Mark R. Johnson


[Interactive Screens]
[Amateur Recording]
[24 Hours]




The purpose behind this project was to determine if it was possible to create a meaningful and engaging experience through re-mediation, in this case focusing on the transformation of a comic book from print to screen. A successful trial would help demonstrate the benefits and potential for future work, suggesting that publishers should not discard the idea of moving existing print content onto the computer.

While my own personal experience with the project suggests that 24 Hours is, in fact, a success, the real test is to put it into the hands of others and gauge their reactions. Throughout the development process, this was done in the form of casual user studies performed on an individual basis during which subjects were observed as they experienced the 24 Hours CD-ROM. A total of over twenty male and female subjects ranging in age from their early teens to their late fifties participated in these tests, with each starting with no initial introduction or training for the software. Each test was followed by a brief discussion with the subject about his or her experience. During the observations, particular attention was paid to three indicators: 1) speed with which the user learned the interface, 2) facial expressions, and 3) spontaneous think-aloud comments. These observations were then explored in the dialogue following the test.

Observations from the first indicator showed that all of the subjects were able to learn and use the interface almost immediately with no outside help. This learning process usually consisted of a few stray mouse clicks over the first or second frame of the comic book. After seeing no response from their activity, the subjects quickly understood that 24 Hours is not a heavily interactive piece, and subsequently no longer clicked anywhere outside of the buttons provided on-screen (as mentioned in "Buttons & Interactivity" above).

Observations of facial expressions and think-aloud comments were useful for establishing a sense for the level of engagement that the subjects experienced, as well as identifying the subject's response to animation effects. In nearly every case, the subjects found the experience to be immediately engaging. In most cases, the pop-up dialogue balloons that appear in the second frame were identified as the moment when their interest was first caught. From that moment on, nearly all of the subjects remained focused on the screen, immediately following from one frame to the next by clicking the Continue button with little or no hesitation at all. In subsequent comments, subjects indicated that they found the story quite compelling, especially in its current form. Many of them also indicated that they enjoyed the occasional use of animation and changes in the transition effects used between the frames and panels. Nearly all indicated that they especially liked the pop-up dialog balloons and how they seemed to further animate ("give life") to the story.

Both the user testing and my own experience has shown 24 Hours to be a success. Nearly every subject stated that they found the multimedia project to be an enriching experience. This suggests that re-mediation in general can result in a valuable and effective product where mere repurposing would perhaps fall short.

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Last modified 6/11/97.