Course Description & Info

T361: Interactive Transmedia Design
Indiana University, Department of Telecommunications
Fall Semester 2007
Tuesday & Thursday (#20696) noon –1:45, TV 250

Norbert Herber 855-1798 or nherber at indiana dot edu

Document location:

What is interactivity?
An interactive environment is one in which all parties involved can modify and be modified by the actions of the other participants in real time. Thus if I am interacting with a computer, the computer will respond differently based on my responses and my responses will modify the computer's behavior.

What is transmedia?
Transmedia is media that flows through new technologies and alters and is altered by them. The sound of a flute was initially only obtainable by listening to someone play a flute. Then we had analog recordings of flute playing. Now we have digital recordings of flutes playing or we can digitally generate the sound of a flute playing. Incorporate this into an animated story and send it out over the Internet: transmedia.

How do we create interactive transmedia?
Flash is one tool for building interactive environments which include most kinds of traditional media (images, sound, film, voice, etc.). We take something in one format and move it into another. This makes it different! The goal of this class is to explore these differences and develop interesting, compelling interactive environments.

Course information
Interactive Transmedia Design takes what students started in Intro to Interactivity Media Design and moves things up to the next level. Flash allows you to have more control over the environment in which the user is placed. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It allows for much more sophisticated use of graphic design, programming, and interactivity. We shall explore the possibilities offered by this tool.
We shall also examine issues of usability. What is good for the designer might not be the best thing for the user. How do we maximize our design goals while still creating an optimized environment for the user?
This class starts with the assumption that you know HTML, elementary Photoshop, basic Javascript and the basics of pre-production for all media. We assume that you know nothing about Flash.

Course Objectives

Role of the Student
This will be a difficult class for many of you. It will be difficult because you will be faced with technically oriented material that you may have never encountered before. Do not be alarmed. One of the goals of this class is not only to teach you the material but to teach you to understand the material so that technical problems are seen as only that: problems.
Problems can be solved. Your best strategy to overcoming technical problems is daily practice. Spend some time every day of the week working with these materials. This does not mean reading and re-reading the chapters of our books (though that can be good...) Think about the topics we've discussed, dig through the source code of a web site you think is interesting, take the time to tweak your web site so that it works perfectly and looks great, and so on. Repeated exposure to the material is the only way that you will be able to learn, understand, and master the material we will cover in this course.

Concerning in-class examples:
Many of the examples we consider in class will be very simple and to-the-point. You may see them and think "This is stupid! I'm never going to do anything like this!" You're probably right. A lot of the examples we consider are intentionally over-simplified so that they are clear and concise. Ultimately this makes them easier for you to understand. There will be in-class examples that are there to dazzle you; others will not. Most examples will serve as the quickest and easiest way to clearly demonstrate the concepts at hand. This means that though something may not be all that inspiring at first glance, it will have a basic functionality and will allow you to do great things once you understand how it works and infuse some personal creativity. You must crawl before you can run.

Student Integrity
You are expected to conduct yourself with decorum in this class. Professionalism and integrity are essential to success in any field. If you haven't started yet, now is a great time to develop these fundamental attitudes and behaviors. Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. Both are grounds for an Academic Misconduct report and a failing grade. Any questions regarding these policies can be directed to the Code of Student Rights at

All work that you turn in must be your own. In certain situations it may be necessary to borrow from third-party source. Students are allowed to do this only after specific permission has been granted by the instructor. All borrowed work must be cited; no exceptions. Failure to cite borrowed work will be viewed as plagiarism(see above).

The production and discussion of creative work is a large part of this class. Any work or criticism that is offensive or that constitutes harassment of a racial, sexual, ethnic, or religious nature will result in a failing grade.

Mobile phones and pagers must be turned off before entering the classroom.

Attendance will be taken for all class periods. To accommodate for scheduling conflicts and other "surprises" that may occur during the semester, all students are allowed 2 absences. Your grade will be reduced 2 points (1%) for every unexcused absence. Unless it is unavoidable, do not schedule medical appointments or interviews during class or discussion section meeting times.

Students who have true emergencies, life-threatening illnesses, or deaths in the family may be granted excused absences. An excused absence must be supported with written documentation when you return to class. You will be responsible to get missed notes and information from a classmate.

Students observing religious holidays during the semester please see IU's Religious Holidays request form.

All technical questions pertaining to the class should be referred to All students in the class will be automatically subscribed to this list. It will provide a lifeline for help when you need it most. We will discuss this in more detail during class.
All communication with me concerning your progress in the class should be done in office hours, and either before or after class. If you cannot meet during my regularly scheduled office hours, send an e-mail to make an appointment. I am glad to meet with you to discuss class questions and anything else you find interesting.