Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reflections on Classmates' Projects

The first batch of projects were great; here are my comments on each (not including my own)..

Sylvia's project about the college love story was great because I didn't know what to expect after her first draft. She had some cute pictures and OK audio, but the story didn't really go anywhere in the rough draft. When she showed the final draft though, I thought her transitions were cleaner, I thought the pictures she had were much better and more interesting, I thought the audio was better to listen to and she even had a couple video clips. I thought some of her text slides had too many words to comfortably read in the time they were on screen, but other than that I thought the story came together very well and she did a great job.

With Mike's project, I had no idea what to expect because we didn't see any of his rough draft and I was never in groups with him so I didn't even know what his topic was. I was pleasantly surprised though, since his project was very cool and well put together. The best aspect of his project was definitely the video clips, in my opinion. They were great quality and looked like something you'd see on MTV, rather than something a college student had filmed. His photos were also very eye-catching in terms of color and substance. I wasn't sure what to make of the fact that we never really knew who was talking, but Mike's explanation worked for me: that the project was about the band itself and not about the members specifically. A great piece for any arts section looking for a little substantive video, I'd say.

AJ's presentation about the greeters at Pease Air Force Base was both tightly edited and an important piece of journalism. She had great segments of video, some excellent b-roll behind the soldiers walking in and plenty of good photos. The one photo that stuck out in my mind was the old lady sitting in her wheelchair with emptiness all around her; that's not an easy photo to get. I liked the way the story was introduced and moved all the way through the soldiers' arrival and finally closing with the building sign outside the base. The way AJ used lower thirds and a few well-placed text slides added a bit more substance to the project, since we didn't always know who was talking or how often these greeters would show up to see soldiers arriving. Overall, it was an impressive journalistic endeavor.

Finally came Danielle's slideshow of black and white images of the man with muscular dystrophy. She did a great job getting new pictures to throw in that included different, interesting angles of this poor guy who is basically trapped in his house. The couple photos that were almost entirely black with a bright computer screen or window to make a silhouette were amazing. Her audio was powerful, directed to a journalistic point and worked well with the photos. The really incredible aspect of her project is just how she found this guy and the courage it took to see him and spend so much time with him. I'm sure it was awkward and uncomfortable most of the time, but Danielle's project shows how much an effort like that can pay off.

I'm excited for Wednesday's presenters, although I don't have any idea how we'll have time to finish all 11 that are supposed to go. We'll need to cruise right through 'em.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It's done. After probably about 15-20 hours of editing in iMovie and driving myself crazy to the point where I almost don't want to see the video anymore (that's not true at all because I love it), the movie is finished with a 4:48 runtime.

I'm satisfied with my final product for the Multimedia presentation tomorrow, but I want to continue my work on this project when the class is over. The story could be 25 or 30 or 60 minutes, not just below five. I have so much good audio, video and still pictures that I didn't use, and I want to put all of that material into a larger version of the project to come much later.

It was very frustrating to cut everything down and get rid of some of those great audio and video clips to fit the time frame. I have an amazing clip mid-race of all the water and Gatorade cups dropping to the ground that goes perfectly with my dad talking about the sticky, nastiness of going past all those stations, but it didn't add anything to the story's arc. I wanted the story to start with a bleak outlook on the whole thing, jump into the race and slowly work through the marathon while touching on the building relationship between my dad and I. There's more that I have about injuries, training alone, post-race feelings, and even more sights and sounds from race day that I could have included, but it was too much for a five-minute video. So I slashed and cringed when parts and pieces I loved hit the cutting room floor, but I think it was for the better. I think the story, as it stands now, is a relatively short video of what it was like for my dad and I to train and run the New York City Marathon. And that's what it should be, that was the goal from the get go.

I'm pretty happy with the result, but there's still plenty more writing and multimedia editing to come because there's so much left to do; not for ENGL 721 Multimedia, but for lasting family memories. This project was perfect for this class because I was able to immerse myself in it. I don't want to make it look great for my professor or my classmates; I want it to look great for me, for my dad, for all of my family members. Of course I want Sandy and my classmates to like it too, but the point is that the grade is not the motivator. It's about the memory and what I want the project to look like. I don't think I could have picked another topic and felt the same closeness to the final product. My choice to do a non-fiction video essay instead of the feature journalism video we've watched in this class might have been a skeptical idea at first, but I'm glad it was allowed because I think it's one of the best assignments I've completed in my four years at UNH.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Continuing to see progress...

I don't have too much concrete information to share, but it should be noted I'm making big strides in my project and I'm seeing it develop into something better every minute I spend with it. The interviews with my dad are gold, and I can't wait to finish this thing and see what the final product looks like.

Right now, I'm toying with the idea of starting the whole thing slow with a journal entry. As Sandy said, it would give the whole project context in 20 seconds, and then from there I can jump into the marathon and the rest of the story. The only thing I'm struggling with is how long I can keep the journal entry going before people lose interest immediately. I'm thinking 10-15 seconds at the most because after that people might not watch the rest of it. You gotta reel 'em in early.

I'm planning to have the project in really good standing (about 90 percent done) by Thanksgiving so I can show it to family and get their feedback. Then, I'll finish it in the remaining days after vacation and present on Dec. 2.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview Success!

Last night I conducted three separate video interviews that should greatly improve my project. Two interviews were alone, one each with my dad and I telling our own stories and memories of the marathon, and then one together where you can see the chemistry between us and we talk a little bit more about running and its affect on our lives through the marathon goal set in January. I think they went very well and I can't wait to see them on screen to see how they look...fingers crossed that the tape transfers perfectly over at Parker Media Lab!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Taking the Plunge

Well I've got a little less than a day to finish up my rough draft and compile all the photos, videos and audio clips into a coherent draft of something. There's hours of work left, but I'm confident that it will all be worth it once the project is finished.

I'm blogging today not to track my progress because I'm going to delve into that full-time tonight, but I've decided that I want to try and find some old pictures of me running in middle school and (hopefully) of my dad running when he was much younger. I think it would add a different memory element to the project and I hope my parents have some photos that I can use for that purpose.

More than 500 pictures to sift through...let's do it!