Newcastle 2065

At the start of October I worked on a project for a client, the Northumbria University Virtual Reality and Visualisation (VRV) group. The task was to adapt one of their existing videos from their Newcastle City Futures project, into something that could be presented to children of around 8 years of age.

This was a challenging commitment, as there were only two weeks until the deadline. Furthermore, collaborating with the client to produce an agreeable design would take half of that time, leaving around four working days for the development and production of the assets, as well as consolidating them into a final cut. However, this goal was made achievable through the use of tools and techniques I had learnt from my experiences in education. This also gave me the opportunity to develop my existing skills as well as acquire some new ones along the way.

Discussing the clients’ needs, ideas and expectations helped me to arrive at a concept for the video that they were happy to see developed and that I felt happy to deliver on schedule. Producing a project plan that included task estimates based on my prior experiences really helped me to pin down the scope of the project, as well as reflectively measure my progress as each day passed. Having a plan that is realistic, flexible and which is informed by a risk analysis is something that I knew would be key to producing quality work within the given time-frame.

With a plan and measures in place, I proceeded to arrange the necessary equipment and resources, which included securing people to complete the soundtrack and voice-over work I had planned. Drawing from my experience working with artists on games projects I made sure to schedule plenty of time to allow them to produce their best work by following the creative and iterative processes that give them freedom and my control over the end product. I am very happy with the work, and despite some technical difficulties that we had to overcome I felt we managed to get a pleasing result in the form of the soundtrack and voice-over that are present in the final version of the product.

The original video (below) is, in places, quite text heavy with a moody soundtrack that carries the viewer along on a train that is journeying into a future version of Newcastle upon Tyne, set in the year 2065.

As you can see in the final cut, we used the theme – a train journey to the future – to develop two characters who would be seen as conductors of the experience. Drawing from existing designs and using the original video as a starting point, I developed the characters to enforce the narrative. To do so I used familiar techniques, such as producing a mood board, storyboard, sketches and an animatic. These not only helped me iterate through my design effectively but also served as a good example to the client; keeping them in the loop and allowing them to provide feedback and suggestions. I knew that these opportunities for discussion would be invaluable, as it reduced the risk of me moving ahead with a design the client would be unhappy with and give me the chance to rationalise my decisions, especially those that that were essential to rein in any unmanageable requests the client may have had.

While I would have liked to have had more time to add more animations and flourish to each scene, I feel that we have done justice to the piece while ensuring enough attention was given to each aspect of the adaptation in a respectful manner.

The client themselves were positive about the result, and feedback from the event let us know that it was also well received by the audience. I am looking forward to working with the VRV on projects in the near future.