The Canadian Migrants – Design/History Documentary Film

The Canadian Migrants from Dennis on Vimeo.

I think there were a few setbacks during the production our documentary, but we managed to overcome them both in the historical, and design aspect of this project.

Historically, we had a few struggles with the development of our research question. At first, we wanted to investigate the effects of migration and the Handover on the economic situation in Hong Kong. After John Carroll, a history professor’s advice during his presentation at our school, we switched topics. We changed our research question to “To what extent has the Handover increase emigration to Canada?” Our group thought this research question would have more information and be more interesting. 

It was not too hard to find information that we wanted. It was particularly helpful when we found books, or research reports we could use to gather information as these sources tend to have the analysis of policies and a wide range of statistics. I think we managed to answer the research question at the end of the documentary. 

Design wise, I think the responsibilities of each group member. I felt like I needed to complete everything the group had to from video graphing, directing and editing the film. The most disappointing thing I had to deal with was doing the bulk of the editing because the editor did not do his job very well and I had to “fix” up. In the commercial world, I wouldn’t be able to step into other people’s work or else I would have been fired. The editing was pretty smooth but iMovie had a glitch in which it kept showing “Title Text Here” and “Name” in subtitles where I had already filled in after exporting. Originally the subtitles said “Interview with John Carroll, but to make it more professional, I changed it to John Carroll: History Professor at the University of Hong Kong. I also applied this subtitle change to the other interview.  It would have been better if some of the group members took their jobs more seriously.

There was no trouble writing the script as I was inspired to write the script in three columns: narration, visual and audio (sound, music). In the start, originally we wanted to make it in a style in which a specific event which will be elaborated when the interviewee talked about that event. In reality, we did the opposite of what we planned. We first talked about the specific event (Tiananmen Square) before adding more detail and a more personal response afterwards by an interviewee (John Carroll) 

I also did not think music was appropriate for the whole documentary, so there was only music in the introduction and ending of the documentary. 

I think this was sparked from my uncertainty to what exactly a director should be responsible for. Some of the main things I believe a director should be responsible is managing interviews, writing script and narration. I did all these things in addition to helping with the filming and editing.

I think it fulfils a lot of design specifications we set ourselves including an interview (we have two), and relevant historical information that informs the audience of why hog kong people emigrated to Canada, and the extent of the emigration. We also include footage from online, and royalty free 

Some of the desirable specifications were met but not all of them were met. We met the requirement of “designing an animated intro” as the stop motion I created could be considered a low amateur level of animation. We also included a time lapse in the beginning which was another on of desirable specifications. Although we did design a professional vector image, we decided to not use it in the documentary. 

Overall, I am proud with the documentary both in a design and historical aspect.

Careers Infographic Creation Process


For our integrated Design Technology and Careers class, we were tasked with creating a info graphic that helped a student decide on which career they would pursue. I decided to focus my info graphic on the job of barristers specifically in the United Kingdom as many students go to study in the United Kingdom instead of Hong Kong. 

I created the info graphic above on Adobe Illustrator. Because it was a sophisticated program, I had a few challenges when creating the info graphic. One of the main challenges was creating a scatter plot graph on Illustrator. I had this problem because I also have this problem when I try to create the same plot graph on Excel. It took a while of figuring out before I actually found out how to switch the x and y values around by fiddling around until I noticed there was a button on the data sheet. Then came another problem where all the ranges were wonky and off the charts, so I had to find a way to fix it. In reality it was pretty hard to fix the problem as the options to fix it were until the “Type of Graph” option which is odd as you would only expect to change the type of graph in that option. Finding vectors was pretty easy, but if I had a larger time frame I would create more of my own vectors. 

I think the creation process went by quite smoothly, but I wished I had more time in class to work on it. I still think the amount of time given is insufficient for almost a 2m poster, but I managed to do a combination of class and homework even though it was planned out to be all finished in class.

I also made several changes to my info graphic, but incorporating more pie graphs or statistical data in a more visual way. For example, I was not only to visualise the employment situation with a pie graph rather I was going to write “81% of barristers are self employed”, but in the end I made it a pie graph as our teacher Mr. Metz reminded us to have more statistical data in our info graphic instead of having too much textual information as it is supposed to be an info graphic. I also slightly modified the career paths section to include working conditions instead of the description of each job as they are all very similar except when compared to the “Judge” job. That way I could minimise the amount of textual information, while providing more statistical information (I provided another pie graph on the distribution of chambers/working places in the United Kingdom).

One of my other major change is the inclusion of two gender ratio graphs other than just one single gender ratio graph because space permitted and I did not want to have a large gap on one side of the info graphic. The other reason, just like before was to include more statistical information. I added another gender ratio regarding how many law students become barristers, with more female law students becoming barristers. This shows a contrast with the male majority in already working barristers to the emerging new female barristers. 

One of the major changes to the plan was “Finding and Preparing royalty free vectors”. The original time that I had predicted it would take was 50 minutes. That seems realistic at the start of the whole creation process but I didn’t know I was going to mainly rely on pre created vectors found on the internet so this took in an excess of 3 hours, because I had to prepare each image in order to stay consistent with my own blue, and green colour scheme. This prompted the amount of time allocated for the tracing of different images to be shortened. I had tried the auto tracing feature for vectors that I did not find but it did not really work out very well. One of the major positives that was given to us was the extension of the project’s deadline for about 1 week which allowed me to relax a bit and stress less about the competition of the info graphic and process journal extracts. Overall, everything was pushed back and so I could allocate more time for the finding of royalty free vectors which took a surprisingly long time. I also did not seek additional feedback from peers even though it said in my plan because I did not think it was necessary after some feedback from peers given to me on the Moodle Learning Platform.

English Course Term 1 Reflection: Belief + Graphic Novels

During the English course during the first term, we went through two units, belief and the graphic novel unit.

During the first unit, we learned about beliefs and we learned about to write analytical paragraphs, which my teacher thought all of us learned in Grade 8, in fact I didn’t learn it in Grade 8, and it was completely new. In this unit, we wrote paragraphs, essays and analysed and annotated belief passages.

In the second unit, we studied graphic novels, and read the book “The Cellist of Sarajevo”. We studied the graphic novel “American Born Chinese” too. We studied the main features of a graphic novel, like transitions, gutter, color use and scripting. We did a design cycle based on “The Cellist of Sarajevo” where we recreated different scenes in a form of a graphic novel based on the knowledge we gained about the features of a typical graphic novel. It was a strenuous and time consuming design cycle as we had to draw out all the characters and color them. We had to go through so many steps and stages and it was not very fun. I thought it was going to be very fun at first, but it was really challenging so I didn’t find it very fun.

I think I did ok in English during the first term of the year, but maybe I can put in more effort into this subject as I know I am not good at English and so I have to spend more time trying to improve.

Design Cycle Criterion D Reflection

  • What have you learned during this stage of the project?

I have learned a lot about my finished product in general during this stage of the project: Evaluation. I created a survey on SurveyMonkey to survey my peers about my final graphic novel contribution. I learned about how effective my graphic novel contribution was and reflected upon the mistakes, weaknesses, and strengths and I have set up some goals to improve on my weaknesses.

  • How does it relate to the unit question(s)?

Visuals can help enforce a particular message like teaching Grade 9 students about the effects of war. I think this graphic novel is to teach Grade 9 students about how stressful and tense to live in a war situation and how lucky Grade 9 students are. With visuals, we are able to visualize it and easily recognise, interrupt and analyse the information.

  • What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome these challenges?

I didn’t face too many challenges in this stage of the project. There wasn’t too many time problems in this project, though I feel guilty I didn’t do many surveys that were sent to me.  I had a math test and projects due on that day, so I did not respond to my friend’s request to do the survey, which I felt was kind of mean. So the next day, in english class I did 3 of my friend’s surveys, but I still feel a bit guilty because I got 7 responses 🙂

English Design Cycle Criterion C Reflection

  • What have you learned during this stage of the project?

In this stage of the project, we created the final product. I have learned to use the different tools in Adobe Illustrator in this stage of the project, and able to experience and enjoy the use of a Wacom tablet while creating my finished product, a graphic novel scene. I learned that even though you draw really ugly pictures during the Criterion B part of the project, you’re not doomed, you just have to correct it in Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator just helped me correct them as the lines are smooth and readjust after you have drawn. Even if you don’t draw perfectly, after drawing you can adjust it. I also learned about some helpful tools in Adobe Illustrator that made my life easier during this stage of the project, like the colour guide, and Adobe Kuler built right into the software.
  • How does it relate to the unit question(s)?

Technology really facilitates our creation of the product as it helps to correct errors I made during the design process. With functions like Live-paint, I am able to consistently paint the same colour in a same area, without any unnecessary fading, and I am able to create straight lines much easier, and draw over my design and making it look professional and not look like it was kid-made (Dennis made).

  • What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome these challenges?
I had a lot of technical challenges and problems in Adobe Illustrator during this stage of the project.  I had MANY problems with the Live-paint function, as it would not work even if I connected all the lines together and completed all the steps necessary to LIVE-PAINT.  Well, I got quite frustrated, so I wasted all my time fixing my stupid problem, painting the areas that couldn’t be live-painted. Not only did this waste time, it was inaccurate, sloppy and always would overlap existing things, it was quite annoying.
I also had some problems with TIME again. Because of the usual amount of homework and loads of projects, and my bad time management combined, I traced really slow, and so I colored my graphic novel scene quite late in the game. I always wanted to create some shadow/highlight effects but because of the time constraints, I was not able to do this.

English Design Cycle Criterion B Reflection

  • What have you learned during this stage of the project?

I have learned a lot in this part of the design cycle process. I have created the design specifications, the storyboard and my design mockups. In this stage of the project, I learned what I should  include in my final design, and how I was going to illustrate my designs and later on trace them on Adobe Illustrator. I thought this stage in this project was going to be easy, but it’s not. It was one of the hardest stages in the project.
  • How does it relate to the unit question(s)?

Perspectives change when you use visuals rather than a novel. You can visualize more things when you have visuals, and your imagination is less wild. But when there is only text, everyone’s perception of a character, setting is a bit different but there is a general description  or understanding between readers. But with visuals, it does not really let you think, it just helps you think and lets you have a firm and clear idea of what something looks like.

  • What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome these challenges?

I had a lot of trouble trying to draw arrow in the character designs and the actual graphic novel contribution design drafts. I knew how to draw boys, as I always been drawing myself, never really trying to draw girls. So I had a lot of trouble drawing girls, and every time I drew a girl, it wouldn’t’ look very right. It would look weird.

English Design Cycle Criterion A Reflection

What have you learnt during this stage of the project? 

I learnt a lot about what really happened in Sarajevo, historic facts about different things like guns, graphic novels, and design elements and techniques. Through this knowledge, I will be able to apply it in my graphic novel contribution. For design elements and techniques, I learnt some techniques that are on Adobe Illustrator that I can apply to my graphic novel contribution. I also learnt many things through images of destroyed buildings in Sarajevo, to images of sniper rifles they might have used during the time. I also learnt the different features of a graphic novels through the inspiration from existing novels. With this inspiration, I can apply the same effects or conventions to my own, and make it better!

How does it relate to the unit question(s)?

Visuals can evoke a certain mood or emotion to reinforce an intended message. For example, Using different colours in a graphic novel scene can create a different mood, therefore communicating a message.  Technology can greatly improve our communication of ideas. For example in this project, we are creating a graphic novel about the book The Cellist of Sarajevo. With Adobe Illustrator, we can add vibrant colours to our smooth traced out drawings and apply depth and shadows to it with ease.  With Adobe Illustrator and technology, it makes everything easier, makes it look more professional and complete, and you can apply different effects just like drawing it, but better!

What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome these challenges?

I think I had a lot of challenges relating to time. I thought I had challenges with time because I am not very good at keeping the time, and always lose track of time, or not very focused on my research or work. I had  a problem with research sometimes, because I couldn’t find out something I needed, so that is why I had to keep searching, and that took a whole big chunk of time. I also had other commitments, and other homework, but I’m glad I got it finished in time. There wasn’t really any other problems other than TIME. 

MYP Design Day

Today for the whole day we focused on designing. It was the Grade 9’s Design Day. In our school, we don’t have a allocated time for MYP Design as it is integrated with our normal subjects.  We were introduced to the new rubrics we were going to use, using gantt charts/graphs in our projects, and inking in Adobe Illustrator. I personally thought that the rubrics and gantt charts were boring, and the inking really interesting. 

During the inking, everyone in the room was concentrated and focused and into their work, well that is what I think. Some people thought it was fun, some people thought it was boring 🙁 I think that most of us were interested because we could “create” something using our computers. Inking with Adobe Illustrator is painfully hard, as Illustrator is meant for professionals and all the controls are hard to master. I had fun “creating” and tracing the scanned drawings our teacher had found on Devian Art. I had trouble adding the color to my photo, but after a lot of trying, and testing, I finally got it. I found it quite hard to use Illustrator at times, even with a mouse! I think using it with a drawing tablet would be best, but it’s not completely necessary.

I think this exercise is quite useful in helping us prepare for our Language A design project. If we didn’t have this exercise on Illustrator, then we would not be able to complete the graphic novel project, as we would constantly have problems, and we would not know how to fix it. 

I would probably want to do this again, since it was such a fun thing to do. We got to explore new tools, like Adobe Illustrator, and Gantt graphs. I felt tired because we sat on our chairs for most of the time, looking at our computer screens, moving our mouse inch by inch trying to get the perfect line. I think it was worth it, as my final product looked great!I think our next design project is a great idea, the idea of making our own graphic novels is fun and exciting.After reading the graphic novel “American Born Chinese”, it is exciting to know I can re-create something like that in my own graphic novel. I think though it is difficult, it pays off as a great, finished product.