Solutions & Ideas for Creating Digital PresentationsÂ for Physical Spaces & Exhibitions
As a designer who's been an in-house designer for quite some time, I've always been interested in solving a particular kind of challenge: How can we, ourselves, utilize ‘new' things and new technologies without the need or expense of an agency solution?
We are in the middle of planning for a new exhibition in January: “The Voice Show, 200 Episodes” (tentative title). "The Voice”, in Teachers College Record (TCR), will have its 200th episode in November, and we'd like to highlight and share its tremendous value with the Teachers College (TC) community. Ideally, we'd like to select, organize and present some episodes within a few major key themes. So, the main challenge here is how to present multiple videos in an organized manner, and how to create a framework in which people can navigate, select and watch videos within the physical exhibition context.
iPads (and other tablets) have been around us for awhile, and have become major media consuming devices. It's significantly changed the way that we consume diverse types of content: books, music, movies, etc. However, the iPad has not necessarily been as kind to those of us who like to create and share our own content while retaining tight control of the experience. Creating a good app is still not cheap and easy. And then there's the Apple approval process for apps, hoops to jump through, which doesn't help too much either.
As the tablet has become a major media consuming device (including within the classroom), it's very important to think about how any author (including teachers and students) could produce their own content for use for their specific purposes.
For this exhibition, we decided to go with an iPad solution: its light in weight, and has a simpler display (without the need for a mouse or keyboard).
We've already experienced creating iPad content for presentation sharing, with last year's other TC 125th anniversary projects. By creating and experiencing an interactive PDF, by using InDesign, we learned not to create one with graphics too heavy for the display. Navigation was annoyingly slow, and felt clunky because of the huge file size. It was beautiful to look at, but not very friendly for our users. So, lesson number one: when we create interactive PDFs, let's be careful with the file size!
Interactive PDFs are great, and I think that many people within EdLab has the tool needed to create this file format: Adobe InDesign. We can easily create simple page links, hyperlinks, cross-references, bookmarks and buttons for our content. We can also use broad content types: text, images, sounds and video. The PDF format is one that's accessible by everyone, with most every computer being able to open and enjoy the content (in the way that we intended them to do so). And, don't forget about our desire to maintain tight controls of our visual presentation, which is made possible by InDesign itself (when you are good at using InDesign, of course).
Here are some links where you can learn more about creating interactive PDFs:
InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals
InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
Creating an Interactive PDF Magazine
But, interactive PDFs are not necessarily the right solution for every project. One rather well-known problem I faced in creating the prototype was the classic one: Adobe's vs. Apple's approach to video. iPads do not support Flash-based video. As some of you already know, the PDF file format was originally created by Adobe, meaning for video… its Flash-based. Solutions to the problem exist with many available apps that act as a ‘container' for our interactive PDF with videos.
For this project, we're using an app called "Kiosk Pro" as the ‘container' to hold our display files. This app is great. We can control almost everything on the iPad's default display: top information bar, bottom navigation bar, zoom, touch, scroll orientation, default background color or image, idle time limit, refresh rate (return to the first page), cache, cookies, volume and brightness [here's the link
to learn more about this app]. Another great thing about Kiosk Pro is that while available for interactive PDFs, it also handles (generic) HTML documents with linked assets. Just cable-connect an iPad to your computer, save the files to the iPad (through the app/iTunes), and then ‘point' the file to the first landing page in the settings. Our first problem is solved, and the outcome is great so far!
There are other apps available for this type of interactive documents for iPads, and Aimee did some research on those. If you are interested, please refer to the attached doc from her research outcomes.