Liz Phair Projector Critique

I was excited to see that the latest Liz Phair CD came with enhanced CD-ROM content done with Director. It is always good to see my favorite development tool used for a high profile project. But the good news pretty much stops there. The rest was pretty sad.

Why should I, or anyone reading this, care? Every time someone does a bad Director project, it hurts the reputation of Director which will reduce clients’ willingness to use Director and/or pay us well for it.

The first issue is that the projectors, both OSX and OS9, use the standard projector icon. Even if you don’t want to create a professional icon for the projector, you can at least copy and paste a simple graphic in the Mac finder. It is too easy not to do it. The result is that anyone that knows Director at all will immediately recognize the icon — which is not very professional. Even $5 shareware games have custom icons.

I’ll forget for a minute that the shortcut to the OSX projector didn’t work. I easily found the actual projector in a folder. I also noticed that there was an Xtras folder and a bunch of components. The components were totally unnecessary and the Xtras folder was filled with every Xtra from the Director application Xtras folder — including all authoring Xtras and Xtras not used in the presentation at all, like the 2.1 meg 3D Xtra. What a mess! At least take five minutes to put the proper Xtras in there.

Another “data” folder contained a .dxr and folders full of media. All the graphics were .png files and the music video was an unprotected QuickTime movie. I would personally have put the graphics in a cast library so they would be somewhat protected. The movie has to be external, though. I would also have made a .dcr, not a .dxr for extra protection. However, the .dxr was only 96K or thereabouts, so it is no big deal.

When I ran the projector, I got the standard full-screen mode, with the content in the middle and a gray border around the screen. It would have been nicer to have a black border, or maybe offer the option to expand to full screen. But no big deal.
There are only two pieces of content: a music video and a link to download a few bonus tracks. It would have been nice to have a few video controls, at least a pause, under the video. The link launches Internet Explorer on my Mac, which is odd since my preferences are set everywhere is to use Safari.

I’ll assume that the Web site and download application for the extra tracks were done separately from the Director portion of the project, so I won’t mention how horribly that works. It seems to be completely Windows-centric and I wasn’t able to get it to work on my Mac. Even if I did, it apparently only plays in Windows Media Player, not iTunes. Plus, the links to the album artwork came up empty.

I wonder how this project was done? The messy Xtras folder and lack of icons point to either a very inexperienced Director developer or someone in-house who didn’t know what they were doing. Either way, consider how much was spent on a major album like this — probably millions in production costs. They could have at least paid someone decent money to higher a pro to produce a high-quality enhanced portion. I’m sure they used top-quality producers, session musicians and the like on the CD, so why not on the software? They didn’t even know to put the Made with Macromedia graphic in the project — but in this case Macromedia should be thankful that they forgot.

Posted on October 30, 2003 at 7:01 am by Gary Rosenzweig · Permalink
In: General