The good, the bad, the weeks 6 and 7 summary…


This week was about finally getting (just a little) bit more used to Audacity, appreciating Movie Maker’s simplicity and then wishing it had more editing power when it came to audio (or that I knew more about audio editing in Movie Maker) and making peace with “good enough”.  First though, the fun stuff (at least for me)- viewing and analyzing movies.

First, we looked at a way to analyze film using Roger Ebert’s ideas about film.  I enjoyed finding a good clip to analyze and also exploring how different ways to shoot film really add to the story itself.   The way a video is shot can tell as much as the plot does if done well.  I think Ebert’s ideas are just one school of thought and don’t universally apply, but in general there is some truth there, and he acknowledged that there is no one size fits all.

Next, I experienced a movie a scene in three ways- audio, video, and then combined.  I chose a scene from “Casino”.  This assignment made me appreciate how much work goes into visual media (or what we think of as visual media).  There’s the sound that goes with the visuals, the visual object we are looking at and HOW we are looking at it and then the combined effect of them all.

Last, the crucible.  This is what taught me about “good enough” (even though I don’t like it).  I skipped the original Foley Chaplin assignment, so first had to reacquaint myself with what was first done (thank goodness for the kindness of fellow classmates and professor who posted their clips to soundcloud- I’ll repay the favor someway, I promise!).  Next, I had to meet my newest frenemy Audacity to lay down the audio, which included a new background song and the six 30-second clips from classmates.  Thankfully, things went a little bit better this time, although the selection tool and I don’t really get along.   Then Movie Maker.  At first I was pleased with its simplicity.  How hard can it be, right?  But I quickly became frustrated with the interaction of video and audio.  Why can’t I layer sounds in Movie Maker?  Why can’t I mute sound in Movie Maker?  (maybe I can and I just didn’t figure it out).    Why can’t I find any new media that conveys what I want it to?  I had originally budgeted 2 or 3 hours for this assignment and it took me literally all day.  Sounds like a case of misplaced expectations all the way around!!   But hey- let me look on the bright side.  I survived.  I know Audacity a little bit better now.  Movie Maker and I have become acquainted.  I even got to use Pixlr to doctor a photo I inserted into the video.

I did not do the two other assignments (more evidence for me to get kicked out of the honor society), for pure time management reasons.  My weekday nights are very busy for me and I struggle to find enough time to get in the “zone” to do work for school during the week.  I also have commitments next weekend that mean I will not be able to lock myself in my home office and do the final project.  I also work  better if I can leave some time for things to “marinate” rather than cranking out something all at once.  I have enjoyed doing the other assignments and they always teach me something, so I know by not doing it I am taking a risk in not giving myself more opportunities to widen and enhance my skills.  But I am taking the chance and devoting this day–Sunday May 4–to my final project to hopefully save myself some sanity later in the week.


Week 5 Summary


My main takeaway this week: working with sound is not as difficult as I thought, but still the most challenging I have found of the differing editing tasks we have done in this course.  I do feel completely at ease in recording, exporting, importing, and loading to SoundCloud, but the editing portion (splicing, fading, etc.) still cause me some angst.  Perhaps its because the visual medium isn’t there, i.e., I don’t know what part of the sound I’m looking at by just looking at the sound wave?

This week also marks the sad milestone of being the first week I did not complete all assignments.  My high school honor society self would be horrified.  Ultimately, I’ve decided to wrap this week up, incomplete, rather than push myself farther and farther behind into the Video editing portion of class.  Here’s what I was able to do:

  • Animal escape!  Getting acclimated with SoundCloud.  I made a SoundCloud account when we first started listening to audio in the first few weeks of class, but this week I was able to get comfortable with uploading, recording and embedding SoundCloud files into my blog posts.  I even ventured out into the main page and found some really cool music too.
  • Sound Effects Story: in this assignment I learned that I should have actually done some listening, viewing and reading on Audacity before just jumping in, because I did not and it almost pushed me to the edge.  Luckily, I have lived to tell the tale.  Finding and downloading the sounds on FreeSound was easy enough as was coming up with the idea.  It was doing this assignment that helped me see how valuable video can be, actually.  I rarely (that is, almost never) watch videos online.  That hilarious video that’s going around on the web?  Haven’t seen it.  I don’t know if it’s an attention span thing or a simple preference for reading, but I find watching video online to be boring and tedious.  HOWEVER- the written tutorials on Audacity just weren’t doing it for me, so in desperation I turned to the video and screencast.  Ah- much easier!  They were so helpful I bet I take to video over text the next time I am looking for help.
  • Audio Assignments: I chose Audio Assignment 942, in which we take a Craigslist “free stuff” ad and make it a spoken word piece complete with background music.  I learned that the “free” section of Craigslist is really just a way for people to try to get sometime very unpleasant things hauled away for free (Clean out my basement! For free!) – clever.  This post got me on better terms with Audacity.  After visiting the aforementioned screencast again I simply used the tools demonstrated to create my own file.  I went to Soundcloud for some music and was able to quickly find what I was looking for.  I even used my 1-month Noun Project membership to download an icon for the Soundcloud file.  Synergy!
  • To Be Storified Example I got some good feedback on my story idea, which was to tell the story of the importance of public health.  Public health is something that when it is working well, we don’t notice it.   So much work goes on behind the scenes by a mostly unassuming type of worker-a potentially fruitful story topic.
  • Comment Roundup: It finally (duh) occurred to me that I could comment on anyone’s blogs I want, not just my blog “team” (which has now shrunk to be just two of us).  The encouragement and pointers I get from commenters is immensely helpful.  I don’t know if I am as helpful especially in the tips department when it comes to commenting on others posts (as I frequently know only as much as, if not less, than the poster does) but I like to think I’m at least encouraging 🙂

What got left out this week was the Chaplin Foley assignment…sorry Charlie.

Week 4 Summary- Say it with Flowers, er Design?


This week had me taking photos of beer at Costco and scouring 90’s movie posters for just the right one with Bruce Willis. Life is good!

First up: Design Safari.   I used wallpaper, beer, a coffee mug (of a famous WWII poster) and photos of an airport to discuss rhythm, color and dominance, form/function, and typography/minimalism.  I kept my eyes open early this week so I had a little time to take shots of things that caught my eye and edit down from there.  Looking back on how I described the items I picked, I don’t know I got it right (for instance, with the mug-minimalism, yes, but perhaps not typography).  I enjoyed doing this scavenger hunt, though and hope the next fellow blogger that flies out of Dulles takes a moment to look up when they get out of the taxi and marvel at Saarinen’s vision.

I was able to turn Friday night movie night at the cew5x house into the Four Icon challenge.  I decided to do this assignment when I was about halfway through the movie, so I jotted down some key words as the story progressed.  Three of the four icons are pretty obvious–the people who have guessed so far have got it right.  The fourth icon may be a little less obvious–but I enjoyed thinking about it while watching, and I enjoyed doing this post.  Finding the icons I was looking for was fairly easy and their simple black/white color scheme made things relatively easy to work with.  I’m interested to see what my classmates came up with.

Keeping with the cinematic theme, I decided to do a truthful movie poster.  In my original post, I talked about how the final product looked so simple even though it took me quite a while to a) decide on a movie, and b) to match the poster’s font.  If I were to go back and tweak it, I would want to see if I could somehow match the black of the poster (which is not true black) to the black of my overlay.  I could use Pixie to do that, now that I think about it.

As for story ideas, I thought about decisions–we have so much choice these days and so much information at our fingers to make decision-making easier.  So why does making decisions seem so fraught?  Perhaps there’s pressure to use all the information at our disposal?  I don’t have a clear line of sight into how that becomes a story, but it was something I struggled with this week, so thought it was worth a thought.

I enjoyed the focus on design.  I got to use my color wheel knowledge from long-ago art class in the Design Safari, got to work with icons (which are so hot right now), and use Pixlr a little more.  Like I said, life is good!


Asleep in the car seat on the way home…


Do you remember when you were little, out for the evening with the parents?  At the end of the night and the fun, they’d strap you in the car seat and before you knew it you’d be home, having fallen asleep in the car on the way there.   This post is like pulling into the garage- groggy recognition of “Hey, we’re here? Hmm, tonight was fun, let’s go back to sleep.”

So that analogy may be a little bit of a stretch, but it’s been a long week (for reasons not entirely related to this blog)–tiring, but fun, and am glad to put it to bed and wake up to another week tomorrow.  Overall, I think I rushed myself a little this week.  I had a lot going on so my mindset was a little more “check the box” than it probably should have been.  I think it showed in the splash the color assignment–I rushed to post that assignment and left out the “why I chose this photo, etc.” background, which commentators said they missed.

That being said, I enjoyed doing the posts this week and bringing out my inner Austin Powers:


Becoming Better Photographers: I realized I knew more of these tips than I thought I did, I just ignored them! I must have learned the “rule of three” long ago, because that’s something I just naturally do in my photos. I enjoyed changing the angle of my shots the most—getting up or down instead of just at eye view changed the shot a lot more than I thought it would. I also enjoyed the physicality of it in a way—I felt more a “part of the process” when I had to move around to take a shot instead of just having to stand and shoot.

Photoblitz Safari: I had fun with the photoblitz safari too. At first, I felt exposed taking photos of my house, (but then again that was my choice) but once I got into the assignment I was cool. I’ve actually enjoyed seeing other students’ safaris and feel like I can learn something about them from the pictures they take. The main benefits from this was getting a chance to warm up my creative muscles, which have definitely atrophied due to lack of use. I also discovered items around my house that I came back to in subsequent assignments, like using my living room as an interesting pattern. In this way, this assignment opened up my eyes to the possibilities of the objects in my environment to serve other purposes.

Five Card Flickr Story: After getting a few really random draws, I think I lucked out with my Five Card Flickr story. It helped that two pictures were actually phrases (“Can I build my own hovercraft?” and “Road Closed”). They helped frame the story—Nancy gets a hovercraft and gets to use it when it rains and the road is washed out. This assignment also helped me see how my visual environment could provide good story fodder for the final project. I started to think about the images I see, the photos I have in my library as untold stories. (But I promptly forgot my ideas, which you can read about here).

Visual Assignment 1- Splash the color: I was intimidated by these assignments and worried they would take hours just to figure out how to do, let alone execute. But I lucked out here again. I chose the color splash assignment, remembering the professor had mentioned Pixlr in the opening video for this week. One of the main help topics was coloring photos(!) They had a very easy tutorial to follow so the intimidation factor was removed. I chose one of the pictures I took from the “becoming better photographers” post. Choosing my own picture just seemed easier than doing an image search of who-knows-what. I also knew I had a fairly simple subject in my previously taken photo. I had a few hiccups getting it to work, but it was mainly a matter of improving how I was coloring the photo instead of doing something different.

Visual Assignment 2: Chimeratic Composition. I used the same techniques I learned in the color splash assignment on my next asisngment, the “chimeratic composition”—layers and erasing to reveal the image beneath. I can see how if this is well done it can be really impressive. I probably spent the most time “composing” the photo- thinking of a base layer that had enough “space” for me to lay things on top, and to have something be not entirely impossible yet also not realistic either. I also went with my own pics for this one (except the parrot), for much the same reason as with the first assignment. It seemed easier to look through what I already had than to do an image search for something I hadn’t really a firm idea for. Although now that I think of it I could have done Nancy on her hovercraft from my Five Card Flickr!! Oh well, there’s always next time.

 Story ideas: I am having a hard time with ideas…so with a post of another iffy story idea (iffy because it’s already been done) and a pledge to do better this week, that about wraps it up…

Feedback:  I’ve enjoyed keeping up with blog “teammates”.  As per last week, I’m always encouraged by how darn polite everyone is-especially when it comes to novice photo editing.  I enjoy reading what sticks out to others in my posts–not always what I think it the most important takeaway.  I think my team mates have some great story ideas going and am hoping some of their inspiration will rub off on me!

So long, farewell Week 2…


This week, I wrote about magical balloons, gutsy teenagers, and the lives of monks in three posts:

First, I listened and mapped a Radiolab piece that explored chance in our lives–are random events just that, or something more?  The show used sound and music to convey action and tension.   The effect was to bring the narrative alive and take the listener to the story.

Next, I watched an Audi commercial and described the action in five second increments along with elements of story in the ad–mystery, astonishment, empathy, etc.  I think I did a good job of mapping the action but fell short on the analysis portion.

Finally, I posted another project idea based upon my weekend with a bunch of guys in robes–at a monastery.  I’m not very sold on this idea, but am wrote about it anyway on the chance that it may evolve into something else that might work better.

I also got some helpful feedback on my story dissection of the fighter that left me with some things to potentially keep up and some to tweak as well as some additional thoughts on my story ideas.  Overall, the feedback was a net positive.  I know I can myself be a fairly critical reviewer of things, and I’ve really appreciated how all the comments I’ve received have been nothing but courteous and helpful.  It will be a good reminder to me to make sure I word my comments in an equally helpful way and also keep in mind that we are all learning so it’s ok if we aren’t perfect yet.  We will be by week 4, right?

I also just plain enjoyed reading other students’ entries.  Even when two of us picked the same movie to analyze- at first I was a bit incredulous, but then I appreciated the differences in our analyses and thought we both brought good things to table.  I’m glad we only HAVE to give feedback on two other blogs- otherwise, I could very easily get lost in just commenting and having discussions with other classmates!

As for how I thought I did: In this week, I am much more comfortable with WordPress, even though there are still some kinks.  For instance, I gave up on embedding a GIF (even after I did it successfully in week 1 and found this very helpful tutorial here) after I realized I was just spending too much time looking for a GIF and then getting it to load correctly when it wouldn’t add much to the story.  I’m also trying to figure out how much text is too much–and this post is probably too much–without inserting some other media to break things up.   I’m enjoying myself though; writing a blog doesn’t feel as restrictive as other written communication formats.  If I had to grade myself–and putting aside the fact that I’m writing this post two days past its due date–I think I did pretty well this week.  If I could do it over again, I’d put more thought into the analysis of the Audi ad.  I’m also promising myself to keep my eyes out for more story ideas this week–I noted things here and there but let them slip my mind.




Let’s See…What did I learn this week? Week 1 Summary


As we wrap up the first week of EDIT 572, I learned a few things.  First, don’t things until the last minute!  Second blogging is more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

I now I scrutinize every commercial  I see to determine if it has the needed elements for story.  That Bud Light commercial where they tape the guy who has the amazing night?  Definitely doesn’t pass the “but does it mean anything?” test Ira Glass talks about.

In terms of assignments, I did four main things this week (not including setting up the WordPress site):

  1. I set up my site and wrote a brief “about me” that doesn’t really tell you anything about who I am as a person and I just realized makes me sound like a complete Luddite.  But I’m a nice person, I swear!  I even have two iPhones.  Just don’t talk to me about the death of newspapers.  I’m even thinking of changing my blog title to “I don’t have a clue, but I’m learning…”
  2. I used Kurt Vonnegut’s story mapping, Pixar’s 22 rules, and the story spine concept to discuss David O. Russell’s movie “The Fighter”:  In essence, “The Fighter” is a great story that also happens to be true.  Doesn’t get much better than that.
  3. I reflected on the idea of storytelling, and then digital storytelling:  I started out writing that I don’t think digital storytelling could really measure up to “true” storytelling, and then by the end of the post had changed my mind and decided digital media can actually enhance parts of the storytelling experience.
  4. And last, I thought of some initial ideas of topics to “storify”.   Nothing I’m enamored with, but I’ll believe the professor and trust that it doesn’t have to be perfect now.

How did I do this week?  Putting the procrastination aside, I enjoyed this week and did my best to put sincere thought behind each of the posts.  They weren’t very whiz-bang, but I trust that I’ll get there–that’s why we are in class, right?