Fort Vancouver Mobile - A video overview

Courtesy of: Research Assistant Aaron May of Washington State University Vancouver's Creative Media and Digital Culture program. Produced in 2011.

Video highlights from the apps (36-minute version)

This montage provides a sampling of some of the video media in the Fort Vancouver Mobile apps. This app is much more than just a video distribution system, but these videos show the variety of content, from expositional segments to new journalism to those intended to prompt the development of interactive narratives.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Grand Emporium of the West tablet app interface, Take 2

So the first run at the Grand Emporium of the West tablet app interface put us in a position of choosing between the aesthetics of the desired look from the designer (the angle of the perspective, the scope of the space, the architectural details, etc. -- and the precise historical accuracy of the image. In short, we did not have the historical resources (maps, drawings, descriptions, etc.) to make such an artistic leap justifiable, and, doing so would compromise the information integrity that we have developed so far on this project. When having to make a choice between artistry and authenticity in this project, we always have focused on historical accuracy. We would like to come back to this original idea, with more resources, and use it for another purpose, but we have a tablet app to build for the NEH by the end of summer, so we have chosen another path for now.

This second interface, which was an idea suggested by Chief Ranger Greg Shine, was to transform a historical drawing of undisputed accuracy into a touchable interface. We decided to animate this idea (animations not shown) ...

We started with the splash screen concept, of introducing the title of the app, and its funders, as illustrated in this screen shot:

Then, the app shows the historical drawing, as it was:

Followed by a gentle colorization animation (which includes quotes from the period about the prominence of Fort Vancouver in the region during the mid-1800s):

Then, at the end of the animation, only the touchable parts of the interface remain colorized:

All of this design and animation was created by our primary multimedia designer, Marsha Matta, with our primary app development expert, Joe Oppegaard, creating the backend structure to make it all work. ... When a user touches any of the colorized pieces, the ship, the houses, the bastion, etc., the app launches an activity screen, similar to the prototype below:

The media in each module is intended to initiate learning opportunities; in this case, through a discussion about the food of the period through a demonstration of the baking of seabiscuits (the hardtack that most people in the region relied upon for survival). To complement that media, various activity prompts, discussion sections, and other pop-up resources are provided on the page to encourage interaction with the information and the ideas through the affordances of the mobile device:

After all of this information is put into place, we have scheduled a focus group of local history educators to try it out in July. We also are building a series of analytic tools into the app, so we can look closely at the ways in which the app is being used (or not used). ... Will provide more updates about that later. 

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