Presentation Format Guidelines
While we've emphasized the importance of documentation throughout the semester, providing high-quality documentation for your final project is particularly important. In our experience, many students continue to reference their documentation for years into the future, as part of a web portfolio, for job interviews, or for new collaborations.
Don't wait until you've "finished" your project -- start your documentation now.
Demo videos are often the most effective way to share your project with a broader audience. Students who spend a little extra time on making a high-quality demo video tend to report that it was well worth the effort. The Blinko video does a good job of explaining the problem and the solution. Some tips for making a good video:
- Video Resolution: modern smart phones tend to be well-equipped to make high-resolution videos (though DSLR cameras are even better, if available). If using your phone, make sure to check your camera settings. Use either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, and minimum 1920x1080 resolution. Film in landscape orientation, and make sure your phone is stationary and stabilized while you're filming (use tripods, helping hands, clamps, etc. to help).
- Lighting: Make sure your video is well lit. Natural lighting is best -- filming outdoors on a cloudy day is ideal (though that won't be an option for everyone). Avoid spot lights. Try to arrange lighting such that there are no visible shadows.
- Clutter: remove it. Make sure to film your demo video with a solid-color background.
- Multiple Takes: I've never gotten a demo to behave the right way on the first try. Maybe you're luckier than me! Otherwise, give yourself time to film a couple takes. You may end up splicing together snippets from multiple tries.
- Editing: this can be more time-consuming than you expect. I usually get a head start by making/modifying a template with title screens, text, etc., even before I've finished filming the final demo. Using the built-in video editors should be sufficient (iMovie on Mac or video editor for Windows).
Some examples for good demo videos include Sam's DanceGlove and Faraz's Fish Feeder, and
Abe's iTAP shoes.
We'll be making a YouTube playlist of everyone's projects (check out some previous projects here. Once you've finished your video, either upload it to YouTube yourself and send us the link, or send us your video and we can upload it for you.
You may choose to split your documentation into two pages (one for the fabrication process, and one for the finished project) or to include all information on a single page. Ken's H-Bot documentation is a good example of the latter. It includes all of the necessary ingredients:
- It begins with a demo video (this part is pretty minimal, and could be enhanced with text overlays that explain a bit about what's happening under the hood).
- A brief motivating paragraph (why you chose this project).
- Plenty of images.
- Downloadable STL files for all CAD components (Fusion or other formats also okay).
- Links to outside resources, like hardware components that were used or tutorials that were referenced.
- All code used in the project, neatly formatted on the page.
Other good examples of process documentation include Kevin's weather station, Joon's paper folding machine, Julia's Overdrive robots, Lara's soft robot.
Check out the HTMAA page for more examples of exemplary projects and documentation.