Video Project

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The final assignment was to create a two to four minute video. My team created a promotional video of the Naughty Pines, Laramie’s roller derby team. We filmed the team’s first game of the season. The Naughty Pines played against the A’Salt Creek Roller Girls, a team from Casper with players from surrounding areas. We collected interviews from the players and the coach.

This was an interesting project for several reasons. It was my first venture into any kind of real video recording or editing. It was also the first time I’ve seen a roller derby. Several parts of the project were challenging, but I enjoyed learning how to use the video editing software and getting a better feel for what types of footage are desirable.

Knowing next to nothing about video, naturally I was surprised by many things. First, I was surprised by how difficult it is to take good shots, especially of something as fast-moving as roller derby. I was also surprised by how similar the professional video editing software was to sound editing software and to other, more basic types of video editing software I’ve used in the past.

This project presented many learning opportunities. As I said, simply shooting video, and viewing the shots I had taken, allowed me to learn about video recording. This seems to be a skill, like photography, that comes with practice. The other huge hurtle in this project was the video editing. Fortunately for me, Chase Harmelink, the other half of my team, is very skilled and knowledgeable in video and video editing. I learned a lot from him.

There are a few things I wish I could have done differently. I wish I had gotten better shots. If I had it to do over, I would have taken longer shots so that I could have missed less. I also would have become more familiar with the way the game is played before shooting. This way, I would have had a better idea of what to expect during the game, and I may have better anticipated where to shoot.

I may or may not use video in my career. If all goes as expected, video will not be a part of my career. Still, it was worth learning about, and may be something I peruse recreationally.

Twitter

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For the social media assignment, we were asked to live-tweet an event. Our project was to include pictures, direct quotes from interview sources, and updates from the event. I covered Take Back the Night, an anti-violence campaign.

I did not enjoy anything about the assignment, and I loathed everything. I approached this assignment incorrectly. I tried to write it as I would a traditional story, and then squeeze it into the parameters of Twitter. This did not work. I couldn’t simply assemble a story and then break it down into 140-character posts. Consequently, every post felt choppy and confusing.

I understand that this was partly because I was using a platform I was unfamiliar with, but it is also partly because this particular platform requires that content be of low-quality.  I don’t understand Twitter. I don’t understand the value of leaning about something instantly, when it comes at the expense of detail, fluidity, and context. Also, the idea of sitting in on an official event and being required to be “doing things” on my phone is repulsive. No matter who you are, or how you present yourself, it will look unprofessional. This will be received negatively, by almost all audiences, under ALL circumstances.

Since I’ve never used Twitter, in this assignment I learned how to use Twitter. The thing that surprised me most was how much I hate Twitter. If this is journalism, I suppose I ought to get out fast and run as far as possible.

I am not sure what I wish I had done differently. I still don’t understand Twitter. I guess I wish I had understood Twitter, and I wish I hadn’t lost half my notes.

In my career, I suspect I will use social media to find information. I will use it to track trends and events, and to contact sources. The turnover for social media websites is so rapid, that when I enter the job market, I imagine there will be an entirely new set of social media with an entirely new set of possibilities at my disposal.

SoundSlides

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The purpose of this project was to work together with a partner to present a multimedia project that incorporated both visual and audio elements using SoundSlides. SoundSlides is an excellent program that makes creating this type of presentation surprisingly easy.  My partner, Ashlee Williams, and I chose to do our project on the Laramie Animal Shelter.

Since there is really no effective way to edit photos or audio collaboratively, at first I didn’t think this type of assignment was well suited to be a group project. Then, my partner and I started to put our project together, and I saw how the combination of our different skills made the project even stronger than it would have been had it been created by someone whose skills lie primarily only in audio and audio editing, or primarily only in photography and photo editing. I think this is worth thinking about when creating any multimedia project. While I think it is important to become well rounded and to develop a wide range of skills, I think it is also important to recognize the potential value of matching people with different skill sets and knowledge to produce the best possible result. This is especially likely to be especially true in multimedia projects.

Again, SoundSlides is truly quite an impressive program. I would continue to familiarize myself with it. I can see it being an appropriate means of presentation for several sets of material.

The major struggles that my partner and I encountered in creating this project did not come from troubles with the actual creation of the SoundSlides project, but in a series of setbacks we encountered while trying to collect the initial interview and photos. For this reason, the only piece of advice I would give myself if I were creating an individual SoundSlides project would be to give myself more time to edit. I am happy with the finished project, but I think a little more time editing could have yielded an even more compelling, interesting piece.

Edited Interview

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1.) Recording my own audio on my own devices presented new challenges, some of which I was not able to solve in the editing process.  I have some practice editing audio, but never audio that was recorded in very poor quality to begin with. It was frustrating, but over time, I think I could learn to improve my editing skills to tackle these challenges.

2.) I learned that I probably do not want a career in editing interviews for radio, or any medium with rigid time constraints. Once the interview was edited in the way that I wanted it, I still needed to trim about a minute and 30 seconds. I went through once more, taking out everything unnecessary, and cut the piece by a little less than a minute. The piece was still at 2:46, so I started at the beginning again, cutting every fraction of a second of silence, every unnecessary phrase. It took me nearly an hour to cut off another ten seconds, and it was still running quite a bit over time. I had to become ruthless, cutting away important information and compelling moments; still without successfully cutting it to the desired length.

3.) I enjoyed getting to work with audio, but I didn’t enjoy butchering the poor interview. I felt that the final product was best when it was running at 2:45, and declined drastically with every cut I made past that point.

4.) I was kind of surprised by the amount of time it can take to cut only a few seconds, and by how difficult it was to decide what to cut.

5.) I wish I could have recorded better audio initially, because that would have made the editing process slightly easier, as would a shorter raw interview.  Overall, I am satisfied with the product.

Raw Interview

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Recording an audio interview was more difficult than I expected it would be. The most difficult part was obtaining a good interview about something school appropriate, not intensely unsettling, from someone who was coherent, and where the audio did not completely fail (or, where I did not completely fail the audio). It took four tries.

I learned a lot of things in the process – both about audio and about interviewing. I leaned how important it is to remember to sample the audio before you go through an entire interview. The other thing I learned – and was most surprised by – was that the interview was incredibly awkward on my end.  The first time I played back an interview, I cringed when I heard myself speak. However, I think just being aware of what I sound like and trying to minimize some of the more bizarre things I was doing helped improve my interviewing skills. Even between my first and last interview, I can tell a difference.  I think I will start recording more interviews rather than taking notes.

I really enjoyed getting the change to practice interviewing people and learning about audio interviewing – which I learned is quite different from interviewing someone and writing notes. My final interview subject had a lot to say and was good at presenting complete thoughts, so that made things go smoothly.

Aside from wishing I was a more skilled interviewer in general, my biggest regret was that I did not work harder to obtain a clearer raw interview, with my subject and me at equidistant and at a better distance from the microphone.

Here it is:

The Sounds

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I’m not sure if there is a way to say this without sounding insincere, but I really, really love ambient noises. Recently, I’ve also started to really enjoy audio editing. This assignment was to record 10 tracks of ambient noise. As I expected, I had a lot of fun completing it. It was interesting to think about everything that goes into the creation of an audio project or a project that incorporates audio. Minor details, like the strategic use of ambient sounds, could be used to subtly evoke a range of emotions in listeners and add to the richness of a project. The following are six ten-second clips of ambient noise I recorded on a laptop.  Please picture me holding a laptop up to each of these things, especially the first track.

1)      Walking on Snow – This is the sound of footsteps on snow that has fallen, started to melt, and frozen again. I recorded it in front of my apartment. This could be used in a weather-related story, or a profile of an individual who works outdoors in the snow, or whose life is impacted in an important way by snow.

2)     Water Running – This is the sound of water coming out of the faucet in my house. It could be used in a story about water contamination or excessive or wasteful water usage. It could also be used in a story about water shortages.

3)     Water Boiling – The third track is of water boiling on my stove. This sound could be used in an interview with someone who cooks in their home or an exposé on how inadequate methods of sterilizing medical instruments have led to the spread of disease and infection.  I think this clip would work well as the intro to, or sound bed under speech in a motivational video.

4)     Writing – This is the sound of writing on paper with a graphite pencil. It could be used in stories about school, studying, writing, or writers.

5)     Cafeteria in the Classroom Building – At about 8 a.m. in the Classroom Building, you can hear chairs and tables being moved, and people talking, working on computers,  and studying. From the cafeteria, you can hear the sounds of food being prepared, coffee being made,  and transactions at the cash register. It sounds like breakfast. It could be used in a story about schools, student life, or in an interview with a student if he or she talked about school.

6)     Coffee – The last track is the sound of my coffee maker spraying hot water onto fresh coffee beans.  It could be in a story about US trade with South America, about a coffee bar or diner, or in a health-related story about common habits and their impact on the body. I would use it in a story about how great coffee sounds.

The second part of the assignment was to count to ten out of order, an edit the clip so that the numbers are in order. Here it is:

Photojournalism

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The Laramie Jr. Cowgirl Cheerleaders perform after the first quarter or the Laramie vs. Air Force game in the Arena-Auditorium, 2/27/13

I learned about this game on the UW calendar. It was difficult to shoot here because I could not get close enough to the action to get a good shot. I was able to get slightly closer during this intermission, but still not close enough to get a great shot. The shape of the court provides a natural frame, and I tried to place the two pyramids along the rule-of-thirds lines.

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Laramie Blues Club Bootleggers’ Ball, 2/23/13

For a reason I don’t remember, I am on the Laramie Blues Club e- mailing list. Since soon after I started going to school here, I have been receiving e-mails about upcoming events sponsored by the Laramie Blues Club. I received one such e-mail informing me about an upcoming “Bootleggers’ Ball,” a swing and blues dance with live music and a 1920s theme. It was relatively easy to get good shots, because the action was very close, the lighting was decent, and the people were not generally paying attention to anything other than their partners and the dance, so the photos look natural. One creative device in this picture is contrast. The subjects are in the light and stand out against the darker background.

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Laramie Blues Club Bootleggers’ Ball, 2/23/13

This picture was also taken at the Bootleggers’ Ball. As seen in this picture, there was a live band. There was a lot of energy and the crowd was really into the spirit and theme of the event. Trying to catch dancers in action provided a lot of opportunities for great shots, but the movement also presented a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong with the shot. For example, I frequently caught people at strange angles or facing in strange directions. However, I really enjoyed this aspect of shooting the Bootleggers’ Ball. The main creative devices in this photo are color and background. The dark background and the blue dress help the subjects stand out.

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Dan Freije delivers his original untitled poem at the UW slam poetry night, 2/27/13

I read about the poetry slam on the UW events calendar. This event was difficult to photograph  because the light was low and oddly colored. Additionally, I couldn’t find a great angle to shoot from. I used the rule-of-thirds and balancing elements (with the painting and the audience). I also think color is an important element in this picture. _________________________________________________________________________________

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Keenan Montgomery performs his original piece, “Black Bastard” at the UW slam poetry night, 2/27/13

This photo was also taken at the UW poetry slam. The lights during this performance were a little more neutral so that made the photo turn out a little better. It also made the colors look more natural, and color and contrast are two of the creative devices used in this photo. This event was fun to photograph. The event itself was very interesting and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the most expressive moments in each performance.

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While taking pictures for this assignment I think I got a better feel for taking pictures of human subjects. I was actually surprised to find that a few of the photos turned out fairly well. The one thing I wish I had done differently was to take more pictures of everything, and to be less timid taking them. I’m still scared of photographing strangers.

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