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 Wix.com or Weebly.com were capable of, stylistically, spacially, and in terms of audible and visual components. I found a really cool fit on Wix.com, 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.

Braving the Adobe User Interface

I really don’t like the way the various Adobe programs are set up. The minimal aesthetic is not conducive to me learning how to use the program.

That being said, I have had to use Illustrator, and to a lesser extent Photoshop, in a past Digital Drawing class. But in that class I wasn’t creating my piece within that program–I was only editing/filling in with colors. So, in starting out my journey to “illustrate-but-not-really” vignette #1 I sought out some help YouTube style.

Funny story, I began in Illustrator and then halfway through this video I realized his help was for Photoshop. It’s been a long day. I’m still not sure which is program is more the norm for digital drawings, but I’ll just go with what feels right. Mostly I spent a few long hours experimenting with different brushes in both programs. To be very frank, it was more difficult than YouTube guy is making it out to be, especially because I don’t have a fancy touch pad to apply different pressures with.

[Aside: my art friend literally just walked in while I’m writing this, and apparently there are tablets of some sort available for rent from the Duderstadt. I must look into this further.]

digital sketch
Photoshop Practice
digital sketch
Illustrator Practice

Overall, given my lack of touch pad my sketches turned out pretty okay. I might try to mix certain aspects from both programs, though my experience with ended up a bit more satisfactory than with Photoshop so we’ll see.  In both, I had a lot of trouble getting the right consistency for the mist I want separating top and bottom, but I was able to achieve more precise line work in Illustrator on the plants. With the brush in Photoshop, it was hard to tell which line editing tool would do what and also where precisely the line would start in relation to my cursor.

My other mock ups, as well as the hand-drawings I did for this vignette, turned out alright. However, The Blog God tells me the pdf combo file is just too big to share it here. Shucks.

Sketching everything out in a brainstorm format has really helped me decide which path to go with for certain things, especially with this digital drawing and with the cubist one (though the latter might change direction a bit still). I’m now more firm on specific subject and content for each piece, which is the most important thing to establish for going forward.

The Wonders of iMovie

To put it simply, I have zero experience with making videos. I have had mixed feeling about it. First I thought it would be easy. Video clip, audio clip, put them together, voila! Couldn’t be too hard right?  

Then I watched my friend do it.

Of course he was adding subtitles. Each word had to match the exact second it was said. Which, needless to say, took a ton of work. Not to mention the complications of translating stuff. He wanted to incorporate both English and Mandarin subtitles. The challenge that comes with that is balancing direct translations with translations that summarize the meaning of what is said, and then adding timing of the subtitles into the equation. Fun.  

All these thoughts settled in the back of my mind as I pulled up iMovie. Of all the spoken word poetry clips I watched on Youtube, a good portion of them utilized a soundtrack and cool video effects. So I decided to broaden my horizons and try out a video-maker app.

To my relief, iMovie is pretty straightforward to use. I love how when I first opened the app, it showed a bunch of really great examples with awesome effects.

I uploaded a small clip, cut it up, and also added a few images just to practice editing. The app automatically added its own transitions and captions for me, which was absolutely awesome. It was also super easy to adjust the amount of time I wanted the video to focus on an image that I inserted.

Managing the soundtrack was just as easy. I could click and drag when I wanted the audio to start.

I could overlap audio clips, trim the audio clip to the section I wanted. And to make the transition of the audio clip, I could make the music start soft and grow louder with a simple click and drag.
This app is amazing. There is hope for tech dummies like me after all.

Trying out Photoshop

I’ve decided to move forward with making cartoons. Now there are a few problems with this: I can’t draw very well, I have never made cartoons before, I’m not particularly clever. To try and help solve the first problem I listed, I tried using Photoshop.

I have been using Photoshop since high school, so going into this little experiment I was fairly confident. I like to think I’m pretty good at making crazy photos, maybe not realistic ones but photoshopped pictures nonetheless (some examples).

My dog's head on the body of a man
My dog’s head on the body of a man

But this is the only type of photoshop experience I had, I didn’t know anything about creating entirely original images. At first I tried to start completely blank and use the tools available on Photoshop. This did not work. I couldn’t get the right look I wanted for my cartoons.

 

Next I decided to find generic images from the internet and modify them with my own captions or combine a few images to get the scene I wanted. This did not go that well either. Unless I found an image that was the exact setting I wanted and all I had to add was a caption, the images I created did not look good. It was difficult finding images online that were in a similar enough style that when I put them together, they looked like a cohesive image. Adding captions was the easiest part, although I didn’t put as much thought into them as I did trying to meld two or more images.

My dad on Air Force 1 with Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich
My dad on Air Force 1 with Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich

Next I decided to find generic images from the internet and modify them with my own captions or combine a few images to get the scene I wanted. This did not go that well either. Unless I found an image that was the exact setting I wanted and all I had to add was a caption, the images I created did not look good. It was difficult finding images online that were in a similar enough style that when I put them together, they looked like a cohesive image. Adding captions was the easiest part, although I didn’t put as much thought into them as I did trying to meld two or more images.

Going forward, I think I have two options. I can dedicate more time to looking for images that already

The future of the Buffalo Sabres, probably
The future of the Buffalo Sabres, probably

exist and using Photoshop to combines images and captions. I could do this, but it would take a lot of time and research. More likely, I will have to draw my own images then upload them to Photoshop to add captions. This will take time too, but this way I can be sure that the specific setting I want can be represented. Either way I have a lot of work ahead of me. Either way I will use Photoshop in some way. I found the font options very easy to use, so I m happy I found something I can use in my project.

Exploring iMovie

This week I started playing around on iMovie, since that is the medium I will hopefully be using for my repurposing project. I am not very technologically savvy, so honestly I’m still having trouble figuring it out. However, I realized that one way I can make this project a little easier on myself, is by using mostly still images. In iMovie, there is a way to upload images and basically create a slideshow (I’m still working out the kinks but at least now I know it’s possible). There is only one segment of my video in which I would really like to use some clips I find from the internet. Hopefully, I will be able to figure this out because I think it would add a nice visual element to the video.

Creating my storyboard helped me realize that I can use the still-image function on iMovie for the bulk of it. This made me feel a lot more comfortable with the software and was honestly a huge relief! I will still have to decide which images, text, and background music (or sound) I will want with these images, but I feel like it’s a little more manageable than solely working with video footage. If I cannot figure out how to incorporate news clips, I realized that I can just use a still image with pictures of recent headlines, which will give essentially the same effect.

I found some iMovie workshops that are available this month and I think it may be beneficial for me to attend one. However, I worry that most of the workshop will entail editing video footage, which I am trying to avoid in making my video. Regardless though it could provide some helpful hints that will make me more comfortable with using the software in general. I think it would be most helpful to find someone who will sit down with me one-on-one and answer questions I have that may be unique to my project. If anyone knows of someone offering this kind of service let me know!

Overall, after trying out iMovie I am still a little nervous to use this software, but I think I will be able to figure it out with some help.

Lights, Camera, Action!

It struck me while writing my proposal for my remediation project, which initially was going to be doing a TED Talk-style piece, that I miss my camera. I dabbled in photography a little bit in high school but since coming to college, I haven’t taken any real pictures–unless Game Day pictures or embarrassing pictures of my roommate on my iPhone 5 count. This remediation project seemed like the perfect way to get back into photography and push my creative limits.

Girl Behind Camera

My goal is to take photographs of students on the Michigan campus, in all black and white, and create a website around the photos. It’s sort of like Humans of New York meets art gallery meets blog. As you can see, I’m having a difficult time actually categorizing my project, since it is such a hodgepodge of so many different forms.

What I do know is that I will need to become very familiar with operating my new camera (shout out to my mom for letting me use hers!) as well as Photoshop and Squarespace (the platform I will be using to create my website). I know how to handle a Canon camera on a pretty basic level, so the hardware of actually operating the camera and creating photographs that are up to my perfectionist standards may pose the largest problem throughout this process. I also have very limited knowledge of how to use Squarespace from my job and absolutely no knowledge of how to use Photoshop except for the one time I attempted for a high school project and absolutely failed. However, over the last few days I’ve been spending a lot of time tinkering with photos I’ve taken previously just to see how they turn out. So far, I’m liking the direction that I’m taking but I have a feeling that it is going to get a lot harder when I actually start taking the photos and compiling them in a meaningful way.

Speaking of difficulty, creating my website for this project is something that I am looking forward to the most but am most afraid to begin the process of creating it. Even as I have begun to do my mock-up, there are so many templates to choose from and adjust to fit my needs that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I guess it’s better to have too many options than not enough? Also, I’m starting to discover certain things about websites, like getting a domain name and inserting alt code, which are things that I am not familiar with but will become more familiar as I work with the platform *she said with unwavering hope*.

If you can’t already tell by my rambling and delirious organization of this blog post, I’m both terrified and thrilled with the prospect of creating a collage/gallery/website/blog/thingy for my remediation project. Stay tuned for an update on my mental state as I attempt to edit yet another photo on Photoshop (this one is of my dog…yes, I’ve hit a new low).

Jimmy Fallon Puppy

I Hate iMovie

For my repurposing project, I turned an academic paper I wrote into a short story. I struggled for a while to think of an exciting way to remediate the story and ultimately decided to make two to three trailers for the “film adaptation” of the story (and possibly a poster…tbd). When I thought of the idea, I thought to myself, Oh – that’s a cool idea! It can’t be that hard right? Well, I was wrong – it is absolutely that hard, especially for a person like myself who has never done anything of the sort before.

screenshot of iMovie's layout I've been struggling to learn
screenshot of iMovie’s layout I’ve been struggling to learn

I’m using iMovie to create the trailers, which has some pretty awesome templates that produce great homemade trailers. Short aside – I had to re-purchase iMovie because I had earlier deleted it thinking I would never have to use it…funny right? What I didn’t exactly realize though is all the different elements you need to understand just to create a simple minute-and-a-half trailer. There are medium shots, close-ups, landscape shots, two-person shots, and like a million others that I’ve had to study in order to start making a storyboard and script.

What could be a replica of myself...
What could be a replica of myself…

Though interesting to learn this entirely new technology, it’s been a frustrating process so far. The first time I sat down with iMovie to try seriously to figure out how to use it, I spent an hour attempting to close a window I unintentionally opened. It’s really a miracle I didn’t break something in my frustration. I’ll definitely be attending one of the iMovie workshops Naomi recommended, as it’ll hopefully make things slightly less confusing and painful (if anyone wants to go with me, let me know). I think in the end I’ll actually be really proud of the final result, no matter its actual success. Writing is something I know, but this is certainly something I do not. Though it might seem daunting now, I enjoy the prospect of challenging myself. The greatest satisfaction might just be pulling off something you never thought you could. I have my doubts right now, but we’ll just have to see how I’m feeling come December 10th.

This should be interesting.

This is me when it comes to trying to make video.

 I have no idea what I'm doing meme

This will honestly be the first time I have ever made a video. I have attempted to do so in the past, but the process was so painstakingly long, I simply gave up and moved on. However, this is something I know that I cannot do for this remediation project, and I’ll admit, I am really looking forward to it. So for our #techchallange, this week I am committing to learning iMovie.

I was deciding between working with iMovie and Final Cut Pro and decided that iMovie would be better since A. It is already free on my mac. and B. I will have access to it beyond my time in school. Although I’m almost positive most newsrooms or tv stations probably use Final Cut Pro, I’m sure just general knowledge of video editing through iMovie would still be very helpful in the job market. Learning iMovie simply makes more sense.

I have a few ideas of how I will learn this program. The first place I will go will actually be an iMovie workshop sometime this week. There are a few of them here at the University, and even if I don’t have time, I will make and appointment with Informational Student Services to see what they can teach me. I also plan on using lynda.com. Although we might no longer have free access to the website, I know about a couple of podcasts who promote the website that provide a code that gives you a month for free. Even if it’s a subscription service, as long as it doesn’t cost a fortune, I’m sure it is worth the money. I feel like both of these will give me a pretty in depth look at that program.

However, I think the best thing I can do right now is go to apples website and look at their overview of the program. I know it probably will not tell me HOW to use it, but I know it will at least give me an idea of WHAT it can do. Plus let’s not forget, there’s always plenty of free help on youtube.

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