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Interactive Annual 18:
information design

SAN: The Art of The Chinese Paper Umbrella

Launch Live Site

“This was just gorgeous— information design that feels like an art gallery.”
—Keith Butters

“So beautifully crafted; users will become mesmerized as they explore and learn about an icon of a distant culture.” —Michael Potts

Overview: Targeted towards 18- to 45-year-olds, this graduate thesis project for The Academy of Art University is an educational Flash-based website dedicated to showcasing the beauty of Chinese paper umbrellas through the examination of the umbrella, the construction processes and the decorative paintings. The navigation and subpages are derived from the umbrella model and help viewers understand each component in relation to the umbrella as a whole; at the same time, the interface creates an additional layer of entertainment while navigating.

  • • It took one person eighteen months to complete the project.
  • • SAN was built with Adobe Flash, After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Media Encoder, Soundbooth and Maxon Cinema 4D.
  • • The 360-degree interactive umbrella model contains 5 umbrella parts and 6 paintings.

Comments by Han-Yi Helen Hsu

Did you learn anything new during the process? “Since it required a lot of different skills to put the final product together, I’ve learned a lot by building this site. One thing worth mentioning is how to optimize the video for Flash and ActionScript3; it took me a while to figure out the best setting in Media Encoder that would work in Flash and still maintain quality and acceptable file size. Another thing I learned is the power of motion graphics in a web platform. One of the advantages of using animation/video is that it really simplifies the information into something that’s easy for an audience to digest. At the same time it elevates the entertainment to a level that has a greater chance of viewers remaining interested in the message. The 3-D elements in this site helped to engaged the viewers while offering an interesting interactive experience”


Han-Yi Helen Hsu (Los Angeles, CA), interactive designer/user experience designer/motion graphic designer/developer/Flash programmer/animator/3-D modeling/project design and development
The Academy of Art University, client

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