The Big Decision

For first year students, deciding what field you want to specialize in can be a difficult decision.  For Interactive Media Arts students, prior to registering for the program, there were two different sides: Interactive and Media.  Now that we’re in the month of April, both the Media and Interactive students have another decision to make.

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Forgetfulness… Wait, What Was I Suppose To Write About??

If you are a fan of Steven Universe, then you might be familiar with a character named Opal. Opal is a fusion and “Giant Women” named by Steven between Amethyst and Pearl and has the traits of Agility and Accuracy; however, she has one trait that makes her a unique and funny character: She is forgetful.

I have come to relate with Opal somedays and I created this little theory known as the Opal Paradox. The Opal Paradox is the theory of; “There are days where I knew I have an important project that’s due tomorrow, then suddenly I forget about that project I was working on because I got distracted by technology, work, or by other distractions.” Long story short; The main reason that I forgot to submit this blog by 12:30 PM and missed my deadline.

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Applying Our Skills

We first year students finally got to use our technical skills in a more real world situation at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.  At the beginning of the year, most of us didn’t even know how to use a DSLR or Adobe Premiere Pro.  It’s now the near end of the first year and we have learned much as Interactive Media Arts students.

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Connecting with Google

The use of Google Classroom has made education more convenient than ever.  It wasn’t that long ago when I attended classes where the professor would use actual chalk on an olden days object known as a “chalkboard” and used it to write down important notes.  Google’s Apps for Education is a series of applications designed for schools to help them communicate with their students…and it is quite helpful.

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Trial and Error. Signed, your best friend

With the ability to share our knowledge and inspirations with others around the world: how do we come up something that is fresh, new and exciting? Collaboration. If you find yourself stuck in a rut unable to come up with an idea; Feedback from others is amazing. Will you always agree with that person? Probably not. Although, it never hurts to receive feedback. We will all have moments where we will fail miserably but, those failures will end up teaching us a lesson in time.

Trial and error is crucial step in order to succeed. There will be days where your mind will be blank or you didn’t present your best work but there is always a lesson to be learned with each experience. I know that I have. After I graduated high school I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I enrolled at Brandon University under a Bachelor of Fine Arts hoping to get into the Education program. I knew within a few months that university was not for me. The hardest part was realizing how disappointed I felt in myself for not succeeding. I worked different jobs and held a steady position with a great company in Brandon for almost four years but I was also very unsatisfied with the way my life was. I felt that at my age of 24, I should have been finished my post secondary education already.

I often found myself expressing my ideas in creative ways and would admire digital art that I’ve seen online. I had a flashback to my grade 12 year, right before I graduated. My art teacher suggested that I take a look into the Interactive Media Arts program. I ended up doing a spend a day here but at the age of 17. With not much life experience, paired along with immaturity, I decided to go to BU instead. I often wondered if I chose the program here, would I have followed the same path of becoming a dropout? It took me a lot of failures, hard work, and perseverance to become the person who I am today. There still will be moments where I am sure that I may fail and question myself. Despite this I am also reminded of the woman who already got through so much and will continue to keep fighting in order to be the person I want to be.  

For the Emperor

First, there’s a multitude of factions, ranging from the the Imperial Guard and Space Marines, to the  Sisters of Battle and the  Inquisition. Chaos Space Marines, Eldar and Dark Eldar, the Tau Empire… to name some.

With the essentials out of the way, I’m going to focus on the Imperial Guard, or Astra Militarum as Games Workshop has renamed them.

With hundreds of planets in the Imperium, it can be said that a handful of notable regiments stem from the vast millions. The Cadian Shock Trooper and Catachan Jungle Fighters, as well as the Tanith First and Only, as made popular by the Gaunt’s Ghost series of books, are only the tiniest handful to be named. Each regiment varies in strength. Some only number in the hundreds at their founding, while others will number in the tens of thousands. In the digital world, you will find the Guardsmen of Cadia in several of the Dawn of War titles as well as in Warhammer 40K: Space Marine.

Like any real world military, there is an absolute command structure with a Colonel often being at the highest rank of command. Within each Guardsman regiment is attached a Commissar, making the military structure something similar to that of World War 2 era Russia. These political officers function as moral boosters even though that, more often than not, moral is boosted by the terror of being shot for cowardice..

Further, regiments are then formed into a variation of types. From the heavily armored tank regiments to the more lightly equipped light infantry regiments.

A running joke within the Warhammer community, because of the Guardsman’s standard issue Lasgun being nothing more than glorified flashlights, is that ‘when in doubt, fix bayonets’.

Taking that in, a person using an Astra Militarum army for the tabletop game should never employ such tactics as, without armored support… Guardsmen are just so squishy, or in other words, easily overwhelmed by a superior force. Especially against Space Marines and their chaotic counterparts.

There is a lot to go over and so little time,  all I can suggest is that if you found yourself interested, check out OneMindedSyndicate on YouTube or any of the books from Black Library Fiction.

Creativity is the Future

There is a fear, a rumour, a nagging feeling perhaps, that robots will one day take over most of our jobs. Technology is advancing, and as machine learning comes into the spotlight, we start to wonder, are our jobs really in danger?

Machines have already started doing technical tasks in certain industries (and doing them much better than humans). Does this mean that as humans we no longer have a job at the company? Joseph Pistrui of the Harvard Business Review states that many knowledge jobs (such as lawyers and accountants) will soon be automated and that accountants have a 95% chance of losing their jobs. Scary, right?

But there is hope for us creatives. After all, what can we do that robots can’t (yet)? Think for ourselves, make decisions, DESIGN. Joseph says, “Humans are strategic; Machines are tactical.” They do not have an imagination. They do not have the capacity for creative analysis. They do not have emotions.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Seymour Adler and Robert B. Kaiser of Harvard Business Review say we can make ourselves valuable as employees by having a strong work ethic, drive and motivation to complete jobs no matter what it takes. Ambition and eagerness for more responsibility goes a long way in making yourself valuable. Social skills is another thing we have over machines (at least most of us). The ability to meet clients face to face, show emotion, have a conversation. To manage people and build relationships, be influential and read audiences. These things we go a long way in business (and life) and cannot be replaced so easily by robots.


Image Source: http://metropolis.scienze.univr.it/altair/events/ias13tutorial/

Therefore, companies should be strategizing about how to incorporate these automations into their businesses by looking at Artificial Intelligence as a way to augment and increase their production, instead of replace employees. Some of our new job descriptions may be to look after these new technologies. After all, someone will have to take care of the machines. But it will give us opportunities to look beyond the mechanical tasks in the workforce and better ourselves for more meaningful and creative positions.

Save the creatives! We are the future. xo M.

Forget Millennial Shorthand; Get Grammarly

Have you ever hit the send button, only to realize that your phone had auto-corrected into complete nonsense? What about writing a quick social media post and accidentally using their instead of there?

In today’s world with chat speak and millennial shorthand, it is important to use proper grammar. As an Interactive Student in the IMA program at Assiniboine Community College, I find it essential to be on top of the language I am using, as to keep a professional persona; Therefore, I downloaded Grammarly.

Grammarly is available as a mobile app, a browser extension and a software add-in. They also have an amazing website with added perks. Although the different versions of the application have the same goal, they are all presented in a unique way, maximizing their use on each platform.

 

Mobile App

The mobile app; A personal editor you can take wherever you go. This application not only checks the spelling of singular words, but it also checks for contextual spelling errors, giving you the option to view a short and sweet explanation for the correction. To encourage mistake-free writing, the Grammarly app is presented as a keyboard that integrates smoothly across all other apps on your mobile device.

An intriguing part of the keyboard is the option to add words to your dictionary with a simple touch of the + sign. Another bonus feature is the auto-correct notification: A little teal box pops up on the top of your keyboard every time it auto-corrects, letting you know, just in case.

Browser Extension

Grammarly is also available on your Mac or PC. The browser extension works across the web and is compatible with:

  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows
  • Microsoft Office
  • MacOS

Grammarly’s extension harmonizes with your browser, allowing you to use it across the web. From writing important emails to posting a comment on a blog, you’ll eliminate the worry of making mistakes.

Grammarly.com

Signing in to Grammarly.com allows you access to a world of grammatically correct fun. The website allows you to personalize your account for more relevant checks. This includes setting your primary language, your preferred English vocabulary (i.e. United States English vs. Canadian English), and the level of your grammar skills.

As an application, Grammarly has a lot to offer and has become a successful addition to my tool belt as a graphic/web design student.

This post was edited with Grammarly.

Download the app here!

When Inspiration Hits

Inspiration. Ideas. Where do they come from? How do you know when they’re going to hit? How do you know if the idea that just hit you is a good one?

As design students, we are presented with the challenge of coming up with new ideas and concepts daily. With each now exercise, assignment and project, our minds race to find inspiration. What if inspiration doesn’t come? What then? Our instructors say, just run with the first idea you have. Don’t overthink it. So i have been trying to put this into practice (which is easier said than done).

So where do we go for inspiration? Some designers have epic Pinterest  boards, or search popular sites like Behance, Designspiration and Flickr. The problem with this, according to Smashing Magazine, is when taking ideas from similar mediums, there is a fine line between ‘inspired by’ and ‘copied’. So their suggestion is to look beyond design galleries, into the wide and awe-inspiring real world. Industries such as fashion, architecture, even music can help you visualize images which you can translate into your project. There are design playlists on Spotify! Did you know? Smashing Magazine has some links to said playlists. Like this one or this one.

 

The other morning as I was driving to school, stopped at a stoplight I looked to the sky. The rising sun hadn’t yet peaked above the horizon line, yet the colours emanating from the east were something else. The perfect gradient. The sky is an ever-changing canvas that never ceases to inspire me.

I believe it is important for us as aspiring designers and creators to keep our eyes open. Keep our childlike wonder and tap into our curiosity often. Try to look at things from another perspective. And when we have found that ‘other perspective’, look again.

Keep it real my darlings. Eyes to the sky.
xo M.

Smartphone cameras then vs now

DSLR cameras have come a long way since 2008. Sony, Canon, Nikon were just a few that were wildly popular back then. The cameras costed anywhere from $300-$1000. Even the best compact digital camera couldn’t compete. Cell phone cameras were minuscule and most couldn’t afford to spend so much money on a huge camera.

With the demand for quality smartphones that do more than just the basic call, text and picture message; companies started paying more attention to the quality of the camera. Camera quality can also be one of the main selling points to customers. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat are all heavily media based content. This allows users to quickly snap a picture, edit it quickly and post it within minutes. Instagram was released in 2010 for iPhone users. When the app began to explode in popularity there was demand for an Android version, but it wasn’t released until nearly two years later in 2012. The app gained popularity among young users, photographers, and many types of other people who wanted to share their creativity with the world.

When the HTC One M8 was released in 2013, it boasted an impressive dual lens camera which hadn’t been seen before. Users also had access to manual controls. This function allowed people to express their creativity more freely within smartphone photography. The freedom of being able to carry a tiny powerful camera that fits into your pocket is more convenient rather than lugging around a heavy and expensive camera along with its accessories. Reaching for a smartphone to capture special moments is almost second nature to many of us.

Fast forward to 2018 almost every smartphone has the ability to capture raw images, manual camera controls, and dual lenses. Companies also developed small camera accessories that have a similar function to DSLR accessories. It is hard to imagine what smartphone cameras will be able to do in the future. Will the cost of the camera drive up the price of the smartphone? Are exposure settings that of full frame DSLR? I’m excited to see what will be coming out in the years to come and I will probably base my next smartphone choice on the camera it features.

Something New and Fun!

I am a student attending Assiniboine Community College (ACC), taking Interactive Media Arts (IMA) course. Everyone I know and run into always asks me “So are you attending school? What course are you taking?”. My exact words for that is “I am taking a course called IMA.” Every single person will look at me with a confused look, my response to that is “IMA stands for Interactive Media Arts, it has to do with a lot of graphic design.” This is just an easy way to explain to them what the course is about. The program is a two year course, no pre-requirements acquired. This course is much more than just designing, it’s about learning more and improving your skills on what you already know. A lot of the things that we do in this course is preparing ourselves for future jobs, and how we present ourselves to a client.

You’re probably wondering who can take this course and how would someone find out about this. Anyone can take this course whether you like designing, video games, or you just came across it and want to check it out. A majority of the other students in my class are computer game savvy. They like the graphics of video games they all play such as, Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Battlefield, Skyrim etc. Then there are ones like me, I have never played a complex video game (if you consider any of the ones I’ve listed complex) I am more of a Wii person, I like my Mario Kart. I never thought about video games being in the graphic design field for some reason, it never crossed my mind. I was just interested in Photoshop and Illustrator when I was in grade 10.

When I found out about this course I was interested in it, it fit into what I enjoyed doing. I went for a spend a day with who is now a second year IMA student and I got to see what this course was actually about. It was sure an eye opener. It was different than what I thought it was going to be. You get to do things like creating small icons, posters, design your own personal website, and you do some writing as well. There are so much stuff you get to learn and do everyday.

If you’re a gamer, or have a creative mind and a love for technology this is a course I will recommend. Even if you just want something new and fun to do. I assure you, you will enjoy this course, especially if you are doing something you like. You learn something new everyday, why not try something new?

 

Top 5 Design Trends for 2018

As designers, we all have certain styles we love, and once we find our own signature style, we tend not to stray too far from our comfort zone. But staying in one place for long, my friends, is not so comfortable after a while. You may start to feel left behind, or obsolete in certain areas. Interactive design is constantly changing, and as this new year starts, we are all probably looking for inspiration and new avenues to explore. There is no longer any excuse for not creating user friendly, interactive and visually stunning websites. So here are some insider tips from Digital Synopsis and 99 Designs on trends to start incorporating into your work now.

1. Bold Typography / Intersecting Elements

With web coding technology so far advanced these days, it is easy to use more than just the basic web fonts. Custom fonts are very widely used on many websites now, creating strong visual tones for your page and to help portray the overall feeling of your site. Now start playing around with these fonts and types – break them up in different ways and use intersecting elements of type and graphics to create interest.

2. Vibrant Colours / Duotone

Many large companies, such as Spotify, have pushed trends such as duotone to the spotlight. A trend that started last year and will continue on into 2018. Vibrant tones online are breaking out of those web safe colours. Technology is allowing us to use thousands of colours, so why not take advantage. Bright colours are sure to attract attention.

3. Split Page / Asymmetrical Layouts

Image Source: sitepoint.com

Grids are made to be broken in 2018. Splitting your page and grid layouts to create asymmetrical sections on your page is distinct and unconventional, and will set your site apart from traditional sites. It’s risky for certain markets or brands, but very striking when pulled off correctly.

4. Custom Retro-Modern Illustrations


Image Source: dribble.com

Gone are the days of clip art. Trending now are simple, line images, which combines sleek, modern lines with retro colour schemes to keep things playful and friendly. Customizable to fit any concept or business.

5. Thoughtful / Interactive Animations

Animations have come a long way and in 2018 will focus more on intentional movements and directions. Signalling interactive content to engage users, helping them move through your site with ease and purpose.

Now give it a go! Explore! Create! Be wild and free my dears.

xo M.