Sound Studio

The interactive space that allows visitors to experience the sound-making process for movies using everyday objects.

Overview

Sound Studio is an interactive installation that was created for visitors to experience a cinematic sound-making process. Visitors were invited into the space to record different sounds for the movie using everyday objects. This group project was part of the Master of Interaction design program at the University of Queensland within the Physical Computing course.

My Role

Ideation & Design

Prototyping

User Research

Graphic Design

Research and Ideation

We started the project with research for understanding the domain and analysis of existing installations. This stage was important to get inspiration for the idea generation stage. The team then collected and discussed the ideas for the future project and after narrowing down the topic, started to sketch out different concepts.

The main challenge here was to create a special experience where the product has a clear purpose and meaningful interactions. The idea of Sound Studio came after several brainstorming sessions and concepts iterations. The concept was inspired by the video of Foley artists, professionals who create sounds for the movies.

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The challenge

According to the project brief, we needed to create a concept that exploits new ways of physical or bodily interaction with digital technologies that go beyond traditional paradigms, such as a screen, keyboard, swipe, etc. The project started with the open topic "Playing with Music" and following the iterative design and development process, it was required to create a finished product with the final display at the exhibition.

Building a real physical installation for the real exhibition space was something that the team had never worked with. The key challenge for us was the creation of playful and engaging experience and building of the interactive space with the minimum technical skills.

Design

The goal of the installation was to offer visitors an opportunity to explore and discover sounds around us in an enjoyable way:

  • Pay attention and revisit the everyday sounds

  • Look at everyday objects differently

  • Be creative & Experimental

  • Experience backstage of movie making

We supposed that the vintage camera with the rotating handle may be an interesting and understandable interaction paradigm for the visitors.

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The concept was tested and iterated several times where each round had different goals and was focused on different aspects of the product.

 

The low fidelity prototype allowed us to understand the general user's attitude, determine the core physical interactions (with handle, buttons, switches). We also realized that visitors got bored with verbal "user manual" as an introduction.

High fidelity prototype session revealed the importance of the group experience and allowed us to enhance the physical interface.

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Test & Iterate

After getting feedback from users, we created a Customer Journey Maps for 2 personas to piece together the entire experience from the user’s standpoint. This allowed us to form a shared holistic vision of experience and to reveal opportunities for improvements.

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Final Design

Introduction

To make the experience immersive and engaging we came up with a scenario.  The first-person perspective allowed visitors to not just have a sense of being in a place, but a sense of being in the story as a character and a part of the narrative.

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Clipping

The vintage camera is the controller to interact with the installation, it was used to select the fragment of the movie to record the sound for.

Workshop

We created a space similar to the foley artists' workshop encouraging visitors to be creative. Numerous objects in the room provided a space to play around with. 

 

"Tip” cards were placed in the space to spark inspiration if one stucks with ideas. We also provided blank cards to create own. 

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Recording a sound

When the visitor was ready, he recorded the sound for the selected clip and could immediately check the results on the screen.

Accumulated results

Sounds were stored and accumulated over time. Visitors could see the final results on the screen before they leave the museum.

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Aesthetics

Our installation aesthetically remained the cinema theatre. Hiding the installation under the curtains evoked curiosity among the audience and allowed visitors to "play" without external distractions. 

Outcome

Our installation was one of the most popular at the exhibition that day and our team received the award for an outstanding project. Visitors did not want to leave the space, and some returned with their friends.

There were several key takeaways that I got from this installation:

  • Apparently, despite the fact that the camera (the controller) is not really related to post-production, this metaphor was very familiar and intuitive for people. Thus, user testing is more effective than a designer's assumptions and even real-life facts.

  • Engaging in the environment, participants were too excited and did not synchronize actions with each other. The system should support coordinated actions between participants when the design implies the collaborative experience. 

  • All the elements of the experience, like aesthetics, introductions, post-visit experience, takeaways are important for a seamless and meaningful journey through physical installations.