Defining the Problem

One piece of feedback April and I received was that the idea behind our project was not clear enough. We needed to clarify exactly what the problem was we were solving using found facts and stats to explain why what we have designed is needed and appropriate.

We knew what the problem was but in order to present this in a clear way be needed to better understand the problem. Therefore we began researching specific stories that cover:

  • The history of bike use in China
  • The rise of the use of cars
  • The way the status of the bike has changed
  • The introduction of bike share programs
  • The success/failures of bike share programs, particularly in Beijing
  • Facts, figures and statistics surrounding these areas
The Bicycle as Symbol of China's Transformation
The Bicycle as Symbol of China’s Transformation

 

The (D)Evolution of Bicycling and Bike Share in China and Beijing
The (D)Evolution of Bicycling and Bike Share in China and Beijing

 

Coming Full Cycle in China
Coming Full Cycle in China

 

China's Bike Sharing Battle
China’s Bike Sharing Battle

 

Reinventing the Bicycle in Beijing
Reinventing the Bicycle in Beijing

 

Reinventing the Wheel
Reinventing the Wheel

 

From here, we now have a clearer idea of what the problem is and therefore we can take the most appropriate pieces of information to display clearly to the audience.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/the-bicycle-as-symbol-of-chinas-transformation/259177/

http://bikeshare.com/2013/11/can-bike-share-make-beijing-part-of-the-kingdom-of-bicycles-again/

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/money-wealth/article/1843877/coming-full-cycle-china-beijing-pedallers-try-restore

https://www.techinasia.com/china-bike-sharing-war

http://english.caixin.com/2015-03-28/100795422.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/caixin/2015/04/bicycling_in_beijing_how_a_two_wheeled_revolution_could_change_china_s_youth.html

Feedback from Pitch to Sennep and Next Steps

Feedback from the pitch to Sennep and Jaygo:

  • Where else could this initiative be applied?
  • Are there other ways in which it can be put to good use?
  • Where are the places where recycling, particularly of plastic bottles, is needed?
  1. Event Spaces
  2. Music Festivals
  3. London Marathon
  4. Etc.
  • What is the Next Step?
  • How can we move forward in terms of prototypes? Could we get this working? Explore materials and technology.

 

From this feedback, April and I came up with a plan of what we wanted to improve and how we wanted to move the project forward. In terms of technical improvements, there were certain areas that needed attention:

  • Typeface selection
  • Website function
  • Gradient of Bottle Bin
  • Public Bike visualization
  • Technology explanation (alongside canopy creation)

By doing these things, we hope to be able to create more of a unified portfolio of work which also explains the initiative, as well as a film that shows the whole process rather than just the problem. When we re-create the film we want to be able to create visual identity that runs throughout all of the film as well as all of our work.

 

From here the next stage would be prototypes. I would like to be able to explore how the technology could actually work; perhaps just with the small mock up of the bun to see how motion affects the lights and how you can visually track this. This will definitely be something to think about and something I would like to pursue however time will be an issue.

Visualising the Shadows

Although I was happy with the clarity and the simplicity of the Canopy Animation, it didn’t really capture the experience that the cyclists get, with the coloured shadows of the bottles on the ground. Therefore I decided to create a separate GIF that would demonstrate this element.

For the layout of this idea I thought the looking at the canopy from above would be the most suitable viewpoint. From previous illustrations I had created I took the shape of the bottle from above and mocked up the pattern of the canopy. I used the colour gradients April had made to create coloured bottles and also mocked up coloured bottle shadows. Bring all these elements together in After Effects, I used the techniques Jaygo had shown us to create the idea of motion below which activated the bottle lights and then created a shadow on the path. This needs tweaking before the final film however; I think the basic idea is represented. Creating these explanatory animations has helped me think about how the design will work most efficiently. For example, creating this one has made me think that perhaps coloured lights is more effective and will create a bolder colour on the floor compared to using coloured dye or colouring the bottles somehow. These could be factors to consider as April and I move forward with the design of the idea.

Canopy Shadows GIF
Canopy Shadows GIF

After Effects Tutorial with Jaygo

In a tutorial with Jaygo, April and I were discussing the visuals we were planning on mocking up to explain the concept and process of our idea, basically how it works. We wanted the pitch to be simple and easy to understand yet still visually demonstrate the elements of the design beautifully, creating a sense of amazement. We also wanted to integrate our designs in the real life environments to show how it would be a possibility, to create that sense of believability around the initiative.

 

We had planned to create animations to explain:

  • How people register using the QR Code
  • How the Bottle Bin would be used, with the card and recycled plastic bottles
  • How the bottles are used to create a responsive canopy
  • How the canopy responds to the movement of the bikes
  • The effect the canopy creates
  • The way the canopies will start as few and then gradually fill the city as more people use them and recycle bottles

 

Talking through these, Jaygo suggested a way in which we can put the idea into a location, using a map of our intended environment and visually demonstrating the idea as a whole. This would help us get the sense of believability across, as it would be shown in its intended environment. It would also add an element of simplicity to the idea, as there are a lot of stages to the initiative it can be quite wordy and confusing when trying to explain it.

Jaygo showed us how to use After Effects, to create a dot that travels round a path on top of a map. By doing this we can create the illusion of a bicycle cycling round the city activating a trail of lights.

Card Design

Next we considered the design of the CYCLE Card more. This proved hard than we originally thought. We wanted to make sure the card design conformed to our identity, this included:

  • The vibrant colours (predominantly the blues)
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Bikes
  • CYCLE (name)

We also needed to ensure the card provided the necessary information that would be used on travel cards. We looked at other forms of travel, ID and loyalty cards to see what information they include, how this varies and how the cards are designed in terms of contents and layouts as well as a brief look into materials. We learn the following:

  • Usually contains the following information
  1. Name of product
  2. Name of user
  3. ID no.
  4. How to use instructions
  5. How to find more information (usually a web address)
  6. Partnerships the company/initiative/service is linked with
  • All made of plastic
  • Conform to the same shape and size
  • Usually opaque
  • Usually fairly vibrant but use block colours
  • Simple shapes used
  • Minimal information on the front, most small print on the back
Card Design Research
Card Design Research

 

So we set out what we wanted to include on the card and from there began mocking up rough layout designs. We decided to keep the information very basic. By the time the audience had registered and received their free card they would know what the initiative was about and how to join in. Therefore we just needed something that would link with the other elements of our idea. We thought we could play with the idea of the bike wheel and the multiple colours exploring how this may create an abstract shape. The main problem we encountered when playing with this imagery was that the textured colours we were using in our identity contained such a range of colours and light it was difficult to incorporate information in these designs, particularly legible information. The words were not readable or understandable on top of the design.

 

Therefore, we came back together and began thinking more about the physical elements of our idea and what this card is actually going to be used for and how this may inform our design. This is what we identified:

  • The card is going to be inserted into the bottle bins and the public bikes therefore a graphic that could play on the idea of having certain elements revealed when inserted might work well.
  • The card is linked to both the bottle and the bikes
  • The bottles power the card which powers the bikes which power the canopy
  • The card fundamentally contain CYCLE Time which is generated by bottles
  • Therefore perhaps the bottle as an image is key
  • We are focusing on transparent plastic bottles. Therefore, the transparent plastic effect may be a possible effect to recreate on the card
  • We had seen others cards which use slightly translucent materials which are exciting to look through and play with, you explore them more than your typical card

From these notes we came up with a new concept of simplicity and transparency, still including the original elements of our identity. April mocked up a couple of possibilities and began digitally exploring how these would look as physical objects.

We went forward with the idea of the bottle as we thought this simple design would allow more of a playful experience when users top up their CYCLE Time and use the Public Bikes.

April then went on to experiment with materials and see how this design could work. She used white card for the main part with the CYCLE Name and the Individual’s Name and ID Number. She then used acetate to create the translucent blue bottle inside. Using acetate for just the bottle recreates the idea of the plastic bottle, how it can generate colour and how light can be seen and reflected through the bottles, just like the Bottle Bins and the Bottle Canopy.

I think the design works as it is simple a striking and the materials represent many of the ideas and elements of the initiative well. However, there is still possibility for improvements with mocking up the card design, we can explore more thoroughly the materials that are available to us to print on. For example:

  • Could the bottle be clear and completely transparent and it’s up to the user to fill it with colour
  • Perhaps the whole card has a transparent element to it with a slight white and slight blue hue in the appropriate places
  • Should there be more information on the back for the users
  • How do we print on plastic?
  • Is there any way of making the card more of a digital element, so that when your CYCLE Time is full the bottle is full of colour and when you are nearing no time the bottle decreases in colour so that you can easily know when you need to top up

These are things we can consider when taking our idea further and making improvement after our pitch to Sennep.

Bin Design

So we came up with the idea of the Bottle Bin and now we needed to design it. We knew we wanted to bin to follow the standard bottle shape and incorporate the colours that spiral down the bottle as it is used.

I created the initial bin idea on Adobe Illustrator. I created the Bottle Bin shape and then divided it into sections. Then applied different colours to these sections; these colours are the same that were used for the CYCLE GIF logo. I also mocked up what the top of the bin would look like, with a section to insert your, a section big enough to put bottles on and the QR Code for the audience to use.

 

Considered Web Platforms

We decided we wanted to the Registration Process to be online and linked to the QR Code.

To begin with we came up with an idea of creating a scrolling website page with a page to register on, all the information you needed and a place for you to post pictures of your experience. April mocked this idea up.

However, the more we thought about it and the more our idea developed, we wanted to focus the design on a process that would be quick and easy for the audience in order to get as many people involved as possible. Therefore, we thought these screens would be more appropriate at as app, designed for a phone screen. Therefore people can scan the QR Code while they are out, and either find out more or enter their name and address right there and move on having registered nice and easily. Therefore, April adapted the screens to fit a phone model. We also considered what really needed to be included at this point and we thought that the Register page was crucial, there would also a couple of brief pages to give people more information if they wanted to know more about. We didn’t want to bombard people with information at this point, as we wanted it to be simple and a stress free experience for the audience.

Competitive Community – Spreading the Identity

From the talk with Jaygo and Daniel, April and I began exploring the ways in which we could incorporate the registration process into the physical environment, how we could make this element more exciting while also making it fit in with our corporate identity. When thinking about this, we wanted to create a system that would make the registration process easy as well as intriguing, to get more people involved.

 

We came up with the idea of placing Interactive Bottle Bins around Beijing. These bins would act as the recycling machines where you can top up your CYCLE Time using your CYCLE Card and used plastic bottles. However, the bins would also all include the CYCLE QR Code, which people could use to take them to the registration page and they can sign up nice and quickly right there and then. These bins would be located around the city for easy access, for those wandering round and for those who need to recycle their bottles then and there to top up their card. These bins will also be particular located at petrol stations and car parks in order to capture the interest of our main audience, those how drive rather than cycle.

 

The Bottle Bins would be shaped like a plastic bottle to fit in with our theme and they would also be interactive to bring the colour aspect in. When you drop your plastic bottle in, the bin tracks the bottles movement and will light up changing colour, just like the Bottle Canopies track the movement of the Public Bikes and respond. The bin is then full colour. If no plastic bottles have been recycled for a while the bin will fade back to grey. By doing this we will create intrigue within the audience as they will see these varying coloured odd shaped bins and want to know more hopefully and then use the QR Code to learn more. It will also be more of enjoyable experience, bring a sense of life and joy to the mundane act of recycling your plastic bottles. Therefore more people will get involved.

 

We also hope that introducing these Bottle Bins will create a sense of competition. The more one particular area recycles the brighter their bins will be. There is a visual representation of how much one particular neighborhood recycles and this will encourage competitive communities. Competition is a great way to get people involved and invested within an initiative, as there is a pull and a sense of achievement linked with the act.

Identity Development

As previously mentioned, April and I liked the initial identity mock-ups. However, they definitely needed improving, making more punchy and seamless so that they could be effectively applied to all of the platforms. The coloured bottle textures work well and these could be used as abstract textures. However, I think the bike shape needs to be included somehow in order to get this element of the concept across too as it is key.

Through experimentation I began exploring creating masks and clipping in Illustrator and how this could combine all elements together in a concise way. Using these techniques I was able to incorporate the textures of the bottle, inserting various colours and using the shape of the bike. We wanted to be able to get across all elements of our design, cycling, recycling, lights, plastic bottles, colours, fun, new, exciting. See experimentation below.

Cycle GIF
Cycle GIF

 

Script Writing

Thinking about the rough storyboard we had come up with, I wrote up an initial script so that we have an idea of what could be said or written in the video. This will also help us understand in more detail what imagery, animation and footage is needed to get our idea across. Here is the first draft of the script:

 

With half a billion bikes, outnumbering cars 10 to 1, China was once referred to as the ‘Kingdom of Bicycles’.

Embedded in China’s recent history, bicycles were not only used for transport but also used as a business tool.

One example – the Junkmen, who cycled round the city, cleaning the streets and recycling the found materials.

However, the number of bicycle users dropped massively from 60% in 1995 to 20% in 2010 and car ownership has skyrocketed. Air pollution is now a severe problem. And with fewer Junkmen cleaning the streets, urban waste has also become an issue.

Something needs to be done.

We introduce CYCLE an initiative that invites the public to protect the environment, by cycling and recycling, just like the Junkmen.

Bike Share Programs have been introduced across China and many of these have been a great success. However, the bike share in Beijing sees less than a quarter of used compared to its neighboring programs. Why is this?

The bicycle was once the social status symbol of China, but is now perceived as outdated. CYCLE has a solution to get Beijing back on the bike.

To start the initiative, a handful of canopies will be installed in the city center, above the purpose built cycle lanes. These will be made from recycled plastic bottles, each containing a LED sensor light. The canopy will be linked to the public bikes and will respond to the movements as the public cycle below.

Joining the initiative to power these interactive bottle canopies is quick, easy and completely free.

All you need to do is follow these four simple steps.

  1. Register online, all we need is your name and address
  2. Receive your free CYCLE Card in the post
  3. Top up your CYCLE Card
  • No money required, all you need is your used plastic bottles
  • At all Bike Share Stations around the city, purpose built machines will be installed where you can insert your card, recycle your plastic bottles and top up you CYCLE time
  • One plastic bottle gives you half an hour
  • If you run out of plastic bottles, don’t worry. You can still use this card by topping up with money.
  1. Scan your card to use the public bike and cycle your way through the city, passing underneath the beautiful bottle canopies.

As you start cycling a unit attached to the public bike will send a frequency to the canopy above you. You are now in control of the canopy.

As you move, a motor will sway the plastic bottles directly above you and the LED lights will activate as they sense you, projecting a ripple effect shimmer on the floor of the cycle lane.

These beautiful reflections provide a unique experience for every cyclist, making every journey more enjoyable.

This brand new cycling experience brings excitement and joy back to the activity.

By doing this CYCLE aims to add life to the Beijing Bike Share Program.

As more people join the initiative and more plastic bottles are recycled, more canopies will be created throughout the city.

Which means more fun!

Together we can empty the city of plastic bottles and fill the city with happy cyclists and beautiful public art.

Join the initiative now at http://www.gtcycle.com

CYCLE doesn’t have to stop with Beijing though. Who knows where we could end up next?

 

This was quite difficult trying to concisely and clearly explain our idea in a fun, believable and engaging way. However, it has really helped to clarify our idea in my head and has also helped in the planning of the final pitch.