My Final Major Project was an interactive E-Book about the Battle of the Bulge, also known as Ardennes Offensive. I created the E-Book on InDesign because it was the best software for the project and it was easy to use.
What was the purpose of the project? What did you hope to learn?
The purpose of my project was to explore the different ways interactivity can be used to educate an audience about a certain subject. I also intended to make the content of the project interesting and informative. I hoped to learn how interactivity can be used to help people learn by getting my audience to interact with the app. I also hope to improve my skills in interactivity and app development.
What was the theme for the project?
The theme of my project was education and how it can be applied with interactivity to help people learn.
How have you developed your ideas?
My first idea for my Final Major Project was to create a video on a what if scenario, what if the Germans won the Second World War. I aimed to create a 2D drawing of the narrator and some visual elements. I then changed it to a text based adventure game. In the game you would be running a country and the choices you choose would take you to a different page with different choices and consequences. I changed it to a text based adventure about running a country because at the time I was into playing games that allowed you to run a country, games like Europa Universalis 4, and I wanted to create a game that has a similar purpose. As well as being into games similar to my idea, I enjoyed doing the previous terms project which was to create an interactive dossier and I wanted to use and improve the skills I learnt. Then I changed it again to an interactive timeline of the Second World War. When I proposed this idea I was advised to maybe changing it to an e-book and maybe covering a single battle of the war. So with the advice I got from the proposal, I changed my project to an e-book about the Battle of the Bulge.
How much reference material did you find (primary and secondary research)? Do you think you could have done more? If so, explain what you think you could have done.
I got a lot of secondary research resources and not a lot of primary resources because my project is based on the Second World War and not a lot of combatants are still alive. Also I do not know anyone who fought during the Battle of the Bulge to ask. I did get into a focus group and asked people about my three ideas to see what they thought is the best idea. The focus group said that the interactive timeline was the best idea because it can have a lot of elements to it like video, picture and interactivity. Another source of primary research I did is looking at similar products, I mainly looked at World War 2 History Timeline and Who Killed Gandhi. I had a look at these apps to see how similar products use interactivity to educate their audience. The World War 2 History Timeline use videos and a scrolling timeline as well with dates and events on it. Who Killed Gandhi layout helps people learn, it is laid out as a case file of a police investigation.
The bulk of my research was secondary. I looked at interactivity, design layout and history research. With interactivity I found web sources about how it can used. With design I found web sources and books for which explained how different elements of laying out a page can affect how the page looks and feels. With history research I found web sources on them which made the bulk of my research because I needed to make sure the information I used from them was correct. Getting multiple sources for one thing can be useful because when I was researching the Battle of the Bulge start and end dates I found different sources that have different end dates.
I feel I could have done more primary resources to get useful research of people opinions of my project or what I should do because knowing what people want or knowing how most people learn could have helped me justifying my project and help me plan around it. I do as well feel I could have done more research into interactivity and design layout to get a better understanding how interactivity and the design of an application can impact the user experience.
Which developers, art movements, designers, media companies/campaigns and industry examples have you looked at to assist and inspire you? Why?
When I was looking for inspiration I was looking at two YouTube channels. The first one was CrashCourse. CrashCourse create educational videos for an educational audience, probably between the ages of 12-16 because there is no bad language and the detail of the information is quite detailed as well. CrashCourse create videos on history, science and economics to name a few. CrashCourse inspired to create similar information that matches their level of detail and make my information as interesting as they have as well. The second YouTube channel is called AlternateHistoryHub. AlternateHistoryHub mainly creates videos on alternate history scenarios but he also creates historical videos and has another channel called GeographyHub that covers similar videos but about geography. AlternateHistoryHub inspired me to have the idea to create an alternate history video because I enjoy watching his videos.
Explain how your production board presentation went. What feedback did you receive and how did this help you focus your production?
My project board presentation I feel did not go very well because I feel when I was presenting information, I missed out key information and I was speaking too fast as well. I feel if I was less nervous doing it I could have presented it better and clearer. The most important bit of feedback I got was to possibly change my project from an interactive timeline to an e-book and instead of doing every key event of the Second World War, narrow it down to a single battle of the war. The reason I was advised to change it to an e-book because how I presented the interactive timeline idea I made it sound more like an e-book. And the reason I was advised to narrow down the subject of the e-book was due to if I would have enough time to do the entire war.
How did your work change through the project?
The biggest change to my work was the idea, starting at an alternate history video to an educational e-book. But during the production stage the biggest change was just the decorative design and layout of the e-book. Originally I had just visual elements and text on a cardboard colour paper background. But when I added all the content to the e-book I added a pair of tea stained colour paper to each page, to make it look like a secret file. I also created and added paperclips to any non-intractable pictures, this was done to make it look and feel like a secret document.
Which technical skills, methods and techniques did you use?
The key skills I used were photo manipulation, research, designing skills and creative skills.
With photo manipulation, I edited a number of photos I found to look and feel the part of the document. The edited photos to me also looked clearer because they were quite bright and I made them darker. I added a yellow background behind the photos and added a dark yellow tint to the photos.
With research skills, I gathered a lot of research of the Battle of the Bulge to make sure information is correct. I gathered multiple sources of similar pieces of work and compared them together to make sure they were correct. I also researched layout and interactive design and applied them to my work, so I can make my project feel like a secret file.
Designing and creative skills are used when I created the background, the logo and next/previous buttons. I originally designed them on paper before making a number of digital versions to see how feel about them. For example, I created seven logos because I wanted to test how each design looked normally and smudged. I also used one of the designs for my logo that I did not like to inspire the next and previous buttons. When actually creating the logos I applied creative skills to do so.
What were the key areas of development in this project? Use your daily reflections to help you with this
The key areas of my project was research, layout and interactivity. Research was a big part my project because I was doing an educational application, so I needed to get enough research to be able to know enough to write about the subject and to make sure my sources are correct. Layout was a key area because it was important to get everything correctly laid out to make feel like a secret document. Another reason why layout was important was to make the pages look interesting as well. If it was just a wall of text it will not interest people and turn people away. Finally interactivity was a key area because I was exploring how interactivity can be applied to education to help people learn.
What experiments and exploration did you do? How did it affect your project’s development? Were there any significant changes?
When I was creating my logo for this project, I experimented on how the logo will look smudged and by adding stars to the logo as well. I wanted to add smudges to the logo to make it look like a stamp. The purposes of the smudges was to make the stamp look like someone just added it to the document and not every stamp would be perfect. But the design I went with does not have any smudges on it because I felt it looked better without the smudges. I was also experimenting on interactivity by creating a prototype of what I might implement in my e-book. I tried out multistate objects and page buttons. At the end of the production of my e-book I was experimenting with adding a gif to my project. Probably the most important experiment I did was seeing how things look and changing it to see it will look better in a different locations. When I was experimenting with layout I was also looking at different fonts as well and went for something that looks similar to a font that is used for typewriters.
Is the final product appropriate for the intended platform/purpose?
The platform I intended to create my product on was on any Android mobile device. When I uploaded my e-book to Adobe Publishing Suite and downloaded to my phone (which is an Android device), it worked perfectly. I do wish I tried it on different platforms like IOS but the intended platform was Android. I feel the purpose of my final product was appropriate to my original intensions.
Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your final product.
A strength of my final product was the amount of content a created for it. There is a lot of information about the battle and about the combatants of the battle. I feel I created enough visual elements to keep people interested so my product does not look like it is just walls of text. A weakness of my final product I feel is there is not enough interactive elements or I did not explore a lot of interactive elements. A strength of my product is people enjoyed the gif I added in, I do feel I could have added in more.
Find a similar product – place it next to your own – what comparisons/difference can you identify?
A similar product of my product is World War 2 History Timeline. This is an application that can be found on the Play Store on any Android device. The app contains a timeline of the Second World War and you could press on any event and a brief description of event. Some events even have embedded videos from YouTube that the creators of the app created. Both my product and the World War 2 History Timeline have a similar theme. Both products are educational and contain interactive elements to help people learn and enjoy the subject. A difference is how the interactivity is applied, my product allows people to change photos and activate a gif while the World War 2 History Timeline app allows people to explore a timeline and watch videos.
Another similar app is Who Killed Gandhi, available on IOS. The app explores when, who and why Gandhi was killed. A similarity this application has with my product is the layout of both products. Both products are laid out like case files/secret documents. A difference is the Who Killed Gandhi app is more animated than my product. Mine is just simple jump to a different page while the Who Killed Gandhi app has a transaction. It also has sound and music to it while mine has no sound to it.
Review your proposal – what changed, what developments did you make, did you manage to complete everything you set out to?
One change from my project proposal is the sections, I still created three sections but instead of creating pages for combatant and technology used, I separated combatants into Allies and Germans and added the technology they used to their pages/sections. I did this because it made more sense to do it this way when I was writing the content up. I also did think to add stock footage of the battle to my product as well but I could not find any that were free/cheap and legal to use. So instead I found gifs and used one because the others did not fit in with any pages. But other than these changes, everything else was what I set out to do.
Are you happy with your final piece? Are there any elements you like in particular?
I am happy with how my Final Major Project ended up because it covers what I wanted to do and it also works on a mobile device. I probably like the layout of my product the most because I feel it looks authentic, maybe I could enlarge the font to make it easier to read but other than that I am happy with how it ended up. I am also happy with how I manipulated the photos to look darker because it made them easier to look at I feel and the process was simple to do.
Is there anything you would change? Why?
If I could change anything it would probably be adding more interactive elements like videos. I feel if I added a couple of videos I could remove some text and add more interactivity to it. I would also add more pages to the document if I would change anything as well. There are pictures on my product that I could turn into buttons to take the user to different pages that go into detail about the subject of the picture, for example I have a page about the M4 Sherman with different pictures of different versions of the tank where I could go into more detail about.
This week I finished my Final Major Project by adding any decorative elements to my e-book. For example, improving the background.
I found paper texture that I felt went with my dossier. The paper texture was a tea stained colour but I did not like the whole texture because the actual piece of paper had a rip in it. So in Photoshop I cropped the paper down to get rid of the rip. After I added two paper textures to my e-book, I adjusted my e-book to work with the new textures so it looked like an actual secret document.
I created a paperclip in Photoshop. The paperclip was for any non-interactive photos that do not change. The original paperclip did not look 3D so I did not think it fitted in with the e-book. I then was shown a way to make it look 3D my adding a bevel and shadow to it. This made the paperclip work with the document and after adding them I tested the document to see if it still works, which it did. After testing I uploaded it to the Adobe Publishing Suite and tested it on my phone. Everything worked on my phone but I do wish some buttons were bigger but the problem was if I enlarge any buttons it would have ruined the layout of the e-book I feel. After testing on my phone, I published it.
This week I put all the elements I created together in the e-book. I also finished writing the content as I was putting things together because I think when I was laying it out I knew how much I needed to write about.
I finished writing the content I was having trouble with the week before. I had the previous weekend to think about what I want to write about. With the new information I needed new photos that are linked to the content. After gather the photos I also then edited the photos that look similar to the photos I did in the previous week.
I started to look for gifs because I could not find any videos that are free to use. I found three gifs that are useful to what I need; I found of a Tiger tank firing, a German tank moving and destroyed American equipment. Also today I started to create my e-book. I mange to create my title page and first page of my e-book. The first page was about the battle and explaining what happened during the battle.
Today I finished my e-book. I added a page about the Allies, which explained the 3rd Army’s role and the 101st Airborne Division role in the battle. The third page was about the M4 Sherman which told what gun it had and armour. The page also explained the adaptability of the Sherman and how it was improved. The fourth page was about the Germans and the Tiger tank. One problem I had was the gifs I found on Thursday were now blocked by the college and I could not use them because they were web content. I could not find any good replacements for the gifs . I would add them at home if I had InDesign.
This week I started the production of my Final Major Project.
I started to write up content for my e-book. When I was writing my content this week I had difficulty writing it because I just had trouble thinking up things to write about. I also revised my research to see if I can think of anything to write about.
I continued to write up content but still had trouble to think of things to write about and again after I revised my research to see if I can think of anything to write about. I then look for pictures to add to my e-book.
I continued to to write up content for my e-book but again I had trouble thinking of stuff to write. After I looked for stock footage of the Battle of the Bulge. I could not find any stock footage because all the royalty free footage I could find cost a lot of money to download.
I edited the photos I found on Wednesday. I wanted them to look like they are from a secret document, so a added a border around them and added a dark yellow tint around them. The dark yellow tint also made the pictures stand out and look clearer because there was snow on the days of the battle, the ground almost blended together with the sky, so adding the tint actually helped there. I also design and created multiple logo I am going to use for my e-book.
I feel this week this week should have been productive, I think my ability in literacy affected the work this week because I still have not finished the content. I do like how my logos ended up looking though and how the pictures look as well.