Design and Digital Media Handbook

Course Description

Posted in Uncategorized by jlee on September 15th, 2008

Semester 1, 20 credits. Course organiser: Richard Coyne


This course introduces the techniques that are used in digital design: three dimensional modelling, simple computer animation, image rendering, and the preparation of material suitable for publishing on the World Wide Web. The emphasis is on design. Students advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique in a group context.

Learning Outcomes

Ability to:

  • use applications for modelling, image manipulation, and basic animation
  • prepare web content
  • work in a collaborative context of group review and critique
  • engage in a creative task within tightly constrained bounds and to present the outcome to conform to precise specifications
  • interpret and apply a set of requirements pertaining to a design task.


Two assessed submissions, each worth 50%. Component 1: Three-dimensional computer model. Component 2: Rendered three-dimensional models with complex animation. Note that there will be subcomponents to these submissions.

Criteria for assessment

Work will be assessed on the basis of

  • Demonstrated competence with modelling and image manipulation tools
  • Skills in creatively deploying allocated resources, whatever their capabilities
  • Precision and competence in presentation
  • Ability to meet the requirements of the project brief and deal creatively with its open-ended aspects
  • Design quality of the work in terms of meeting functional requirements, legibility, clarity, and appropriate use of media

Account will be taken of the risks taken and degree to which the design deviates from standard solutions

Please note that assessment will take account of tradeoffs between the above criteria, particularly taking account of the diverse backgrounds of students in the class. You are encouraged to seek feedback during the development of your work, but please note that adhering to feedback does not guarantee a high assessment of the completed work. Note also that the assessment of the work is not necessarily commensurate with the amount of time spent on the project work. The issues of design and its evaluation will be further canvassed in Media and Culture.

Teaching Method

Work in this course is project-based. So the project and its tasks provide the focus, with skills being taught in targeted lecture/seminars as needed to progress the work. In general there will be one scheduled lecture followed by a practical session per week to discuss the work, but tutors will be available outside these times as well. You will be expected to work in proximity to other students in the class and benefit from each other’s developing expertise. The main software system used (Blender) has highly advanced modelling and animation capabilities, beyond that needed for the project work. The software will be introduced at a basic level through lectures and tutorials. We will make use of online teaching resources, and students are encouraged to use these to proceed to advanced level as private study. Blender is released under a GNU Public License as Free Software. There will be opportunities to develop further skills in any of the software in other courses, and into the Final Project during the summer.

Principal Software

3d Modelling and animation: Blender

also available: Sketchup, Maya, Form•Z

image processing:
 Adobe PhotoShop

video processing: Final Cut (Pro and Express)

Project Brief: Steam Media Engine

The year is 2020. As predicted, electricity and radio waves have taken second place to a revival of light, wind, water vapour, kinetic energy and biomechanical processes as safe, inexpensive energy sources and communications media. It looks as though the Victorian visionaries such as Charles Babbage (1791-1871), Jules Verne (1828-1905), and H. G. Wells (1866-1946) were on to something.

Designers, inventors and developers are now re-purposing and customizing their products in response to the scarcity of resources, the build up of decades of obsolete equipment, and society’s reaction against the uniformity of mass production.

Steamware Ltd have commissioned you to adapt an item of scrap as a device for projecting 2D pictures, videos and sounds onto any suitable screen-like surface. You have been given an item of scrappage carefully selected and ready for repurposing as a desktop media projector.

Move 1: Screen apparatus

Crit 1 submission date: 24 September 2010
Crit 2 submission date: 1 October 2010

Your first task is to design and build (as a computer model in Blender) a general-purpose screen suitable for receiving images from any such projector. Design the screen as a flat or slightly curved surface, with a supporting frame, able to display a rectangular image 40.96 cm x 30.72. The whole apparatus is to be lightweight and portable, made from cylindrical straight sections of tubing joined by cubic connectors, and able to stand on a table. You can copy or adapt your design from the sketch found in the archives of Steamware’s founding inventor Dr Punkmeister:

Punkmeister's sketch

Punkmeister's sketch

Complete in PNG format:

  • 1 digital image of your screen apparatus at 640 x 480 px.
  • 1 thumbnail of the same image cropped at 64 x 64 px. White background.

The Crit submissions should be dropped into ACE Extras > Shared Folders > DDM > _BLENDER_CRIT_01 (and _02) directory. Your submission should be prefixed with your name_secondnameinitial_crit01.png e.g. jules_r_crit01.png (jpg format is also acceptable)

Move 2: Projector

Submission date: 22 October 2010

Design and model your projector. It will have the basic form of your item of scrappage, but with an activate-deactivate mechanism and a source for the projector beam. As your device likely operates with kinetic energy flows, fluids,  and luminous organic energy sources then its activation-deactivation will involve the movement of levers, ratchets, springs, valves or other conspicuous parts. In fact the year 2020 sees a decline in the modernist desire for seamless and invisible devices and processes: “If it steams it’s got seams”, as the adage goes. Your projector should resemble or include your scrap item, but it is up to you how much detail you include through simplification and abstraction. All projectors require at least one valve to be included in the device. A small number of valves are available from course tutors on short loan for modelling. Remember time and resource constraints, and the more surfaces you model the slower it will be to render.

Position the projector in front of your screen. Point the camera that generates the image away from the screen so that we can’t see its active surface. Generate an image of the ensemble with your device in its deactivated mode.

Move 3: Animation

Submission date: 26 November 2010

Position the projector in front of your screen. Point the camera that generates the image away from the screen so that we can’t see its active surface. Generate an image of the ensemble with your device in its deactivated mode. This is your image A.

You will be allocated a class member to forward your image A to and you will receive an image in turn from someone else (your image B).

Map the image you have been given (image B) onto the projection screen. Create an animation progressing from your image A to a final frame where we are looking at the screen and see image B full on. In the process show the projector activating. (Don’t show any humans in this. The projector should activate itself.) You can also choose to animate your screen. Submit in Quicktime format, H.264 codec, 640 x 480px: a 30 second animation of the projector and screen activating. The animation should be exactly 30 seconds long. It is important for you to be able to ‘edit’ your work into it’s most engaging and comprehensive form. Bear in mind the average TV advert is 30s long when it is first shown, then edited down to an even shorter spot. Do not include any titles on your animation.

Submit MOVES 1, 2 and 3 to the electronic drop box.

The images from the whole design team will be combined in the appropriate sequence to produce a longer animation.


Use the following key words to access images, sounds and ideas from Infrar.ed, Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, Second Life, public image repositories, and social media: steam engine, steampunk, valve, London Science Museum, Bletchley Park, Myst (computer game), Captain Nimo, Doctor Who, Jules Verne, H.G, Wells, Charles Babbage, Lady Lovelace, Enigma Machine, Heath Robinson, Analytical Machine, Difference Engine, Turing Machine, repurpose, peak oil, Ardman, Captain Nemo. Post useful links on the WIP messageboard, Copyright law is even stricter in 2020, and though you may look to external sources for inspiration you may not incorporate image and sound files other than those provided through Infrar.ed. Sources must always be acknowledged in reports, meta tags in databases, or even on the artefacts themselves if possible.

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Agreement Form

MSc in Design and Digital Media

Summer project agreement form 2010

This form is for defining your summer project, giving essential information for you and your supervisor(s), and to act as a record for Quality Assurance purposes. The form should be completed and agreed after discussion with the supervisor, but preferably before work on the project starts. Note that variation from the details given here is allowed during the course of the project, but should also be agreed and documented as it arises. In the case of a group project, only one form is needed per group, but it must state clearly the roles of each group member, with a view to how these will be assessed. Remember that the deadline date for submission is [TBA: mid-late August 2010]: this date is set by the University, is non-negotiable, and no extensions can be allowed. Before that, we will have interim presentations to the group for critique and feedback on Thursday 29th July 2010, or as advised, possibly overrunning also to the following day.

A principal supervisor should have agreed the details given here, and should be named as main contact, though more than one member of staff may be involved overall.

This document should be completed electronically and submitted as PDF (or it may, with appropriate warning, be made available as an online form), giving as much information as needed in each category. Before completing this form, you should read carefully and thoroughly the section about the project in the Programme Handbook. Monitoring of compliance with project requirements may be done by the College Office, and be out of the hands of the examiners and course administrators. Please note also the following College warning: The regulations state that students should remain in Edinburgh for the duration of their studies. Leave of absence is not normally given for masters students. It is the students’ responsibility to keep in touch with their supervisors. Absence from Edinburgh cannot be cited as a reason for poor performance in an appeal.

Name(s) of student(s)

Title of project

Outline of project idea

Describe briefly the motivation, background, aims and overall intention of the project (up to 500 words).

Schedule of tasks

Breakdown of the required work into components such as: literature research, design, specification, implementation, writing up, etc. Include dates, and identify any dependencies between tasks.

Resources required

All resources, whether or not these already exist, e.g. access to computers and software, additional equipment, books, presentation space, etc., identifying sources (e.g. department, library, self) where known.

Outcomes expected

Describe designs, programs, documents, presentations, exhibitions, etc.

Roles of participants

For groups: describe the role of each group member, and indicate how it can be assessed. (Remember that independent reports will be required, which must identify the individual contributions.)

Principal supervisor

Secondary supervisor(s) or other involved individuals (internal or external, etc.)

Date of this agreement

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Posted in Uncategorized by jlee on August 8th, 2008

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Blair, Gerard. Groups that work,
Big Dog’s Leadership Page
Open Doors
Sources about wireless connectivity:

LINKS to digital art sites and installations:

Chris Hand’s Blog:
Chris Hand’s homepag:
Create your own Steady Cam for very little money:
Immersive 3d Hack using wiiRemote:
Other Johnny Lee projects using the wiiRemote:
Sarah Angliss, Sound artist using robotics
3DV systems, Company developing 3d image tracking software (a lot of this is doable in Jitter by the way) – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer -Relational Architecture – look into body moves and Frequency and Volume – the legible city – worry about this guy – look into Nike Platz – look up floating numbers – create graffiti for a war computer game – does lara croft wear fake polyglons? – performance with real-time visuals – voices transferred to visuals – wearable computing – digital narratives – John Kilmer’s 3D projection surfaces

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