Indicative specifications for digital movie contributions
to the UK virtual college of school leaders:
for: BBC, Talking Heads, Talking Evidence, OU, NPQH, others
Remember that a key part of our design intention with these guidelines is to specify a rich user experience that extends considerably beyond a simple narrative, linear, streaming movie (although see separate specs for live broadcast, streaming movie).
Remember also that the ability to run QuickTime files has been given as a minimum specification for connecting to Talking Heads. We can assume QuickTime capable users.
All the laptops supplied to newly appointed heads within the Talking Heads initiative are QuickTime ready (plug-in and QuickTime Player installed)
Text tracksQuickTime supports multiple text tracks and our intention is the harness the opportunity that this provides.
All movies will carry a full text transcript track:
Visibility of the text track within a browser would normally be user controlled by a simple sprite "hot spot" offering easily toggling of the text track's visibility.
KeywordsOne of the QuickTime text tracks should always be reserved as a keyword track carrying keywords either linked to a particualr moment / frame or to a sequence in the movie file.
There should be a number of keywords associated with sequences or frames that will be a single text track spanning the full movie. Examples might be "K`S2", "management", "truancy" and clearly movie developers will need to share and exchange their keyword dictionaries.
A passage may have multiple keywords associated with it. Keywords will always be single words.
ChaptersSupport for QuickTime's chapter structure should be implemented, normally to provide a short-cut to sections of the movie and it will be helpful to bear in mind the chapter titles throughout the capture / editing process. Think of the Chapters as being the single level hierarchy of a "contents" page.
Chapter titles might be simple summary words for blocks of the movie (as in the "introduction" chapter below), or they may represent the order of, and navigation through, components of an essentially non-narrative movie.
Wired spritesWired sprite functionality, sitting on top of the movie layer, will be normally within the various movies used in the whole virtual college of school leaders and in design terms you can assume that users will be both used to it and expecting it.
There are times, clearly, when these sprites and their functionality will need to be signalled through good interface design and times when they may remain hidden for the the curious user to discover. Both will be unexceptional.
Sprites can do much: linking to other urls, controlling the pace or selected media combinations of a movie, revealing further details, linking as hot-spots to places in other movies and so on.
Media redundancyDifferent users at different times will inevitably have different needs: for example they may wish to enjoy a commentary or annotation track adding value to the primary narrative, or they may wish to view the movie with a text transcript only in circumstances where the audio track would be intrusive. The user's choices about media redundancy should be supported as widely as possible, and as often as possible, within the limits of costs and production time.
In the example above - just in time german language support for adult learners - the QuickTime movie is an internet efficient animation with multiple text tracks offering (in this role-play example) an english prompt for what the user will say next, a german "clue" for what might be said and an full english prompt for what needs to said now. Pause and continue "sprite" buttons also help the user step through the individual phrases one at a time. These various options can be turned on or off under user control.
Linked imagesIt is anticipated that the movie will normally be viewed through a browser, at rather less than full screen size. This offers the opportunity to link moments or sections of the movie to illustrative images which appear / disappear in the browser window, as in this illustration:
Whilst this adds considerable value to the simple narrative of a movie - offering the use an opportunity to pause and review an associated document or image for example - the same duty of care to minimise file sizes must be exercised; awaiting the download of substantial linked images would seriously detract from the user experience.
PresentationWe can make no assumption about either the speed of the computer used or the speed of the internet connexion that it enjoys. We have made the ability to run QuickTime a minimum spec for entry to Talking Heads, but not specified further - many heads access through a variety of
Although clearly with movie slow speeds (28,800 for example) may be struggling to offer a coherent user experience with the level of sophistication planned for these movie contributions it is necessary to explore designing in a way that may offer something to the user with a slow computer and slow connexion.
One simple possibility (above) is to offer a soundtrack only option, or even a text transcript with occasional still frames. This should still be done within the QuickTime file format however, otherwise all the indexing and meta value added from adopting that format is lost. As you can see from this example adding text as html loses much of the interactivity, and potentially participation, of the QuickTime format.
PapersA worst case adoption of the movie technology would be to produce a full frame full face narrative linear movie as someone reads out a paper previously written and contributed. Please, please don't do this! Ever!
my interesting paper
me reading it
On the other hand, papers, linked from movies by hotspots. or displayed alongside the movie, can be a powerful way to add value to both paper and movie. The principle here is to offer a rich, seductive, information environment that is also delightful, fun even, to use and that certainly doesn't preclude papers.