Monday, December 13, 2004

 

Matrix for planning research












 

Research Methodologies


Notes from PGPD files:


Plato: mimesis offers a low level of reality
What is being researched? What is it to be known?
Does research apply to art? If yes, how?

Types of research:

1. Experimental Research
- Manipulate anything that can vary. Then see if another variable changes.
- Cause and effect relationship. Happens mostly in a laboratory.
- You change dependent variable and see what happens to independent.
- Can this happen in the real world? Is it practical or ethical to manipulate the conditions?

2. Correlation
- Relationship between two or more variables
- One variable changes without manipulation and you record the change in another variable.
- This can be done in the real world.

3. Naturalistic Observation
- Record behavior over a long time in its natural setting

4. Survey
- Data collected through interviews and questionnaires.
- Collect data on behavior that difficult to observe.
- Get opinions and attitudes.
- Very subjective: relies on memory, honesty and intelligence.
- No insights into cause and effect relationship.


5. Case study
- Outside observer records an individual or groups of individuals.
- You just describe events without explaining them.

6. Philosophical
- What is conceptually possible: theory Vs theory.

7. Action – practice led – practice based
- Research initiated in practice and carried out through practice.
- It involves making art and design work, keeping journals and logs, writing, using multimedia and experimenting with materials.
- It’s a spiral: alternates between action and critical reflection. It goes from planning to taking actions to analyzing the actions and getting results.
- The researcher is also the practitioner, it’s both subjective and objective, it involves thinking and doing. You do something, you reflect on it and then start doing it again.
- It might also incorporate other methodologies + practice

Notes on Textbook “Research Methods in Education”

- Research involving children: you must get the permission of the parents and then explain what is going on to the kids. They have to understand what they are asked and they have the right to refuse.
- Ethics when carrying out research: Being ethical limits the choices we can make in the pursuit for truth. We have to be sensitive to the rights of others. (Cavan, 1977:810)
- The purposes of the research determine the methodology and design of the research:
a. style of research (part 3)
b. specific issues in planning a research design: sampling, validity, reliability, ethics. (part 2)
c. planning data collection: interviews, questionnaires. ( part 4)
d. Data analysis.
- The research is a moral and a political and moral activity and the researcher has to be concerned with the uses as well as the conduct of the research.
- The research plan must suit the purposes of the research.

Issues for planning research:


- Identify boundaries within the research will operate
- Identify what the constraints are on it

1. Orienting decisions. (strategic)
Set the general nature of the research: aims, purposes, audience, who is it for, priorities and constraints, time scale, ethical issues, resources.
2. Research design and methodology (tactical)
Set the research questions, what is the focus, kinds of data required, what is the main research methodology, specific purposes Vs general purposes of the orienting decisions. Take the general aims and turn them into specific research questions that can have concrete answers.
3. Data analysis
4. Presenting and reporting the results

How to write research, how to present the results, in what format etc.

Example of operationalization of my aims (to turn general into concrete):





More definitions of Action research:

(Kermis and McTaggart, 1992:10)
To do action research is to plan, act , observe and reflect more carefully, more systematically, and more rigorously that one usually does in everyday life.

(Somekh, 1995:340)
Action research is designed to bridge the gap between research and practice.

(Zuber-Skellitt, 1996b:83)
the aims of any action research project or program are to bring about practical improvement, innovation, change or development of social practice and the practitioners’ better understanding of their practices.

(Kemmis and McTaggart, 1992)
Action research is not research done on other people. It is research by particular people on their own work, to help them improve what they do, including how they work with and for others.

Principles of Action research:

- Makes for practical problem solving.
- Uses feedback from data.
- It is undertaken within an agreed framework of ethics.
- It does not isolate or control variables.
- The aims, methodology and definition of problem may alter during the process of action research.
- It includes evaluation and reflection.
It involves reflexive critique: we are aware of our own perceptual biases.
- It involves collaboration: everyone’s view is taken as a contribution to understanding the situation.
- Theory and practice are interdependent yet complementary phases of the change process.
- It involves changing and learning from the consequences of changes.
- People try to improve their own practices.
- It is a spiral: planning, acting (implementing plans), observing, reflecting and then all over again.
Plan: define plan and develop vision.
Act: produce leadership and spread the vision.
Observe: get feedback
Reflect: Monitor and reflect conclusions.
- It offers a systematic learning process in which people act deliberately, though remaining open to surprises.
- Keep records of what is happening and also collect and analyze our own judgements, reactions and impressions about what is going on.
- Keep a journal:
a.what we learned about the the practices we are studying (advertising,
digital art)
b. what we learned about the process of studying them (how am I
learning, what’s the process?)
- Use various instruments for data collection: questionnaires, diaries, interviews, case studies, observational data, experimental design, field notes, photography, audio and video recordings, sociometry, rating scales, biographies and accounts, documents and records.
- Reflection occurs at every stage of action research.

Notes on Textbook “The student’s guide to preparing dissertations and theses”

- The research report communicates the outcomes of the research and also helps others learn from it.
- It’s a waste of time to pursue question that have already been answered.

Sources of research topics:

- Researcher identifies a problem in a field he/she is experienced in.
- Building upon previous research and following up with questions.
- The supervisor’s knowledge and experience in a specific field.
- What research is carried out at a school’s specific department.
- Commissioned or sponsored research.



Wednesday, December 01, 2004

 

Project Proposal - Unit 1

Working Title:
The Influence of Digital Media in Advertising (tentative)

Aims:
I have always been fascinated with technology and its quick evolution, especially during the last few years. The impact of this evolution on the Art world has been and will be enormous. There are new forms of Arts and Crafts that are born because of this: digital painting, computer animation, matte painting for movies, digital photography, video games, digital advertising. I am going to focus a little on this last one: Advertising has taken a whole new turn since the bloom (or boom!) of Computer Graphics or CGI as it’s called in short (computer-generated imagery). I don’t believe there is one single visual ad out there that reaches an audience without going through a digital process first. Whether the ad is printed or broadcast, Computer Graphics and Digital Art in general are there to do the job, either creating the art from scratch, or digitally manipulating a set of images or footage.
Having the above in mind, the theoretical part of the project I am proposing to explore is the influence that Digital Technology/Art has had on Advertising during the last few years. To narrow this down and be more specific, I would like to:
- Research how cartoon characters, that are now a digital product, get presented to children.
- Explore which digital medium and technique is appropriate/acceptable and why, for children’s advertising. If animation is indeed the answer to this, what makes it so distinctive?
- Investigate how digital animation is different from its traditional format, how digital technology changed animation as an art form and consequently the artists, the advertisers and children’s ads.
- Identify ethical issues involved in the use of digital animation in advertising.



The visual part of the project will include:
- The design of a digital character for Cypriot children of the ages 6-12 (subject to change), that will be used through a fresh approach in a digital ad.
- The creation a digitally animated (preferably 3D) TV spot. The goal here is to combine cutting-edge digital techniques/art with the right idea and method -an outcome from the research- to construct a well thought digital ad.

Objectives:
This project is going to be a two-year “road to Ithaca”. (Poem by Greek poet Kavafis who parallelizes the journey of Ulysses from Troy back to his home as the journey through life and the knowledge you absorb en route). So, the knowledge I am hoping to acquire while working on this project is:

- How Advertising and Digital Media are co-related.
- What is the strategy/plan behind an effective digital ad for children mainly?
- Which digital medium and technique is appropriate and why, for children’s advertising?
- How do I approach this project in an unusual way that’s not the regular routine of an ad agency?
- What makes digital animation so distinctive?
- Are there ethical issues involved in its use? Are there rules and regulations?
- Has digital technology changed animation and how? What’s the impact of this evolution on the ad industry, and on the children?
- I want to enjoy working with digital character animation, but in a different way I used to up to now. I want to be responsible for the research, the theme and the reason behind it.
- Experiment with new digital methods and approaches that will be appropriate for the completion of the project.

With this piece I’m hoping to reach my goal and have a well studied digital piece that will be appealing and inviting to its audience.



Rationale:
Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with computers and how great they can be as a tool in an artist’s hands. The computer doesn’t do the Art for you; that comes from the heart. It is what oil paints are to the painter and the camera to the photographer. I love the endless possibilities that this tool has to offer. You almost have to tame it like a wild horse, before you actually use it to express yourself. I want to keep on working with it and discover new methods for creating digital art with it, thus developing my personal style. What really excites me is the fact that what I am proposing to do will have to go through the comments and reactions of my target audience. So, this is more or less going to feel like a team project, a collaboration of the viewers and the artist with the possibility of introducing interactivity.
“Why animation?” you might wonder. Because from personal experience, not only children but adults also respond to it better than they do to static images. Digital animation has the power and beauty of making everything look real if that’s the desired visual style. But this could be a trap for children’s advertising because they totally believe what they see, they identify with it. This has happened a lot with the violent video games and has raised some serious issues in the industry. So, digital animation needs to be used with caution and where the project calls for its use.
Since we live in the digital age, we are constantly bombarded with quick information, ads, weight loss programs, bargain opportunities, holiday season gift and traveling ideas etc. that numb our brains with the unfortunate result of not being able to go through the same thought processes we used to. I feel that a cleverly crafted, digitally animated spot will be effective and pleasing to both the parents and the kids when presented in a distinctive style.

Outcomes:
On completing this project, I will be able to see the new trends and where Advertising is heading as technology and digital media advance. This will be achieved through the study of the history and the principles/themes concerning digital art and animation. I will be in a position to research a subject thoroughly and effectively. I am looking forward to having a working experience on some software packages that are used in creating digital effects like cloth, hair and stylized renderings. I will have the ability to discuss my work in depth as well as evaluate it. It’s also very important to follow an agreed time schedule and present a log that shows every step of the process. I see this as a great opportunity to create something fresh for Cyprus, something that unfortunately doesn’t happen very often.

The possible scenario for the visual part of the project is to create a digital character suitable for the age group 6-12. It could represent services, awareness or a product & merchandise.
Some services examples could be of social nature: to help kids with reading disabilities or just promote reading and buying books. Some product examples are the Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, Nesquick’s Bunny, Cheetos Tiger, the M&M’s characters etc (visuals at the end of this section).
Through the use of digital technology and consequently digital art, I want to create a virtual world in an animated ad appropriate for the subject. I might also introduce some of the products that derive from animated spots, like the designs of beach towels, t-shirts, lunch boxes, dolls etc. that might support the animation. It’s very appealing to show how much depends on digital media when they are used in the most compelling and powerful way.

Visual examples:

- Kellogg’s Tony Tiger. There are animated ads that have children run to the supermarket to get the new cereal box that comes with a bowl or a lunch box.




- Nesquick Bunny. You can even get toy dolls of the Bunny when you buy Nesquick.


- Cheetos Tiger.



- http://www.iloveegg.com/index.asp and click on “egg song” on top right.
http://www.iloveegg.co.uk/ to see other products
Even though this is not my personal style, I found this was an effective way to get pre-schoolers to like eggs!

A possible outcome of the project could be a new advertising technique, something that ad agencies have not done before. An example could be to start an advertisement as an animation broadcast but finish on the web or a poster or vice versa. Digital techniques are formulating new ad rules and the web is here to prove it. Maybe the ad could be in the form of a teaser that will conclude at a later time. Another option could be to present the children with multiple endings to the ad and let them decide the “final cut”. The kids participate by calling a toll free number or going online to vote

Media:
I plan to use a Pentium-grade PC for the animation and editing and probably a Silicon Graphics workstation for digital compositing. Of course, all PC peripherals will be used: printer, scanner, wacom tablet.

The software packages I will be operating are:
PC: Maya, Photoshop, Corel Painter, After Effects, Syflex, Body Paint and maybe Freehand. I still haven’t decided on the sound program I will use for the sound editing.
Siligon Graphics: Flint.

Methodologies:
First things first: I will need to research… how to do research! Then I wish to study Advertising and how it progresses with the technological advances. My immediate intention is to watch animated trailers and ads with children’s products and find out what the parents’ and kids’ response is to them. This will be achieved through interviews and/or questionnaires. Their response will dictate the path this project will take. If needed, I will interview advertisers whose accounts include children’s products and get an insight of how they think before they plan their promotions. Then I will think of how I can do it differently. I need to study the history of animation and how technology has changed it. I have to also be aware of the rules governing kids advertising, ethical issues etc.

One other thing to do is experiment with a few new digital tools for specific effects that will enhance the final outcome of the project like: digital cloth, hair, atmospheric effects, stylized rendering plugins that achieve the desired look, facial animation and possibly interactivity.

Before I start actual production of the project, I will have a detailed storyboard that will outline the action of the animation on paper before it’s transferred to the computer. This will save time and heartache later on. A digital edit of this storyboard that’s called animatic, would give a good idea of the timing of the piece.

Furthermore, I intend to go to as many exhibitions as possible, even if they are not directly related to digital art. Being exposed to any kind of art and being open minded, are some of the most essential aspects of practicing art, either traditional or digital.

If the time permits, I would love to take a trip to Germany in February and one in Spain in April to participate at two Cartoon Masters workshops on the topics of “Creativity in the Production Process” and “Latest CGI Technologies”. These are organized by the European Association of Animation Film found at:
http://www.cartoon-media.be

Risk Assessment:
Since this project will be shown online to the tutors and classmates, I can’t see at this point what could go wrong.
If the risk assessment is not in relation to the audience or the method of exhibition, but to possible problems in the process, then the parts with the most risk are:
Obtaining meaningful feedback from audience.
Not being able to introduce as many new features as I would like because of time constraints, or lack of uniqueness in one of them, something that the research and time will show.



Timetable:
Unit 2
November (starting Nov. 15th)

- Finish proposal for Unit 1.
- Have the tutorial.
- Make improvements and corrections on the proposal.
- Have the assessment.
- Start reading research methodologies.
- Allow some time for questions and answers.
- Update the blog.

December
- Research my subject. Read about Advertising.
- Go through the history of Digital Art and its influences as technology improved.
- Continue with the research methodologies.
- Work on rough visual ideas.
- Update weblog.
- Allow time to solve any issues that might come up.

January
- Revise and develop proposal further.
- Look into interview and questionnaire methods.
- Work on designs and experiment with digital effects.
- Continue with the readings.
- Update blog.

February

- Take a trip to Germany for a Creativity Workshop.
- Continue research.
- Get feedback from co-workers and advertisers.
- Get feedback from people that don’t necessarily relate to art, maybe some parents.
- Work on the interviews and questionnaires, so that I get the feedback above.
- Develop idea and concept more.
- Work on blog.
March
- Expand the draft to a final proposal.
- Have the tutorial with all the supporting material (written and visual) presented.
- Blog.
- Keep reading.
April
- Have the assessment.
- Take a trip to Spain for a conference on CGI technologies.


Unit 3
- Make an evaluation of the work accomplished so far. What went right and what not, how can I improve?
- Adapt the corrections that were made to the proposal.
- Continue with the research.
- Carry out tests with the new software I want to use.
- Hands-on the project: work on the storyboard and animatic, after I finalize the concept.
- Report possible changes and revisions of the project.
- Update blog.
- Get feedback from tutors and classmates.
- Offer feedback on the others’ progress.

Unit 4

- Complete visual project according to the proposal’s aims and objectives.
- Present the final project and all written and research materials.
- Work on a written report and artist’s statement.
- Complete all the requirements for PGPD.
- Resolve any pending issues.
- Update blog.
- Critiques classmates’ work and also perform self critique.

Bibliography:

Books:
Allison, B. et al. (1996), Research Skills for Students, Kogan Page
Allison, B. Race, P. (2004), The Student’s Guide To Preparing Dissertations and Theses, 2nd ed. Falmer Press
Cohen, L. Manion, L. Morrison, K. (2000), Research Methods in Education, 5th ed. Great Britain, Falmer Press
Oppenheim, A.N. (1999), Questionnaire, Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement, Continuum International Publishing Group
Sullivan, L. (1998), Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads, John Wiley & Sons
Bendinger, B. (2002), The Copy Workshop Workbook, 3rd ed. The Copy Work Shop
Armstrong, G. Kotler, P. (2004), Marketing: An Introduction, 7th ed. Prentice Hall
Fortini-Campbell, L. (2001), Hitting The Sweet Spot, Copy Workshop
Barnicoat, J. (1985), Posters a Concise History, Thames and Hudson
The Art Directors Club, (2000) Mad Ave, Universe Books
Clow, K. Baack, D. (2003), Integrated Advertising, Promotion, & Marketing Communications, 2nd ed. Prentice Hall
Avery, J. Bendiger, B. (2000), Advertising Campaign Planning, 3rd. ed. Copy Workshop
Steel, J. (1998), Truth Lies & Advertising: The Art of Account Planning , John Wiley & Sons
Arens, W. (2001), Contemporary Advertising, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Aithcison, J. French, N. (1999), Cutting Edge Advertising :How to create the world’s best print for brands in the 21st century, Prentice Hall PTR
Poricken, M. (2004), Creative Advertising: Ideas and techniques from the world’s best campaigns, Thames & Hudson
Cullen, C. (2001), Then is Now :Sampling the Past for Today’s Graphics( A Handbook for Contemporary Design), Rockport Publishers
Paul, C. (2003), Digital Art (World of Art), Thames & Hudson

Magazines:

CMYK Magazine, New York, Curtis Clarkson
Adweek, USA, VNU Business Publications, USA, Inc.
Lürzer's Archive, Austria, Walter Lürzer
Animation magazine, California, Rita Street
Computer Graphics World, USA, PennWell
Stash DVD magazine, USA, Greg Robins
Creative Review, U.K, Centaur Communications Ltd
Communication Arts, California, Communication Arts

Websites:

www.cgchannel.com
www.highend3d.com
www.adcritic.com
www.deathfall.com
www.cgnetworks.com
www.dam.org
www.siggraph.org
www.amoda.com
www.ecommercetimes.com
www.internationaldigitalart.com
www.adage.com
www.cgw.com
www.commarts.com
www.animationmagazine.net
www.mad.co.uk/publication/cr/
www.stashmedia.tv/
http://www.caru.org/guidelines/index.asp
http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_childgen.shtml
http://corporate.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz_detail/0,2406,111543-246-270,00.html
http://www.cca-canada.com/ethics/
http://www.bbbsilicon.org/guidelinechild.html
http://www.buffalo.bbb.org/alerts/7up.html
http://www.business.gov/phases/growing/use_technology/online_advertising.html
http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/commercialism/kids-online.html
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ats/Mar31/mar31_02.html

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