book

Learning from Raiders of the Lost Ark

by Andy Polaine on September 29, 2014

in Book, Film, General

I’m in the research phase for a book project that looks at how and what designers and organisations—particularly those involved in service design or complex projects—can learn from filmmakers.

In the words of Peter Sellers Michael Caine, not a lot of people know that I studied film as an undergraduate and carried on until my final year until I was fully sidetracked by interactive media. But the filmmaking process has always played a big role in the way I think about how multi-disciplinary groups of people can best work together creatively.

More on that in the future, but right now the area I am researching is storyboarding. I frequently teach groups of self-proclaimed non-drawers how to storyboard in workshops so that they can pitch their service propositions and ideas. Working visually with a sequence of images on sticky-notes on the wall is a much quicker and better way of walking through what a service experience might look and feel like than just using text. As you move your eyes across the touchpoint sketches, you build your own mini mental storyboard of the user/customer journey.

To combat the “I can’t draw” panic that many people have, I regularly use Pixar Story Artist Emma Coates’ great technique of drawing from films. You take a film, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and freeze-frame every time the shot changes. Then you sketch a thumbnail of the shot as quickly as possible. I give my workshop participants about 10-20 seconds.

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At that speed, everyone draws equally bad (or good, depending on your point of view). I have done this with mixed groups, often with illustrators in the mix, and the previous skill level has little to do with the final result. In fact, sometimes those trained to draw well have a problem letting go and drawing rough. The key skill is being able to see which elements are important and which are not. That’s a skill that is useful in many other contexts.

As it is for Emma, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a classic youth memory of mine and remains one of my favourite films in terms of structure and staging. Thanks to its heritage from melodramatic Sunday afternoon matinee movies, the staging and framing are really clear to sketch.

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh recently posted an exercise also using Raiders as an example to look at staging:

I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me.

Raiders bw

Cool, that Soderbergh posts about this, but even cooler is that he made a black and white version with the soundtrack stripped out of it for the exercise. It’s great, go take a look.

For some extra goodies, check out these:

Service Design in Japanese

by Andy Polaine on May 14, 2014

in General

Sd book japanese cover

I’m happy to announce that our book, Service Design: from insight to implementation has just been translated and published in Japanese by Maruzen publishing. Thanks to the translator, Yoshinori Wakizaka.

If you speak Japanese, I’d love to know what you think of it and the translation. We hope this helps those working in and with service design in Japan spread the good work. You can find it on Amazon.co.jp.

Collaborative long form writing – the story behind the book

March 19, 2014

A few people have asked me about the process of writing our book on service design given that the three of us are in different countries and all have different thoughts and styles of writing. I wrote a post on the Luzern MA Design site called Collaborative Long Form Writing that goes into the details. […]

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Service Design: From Insight to Implementation is here!

March 13, 2013

I’m extremely happy to announce that our book, Service Design: From Insight to Implementation, was officially published today. I wrote a welcome post about it over on the book’s home at Rosenfeld Media. If you feel like tweeting or blogging about it, that would be great. What really helps is a quick review on Amazon.com […]

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O’Reilly Webcast: Designing cross-channel service experiences

February 21, 2013

A quick cross-post from our Rosenfeld Media book blog. Ben, Lavrans and I are going to be doing (giving? What does one say…?) an O’Reilly Webcast titled Service Design: Designing cross-channel service experiences on Wednesday 14th March. It’s my daughter’s birthday, so it’s an auspicious date. The O’Reilly site has all the details and where […]

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Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving

March 13, 2012

Serendipitously, given my previous post, I’ve just seen that Jon Kolko has put out a new book called, Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving that focuses on design’s role in social entrepreneurship. This book was started with the intent of changing design and social entrepreneurship education. As these disciplines converge, it becomes evident that existing pedagogy […]

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Troika – Digital by Design & Interview

November 11, 2008

Troika have a new book out called Digital by Design: Crafting Technology for Products and Environments. It is a wide-ranging survey of works that use new and emerging digital technologies, often crossed with physical interactions and products that blur the boundaries between art and design. They have managed to collect together work from a fantastic […]

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Cutest Tech Book Cover Ever?

September 25, 2008
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