Friday, 14 November 2008

Evaluation

I've really enjoyed investigating and creating E Cards. It is an exciting modern medium that I believe is really going to take off - especially in America land, even though one cooperation owns the franchise. I believe Hallmark might have a difficult time against American Greeting.

The thing I really enjoyed about this project was the freedom and fun that creating E Cards brings. You can literally do anything you want because there will always be somebody out there with a similar sense of humour. When you go to the store and buy something you generally know what you want, you can even make a list: eggs, milk, bread...but when it comes to card shopping, you just go for a look and its one of the few things in life where you don't go looking for a specific thing. Sure you might look for a Birthday Card or an Anniversary Card, but you don't look for a "7th Year Anniversary Card with 'We love you, you make a great couple from Mum & Dad' "Card do you. And that is true with E Cards. You look under a category and browse and that is one of the great things about them - you find some fantastic surprises.

One thing I have really found that lets E Cards down is the lack of personalisation. You can add a written message to whoever you send it to, but would it be great if you could use some basic 'paint-esq' tools to create you own design on the envelope. I think that is where it will probably head in the future - I would love to let a 6 year old loose with some Electronic Paint and see what he makes for his mum....and then let his mum print it off at the other end and stick it to the fridge.

Interactivity is another key issue with E Cards. I found a great one which was a like a short mystery puzzle game and you had to figure it out to see the end of the card and get your greeting. That was fantastic! But I have seen the flip side and that is a boring card with not so much as 'Go' button that just plows through a brief animation that wishes you a Happy Birthday. Not like receiving a real card whatsoever and frankly...not as a good.

My cards have some interactivity but still not enough. My biggest regret is that I could get the script working with my card so that you could actually open the card your self by dragging the card with the mouse cursor . I think this would a be a really beneficial addition to E Cards as it would really make the user feel like he/she had received a REAL card - even though it was only electronic.

My other gripe with E Cards is that most of the websites you send them from don't send the card straight to you inbox - you get directed to a website with a your basic html message written underneath the embedded Flash file. I know why they don't send them directly to inboxes, but there are ways to lock .swf files so they can't be hacked - I have been blocked out of a few myself.

I was most pleased with my output during this project. I worked really hard, nearly every day and have to admit I have neglected the other side of my course temporarily. Perhaps for the first time I can say I worked a little too hard, if that is actually possible. I became rather obsessed with the idea of E Cards and really enjoyed making them. I am pleased with the short animations and that I have made and pleased with the level of interactivity that I have managed, but I have come to realise how much I don't like using Flash as an animation tool.

I have learned a lot more about animation since I made IGOR and it really felt like a step backwards to have to work with this tool again, so I will definitely not be using it for my next project. I love Flash as a tool - but it takes ten times more effort to animate well in it and you always end up taking the easy way out and relying on the computer to do half the work. Although, I understand I set myself a task trying to do three animations and I was forced to cut corners. I missed my own deadline by a week in the end, but I am pleased that I kept going and got the final E Card finished even when I began to grow tired and weary of working with the program.

Overall, I am reasonably happy with my final pieces and believe I have grafted hard to make a good body of work to support the E Cards I have made. This blog has been fun to write and a good way to track my progress, bother for my tutors and for myself. It has helped me keep things in sight, helping me to know how far I have come and how much work I have produced - thus keeping a good steady flow of work. It also create a demand through enjoyment for me to keep coming back and making more entries. I have met a new people through it, whose work is fun and well made and it has granted me access to the people I admire in the world of animation. I still think keeping a blog is one of the best ways to work. It shows how much time and effort you have put it. It shows off your work to the world (The toughest critics) and potential employers. And it keeps you interested in what you are doing by giving you a sense of purpose.

What more could you ask for really - it even does a spell check for you!

1 comment:

MikeD said...

Dan,

I sympathize with your frustrations animating in Flash. Not the most animator friendly tool, although if you have some experience with After Effects timelines it's not as bad. I use Toon Boom software for my vector work and have been very happy with it. I use Digital Pro, but Toon Boom Studio is similar at a lower price. It still has a bit of a learning curve, but it's based on a traditional animation paradigm so it's easier to pick up if you've done cel animation. In fact, Toon Boom actually promotes the software for doing e-cards and usually has templates and tutorials on their website. You should check it out.