CHI 2015 paper video preview

MM lab \ 09-04-2015
This post was originally placed on Materialising Memories but put here for archival reasons as well.

Ahead of the 2015 CHI conference in Seoul, Korea (coming up later this month), I made a short video preview to go along with a 10-page paper titled ‘Things That Make Us Reminisce: Everyday Memory Cues as Opportunities for Interaction Design.’ It’s only 30 seconds and can be seen below.

Behind the scenes

It takes a surprisingly long time to make a short video like this. It took me about a full working day, including the editing, adding overlays, and exporting the final result. So here’s a bit on the making of, including tens of cast members, hundreds of extras, and a couple of undisciplined dragons.

Just kidding.

First up, the setting. I wanted a home-like environment for the video, with enough light to get a good image, plus an environment that would be quiet enough to get a decent audio recording. Eventually, I settled on using my own studio apartment as I would have everything on hand there. The clear downside is, of course, having to use my bed and empty wall as the enigmatic backdrop for my narration. Rather than doing just a voice over I decided to show myself, tell why the paper is relevant, and show a bit of our method. As such, the video is more of a teaser from an information point of view.

I faced a few challenges in getting my video recorded. With only myself on deck (all the others ended up hunting loose dragons), how to hold my camera phone steady? I have another still camera that mounts onto my tripod, so I opted to tie my phone to the bigger camera with elastic cord. A voice recorder was placed on my office chair just outside camera view, with a notepad acting as my cue sheet. I couldn’t actually read my script this way, so it took quite a few takes to get it right (I would make a bad actor). The desire to wear decent clothes while the room temperature reflected the heat and humidity of an Australian Summer didn’t help things either. I had to take a few breaks to cool down, and yes, it does explain my expression during the first second or two.

Camera with phone strapped on
I felt sad for the old camera, as it was merely used as a surface for my phone to be strapped onto. With some elastic rope.

The method section was filmed in our MM lab, with the diaries and other snippets and pieces from the analysis spread out along a table. I stood behind the camera, did the diary browsing, and then panned the camera to get the other items recorded. Later, in editing the footage was sped up. The rest of the footage was cut to fit only the most important bits within the limit of thirty seconds. Finally, I added the text overlays and a blur and vignetting effect to move the focus away from the somewhat lacklustre setting.

Looking back, there are a few things I’d like to improve about my little video. The location isn’t great, and I feel I could get more information into the thirty seconds. Perhaps I could have shot a couple of things that made people reminisce for an introduction, and only briefly show how we got there with our diaries. It seems I need to get another paper accepted to put these ideas to the test!

The actual paper presentation will be during a session titled ‘Digital Collections, Practice & Legacy’ on Thursday, 23 April, starting at 9:30 in Room E1/E2. If you happen to be at CHI 2015, come and have a look.