Challenge Journal #4: So much noise

You know the best thing about creating a podcast series, other than having deep and heartfelt conversations with your friends?

The hours upon hours spent editing the transcripts for them.



So. much. fun (as an aside, THANK GOD for canvas having a transcription feature).

I’m slowly chipping away at these, and should have them done by the end of the week (hopefully before the March Madness game on Saturday!). I’m excited because that’s all of the mindless work done; no longer will I have to sit at a computer for hours and listen to a file, pause it, and edit the transcript accordingly.

Now I get to sit at a computer for hours and listen to a file, pause it, and edit the audio file accordingly.

Such a big improvement.

Here’s the thing though: I actually get to be creative with the audio files. I can add my own zany and wacky effects to them to really individualize and distinguish my podcast above all of the others. I can now begin to explore incorporating my voice in a way that is not necessarily written, and it is a prospect that I am happy to start diving in.

At the same time, it is the part of the project that I am most fearful towards.

While I enjoy the abundance of creative liberty that is granted to me with this project, there are two concerns I have. The first involves deciding how exactly I want my voice to be understood with the podcast; not my literal voice, but the one as a podcast creator. How loud do I want my presence as an editor to be known to the listener, and what tone should it take? I’m leaning towards having it be comedic, but I don’t want to inundate the listener to the point where the valuable lessons to be ascertained from the podcast will be lost with the laughter. My other, equally worrisome concern is that I will go down a metaphorical rabbit hole of editing, and that I will not be satisfied with my project until it is what I consider to be the epitome of a podcast, which will involve me spending literal days hunched over a computer instead of enjoying my last few weeks here as an undergraduate (unbeknownst to some readers, I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist: I spent roughly five weeks editing a paper for an English class I’m taking now until I thought it was acceptable).

It’s a similar problem I had with my gateway class and the initial major project we had to do (I think it was the repurposing project?). I knew I wanted to do some form of satire, but I was not exactly sure how to strike a balance being comedic and being informative. So I looked up multiple examples, cycling through various multimodal and written pieces of satire, eventually falling in love with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

I loved how he was able to include humorous quips into his piece that did not obfuscate the main point of his message, which almost always turned out to be very informative. To that end, I decided to mimic my project to be of a similar nature, and this decision proved to be essential in helping me come up with the editing decisions and script I made for the final project.

Even though there were a couple of podcasts I listed as being potentially useful for my project, I haven’t really been enamored with them. They are fabulous podcasts in their own right, don’t get me wrong; it’s just not something that I am really resonating with. To that end, I think that’s what I got to do for this project. I’ll keep cycling through different podcasts until I find one that I really latch onto. From there, I’ll analyze it thoroughly, try to understand why I find it so captivating, and subsequently attempt to incorporate their editing techniques into my own project.

At least it will give me something else to listen to other than my own voice.

World Wide Webpage

For this leg of my project I am putting together an online webpage. This embodies the theme of technology pretty well, and I’ll be working with a lot of graphics and writing some html/css. I’m attempting to make the page appear really engaging and eye catching, which can be difficult to design from a 2-D piece of paper in class haha. It was hard to successfully visualize what would be on screen if I kept erasing my pencil sketch every two seconds.

What I needed was a real-time mock up of my envisioned design, where I can have an immediate example of my ideas. So I took to tumblr and started playing around with some old themes I had already written, trying to reimagine them in the context of my project. This actually worked out perfectly.

Screen shot 2015-11-18 at 10.45.47 PM

(very rough draft!!)

So the html/css aspect of my design looked to be pretty solid. But how about those graphics?

The last time I created my own graphic, an animated gif, was several years ago using photoshop CS5. Unfortunately, as time goes on, technology tends to change. After doing some digging I found that its apparently all the rage now to make gifs using photoshop CS6, and that CS5 is a crusty old relic nobody uses anymore.  Uh oh…. I don’t know the first thing about photoshop CS6….

So looks like I’ll be learning something new for this project, similarly to how I had to learn to use Final Cut Pro for my repurposing project video. I downloaded CS6 and am (slowly) familiarizing myself with its new features before I create any of my animated graphics. Lucky for me many of its tools stayed the same, so maybe my job won’t be so difficult.


Software Solutions

I spoke with my former Film teacher and decided to work with the software Final Cut Pro (luckily my brother has it on his computer, so I won’t need to purchase it) and use an HDCam or Canon cameras as my device for recording video. I borrowed the hardware from the MLB media center and found it was relatively easy to use.

I haven’t been able to start editing via Final Cut Pro but I am guessing that will require a lot of guidance from my brother who has used it to edit videos in the past. I have worked with iMovie before but Final Cut Pro is much better quality, so I think the challenge will be worth the result.

As far as my storyboard, I realized I really only have 3 different main shots that will be contributing to my film, the first being longtakes of Ross culture via the Winter Garden, cafe, 2nd floor, etc. The second shot will mainly consist of interviews with students or educators across a table view in the study rooms in Ross. Finally, the last take will mainly consist of classroom shots with audio coming from interviews.

I am excited to begin the recording process, and welcome any feedback regarding my storyboard or device/software use!

How To: iMovie?

I’m officially committing to…drumroll…iMovie!

It’s really the only plausible option for me because of how much easier it is to use than other video technologies. I also have a Mac, so the ease of use is really nice. I tried out iMovie at the library and was surprised by the simplicity of it. It’s definitely still going to be challenging, but I’m not worried that I won’t be able to complete my project or anything like that. I think that I’m going to take the plunge and spend the $15 to have the software on my laptop, but that’s also because I’ll get use out of iMovie even after this project is over (especially if I’m happy with the way everything works out).

When I was using it at the Ugli, I noticed how easy it was to select photos from my personal library and upload them into the video. There’s also a microphone function that records over the photos in the video. I’m still trying to figure out transitions, however, and how to integrate maybe one short video into the beginning of the vodcast. I think it would be cool to show at least one video because sports (and sports fans, so my audience) are overwhelmingly visual.

I used a few Youtube tutorial videos to learn how to use iMovie. I don’t think I would have been able to figure out how the software works without the tutorials, so I think I really lucked out. I’m looking forward to learning more about iMovie!

If only all projects were this easy, huh?



Blog 8: Using New Media

As I have dived into this Remediation Project, the technology part has definitely been the hardest. Not that I don’t like technology, because I do, but learning new forms of technology or technological platforms while learning a new digital genre and style… is hard on hard. Thinking about it feels like remediaception.

But then I got right down to it and tried out the new platforms and, when I did this, I found surprising success. I started out drawing out what I envisioned. I used the New York Times article on presidential candidates (see last blog post) as a template. I reverse outlined the article, looking closely at the digital rhetoric used, and to what purpose. I thought about the NYTimes audience as well, and I thought about mine. I decided I needed something that was more friendly to the layperson, no even assuming prior knowledge of certain institutions or posts.

So my second step was to I draw up a brief mock-up of what I wanted my remediation to look like. From there, I went online to see what website creators like or were capable of, stylistically, spacially, and in terms of audible and visual components. I found a really cool fit on, in which I could incorporate a really modern look and still make it feel accessible and straightforward.
I like where this is going, and I think technology is on my team now. It doesn’t feel like inception of remedia now. It feels more like exploring something that isn’t too complicated and isn’t too unknown. Most importantly, I’ve found a platform that can achieve the purpose of my remediation project, and which can be accessible and useful for my intended audience. Now comes the work.

Should I Use InDesign?

Why not make things more difficult on myself and completely change my mind for my remediation project? So, I have decided to do a rendition of “Humans of New York” however a London addition. My plan is to identify and write about the certain kinds of people I experienced in London. So, I will be taking on the voice of what could be a certain stereotype through fiction writing. To be honest the idea of writing fiction terrifies me. One would think it is simple, but what I have realized is that there is a lot that goes into writing fiction. Yes, it is fiction, but a lot of research must be done to understand the characters I wish to portray.

I think that a good medium for this topic would be a digital book. What I need to learn is how to aesthetically incorporate image and text without it looking plain Jane. I have no experience with graphic design once so ever, so this project is going to be a challenge.

The new technology I have decided to explore is Adobe InDesign. It is a desktop publishing software application produced by Adobe Systems. It can be used to create works such as posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, and books. For the past few days I have been watching tutorials on how to operate Adobe InDesign, and it is a very complex program for an unexperienced and “wanna be” graphic designer. It could take a long time to completely master the program, but I am slowly getting the hang of it.

With my 30-day free trial, I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of the program. I have recently been playing around with how to incorporate and edit images along with text. Although I am at early stages of my remediation project and have no finalized what will be going into the final product of the work in InDesign, I am having “fun” practicing and getting adjusted to the program. SO, if anyone has any other suggestions of great graphic design programs for me to try out let me know!

An Unexpected New Path!

“Learning a new system is learning a new ability”.

Over this past weekend, I was able to delve into a brand new video editing software that I had yet to explore: Adobe Premiere CS6! I had all but mastered the ins and outs of my two favorite video editing programs (Sony Vegas Pro and iMovie), and was very excited to begin a new adventure with Adobe Premiere…Right off the bat, I had heard many times over that Premiere Pro offers the most complex timeline editing and color correction tools in the commercial video editing software market. I was hesitant to begin using Premiere Pro from a young age, given the barriers to entry that non-trained editing enthusiasts like me have in adapting to programs like this. But to say that I was not absolutely thrilled to have purchased my very own copy of this software would be quite misleading.

Something I noticed from the get go is that Premiere Pro lacks any sort of prompts that guides users toward learning even the BASICS of timeline editing, simple sorts of things like splitting clips into separate portions on the timeline. You are truly left to your own when exploring Premiere Pro, which could be quite disconcerting..Although it took me a good few hours to adapt to Premiere without the aid of tutorials, I feel that my transition into the program would have gone nearly nowhere without my previous knowledge of the Sony Vegas and iMovie editing programs, during the same first few hours. My absolute favorite portion of Premiere to learn using was the color correcting mechanism, along with the overlay tools, which quite literally blew what’s available in Sony Vegas and Premiere Pro out of the water.. And although I’m not trying to turn this post into a tech review, I would be a fool not to mention that Premiere has quickly become a joy to play around with. Since I had been accustomed to the more intermediate editing software on today’s market, I hadn’t challenged myself in exploring more with the top echelon type of software like Adobe Premiere. It would seem that the timing in picking up Premiere was just right, and I can’t wait to see where this new road in editing leads.

Video Trial

“Although writing often goes into the creation of a video or song, the video and song as an entity should not be classified as writing.”

This is quote a from my first blog post in the Minor in Writing gateway blog, which was written almost two months ago. As I now begin the process of remediating my creative nonfiction piece into a whiteboard animation video, I feel confident in saying my views of writing have broadened. I cannot, however, discredit the argument I presented in my first blog post; I had simply never been challenged to stretch my views of writing. But the gateway course has changed that, and I am particularly excited about this remediation project as it will surely challenge me in new and unexpected ways.

Furthermore, I began the remediation process–and it surely is a process–by writing a script for my video. The script is essentially a condensed version of my creative nonfiction piece, along with various new ideas and arguments mixed in along the way. My goal is to create a video that is more informational in nature than my repurposed creative nonfiction piece. I therefore cut out the personal anecdotes and strongly opinionated portions of the repurposing piece and replaced them with more concrete evidence and examples. This required researching various facts and trends to more holistically cover the topic of preventative healthcare. Fortunately, the research process was straightforward since I had already explored the topic prior to starting my repurposing project. Overall, I focused on clarity and simplicity when writing the script for my video in order to create an accessible, understandable argument for the audience.

iMovie platform on Mac
The audio and video segments must be aligned perfectly, which can be challenging.

The next step following the creation of my script and storyboard was to explore the hardware and software necessary to actually construct the video. I plan on using iMovie to edit the clips together because I have used this software before, and I remember it being rather simple. However, when I tried joining a few clips together this past weekend, I came upon many potential challenges. For example, the timing of the video in relation to the audio must be perfect in order to create a cohesive, professional video. Based on my trial run, I foresee this being the biggest challenge when it comes to editing. I look forward to further exploring new hardware and software in the creation of my whiteboard animation video.

Saved by Google

Maybe its my craving to know the answer to questions that nobody really cares about, but I am simply obsessed with googling. It is part of my daily routine and this week my google searches have ranged from “how many apples should I eat in one day” to “hannah montana transition music” to “location of best french fries in ann arbor.” To put it simply: google is my “go to guy.” For this reason, when I was experimenting with iMovie and struggling, it was only natural for me to turn to google. If any of you are doing an iMovie, I actually found some super valuable and useful info! Because a large part of my movie is incorporating clips from other movies, shows, and news broadcasts, I searched “how to download youtube clips. There were a few websites that popped up that did not work, however, a downloadable application called “Any Video Converter,” made downloading the videos i needed super easy. Essentially you just download the application, paste links of youtube videos you want to download into the app, hit download and they will appear in your “Downloads” folder. I then was easily able to transfer them into iMovie, and edit them to the length that was necessary for my movie. I continued to google any problems that I ran into, and found youtube videos for how to get rid of Ken Burns effect, how to make a song fade out at the end of a clip, and more. So far, working with iMovie which I am only familiar with from middle school projects, has been a good learning experience, and my video is coming along swimmingly so far!!

GarageBand Soundcheck

As we get closer to the rough draft being due for our remediation projects, I wanted to test out the mic on my laptop to see if recording directly into GarageBand with my mic would provide adequate sound quality for my podcast. I tested a number of different variables, such as distance from my laptop, mic volume, and type of sound recorded (like male speech, male basic, megaphone, etc.). From my initial testing, it seems like the mic on my laptop is more than sufficient for recording a good quality discussion. Adjusting the mic volume solved any problems I had with being too far from my laptop. The male speech option was also great for amplifying my voice, while seeming to dilute the ambient sound of the room around myself. The other feature that seemed to work well was recording a song that was playing from my laptop straight into GarageBand using the mic. The sound quality was fine, and this will help me include any sound effects or music that I might want to add.

The only real problems I’ve encountered so far is my limited knowledge of editing the sound clips that I have recorded. I can somewhat confidently cut pieces of audio and move them around, but some of the finer editing and mixing details are lost on me. While I don’t plan on doing the recording in the Podcast Center on North Campus, I will most likely still sign up for a tutorial to learn some of these editing techniques that I have yet to master.

Below is my attempt to upload my soundcheck files that I played around with in GarageBand. This is the area I am most unfamiliar with because I am not used to saving audio files for uploading in other areas. Please let me know if you guys were able to hear the audio file I uploaded.