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Pete S

Page history last edited by Peter Stewart 13 years, 11 months ago

 

 


1.0 Introduction


My placement commenced on the 15th of May 2007 with Netramedia in Coleraine.  Netramedia are a digital media company specializing in front end design and providing rich client interfaces for you the public to enjoy using in a variety of formats such as touch screen, web or cd-rom.  They were established in 2000 with the aim of enabling clients to exploit online opportunities not previously apparent.  Netramedia have built up a huge client list since 2000 including the University of Ulster itself as well as Queens University and Sims Group Limited the largest materials recycler on the planet.   They use a variety of development solutions from Adobe, Newtek, Macromedia and Microsoft to utilize their skills to develop and keep the client base returning for more.

 

I was joining a team of experts and associates who strive to produce some of the most engaging and visually rich solutions available in the market today so as you can imagine I was pretty nervous.The studio consists of 4 insanely powered PC’S as well as a dual 24 inch monitor set up and soft chair for each employee.  There is also a 42 inch Samsung LCD TV mainly used for displaying touch screen interfaces to certain clients but it also tends to see a lot of PRO EVO 2008 action on our lunch break.  The studio also houses one of best printers I have ever seen and used in my life.  It allows us to do all our print work in house and trust me if you seen it you would be impressed too.

 

Did I mention the second studio were all the video magic happens.  The second studio is a fully sound proofed green screen studio were we can shoot video in HD using the two JVC HD camcorders and produce stunning backdrops on the other two insanely powered PC’S located in this room.All work we produce in either of these studios is saved to the corresponding drives on our servers located in the server room.

 

The company consists of four staff including two brothers.

 

Warren Johnson – Managing Director

Lloyd Johnson – Creative Director

John Lyons – Model Builder and Painter

(Me) Peter Stewart – Web Designer

 


 2.0 My Role


2.1 Job Description

 

Within Netramedia I have a three different Job roles, these include Web Designer, Video Editor and Photographer. I will chat about each of these more thoroughly below.

 

2.2 Job Outline

 

Web Designer

 

This is the major role out of the three I have within the company.  It consists of many different aspects including:

 

Website Design

 

I have regular meetings with clients discussing what they require and also what they want the website to achieve for them.  The design process is like a well oiled machine it starts off with a brainstorming session on the huge whiteboard through to the final product being presented online in CSS and XHTML.

A big part for me in the website design stages for this company was to learn from Warren and Lloyd how to introduce different ways for the client to interact with the websites. Be this in the introduction of different kinds of slim boxes, sliding divs and flash features.  We tend to use the mootools JavaScript framework to achieve a lot of this and with the help of Warren and Lloyd I am really starting to see it’s benefits and how it can do some awesome things.

When we create sites we also think a lot about whether a content management system is the correct option for the client involved.  We use Umbraco as our content management system of choice as it is very flexible.  I have worked with Umbraco on a number of sites below.

 

http://www.mccloskeyandokane.co.uk/

http://www.cunninghamstone.com/

http://www.dawsonhinds.com/

 

This was my first introduction to content management software and since then I have wrote instruction manuals on how to use it for each of the companies listed above as well as the University’s own Science Shop programme for students.

 

Landing Page Design

 

This requires a webpage to be designed from information specified by the client. It will be used as an entry or click through webpage from Google Adwords.  This page has always to be mocked up in Photoshop first and once passed by the creative director and the client will need to be cut up and put together using CSS and XHTML.  These pages have to be very appealing with call to action buttons inviting people to click through to the attached websites, thus intentionally boosting the conversion rate of visitors for the company’s involved.

 

Client Management

 

I have to deal with clients on a day to day basis, dealing with enquiries and giving them general information about the type of website or web application they require. I also have to go over details of the workings of their site and how to use certain applications with it, such as the content management system listed above.

 

Video Editor

 

I have to prep the studio in preparation for filming.  All of this was very new to me and I actually really enjoyed learning this part of the job.  I have to get the two HD cameras white balanced and also focused on the person in front of them to be filmed. 

This was achieved by the use of a Siemens star.  I also had to learn the in’s and out’s of a video editing programme called HD Rack which was extremely hard to understand at first but after some long lessons with Warren soon became quite easy.

The software is saved on two Sata Drives which I use to edit from Inside Adobe Premier.  I thought I knew a lot about Premier as im always making wakeboard videos.  But the stuff I have learned this year such as keying, using wipes and different cross dissolves has really shown me what is possible with it.

 

Photographer

 

I am responsible for taking box shots of the stock we hold for our online store (in the making). I use the canon EOS350D digital SLR camera.  I had to learn about macro lenses and how to achieve the best results from them.

I also have to drive around Northern Ireland taking photos of new developments by Mcloskey and Okane which requires quite a high knowledge of the camera and internal settings to get the best results from the lighting outside.  Changing the camera into Manual mode and allowing it to save the shot image as a RAW file was a great thing for me to learn as it helps me optimize any image with ease inside Photoshop.

 

2.2 Skills Required

 

The technical and personal skills required for this job include:

 

  • Experience in the full CS3 Design suite including the video production programs such as Adobe Premier and After Effects.
  • Be able to work comfortably on both P.C. and MAC.
  • Sound knowledge of CSS and XHTML and how to cut up designs from photoshop.
  • Sound Knowledge of Javascript. Preferably in using the Jquery or Mootools framework and how to implement and apply them to different parts of websites.
  • Basic Knowledge of development languages such as ASP and Php.
  • Time management is essential must have good time management skills and be able to work to deadlines set.
  •  Can work properly in a team and put ideas and designs forward confidently.

     

2.3 Skills I have developed

 

Before I started my placement I thought I had a strong knowledge in many programs such as Dreamweaver and Flash.  But it wasn’t until a week into my placement that I realised there was so much more to learn.  Working with the highly skilled team at Netramedia has helped me develop in many aspects, be that as a designer, and a person in general.  My confidence in my work has increased tremendously and I now feel confident putting across anything I produce. 

 

One skill that dramatically improved right from the start was time management.  I can tell you that my time management skills throughout my life have not been the best.  The guys in Netramedia showed me a great way to plan ahead for certain projects by creating a time management chart within Adobe InDesign.  The chart basically consists of a series of 15 min blocks from 9am to 5pm for the week.  The way to make the chart work successfully is to break a project up into certain parts throughout the week, for instance on Monday create first Photoshop design.  Tuesday cut first design up in Xhtml and Css to preview to the guys in the office.  It basically works like that but having the chart in front of you really helps you push to get things done for a dead line which is great and really helps the work flow of each project.

 

My skills as a web designer have improved tremendously throughout my time at Netramedia. I used to design what I liked in Photoshop and transfer it straight across into Dreamweaver to be placed on the web.  But working with Lloyd, the head designer in the Office has really helped me improve the finer details of my designs.  His attention to detail is astounding and something I have really picked up myself throughout the year.  I had no clue that everything should be spaced as evenly as you can get it throughout the site for a better and smoother feel when browsing.  Lloyd also taught me the huge importance of aligning text and elements throughout the sites. And how a better site is a neater site. 

 

My technical skills within the Adobe CS3 design suite have improved hugely. I have learned how to use new programs such as Indesign to produce A3 Tenders and Timesheets.  But I have developed some great new skills in the core programs used in website production such as Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash.

 

I have used many new tools and panels in Adobe Photoshop such as the batch process tool and the actions panel.  I have covered so many aspects this year within Photoshop be it touching up photos for Mcloskey and Okane using the levels tool in the adjustments drop down or creating masks for the Dawson Hinds website and the Abbey landing pages to allow better move ability of a photo to fit in a shape. Everything ive learned this year in Photoshop I will be able to apply in final year and that is something I am looking forward to.

 

Before in Photoshop I had my own way of cutting up designs and exporting them out.  But Lloyd showed me a fantastic way of using a single layer with a series of coloured boxes to cut the website out. This is such a time saving way to get your website from Photoshop to Dreamweaver especially if you set an action to cut whatever is below the coloured box.  I will use this the rest of my life and I couldn’t stress how much better this is than using the slice tool and guides. 

 

I use Dreamweaver everyday and the site management tool within it is fantastic.  I have started using it at home as well as it allows you to quickly change between sites you are working on allowing for quicker production. Using this program everyday has dramatically increased my knowledge of many features within it such as the find and replace tool which helps me constantly speed up my work flow.

 

Lloyd has shown me some fantastic tips in Flash, such as using easing on my motion tweens and better ways to build pre loaders.  A good example of a flash feature I made can be viewed here at http://www.sims-group.com/recycling/home/. Recently I built a site for Xtremeboats in my spare time and was able to use some of the processes I learned in work to make them a nice Flash image gallery to show off their products. This gallery includes a script to open up a lightbox from Flash.  You can view the Image gallery here at http://www.xtremeboats.co.uk/used-boats.html.

 

 I think Flash is a strong web development tool and can really help give sites a lift.  It will definitely be something I will be using in Final year.  I have also learned a great skill in how to transfer normal avi videos to flv’s using the flash video encoder.  This really is great as you can pick which skin you want the video to play in and also embed it straight into a webpage as a flash swf. An example of this can be seen here on the UU Sceince Shop site at http://ulster.scienceshop.org/student/video1-emma.asp. 

 

I transferred the Science Shop site from normal Xhtml into asp using includes which has really increased my interest in using asp on many of my newly built sites.

 

I have learned so much In other programs such as Adobe Premier and After Effects and I am really looking forward to the prospect of applying what ive learned to my final year project. 

 

2.4 Social Aspects

 

Since starting at Netramedia a year ago we have had many nights out as a team.  I started in May so we were able to get some great nights out throughout the summer.   Most Fridays we would head to Lloyd’s house to play some pro evo and drink all his beer and then head straight to our local bar (Bar 7) in Portstewart.  This was a regular occurrence and was great crack. 

I do a huge amount of wakeboarding and got Warren and Lloyd out a number of times to try it behind my boat. These guys don’t play a lot of sport and It was pretty funny watching them wakeboard. 

 

I also played a huge amount of squash with these guys throughout the winter something I thought I’d never play, but once you get involved it becomes super addictive.

One awesome time we had as a group was or trip to Dublin recently.  It was a team-building weekend in Dublin.  It was great crack.  I’m just happy I wasn’t picking up any of the bills as some of those restaurants down there are crazy dear.

 

Unfortunately none of us had cameras on any night out, well I have one in my phone but I don’t have any pictures of anything we have done but these would have been the social highlights of the year.

 


3.0 Training


 

3.1 Training Received (Formal and Informal)

 

I have received a lot of training throughout my year at Netramedia.  I spent part of the first week watching the other guys in the office tackle projects that came in from the various clients.  It was great watching these guys deal with the different types of projects coming in as well as the continual updates and Flash Work sent through. I could see right from then that things were going to get busy.

 

I shadowed Lloyd a lot over my first 3 to 4 weeks were he showed me different processes for different updates and continually let me try things on the updates he was completing.  This was great as if I did anything wrong he would immediately jump in and show you how it should be done.   It helped me see just how the process of getting to the finished product would work.

My first update I completed was for Sims Group and was a Flash header for the Global, US and Europe homepages.  It was great as I got to use Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver to produce it.  During this update Lloyd taught me about easing on my motion tweens which is something I still use constantly today.  It was great because during this update I got to deal with the client and was able to send them a series of demos until they were happy.

I was also introduced to Umbraco, the content management system we use at Netramedia and how it is used.  It was great as I was able to work with my first content management system.  Warren has showed me many interesting things about it throughout the year.  For instance how to upload Flash and update colours etc. 

Over the year I have received training from the guys in ASP, Javascript, Mootools,  PHP, Actionscript 2 and many of the programs we use.

I still ask them questions on a regular basis and I am still learning everyday.  They are fantastic at helping me learn and I can really see their training will help me in final year.

 


4.0 Reflection


 

4.1 Reflection

 

The year I spent at Netramedia has been an incredible experience, It has let me experience what its like out there in the competitive design world and what it’s like to deal with a mixture of clients from all over the world.

 

University was great at getting the fundamentals of web design onboard, but working with a team of professionals at Netramedia has taken them a step further and my interest in this field will not cease anytime soon.

The experience has really helped me develop as a person and a designer increasing the amount of confidence I have talking to large Global companies and communicating with a team to produce some astounding results.  The time management chart we worked with this year really helped us share the workload and make decisions based on the week ahead it is something I will always use in the future for time management if I start my own business or get employment elsewere.

Having the opportunity to work in a team with professionals such as these has been something I will never forget.  I feel well prepared for what the future has to throw at me.  

 

4.2 Evaluation

 

I feel after a year with Netramedia that I could fit well into any design team and am very excited about what the future holds once I leave university. 

 

I feel very well equipped and much more confident in all aspects of my design and I am really looking forward to apply everything I have learned this year to my final year work.   I have worked a huge amount in CSS this year and feel my skills in that area are going to help me a lot throughout Final Year.

 

My time at Netramedia like I’ve said has been fantastic and I hope I can apply everything that ive learned this year to my final year project and come out with a great degree in the end.

 

 

Comments (2)

Karen said

at 7:55 pm on Apr 27, 2008

This sounds like a great placement Peter, lets hope work will always be this much fun! k

debbiew59@hotmail.com said

at 1:29 pm on Apr 28, 2008

That keepups game on your homepage is wayyy too addictive!!!!

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