Blog Post #10: Thanksgiving Video Project (the finale)

 

My Reaction

My group for our final lab consisted of myself, Boyd Deuel and Miles Englehart, and we decided that we were going to do our video project on the UW Student Activities Council’s annual Thanksgiving dinner that took place the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break. Basically we just showed up to the event with our smartphones and recorded some interviews and B-roll and edited it all together, and Boyd’s connections with members of the Student Activities Council made the process of gathering all of our content a very easy one.

I think what stuck out to me as the most enjoyable part of experience was conducting the on-camera interviews that can be seen in the video. I quite enjoy interviewing people; it feels very natural to me. But I am used to transcribing my interviews from a voice recorder into a text format, which gives me a little more freedom as far as story structure. For these interviews I felt like I needed to have questions that guided the interviewees into answering in a certain structure so that a narrative could be formed in smooth transitions throughout. So that was a little bit of a new experience for me, but I think it was a valuable one.

I do not think there was part of this project that I did not enjoy. I did at first think that I would have to be either on camera doing interviews or have my voice used for narration, so I was not too excited about that. But that was not the case, so nothing really hampered my enjoyment.

The fact that I enjoyed the editing experience was a bit surprising to me. Boyd did most of the heavy lifting as far as editing because of his knowledge of IMovie, but the collaboration involved in creating a new story visually was rather fun and not nearly as tedious as Audacity. The only thing that I wish we could have done differently is spend some more time editing and practicing with our camera phones. But everyone’s schedule is tight at this time of the school year, so we made the best out of it.

This will be important to me in my future use of video storytelling because being able to work as a team on one project seems essential in this day and age.  Any experience working in a group on some sort of creative device like video will be a definite plus going forward in my career.

 

 

 

Blog Post #9: The Macy’s Day Parade through the Twitter-verse

I live-tweeted the 87th Macy’s Thanksgiving’s Day Parade for my Twitter project. I was on the street amongst the crowd, but I had a pretty clear view of all of the action and being in the crowd made finding interview subjects fairly simple.

I think my favorite part of the project was talking to the other people on the streets that were watching the parade, especially the people that I included in my interviews. They were very easy to talk to and were excited to help me out with my assignment by speaking with me. I had an absolute blast talking to Taylor Dafoe. His quote about Richard Simmons ha me in stitches for a while.

The only thing that I did not really enjoy about the project was that Twitter was not being very cooperative with me when I would try and tweet pictures of the floats. I tried restarting my phone multiple times to attempt to remedy the situation, but it did nothing. For some reason I was able to tweet two photos and that was it, and those photos were not nearly as dynamic as the photos I wanted to upload. So that was a bit frustrating.

Twitter issues aside, nothing about completing the project surprised me really. I live-tweet sporting events for the Branding Iron quite frequently, and, on average, I tweet close to 100 times per event (especially with football and basketball). So the 10 tweets was a nice break from that.

In the future, I see my social media use increasing drastically (for better or worse). I also have already noticed a distinct shift in how I use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I rarely use them for personal reasons anymore. On Facebook, I am either looking for potential story ideas based on what people are talking about, and I do the same for Twitter plus the live-tweeting. I could see my use of these sites becoming even more professional in the future.

And now I have to get a Google+ account, so there’s that.

Blog Post #8: SoundSlides and the UW Shotgun team

For this assignment my partner, Scottie Melton, and I wanted to profile some of the freshman recruits that are competing with the UW Shotgun team for the first time. We thought that the project would be pretty fun and unique because not a lot of people on campus or in Laramie are aware of the team and what it does. All good stories have that sort of interesting factor, so that is what we aimed for.

Working with Scottie was pretty awesome. I felt we complemented each other well because he is a talented photographer and I have a lot of experience conducting interviews and gathering audio information. Though I can gather the audio with ease, I am not too savvy with Audacity, but Scottie handled that well. I actually learned a lot from watching him work with editing the audio, enough so that I feel confident that I could handle editing audio on my own.

Since Scottie did almost the entirety of the sound editing, I did the SoundSlides portion of the assignment. I thought that it was pretty straightforward actually. The navigation was very simplistic and the instructions that were in the assignment helped out as well.

The only struggle I had was getting the speakers name to appear on top of the photo when the speaking voice changed. I kept getting one to appear, but the rest would disappear. But I figured it out after playing around with it for about 10 minutes, so it was a minor hiccup in an otherwise pleasant technological experience. And I am always glad to have technology be easy on me.

If I could change anything, it would be to make the ambient noise a bit more dynamic during the actual audio. I really liked what we had at the beginning and end for fade ins and outs, but it would have been cool to have those sorts of effects between speakers. But we wanted something that was clean and easy to understand, so we did not want to hurt clarity by adding too much to it.

**Note: The end cut without the fade out of “You Shook Me All Night Long” was an intentional decision. It may seem a bit awkward, but it was intentional.

To listen to the SoundSlide project, follow this link:   http://klandreville.com/breckenridge_melton/

Blog Post #7: Audacity is cruel

 

My Reaction

If I had to describe my audio experience in one word, it would be enraging. Oh my god editing audio into something coherent and smooth was tedious. The program itself was not the problem, it was just finding sounds that you could splice together to make it seem like the interviewee never stopped speaking in the interview. I do not feel I succeeded at this project. I was able to edit five minutes to just over two minutes, but that is about the extent of my completion of the assignment, in my opinion.

I did learn something from this experience though. I learned that there is a special breed of person out there that somehow loves to do this, and those people are gods. I listened to some NPR audio interviews after finishing my assignment, and I was amazed at how technical and flashy they are. I never really thought much of that until now, but working in Audacity definitely gave me a greater appreciation of the skill required to work in audio storytelling.

I think that my previous statements have made it pretty clear about what I did not enjoy, but I suppose it was not all bad. I liked the feeling of creating my own version of someone else’s story, if that makes sense. I did not change the facts or anything, but I took something that was presented to me, and I was able to give it a new interpretation of sorts by choosing what to edit out and what to keep in the recording. So that was neat. But holy hell was it tedious.

I think what surprised me the most was how many times I would have to listen to five to seven seconds of audio over and over again in order to find the perfect time to make the cut in the audio. I knew going into this assignment that this would be difficult because I had never done it before, but the level of skill and patience that someone needs to effectively do this is crazy. I thought I would be able to pick it up as fast as I have picked up other types of media, but I was wrong. At least I know where I need to improve now.

I wish I would have been able to put some ambient noise in my clip, but only at the beginning and the end to serve as a fade. I wanted to use the song “Monster Mash” since the subject of the interview was Halloween. I was able to import the file into Audacity, but I could not figure out how to separate the song into little clips, and then move them around to different points on the other track. I tried a plethora of things, but was left confused and broken (ok, broken is an overstatement). It got to the point that either the song played in the background at a lower volume throughout the two minutes, or no music at all. Since ambient noise was not a requirement, I went with the latter.

 

Blog Post #6: Raw Audio File: Boyd Deuel’s Halloween Adventure

 

Recap of the Interview

 

My interviewing experience was a bit of a change from what I am used to when I interview coaches and players after UW sports games. I am much more used to interviewees who are short and succinct with their responses, mainly because the questions I ask lend themselves to those types of answers. But Boyd really wanted to talk, and I could tell he was excited about the story that he was telling. So I just went with it, and tried not to interrupt or add the dreaded “uh-huhs” that we spoke about in class. Knowing that I could not edit the audio for this assignment was different as well, but not an issue really.

I have been interviewed many times before, so being the interviewee was not really a problem. I will say that I am more used to talking about athletics (specifically soccer) as the interviewee, so talking in an audio interview format about my time abroad was a new experience. Also, knowing that the raw audio would be posted made myself think more about what words I chose to use, because, if only for this assignment, there would be no editing by the interviewer.

I am not sure if I learned anything specifically from this experience, but that is ok because I know I will be learning a lot for Blog Post #7. I have never edited audio in a program like Audacity before because I have worked so much in print, so I am excited to branch out and gain some new skills. But I am not kidding myself in thinking it will be an easy learning process. It will be hard.

I enjoyed that Boyd was so enthused and was not shy of the recorder, but I wish I would have been able to speak more. I know that audio storytelling is about the interviewee, but I find more enjoyment out of conversational interviews. They are lower key, and I think that at times the slightly more informal manner of the interview can reveal some information that the interviewee would be hesitant to reveal in a “professional” interview. This is not always true, but it has worked for me in the past.

Like I said previously, if I could have changed anything about the experience it would be that I could have been more engaging. I do not know if that would have been a good thing or not, but it is how I feel. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maneuver SoundCloud with relative ease, so that was a definite positive!

Blog Post #5: I’m a photojournalist now

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Backyard Badminton
Landon Dawson, a senior petroleum engineer student at UW, serves a shuttlecock in his backyard. He and his roommates were trying to get one last round of their favorite pastime in before the severe winter storm struck last week.

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Manos de Bolivia
Manos de Bolivia director Mario Andrade looks on after finishing displaying hand-made mittens, sweaters and hats. The fair-trade program is designed to allow less fortunate Bolivians to become economically self-sufficient.

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13 & Under
A young boy runs towards Huck Finn Pond at Laprele Park in Laramie early last week to do some fishing with his grandmother (not pictured). Huck Finn Pond allows free fishing to youths that are 13-years-old and under.

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UW Job Fair
UW students gather at the UW Fall Job Fair in the UW Union Ballroom & Family Room on Tuesday, Oct. 8. The event, hosted by the Canter for Advising and Career Services, featured more than 90 companies of various professions searching for UW’s finest prospects.

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Wrangling them in
Ethan Cahill, freshman microbiology major, practices roping a dummy steer in Prexy’s Pasture in preparation for the Homecoming Relay this weekend. The relay will also take place in Prexy’s and will consist of various Wyoming-themed challenges.

 

 

(Non-Sports Feature Photo) Manos de Boliva

I was walking around the UW Union Breezeway with my camera, because there are usually some interesting booths for RSO’s and other campus organizations. But I encountered a long table piled high with various winter clothes items. So I snapped a few photos from the angle in the picture. I thought that the individual lines created by the various colors of sweaters and hats allowed the eye to move easily to the subject of Mr. Andrade, and the wide aperture created some great depth in the background.

(Sports-related Photo) Backyard Badminton

I would see my neighbors playing badminton in their backyard from time to time on my walks home from class, and the day after this assignment was announced in class they were at it again. I wanted to do something a little different to try and create motion lines, so I shot from a high viewpoint looking down on the subject and used a slower shutter speed to blur the shuttlecock and the racket. The pink of the shuttlecock sticks out against brown of the fence well, which I think enhances the image. It is a little unusual as far as action shots go, but I wanted to experiment a bit.

(Optional Question #3) 13 & Under

This image was the definition of a lucky shot. At first I thought it was garbage because of all the distractions of park benches and gazebos and what not, but I figured I would talk to the subject (more specifically the subject’s grandmother) just in case I decided to use it. When I opened it up in Photoshop, I realized how dynamic it is. I had no idea that the signs for the name of the lake and the 13 & under fishing notice were visible, and how well the “distractions” actually framed the subject. And even though you cannot see the subjects face, his movement into the background provides a foreground-background relationship, which I thought was pretty cool.

 Reaction

I would say what surprised me were how willing people were to allow me to photograph them and give me information about themselves. I expected much more resistance than I received, with the only instance of uncertainty coming from the grandmother and grandson, but I would imagine that to be fairly normal considering a child was involved. I unfortunately “lost” about half of my material because I accidently shifted my camera settings from Manual to AV, which rendered a good portion of my shots useless. So I did the best with what I had, which turned out to be better than I expected originally.

Blog Post #4: Mecanismos Creativos (See what I did there?)

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Photo #1: Canada Dry

This is a shot of my aluminum can recycling bin that is in my kitchen. The dominant creative device in this picture is color. The green of the Canada Dry can is the first thing that catches the eye, but also the white of the Pabst Blue Ribbon can and the blue of the Bud Light can create a nice frame, which is the secondary creative device that is used. There is also some shallow depth of field, as only the three aforementioned cans are in complete focus.

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Photo #2: Front Porch

I came home from school and saw my neighbor sitting on his porch smoking a cigarette. I took the photo from the side instead of the front because it follows the rule of thirds strongly, which is the dominant creative device in the shot. His face also has strong vectors leading into the rest of the photo, but my concern is that the background might not be as strong as the foreground.

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Photo #3: Man in the Mirror

This is a shot of myself in the mirror taking a picture, which can be a little corny I’ll admit, but what I think makes this work is the dominant creative device of framing. The mirror itself is a frame for the subject, but the mirror is also framed by the closet door, which is in turn framed by the green wood paneling. The green also provides some color contrast that I think is effective, along with the vector of the angled ceiling leading the eye into the mirror. Since the mirror is vertical, it made taking this shot vertically effective as well.

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Photo #4: Neighborhood Teepee

I was driving home and noticed this outside of a house. It was an interesting piece, so I decided to pull over a take a photo. I had to use compositional cropping as the main creative device for this shot because the background was very distracting. There is still the distraction of the RV on the far right side of the shot, but I feel it is blurred enough to the point where the distraction is minimal.

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Photo #5: River of Dreams (shout out to Billy Joel)

This picture uses a lot of leading lines. The river itself is flowing from left to right which creates motion, but also the varying green grasses along each side of the bank and even the small patch of dirt lead the eye back to the river, which is already enhancing the movement of the shot. I also thought the view point was interesting because if I would have shot it from a different position, the lines leading back to the river would not have been as effective, which also gets into compositional cropping as well.

*Difficulties*

The biggest issue that arose for me was shooting inside. It is harder to shoot the things you want because there is no natural light. So metering out appropriate light was a struggle. This also hurt my ability to shoot at night, because I did not want to use flash, and light was scarce. The other big thing was the inability to crop for the assignment. I had a few other shots that I might have rather used for the assignment, but because Photoshop was off limits, I had to use a few of my backup shots. Overall I think the assignment turned out well though.