Age of Napoleon Dossier Evaluation

When we were planning our dossier we knew we had to make it look and feel like something from the 1800’s, as this is the time period Age of Napoleon is set. To achieve this we each looked at various items from around that time period to give us a good idea of what we needed to make our dossiers like. We also had to discuss what content each person in our team would focus on for the dossier, so that everyone knew the kind of content they would need to find and produce. We also decided on things such as the home buttons being a wax seal, and include table textures on some of our pages to make it look like the content we have is spread out on a desk. Also we agreed that our button for audio logs would be a vinyl record used in gramophones, as they were the audio recording devices used during this time period. I looked at multiple newspapers from the time to give me an idea of the fonts that were used as well as the textures for the paper. I also looked at photographs from the time to see what they looked like and if I could recreate the effects of them in any photos I might have included in the dossier. Doing this research meant that I could make the dossier look like something that you would expect to see in the time period, which was important for the project, and meant that our target audience would have a clear idea of what we are trying to promote to them.

During the production phase of this project we had to actually create the assets that looked like they were from the 1800’s that we had discovered while doing our research. We also had to create the information that we would present on our pages and get the textures for those pages. The assets that I made were the wax seal for the home button, a vinyl record for the audio logs, a 3D model of a Daguerreotype camera, and a 3D model of a paintbrush. The reason I made those two 3D models is because my section of the dossier was focusing on Louis Daguerre, who was a painter and invented the Daguerreotype camera, and I felt these models were important to my content. The wax seal and vinyl record were made using the tools available in Photoshop and with skills that I have learnt during this project. The 3D models were made in 3DS Max using the basic techniques that I have been taught. All these assets add to the look that this dossier is from the 1800’s.

During post-production we realised that we needed to add some things to our dossier to complete this. We realised this after we had asked some people to test our dossier and were responding to their feedback. One of the things we realised was we needed a home page, and we decided this would be the front cover of a folder with a stamp on it. I created the folder cover and the stamp using Photoshop, and once we had added this to the dossier it finally looked like a dossier from the 1800’s that would inform our target audience exactly what the product is about and will make them believe in that world.

My project was to create pages about Louis Daguerre for a dossier about a spy organisation that Daguerre is the leader of in the fictional world of Age of Napoleon. These pages had to include audio, visual, and interactive elements. This meant I had to script and record audio logs, create 3D models and include images, and had to include buttons and other things users could interact with, such as an image sequence, where they can swipe to look at the image from whatever angle they want. The pages I made had to look like they would be a part of the same dossier as my team mates pages so I had to make sure there were consistent elements throughout the pages. The content I included showed Daguerre and some of his achievements, such as the Daguerreotype and some of his paintings. I also had content that talked about Daguerre’s life in this fictional world and the work he had done for the spy organisation.

My goals for this project were to make the dossier look as realistic for the time period as possible, and present interesting and relevant information in a way that interested the user and I expected that I would achieve both these goals as long as I did enough research so I knew what the dossier should like and research on Daguerre so that the content I put in was factually correct.

This product is challenging, different, and interesting in the way that we don’t tell users what to do, so they have to discover certain things on their own, such as that thy can control the image sequences that are included, and they can navigate through the dossier in whatever order they like as we made in non-linear. Also what is interesting about the dossier is every section is unique and different from each other but they still fit together well and all look like they belong in the same dossier, but each page presents the information in a different way so it doesn’t get boring for the user. The product is different from other promotional material as this is interactive and encourages users to interact to find out more, and presents the information in the form of a dossier that would be expected to be found in the finished Age of Napoleon product.

My ideal target audience is people from the ages 12-20 who have an interest in history and alternative scenarios, as they will appreciate the alternate history we have created and will enjoy looking through the dossier and discovering all the information it presents.

The audience should use this product as it promotes Age of Napoleon in an interesting way that will make them want to know more and includes so much quality information not just in the text but also in the audio logs which tell their own mini stories and will entertain users. Also this product engages the audience with its interactivity so that they feel a part of this world.

The message of my media product is people should buy Age of Napoleon as the dossier is promotional material for the game, and its purpose is to give people information about Age of Napoleon. My creative decisions help communicate this message by creating a sense of the Age of Napoleon world and giving an insight into that world, as by including things like wax seal and old-looking photographs I created the feeling that this dossier has come straight from the time period and history that Age of Napoleon incorporates, which will make people want to see more of this world.

Audio
One of the audio problems I encountered was the project required me to create audio logs. I solved this problem by using the website Celtx which allows you to easily write scripts. This resulted in another problem that I created for myself as the character I created to speak during the audio log was Spanish so I had to attempt a Spanish accent when I was delivering the lines. To try and solve this problem I listened to some Spanish people talking so that I could learn how they spoke, and then I could attempt to recreate their speech patterns when I was recording. Another audio problem I encountered was I needed a quiet place to record my audio log, so that there was as little background noise as possible. Fortunately there was a recording studio that I could use that had sound proof walls so the only sounds being recorded was my speech.

When it came to the post-production process I had to make my audio sound like audio from the 1800’s. I achieved this by editing it in Audacity to lower the quality by adding some static, to give it the effect that it was being played on  a Gramophone. Another problem I discovered was that in the dossier, once you started playing one of the audio logs it would continue to play even if you changed page or started another audio log unless you paused the audio log first or let it continue until it was finished. I was not able t fix this problem because I discovered it late and did not have the time to do anything about it, however if I had the time I would have been able to fix it by removing all the audio in the dossier and then adding it back in using the Media section in InDesign instead of the Overlay section.

I think all the solutions to the problems I encountered were very effective in creating my final outcome of the audio, as the audio does sound like its being played on a device from the 1800’s and thanks to the sound proof room I recorded it in there are no unwanted noises. The Spanish accent that I attempted for this audio is the weakest part but I don’t think it distracts too much from what is being said. I could improve the audio log by either practicing the Spanish accent more before recording so that it sounds better, or by getting someone who speaks Spanish to perform for me so that the accent is natural. Alternatively I could change the character to English so that the accent is much easier to perform for me. Also I could make the audio logs stop automatically when the page is turned or another audio log is started, as at the moment it could be quite confusing if an audio log is playing talking about something that is not related to the content on the current page, or if two or more audio logs are playing at the same time.

One of the audio skills I have learned during this project is how to record audio using a Zoom recorder, as I now know what settings I need to have on the recorder and how to adjust some of these, such as the levels, depending on the audio I am recording. I can develop this skill further for my final major project by learning more about the Zoom device and learn more about the settings it has and what the settings do, also I can practice recording more with one so that I get more familiar with them. Another audio skill I have learned during this project is how to manipulate audio in Audacity, using tools such as Equalization and the Noise generator, to create different sounding audio that creates different effects. I can develop this further by using Audacity more and experimenting more with the tools in Audacity, so that I learn more about them and become more confident in making better sounding audio.

Visual
The visual problems that I encountered were all related to making the dossier look like it was from the 1800’s, and creating objects from the 1800’s such as the Daguerreotype camera I made. The first visual problem was finding a paper texture that looked old enough to be from the 1800’s. The paper had to look old so that it was obvious the dossier came from around the 1800’s as if I had just used modern looking paper it would not have created the feel that this is an old dossier. I solved this by using the website Textures.com and searching for old paper textures. Another problem I had was I needed to create a wax seal to be used as the home button on the dossier. To be able to do this I researched what wax seals look like and then looked for Photoshop tutorials on how to create a wax seal. After doing this the wax seal was very easy to create with the tools in Photoshop. Another visual problem that also relates to Photoshop is I needed to create a vinyl record to be used for audio logs. This was a harder problem to solve as there were not as many tutorials online to teach me how to make one, but eventually I learnt how best to create it.

Another Visual problem was I needed to make a home page for the dossier, this would be the front cover of a folder with a classified stamp on it because our faction was the spies and their information would be classified. I made the folder in Photoshop by getting a similar style but different old paper texture to the one I used for my dossier pages and created the tabs by cutting a shape out of the paper texture. I made the stamp by creating a circle and cutting a part of it out and then used the brush and blur tools to create a smudged affect across the stamp. Another visual problem I had was I needed 3D models in my dossier. I decided to make a model of the Daguerreotype camera that Daguerre invented, and a special paintbrush that Daguerre would have used as a painter. I made these models in 3DS Max using previous skills I had learnt but I encountered problems when texturing the Daguerreotype as it had flat objects and cylindrical objects, so I had to texture those parts separately, also when I was creating the paintbrush I had a problem when creating the brush as I needed a lot of small cylinders to create the effect that there were a lot of hairs compacted together to make a brush, which took a lot of time but I was able to speed up the process by using copy and paste.

Another visual problem was I wanted a lot of images on my pages but didn’t have enough room for them all to be spread out. I solved this by putting those images into a slideshow on one page which gave me more room on my other pages to focus on more important things like the Daguerreotype and Daguerre’s biography. Finally, the biggest visual problem I had was finalising the actual layout of my pages as I went through many versions where there was too much information being presented on one page that mad it difficult to know where to begin. I solved this problem by adding more pages whenever I felt I had too much information on one page, so that when I finished the information wasn’t all close together and hard to follow.

My final outcome after solving these visual problems was very effective as the information was all clearly presented so it was easy for the user to understand. Also the textures I used worked well to make the pages look old and from the 1800’s, and the wax seal and vinyl record added to the feel that it was made in the 1800’s. Also the slideshow was a good way to show those images in a small space and gave the users a chance to just focus on those pictures and not have other information distracting them. I could improve this by using more than just one old paper texture so that there is some variety among my pages and also because not every piece of paper is going to look exactly the same.

One of the visual based skills I have learnt during this project is how to effectively lay out information on a page so that it is easy for someone to follow what they are being presented with, so that they do not get confused or distracted. I can develop this further for my final major project by simply not putting as much information on one page so the user does not get overstimulated and make sure the information is clear for them to see. Another visual based skill I have learnt is how to create things in Photoshop, and am now more confident with the tools in Photoshop. I can develop this further for my final major project by practicing with Photoshop more and experimenting with the tools available so that I become more familiar with them and get more confident in Photoshop.

Interactive
I only encountered one interactive based problem, and that was when we had combined our dossier pages into one document. The problem was that once we had done this the buttons that we had each set up on our pages before combining them no longer went to the correct destination, for example all the home buttons we had put in didn’t go to the first page in the dossier, instead they went to the first page of that section because that was the destination they were set to go to. This was very frustrating as at first I did not know what was causing the problem, but eventually we figured out it was because the pages had been placed into different columns when we placed them in the same document, and also the pages had the same numbers as the pages in the other columns, which meant the buttons didn’t know which pages they were supposed to go to. To solve this problem I had to remove the columns that the pages had been placed in when we combined them, so that they were all in the same column and then change the numbering so that they all had different numbers. Once I had done this I was able to reconfigure all the buttons to go to their correct page, as there were no pages that had the same numbers and there was no separation of pages through columns, so the buttons knew exactly what page they were supposed to take the user to.

My final solution to this problem was very effective as every single button on the dossier goes to the correct page now so users can get to whatever section they want without any problems. I don’t think there is any way I could make the interactivity better as now that the buttons go where they are supposed to the dossier is very easy for people to use and they will not have any problems navigating pages.

During this project I have learned how to create interactivity in Indesign, as I now know how to create buttons and set them up properly, and I also know how to add other interactive elements such as how to add a video or an image sequence that can be rotated by the user. Before this project I had not used InDesign before so I was not aware of any of the tools available and had no idea how to make anything interactive. I can develop this further for my final major project by doing more work in InDesign so that I know how to use all the tools to add interactive elements to a document.

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