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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A Call to Action

So, imagine this: we are at the start of the second year, life is good. But you feel like you want to get more experience. Of course, you have the opportunity at WCGTV. But maybe that isn’t your speed, well look no further I have a solution. We have a hidden gem nobody seems to talk about, our sports programs. You often see the sports at ACC are so underwhelmingly covered.

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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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Is simplicity the easy way?

As an artist, I have been though many changes in the way is think, the way I see things and how I represent them on canvas. Many times have I had that internal struggle saying: should I leave this piece as it is? Or should I add something else? Yet, it is rare for me to think: maybe I should take some elements out. I have developed a love for making detail present in my pieces. I love spending time on every shadow, texture and any other aspect suitable for the composition. However, around the time of 6th grade, I remember many times I started to draw something and I got so sucked into it that I added way too much. In the end I wasn’t sure why, but I was not happy with the result. It wasn’t until I took a step back and thought: are all these extra things necessary in the first place?

Ever since, I still struggle with wanting to put more than necessary into my designs. But now I know to take a step back and analyse my composition. In addition, being a student at ACC has helped me a lot as I can see the work of people that maybe have similar minds as I do, or some that are totally different. I love learning from each one of them. All their experiences, which are all unique, effect their designs and creative ideas. This is very fascinating to me.

I do not think that a simplistic design is easy to pull off; there are is a lot of thinking that goes into it. In the end, what I have learned so far is that it is important to slow down from time to time, and take a look at your piece from a different point of view, still knowing what you want, but being able to learn from others as well. I still love detailed art pieces, but I can appreciate the beauty that can be displayed with a much simpler design. There is certainly something satisfying about a simple yet effective composition. Some examples we see out there are: The swoosh from Nike, or the stripes from Adidas; both very contemporary looks, they seem to never go out of style.

Your Style?

 

 

The concept of an artist’s own style is very interesting to me. So many artists stress out trying to find this golden and unique style that sets them apart from the rest. Yet, can we truly make exact copies of others people work without trying?

Since I have use of reason, I have been very fond of creating and drawing. Although, I really started to invest a  large amount of time into it when I was about 7 years old and my uncle told me about this series called Dragon Ball Z, he had watched it when he was a kid too so it’s been around for a while. I started watching it every night as it was shown on TV, and I was hooked. I fell in love with the art style and the creativity that it offered. Years later, I saw my uncle painting one of this show’s character on glass. It was a small piece. I thought it was fantastic and it gave me inspiration to develop a passion for drawing; not on glass, because I was young and I found it too difficult, but I started drawing and developing with any other media; pencil and paper being my primary choice. Over the years, I developed my technique further and I was able to replicate Dragon Ball characters rather well.

When I was about 12, I heard of another anime series on TV that I should check out. It was called Naruto: so, I watched it and just like with the other series, I completely fell in love with the story but also with the visuals that where between simplicity and complexity. Yet, they where very effective. As I did with Dragon Ball, I also tried to imitate the drawing style of the series, making various illustrations of the characters.

I have to admit that never in my life did I ever think what my own style was. I never saw anything wrong in drawing famous characters or designs. I always thought that it was ok to have something that you like drawing, over and over again; in doing so one develops the skill to use the art mediums or tools without stressing too much over the “idea” and if it looks right or not. As one has an image beside to compare.

In my humble opinion artists shouldn’t worry about having their own style of drawing from the beginning. I believe that the simple fact of you being a different individual, with a brain and body that works differently than others, is enough to make anything you do different, even if it’s a microscopic difference. And after a while in the process of trying out different styles; one will find out that there are some styles that stand and make you feel happy, those are the ones that will guide you in discovering your own style.

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?

 

Loon Copter Drone, air and water!

Have you ever wanted to have both an RC plane and boat?  Well now you can, with the Loon Copter you can both fly AND dive!  This abnormal drone can land in the water, upon landing it begins to draw in water into its buoyancy chamber, causing it to sink.  As it sinks, the copter tilts sideways so that it’s propellers can pull it through the water at blazing speeds!  That was sarcasm, it is very slow both in the air and underwater as it is only in its prototype stages, however Oakland University hopes to make it into the next big thing and mass produce it for the public to use!

Currently the drone is still being worked on, one of the biggest issues right now is the range of the signal from remote is only a few meters while the drone is underwater, this and the fact the drone cannot withstand many pounds of force that the water puts on it.  This presents a rather large issue as people want to see the drone dive deep underwater so that people can utilize the camera on the drone to get some nice shots.

Members of the university say that this drone is just a prototype for a bigger version that people can actually ride in, however they do tell us not to get our hopes up as it is still in the making and may take quite some time before it is released.

Summer Break…or Bust?

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I should do over the summer break. We have a solid 4 months of vacation till school starts again and I was looking at some of the options out there. The most obvious choice would be to relax and enjoy the summer off to catch up with friends and family that have been neglected during our crazy first year. Then I got to thinking…I will probably forget some of the useful information I’ve learned over the last year, and I don’t want that. So I started googling, and I found an amazing program called Codecadamy, I am sure many of you have heard of this website. (I’ve inserted a link https://www.codecademy.com/) Codecadamy teaches you coding! online! for free!  This will be very helpful while away from school because starting September we will probably dive right in where we left off in April. If you don’t want to take the tests and schooling Codecadamy teaches you, and would rather fool around and try out different things on your own, then I would suggest the W3. The W3School has online web tutorials and can help you create a beautiful code. The JQuery Website also has a learning activity section that can help you apply many effects to whatever it is you are creating.

You could get a summer job working and gain precious industry knowledge, and new contacts that could possible help you when you are done school the following year. Whatever it is you do I highly recommend keeping your current knowledge up-to-date, even sprucing up your Portfolio over the summer with the new tricks we have learned over the last few weeks would be beneficial.

I know it can be tempting to just throw your books up in the air, or computers in our case, and just be free this summer!! but keep in mind September will come and loosing even some of the knowledge we have all worked so hard for would be disappointing.
Balance is the key to life, find yours! balance1

I-MMA Smash

A couple months ago I heard that the second years were making a Virtual Reality game as a project. Yes it appears I’ve come back to my first post about VR, but I started thinking about how we might end up doing the same thing in our second year. As I kept pondering the subject and mulling it over and over, I had an idea that we could do something of the sort; albeit maybe a little more mentally tasking as a class.

My proposal is this.. We create a game for PC or console (if possible), that is based off the all time favorite, Super Smash Bros. Now first off you might think that VR would be a bigger challenge, and in certain aspects you would be correct. What I believe would be the bigger challenge, would be inputting the physics, the damage calculators, and all of the game’s rules and logistics that would allow it to run and play just like a typical game of Smash. I don’t think we could pull off anything as amazing as the newer versions of the game at all, but I believe we could still make an older version and still have it work.

I feel as if this would give us big test of our skills, not only the developers, but also the designers who would have to make all the concept art and graphics for the game. This would not only give us a good project to focus on and hone our skills with, but it would also give us a good opportunity to add something we created from scratch to our portfolios. I believe it would be very beneficial to add to a resume, especially if we managed to get some writes to publish it as an indie game on PC or Console.

Although publishing it is a bit of a leap, I think it would still be a great idea for a final project in the course. Even if we managed to get the basics set, it would make for a class project to work on at a later date. We could even use it as a project and try to fund the work through Kickstarter.

So my question for you is what do you think? Do you think having this as a project for next year is a good idea?

Where Will We All Be?

I think many of us can agree that the IMA program has been a life changing event for us. And it’s not really surprising, I mean, college is usually a time of big transition and growth. We’ve learnt so much over the last 5 months, and I mean that in more ways than one, not only the technical skills, and design theory. We’ve learnt about each other and from each other. We’ve learnt who each person is, what their strengths are, what they like to do, and what they don’t like to do. Really, we’ve become a family, as cheesy as it sounds. We spend 8 hours together, every single day, that’s more time than I spend with my own family. We’ve learnt to work together and help each other, and we’ve all become quite close.

New friendships have been made, and even old ones have been strengthened. I’ll be the first to admit, when the course first started I had no idea I would be so close with the people in the class, and to be honest I’m glad I am. I think, and hope that the friendships we make in these 2 years will be life long relationships. At this point in time we’re at the peak of the first year and we’re too busy getting the work done for the deadline to sit and think, that in a year and a half, we’ll be graduating.

It’s crazy to think this much time has already gone by, and the rest is also going to fly by. It makes me wonder, what paths will we all take? what specializations will each of us choose? what cities will we move to? what goals will change from now till then?. It’ll be an interesting time, when we graduate and say goodbye, and each of us move on to continue living our lives and chasing our dreams. I can’t help but wonder, in 5 years time, where will we all be?

The Value of Perseverance

Missing school because of personal problems outside of school is a problem in itself: you miss class because of external problems in your social life, an illness, being up too late, or even just straight-up irresponsibility… but be what it might, you must learn to adapt and persevere or fail. Everyone has issues, and everyone handles their issues differently, but if you don’t at least try to keep up with what’s important – and I mean truly important – you’re going to have an even harder time as the stress piles up because of your neglected responsibilities located outside of your problems.

Take me, for example: I missed class all week last week because I had bronchitis. However, I stayed in contact with the instructors and got extensions where they were needed, and even worked from home to get some assignments finished. If you inform your instructors of what you’re up to, they’re more than happy to accomodate you and help you when you ask. Persevering through your problems goes a long way, and although it may be painful to try and wrack your brain with everything else jumbling it up, it really adds up in the long run. Getting that high mark at the end of such a struggle is a huge boost to your self-esteem, work ethic, and your GPA, of course.

When evaluated at the end of the year, you will hear about how you were absent so often and that your attendance might have been better, but at the same time, they will comment about how hard you worked despite your demons trying to drag you two steps backward when you took a step forward. When you’re applying for a job in the future and they look at your transcript, the employer might not be impressed with your attendance, but your grades might convince them to give you an interview regardless. It really matters in the end, even though it doesn’t seem like much now. The value of perseverance is one of the golden virtues, just like patience and kindness: each of those takes a lot more heart and courage than it would to give into the temptation of it’s opposite.

Procrastination

Errands, doctor’s appointments, presentations and projects; we all put these things off from time to time, focusing on other things and convincing ourselves that we can get what we need done in time. Soon enough though, those due dates or pressing issues seem to draw closer and closer and you’re left struggling and stressed and wondering what you can do to complete your tasks. Most of us can relate to the concept of procrastination, especially when it comes to our various assignments in the IMA course. With all of the classes we have, it’s not surprising that we can have such a heavy workload. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to manage and prioritize what we need to do and sometimes, procrastination is impossible to avoid. Once you leave the school and are on your own free time, there are many distractions that can take you away from the homework that needs to be finished by the end of the week.

ahh-procrastination

I think we can all agree that the IMA course can get pretty stressful and overwhelming at times, but with enough focus and determination, our projects can almost always be completed by the desired due dates. In fact, it’s quite satisfying to be completed before or on time, as you can use your free time as an opportunity to work on other outstanding projects and further your progress. In the long run, this takes a big weight off of your shoulders and once everything is completed, you can actually enjoy those distractions that were so tempting to go to during work periods.

Just like those tedious errands and pesky appointments, it’s always better to get things done and over with so they aren’t a lingering worry in the back of your mind. Even if the work isn’t something your particularly enjoy, it can be completed sooner than later and will not become a present dread in your mind. Don’t let your work pile up! Just do it!  Manage your time and utilize the classes you are given. If you’re having problems or have questions, ask the teacher or ask your peers. When you’re given an assignment, relax, take it in steps and make a plan. You can be successful without the stress!

Developing your Originality

As a student in the Interactive Media Arts program at Assiniboine Community College, we are taught how to use our creativity in our commercial design projects while trying to keep our originality. I find this extremely difficult to do, why? Because I don’t know who I am as a designer yet. I’ve heard it takes years to be able to find your niche and what sets you apart from other designers, however I have a few tips to help that process along.

When you first sit down to design, whether it be a logo for a school project, or art you produce in your spare time (students don’t have much of that) you should always start by sketching your ideas. Our teachers are very fond of thumbnail sketches. Which at first can seem tedious and time consuming, but it works! It seems to focus your brain on what is important and filtering those ideas down on something tangible, like paper, gives you the ability to really zero in on the good ideas and the bad.

Experimentation is another good practice. For example if you wanted to recreate a picture with fire what better way than to see fire. I’m not suggesting you start a fire by any means, I’m saying you could watch a video or look at images and see the unique ways in which a fire acts like a living creature. It will give you a better understanding of how to create your designs.

The last piece of advice I would give is to PRACTICE. Using the proper program for the job and knowing how to master that program  will give you to tools you need to create your original works of art. It will not directly help with originality but your options will be limitless when it comes to creating them on your program of choice. Branding yourself is huge part of becoming a design or developer and we all start somewhere. Hopefully these tips will help you feel more confident in your work.

NES games basically play themselves

Super Mario Bros for NES

Extreme code enthusiast, Tom Murphy, has developed an interesting and aesthetically pleasing software that plays NES games.

A Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (School of Computer Science), has shown off a new piece of software he developed back in 2013 known as “Learnfun” and “Playfun”. The project has received little attention until it was further referred to in recent posts on Reddit(post 1785 by user “BulletAllergy”), and other similar sites.

Punch Out

To explain further, “Learnfun” and “Playfun” are AI (artificial intelligence) softwares that are capable of playing NES games via a computer emulator. The AI can understand the objective of the game and utilize controls it creates by itself to progress through, say, a level in Super Mario Brothers. The software at work can be viewed on youtube on Tom’s account known as “suckerpinch”. There are 3 episodes and no lack of analyzation for the viewers; despite Tom’s armada of ongoing projects. Regardless, some of the levels played in games like “Color A Dinosaur”, “Cliffhanger”, and more, are well played… For the most part. The software tends to either to beat the game in perfect rhythm, or completely crash and burn; giving us the fun and the funny in this development.

Cliffhanger

Tom’s research paper talks purely of the science behind the program, and the objective he wishes to achieve. The (FCEUX) emulator NES is developed through “a jillion lines of C++-ish code”. The paper holds every detail of the process, the mathematics, the science, the process, and so much more. Regardless, coding it to predict logical futures in game, having the machine understand what controls to use, the points, the objective, there are quite a lot of things to consider in the case. It’s quite a workload for poor Tom, but since this project has a solid goal and a nearby completion inbound, I have no trouble believing that this can become a stunningly cool visual marvel for the generations to see. I assume that other and more current game ports will be a ways away for us. I for one am seriously anticipating Tom’s work on Learnfun and Playfun softwares.

This neat little invention becomes even more pessimistic as the paper progresses and I continue to watch the demos. No amount of complex computer science can deter that I am a huge fan.

Proper File Storage

It may be obvious, but proper hard drive management is key to computer efficiency when working on any sort of project that involves more than two or three files. Without proper folder structure to effectively organize resources, it becomes increasingly difficult to fully and completely compile a website or other similarly important project without some confusion.

Think of it like a building. All these resources; stone, wood, metal, glass and other materials needed to manufacture a skyscraper all begin essentially as a big pile. They are left at the vacant space at the bottom of the tower. These represent the big mess of bulk files and folders, images and project extensions, and everything in between. The foundation must be the first before everything else.

The hierarchy begins with the root, or main folder, and is usually named something relevant to the material inside. In web design, it is not uncommon to see anything around the lines of (localcopy) or (webbackup), as these are kept on the designer’s hard drive or external storage device for safekeeping. Typically, when working with website design, names of folders and files within are kept all in lower-case to avoid coding errors. Next is the individual folders per subject or program material, named appropriately. This is usually the most important part. Naming folders based on either what program they use or what subject they encompass does wonders for proper organization. Folders from that point on following the same suit

If taking the structure chosen follows a path similar to this;

[localcopy -> scans -> ctscans -> room13 -> images -> scan001.jpg]

; it is very clear where the user has gone to get to the final point. Going from the root to the scans folder, where there may be multiple subdirectories, the road down the information highway travels very smoothly.

So long as you follow a similar convention when storing your important files, you won’t have any problems with organization or website structure.

Adobe Creative Cloud

CC Programs

Programs Available with Creative Cloud

This semester us IMA students have a whole new set of classes and are focusing on coding, and learning new effects in Adobe Photoshop. In order for us to have access to Photoshop and other Adobe programs from home, Adobe has offered students and teachers the option of having what they call the Creative Cloud. For $29.99 per month, students and teachers are able to download and use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier Pro, Dreamweaver and many others. Your membership also comes with storage space in the cloud so you can access the files you have created from any computer, as well as the capability to save your files locally on your own computer. It also has syncing capabilities so it keeps your files current on the desktop as well as in the cloud. You always have access to the latest versions with a simple download without having to pay extra or resubscribe. If you were to buy the programs outright, you would have to pay full price for each software update. There are also other options for those who only need one of the programs the Creative Cloud offers, like Photoshop for just $9.99 per month.

I think the Creative Cloud is a great idea for students because it gives us full access to Adobe programs for a much more affordable price. It allows us students to learn how to use these programs before we get out into the work force. It also allows us to do our homework and our own side projects at home outside of class time. This way we can practice using what we have learned, and learn new skills using tutorials or other resources online. I would highly recommend a Creative Cloud membership to the IMA students, and anyone else involved or interested in the interactive design industry.