Podcast: Talk on Design Experience

 

Advertisements

Image Editing with Photoshop

Among many image editing softwares, I always come back to using Adobe Photoshop for its user-friendly interface and smooth movements in applications. Although both softwares are pretty comprehensive with the basic tools available in their software, the intriguing part is that there are wide range of extensions on other websites. For example, Adobe Photoshop allows us to express creatively by experimenting with their brush tool. However, the number of brushes are not limited as we can import new brushes into the program to test out new expression styles. The same goes for other tools such as fonts. This has been used to experiment our poster image for our digital story.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
Photoshop Experiment: Dead Road’s Poster

There are a few functions I’ve tried out for this poster, where I have included text on top of the picture and played around with the brushes. However, I have also experimented with the layers and its blending mode, which was not mentioned in the flipped lecture. Originally, the photograph was brighter and personally I felt like it does not reflect accurately to the general vibes of our digital story, which has a thriller/mystery genre. So, I added an extra layer with black and white gradient for more moody vibes, went to Multiply mode and altered its opacity for my desired outcome.

The flipped lecture has only touched on the very basic tools available on Photoshop and GIMP. However, if you are really interested to experiment more with its endless possibilities but clueless on navigating around yourself with the tools, there is always helpful step-by-step tutorials on the Internet.

Make social. Be social.

In the flipped lecture on social media, Weight has addressed the triple aspects of social media in which they are:

  • a professional networking tool. It establishes your credibility within a specific range of expertise, and it builds up a network of contacts within that professional field.

  • a tool to market media projects.

  • an emerging platform in which media projects, or aspects of cross-platform media projects, natively reside.

In view of this, this can be understood in reference to the rising power of bloggers and social media influencers in the present. We may questioned, ‘Why are certain social media users considered as influencers, while some aren’t?’ Perhaps, this has a strong correlation to the notion of “social media is authored”, as mentioned in the flipped lecture. Even though the contents posted by bloggers or social media influencers allow us–as audience–to have a peek into their personal lives, it is important to note that they are carrying themselves as a personal brand where each posts are highly curated. Social media no longer just offers users a platform for creative expression, but has extensively become a professional networking tool. In light of this, we can increasingly witnessed how bloggers are presenting their identities by posting contents with open-ended captions to gauge interactive communications. Hence, we can see here that social media has functioned as a platform that showcases all their works, a tool that promotes their identities as a personal brand, and a space that enabled them to foster both professional and social contacts.

For our digital story, the group members are attempting to address the triple aspects of social media in promoting our short film. First of all, a Facebook page will be created as a professional networking tool that connects us with key influencers in the industry or communities. Secondly, it will also be utilised as a marketing tool to increase the outreach of our short film to wider audiences. We have taken into consideration that if the short film were to be placed onto our personal social media account, it can create disjuncture for consistent communication with our audiences. As a result, having a main social media page that addresses all the core information related to our short film will be useful in marketing our media projects with a single voice, rather than overlapping voices that may create further confusion. Last but not least, social media has increasingly become a platform that supports our short film, where we are able to upload video onto our Facebook page. In this case, our short film can reside on the Facebook page. This does not only enabled audiences to view our contents easily on the same platform (saving the hassle of linking to YouTube or Vimeo), but also offers us data analytics such as traffic flow, audience engagement, and peak time for responses. Taking into consideration of social media’s technological affordances, hashtags will be used to participate into existing conversations and communities relevant to our short film.

Search Engine Optimisation / SEO

 

Within the space of World Wide Web, we are overloaded with data and information that are ever readily available for us to discover. This also means that our voices can be easily drowned and overlooked by any latest updates. Hence, we will be looking at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which discusses the hopeful ways we can increase the visibility of our websites and have our voices reaching out to desired audiences more effectively. The three main SEO principles I’ve implemented are as followed:

    1. Multi-channel optimisation
      Even though my website is the core hub of my contents, I can increase its visibility through multi-channel optimisation, especially with social media platforms. Some of the common ways that have been put into practices are having matching website name with your social media handles to increase visibility, as well as including links in the biography of your social media account for ease of accessibility. While the former can creates consistency, latter can be useful for cases where desired username has been taken.  As you can see below, my Twitter and Instagram accounts have included my links to practice multi-channel optimisation.

      Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.02.11 PM
      Example of Instagram: @iridescentdawnn
      Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.01.35 PM
      Example of Twitter: @sharonxwlee

      In this sense, your social media accounts does not only encourage more intimate interactions, but also offered an extension to your website that opens up multiple gateways for traffic flow into your website.

    2. Headlines, Permalinks
      The second way I’ve been executing on my website is to ensure my headlines and permalinks (the url that directs your audiences to a selected post) are relevant to the contents I’m discussing. This has been done by including keywords in my permalinks, as well as making sure that my headlines are attractive. Where my website has discussions around topics that may be foreign to some audiences, such as coding and programming, it is important that they are easily understandable as well. This means not using any complicated words, or jargons that can confused my audiences, thus pushing away traffic flows towards my website.
    3. Internal Linking and Rich Media Context
      Where my website contains dominantly of textual posts, I am seeking to find ways of balancing them with occasional images or videos. This approach is also helpful in optimising the visibility of my website as search engines take various mediums into consideration before presenting relevant informations on search results. In addition to that, rich media context can also creates internal linking to relevant contents that I’ve discussed before on my website. This provides further reading options, which has potential of attracting more of their attentions and increase credibility for my website.

 

 

What do you mean, #?

Hashtags, commonly known in its symbolic form of #, increasingly play a vital role in digital communication with its technological affordances to gather relevant data, fostering engagement and creating social groups based on a topic, whether it is an event, genre or discussion of a person. With social media strategy closely integrated with the production of short film for my digital story, I have carried out research on relevant hashtags intended to address my target audience and attract more viewerships. As my digital story is central to the genre of thriller and mystery, I have found some interesting insights from my research.

It has been found out that tweets tagged with #thriller are dominantly addressed to the conversation of fiction novels and short stories based on such genre. This is evident as seen with the media texts that are encompasses of quotes extracted from books, users’ current progress on the novel’s storyline and short reviews within 140 characters (or separated into several continuous tweets). In addition to that, tweets tagged with #thriller frequently include images of book covers and links to website for purchase. According to Hashtagify–an online hashtag tracking tool, the 10 hashtags most commonly related to #thriller include #suspense, #mystery and #crime (as pictured below). However, it is surprising to find that #ASMSG (Author Social Media Support Group) came in top with 14% correlation to #thriller, followed by #suspense and #mystery with 13.4% and 11.9% respectively. In this sense, it can be perceived that using #thriller runs in a risk of addressing the authors’ community rather than films (or short films) audiences. This is unexpected where even though using a genre focused hashtag can refer to various related medium including films and music videos, authors and fiction novels are mainly dominating in this topic.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 5.12.24 PM
All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #thriller (Hashtagify, 2016)

In addition to that, Hashtag.org has also listed the top 10 influencers for #thriller, #mystery and #suspense respectively. What’s interesting is the similarity in the list of top influencers, which has been dominated by authors (with some appearing twice in two different list) and only one or two community network. This highlights the importance of recognised individuals who are handling the account that raises their position as influencers on a topic. As you can see above, it is interesting to see how popularity of hashtags related to authors and books (#ASMSG, #IARTG, #kindle and #ebook) triumphed over the #thriller, #mystery and #crime.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.23.29 PM
All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #shortfilm (Hashtagify, 2016)

In conclusion, this research offers me a better understanding of the potentials of hashtags intended for my digital story’s social media strategy. The outcomes of my research has significantly shown that it is unsafe to assume that using hashtags related to my digital story does not signifies it will address my target audiences effectively, since #thriller is largely used by authors and book lovers community. Furthermore, while related hashtags can be useful to expand outreach of our tweets to wider community, its impact may not be significant if they could not reach out to your target audience. For my digital story, it would be more beneficial to include other hashtags such as #shortfilm, #filmmaking or #DeadRoad (short film’s title) that are more specific as compared to genre focused hashtags, although hashtags such as #suspense and #mystery have higher popularity within Twitter platform.