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The bulk of this assignment took place over Spring Break, when I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time. I knew before I left that I wanted to create something related to travel – this trip happened to be a perfect opportunity. I wanted to document my journey, particularly because it would be a first-time experience for me. I suppose you could say that I knew the story I wished to tell before I even knew how to tell it.
Then, amidst a class discussion, Skip mentioned something about postcards. The light bulb came on.
My five days in Vegas were spent documenting everything, taking as many photos and videos as my camera memory card would allow. The sights and experiences that caught my attention informed the types of postcards I chose while scouring through countless souvenir shops. What I found when it came time to actually tell the story of my trip, is that I actually created several stories.
In a very broad sense, the Welcome to Las Vegas postcard is a summary of my trip. It represents an overview of the things that I saw and experienced as a first-timer to Vegas. At the same time, this is a story of virtual tourism. As a viewer, even if you have never been to Las Vegas, this Aura brings Las Vegas to you. Tapping an image makes it full screen. Extensive use of Hotspots along the edges of each Overlay means you can also scroll through each image without leaving full screen mode.
Bonus: This postcard plays Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas!
I took a different approach in making the Hoover Dam postcard, using star icons to create a sort of map. Unlike a map that merely diagrams physical features, this postcard uses augmented reality to demonstrate the view from each icon. That is, what you would see around you if you were physically standing on the stars. Tapping each star opens a different Overlay. For the image Overlays, I manually edited an “X” in the corner to create a visual for a Hotspot with a “stop” action.
The postcards for Fremont Street and the Flamingo Las Vegas began to take my story on a different path for several reasons. I began to stray from telling stories based on experiences that were uniquely mine. What’s more, I began to use overlays from outside sources. This is not to say that I was unhappy with my story as it unfolded in Vegas. There were just aspects of my own experience that I was not able to fully capture, whether it was because I simply lacked the means…or because I wasn’t allowed to hold my camera while zip lining.
The stories of Fremont and Flamingo were told in ways that could be considered helpful by a prospective first-time Las Vegas visitor. Fremont Street uses icons to launch videos that give small insights into the Fremont experience – the hustle and bustle, the lights, and of course, the ziplines. The Flamingo uses icons that instead focus on background aspects of this historic Las Vegas hotel, including a brief history lesson, a hotel map, and a glimpse of the hotel’s namesake.
Tapping an icon on either postcard will open the Overlay they represent, and close any other Overlay that is open.
Once again, here is a postcard that teeters between informational and personal experience. The fountains at The Bellagio were high on the list of things I wanted to see during my trip to Vegas. I was able to capture great footage of one of the afternoon shows, however, I wanted the augmented reality of this postcard to be more than just a video. While it would’ve told a story by itself, I also wished for more dimension. I wanted this postcard to be useful. So once more, I used icons.
Not only does this postcard display the world-renowned fountains in action, but it also provides background information as well as show dates/times directly from the Bellagio website. The story told by this postcard can now take my Augmented Reality and make it their own, true reality.
I’ll admit I struggled when first presented with the concept of Augmented Reality. Although I was privy to the creation and use of Quick Response (QR) codes before this assignment, I had never before thought of them as a tool – let alone a tool for telling stories! To me, they were just funny-looking squares on things like advertisements and ketchup bottles. They were images too easily over-looked if the purpose was not apparent or if no QR code scanner was available.
I found the same issues in working with Aurasma. Auras are not visible if you do not have the Aurasma app. Even if you do have the app, there are no defining features that let the viewer know they are looking at an Aura (although, you could make it part of your trigger image). So, what is the point?
What I found in completing this assignment is that Augmented Reality is term that encompasses stories told with the help of certain digital tools. Augmented Reality creates a method of enhancing digital stories – not just in how we tell them, but how we can interact with them and use (and re-purpose) them into our own stories.