Monthly Archives: January 2014

Physical conception to digital reality: Update #2

My second update on the process is mostly centered on modelling the bottle in CINEMA 4D as well as creating a suitable texture for the glass, and mapping my label.


The last sketch I produced before the modelling stage was only a quick one, and it served to provide a reference for which I could draw a path from in CINEMA 4D to obtain the shape of the bottle, however I later had to revise the sketch in order to get the thickness of the glass correct as well as avoid geometry errors when I extruded the spline in CINEMA 4D



After this I loaded the sketch into CINEMA 4D as a new texture and applied It to a vertical plane I could use as a reference. I drew a path around my sketch fixing any lines that weren’t quite vertical/horizontal (and should’ve been) as well as ensuring all curves were uniform. I doubled the spline back around in order to create thickness as I would be using Lathe NURBS to get the shape – I had tried making a Boolean subtraction from the inside of a block model but this did not work out as I had hoped.


Next, after modifying the angle of the spline with NURBS applied to correct the shape, I adjusted the subdivisions to 46 to create a smoother shape as well as allow the label to fit on correctly (as the plane I used for this was also with 46 subdivisions). I loaded and applied my label texture to the plane and adjusted necessary scales and rules in order to ensure a clean fit. I created the glass texture by activating a transparency channel in the material and changing the refraction to 1.52 (as that is the refraction index of glass) and mixing in a pale green in the transparency channel with a dull white in the main colour channel (but with the brightness set to 20%). For the specular highlight I reduced the falloff and increased the inner width to create a hard highlight since glass is hard, polished and shiny.


At this point in time I currently have a 3D model of a glass pill bottle, which now just requires fixing the shadows, lighting and environment in the scene as well as completing a plastic lid for the bottle, and potentially filling the bottle with pills. When finished I plan to make some simple animations for use as product images and filler clips in the videos we later produce. I hope to look at finishing the environment and model including fixing the shadows which are the current main issue, and then perhaps producing the renders fit for purpose.



From physical conception to digital reality – Small update #1

As part of the project I’m currently working on at university which involves the production of a website with 6 minutes of footage embedded somewhere within it, the brief states we must design and present a futuristic, fantasy concept. 

Myself, and the group I am working with (Alex Sisan, Daniel Burden, Sophie Dormer, and Lauren Button) have elected to go with a futuristic medicine type of theme involving treatments that change how your body responds to an environment – the concept behind the design for the logo as well.

My role for the project is mostly to design and produce any required art assets, including 3D models of follow-up medications which will be used to depict the treatments, in lieu of more advanced techniques that might otherwise be used to depict a hospital treatment.


To begin with I produced a few sketches of potential product labels after having received the first treatment idea from Dan. I had completed the logo a day prior to this, and aimed to keep the palette and general design rules similar between the logo and the packaging design, in order to maintain consistency. I used the same font that had been used in previous iterations of the logo (Bebas Neue) for most headings and titles, and I used Franklin Gothic (condensed) for the paragraphs and subtitles in order to provide differentiation in the composition; I produced these areas in an off-black colour too for the same reason. Designing the composition based on a loose “Rule of thirds” influence was suitable for this application as the label would wrap around the bottle and I felt a composition of a scrolling/panoramic style might provide continuity.


Could Jolicloud 2.0 be the future of the media consuming web?

Jolidrive Login

They essentially sum up the concept in the subtitle

As far as web projects and innovations go, Jolicloud is a project that has been close to my heart ever since its conception in 2010, which was solely as a cloud-based operating system aimed at netbooks,

Originally the main premise of Jolicloud (the moniker of the project at the time) was to breathe life into dying netbooks and desktops that had become inundated with corrupted registries, rogue applications, and perhaps most importantly, to minimize the issues that problems between the chair and the screen could cause for themselves by using a computer. Jolicloud was designed to be easy to use, to be no more than a means for media consumption online – its interface was built primarily in HTML5 and being Linux based (originally on Ubuntu Netbook Remix) was also very fast in terms of boot speed and interface navigation which makes it an ideal candidate for those who did want to convert a dying machine into a way to simply browse the web and its associated technologies.

However after time, the creators faced criticism based mainly around bugs arising in the system – failure to launch applications for example, as well as the fact that the system struggled to amount to much more than a curiosity for the technically minded; the “applications” were often just web frames in which websites were displayed and tabbed along the top of the screen when not in use. So, not dissimilar to a normal web browser.

Since then, the project has received numerous updates and is now referred to still as Jolicloud, although it has been split into “Joli OS” for the local-based OS installation, and “Jolidrive”, which refers to the concept of what could be referred to as essentially a “cloud service aggregator”. I’ll be looking mostly at the theory and practice of “Jolidrive” as an emerging web innovation.


Adding services in Jolicloud

A tab conveniently provides access to the list of services, which are added instantly to your account.

The main basis of Jolidrive is that your content is all in one online environment that can be accessed across platforms, with no external plugins or programs required – since it’s coded in HTML5 which is rapidly becoming a web technology that is available in the web browsers used on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Various web services can be linked to ones Jolidrive account, including but not limited to – Dropbox, Skydrive, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Evernote, and Feedly. Jolidrive is unequivocally making an attempt to tackle some of the fundamental “hardships” if you could term them in such a way, of an increasingly digital and furthermore, online cloud-based computing life.

Jolicloud on a Nokia Lumia 820

When displayed on a smartphone the source of Jolicloud’s design inspiration becomes very, very clear…


Jolicloud Homescreen on a Surface RT

Open on my Surface tablet, Jolicloud responds very nicely to the form factor both landscape and portrait.

The interface of Jolidrive is brilliantly composed and unified with just two main tabs to encompass the whole system – a desktop composed of web “applications”, and a tab made up of services linked and integrated into your account. The desktop is fully responsive and produced in a beautiful iOS-esque fashion which works smoothly on many platforms; desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones all accept it with welcoming arms in either orientation.

Content aggregation on Jolicloud

Jolicloud aggregates content from all your linked services into one feed which is also able to be sorted into separate sources.

The web applications are not customised by Jolidrive in most cases (bearing in mind I am looking at the web-based version) and simply open the linked website in a new tab. While this might sound like the needless over-complication of a simple task, it could be considered an innovative system for facilitating the increasing convergence of technology – especially web platforms. An example of this might obviously be Google+ and its sudden wrath over Youtube, or Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. Which leads quite succinctly to the next and arguably the main feature of Jolidrive – the unification of web services.

As I’m sure many of us have experienced first-hand, while the plethora of different services available online, for free as well in most cases means users have a LOT of choice – which could result in trialling many different services before settling on one, if ever. Additionally the way in which the current three main platforms (Windows/Microsoft, Mac/iOS, and Android/Chrome) have developed their own private ecosystems means switching from one to another might leave a user with quite the fragmented spread of data online. Using myself as an example, switching from Android to Windows Phone, adding a Surface RT to my collection but owning a PS3 and not an Xbox means I have data spread over Facebook, Google maps, Google mail, Windows mail, Youtube, Nokia maps, Dropbox, and Skydrive to say the least. Jolidrive definitely has made a bold step in tackling this issue for users, allowing them to add and thus unify these different services into a feed where each service is fully accessible in a unified, single page within the Jolidrive application. This might be comparable to, for example, having each service open in separate tabs or at least bookmarked in a web browser with all relevant usernames and passwords set to auto-insert/complete in the web browser. However, it could be argued this is an overcomplicated method of access to different services, and not to mention the inconsistency in design between each one – varying buttons and cues for users, in different locations, displayed in different colour schemes for example. Jolidrive does an excellent job of unifying the interfaces between, for example, Skydrive and Dropbox and making each one easily accessible without the need for a login box anywhere in sight.

Skydrive on Jolicloud

Skydrive integrated into Jolicloud in a unified visual style.

Google Drive on Jolicloud

Google Drive integrated into Jolicloud in a unified visual style.


Dropbox in Jolicloud

Dropbox integrated into Jolicloud in a unified visual style – its hard to tell the difference.

With similar advances being seen in systems such as Windows 8 to name one familiar to me, could data unification in the cloud be the way to facilitate consumption of multiple media platforms for the end user?

Roland Barthe: The death of the Author.

Origins of the “Author”.

Barthe argues that the conception of the “Author” first came about at the end of the middle ages, stemming from English empiricism, French rationalism, and later on, ideologies of capitalism resulting in attribution of prestige to the individual.


The critic and the “Author”.

The argument is made by Barthe that criticism serves to “discover” the “Author” – in the sense of society, culture, history, emotion, and politics behind the work. And, that until this is so, the text is unexplained and strands left open-ended, to interpretation. In discovering the “Author”, he argues the text becomes claimed to have been “explained”, and that the critic has conquered. He argues this should be overthrown – that essentially “everything is to be distinguished, but not to be deciphered”. He contests, writing should be traversed, not penetrated in criticism, and that writing aims to resume meaning but only in order to evaporate it, leading to “systematic exemption”. Ultimately, Barthe makes the argument that by refusing to arrest meaning in writing, counter-theological or fundamental activity becomes liberated – questioning society as a whole; God, science, technology, the law.


Media texts: Who creates meaning?

In continuation of Barthe’s concept, “Death of the Author”, it can be contested of which party really creates meaning in a text – the author or the reader. Arguably, while the author might shape an intended meaning or outcome through the production of a media text, it can be said that true meaning is really what the end-user (in this case, the reader of the text) makes of it – and how they choose or feel compelled to interpret the text. For example, in the case of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” it would not matter how Stoker had intended the text to be interpreted, as the criticism and meaning derived from the text by the reader is arguably the end result, as a direct consequence of being the last receiver of the message transmitted by the producer – there are academic readings of “Dracula” ranging from marking the novel as an exploration of class power in society, gender roles and power paradigms, theories of colonialism and fear of the foreign, and sexuality and sexual dominance.


Barthes, R. (1967). The Death of The Author. Aspen. 5-6. [Available
online at:].  

Website Re-design: Stage 3

I DID miss out documentation of stage 2 website re-design in the insanity of the Christmas period – however here I am armed with plenty to say about stage 3 of the site and why i’ve done this. Again.

I posted a while back with the first true incarnation of what I expected the site to look like once it had been finished, and, for the most part this concept was true to itself. In particular, the page template I had set aside for the “work” and “about” pages has not changed much since its conception. It’s manifested today much as it was when I was first designing it – with a contemporary layout and design scheme and a tried-and-tested style of navigation that should be familiar to everyone who uses it – navigation links and a header at the top, a wrapper allowing for changes in screen size and content scrolling down the center.

The splash, or homepage however I changed significantly soon after “finalising” the original concept. In trying to make the page super-responsive I experimented with re-positioning the elements and decided the page was much more uniform and intuitive if I put the links and logo at the top, in a uniform composition together. While it was still different to the rest of the site – which some critique I have received from peers indicates as being an issue due to inconsistency – it offered navigation in the same area of the viewport which users would find it elsewhere on the site, as well as unifying the complete set of links on the first page in a single location together. Furthermore, it leaves the rest of the viewport to be completely malleable – usable for other features or displays of featured content.


newsplashThe second big change, and only other big change really was the rapid change of style across the pages. I went from a contemporary, colourful polka-dot with black accents for all the interactive elements, with transparency, to a completely dark style with a wooden background and use of drop shadows. However, evaluating both of these design choices, I decided to move on further still. The polka-dot theme did not wholly represent my style of design, being rather erratic, nor was it in tune with the rest of the design industry (which was something I wanted to try and incorporate in the personality of the site). The wood style was generally considered by others, and by myself, to look good as a whole, after some careful alterations to the use of opacity and shadow in some places that caused issues with visibility. However, it did not work well for a digital design portfolio I felt, and actually was more suited that of a traditional artist, craftsperson, or photographer. I settled for a warm-coloured flat design scheme comprised of off-white, off-black colours and an orange accent throughout which I felt seemed to work well and complimented my work much more effectively. I also added a slider to the front page which can be easily updated to feature different slides and featured work.

updated work page

Updated work page

More pictures to follow.



Lev Manovich: Media-independent techniques.

Manovich argues that media has brought about an array of “media-independent techniques”.

        He identifies them as “searchability, findability, linkability”. Additionally to these, it could be argued that such an attribute as “shareability” could exist alongside these – sharing in the true sense, and both parties having access to the media at the same time – as opposed to sharing ownership or temporary ownership of it – such as lending a DVD to a friend. Digital media has created many situations wherein sharing is encouraged, made easy, and leaves both users with access simultaneously. One example instantly is the web itself – everyone can access it, as opposed to a library where if a book is taken, it can no longer be accessed. Media applications constantly feature elements of “shareability” – such as sharing a screen in remote desktop access, sharing a video on Youtube for many people to watch at once, and sharing a status update or photo upload on Facebook are three instances where “shareability” occurs in media. Digital media has a certain affordance making it easy to share – it can change ownership without removing the original, a common discourse in the debate of piracy being defined as theft.