GAKUAn Innovative Digital Communications Device Connecting Grandparents and Grandchildren
Produced by Patrick Dinnen, Angella Mackey, Deiren Masterson, Jeff Wright
In 2008, I accepted a scholarship to attend the Canadian Film Centre's Interactive/ New Media Lab Programme. It was a 5 month intensive residency that exposed our small class of 6 hand picked students to a huge palate of interactive new media forms. Based on a challenging theoretical and practical curriculum, we were privileged to learn from a faculty of top notch media experts, all geared toward the completion of an interactive prototype within a team dynamic.
Gaku was the result of our teams resonance around the idea of "remote presence" and our desire to provide a solution to the problem of being separated from your loved ones, and root relationships. We wanted to augment an authentic experience of feeling close to a loved one who is separated by distance. With the stringent limitations of a 10 week production period and an $800 budget, we achieved far beyond these barriers, creating a device which continues to garner the primary reaction of, "Where do I buy it? How much does it cost?"
Gaku is a stand-alone device that connects grandparents and grandchildren allowing them to share photos, video and recorded messages through an intimate and personal device. With substantial user testing and demographic/ market research we created an intuitive, easy-to-use, and aesthically pleasing device that highlighted the relationship over the blandness and complexity of technology. From both an artistic and emotional vein as well as a market and business analysis, Gaku was and is a success as an original, compelling, and totally functional solution to this emotionally charged problem.
The team sends out a big tip of the hat to Howard Suissa of Suissa Computers for his assistance in realizing our unique design for this wood encased digital picture frame that invites touch.
As a side note the music on the documentation video was created by Francois Couture from his amazing album Qallunak. I recommend buying it - the whole CD is incredible and completely original.
The intellectual property remains with the team and we continue to field interest in moving it beyond its present prototype stage. Contact me if you have an expression of interest.
Convergent Media - Game DesignCarrying the role of User Experience Manager and Assistant Production Manager where, with a solid and small team of in house programmers and artists, we worked on the development and production of three online casual games for kids in the age range of 6 - 14, to coincide with the launch of three new TV programs being produced by their sister company, The Heroic Film Company. and broadcasting with TVO, The Family Channel and Corus Entertainment. The three titles I worked on are: Ready Set Jet, Connor Undercover and How to be Indie.
How To Be Indie is set to launch with YTV in the coming months. It's a multi-player online card game that picks up on the comedy and energy of the youth oriented sitcom. My role as User Experience Manager was largely concetrated on improving the flow and engagement for the audience range of 8 - 12 years.
Ready Set Jet is the other game I really like and saw a lot of potential in. Using a funky classroom as the interface into a set of wacky explorable universes, the game allows the players to enter into some amazing environments where they can adapt their 'ships' in order to survive challenges, threats and obstacles they meet there. I did a significant amount of work in creating and writing an original narrative for the intial game world. Heroic had created an interesting prototype with a cool central game mechanic that involved the abilities of the 'ship', but it lacked a clear sense of game purpose, and there was a lack of a narrative arch and game play that would both propel the player forward and keep them coming back. From that void I developed a cool narrative arch and engaging storyline, along with some funky fun little games that filled the gaps for these holes. The game remains in development while the TV show works out its financing.
Interactive Television utilizes User Generated ContentCo- Director and Editor of this cool interactive, user generated, user rated, music challenge show, co-produced by the Nimble Company and Vision TV. Check out the clip of the pilot for the show.