Nearing the End

Not Quite What I Expected

Actually working with video this week did not turn out like I expected it to. I have realized that I am a far better photographer than videographer. While I did get a trial download of Final Cut Pro and watched some basic tutorials, I still used QuickTime and iMovie to do my assignments for the week. The learning curve for the advanced video editing programs seems steep, and I felt that I needed to focus on my content and getting the basics down before trying anything too fancy.

Also, by the end of the week, I felt drained of inspiration. The past few weeks have been tough: finding images, making designs, splicing audio, and now recording and editing video have taken a toll on my sleep, work, and sanity. Again, I think back to Dr. Polack’s “fair warning” and thank my wife for recommending that I not take this class during our anniversary trip like I had originally planned.

Ebert Style

Analyzing video with Roger Ebert’s method was not the most difficult task that I have completed this semester, but creating the video tutorial for the assignment was particularly difficult. Though I had used Soundflower for an assignment last week, this week I had to use the Audio MIDI Setup app to both make the assignment video and to make the tutorial. Also, the tutorial was more of an instructional video showing how to put the assignment together, since there is not much to explain about watching and commenting on a video. However, to do the tutorial, I was making a screen recording with QuickTime about how to make a screen recording with QuickTime. Because of this, I had to insert some screenshots to fill in places where certain options were not available while recording. To assemble the tutorial, I used Final Cut, but as stated above, I did not feel very confident using it, so I kept the edits to just inserting the screenshots.

The Dark Villain


The assignment that I had the most fun with was the Vintage Educational Video. This I feel is where my inspiration ran out. Putting the clips together took me a while, and getting re-acclimated to iMovie was a process in itself. I had used iMovie some years ago to make a Valentine’s Day video for Meg, but that was nowhere near as complicated as the educational video I made.

If Only It Were That Easy

Tying in the Weekly Question

I did not follow my original plan for the question of the week; without access to the green-screen (you have to make a reservation) I was unable to pursue my idea for continuing coverage of Steam World. Instead, I opted for more cat footage, selecting the What Do Pets Think About assignment. I made a short skit with Dina having a flash-back-like moment when Meg tells her that they are going to the vet. While the concept was good, if I had more time to work on the assignment, I feel like I could have made both it and the corresponding tutorial/work-along much better.



Grey Area

The assignment description for this week was a tad sparse. Usually, there is a checklist spelling out the daily creates and all the required blog posts, but this week, it only stated that twelve stars of video work and corresponding posts were required. However, the syllabus states that end-of-weeks have summaries (thus I bring you this one) and participation comments, and in the past, two Daily Creates were required as well. So, I still did my two Daily Creates as well.

Before midweek:

After midweek:

Spreading the Love

Again, this week I honed in on Creative Destruction for some good reading and watching. I left comments on three of his posts: Q&A&D, I React!, and Video Replay Instantly!

Going Forward

Maybe for the final week I will be able to return to Steam World. I was excited to continue the tale of my fictional Hollis and Meg, and I hope to find some outlet for their story. Week five approaches.


What Goes Through Their Heads

For my last assignment this week, I did the What Do Pets Think About assignment. Since I have a habit of narrating Dina’s thoughts already, this assignment was straight-forward. I also needed to relate my video back to my answer for the question of the week; The Wheels On The Bus had to be included in some negative fashion.  This assignment at three-and-a-half stars took care of the minimum three stars relating to the question.

Time to Run

What a shame, the day had started out so nice. Meg had given Dina her monthly claw-trimming, fed her a large breakfast, and played fetch, too. Dina, contented with the company of her owner, had just jumped onto to the couch to sit with Meg. However, she wasn’t going to stay there for long.

Meg said “vet.” Dina remembered what happened the last time Meg said “vet.” Meg had stuffed Dina into a big plastic box, carried her outside, and heaved her into some odd mechanical contraption with wheels. Then the thing started moving, slowly at first, but accelerating to great speeds, making Dina feel nauseous. The rest of that day was a blur for Dina; she had managed to block most of it from her memory.


How It All Came to Be

I made a tutorial video on how to create this analysis video on Mac using iMovie. The tutorial can be viewed on YouTube or via my tutorial post.

Trauma (Tutorial)

If Only It Were That Easy

Share the Knowledge

For my second assignment this week, I completed the Vintage Educational Video for five stars. I have seen many workplace instructional videos, which are very similar to the old educational videos, so the styling for this video was familiar.

Why this Knowledge is Important

It took me many years to learn how to properly hold a cat. After hundreds of bites and scratches from my mom’s and grandma’s cats, I finally began to understand how to make cats feel comfortable in my arms. When Meg and I got Dina, she was not a fan of being picked up or being placed in a lap. However, after two years of persistent use of my acquired cat-holding techniques, Dina enjoys being held and receives great pleasure from sitting on my lap. Dina has become so comfortable being held that my brother can pick her up upside-down without her minding; after building the trust with holding techniques, she allows us to hold her however. By employing the techniques used in this video, others can have friendlier, cuddlier cats as well.

Floor to Arm to Lap

How It All Came to Be

To create this video, I used iMovie, video recoded from my phone, and a background track from Free Music Archive.

I began by creating a new movie and inserting the video into my project from my Photos library.

To add the visual effect, I went to the clip filters and audio effects section in the browser, clicked on Clip Filter, and then selected the Silent Era filter.

I removed the original audio from the video by right-clicking the audio area of the clips and selecting Detach Audio, then selecting the audio, right-clicking, and selecting delete.

Next, I split the video into various chunks by moving the playback cursor and using Modify > Split Clip.

To insert my transitions, I went to Transitions and drag-and-dropped the transitions between the chunks of video.

To insert text, I went to Titles and drag-and-dropped the titles above the points in the video where I wanted them. Editing the text can then be done in the browser after double-clicking the title bubble.

To zoom in on parts of the video, I went to the cropping section in the browser and selected Crop to Fill, then dragged the box to the desired size.

Next, to add the music I drag-and-dropped the track from a Finder window into the timeline.

Finally, to put in the instructions I clicked the voice-over button, lined the cursor up with the point I wanted to record voice for, then pressed the record button to begin and again to stop. I had to try this a couple times to get it right.


The Dark Villain

Following by Example

For my first assignment this week, I chose the Ebert’s Analysis assignment for four stars. Finding a movie clip to analyze was the easiest part of the assignment.  I have spent many evenings at the local Sheetz and have half-watched many movies on the soundless television there while working on my assignments. One movie that played last week was The Dark Knight Risesthe final movie in the Batman series starring Christian Bale. My favorite movie in recent years is the second movie, The Dark Knight, starring Heath Ledger as the Joker. This movie focuses a lot on snippets of crafted dialogue and contrast to move the audience. I chose to analyze the clip where Commissioner Gordon and Batman interrogate the Joker about the location of the missing Harvey Dent.

To the Bat Cave!

I found the most delightful new place to work this week. During my midnight hunt for the green-screen at the Hurley Convergence Center, I stumbled across a recording booth in the basement. I believe the screen was in the next room over, but that was locked, and I was able to enter the recording booth with my student ID. Once inside, I closed the door and was surrounded by blissful silence. I suppose it would have creeped other people out, working at two AM in a dark recording booth in a dark rook in a dark basement, but I thoroughly enjoyed the lack of distractions. Also, recording my assignment was a breeze; I did not have to worry about the furnace coming on or my cat deciding she wanted to play.

Cinema Interruptus

How it All Came to Be

I made a tutorial video on how to create this analysis video on Mac. The tutorial can be viewed on Youtube or via my tutorial post.

The Dark Villain (Tutorial)

Nitro-Fueled Tuesday-Night Productivity

Not Starting Very Well

As usual, I have been working late nights, so I have not had much time to do schoolwork. I managed to do the Ebert reading and one Daily Create during my lunch break, but that was all. After consuming some much-needed caffeine, I set to work Tuesday evening watching videos and composing my responses.

Take it From the Pro

Roger Ebert’s How to Read a Movie proved to be an interesting read. I realized a new way to analyze films and was able to relate the concepts from his article to movies I have seen before in my response.

Pizazz on the Screen

Watching the videos on film technique proved interesting as well. The compilations of camera movements and special effects were excellent reference materials and gave me much to respond to. After watching the videos, I am inspired to bring my videography to the next level. I may not have professional gear or experience, but I have the knowledge to start filming on the right track.

Getting all Emotional

Tuesday’s Daily Create was to take a picture of a tree and tell about it. There are two trees near where I work that will likely have to be cut down later this year. For many years they have provided shade, but large trees too close to buildings pose many hazards. Hopefully we will be able to find someone who takes trees for making hardwood goods so that it will be able to live on spreading happiness to others.

What is it to You?

The Daily Create for Wednesday called for some design work; I had to show or describe what beauty is. Using Canva, I put pictures of a classic car and chicken wings together with a picture from Meg and I’s two-year anniversary trip. Then, I used semi-transparent black boxes placed over the seams of the picture and teal text to write in my description of beauty.

Over and Over They Spin

What could be a more classic nursery rhyme than The Wheels on the Bus. Wheels is sung by children all over the world to entertain themselves during bus rides. Harmless and happy, this tune is a real feel-good song. Imagine if it was the opposite. Since I’ve been toying with crumbling society in an alternate history dealing with automobiles, and this class inherently has a post-apocalyptic vibe, I think this rhyme will suit me well. I may be able to tie the rhyme back to my alternate history, assignments permitting, and I will have plenty of dark themes to weave in: the bus could be overturned, careening off a cliff, falling off a bridge, submerged in water, on fire, driving into a wall, etc. The bus doesn’t even have to be a bus, just a vehicle with children or childlike conversation inside. Perhaps there will be children overlooking a vehicular calamity. I do not know yet what the stories will be, but I don’t think I want to be riding the busses in them.

Making it Pop

Make Like a Sponge

Visual effects are crucial in film, so what better way to spruce up my film-designing than soaking up some videos on the subject. I watched Tarantino from Below, Top Twenty Amazing Cinematic Techniques, Camera Angles and Techniques, and Hitchcock Loves Bikinis.

Looking Up

The many scenes compiled for the Tarantino from Below video had one thing in common; they were all shot from below eyelevel. In all the shots, the figures being filmed were in places of power. Most of the scenes involved the filmed character(s) having a gun or other weapon being directed toward the camera. The filming style definitely solidified the impression of control.

The Possibilities are Limitless

Some of the filming methods depicted in Top Twenty Amazing Cinematic Techniques and its sequels were out of this world, literally. The clip in part three from A Space Odyssey of Dave jogging in the simulated gravity must have been incredibly difficult to capture. Also, the clip from Limitless where the camera seemingly zoomed infinitely down the street was boggling. The amount of editing required to make that flow together must have been tremendous. It made for an endless effect, foreshadowing something deep. My favorite effect was the mirror shot from Contact in part four of the video. Having the girl run up the stairs and to the mirror, then having the shot be as though taken from a mirror the entire time was disorienting. It felt like there was something watching her the entire time.

All About the Angle

Camera Angles and Techniques felt like a rehash of the visual techniques covered in the first week of Digital Storytelling. The main focus of the video was the importance of keeping the film interesting. By using multiple angles and styles of video capture, the audience can be glued to the screen; the person in the video even switched to recording via selfie at one point. Also, zolly technique was new to me. I had always wondered how film-makers did those narrowing shots, and now I know. Without a dolly, I do not know if I could pull off a zolly, but I would like to fit one into my assignments for this week.

Who Doesn’t?

Hitchcock Loves Bikinis spoke the truth about perception. The video showed how a slight change in content can completely change an audiences view of a character or situation. Also, I found it comical that he used himself as the old man for the example. I feel like this concept will be useful for the question of the week.

Pan Over to Progress

While I may be unable to recreate the more advanced effects with my knowledge and tools, I hope to incorporate the more doable effects in my assignments this week.

Wait, But do I Flip the Pages?

A Little Non-Traditional Advice

I cannot remember the last time I was advised to watch a book outside the context of keeping an eye on someone’s MacBook while they went to the restroom. Never in my life have I heard of reading a movie. Reading Roger Ebert’s How to Read a Movie gave me a new perspective about analyzing film.

Bit by Bit

Previously when attempting to analyze films, I have directed my attention to the dialogue, plot, and movement. The idea of pausing to inspect individual frames for their deeper meaning never occurred to me. Looking back on some of my favorite movies, though, I can see the relevance of his method. Consider the scene from Star Wars with Luke looking up at the two suns of Tatooine. Here, something unnatural yet beautiful is being presented, along with a young man that feels like he does not belong and should be joining the rebellion with his friends. Luke’s presence on the planet is just as unnatural as the suns, and his desire to be part of the fight against the empire is noble; he wants to make a difference, something which he cannot do on the sands of Tatooine. Slowing down to appreciate the scene brings more meaning to it.

Another movie in which a particular scene comes to mind is Avatar. I went back to inspect the scene after the mercenaries attack the home tree. The tree has fallen, the roots are burning, and the Na’vi are running for their lives. Their lives are falling apart just as the leaves fall from their broken home. The image, while rendered beautifully, is intensely sad.

The ‘In’ Spot

The notion of intrinsic weighting in films made sense of course. Since video is many pictures strung together, it made sense that the various principles we discussed in week one would tie into film as well. As I have been writing this post, I have been catching small clips of the various shows on the television at my local Sheetz. Between Claws and Law and Order, the use of the strong axis was very prevalent, followed in frequency by the use of high and low eyelevel shots to display characters’ influences over others. Especially in courtroom scenes, the witnesses for the prosecution are almost always filmed to increase their power, whereas the defendants are usually looked down on by the camera.

What Does this Mean for Me

While Ebert never knew of directors and cinematographers consciously applying these principles, I will be keeping an open eye this week for applications in my video assignments. I am not an expert at film, and I will take all the help I can get jumpstarting my pieces to be pleasing to the eye.

Caffeine Required

What Happened?

Last week, I said that I would be trying to cut my soda intake in half. While I was able to manage the first half of the week with only one late night Dr. Pepper, this last stretch kicked me in the teeth. Over the last forty-eight hours, I have drunk four Dr. Peppers, two cups of coffee, and one NOS (presently). I had some late-night sprints at work that kept me from doing much school-work during the week, leaving me just enough time to do my Daily Creates and brainstorm for the main assignments.

Taking it Slow

I have already covered my first two Daily Creates in another post, but I have embedded them here for your enjoyment.

Focus on the Important Things

For Thursday’s Daily Create, I had to share something that I wanted to teach the world to do. Lately, I have wanted to make other people learn to put their phones down while driving. After narrowly avoiding a car-accident with a distracted driver on the way home from Sheetz earlier this week, the sight of people using their phones behind the wheel causes me great distress. Using Canva, I combined an image from Unsplash as the background along with a red layer and text to create the design.

What I Would Rather be Doing Right Now

As cool as writing blog posts can be, I would still rather be cuddling my cat, Dina, right now. I feel that is self-explanatory. Again using Canva, I dropped the transparency of an alarm clock from Unsplash overtop of a black background, then overlaid a pie chart and some text to create the graphic.

Everything is Connected

All my assignments for this week tie into the question of the week from week two, where I chose to create an alternate history in which the internal combustion engine was never invented. This week’s stories continue in the modern day following the downfall of Detroit from my billboard post last week. To really appreciate them, I recommend checking out that post below.

Keep Our World Wet

Mini Story? No, MIDI Story

The first assignment I completed was the Auditory Illusions assignment for five stars.  The assignment itself was fairly simple, but the hunt for a suitable song and software was difficult. In the end, I was able to locate a MIDI file converter online and download the Mac version of MIDITrails. My post and tutorial turned out well, but I wish I had been able to find a more main-stream song on Free Music Archive.

The Story of a Plant Worker

Next, I completed the three-and-a-half-star Story Time Fun Time assignment. While I do not do so often, I enjoy telling stories off-the-cuff, and this assignment was perfect for that. My wife, Meg, and I set out on an improvisational endeavor to tell the story of a married couple living in Detroit having an argument about whether or not to move away from the city. I gave her some hot-points to mention during our dialogue, setup a microphone, and started recording. It was eerie how much like one of our real fights the one we recorded was; if the two of us were really in that situation in my fictional Steam World, I would be able to imagine that exact fight happening. My post goes into the details of the story leading up to the dispute.

Does this Spell an end for the Happy Couple?

I had been brainstorming my three-and-a-half-star Sound Effects Story response before recording the fight between fictional Hollis and Meg, but it was not until I had finished the recording of that assignment that I knew the story I wanted to tell with effects. Since I had focused on the environmental concerns of Steam World last week, I wanted to bring the inhabitants of my alternate reality to a climax of conflict between the industries relying on steam and the eco-activists seeking aggressive action to end pollution. It turned out that Hollis should have heeded the bad feelings Meg had the evening prior and not gone to work that fateful day. Since the bombing and raid of the Detroit power-plant, Hollis has not been seen. Only a few hours have gone by in Steam World, and the rescue crews are still locating and interviewing survivors in the rubble. Meg has just heard the news and has driven to the scene in shock and terror. Did Hollis survive? Will Meg’s dear husband be among the patients receiving medical treatment for steam burns and other injuries from the building collapse? If we revisit the topic of alternative history for future assignments, you may get to find out.

It all Comes Crashing Down

Spread the Love

This week for peer-review, I got hooked on Creative Destruction. After reading the summary post, I just wanted to go read that blogger’s individual assignment posts.  I commented on the weekly summary, the sound-effect story, and the alternate-history story-time. Overall great work, but there were a few elements in the posts that needed improvement. I took screenshots of my comments.

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#ds106 #comments #peerreview #participation

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I Fear for What is to Come

Next week, I believe video is the topic for our studies. Visual, design, and audio were all intense by themselves, so I cannot imagine how difficult video will be. Will our assignments be mostly about editing video or filming fresh footage? I do not know the answer, but I am sure that I will find some awesome stuff to do for my responses.