Project 3: Time-Based Instructions

10/21/19

For our third project in Studio: Survey of Design, we each got a topic that we need to make an instruction video out of. I got origami butterfly. I learned several ways of making origami butterflies through Youtube, and chose one that I think is simple yet charming and iconic of the shape of a butterfly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZdO2e8K29o

I had some troubles I encountered during the origami butterfly tutorials online, and I think indicating the negative shapes in the origami somehow can help learners understand better.

With my handmade cardboard tripod, I was able to make my first storyboard:

Some takeaways from making the storyboard:

  • the process of on step to another can be confusing; adding motion in between shots may help
  • the orientation of the origami relative to my hands is crucial to understanding
  • using a mid-tone background is better than a dark-tone when the origami paper itself is light (the creases show up more)
  • either use darker paper or use a better camera that can capture the creases on the origami

10/23/19

For my second version storyboard, I mainly addressed the problems that came up in the previous version: the background change and the color change of the origami paper itself. I also omitted one scene from the previous version. Overall, the change wasn’t big.

I stringed together my first version to see what I can take out without affecting the understanding. Ultimately, I only took out one of the first scenes.

I also paid more attention to indicating with my hands what actions to take (for example, I used one finger to indicate folding and also pointed at what the viewer should pay attention to).

In addition, I zoomed in at the end when smaller folding actions needed to be done. This provides more detailed information.

Next steps:

The overall showing of steps is clear enough. However, the scenes are not very interesting to look at. I need to focus more on lighting and other things to engage the viewer’s attention more.

Another thing to think about is my audience:

  • kids
  • art teachers?
  • teens
  • people who are bored

For inspiration, I searched up origami stop-motion animations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Ir8AR6Brs (origami rhino)

I discovered that stop motion is:

  • a good way to capture viewer’s interest, as the paper “magically” folds itself and comes to life
  • usually used for telling a story
  • has a unique, artsy, natural vibe

but using it for instruction might not be ideal because:

  • the absence of hands, so viewers don’t know how it’s done
  • the “jumpiness” of each frame may create confusion

10/24/19

Looking at m storyboard as a strip, I can identify big issues as a whole. In class discussion today, a lot of issues came up:

  • Lighting: decrease confusing elements (like hand shadows); increase aesthetics/mood; try using two light sources or natural lighting
  • Set design: white background works better in eliminating elements that may be confusing/distracting; also it is more aesthetic
  • Angle/POV: when rotating the whole thing, consider different POVs; is rotation even necessary?
  • Frame: needs to be landscape 1024 x 768 px

Other things:

  • What constitutes an “expert”? Quality of folds; Position of hands
  • Making it “interesting” is NOT an external factor; needs to be integrated within the whole thing (lighting, background, pacing etc.)
  • Cuts: consider using zooming in and out to avoid confusion
  • Hands usages: can demonstrate certain points (pointers, rulers etc.)
  • Time is limited: break up the whole thing into chunks (allocate time wisely)

Assignment for weekend is to shoot clips with consideration of everything we talked about.

10/28/19

Take 1:

Lighting

Top left: natural lighting; Top right: natural+ artificial; Bottom left: natural + 2 artificial; Bottom right: muted artificial + natural

I tried out different options, such as using natural and/or artificial lighting. I think natural lighting plus a secondary artificial lighting works the best, because natural lighting looks nice, and the secondary light serves to defuse the sharp shadow the hands cast.

Time

I struggled with the timing for the video. When I first started filming, my video went over the the 60-second time limit by 50 sec to 1 min. This is mainly due to the fact that I am not use to behaving like an “expert” and folding paper fast and neatly. However, after much practice, I still cannot get the desired time. So I thought of other ways for decreasing time:

  • gesturing with my finger where to fold, but not showing the actual folding in the beginning/easy steps (this can be problematic when I fold the “cross” shape because it is folded on the opposite of the “x”, and I don’t think this is shown clear enough)
  • pre-folding the paper

Both of these methods enabled me to cut the whole thing down to 1 minute.

Take 1 Ver A: Gesture
Take 1 Ver B: Pre-folded

Cuts

Due to the many cuts I made, the video is a bit “jumpy”, which can cause confusion. Potential ways to solve this:

  • not do so many cuts; film longer clips
  • consistency: the placement of the object before and after the cut should be the same in the frame to avoid confusion

Sounds

I want to have the sound of folding paper in my video. However due to the crowded nature of the design studio, background noise can be heard. I intend to film my next videos in my dorm in the morning to minimize unwanted noise. Also, I found that by changing my camera sound setting to manual, I am able to reduce the background noise.

Focus

The camera’s autofocus is not that good. I’m going to use manual focus next time.

Also, something I want to do is to show the finished butterfly at the beginning of the video so people would know what they’re making.

10/29/19

Feedbacks from Tuesday class:

  • Pre-folded version causes confusion: viewer thought he/she missed a step
  • There needs to be less struggle with folding the paper to appear “expert-like” and build viewer’s trust
  • Lighting: there are still dark shadows cast by hands that causes confusion; try natural lighting from the side
  • Hands sometimes block the paper

10/30/19

Take 2:

I went to film in an empty classroom in Porter Hall at night, so that fixed the sound problem. There was zero background noise.

Also, the overhead florescent lighting in the classroom doesn’t cast harsh shadows, which was really helpful for my video. But the lighting is too yellow, so I still want to try out natural lighting. Also, I wonder if changing the camera white balance might help.

lighting in the classroom

I also noted that manual focus works better than auto focus on close-up shots.

But my big problem right now is time. I added in more elements so I am now even more pressed for time than before.

Take 2 Ver A
Take 2 Ver B

The elements I added:

  • Intro: me showing the finished butterfly and swapping it for untouched origami paper
  • pointing out the negative shape of the diamond fold in the middle of the video

The only difference between the two versions in take 2 is that I changed the POV during one shot in version B.

Timing table:

I’m using a time table to help me pin-point which part I should spend less time on. Refer to diagram above for alphabets.

Take 1 optimized:

A 14s, B 10s, C 14s, D 10s, E 10s (58 s total)

Take 2 Version A:

Intro 5s, A 12s, B 6s, C 11s, Point 2s, D 11s, E 15s (1min 2 s total)

Take 2 Version B:

Intro 6s, A 16s, B 10s, C 13s, Point 3s, D 7s, E 18s (1min 16s total)

Note: “point” refers to the shot I added in take 2 that was not there in take 1. Italicized and bolded text represent shots I can cut down on time.

Also, I realized that cutting out unnecessary transitions saves a lot of time.

10/31/19

Peer Review/Feedback

POV Change:

  • interesting
  • should have more than just that one shot of POV change (maybe use the same one more frequently)

Pacing/Duration:

  • pacing is good and steady
  • need more “check-in points” where I stop and let the user see where I’m at
  • can cut time by omitting flip of paper at the beginning
  • can cut time with swifter movements on certain shots

Instructional Confusion:

People don’t know what I’m trying to do here, which is trying to point out the negative shape the viewer should end up with after folding the two triangles. Things I can try:

  • point to the corner the top point of the triangle is going to end up before folding
  • draw the folder line with finger before folding
  • might not need the closeup shot at all because origami learners follow shapes closely

When I asked someone to learn the origami by watching the video, he messed up here. He didn’t fold the triangle down pass the bottom line. Things I want to try to make this step clearer:

  • point to the tip that juts out at the bottom
  • point out that the “fox ears” are “perking up” and not flat

Composition & Color Choice:

  • background is clean and aesthetic
  • color blue is a good choice; contrasts with warm skin tone; dark enough to show creases on the origami paper

Lighting:

The lighting changes due to my camera’s auto-lighting. Need to figure out a way to set it to manual.

Aspect Ratio:

Should be 4:3. Also try to shoot at 4:3.

Take 3

Same location and time as Take 2.

Take 3 Ver A
Take 3 Ver B

The main difference between Version A and B is that for Version A, I added in the instructional cues on the “fox ear scene” by indicating where the triangle fold should fold down to, and showing that the “fox ears” should be “perked up”. However, people have said this confuses them even more so I’m goin going to cut this out in the final version.

Improvements:

  • the beginning is a lot smoother
  • the close-up shot after the the “triangle scene” helps viewer better
  • fixed the lighting change issue

Need to Fix:

This scene is too slow. Need to do the fold faster and more “expert-like”.

This scene is out of focus. Need to cut right before this scene and adjust focus manually.

I want to avoid crinkling up the paper in this scene.

Scene cut here is too sudden.

11/4/19

Take 4

This time I filmed in MM203 in the early afternoon. The natural lighting there is very good.

Take 4 Ver A1
Take 4 Ver A2
Take 4 Ver B1
Take 4 Ver B2

The main difference between version A and B is that version B videos contain “instructional cues” while version A videos do not. The change in paper color is unintentional (I ran out of blue).

The difference between version 1 and 2 is that in 2, I zoomed out the shot at this scene:

Left: Version A1; Right: Version A2

I found that by zooming out, the instruction is clearer because the viewer does not get overwhelmed by the amount of action happening in a small frame. Also, my hands cover up a lot of the frame in the folding process, so a zoomed-in shot is not needed. So I decided to go with version 2 videos.

When I showed my video to my peers, they said that they understand the “instructional cue” I put in at this scene:

Also, because when I asked people to follow my instruction and make an origami butterfly themselves, this scene really emphasized the fact that the tip is folded past the bottom, thereby helping them avoid mistakes.

So in the end, I decided to go with Version B2:

Final Version

Cutting

There were so many factors I had to consider in cutting the video. Because of the time limit, I cut out a lot of scenes. But at the same time, I need to keep in mind the viewer’s capability to keep up and understand what is going on. Things to help my video to be easily understood and be within the time limit:

  • ensuring there is no “jump” from scene to scene (hand position, motion etc.)
  • cut out redundancies (my origami butterfly is entirely symmetric, so when I repeat the fold on the second side I tend to cut straight to the satisfying folding part)
  • avoid spending time on unnecessary things (starting the origami butterfly with the paper already on the right side saved a lot of time)

Conclusion

I think perhaps the number one thing I learned is to not overdo things. There are “instructional cues” that confuse viewers instead of helping them, and I had to let go of an artsy ending scene I was really tempted to put into my final; but because it took up so much time and isn’t very relevant or consistent with the rest of the video, I cut it out in the end. Sometimes, less is more.

Another thing I learned is that creating “interesting factors” is not an external factor. In other words, it is integrated within the composition, setting, lighting, pacing, sound etc. Making it “pretty” and making it “useful” do not have to be mutually exclusive actions; in fact, good designs often achieve both at the same time.

Things I think I did well:

  • Setting: white background + natural lighting create a aesthetic and clean environment
  • Clarity of instruction: people are able to follow along and make an origami butterfly; change of POVs help with clarifying my actions
  • Composition: the main actions are always mostly centered
  • Pacing: slow on the hard and important steps and fast on the simple steps; nothing drags or feels too fast
  • Beginning + End: I have “framings” on both end so that viewers know when the video starts and ends; ending echoes beginning; viewer know what to expect due to the fact that I show the finished butterfly at the start scene

Things I could have done better:

  • Sound: even though there were minimal background noise, the effect of filming in a big studio means that the sound of folding paper is echoed a lot; this kind of throws people off because origami is usually done in a relatively private environment
  • Color: I wish I had more blue paper :(

missed the train to Hogwarts.