Tag Archives: thoughts/ideas

Video Essay: Talkin’ Bout Django

Here is my video essay on a scene from Django Unchained. I really enjoyed watching the movie, and I struggled a little with picking a scene, but I didn’t want to go in too many directions for the sake of time, so I chose something that covered several of our topics while being interrelated. I used the readings and videos to talk about perspective and camera position and ventured to discuss what each part meant.

In order to capture the scene, I used OBS to record it from Netflix. I then had to convert the video in RealPlayer from the original recording file into something I could edit. Finally, I recorded my analysis using Audacity and put the video and the audio together in Windows Movie Maker. A lot of programs went into this one 3 minute video. I’m not a big fan of all the time it takes to edit, but hopefully the more I do it the quicker it goes by.

Overall I’m pretty proud of the analysis, and I think the video shows what I want to express well enough. The editing could have certainly been smoother, and I would have recorded the audio while watching the actual scene to time it better, but here’s to my first full edited video! May it be the first of many.

Here’s the Plan: Video Show

This week, some of my radio group and I got together and decided to organize a video show! We had a bit of trouble connecting with everyone over the weekend due to people having not-school things to do, so for a minute we thought we wouldn’t be able to make a show at all, but just as we were considering our alternative options, our groupmates swooped in to claim their spot, and we began brainstorming right away as a group of four!

We decided to break away from our radio show, unfortunately, due to the fact that working around a campus location would be difficult when the original plot was in a small town in Arizona. So, our characters are reset and put into a college student scenario. This kind of removes them from the Western theme, but we decided it would be the most logical course of action to put together a good show.

In order to create this narrative, we chose to work in a vlog/documentary style of recording. Each of us will do a segment of “A Day in the Life of…” for our characters and put it together as a collective story of their college experiences, what they do, and how they like UMW. Hopefully we can get together for a bit of collective recording, too, but we’re working out our schedules still.

I’m really excited to do this project, although I do similarly feel apprehensive. I’m not one who is well-versed in the world of recording and video editing, so hopefully I can pull off some good quality video. On top of that, my character is a man and I’m not exactly one who could easily pass as such without a great deal of effort. So, unless I can recruit a friend who is of a more masculine physique, we are going to have to pretend very hard or just do a little gender swap.

Still, overall this video show is looking promising! Stay tuned for next week, when we release it into the world.

Turning Tumbleweeds: What Really Happened

Now that the radio show is broadcast, here’s the script of what really happened! I only wrote the bare minimum of what happened so everyone could put their own perspectives into what their characters interpret to have occurred. So this is the real thing, no twists or interpretations!

_________________________________________________

The day started as usual. The saloon opened and Johnny was as chipper as ever. Agnus, one of the barkeeps, came to work on time, as usual. Danny, the pianist, came in a few minutes late. After around 6 PM, the place was crowded. Talie, a saloon regular; Bonnie Sue, a friend of Talie’s; and Sally and Riza, friends and competitors of Johnny’s, came in for the latter half of the evening. Johnny didn’t have a moment to himself most of the time, though he made sure to visit and chat with all of his patrons, friends, and regulars. He played a few games and shared a few drinks, but no one thought he seemed troubled at all during the night.

Except for one incident. The town drunk, Two-Shot Harry, had come in and gotten a bit too wild. Johnny had tried to make sure he didn’t drink too much, but some thought they saw Harry with a bottle or two of something already in his jacket. After about an hour of his drinking, he began to shout and eventually broke a barstool on which someone was sitting. Johnny and a few of his friends helped get Harry out of the saloon. One of the sheriffs’ wives went out and brought her husband to arrest Harry. He was in jail all night. Outside of that problem, the evening went smoothly.

Once the saloon was closing, Jenna and Danny helped clean up, chatted a bit, and left Johnny alone. The next morning, Johnny was found dead, shot twice in the chest.

The sheriffs’ wives eventually discover that a woman named Bell had been with Harry for the evening while he was in the saloon. Once Harry had gotten kicked out, she heard Johnny say a few things about the drunk that she didn’t like to his friends and employees. Johnny said that he was going to ban Harry from the saloon and have him put away the next time he tried to come in. That night, when everyone was gone, she returned under the guise of leaving something in the saloon so Johnny would let her in. She then shot him without a word of warning and left.

Keeping up with the News

Tonight I listened into “World Wide Western News” and “You Might Be a Cowboy If…”. I’m going to reflect on the first one for this post, but I want to congratulate both groups for making such cool shows!

“WWW News” had my attention right away when it started, coming in with cool introductory music that sounded just like a radio show! The introduction also mentioned Tombstone Arizona, which is where “Turning Tumbleweeds”, our murder mystery, takes place! So maybe Thursday we’ll need more news to report on whatever happened. All throughout the show the audio was spot-on. It really put you in the moment of what was happening in the news and where the newscasters were!

The commercials were also excellent and engaging. They sounded real! Some of them had a bit of a rough start, but the quality and content of them made up for that right away. I’m ready to buy some cards and barb wire, honestly. The news stories also had good references in them and the reporters sounded really professional.

 

I think my favorite part of the show was tweeting with everyone who was listening in, though. Talking with the people who had made it was even more engaging. I learned that quite a few cookies were involved and people even outside of the group participated, which was really cool! The real question remains, though: how many segments were recorded with more than one person present and how many were spliced together? Because it’s hard to tell, really.

Congrats to the group who worked on “WWW News”! It was really fun to listen in and hear everyone’s hard work on the radio.

Calling All DS106 Friends! Collaborative Ideas

Hey, everyone! I have some assignments queued up for collaborative work between characters, and I decided the best way to find people to work with might just be to post my ideas and see if anyone is interested in one in particular. Or maybe it’ll just be a good way to give everyone a start on what to do collaboratively for their own purposes. Either way, it helps someone, so here’s what I have (leave a comment on what you’re interested in so we can get in touch!):

The assignment “I’m Having an Old Friend for Dinner” (2 stars) except between our two characters, old friends, who are catching up over a meal.

A collaborative story from “Sharing Credit” (4 stars) — pretty straightforward. It would be like the story from above, except more open-ended.

Celebrity Speed Dating” (3 stars) minus the celebrity, unless your character is a celebrity of sorts! The idea here might be to have the two characters each do a 30 second segment in which they pitch themselves to one another, or maybe we could get together and try to “speed date” in one minute with a series of rapid-fire question and answer.

The assignment “Roller Coaster Freaks” (2 1/2 stars) in which someone is sitting between our two characters who are on the roller coaster. Again, it could be spliced-together dialogue or just a meet-up recording session.

A trickier “Create a Crime Scene” (4 stars) in which we make up a crime scene (perhaps meet together to do some photography work). Maybe one of our characters has died and the other is trying to figure it out?

And finally, “Storytelling through Pictures” (3 1/2 stars) might be like the written assignments I mentioned earlier, except with visual media instead of words. It could tell a story of how our characters met, or how they would spend a day together.

If you really like these ideas, let me know you’d like to work with me or feel free to use them for your own purposes! I just compiled these to get the mind flowing and maybe help out anyone who might be a bit stuck.

Here’s the introduction to my character Danny, by the way, and a bit more background on his life. You can find all the stuff involving him in his tag on my site. The general idea of this character is fairly fluid, so he can be in your town, if you have a specific setting, or in a different place entirely. The only really solid part of him is that he is a pianist, so he will be wherever he can work by playing music (usually saloons, but those are in all kinds of towns so he’s not going to interact solely with saloon owners/workers).

I hope this helps! I can’t wait to collaborate with all of the characters and ideas we’ve created so far.

Design Blitz

This week we were asked to do a design blitz based off of the logos or signs around us. While I was thinking about this assignment, I realized that most of the items around us have a design or logo somewhere on them. So, here is a survey of the items in my room, more or less.

DCstar

This first logo comes from a shoe brand by the name of DC. Here we can see a good example of minimalist design. The “D” and the “C” cross over one another to make a square shape despite the size and original shape of the letters. Both are open, loosely imitating one another, and the “C” holds a small star. The combination of the two letters look like a chain link as well, making a small, simple, and visually pleasing logo for a brand.

LLBean

The second logo I chose was this L. L. Bean one off of my backpack. The design of this logo is simple and clear in its typography, giving the name of the company in a nice, easy to read font. The letters themselves are embroidered, giving the logo texture and a sense of three dimensional space, which is an appealing effect for a brand.

Sunsweet

This third symbol is from Sunsweet, which sells dried fruits. The colors in this logo are the most striking, drawing the eyes to its bright yellow and orange, which is offset by the blue logo. Yellow is a naturally attractive color, and the bold print of the brand name on top of it makes consumers feel drawn to its contrast and appealing, easily viewed name.

Coffee

Finally, depicted here is a Starbucks (and Keurig) logo. The Starbucks logo is heavy with symbolism and incredibly distinctive. Starbucks can draw its customers in by simply putting this logo out in the street. The two-tailed mermaid is reminiscent of the sirens of old seafaring stories, which is appropriate given that the name of the company comes from Captain Ahab’s first mate, Starbuck, in Moby Dick. The symbol of the siren with the star over her head is hard to miss in modern culture.

These symbols all hold important characteristics of effective design, no matter how simple or symbolic it is.

Thoughts on Moon Graffiti

The audio in the podcast episode “Moon Graffiti” was extremely eerie and well-placed throughout the story. I liked how the speaking sounded like it was coming from different positions and areas. Listening to it with headphones on was effectively immersive. The characters within the story spoke eloquently and solemnly to one another throughout the story. Behind their dialogue was a beautiful ambiance that helped create the mood. It was honestly very emotional, despite just being a hypothetical alternative to history based off of a speech.

While this podcast is a much more modern performance, it held a lot of similar themes to the radio shows I heard during my live tweet-along. The relatively brief length, the ambiance behind the characters’ dialogue, and the subtle descriptions of their actions to help the listener were all parts of the stories I’ve heard this week. This one had better quality and more immersive audio, due to the technological advances since the radio shows were produced, and I’m a huge space fan so I enjoyed the story a great deal. Despite this, however, I think all of the stories had their merits as solely audio-based stories.

Frontier Gentleman used narration heavily in its telling, as each episode was depicted through the eyes of a British reporter, a sort of detached main character peering into others’ lives. Gunsmoke used narration much more sparingly, only to introduce the general idea of the story and get through scene changes or events. “Moon Graffiti”, on the other hand, only used narration at the beginning to set the stage and allowed for the characters to play out the rest of the story. I liked the limited narration a great deal, and I hope to focus my own podcast around a similar set-up.

Thoughts on Developing a Radio Show

I would love to put together a sort of narrative story for the radio show, which would require voice acting and quite a bit of audio manipulation, but I think it would be a lot of fun!

Here’s some story ideas:

  • A solo individual trying to survive out in the wilderness, a Man vs. Nature kind of thing (it could be a sort of internal dialogue story with different voices for each idea/emotion, or maybe a journal-type thing with a new voice for each entry)
  • An Old Western Mystery! (ideas more fleshed out on Tierra’s blog)
  • A story pulled together based around our characters from class (the story line would be up in the air, depending on each character’s story/situation)

Let me know what y’all think!

Understanding Audio: Before Now

Sound in films and media is vital in our understanding of what is happening. A movie soundtrack makes or breaks a film. Sound effects and audio quality have similar importance; if the sound effects are too excessive or abrasive, or if the voice levels and quality differs from one person or scene to the next, people take note. Ensuring that the quality is consistently good is something that should take precedent in media. Music evokes emotion, and it only seems natural that a slow string orchestra should go with a suspenseful scene, or a swelling ensemble should accompany a moment of elation. Similarly, the sound of an actor’s voice has to fit the emotion of the scene or the character falls flat in vital moments. Someone shouldn’t sound bored when they reveal the secrets of the universe.

As far as podcasts and radio shows are concerned, people have nothing more than voices and sounds to understand what is happening. Good, cohesive audio and storytelling is absolutely vital in this case, and it takes a lot of practice to get sound to work well enough for an audience. One consistent error is enough to ruin a whole show for listeners. At the same time, just as Ira Glass explains, the storytelling has to be done well; perfect audio means nothing if the audience can’t make sense of what is happening.

I am a big fan of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a fictional, radio show-style podcast featuring a news reporter in a rather peculiar and supernatural town. (I’m woefully behind on the series, unfortunately, but I’ve heard that it’s only gotten better.) This podcast has become a massive success since its pilot episode three or four years ago, and the producers have already announced their creation of another show due to the positive reception from their first one. Thanks to my close following of this show for its first couple years, I am a little more aware of how a podcast goes than I might have been without it. The musical cues are spot-on, the fake commercials are deceitfully persuasive, and the voice acting – especially from the main character – is very impressive. Especially considering the whole show (aside from live performances) is free to the public and runs almost solely on donations and touring. While the audio performances are undoubtedly noteworthy, the story itself is also incredibly well-done. The listener is limited only to what the main character “broadcasts” from his news station, so when he isn’t there, or if something happens that pulls him away, the listener can only guess what is occurring through other sounds and subtle cues in words and voice inflections.

The podcast isn’t directly western-related (although it is based in a town somewhere in the Southwestern part of the United States), but I admire the way it uses audio to tell a story. In my midterm podcast, I would love to get a group together to do a storytelling round of our own. But I’ll continue that thought in another post.

Stagecoach: The Story of a Hat

The cinematography in Stagecoach was very interesting. As I was watching it, I mulled over how each scene induced emotion, how each moment of contrast and space indicated a differing move. Moreover, I couldn’t help but notice how Ringo’s hat changed according to the emotions he portrayed and the ones I felt.

Ladies

I thought the best way to go about the film was through a chronological format. Here we see three ladies talking. Each one has a banister neatly framing their heads, and they stand from shortest to tallest, wearing the darkest colors to the lightest. The women portray a deep sense of concern in the way they look from one to the other. This shot caught my eye because of how neat and orderly it is, just as the women themselves appear to be. I couldn’t help but feel the order and the concern in their expressions rather ironic against one another. They are in perfect composure outwardly, yet they appear to be otherwise internally.

RINGOOOO

Meet Ringo. He’s dirty, tired, and his hat is askew. Ringo’s hat is going to tell us the rest of our emotional cues for the remainder of the film. For now, the hat is tilted in a disheveled manner, as if Ringo hasn’t had time to fix it. Ringo himself looks very tired, and due to the minimalist background, you can’t help but look at all the dirt and the way his suspenders are pushed to one side.

Scenery

The scenery in this film is usually pointing to the Wild West, with its strange natural columns and vast deserts, when the scenes transition. This indicates the passage of time and movement without specifically marking the days. Once a scene like this appears, the viewer knows they’ll be getting to a different town soon.

Dat Hat

Here’s Ringo’s hat again. It’s here to tell us he’s in a good mood. It’s straighter, except now one side of it is flipped up. This particular scene leads into him slowly looking up and making eye contact with the woman of his fancy for the duration of this film. His hat is here to tell us that things are looking up for Ringo. Additionally, the hat takes up most of the frame in this shot until Ringo slowly reveals his face. This move builds a kind of suspense as Dallas (the woman Ringo fancies) watches him. Then they make eye contact, and Ringo looks just as cocky as his hat does. Dallas eventually looks away.

Lighting Contrast

The lighting in this scene lacks a great deal of contrast. Other than some faded lights over Ringo’s head, the only really visible parts are the two characters’ faces, the hat (which is mostly straight for this scene — very serious), and Dallas’ dress. The two characters contrast each other while they talk privately, putting forth the “opposites attract” move, in which the woman appears in lighter colors than the man.

So Sad

This scene is a very serious one. After a chase and some shooting, Ringo watches as one of their friends dies. His hat is mournfully tilted forward as he is framed by the coach’s doorway. He looks into the scene mournfully, the background moving behind him despite what’s happening within.

Overall, Stagecoach had a great deal of interesting movements and photographic choices. Ringo’s hat, especially, indicated emotion, while wide-open scenery over the caravan depicted the passage of time. Each move told a story in its own, giving the viewer a feeling of joy, suspense, wonder, and sorrow. The film itself worked as a great example of what our reading discussed earlier this week, and while I only used a few examples, I admit I had several more that I considered putting in. I had to stop myself from pausing the movie every few minutes to screenshot an image that really caught my eye.