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Video Prototyping

USI Programme, Panos Markopoulos

June 2007

The aim of this module (40 hrs) is for students to familiarize with the use of Video for Interaction Design.

The video created will be used during the qualitative research module the week after. All deliverables for the two modules are due together at the end of the second week.

The following topics will be covered:

Mini-Project: Tracking Pending Communications

Every day office workers manage several conjoint activities with colleagues or contacts which they attend to in small installments; they communicate over several media, e.g., phone, email, IM, and in small chunks. People have to remember whom they talked to, where they left of a particular discussion, things that they need to do as a result of the latest communication, things that they need to tell, etc.

This activity can be taxing . There is a long-term cost of remembering pending actions and a short term cost of capturing the state of a particular task before switching to another one.  Costs are not also related to the time spent or the cognitive workload. They can be social too: interrupting someone may be perceived as a burden, rejecting a request for a communication may result in mutual loss of face, not returning a call or failing to track a communication process effectively may be perceived as rudeness or nonchalance, particularly when mitigating circumstances are not known to other parties.

People adopt various strategies for dealing with pending communications: mails already read are often left in the mail box as a to-do or to-tell list, post-it notes are used, whiteboards, writing on one's hand, sending a mail to oneself, etc.

During communication commitments are made and responsibility is delegated: e.g., I will call you, lets on keep the responsibility and the freedom of choosing an opportune moment but also loads one's virtual to-do list (their long term memory). "Call me back" gives the problem to someone else, but at the expense of another interruption and a loss of control.

This project is about understanding and supporting through design the strategies people use for managing their contacts and conjoint activities, especially when these strategies make use of physical artifacts or work-arounds/appropriations of existing systems. You are asked to understand

The project will start with a video interview of two office workers; an attempt to explore different kind of environments and different types of workers will be appreciated (you should definitely avoid interviewing each other and go further than the USI Secreteriat or Nico's office). It is preferrable if you investigate open office spaces, where several workers are in the same room. It is then interesting to see how they manage communications with each other, with people outside their own space, and with various media.

During the video interview, please focus on physical representations: their role, their organization, the information they carry, the lifecycle of the information on them etc. Look at unusual ways people do things, but most of all try to uncover how worker's intentions and patterns of activity are reflected in the physical environment, (which presumably you should be able to capture on tape).

A couple of articles are given to you as background reading - you may consult your own sources to inform your research and design.




Lecture / Presentations

Deadlines/Presentations by students


Mon 18/6



Using video in contextual interviews


Introduction of the mini-project



Assignment 1: "Ethics Lies and Video Tape:

Read Chapter on Interviews

Prepare interview plan

Read the Ethics, Lies and VideoTape paper by W.Mackay

Shoot Interviews for Mini Project

Report (2-4 A4, SIGCHI format) on the process and product and analyze your video with respect to the guidelines by Mackay.

Tue 19/6




Video Prototyping and video brainstorming

Interview Presentations

Assignment 2: "Reservoir Dogs" : video brainstorm


Assignment 3: "Minority report"

Read the STARFIRE paper and watch the video

Write analysis of one of the video prototype examples provided (myPAL, Vista or sleevePAD) videos according to the STARFIRE guidelines.


Wed 20/6 09:30-11:00   Video Brainstorm show

Assignment 4: "The Truman Show"

Prepare video prototypes for mini-project. Deliverable DVD (see specification below) should be handed in a week later (24/2)with the results of the focus group.


Thu 21/6


15:00-16:30 -    

Fri 22/6



Sneak preview of Video Prototype 

Deadline for assignments 2, 3


Fri 24/6



Final Presentations  focus group results (combined with video prototype presentation)

Focus group report: includes  focus group plan, notes from the execution of the focus group, results and evaluation of the appropriateness of the method for the problem at hand to be included in the DVD of the team  (see below)


  1. Chapter 10, Hackos and Reddish, honing your interview skills.

  2. Ethics, Lies and Videotape, Mackay, W., (1995), Proc. CHI’95, pp.138-145.

  3. •The "Starfire" Video Prototype Project: A Case History, Tognazzini, B., Proceedings CHI ‘94 - see the page at •

  4. •Vertelney, L.  Using Video to Prototype User Interfaces.  SIGCHI Bulletin, Vol. 21, Number 2, (October 1989), pp. 57-61.

  5. Optional: a quick (a bit dated) cookbook see

Deliverable DVD

The deliverable is one DVD per project team. All work should be included in the DVD.

This DVD should be labeled and the contents described on its cover.

Please include the following:

A. Video Material
1. max 3' edited Practice Interview

2. max 5' edited Mini project video interview

3. max 3' edited Practice prototype of Ambient Intelligence scenario
3. max 6' video brainstorm
4. max 6' your video prototype (in two compression rates: for viewing in class and for the web).

5. max 6' of the focus group proceedings, that is selected to make some useful points regarding the way the method was run

B. Documents

0.  Readme.txt file or table of contents


1. Mini-project interview report: including interview plan, session summary and conclusions and analysis of your own interview with respect to Ethics guidelines (2 A4)
2. Analysis of example video prototypes with regards to the Starfire guidelines (1 A4 max)
3. Walk-through evaluation of your video prototype by another team  (1 A4 max)

4. Walk through evaluation you did of another team's video prototype (1 A4 max)
5. Storyboard for the video prototype as a PowerPoint or word document or a .jpg image.
6. Slides of your final presentation
7. Focus Group Report (see related on qualitative research. (4 A4 max)

8. Presentation of methods - see related module on qualitative research. (1 pdf file)

Ground Rules for Presentations

Everyone should be present in the class at the starting time listed in the schedule.

To minimize change-over time, presenters should have one laptop connected, with access (through the network or USB stick or hard disc) to the presentations of each team.

In preparing your presentations, make sure you describe:

It helps if the whole group is interactive, so you can learn from each other's experiences. So ask questions, share your thoughts about the work of other people.

One rule is though to remain constructive even when you are offering critique. You can inquire about the rationale of other people's work, suggest shortcomings, offer alternatives, but do so in a helpful manner that does not become personal.