Shooting Scripts / by Katie Edmonds

What is a shooting Script?

Before we go into the field, into the context of experience, negotiation, observation, and documentation, we have to know what we're looking for. The designers knows formulas of looking, but the participating informant (if this is the appropriate term for a willing and knowledgeable participant), is the one who knows where to look, and what they want to see and make seen. Together we define the qualities that we would like to observe and document. This process is itself a dialogue. The designer has an agenda of clarification, order, legibility. The participant has the agenda of authenticity, self authorship, expression, and clarity of action. These themes are high quality if they meet the following criteria:

  • capture a shared, but not necessarily identical meaning, by all participants and designers participating in the exercise
  • are specific enough to be applied to things we can see
  • are open enough to be seen in many places
  • are open enough to be understood in different ways

Observational Spectra

What are some qualities that you would like to observe and document?

How would you articulate them as present or absent?

How would you articulate these as desirable or undesirable traits?

These are the themes of your shooting script. In order to keep track of how many instances of these qualities you've managed to find and capture while conducting field work, you'll have to document the themes in a way that allows you to tally the number of times you've captured each quality. I've found that these outlines work well in the field, and are flexible enough to be sketched quickly, or printed in advance.

    In the example on the left, themes are individual but related. Maybe this is the presence or absence of a theme, a desirable or undesirable manifestation of a theme. Some images may possesses both qualities, and a mark somewhere on the line can indicate that a document representing both qualities was captured.  In the figure on the right the themes are all interrelated. These qualities all fall on one spectrum rather than on multiple individual spectra.

 

In the example on the left, themes are individual but related. Maybe this is the presence or absence of a theme, a desirable or undesirable manifestation of a theme. Some images may possesses both qualities, and a mark somewhere on the line can indicate that a document representing both qualities was captured.

In the figure on the right the themes are all interrelated. These qualities all fall on one spectrum rather than on multiple individual spectra.

Establishing how these themes relate is itself an act of categorization for the designer an informant. Choosing the model that fits the space that we're investigating is an act of negotiation, agreement or proceeding in a state of disagreement in order to discover what happens next.

 This design student blocked out the spectra and converted it into a checklist. With a very short time allotted for observation, only 30 minutes, one check mark per category was enough to produce the coverage they were looking for.

This design student blocked out the spectra and converted it into a checklist. With a very short time allotted for observation, only 30 minutes, one check mark per category was enough to produce the coverage they were looking for.

 An attempt was made here to add a layer of complexity to the spectrum, but in the end the fast pace of field work made a simple dot on the spectrum a preferable method of documentation.

An attempt was made here to add a layer of complexity to the spectrum, but in the end the fast pace of field work made a simple dot on the spectrum a preferable method of documentation.

 This design student took the shooting script to the level of storyboarding. Their knowledge of what they were looking for turned the discovery process into an act of documentation. Without being prompted, they considered the publication platform and chose to post to Facebook.

This design student took the shooting script to the level of storyboarding. Their knowledge of what they were looking for turned the discovery process into an act of documentation. Without being prompted, they considered the publication platform and chose to post to Facebook.

 This design student turned their script into a location based list. They also decided in advance what they were looking for and blocked out a timed schedule to ensure they covered their entire list.

This design student turned their script into a location based list. They also decided in advance what they were looking for and blocked out a timed schedule to ensure they covered their entire list.