It’s over. Go home!

The past 4 days has been the longest 8 years of my life. It was a lot of work getting my final story done, and some of it (lookin’ at you, GIF) didn’t actually need to be done. I like to think it added to my story, though. I hope.

The Secret World of Arriet-flea | Five Final Tutorials

I think I can safely say that this is one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever taken. I can’t believe how stupid I was coming into this class thinking, “Oh, it’s just a 100-level class, it’ll be easy!” I’d been really kicking myself after the first week. It’s always hard to get adjusted to a new course, especially one that’s online. I’d consider myself an online-classinista; I’ve been taking online courses for something like 5 or 6 years now, but I’ve never had one like DS106. This was a HUGE challenge, but at the same time, it was refreshing.

SO!!! REFRESHING!!!

If I were to take this class a second time… I’d tell myself to have more fun. With a lot of my assignments, I set the bar way too high for myself, or I was too much of a perfectionist in trying to achieve what I saw in my mind’s eye. I’d want to remind myself that the class isn’t “Graphic Design 480” or whatever. It’s Digital Storytelling – STORYTELLING! Tell the damn story!

I’d also tell myself to pick a blog theme with a regular sized font. Once a week for the past 5 weeks I’ve gone deep into this crazy CSS and tried changing the font sizes for every little thing. I go to check if my changes have taken… and nothing. So I give up! Then the next day when I’m previewing a post I’m working on, my font is small and everything looks crazy. So what’s the truth, WordPress? How long does it take CSS changes to stick? My font is TOO BIG!

Of course there were a lot of technical things I learned in the past 5 weeks, like how to make a GIF using GIMP, and how much my computer hates gif attempts that go over 50 frames. For some reason though, I kept making 50+ frame gifs, especially in my goof gif post where I ended up including two Parks and Rec bloopers all gif-ified. I also like to think I got pretty good at navigating Audacity, after having to use it not only for week 3 but for weeks 4 and 5 too! I was hesitant to use my own voice in a recording, but one of the audio posts I like the most is my college radio ad one. I’m glad we had to make so many audio posts in week 3 to get us used to using whatever program we had. It’s like having to know how to walk before you can run – you need the whole foundation there!

However, I think that once all is said and done, I got better at using digital media to tell stories. This class is digital storytelling, after all. In week 2, reading the Vignelli Canon really opened my eyes to what I had been doing wrong. One of the things that stood out to me was the emphasis on intent. If the intent behind a design is clear, the design itself will make sense. This translates to storytelling using digital media. Before, I was posting whatever I made and saying, “Look at this.” After having read Vignelli, I understood that I needed to clarify why there was a reason to look, or at least why I made it.

I feel like I may have learned the most from week 3’s material on audio storytelling. I listen to podcasts and radio stories a lot, but the way they told their stories had never crossed my mind. (I’d say it’s like Vignelli says – a design done well is one that you don’t notice at all!) One of my favorite clips from the week was Dissecting Joanne Rosser, Papermaker. It was short and fun to listen to, and it helped me learn how to really listen to how sound helps carry the narrative along. I listened to that a couple times while I was working on my summary of the TED Talk about the robo-seals and the Moon Graffiti story.

Throughout the course, I definitely got reminders that not everything I make is gonna be good. Some of it is just gonna be crap. Some people won’t know what the hell it is, and sometimes it’ll be my fault for not telling its story! I made it all the way to week 5 before making the worst thing I’ve ever made, and I still put that in my final project.

But enough about stuff I made that sucks. One thing I made that I really love is my sticky note gif! This was another assignment that should have been quick but ended up taking WAY longer than it should, because of my issues with GIMP. But I really love that gif, regardless of the flaws that still show in the final product. I think my mom shared it on her facebook. I also really like all the things I did for my final project that aren’t the video. That video will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Anyway, that’s it for me. Blog over. Bye-bye. Thank you to everyone! 🙂

 

 

Five final tutorials.

The Secret World of Arriet-flea

For most of my media pieces, I’m hoping I’ll be able to provide thorough walkthroughs of how I went about making them. I’ve been putting everything together in galleries since sometime in week 2, since I tend to take a lot of screenshots as I go and I don’t want to take up too very much space on a blog that already has font problems. (I have a lot to say about my font in my final summary.)

  1. Visual – The Forrest Gump Project – 4 stars

visual - nonii at VJ day kiss

For this one I used this image of the famous V-J Day Kiss in Times Square. This was done using Paint.net.


2. GIF – Stereogifs – 1 star

This one wasn’t on the list of required media, but I wanted to add another visual element as “proof” that my cat was a time traveler. For a 1 star assignment, I had a lot of trouble with it, but that’s probably my own fault. Using the Stereogranimator was frustrating, but I was too stubborn to give up. Like the Visual, the base for this GIF was made using Paint.net.

The mistake I made was uploading only a single image of my cat to the website instead of the side-by-side image – what it created was a horrible monstrosity. I was so confused about what I had done wrong until I looked at other images that were on the site. I’m glad it gives you the option to make your own changes to stereograms that already exist, like this one. I didn’t know what the heck I was supposed to upload that would work until I saw what the parts were supposed to look like.


3. Video – Swede a Scene – 4.5 Stars

I want this video to immediately stop existing and be erased from anyone’s memory as soon as they’re done looking at it. I spent a long time on it, but oh my god does it look like I made it in 5 minutes. Honestly though, the worst and most time-consuming part of it was waiting for all the videos I took to sync to my google photos. The second most time-consuming was definitely cutting out all those freaking wormhole dealies. This… thing… was made with Windows Movie Maker.


4. Audio – Soundscapes – 4.5 Stars

This one I had a lot of fun with. It might not really sound like anything – the only knowledge I really have of soundscapes is through a joke on The Office. I think mine ended up more like a song, but I tried to have it tell a little story. The journey starts with a meow!, goes on as you pass by some big ol’ space things, and then something funky happens and time starts to warp. A for effort, right?

Anyway, this was done using Audacity and an enormous number of clips from Freesound.org. I’ll link them below the gallery.

Freesound Sources:
TimbreMagic Wand
LSsparkles
Elektrocellspacedrone3
orangefreesoundsLife in space synth loop
Dimares121287Cat
suonhoMemoryMoon space-blaster
kickandclapcolossus
mattpavonePlanetary Flyby (faster)

5. Design – Newspaper Design – 4 stars

Design - Newspaper

Very time consuming, for some reason. Despite the entire right-hand side of the paper, I like how this one turned out. For this assignment I ended up having to use both Paint.net as well as GIMP (for an early step). A lot of the line art is from The Noun Project.

The rest of the work was very much like the 7th and 8th images where I worked on filling out the body of the newspaper. I tried to come up with a good “in-story” reason for why the newspaper is crooked – so I included a snippet about my cat declaring that all ancient cats had always preferred crooked newspapers. At least they make good use of the extra space!

The Secret World of Arriet-flea

Let me start off by saying this: humans are dumb. They are so self-centered, they think that only they could be smart enough to be historians, or spies, or the great thinkers. I’m living, hopping proof that anyone can be brilliant. I’m a flea, and I’ve got a tiny conspiracy theory to share with you.

We fleas like to study our prey before we choose them – that’s another thing humans have gotten WRONG about us. I’ve been watching a certain cat, and there’s some weird stuff going on with her. To put it bluntly, I think this chubster is a time traveler. (And for your information, tinfoil hats do come in flea sizes!) A lot of you might know the classic photo of a man spontaneously kissing a woman in the middle of Times Square. The truth is that that photo has been edited. In my research, I found the original…

visual - nonii at VJ day kiss

So fat, so confused, and so OUT OF PLACE! Clearly she had just popped into that moment in time. In fact, through further research, I came across the following stereogram:

Why would a stereogram, a medium which was only popular centuries ago, exist of this modern cat? And why would it depict her disrupting da Vinci’s work? Because she’s a time traveler. That’s why. It might as well be a photograph!

In all honesty, I want to travel through time. I mean, come on. I’m a flea. We’re studious, but small. We don’t get a lot of chances in life. You know what? I’ve made up my mind. I’m gonna jump onto this cat! Think of all the things I’ll learn… all the flea kingdoms I’ll create and RULE with an iron fist! I have no idea what it might be like to travel through time – when I imagine it, it seems like…

Wow. That’s horrific.

Here she comes! I’ll jump on, but as soon as it gets time travelly, I think I’m gonna close my eyes. I can’t get that horrible thought out of my head. Doctor Mew… no thanks! I hear a rumble, is it a purr? Or are we off already?! My eyes are shut tight! Is this what time travel sounds like?

It’s stopped. Is it over? Something is different. I smell milk… and fish. What kind of horrible time are we in? What society would have milky fish? Fishy milk? Hang on. Here’s a newspaper.

Design - Newspaper

2417! DR. LEMEW?! She really was a time traveler… but she wasn’t even from my time. Am I stuck here now, where Thursday is “Purrsday”? You know, I was right. But this feels pyrrhic. I should have studied a squirrel. I don’t know if I want to live in a time where they actually like crooked newspapers, no matter what some weirdo time traveler says. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s a liar. No one has ever liked crooked newspapers. Kitty leMew is a FRAUD, and – hold on, let me find the futuristic tinfoil – I have to expose her!

Week 4: Not for procrastinators.

Okay, well I didn’t really procrastinate the entire week… just Monday and Tuesday, and then we got hit with a poopstorm of unpredictable events. An emergency doctor’s appointment (all good now), an internet outage, and I fell down the stairs. It sucked. One of the assignments I had originally planned on doing was Where do your shoes take you?, but damn it if I didn’t roll my ankle at the bottom of the stairs and have a black and blue foot now. I’m sure a 90-something second video of me limping my way through life is not the most entertaining thing, though I admit it would have made for a good story.

Young Frankenstein is on Netflix now!!!! FRONKENSTEEN

But yeah, I did put stuff off on Monday and Tuesday, and it came back to bite me in the butt this weekend. I think I did okay on my assignments, but I know that I could have and probably would have done better if I had started on Monday instead of taken the day off to binge watch 30 Rock for the nth time. Side note: if Jack Donaghy ran NBC, would he let that Alex Jones interview air? Would Kenneth? Ugh. I also wonder what Jack’s reaction would have been to this past general election. He’d probably lose it. Same here Jackie D.

ANYWAY! This week’s material was REALLY fun – I really like picking apart movies, even if I might come to a totally wrong and dumb conclusion. If Roger Ebert had seen some of the things I’ve said about some big name movies, he’d probably be like, “oh my god, the poor girl’s simple.” But practice makes perfect, right? I’d like to try his technique of watching movies with lots of people and dissecting whatever scene someone chooses. What I said in my post about the Kids in the Hall sketch might be totally different from what someone else would think, and that’s pretty cool. Sure, there might be some really wrong interpretations, but there are also interpretations that are just different, and those are the ones I’m interested in.

I really loved watching everyone’s videos this week. Some of them were very personal, and some were really light hearted. I think with mine I stayed a little guarded, and having seen what everyone else was willing to share, I feel like a bit of a hermit-y bridge troll now. Below is a gallery of some comments I left for my classmates 🙂 In order, the comments are to Kirstyn, Jenna, George, and De.

Snow on the rainbow bridge

The second and final video project I chose to do this week is the 4-and-a-half (?!) star Narrative Ambiance assignment. I chose it because I thought it would be easy. I was dead. wrong.

I like to film the weather – if it’s raining, windy, snowing, you know I’ve got a few minutes of video of it. I make videos of the trees in my neighborhood in fall, too. There’s always that one specific day when all the trees are at their most brilliant colors: yellows, oranges, and those amazing, beautiful REDS! All cast against a cloudy, gray autumn sky. But for this project, I wanted to use some of my videos of snowfall, because I’d come across a poem that hit me in the heart.

Carl Phillips’ White Dog, to me, is about knowing when it’s time to let something go. This past October, we had to make the decision to let our beloved cat go. He was only 14, but he knew it was his time. We couldn’t make him stay for us. To let him go that autumn was to really, finally, totally let him go. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, but this was the one time he wouldn’t be slinking back through our door. We wanted to let him go because we loved him, and that was that.

Here he is being used as a pillow by our bug-eyed beagle mix. They were best friends and hardcore snugglebugs!!!

The snowfall as a visual was more than a “poem about snow -> snow video” thing, too. Snow and winter is usually used to represent death, or at least a long slumber. I think that’s partly why the poem itself reminded me of the critters we’ve had to say goodbye to – imagining them bouncing off through the snow, disappearing into it!!

This project was HARD, not just like “I had computer trouble” but I had to take a few breaks now and then to love on our living pets. There was a lot of stuff with Windows Movie Maker that I got frustrated with – I feel like I must have a crappy version, like the one they give you to try and convince you to buy the full version. I had the worst time trying to tack on the opening and closing credits without them being “white text on black screen” blech. Anyway, the music I used for the background is Snowfall (final) by ShadyDave on Freesound.org.

Clickbait Daily Create

Blarg. I chose the picture I wanted to use before I went for a headline. I just couldn’t pass up the cats in party hats album I found on flickr. This cat’s name is Shakespeare and the photo is apparently from his 6th birthday party (7 years ago). Happy birthday to mew, Shakespeare! 🐈

Origami SPEED-RUN! No zen allowed!

The first video assignment I chose to do for the week is the 4-star Six Second Art project. I’ll say right now that I’m no artist – I can’t draw for beans, I can’t paint, I can’t dance, and I can’t sing. I have shaky hands so anything that requires a gentle touch is out the window. Woosh. Bye bye, art that isn’t of the abstract performance variety!

What I am kinda good at is origami. For this video I decided I wanted to make a paper crane. When I was younger I used to make them all the time – I really wanted to make 1,000 cranes. As the legend goes, if you have the patience to make 1,000 paper cranes, you’ll get to ask the gods for a wish. I always went by the “you have to make them all in one year” rule, so I never made it to 1,000.

Instead, I’d try to challenge myself in other ways – what was the smallest crane I could possibly make? The biggest? I tried using all different kinds of paper too. Newspaper, construction paper, tissue paper… I think once I actually tried to make one using just plain old tissues. Pretty sure it didn’t go well.

Learning how to fold the crane was a really tough process for me, especially since it was a few years before everyone started posting How-To videos on Youtube. I had to go by crazy diagrams that were hard to figure out. But in the end I was able to do it, and even though I needed a “refresher course” to make the ones for this video, being able to fold them is something that I’m proud of. I realize that posting a video where my process is sped up 160% is exactly the opposite of what I would have wanted to find 10 years ago, but… that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

The worst part about doing this assignment had nothing to do with the editing process – it was positioning my freaking camera. I didn’t have anyone on hand to help me out with this in the way of filming… I was hoping someone would hold my phone over my shoulder, but nope. Instead, I had a setup that ended up looking like this. Behold, my terrible art skills!

I had a BOX in my face the whole time. ARGH. It was a bit of a struggle getting the video from my phone to the computer (I use Google photos and have my camera roll sync to that when I open the app, but the video was nearly 3 minutes so it took a while to upload). But after getting it into Windows Movie Maker, it was pretty much smooth sailing for me. I chose a shamisen for the music track because it reminded me of Kubo and the Two Strings – a beautiful stop-motion film by Laika that was ROBBED OF AN OSCAR and features origami and the shamisen. Here’s a gallery of my process –

Mer-woes.

Today’s daily create was… demanding… I saw it when it was first posted and had no idea what to do for it. I might have gone a little too outside the box (or outside the assignment), so I’m kinda feeling like my mermaid statue sitting on the dock right now, thinking “what have I done…?” Blech. It was fun to play with layers to put Brooklyn on the horizon though.

I’m letting the monkeys loose!!!

For the Look, Listen, Analyze assignment I chose Kids in the Hall’s The Monkeys. The video in the playlist was disabled, so here’s a version from the Nerdist. I love Kids in the Hall and wish it was still on Netflix, so I’m really excited to look at/listen to/analyze a skit.

Looking

The scene opens to a dimly lit, hazy room. Two columns of light pour through what looks like a crack in the front door. In one long take, the camera pans back from the door until it meets Dave, who had just been looking at the door and then turns to face the camera.  The camera is at eye-level with Dave. The setting is established by this long, panning shot. The take continues, uncut, with Dave in the dark, sitting just left of center. The only light source is a fireplace in the background and a natural light that illuminates his right hand.

 

The camera cuts away to Dave and Mark (tall dude on the right) standing with their backs to a window, its curtains pulled closed. Two lamps are lit behind them as well. Despite the light sources, the men seem to be in the dark.

Cut back to Dave at the front door, even darker than before. He opens the door a crack, letting bright natural light pour into the house, then slams the door shut. Back in darkness, he speaks to the camera as it slowly zooms toward him.

Cut again to Dave and Mark, still in front of the window, and still poorly lit.

Another cut back to Dave in the dark. Again, he is slightly left of center, but now facing right of frame and speaking into the telephone. The only light in this shot is what is reflected off the glass of a framed picture hanging on the wall.

Now some change! We cut to the three men seated in a car – the man up front driving, with Mark behind the driver’s seat and Dave next to Mark. It almost seems like the camera itself is mounted on the hood of the car. It bounces along with the movement of the car. The driver in the foreground, but he doesn’t block Mark or Dave. There is a long take of the car ride as Dave continues speaking from the back seat. The inside of the car still seems dark and desaturated.

The camera then cuts to a side shot of the car. We see it pull up and come to a stop, and through the passenger side window we can see the driver turn to his left to say something to the guys in the back. The window is closed, and makes the shot look really dark.

Then a cut back to just Dave, still seated in the back seat. It looks like we’re seeing him through the windshield and against the back windshield, creating another effect of darkness. A person walks by in the background, but Dave is totally still.

Next up are multiple quick cuts between Dave and the driver, who end up laughing about something. Then an outside shot that looks in through the back passenger side window at Dave and Mark, and as Dave opens the back door, the scene changes immediately to a low angle shot of Dave back home in the dark. The two columns of light from the crack in the door are visible in the background. His face is in shadow, but again, his hand is illuminated by natural light. This time, he is seated just right of center.

There is another cut back to Dave and Mark in front of the window. It is identical to their first appearance. Creepy!

Finally, it cuts to Dave in the chair. Once again the camera is eye level with him. He is still in the dark, with the fireplace in the background, and with only his hand illuminated by natural light. Dave looks over his shoulder at the door, and the camera follows his eyeline and zooms toward the door.

 

Listening

First off, there’s some seriously weird noise at the beginning! Like something rattling a chest of drawers that’s 2 rooms over. Then there are shrieks, followed by Dave sighing and saying gruffly that the monkeys are loose. The way he says it makes it sound like it happens all the time. There’s also a laugh track in the video! This doesn’t seem like a skit that was done in front of a studio audience, so the laugh track is interesting.

In the background you can hear air moving, like howling wind, and the crackle of a fireplace. And of course, the monkeys – growling and shrieking!!! They just keep getting crazier the longer the skit goes on. Any scene with Dave monologuing, you can hear the monkeys absolutely losing it in the background. When he opens the door to show the viewer where he keeps them, the monkey sound effect intensifies until he shuts the door again. The door slamming shut has a reverberating echo that makes it seem really heavy, or makes the house seem huge.

Dave’s dialogue is delivered in a gravelly voice and between exaggerated inhales and exhales. He’s smoking throughout the skit, but having a bunch of evil monkeys is probably pretty exhausting too. Neither is very good healthwise.

What’s kind of funny is that when the other person starts talking, the monkey sounds disappear. Where are he and Dave standing? Are they even in the same room anymore? I’m thinking maybe they were being interviewed by the camera person. That’s probably why they were standing in the exact same spot the second time they showed up.

It’s not obvious when Dave is on the phone – this is going to make me sound like a total dingdong, but when he was threatening to let the monkeys loose if he didn’t get a pizza delivered in 15 minutes, I was confused about what was going on. There was a metallic ringing noise when he slammed the receiver down, but I had to listen a few times to hear it.

The car trip is weird. The hum of the engine and bumps in the road are easy enough to recognize, but it’s the seemingly irrelevant conversation and tone of Dave’s voice that’s so off-putting. He shouldn’t have those monkeys.

 

Analyze

He wouldn’t wish those monkeys on his worst enemy because he likes having the monkeys. Obviously.

Anyway, there are a couple of things I wanted to look at using Ebert’s How to Read a Movie article. The first is kind of simple and deals with what he calls a two-shot. I’m assuming based on context that it means a shot where there are two people, and I hope I’m right.

This is just the weirdest looking still. Dave is looking right into the camera with that Kubrick stare, but the overall picture has this American Gothic vibe. According to Ebert, in a two-shot frame, the person to the right of center will seem more “positive,” or have dominance over the person that is to the left of center. Here, it’s Mark that’s on the right. I think the contrast with Dave’s creepy stare is what makes Mark’s character seem like the “positive,” while “loose-the-monkeys” Dave is the negative, standing to the left of center. Mark’s dialogue and manner of speech is much different from Dave’s as well – kinda doofy, but not scary. Putting him on the right highlights both his positivity and Dave’s negativity.

Back to this low angle shot toward the end of the skit. This comes after Dave threatens to release the monkeys on the driver (as a joke! haha! so funny!), and here he’s explaining exactly how the monkeys give him “power.” Shooting from below eye level makes him look bigger, and as Ebert writes, “low angles make [people] into gods.” Being able to loose some evil monkeys on a hapless pizza delivery person who arrives 1 minute late probably gives you some sense of importance. All the angles that Dave had been shot at before had been eye level, but this one is quite low.

Another thing that’s interesting about this particular shot is that Dave is positioned just right of center. In the other scenes he’s been in, he’s either been on the left (in the first monologue, paired with Mark, on the phone, or in the car) or if he wasn’t on the left, he was facing left (opening and closing the monkey door). Here, however, he’s facing right and the majority of the space he takes up is in the right side of the screen. The only thing to the left is the monkey door, its light creeping into the room. The true evil! Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!!!