Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Before and After Portraits

Today, we had a great photojournalist come into the class and talk about how to take great pictures. We tried taking a portrait at the beginning of class and then use what we learned to take another at the end of class. Here's how mine and Steve's came out:

Steve, before the lecture:

Steve, after the lecture:

Cam, before the lecture:

Cam, after the lecture:

Pretty neat, huh? I think the after pictures are clearly better...especially since we didn't hide our faces behind all sorts of trees.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Second Audio Project

Andy, an anonymous University of New Hampshire student, had just picked up a 30-rack from a 21-year-old friend on campus Saturday night when an undercover UNH police officer emerged from the Strafford woods.

“We got beer and I was like, we’ll go back to my apartment, it’s probably safer to do it there,” he said. “So we go back to my apartment and this undercover cop comes out of the woods as I’m walking up to my apartment. This kid’s carrying the beer; I’m just getting out of my car, getting my stuff out of my car, and the undercover cop comes out of the woods and is like, ‘Hey, drop the beer, let me see your IDs.’”

Andy, 19, knew he was in trouble, but it wasn’t the first time, or even the second.

“The first time I didn’t really realize what was going on,” he said. “Second time, when they called me and were like, ‘Hey, come down to the station,’ my heart just sank; I was sick to my stomach. The third time I was just kind of like whatever, this is getting old.”

Andy was arrested twice his freshman year, with charges ranging from resisting arrest to littering to trespassing – but this past arrest was something he never thought would happen.

“I guess I had kind of heard of cops, but I figured I’d see it on like Madbury or something, like cops would come out of the bushes or uniform cops but I never expected to see an undercover cop, ever,” he said.

The Durham, Lee and UNH police departments were given a grant of $6,000 this year in a hope to decrease underage alcohol consumption, both in the area and specifically on campus. The United Way of Seacoast Resolution, which was passed on March 16, allowed for further coordination among the departments.

The Seacoast Alcohol Task Force Grant, which was given to the Durham and UNH police departments several years ago, coupled with the new grant provides funding for extra coverage on campus and in town to deal with alcohol related issues, said UNH police officer Joseph Morganella.

“The state and federal government actually pay for us to enforce alcohol laws,” Morganella said. “We get grant money to work together and take care of all the alcohol offenses.”

Although the local police departments were hopeful of making more arrests, the beginning of the 2009 academic school year was slower than in past years.

“Last year, the first weekend, we had 12 arrests, and seven of them were drug related,” Morganella said. “This weekend we had maybe three arrests in the first weekend. So the start of the year was a little milder than last year. But as we progress through the year it seems to be getting pretty busy so I would say we are on a par with last year or possibly a little busier than last year already.”

With the new grant and the notorious first few weekends back at school, where alcohol consumption is at its peak, the police presence in Durham has been more noticeable than in past years.

“It’s hard to say, the first couple weeks back are always pretty nuts, but yeah, this past Saturday night I noticed there were cops everywhere,” Andy said. “You go home for the summer and like you don’t party that much, like you do, but you don’t really, not on the same scale, but I guess the first couple weeks when you come back from school you kind of go wild.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Project: Audio Recording

Keeley, Brittney and I had a lot of fun working on this project. While we experienced some technical difficulties (my digital voice recorder only worked on a PC and we could only download the audio recordings with the installation disc, which I had priority mailed to me from home by my parents), we really liked how the project came out and John Steere, the student bus driver we interviewed, was a great subject.

It was difficult to fit all that we wanted to fit into a 3-minute segment since we had about 20 minutes of audio, but the transitions between B-roll and Steere talking came out well. He had some great stuff to show why bus drivers "make this campus work" as the assignment dictated, but he also had some hilarious stories to tell us about the job. We could only fit one of those stories in, but we feel it was the best part of our audio project.

Our teamwork was good; Brittney volunteered to ride around on the bus and take audio for our B-roll, and then all three of us sat down to interview Steere and ask whatever questions came to mind. Everyone had different perspectives and ideas to ask him about the job so we came out with a ton of choices for the final project. I was the only one in our group who had ever used Audacity as an audio editor, but Brittney and Keeley both watched over my shoulder as I worked and taught them the basics of cutting and using effects to come out with a good finished product.

I definitely enjoyed this project because radio is a thing of the past and there are so many stories, like those that we listened to on NPR and This American Life, that can be eye-opening even without a visual. I'm very happy with the finished version of our audio file and I think it tells the story of a student bus driver pretty well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Expectations for English 721

I forfeited a chance to take the perfect last class to complete my Spanish minor with my favorite Spanish teacher to jump on Sandy's ship and sign up for Multimedia. Why? Partly because it's not being offered next semester and partly because I think video and online media outlets are going to be the most important answers to solving the problems journalism faces now.

There's a reason why YouTube grew so rapidly in popularity: videos are quick, fun and often carry a much heavier meaning than anything people can write nowadays. There are some exceptions, of course, but video certainly plays an equalizing role in that regard. I'd rather watch a three-minute video with a powerful message than read a beautifully written, three-page article, and I'd guess that most people would agree.

So, how does this all tie in to my expectations for English 721, Multimedia? Well, I want to learn more and practice, practice, practice. I know my way around all sorts of design and editing software, but I want to spend class time expanding my knowledge and coming out with a finished product that I can show with my portfolio and resume upon graduating.

The day of the old, grouchy journalist who's been reporting for 40 years is done; newspapers are looking more and more for young college students who know their way around Final Cut and have the ability to tell amazing stories through audio, video and pictures. While I don't think print newspapers are going away anytime soon or maybe ever, the balance of power has shifted in favor of the Internet and iPhones, so we too as students need to get with the program and learn as much as we can about multimedia before walking out into the real world. That's my plan and that's exactly why I took this class.

TNH talks with RJ Toman

Here's another video I edited and worked on with the UNH football team's quarterback, R.J. Toman, for The New Hampshire's first-ever student profile.

Feature Writing Project Spring 2009

This is project I finished about my old high school and the transition to their new building. I focused my audio slideshow on how the nine towns that feed into the school became more of a community and why the new building has been such an important part of North Conway in the past two years.

Semester Recap, Fall '08

Here's another slideshow I made just because I felt like it with the highly inferior Windows Movie Maker. PCs are just so awful compared to Macs it's not even funny. I'll never go back.

Productive heartbreak

Here's a slideshow I made in some odd bout of masochism, as my beloved Wolverines finished 3-9 and had their worst record ever in the history of the program.