally had the text filmed straight on, but I enjoy the angled recording I did later. It makes it a little more dynamic, and it shows bits of the other slides. Since I wanted the printed text to relate to the linear strip of film, showing the other text brings simultaneity and foreshadowing of the next slide of text.