Kiwi Physics

Size: 17-page module as part of an interactive 6-module CD-ROM

My professional status: contractor at CWA New Media

Website client: IPENZ - Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand

Dates: February - May 2005

Categories: Website designer, Writing for the web, Flash, CD-ROM, Small sites

Brief: to design, illustrate and build (in Freehand, Photoshop and Flash) a module in the Kiwi Physics CD-ROM which covers the creation, transmission and use of electricity. The CD-ROM was distributed free to all secondary schools in New Zealand, and was aimed at encouraging students to explore a career in physics by showing real-life examples of physics in an entertaining, interactive, educational and fun way.

My responsibilities included:

  • Refinement of a series of storyboards from the writer (which went through a number of iterations), into the final 10 main screens and 7 "Tell Me More" screens which make up the Transmissions module
  • Design of the 17 interactive screens by creating:
    • technical drawings in Freehand of the various mechanical elements (water turbine, generator, HEP power station, washing machine, wind turbine, magnet, electrons in a wire, transformer, atom and electricity pylons)
    • Photoshop mockups of each of the screens, using a combination of the Freehand drawings, illustration and photo manipulation
    • Flash animations of each of the moving parts within each screen
    • .pct files with alpha channels of each of the separate elements and backgrounds, to be used by the programmer who created the CD-ROM using Director
    • Director casts of the separate elements for each screen
  • Ensuring that the style of this module matched the overall design style of the CD-ROM
  • Detailed descriptions of the functionality of each screen, provided to the programmer so he knew what each screen was supposed to do, and which element went where (accompanied by visualisations of each screen)
  • Creation of, and regular updates to, a Freehand file/PDF of the latest version of the module, showing mockups of each screen
  • Regular email updates to the project manager and CD-ROM tester to ensure that they were able to track changes and general progress
  • Regular testing of each new beta version of the CD-ROM, to ensure that my designs were being implemented correctly and that the functionality was as expected
  • Regular feedback to programmer, tester and project manager on the results of my beta-tests, including lists of what still needed to be done, and who was responsible for doing it
  • Careful tracking and record-keeping of all changes, updates and alterations to the module
  • Attending regular client meetings with the rest of the project team, to discuss progress and to ensure that the functionality of each screen was as the client wanted it to be
  • Two sets of final (and final-final!) client alterations to all of the modules and intro section on the CD-ROM, after the original designer had left the company.

This was my first CD-ROM and I really enjoyed it. It stretched me at times (which I love) - I had never done technical drawing before I began this project - and it was great to use such a complex combination of Freehand, Photoshop and Flash (plus a tiny bit of Director for the first time).

I now understand why CD-ROMs take such a long time to create - sometimes all we seemed to be doing was going round in circles - and it was a huge achievement to complete it. It was a great team effort and one which I would be happy to repeat any time.