Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Final Project Perceptions

Our final multimedia project is supposed to incorporate audio, video and still photography components. I have no doubt that I can do that. The task I'm having difficulty with is not coming up with different kinds of media or not finding enough of it, but exactly how to put it all together. My storyboard should help with that, but I have yet to finish it and there are still a million ideas running through my head about how to truly capture my and my dad's experience in training for and completing the New York City marathon.

The discussion in class was incredibly helpful. I was able to expand on some of my own ideas and I received plenty of feedback and new thoughts that could end up being crucial parts of my project. I think it was Amanda who told me to try and add in a taped phone conversation between my dad and I before the race (sometime this week), and I didn't realize how cool that might be if used correctly. The number of ideas and different pieces of analysis I picked up from my peers will definitely improve my final project when it's finished.

There are still some problems I foresee, like how to get a feeling of all the training I've done over the past 10 months without actually having any pictures of it. I think it will also be hard to do the project on myself, unlike most of the projects that people are doing. Attacking this assignment from a personal standpoint rather than an unbiased one could be incredible or it could be a disaster. I am very excited to have it started though. With some pictures of me running on campus and a few other random pictures, videos and audio clips that I've taken, I think I'm off to a good start. I still need a lot more pictures of my dad because the story is about the both of us, not just me, so that's something I'll need to work on in the coming weeks.

The marathon is this weekend: Sunday. I'm planning to take lots of pictures of the expo on Saturday, of our quick training run that day in Central Park, of the city as we drive in, and hopefully do some pre-race interviews the night before. Maybe even a few pictures at dinner or something, to throw in a bit of a change-up. We'll see how it goes but I really want it to be as good as I picture it in my head, and I think that determination will pay off.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Try at Shooting Video

Here's the video I shot and edited for our assignment. It's not great and it's not very long, but I wasn't entirely sure whether our objective was to include interviews or to make it newsworthy or if it was just to try out shooting some video. So, here's the final product.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shooting Video

If pictures are hard, video is impossible.

With all we learned from Fred Field about taking good pictures and portraits -- including the importance of good lighting -- we didn't have nearly as much direction with video. So, it was difficult to come up with something that wasn't, well, complete crap.

I only say that because if you don't find a good subject to focus on, you're going to have trouble making the video interesting or even good quality. Zooming in and out can look amateurish, and when people walk through your shot, it looks even worse. Interviews are usually pretty good on video because the person talking can either stop and start over, or they can just nail it on the first try and you'll be good to go.

I shot a few different videos while I was in Boston for the weekend, including one of the Grand Prix Go-Kart race that they had in the middle of the city while the streets were blocked off and another of the Head of the Charles crew races between many of the nation's university teams. I don't either video came out very well and I'm hesitant to even watch it again, but that's how you practice. I didn't take enough time with my videos or nearly enough footage, and my final product will show that. It's frustrating how little you can really edit your videos (especially given how much you can edit your photos), but it's a process and I hope to get better at it as the class moves along.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Audio Slideshow on Young's Restaurant

Here's our slideshow about Young's Restaurant in Durham. I think it was a solid effort overall, although we could have used a few more pictures of students, faculty and other people eating around the restaurant though. It could definitely be improved, but for a first try I'd say it came together pretty well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Final Multimedia Project

It was tough picking out a topic for my final multimedia project, but I think I've come up with a winner. I've been training with my dad for the New York City Marathon since January, and we're going to run the 26.2 miles together through the five boroughs on Nov. 1. So, I think it would be really cool to focus my project on the 10-plus months of training, the event itself and maybe a little bit of conclusive material afterward. I'll have pictures, video and audio of me running, as well as some interviews and content of my dad, other family members and friends.

The marathon multimedia project was my first idea, but I battled with actually doing it because it will definitely become more of a multimedia creative, non-fiction essay than an actual piece of journalism. I think that can still work, but I'm not sure I can live up to what I have pictured in my mind.

I picked up the idea from a video on Mediastorm.org called "Love in the First Person," which is a very cool 11-minute video that you should watch. It has fantastic pictures that I'll never measure up to, but I hope I can take some of the basic principles used in that project to make a unique multimedia piece of my own.

I've got lots of ideas, but I'll also need help. I need some skilled photographers to take some pictures (and possibly some video) of me running around campus to make up for what will probably be pretty shoddy pics and video that I'll take while running the marathon. But, if all goes to plan, it should be a pretty cool experiment with some interesting results. All there's left to do is see how it pans out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Academic Analysis Assignment

I watched a few different videos from the One in 8 Million series by the Times and from Mediastorm, and I've picked two to look at for my assignment this week. First, a short audio slideshow in the 'One in 8 Million' series about a private detective, and second, a long piece with all still pictures about junkies living in New York City by Mediastorm. I thought it would be helpful to pick two because there's a big difference between telling a story in three minutes (the detective piece) and telling one in 13 (the junkies story).

The two stories give you a quick sense of where you are. The private investigator is in his car in New York, which you can see through pictures and through his audio interview, and the junkies story has text slides that guide you through without any confusion. With no time crunch, Mediastorm can be more explicit about the location and the five Ws of journalism through text if need be, while the 'One in 8 Million' series has a tougher challenge of doing it through imagery while still telling the story.

The difference between black and white photographs and color photographs in the two pieces (the Times story was all B&W and the Mediastorm was mostly color) is interesting because the private investigator story is almost secretive in itself, so the black and white works well. But with the junkies, you want to see what their skin looks like, what they're wearing and that their teeth are yellowing and gross. The color makes the images much more realistic and jarring, but the black and white photographs draw you in with a sense of mystery.

The photos in the detective story are also very close to the person. The majority of them are taken inside his car, so the entire time you feel as though you're riding with him and listening to him tell you all these things about his job. It's very interesting and intriguing and the story is over before you know it. I learned a lot about private investigators just through watching that three-minute segment, and it sounds to me like they aren't all that different from the guys who play them in movies. It's just an odd job.

Meanwhile, in the junkies story, the photographs are often graphic or hard to look at. Whether it's a collection of scars from needles or the emotion on the subject's face, the pictures in the junkies story are stomach churning. You can definitely see the three full years of hard work that this journalist put in to make this story. It really makes you wonder how she earned the trust of these junkies because they are portrayed as anything but saints in this project.

The two multimedia projects are linked in that they use still photographs to convey a strong message and tell the story of another human being. The photographic talent is clearly present because even in a setting where you are handed emotion, it's not always easy to capture it, and the audio is well edited so that nothing jumps out at you or rubs you the wrong way. It's all cut down to an easy flow, so that the viewers lose themselves in the story.