I’m Demonstrating.

September 21st, 2007 – 11:45 am
Tagged as: Content Master

Why does the word demonstrating have “Demon” in it? Lol, anyway, that’s beside the point.

By mid September I was in the Groove (get it? Project Groove? Sorry had to say that…), with producing storyboards, animations and demonstrations.

However, I had yet the next major step to learn, given that a new project had arisen – VistaDell.

This project was a promotional project based on Dell machines that came with Windows Vista. The deal was to show the how to use a newly purchased Dell machine, on top of Microsoft products (Vista in particular) pre-installed onto the machine.

As a result, about a total of 60 animations, demos and the new media element to me – simulations – was ready to be developed for the next few weeks.

Therefore, every media element had to be storyboarded or step-listed before creating its content. What made this project interesting however, was the fact that the team were allowed to create our own graphics, even though this was a Microsoft project. I think this was partly Dell insisting they wanted slicker graphics!

Therefore it was slightly exciting as we could all delve into the scene of graphic design and come up with various iconic representations of technical jargon.

VistaDell was set to scene as a huge project and its timescale for completion was by far, unreasonable. However, the team have set to sort out who will do what and as a result – have formulated begin to formulate a whole new graphics object library for approval. The VistaDell library will not only provide new graphics for this particular project, but other projects in the future too. Graphics can always be adapted and created into many representations.

One huge factor I’ve learnt about graphics is placing more than one graphic element on top of another. After creating many individual graphics to represent, say, a hard drive or memory or the verb to increase, further representations of technical detail can be made simply by merging two or more of these graphics elements together (layer them on top/beneath).

For example, “an increase in hard-drive capacity increases memory usage,” will utilise all three graphics and can all be merged into one at specific intervals, to describe that particular action.

It’s a very useful technique and can ease the frustration of trying to find a graphic to represent specific terminology sometimes!

I’ve recently completed several Groove animations for course 6454. There is more than one course for Groove project. Microsoft wish the learning process for their students to be split up in appropriate course structures.

Crse6452ae_01_03_04_dem01 has been completed and ready for audio.

Again, an understanding of the file naming conventions is essential. Anyone in the team could say a particular animation or demo required completion, so it was important to understand the correct way to say. In this case, following the same routines as explained in a previous diary entry, this is to say that the first demo for course collection number 6452, of module 1, lesson 3, topic 4 has been completed and ready for synchronisation.

Synchronisation was the next step after completing the visual design of a demo. This means audio for the narration of that particular demo (in the form of .wav), had to be incorporated next.

Audio requests come from the external sources and are usually requested in bulk (cheaper to source). Requests are usually to an American company called Audiolink. Sometimes voices are produced by AmazingVoices too. However, whoever the supplier, the main theme in Microsoft MSL courses must be American accent.

Unfortunately, as much as American’s love British accents, I don’t think they wanted American Microsoft products branded alongside British voices. Booo!

On the other hand, I’ve heard in extreme acts of desperation, there have been times when it’s been allowed!  Who knows, it might even be my voice!

Therefore, the process for which I completed the demos involved moving an image mouse cursor to areas of action being performed on the VPC, taking out any superfluous screen grabs and making sure all the steps were in the correct order. The next step would be to import audio into Captivate, and synchronise with the order in which the demo had been created.

However, the audio needed to be processed too (normalised) and cut up to the number of steps in the step-list to allow for flexibility when synchronising. I have yet to do that, but I’ve seen other members of the team do it pretty quickly.

Demos are always being developed left, right and centre, given that the whole team designate time on the projects. So whoever was free simply put their name down on the never-ending list of demos. After getting used to creating demos, I learnt how to publish them without audio, which included a play-bar with play, pause, rewind and forward buttons. This way I could check whether the correct timings had been made between each screenshot.

However the following week I was told I’d be looking at synchronising audio to the demos.

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