End of Year Gibberish

Everything I made in this class was a mistake.

Not to say that I don’t think I made anything worthwhile.  I just didn’t mean to take this class.  I had to take Writing for Media in order to take any other media production classes and it was full on my enrollment day, so being the dumb freshman that I am, I just randomly signed up for this class. I didn’t check with my advisor or anything.  I figured it would be kind of the same thing.  I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that it was a 300 class and I was supposed to be taking 100 or 200.  I skipped orientation because I figured I could just wing it.

And then I got there and everything was way different than I thought it would be.  I honestly thought we would just be practicing writing for an online blog—which we did, but that wasn’t the half of it.

We made videos about other people—people who’s stories needed to be told.  We had to learn about filming, story-boarding, and editing in a rapid pace.  And, even worse, we had to do it in a group.  From this project, I learned a ton of technical skill I’m sure will help me in the future.  It also taught me that I can indeed work in a group and survive, and that maybe I should give them more of a chance.

Then, we were tasked at making a recovery story.  I chose to document my grandmother’s house, and I’m still not sure if I regret that decision.  Not that it wasn’t fun, but that I’m afraid I’m going to be haunted.  That taught me photo editing and storytelling skills that I’m sure will be useful to me.  I also learned that I shouldn’t be hesitant to go down into dark basements.  Maybe a little hesitant, but not super.  If I hadn’t gone into the spooky house’s basement, I wouldn’t have gotten a cool picture of a printing press.

Eventually came the sound project, which may be my favorite.  I liked that one because it brought to light a medium that people usually write off as “lesser than” as far as entertainment goes—podcasts.  Podcasts are cool and interesting and underrated by the general public.  That taught me about sound, and how much of what I hear really determine what I feel.  It also taught me that I shouldn’t hate the sound of my own voice.  Especially now that I know how to use Audacity and can make it sound better.

Finally we have the remix project, which as a premise itself was difficult.  I knew it was coming, but I took up until the very last day, the day our proposals were due, to decide what I was doing.  To find some semblance of meaning in a bunch of unrelated works by different, inexperienced authors was a daunting task.  But, inspiration struck, and I wove the most poetic lines from our blog posts into a statement on documentation and contradictions.  If you like it and you’re in my class, pat yourself on the back—they’re your words.

Really, that’s what this class was about.  Even when we made these projects, we were contributing to the mass archive of the world, remixing old information, bringing new information to light.  It’s a huge amount of power that the individual holds these days—to be able to manipulate fact through all of these channels and project something new into the world.  And yet, nothing is absolute.  We can document what we want in whatever ways we desire, but we never have the final say.  The same things can be remixed and rewritten, photographed, recorded in audio and video a thousand times over—but we will never get the full picture.

But I suppose that’s for the best.  If we had the full picture from the very beginning, there would be no reason to remix and rewrite.  There would be no reason to create content at all.  The series of questions that inspire us as humans to create and convey a message would be answered with immediate gratification, and we would remain immobile, all-knowing, with the same grayscale perception.  To document is to try to make something absolute, to establish as fact—but it also allows information to be revisited.  Like typing a paper then reading it back and finding an error—even the document is subject to change.  To record is to allow for questioning.  The series of questions that inspire us as humans to create and convey a message, to which we’ll never get a complete answer.

So no, we’ll never get the full picture.

But maybe we don’t need it.

DIY: Weird Opening (That’s the best description I can give)

Today I’m going to teach you how to do a weird opening for your sound piece, if that’s what you’re going for.  It sounds pretty spooky, so get ready.

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First you want to import the regular, unedited version of your piece’s intro.

Then, you can cut the segment that you want to be warped and put it into a new track.  For me, I wanted the part where the narrator says the title of the piece to be warped.

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I then chose pretty much random parts of my intro and changed the pitch by going to the “Effects” tab and choosing “Change Pitch”.  It will change the pitch of the audio that you have highlighted.  Moving the indicator up on the scale in the pop up window will raise the pitch, the opposite motion will lower the pitch.

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I did this to various points of my audio, then used the echo effect under the “Effects” tab to make it all kind of blend together.  Right now I’m working on getting it to flow correctly between the left and right ear, but I think it sounds pretty creepy.

“Lament for Joe Hall” Analysis

This audio piece, “Lament for Joe Hall” is put together chronologically, though “Joe” is telling the story after the main events have already passed. The author used several different techniques to maximize the effect of the audio. The use of the child’s voice, and making the dialogue from Joe’s point of view was particularly influential. To hear a child talk about white supremacy, and the abuse their family had suffered, and the thoughts going through their mind as they commit murder is a highly unusual experience a person can have, and it definitely engages the audience. The background sounds also accompanied the vocal track well. Music played often to show a shift in the narration. The use of the “white power” recording was also very jarring—to think that people like that exist, let alone that they’re entrusted with the wellbeing of children, is something that the audience would most likely find disturbing. Rather than having Joe describe the hate of his father, but actually playing a recording of what he may have sounded like, maximizes the effect. The use of the dogs howling in the background while Joe and his father were patrolling the Mexican border was also symbolistic of the narration—essentially, they were hunting people. At the climax of the piece, when Joe is killing his father, the narration slows down and the background sounds are quieted. This creates apprehension in the audience, and the tension rises as Joe approaches his father with the gun. They also circled it back around nicely to the irony of the fact that Joe’s father had taught him how to use a gun, and it was this knowledge that allowed him to kill his father in the end.

In my piece, I will use some of the effects that were used in “Joe Hall”. I liked the creepiness of the white noise that played in the background, and since my piece will have a similar mood, I might use this technique. I also enjoyed when the creator mixed up the steady narration by putting in other forms of audio, like the white power recording, and the 911 call. I also like the slowing of the narration to increase suspense, and the fact that the story was told as if it was happening, and from the point of view of the person it was happening too. I think it put more feeling into the piece and made it more interesting.

DIY: Perfect Fit Background Image

If you don’t want a plain color as the background of your website, you may want to think about using an actual image.  There are many ways to do this, but a majority of these ways require you to do extra work in order to make your image fit exactly to your page.  However, there is a simple bit of code that makes it possible to fit your image to your background in CSS.

So, to show you, I decided to make this picture of Lin-Manuel Miranda my website’s background:

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First, I opened up the html file and CSS file for my website’s homepage.

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I had originally set my background to a flat color, so I had to erase the part of my code where I put in the blue.  If you don’t already have a background, all you have to do is open your files.

The code that makes the background image fit perfectly is this:

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The only difference when we use is is that in the parentheses next to “url”, we’ll put the name of the file that we want to use as our background image.

I put this code into my CSS page, and put in my file name “lin.jpg”, to set the image as my background.

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Then, I saved both my CSS and my html pages, and Lin was fit perfectly to my background.

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Hope this helped!

To find out more, (or really just the same information I just gave), click here

 

Ice & Sky

This website, Ice & Sky, tells the story of Luc Jacquet, the scientist that enlisted in helping research the unexplored area of Antarctica in the 1950’s, and  whom eventually connected anthropogenic activity with climate change. The website is highly interactive, and provides a range of mixed experiences to keep the user engaged. The tone of the site is fairly somber, and reflects the hardships Jacquet faced while researching the Arctic, as well as the seriousness of the current problem of climate change.  The colors are primarily muted, and the scenes with Jacquet himself being interviewed in modern times are in black and white.

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The website is highly interactive, and provides a range of mixed experiences to keep the user engaged. There’s a use of animated shorts, life action footage, old photographs, voice recording, and text-based information.  I found this to be a smart tactic used by the creators– with a subject that some may consider not worth their time, it’s important to create an experience that convinces the user to remain involved with the message the creators are trying to illustrate.

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The site also provided links to related documents that would provide the user with further information, or substantial evidence for the statements the website was making.  This easy access to in-depth knowledge on the subject of climate change helps the makers of the website achieve their goal–to persuade the public to become aware of their impact on the environment.  This encourages the user to become interested in the environment using information from viable sources.

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This site taught me the importance in having variety in a website when trying to make a point to an audience.  People tend to remember valuable information more if it was presented to them in an unconventional way.  It also shows that music, color, layout, and content should all work together to form one cohesive tone and message of a website.  Juxtaposition of these within this particular site probably wouldn’t have conveyed the message as powerfully.

If you want to check out this site, and I recommend that you do, here’s the link:

http://education.iceandsky.com/

Be sure to start at Part 1!

 

 

 

Liquify

The Liquify filter on Photoshop creates a pretty cool effect on photos that you may want to have a sort of fantasy look.  You can also use it to create a dissolving effect by creating multiple layer masks, but for now I’ll just cover how to liquify your photo.

STEP 1:

Open the photo that contains what you want to liquify. For me, it’s this door.1.png

STEP 2:

Use the quick selection tool to select what part of the photo you want to add the effect to.  Just drag the tool until the subject is surrounded by the dotted line           2.png

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STEP 3:

Right click on your selection and choose “Layer via Copy”.  It will create a new layer that only has your selection in it.4.png

STEP 4:

Click the little eye icon next to your background layer to make it invisible.  Use the fill tool to fill in the background space with white, or whatever color you wish.

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STEP 5:

Go to the Filter tab at the top and choose the second “Liquify…” option.  This will open your selection in a new window.6.png

STEP 6:

Use the Forward Warp Tool to drag the edges of your selection to make them longer and warped.  You can change the size and strength of the tool on the side menu.  When you’re done, click okay, and you should have your finished liquified selection left in it’s layer.7.png

Here’s how to use Liquify in order to create a dissolving effect: