Aalto University is a prestigious university located in the Greater Helsinki in Finland and harbors nearly 20 000 students and 4 500 employees. Aalto University was founded in 2010 from 3 old universities (Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design). The university is named in honor of Alvar Aalto, a prominent Finnish architect, designer and alumnus of the former Helsinki University of Technology, who was also instrumental in designing a large part of the university’s main campus in Otaniemi.
Since graduating from Media Engineering from Metropolia University of Applied sciences, graduating with my thesis Making Data Accessible: An Overview of Interactive Data Visualization Using D3.js as Applied to a Scientific Dataset : Making a Static Visualization Interactive (project code: and site) and working as a full time front-end programmer at canter I’ve learned a few things about being an engineer and about best programming practices, but I was feeling the lack of having an official degree in anything visual. I’m a self-taught graphics designer with playing with Photoshop from the age of 11 and first website at the same time.
Over the Christmas break of 2015 I went ahead and just looked through the possible masters degrees out there and focusing on a possible hybrid between engineering and art. I found Media Lab Helsinki in Aalto offered masters and doctoral degrees in various fields and took the plunge. I had a week and a half to write my letter of intent and scrape together all the rest of the needed documents, from samples of work and recommendations. It was tough, but i just made it and submitted without much thought. I even decided I’m not going to make a big fuss about it and didn’t mention or tell about it to anyone except my husband. Not even my parents knew. I was certain this was going to be just a try and that I would apply next year with more conviction. I was happily surprised when i was requested to submit the tasks and then passed onto the final stage of the interview. In these second (assignments) and third (interview/portfolio) phases I was beginning to take this application process seriously, but in the beginning it was more on the whim. The application process and needed documents can be found here and about the degree: here.
I hope this links stays at least for some time on the pages so here to the official instructions. I short there was 2 tasks with their own subtasks before the interview that was the third phase of the application. I’ll put these shortly descriptions below with links to what I did and how I proceeded with each task.
Based on the concepts around the ”Sharing Economy” as a starting point, create a piece dealing with the phenomena and give your piece a unique descriptive title.
Now don’t laugh. I had never heard the term “Sharing Economy” so after reading this i was like what?!?!? Next I of course googled it. Below is a quote from wiki that was the first hit. Then I realized the term refers to the business model that is used by the likes of Uber and Airb&b. Of course then i was like wow shoot what should i do? My mind was blank. I couldn’t build a whole new user platform with an idea, code, graphics, promotional material, etc. with only 14 days of time. Realistically only 2 weekends because I was working full time with partial evenings free. So for the first Monday to Friday I just thought what the hell am i going to do!
Sharing economy (also known as shareconomy or collaborative consumption) is a hybrid market model (in between owning and gift giving), which refers to peer-to-peer-based sharing of access to goods and services (coordinated through community-based online services). The concept is not new. Sharing economy - wikipedia
After a week of thinking I asked myself what do I love to do? If I made a service of some kind what would it be? And the answer was simple. I loved books and I’ve always loved reading so why not make something with that. So that’s where the idea came from. Next I thought yes I have 2 weekends so I’ll build the platform, make a promotional video, do all the graphics, etc. This of course wasn’t realistic as I found out in the end with only able to produce the practical code + the graphics, but I luckily decided to concentrate on the video and explain the concept through that with all the rest supporting it. I submitted with shaking hands having worked 26 hours straight from Sunday to Monday morning 8am getting everything done before the normal working day.
So I started by writing the code for the “to be full blown” web app. Yes unrealistic, but lets see how far I got. And yes it’s not anywhere near done so bear with me here. So I wanted to create something that was beautiful looking but also was easy to access with accounts that generally people already had. So I went with facebook (they have an api and used by almost everyone) and goodreads (because anyone who reads books have at least heard of the site even if they don’t have an account). I started with reading the facebook api. From there i created my own Facebook App ID.
Then I started reading the facebook code they had in the documentation and worked myself to use it in my project. But I realized very quickly that I need to store information about the session somewhere so I started playing with cookies. I had to do some reading on this because I hadn’t used much of cookies to store user data, but I found that Mozilla had some great documentation on Document.cookie. From here I was able to build my cookie functions:
Lets start by saying that this was the most work by far! First the filming, then the video editing, audio editing, and finally the graphics with the animations. I did the filming with my Canon iVIS HF M31 and Canon EOS 500D and audio recording with the Blue Yeti microphone.
Video editing I had done before so Premier was very familiar to me, but never the less found this tutorial really useful:
Also had to revise my knowledge of Rolling and crawling titles from the adobe website.
Next was the graphics and animations using After effects and this tutorial in “Creating shape layers from vector layers for easy animation“ really was helpful. I used the graphic assets from here: Bookshelf and open book.
Next for the audio editing and I had never done this before so everything from audacity to recording with a pop filter was new to me. These two tutorials where the key to my good voice over on the video and I just love all of the music radio tutorials:
And fantastic suggestions for removing the echo off of the sound that you get from your camera recorder: