Adventures in Science Fiction

Why I chose my topic

I’m a nerd. I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy. “Hard” sci-fi, or sci-fi that rigidly follows established scientific theories, like The Martian, was a little harder for me to swallow than “soft” sci-fi, or sci-fi that takes so many liberties that it might as well be “fantasy in space”, like Star Wars. However as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate both forms and the stories that they produce. They’ve provided an effective entertainment/escape mechanism for me throughout my life and I though it would be fun to do a project around them.

Initial ideas of what my posts would be about

From the outset I didn’t want to just stick with pop-culture sci-fi. In fact, when a given franchise becomes too popular it sort of turns me off on it. When I was a kid in the 1990s I was a HUGE Star Wars fan. Don’t get me wrong, I get that Star Wars has always been a significant cultural phenomenon since its release in 1977. But when the special editions came out in 1997, followed by the prequels in 1999, 2002, and 2005, my enthusiasm waned as it just seemed to get so old and tired. Honestly, The Mandalorian has been the first addition to the Star Wars universe that I’ve enjoyed in a long time. All of the movies after the original trilogy fell flat of their potential.

Where was I — oh yeah, ideas. So I wanted my posts to cover a variety of franchises, including lesser-known books, authors, and movies. I wanted to set up a sort of “movie review” part to it as well, where I’d review the stories and point out where I felt they went wrong and where I thought the story could have been improved. I also wanted to create some engagement with my audience by creating posts that actively asked questions about their interests in science fiction.

How I made my posts

My posts started out on a scratchpad of ideas that looked like this:

Science Fiction Report

@scifireport will focus on the art of new science fiction trends and old science fiction stories

Post 1: Graphics of several different science fiction films and books. Concept art or actual screenshots from Tenet, Ender’s Game, Star Trek, and Alien

Post 2: 15 second video of Luke Skywalker’s scene from the final episode of The Mandalorian

Post 3: Portrait of Andy Wier and his new book, Hail Mary

Post 4: Ask Instagram users what their favorite sci-fi story or franchise is

Post 5: Slides of the new Disney Star Wars shows Ahsoka, Book of Boba Fett, and Rangers of the New Republic

Post 6: 15 second video review of why the ending of Passengers killed the story

Post 7: 4 Images of the plot of Chaos Walking

Post 8: 4 teaser slides from Dune 2021

From there I collected images from around the Internet that looked interesting. I decided to use Adobe XD to put together my posts, because it has some built-in functionality for Instagram post sizes and was a lot quicker than it would have been to try and lay it out in Photoshop or Illustrator. From there I simply went through each post and made it look as close to a production version as I could, although they were far from polished by the end.

Writing the captions for the post and how the message is to be interpreted by audiences

This was a bit more difficult to do. I wanted to do something “different” than a lot of posts you see on the Internet. I didn’t want to be “spammy” or just come across as another Instagram account begging for attention. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of experience in this area, so my posts, in my opinion, still seem to be kind of “same old, same old” stuff as everyone else. I think that, given more time and passion for a project like this, especially if I had a creative team behind me, I could certainly come up with some better ideas. As they are, they feel somewhat “flat”.

Demonstrate the testing process for at least 3 posts to ensure it meets the perimeters for Instagram.

All I really did to “test” my posts was make sure that the still images were square, and that “stories” images fit the pre-made Adobe XD templates. I can say that it was difficult to decide how to fit some of the images onto the posts, especially the long-form “stories” posts, when I had images that were at a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. In these cases I just decided to place a couple of images per screen. It might not have been the best decision in hindsight.

Lessons Learned

As with everything else, some things sound a lot easier to do until you actually try to do them. Coming up with “original” content is hard, and it’s also hard to come up with interesting ways to engage a potential audience. As Instagram is a more visual platform, I feel that I could have come up with better visuals, but I hadn’t considered either the square aspect ratio or the long-form version. It’s really hard to crop images either way that were originally shot for widescreen. In addition, video content on Instagram is extremely short; if I were to do reviews of books, movies, or scenes, I’d probably have to just do a short “teaser” and link to a longer Youtube video. Now that I know these things, if I ever have an Instagram account I’ll better understand how to plan and format posts.

Conclusion

I’ve never been a huge fan of social media. I hopped on the Facebook train in 2008 and it was fun because it was new. But after a while I sort of abandoned it and all other social media, because of privacy and toxicity. However, if you’re going to run a business (as I am trying to do) in the modern age, you almost need to have a social media presence in order to compete. It’s very useful to know how each platform works so that you can maximize exposure and engagement with your brand.

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Isaac Ingles

Isaac Ingles

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