Preparing Documentation

tl;dr: A guide to preparing high quality project documentation.

This is designed as a quick guide to thinking about how to document your creative projects. It’s by no means an exhaustive

What is documentation?

Simply put, documentation is the representation of your creative work through multimedia.

It can take many forms.

Most often, it’s an online description of what you made and how you made it. It normally has a mix of text, images, video and audio as needed to best illustrate your project and ideas.

Purpose of documentation

Why do we ask you to document your work and your creative projects? For a few reasons:

These are just a few of the reasons we ask you to document your work.

What pieces do we care about?

Building documentation for a course project is a little different from sharing it with outside audiences. When you share with external folks, most often you’ll want to showcase the outcome - the PRODUCT. When you’re documenting within the context of a course, we often care just as much about the way you made it - the PROCESS.

When you’re building your documentation you’ll need to balance the two. Essentially, we’re asking you to:

When you build your documentation, here’s the things we often want to see:

You should put a big emphasis on two things:

How do I showcase my process?

The best documentation talks about how the project was made and how it evolved throughout it’s development. To help with this, we recommend you think about the following:

Preparing great documentation

In conversation with faculty, we asked three things:

Below are some of the responses.

What makes great documentation:

Everyone agreed it should be to the point: clear, consise and simple language; short focused responses, brief video (no more than 2 minutes) and limited well-chosen images). While it should be short, it should also be rich and informative. Good documentation communicates the most amount of information in the least amount of content.

Sample Response 1:

In short: Photography, Video, Writing

For the first two, this means intentional lighting and thoughtful placement. For video, good documentation also means skillful editing, narration (voice-over or text) and some narrative, even if it’s simple.

For writing, students need to be capable of expressing the idea behind their project and why their project matters.

Sample Response 2:

  1. Reflective, analytic commentary.

  2. Complete technical documentation: all code, CAD files, etc. This is partly about discipline, partly about having the means to make detailed technical critique.

  3. Well-chosen images. Images should support the development story, not be a raw dump.

  4. Clear, concise video. This is often the only durable and accessible result after projects are taken apart.

Examples of excellent project documentation:

Below are some examples of project documentation that you can draw on.

Botanicus Interactus - Disney Research

Reason: Like most documentation coming out of Disney Research PGH, it’s well scripted and has a clear voice-over. Simple photography, clear narrative, and shows enough of the “guts” to make their point.

Augmented Hand Series - Golan Levin

Reason: Thorough documentation which uses video well to showcase both the concept, implementation and vistor responses. Beautifully illustrates the hand transformations and connects them to theory, science and cultural precedents.

Tactum - Madeline Gannon

Reason: simple photography, beautiful typography, simple language and text

Shade London - Simon Heijdens

Reason: Great project, but simple, well shot, steady video

What should a student focus on in their documentation?

At a high level, you should focus on:

  1. Analytic writing skills.
  2. Basic media production (stills, video).
  3. Basic document production.

Suggestions included:

Notice that good documentation cuts across: Photogrophy, Videography, Sound Recording, Video/Sound Editing, and Lighting!

Some resources


Don’t forget to:


Below is an evolving set of external resources that can help you with your project documentation