Interactive Media students exhibit innovative thesis projects

The evening before their Commencement ceremony, 25 graduate students in Elon University's Interactive Media master's program shared their capstone projects with professionals, faculty and staff, family and friends.

Despite stormy weather – and a resulting Wi-Fi outage – innovation was on full display at the 2018 iMedia Capstone Exhibition.

During the 2018 iMedia Capstone Exhibition, held on May 16, Interactive Media student Trey Caldwell (left) discusses his thesis project with attendees. Caldwell developed an augmented reality app that allows individuals to visualize food in 3D before ordering it.
The May 16 event provided this year’s 25 graduate students in the Interactive Media master’s program a platform to unveil their thesis projects, ranging from promotional websites and interactive videos to mobile applications and virtual reality games. Photos from the exhibition are available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page.

Through their 10-month exploration of new avenues in interactive and digital media delivery, the members of the 2018 iMedia class have discovered new technical skills, new passions and new career paths.

Count James Miralia ’17 among those heading in a new direction.

As an undergraduate at Elon, Miralia was an aspiring journalist and completed two internships in the news industry. Today, at the culmination of his iMedia program, he plans to pursue a career in game design.

For his capstone project, Miralia meticulously built an interactive tour of the iMedia facility on the first floor of Long Building, working – in his estimation – three hours a day most of this semester. This workload allowed him to extensively research his idea and become familiar with a modeling software called Photogrammetry, as well as Unreal Engine, a suite of tools used by game developers.

Part of making the virtual tour as real as possible involved Miralia measuring every square inch of Long Building. It was a process that took him two weeks with his handy tape measure, which he had at the exhibition.

iMedia student Tiffany Taylor shares a laugh with Associate Professor Jessica Gisclair during the exhibition. Taylor created an interactive brand guide for Bridal & Pageant Connection, a Fayetteville store specializing in eveningwear. 
Just how detailed was Miralia’s model? When users entered one of the virtual editing rooms he created, a video from fellow iMedia student Gardy Swendge’s actual capstone project was available to watch – just as it was in real life.

Miralia said he chose his capstone topic because it appealed to his interest in architectural models and he wanted to highlight his game design skills. And he credits game design courses with Instructor Brandon Booker and Associate Professor Tony Crider for building his knowledge base.

“To be honest, I don’t know what I expected when I joined the iMedia program,” he said. “Well, I thought I was going to hone my journalism skills when I came into this. This has been totally different ­– in a good way. This has changed where I see myself going professionally.”

Miralia was one of several examples of iMedia students reinventing themselves.

For her capstone project, Sarah Donahue, a former graphic designer, developed guided relaxation and soothing mini-games to promote stress relief through virtual reality. With a VR headset, attendees could walk through a musical forest or sit peacefully at the bottom of the ocean playing with coral. A few days before Commencement, Donohue was offered a position as a front-end developer in Greensboro.

Several iMedia projects were immensely personal for the students.

Nick Cook created an interactive brochure that spotlights the impact of the Make-A-Wish organization. The 2015 Elon graduate’s sister was a one-time Wish kid.

Likewise, Kyndall Dysard created an interactive brochure for the Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club, which she participated in as a youngster.

Incorporating footage he filmed and artists he’s built relationships with, Rhett Lawson ’17 created an elaborate music documentary in virtual reality. He wasn’t the only one to feature musicians. Arvanna Smart developed a website to rate hip hop and R&B artists, while Lee McPhatter made an app that promotes different forms of art, including music.

Students created a series of mobile apps, covering a range of topics, subjects and tasks. 

James Miralia ’17 walks an exhibition attendee through his interactive tour of Long Building. 
Mara Frontera ’17 developed an app to teach cultural fluency for international professionals. Juwan Johnson also wanted to bridge cultures, creating an augmented reality app to inspire innovation in foreign language education. With Johnson’s app, an individual could hover over an image with a phone and the object was pronounced in Spanish.

While the incorporation of new technology and computer software was common, storytelling and written pieces had their own space in the exhibition as well.

Kaylin Skipwith oversaw the creation of an interactive children’s story featuring animations, music and exploration, as well as a few characters who may have resembled iMedia faculty. Amanda Travis developed a magazine to educate young people about depression and suicide.

Lastly, Kendra Sharpe created Klutch, an interactive magazine focused on empowering women. The online platform included nearly 60 pages of content.

“Think about that,” said David Copeland, Elon’s A.J. Fletcher Professor and director of the Interactive Media master’s program. “That’s nearly 60 pages deep of coding.”

Overall, Copeland expressed gratitude for the work the students produced and the creativity they displayed.

“The exhibition had a wide variety of quality products that I’m sure people who’ve dropped by enjoyed,” he said. “There was a lot of interesting work, creative work, and projects that really showed that the students understand the concepts of interactivity.”