Special Effects Studio: How to Push Prototypes Further, Faster

Spring 2015
April 9, 16, 23 & 30
6:30p – 9:00p
Studio 1


Whiteboards and post-it notes are indispensable tools, but they only get you so far. This class is about rapidly bringing ideas to life with a little bit of special effects magic. Instead of starting from scratch, you’ll learn shortcuts for making physical and digital prototypes or “props” and creating animations. Like the movies, you’ll learn the art of faking it with just enough realism and familiarity to suspend disbelief but not so much that the user forgets it’s a prototype. This will allow you to evaluate your ideas without distractions and get honest feedback.

In this class, the approach to making will emphasize high impact with low expertise and effort but will go beyond typical lo-fi prototyping with arts and crafts supplies. We will help you create compelling manifestations of your ideas by repurposing existing objects, making interactive prototypes and pushing the limits of simple software.

Classes will be a high-energy and hands-on, with no work required outside of class. There will be real-world examples, demos, and cheat sheets as well as time to apply the method for yourself. We’ll focus on three types of “special effects”:

Physical props: principles of construction and deconstruction / how to repurpose existing objects to make looks-like prototypes

Digital props: principles of sketching interfaces / how to make interactive prototypes from sketches or digital mock-ups

Animation: principles of time-based storytelling / how to make animatics with Keynote

Accepting 20 students. Open to graduate and undergraduate students. Application deadline is Wednesday, March 18th at 11:59pm. Apply here.

Teaching Team
Nadeem Haidary, gravitytank
Defne Civelekoglu, gravitytank
Justin Rheinfrank, gravitytank
Reina Takahashi, gravitytank
Trey Hurst, gravitytank



Special Effects Studio: How to Push Prototypes Further, Faster