Monday, 14 July 2014

Preparing for Web Assignment: Working To A Brief

With our time at Confetti coming to a close, it’s important that whatever course or even job we’ve performed in, that we grasp hold of what we’ve learnt, made and show an audience what we’re capable of doing. For this assignment we must return back to briefs and how we can follow them for not only our sake but for the clients as well whilst doing extensive research on how we can create our own personal website from scratch.
Working to a Brief
To put it simply, a brief can be something from a simple set of instructions to that of a full-blown fifty-page project. Both are effectively the same subject where clients hand out directions to other people in order for them to choose whether or not they should follow these obligations which may be unattainable to follow because of certain circumstances or maybe the employee refuses to do it. An example of this could well be a person is given a brief for something like architecture which asks that person to maybe design/ build this house in a very complex matter but only with a short amount of money- hence why the client might ask to change circumstances for them to achieve the client’s dream or just refuse it altogether.  Throughout our time at Confetti, you could say each assignment we’ve been given was another brief we had to follow and complete in order to receive our grades. If we did not meet the requirements for certain grades then we would have to negotiate with our tutors in order to see what else needs to be done to reach that level, or basically walk away as there may be too much work to take on at that moment.
Now as I’ve stated before briefs come in many different ways and types which help us understand what we are working for/ towards and how to keep our clients happy. The different types can be:
·         Formal-
These types are the most popular in any industry, specifically the creative one. Formal briefs focus around an industry sector involving mostly written work that describes what the client’s idea is, what they want within the project, time, maximum budgets and deadlines. It can also include the interactivity between the clients and the people taking on this project such as having a meeting once a month, as well as they’re intended deadlines. These kind of briefs are also written in Standard English with no slang, no false pretences being basically straight to the point and cutting out all parts of unnecessary information, on the other hand these documents may not be legal and are usually offered to groups rather than a single person.

An example of this would be our team’s FMP group. At the beginning we were all set a brief together writing what we’re basing our game on, such as genres, target audience and who/want we want to appear in the game like our characters. Milestones were set initially to give the group an idea of how much work we should have done and when by which ties in with the deadlines, obviously our expenses for programs like UDK, Autodesk, Adobe packages and licenses are covered by the college. Then attempts at having regular online meetings together with a homework check being done.

Another example of a formal brief could be an equestrian company has taken on the thought of creating a saddle that not only fits the horse perfectly, but requires aids to help people with disability problems such as paralysed/ broken parts of the body, artificial limbs, blindness or may require the horse to be more responsive to the rider keeping in the mind the rider will want better grip and comfort from the object- which is the complete opposite to a Treeless saddle which allows the rider to get better response from the horse but loses grip and comfort.

Now with this in mind a lot of extensive research would have to be taken into account starting from what’s already out there for disabled riders, how the equipment is used and what effect does this have on the horse (similar to our research when we’re looking to see what’s already out there on the market and why a certain target audience may like that product) Afterwards it would be case of bringing in top specialists and can design this saddle to help with these problems, make the product and begin test phases on both horses and riders separately then putting the two together and seeing how their performance goes otherwise it’s back to testing.
·         Informal-
Informal briefs basically mean the opposite of formal where the discussion between client and specialist, don’t necessarily have to be written down in paper work as though it’s industry-standard business. It could be simply where someone has discussed what they would like to have done but haven’t got either all the details to supply the person taking on the job or not entirely sure if they want this person to do the set task, meaning the brief isn’t generalised or completed. It could be where you are being asked to complete a favour for someone or as an example doing an art trade.

On DeviantArt I usually get asked by other members and friends to do an art trade with them or requests. This means nothing has been set in stone and it’s up to me with the view of drawing something for a member of the website (so the client) for free.

 By looking at the evidence shown above we can clearly see this is an informal brief. After accepting the fact I don’t mind partaking in an art trade, where both artists will draw something for one another it meant we were now in an agreement to start working. By looking at the language used as well, we can see both parties are using slang, improper use of grammar and emotocons which wouldn’t be present in a formal brief. To clear this up my part of the art trade was to draw HellAboveHeaven’s horse OC: Zitox which I made an animation for- my part  was eventually completed however the end result didn’t match what I had asked my partner to draw.

Similar to the example given above if you were to attend a convention such as MCM Expo’s, Alcon or maybe even J-Con they usually have a section at the venue where various well known artists are taking on commissions on the spot from spectators who’ve come to the convention for various different reasons. Now what will happen is once a client has seen what a certain artist can do and like’s their style in which they create things, they’ll ask if that person is free to draw what they want and if so the client would then have a normal every day-to-day discussion with the artist on what they want to be drawn, how they would like it done and then ask questions of how long will it take to make this piece and how much.

·         Tendered-
This kind of brief follows suit of a Formal because once the project has been given, everything within that brief is written to a formal standard. With this in mind it could mean specialists may have to bid for that contract in order to gain hold of the project for clients, which means again tendered briefs appear more in industry and governmental practices because you’re implying this project on a group of people, not a specific person which then leads onto contractual briefs.

An example of this would be when Studio Ghibli made Spirited Away they offered up a spot to work in partnership with another company that would allow them to become more recognised throughout the globe and their stories translated into different languages. As this was an amazing opportunity many companies came forward with offers for the studio that asked too much of them or seemed non-practical until Disney stepped in. Now Disney offered that the movies Ghibli produced would be part of the Disney movie collection and released under both Disney and Studio Ghibli’s name meaning that people from across the world would feel better buying these movies because Disney was a very well-renowned company and still is today, yet nothing was taken away from Ghibli because Disney states that it was this company that made these movies. From this Studio Ghibli would gain popularity from across the globe and their movies translated into other languages and distributed internationally- with this the company accepted their offer.

Similar to this may be the game: Pandora’s Tower which was created by a Japanese team called Ganbarion. Now because this team made an epic game it wasn’t very well known so in order to gain more profit they offered well known distributers the chance to acquire this game and publish it under their name as well as Ganbarion’s so that both parties will make and share a profit. After many offers Nintendo pulled through and were allowed to alter the game to fit the Wii and published for that console as an exclusive.

·         Commissionable-
Now commissionable does still collaborate with the formal part of a brief where a client has given you a necessary description of what they want with along with times, budgets and an outline of the plan but they tend to leave you more to your own devices. So a customer requires you as an individual or a specific studio for example, to start and finish this project for them without having to go through a set industry practice meaning you’re left to your own devices because you’re good at the specific thing. Similar to what I discussed earlier in informal briefs.

An example of this would be if you work as a freelancer then usually you get commissioned by various people whether they’re agencies, individuals or even working studios to create a particular thing for them in order for a project to work meaning it’s up to you to take what the client wants and create what the brief states along with the clients requirements in mind. So when I was commissioned to draw somebody’s horses it meant I had to take pictures of the horses as references, find out their breed for further referencing as well as the horses characteristics and begin drawing. With one of the horses I didn’t have a time limit, yet with the other I had to have it finished and printed out before the client’s daughter’s birthday. So I made the one with a deadline first and then finished the other horse after so that if anything was wrong with the first, I could take my time to fix that picture before the deadline. My budget was £15 for each picture to cover cost of materials and personal time. Later on I was commissioned to draw someone’s dogs with a winter- theme in mind.

·         Contractual-
Basically this means you are bound to an agreement between yourself and the other party in order for you to start working towards the brief. In the contract the client will discuss what he/she wants as stated before yet if you were to break the set rules given to you it could end up in a lawsuit case where you will lose rights to continue working on the project and with the client, possibly losing a lot of money because the other half has backed out the deal. Usually these types of briefs end in a non-disclosure agreement.

A good way to look at this would be when I’ve hopefully completed my time at university and have a job, where I’m earning over 21,000 a year then by law I have to pay back what borrowed with 9% interest on top. If I do not comply with these rules then I won’t get the loan in the first place, but I will be fined and possibly sent to prison for my actions.

·         Collaborative-
This means the brief has been shared out amongst a group and mainly used in interactive media industries like Confetti. This means all the roles created by the brief can be given out to individuals in that group that are more specialised in that certain area which evens out the pressure of the project, yet it could also cause more problems later down the line because everyone will have a different approach to the project given meaning ideas may clash with others so negotiations have to be made.

A fine example of this would again be our FMP group. My role is artist and animator but if other sections of the game desperately need doing then it’s my job to lend a hand. Currently I’m asking the group to help me start script work so I can begin animating cut scenes, which I believe if we all do it together as a group then we won’t clash later on with how our characters are being portrayed through the story, which then doesn’t waste my time animating unnecessary  scenes. The huge problem about how group however is the lack of communication between individuals and the fact only a couple of us are only pulling our weight, as well as not having instructions from either team leader or vice-captain. To try and resolve this issue I keep having meetings with the team leader about what should be done, request online meetings and personally keeping a homework check on board so we know who is supposed to be doing what.

Now that we know what a brief looks like, the different types and understanding them, we have to move on and decide whether the project will be able to work or whether we feel the need to negotiate with the client to change certain aspects that might help smoothen the process in case things seem unrealistic.
o   Consultations-
Consultations clarify with the client about whether or not you feel the brief was clear in what you are being asked to do. It’s also the time where if you or your team mates have any issues within the brief like maybe the budget isn’t enough, there’s not enough time to finish the project by or some wild demands such as if the project isn’t completed the client now owns your company/name, then you have the right to come clean about these troubles to the client and try working something out between both parties.

For example when I’ve been to a dog walking job, I have a consultation with the owner first so I understand what the dog is like in its own territory and what the client wants. Within this meeting both parties arrange suitable times for me to walk the dog with a reasonable price which is usually negotiated to cover both time and expenses. I suppose another way would be when I go and work for people with horses, I get shown what they want me to do such as stable duties, how many they want doing, if there’s an special requirements such as diets, behaviour, allergies or if certain horses need to stay in their stable because of worming days or illness such as strangles and whether jobs need to be done within certain time limits especially if it’s a riding school and not a livery yard. With this in mind sometimes I have to negotiate the times because of bus routes and request I will only work if I either get paid or have a free riding lesson/hack on a safe horse.

o   Discretion-
If you feel the need that minor details need to be altered or as explained before, more time/ money needs to be given then these are your discretions about the brief in general. So in order to sort this out you have to work closely with your clients and meet halfway so that you can both come to agreeable terms, if the client refuses to hear your problems out then it could be you’re making a ridiculous request or the brief is a lost cause that can’t be done until the owner sees sense.

Again going back to working with horses, most places I worked at I would do stable duties and care for the horses needs from 9am-6pm most weekends without getting a ride. When I voiced my concerns to the owner they usually promised I would get a ride next time, yet next time never came so I quit because it was a lost cause. As this carried on for a couple of years I ended up getting my own horse as an early birthday present.

Second example could be in our FMP team my main job is to be the artist and animator, now after creating the first cutscene that requires people to voice act three characters I explained to my team members they’re welcome to voice the characters themselves however whatever animations I’ve created they’ll be going up on Youtube as that’s my video playground in a nutshell. After agreeing to these terms and later on uploading the first cutscene onto Youtube, one of the members insisted I take off the video because he does not wish his voice to be up on the web and that the other team member may not want this either. So to quickly resolve the matter I set the video’s settings to private. Now after a few I went back to my team members and again explained to them that animation I create will be on the web and if they do not want their voices up on Youtube to tell me immediately so I can find someone else. Now one the team members who didn’t dispute the fact  I had put this video up in the first place, agreed to my terms and said he will continue to voice this character now the other who did dispute hasn’t come back with a yes or no.

o   Constraints-
Constraints are pretty straightforward where problems may arise and hold back your team or the project itself from getting on with what needs to be done. Localisation could be maybe your team can’t all gather at certain places at certain times because of other priorities and hobbies. Ethical restraints would be where we have to take other people’s feelings and beliefs into consideration, meaning this is probably one of the most difficult subjects to approach in the creative media sector. How we can affect other people could be by how we portray characters in situations. An example would be in Resident Evil 4, the trailer clearly shows Chris Redfield being the only white guy and going into Africa shooting most of the population because they’ve turned into zombies, but they’re all coloured. This itself, created a huge controversy between the general public and the creators, who didn’t intentionally mean to offend anyone and basically didn’t do enough research first-hand to see this was in fact a big issue.

I suppose how you could counter something like this, would be to look at what Nintendo done with Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The only coloured woman there didn’t star in a huge protagonist role and wore slightly revealing clothes, yet the creators made sure she helped Link and his friends through the story and that if it wasn’t for her, Link and Midna wouldn’t have been able to defeat Zant or Ganondorf.
Finally when designing the game it’s important to understand that the initial thoughts on when creating the brief for the designers is that it’s original and not a copy of someone else’s work, this stands for everything from brief to the producing of the game. Copyright protects people’s work from others who dares to commit plagiarism, meaning that there are people who try to steal the original work of someone else because they haven’t given credit to the original owner, or proclaim the work is theirs when it isn’t.

A recent example of this is the plot behind Assassin’s Creed III which is supposed to be released in North America on 30th October 2012 under the PS3 and Xbox 360, later being released on 18th of November as a Wii-U platform and the same for Europe but on the 30th of November. John L.Beiswenger, who’s a research engineer and sci-fi author, claims his book ‘Link’ shares various similarities as the game- insisting Ubisoft are ‘allegedly ripping off his novel’ . 

The book ‘Link’ explores an idea of memories recorded by an ancestor that eventually get brought to life only by using a special device known as: ‘Bio-synchronizer’. Another reason for the claim, made by plaintiff, is the book talks about assassins and assassinations which at one point in the novel, someone is trying to fit the pieces of the past together. Finally spiritual and biblical tones with references of Jesus, God, the Garden of Eden, forbidden fruit and a reliance on historical moments portrayed through ancestor’s memories all lead identical occurrences in Assassin’s Creed series.
So now that we know what can be discussed with the client about negotiating certain aspects for the project, it’s then that we can begin to lay down amendments to the original brief. Now these can be made up from the list above or pieces you feel that aren’t right but whatever changes you need to make has to be shown to the customer first so that they can accept the new terms and conditions or refuse them if they feel you’re being unreasonable like wanting more money than you need, or maybe initial concepts of the foundations aren’t what they have I mind. The best solution to tackle these problems would be to tackle how much each piece is going to cost and write a good plan on how you’re going to manage your/teams time through the entire project. Request meetings with the client so that they may also see your progress or if you have initial stages planned out explain your thoughts as to why you’ve done them and how they’re linked to the brief. This way it keeps your client involved with what you’re doing so that less problems may occur later down the line.
So with that underway do we actually believe you can still learn new things from working on projects? Me personally I believe we can, when working on a project we are honing our skills in that subject and experimenting new things that can effectively make a project better but more defined from what others are doing.  For instance when I started doing digital art I didn’t want to copy what other people were doing to make their images look better, so during my spare time I was open for requests meaning people could me to draw something for them and I would, as well as entering drawing competitions on Youtube. In the beginning my art was really poor but the more I worked on projects from simple things like requests to digital pieces that were to be included in my GCSE Art portfolio, the more my techniques were improved and defined to point where now people have said my work looks realistic in some places.

By comparing the two I believe both my art and digital skills have greatly improved because for the years I’ve taught myself to draw, I come to develop new ways at  obtaining different techniques that improve my art style in general. With this in mind I do believe that whatever project we take on, our skills will improve and along the way we learn new things that may surpass our previous work or simply find an easier route to completing the same task.
When I began Confetti I didn’t really think about the processes of how a game is made and distributed as well as how vast the gaming community is and that in there group there’s subject terminology that many people who play games but not obsessively understand. To begin with I quite understand the terms of DLC, real-time, FMP or even open world actually meant. As far as my understanding was a game was a game that was defined by an age rating and classified under similar genres that books go under. Now that my time at Confetti is nearly over I’ve learnt the process in which a game has been made and has ultimately opened various other career paths I can now take. An example would be I never knew how to model a 3D program and to be honest I was quite scared to have a go because myself and shapes don’t really get on, since then I can effectively model, texture, animate and render something in 3D which means that when I go to university for my animation course I feel confident in not only 2D hand-drawn animation but 3D animation as well. Another would be if animation didn’t work out for me I could try the concept and final art paths for games, as I know understand the different gaming genres and what selling points are aimed at different target audiences which means when I come to create concepts for clients who’ve given me a set brief I won’t be going off topic. Then there’s the gaming community itself who all share similar interests such as anime, cosplay and crazy fan obsessions meaning I get to meet more people, make new friends and acquire certain contacts which again could help me in my career.
Finally my last example would be the equestrian world. Now when you start becoming a fan of this adrenaline-rushing, cold, dangerous sport you don’t actually realise how much there is to learn not only about your riding, but the horse disciplines and the people around you. To begin with the horse world is a very cold and cruel place that seems to be a playground for the rich, when I started getting addicted to this sport I began helping a nearby woman with her three competition horses which began my education on how to handle and look after your horse, at the same time I went back into riding lessons learning the basics and building my confidence in how to control the horse using aids like your hands, legs and speech which is how most people start out. When I finally got my first horse which was an ex-race horse, the whole perspective on what I had learnt changed and life became a complete different ball game. With looking after Paddy my Mum and I learnt how life on a livery yard can be a real pain in the backside with many other people being stuck-up because you didn’t have the right clothes or even the right horse for that matter. We also learnt that Thoroughbreds are very costly horses after many call-outs to the farrier and the vets, we discovered how to try and retrain a horse that had been abused in his previous homes both on the ground and in the saddle despite all bites I ended up getting and fact I had a real bad fall where it shook my confidence.
However I think the best thing I ever got out of having Paddy was the fact he taught me how it felt to feel free, whether that was in the school or out in the fields. He took me away from whatever troubles I had at school and put me in an entire situation completely- it was as though I had a best friend where whatever I said he understood and that I understood him. Sadly after the fall and the bullying I still got from school I lost my nerve around Paddy and things began to turn sour where I couldn’t ride him because I began to fear him, his nasty attitude returned and the livery yards just kept getting worse. In the end I had to let him go and after trying a couple of other horses after that and having bad experiences I honestly thought I wouldn’t be back in the saddle again. After a long period I began lessons again and went back to working for people where I found I as ok on the ground just not the saddle, then I went to a certain riding school to find my old horse was there and the person who we entrusted him with was keeping him in poor condition. As we couldn’t get him back I decided to get over this fear of riding and eventually got my second horse Cleo last year. Now Cleo was completely different to Paddy, she was lazy and stubborn but looked after you in the saddle and had a very fast trot because she had driven in the past. With having spent time with her my confidence grew each day where I began to get ready to start jumping again, then because of college commitments I had to give her up- shortly after I sold her I found out by a friend Paddy had died and his owner had broken his leg by racing him on the flat.

So what have I learnt from all this?
In the horse world you have two options, you either keep your head afloat or you sink. You don’t listen to what other people say about you or your horse and you don’t change for no one unless someone of importance tells you and even then be sceptical. With horses themselves I know how to look after them throughout the entire year, what to do when they’re ill, groundwork, tack-up and clean the tack and bits of Parelli. In the saddle I can ride English, Western and a tiny bit of Spanish, I know how to lunge, build muscles and flexibility, begin to start jumping a horse and slow down a fast trot or make help stop tranter. Above all I’ve learnt that horses are a big part of my life, when I feel scared or unhappy about something and my family can’t help fix it, I go and visit nearby horses and I feel at peace. I know that they don’t care who or what you are so long as you look after them and treat them with respect both on the ground and in saddle. Finally I know they can become your best friend and part of the family, give you wings and the taste of freedom when both parties know how to trust one another.
With all this in mind I do want to attend another college that deals with horse care and riding, get a diploma there and take a degree in equine rehabilitation so that I may be able to save other horses from the meat factory, or from people like I had entrusted Paddy with. One day when I retire I aspire to set up a rescue centre for horses of all ages and breeds, especially ex-racers, trotters and competition horses.

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