End Year Reflection

April 29th, 2012

I did not know what ds106 when I was signing up for the class (which was an adventurous enough ordeal). I needed a performance art requirement in order to graduate and I remember friends of mine taking this class in the past. I had no idea there was an entire community of ds106ers proclaiming this idea of cyberinfrastructure. Which I think is just an uber-technical word for an online community sharing creative ideas and commons. But the idea behind the class was digital storytelling, which could be anything. A story really has no bounds or limits to what it can actually be. It could be read, seen, heard. It can be an 100 hours long or 5 seconds short. The basic idea of a story, though, is to convey an idea and communicate it creatively. I knew the internet was a creative place, but I did not know that there was such passion running and encouraging the juices to flow behind-the-scenes.

There were several assignments that allowed us students to interact with the ds106 world. A big one, at least at the beginning of the class, was daily creates. As the name implies, daily creates forced allowed students to create something daily, through various means whether through photography, video, or audio. it did get tedious and we eventually dropped it off. But i have to admit daily creates were entertaining. They got you thinking creatively, seeing the world as a place where there’s more than utility, but as a place that can be manipulated to share an impulse or idea with others. The one beauty behind the daily creates was that we were able to create with the everyday objects, sounds and colors around us.

I think the biggest thing I gained from taking this class was a greater appreciation for creative remix. Remix was something I was always aware of. Being sort of a music, film . . . everything snob, I cannot listen to music or watch a film without seeing a quote of another tune or film. Sometimes, for example in film, the director or producer is glorifying a piece of work, usually an early classic, and giving it new life. They do this by borrowing and transplanting scenes into a film from another film. Quentin Tarantino is famous for this and utilizing his incredible mental film library that ranges from Spaghetti Westerns to Japanese martial arts films. He is also famous for his use of music which transforms a scene entirely giving it genre appeal that it otherwise would not have. All of this I was aware of, but the question of what is and is not creative on the internet is extremely interesting. There is no real rule in the digital age of what is and what is not allowed in terms of sharing and creative use. The internet is too loose a milieu of options for there to be an enforced law regulating proper usage of public art. I think if someone uses any of my art (as scene in my blog) and changes for their purpose would be fine. I think that is what the internet is for. Otherwise, there’s not reason to share.

To future students I would strongly recommend this class. I would encourage students to think of the class not in terms of assignments and work, but in terms of an idea and philosophy. Ds106 is truly a movement exercising, maybe to the fullest, the internet’s potential to share and distribute creative ideas. Students in the class become, for however long they allow the class to last, part of an ever growing community. I think that is a great opportunity. If anything is to be the hallmark of our generation I think it is the internet and its ever-changing uses. Try and realize the interconnectedness of internet users and try to keep this free use and sharing free and without overbearing regulation. Even if we just use the internet for practical reasons (google, wiki, etc.), the internet has a profound impact on how information moves across our social and cultural fabric. Keep it yours to control!

But enough philosophical banter. I suggest that the course continue its course. Although, do offer less work. Maybe instead communicate the internet and its subjectivity to the classroom and have students interact with the possibilities of the internet. I think students will never look at ‘.com’ the same way again. And make daily creates easier and less tedious . . .

Rick Santorum Bad Lip Reading

April 29th, 2012

I first saw BadLipReading‘s video’s last Fall as the GOP candidates were beginning their campaigns and attending debates. The basic idea was to lip read the candidates. Although, what ensues is hilarious absurdity. There’s two possibilities that result from lip reading. One is getting a spot on translation, the other is to be completely off base. I think BLR’s intention was exactly that. It is especially funny when presidential hopefuls are heard saying things that are so stupid and nonsensical that they don’t even make sense half the time.

I thought that a bad lip reading would make for a good final project. It culminates a few different assignments which are Video, Audio and Remix. My idea was basically replicate the BLR’s video but to make my lip reading different, obviously. The lip reading part was probably the most difficult since there is just a world of possibilities that you can see and say. Really, with the volume off one thing can look like a million other things. So it was hard to choose. Also it was hard, in a way, to read something that was different from what Santorum was saying. Since I did transcribe the videos his words were always in the back of my head. Except it would not be the same if I just lip read in a different voice. It had to be bad, hence bad lip reading. So this probably took the longest time, preparing a script of insanity that was supposed to replace Santorum’s words.

For the story aspect of the project I was wavering from one idea to another. At first I wanted to make Santorum sound like a liberal, completely opposite of his political stance. But it was just too difficult to force words into his mouth, because it just wouldn’t look right. Then I wanted to make a video that would basically be his presidential announcement. While I think that this still is a good idea I didn’t know how funny it would be. So ultimately I decided that, since Santorum is out of the race how about I make a video that explains that somehow. So this is the campaign video that ruined his race. Maybe he was on an acid trip or intoxicated with some substance, I don’t know.

I used a program called AVS video editor. It is not free but I am using a free trial. The only problem is that I cannot publish a video without a watermark on it. The mark only lasts for a few seconds thankfully. I decided to use this program instead of Windows Media Maker Live because it allowed me to record voice overs while watching the video. I had the script already written so all I had to do was record. I used the voice of a friend. He had a compression mic and everything so the quality would be better than anything I could have attempted. After the vocals were synced with the video I had to add a few clapping/applause/cheering tracks. I used freesound.org and searched for a couple different mp3s I could use. The soundscape I found on youtube. There are a ton, so I just picked one that was good to use.

BLR’s videos are a bit more professional and more thought out. But I think my attempt for a final project went over successfully. I realize that there a few spots where I could have perfected it a little more, but maybe I’ll do a couple other ones since it was so fun to make. BLR also does music so that’s another idea. Overall, I really enjoyed making the video. i think it is storytelling because there is intention and thought behind it and it isn’t all non sense. There are some themes and ideas that are repeated, but it certainly does not follow the script as most other stories do. If the context is maintained I think that there is a story behind it.

Nom Nom Bob

April 15th, 2012

The assignments was to take a recent dream or nightmare you’ve had and make a visual representation of it for others to see. I went with the Nightmare on NomNom Street by NomNomreeses. http://nomnomreeses.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/nightmare-on-nomnomstreet/.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense but Uncle Bob popping in your dream about Reese’s doesn’t make much sense either. But I’m sure Uncle Bob loves him some Reese’s pieces. Mmmmm…..

I love this image of an “uncle Bob”. I have no idea where it came from but when I think “Uncle Bob” I think of a poor ol’  handsome hick . . .ok, not handsome, rather ugly. And now I swear that I’m ol’ Unc here will be popping ina and out of my dreams for weeks.

Dark Knight Rises Silent Redux

April 8th, 2012

Here’s my Silent Film assignment for ds106.

I wasn’t sure initially which trailer to use but Dark Knight came to mind. After watching it I thought that a silent film version could work well. So I downloaded the video from Youtube and uploaded it into Windows Movie Maker. I changed used the black and white filter that Movie Maker had but I wanted to add a 16mm film grain effect. I used one from youtube and used a program called tracAxPC. Its a movie editor that’s pretty straight forward but I’m sure if I played around with it there’s probably a lot of depth. There is a 30-day free trial that comes with the download. The program allows you to adjust the opacity of layers so I turned down the opacity on the 16mm layer and got the proper effect.

As far as the soundtrack I really wanted to use The Dark Night score. I didn’t think a classical piece would work as well as the film score.

The screen cards I goggled and edited in Gimp 2. It was simple use of the text tool and layering. I then inserted them where I wanted. Silent films usually don’t overload the film with captions so i thought a minimal amount was best, especially for a trailer.

Here’s my video:

Here’s the original:

Bad Lip Reading

April 3rd, 2012

So hopefully, for my final project I can make a mash up of a politician in the style of the great BLR (Bad Lipreading) videos.

Basically it seems as though its just voice overs – – kill the audio for the video and replace with a voice over, making the poor victim say WHATEVER you want. The most difficult part is actually lip reading and replacing the words that looks like they make sense. And there’s definitely an extreme direction  I can go to, maybe BLR does that. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do but I like the idea of a voice over mash up.

Here’s an example of what it can possibly turn out as. This video is from BLR on youtube.com.

The only problem is finding a point to do the video for the ds106 final project. So I will attempt to tell a story of some sort or actually have a hook or goal to the video. My intention is for it to be a little funny and kind of absurd, so I’ll have to be careful not to go over the top. An idea might to take a politician and change his stance completely, which could be funny. I can just imagine a video of Santorum advocating abortion of gay marriage. Though I might be getting a call from his election committee. I’ll know more (hopefully exactly) in the next couple of weeks.

Hugo meets Inception

April 1st, 2012

These are two of my favorite films from 2010 and 2011. The films are not very similar, Inception is a little bit more action oriented while Hugo is a little more down to earth. Although both the films share discussion about dreams. Inception is built around dreams and the power of ideas. Hugo really illustrates the magic of movies and how dreams come to life on screen.

To be honest though, looking for two trailers to mashup I wasn’t thinking about this. I was looking at a couple different trailers and watched the Inception trailer, which is a great trailer. I then watched the Hugo trailer and thought to myself . . . “These two trailers are A LOT alike.” The music and the pacing are almost identical. So mashing up the two wasn’t that difficult.

To make it more seamless I edited the Hugo trailer to match some moments in the Inception trailer. I cut few of the scenes out and rearranged them so that the progression would make a little more sense. The Inception trailer added a tenseness to an already tense Hugo trailer. But the mashup really handled itself.

Here’s the original Hugo trailer:


And here’s the same idea done by someone else (swear I found this after I made mine):

I think my mashup works a little better. Not sure if Leo’s voice makes sense coming out of  little Hugo . . .


Serenity Now/Tutorial

March 25th, 2012


My twist on the assignment. Not necessarily a “Serenity Now” therapeutic video but maybe someone finds it comforting…

My idea came from those 10 min memes which repeats a  short clip for, of course, 10 minutes. One of my favorites:

Serenity Now – Black Knight


It’s not hard to make a video like this. What you need is to find the clip you want to use. you could rip it from youtube.com using pwnyoutube or another program. Then you edit the clip how you want it. Simply trim the clip. Then you want to copy and paste the clip so it fills up 10 minutes. It could be hundreds of times. And don’t expect anyone to watch the hole thing, but putting a little Easter egg at the end could be a little funny. For the “serenity now” part you want to add a serene audio track to the video. So mute the clip and add the audio track behind the video. It’s pretty straight forward in Windows Movie Maker, the program I used, and maybe even easier in iMovie.



Scene Essay

March 25th, 2012

Here’s a short video essay of a scene from Orson Welles’ “comeback” film Touch of Evil. This scene, the opening shot, is one of the most famous in cinema history. The reason because for nearly 3 minutes and 30 seconds there is only one take. Welles uses a tracking shot to take us from a car to the US/Mexican border. By using this specific technique Welles is able to set the environment for his film entirely in just a few minutes, the oping minutes at that. The conflict that the film surrounds is the radical differences between the two countries, the juxtaposition of American culture on o a downtrodden, meager border town. Through this forced influence this town experiences nothing but corruption and violence perpetuated by a once glorified American policeman who now is just as infested by the town he runs. This shot is able to capture all of that and more simply through the use of cinematographic techniques.

There are a couple of films that I reference. As a film auteur, or artist, Welles uses techniques and themes repeatedly throughout his work. His most glorified film, Citizen Kane is an easy example to pick from. This film influenced countless of films and continues to do so. It offers so many groundbreaking and creative camera angles and shots that one can spend an entire semester studying them. Welles recycled a couple of things that I mention in this shot. One is the tracking shot, which shows depth and tension. The other is audio layering, which is also another technique  that adds tension to a scene. Contact (1997) uses this technique to add a sense of depth to the beginning of the film.Robert Zemeckis utilizes both a long tacking shot and the audio layering, just as in Touch of Evil. The only difference really is his use of CGI. But, in essence, we have another example to suggest that everything is a remix. You can even see inspiration from Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001 in this particular take.

As movie goers I think we overlook far too many techniques and lose the impact a certain scene is supposed to exert. Nothing is taken for granted in making a film due to the strict budget (sometimes far too strict – as in Welles’ films). Therefore, neither should we. This opening tracking shot is a perfect example of how and why a director would spend so much time and effort into one shot, long or short, technical or simple.

DS 106 Radio Show

March 18th, 2012

The Live Outdoors was an outdoor radio show that featured several well written and edited segments. The first segment was a call in to Bear Grylls. The way they did this was very clever. The group used sound bits from the show to answer random question. Of course the answers to the questions were in not at all helpful and sometimes taken completely out of context. The questions ranged from what to eat out on a first camping to where to sleep and Bear answered with seemingly outrages answers that were far and beyond what was necessary. Their use of sarcasm here was brilliant because Bear Grylls is offering advice to viewers as if they were to find themselves in his situation. The chances for utilizing his advice, at any point, are – and I really don’t have to point this out – but extremely slim. So the group did well to emphasize the absurdity (as well as utter brilliance) of Bear Grylls.The tent review was also great. It was well written and sounded rehearsed. Which is a good thing in a radio show as the delivery was perfect.

To criticize the show I would have to point out that at certain times the sound levels were not corrected. Recording was done on several differ mics in several different rooms, perhaps outside as well. In the context of the show the change of “scenery” serves The Live Outdoors well. But it is important, with anything related to sound, to have good, consistent quality. What the group did that was consistent was great sue of sound effects. Foot steps, car engine noises, streams running and fire crackling were inserted into the show with great precision and accuracy. It gave the show depth and kept it entertaining. There was also a neat little (big) plane crash that the group had done with mixing layering different effects to give the effect of a plane crashing. The ending was very smart and creative, they pulled it off terrifically with numerous sound layers, reverberation and static noise.

Overall I thought the group did a great job executing their idea of an outdoors radio show. It was very funny, sarcastic and interesting.

American Life Radio Show

February 26th, 2012

458: Play the Part


This radio show was about playing the part of someone doing something on camera or for people that they would never do themselves on a regular basis. The show featured two stories. The first story, act one, was titled The Audacity of Louis Ortiz. The story is told by Ryan Murdock, who is making a documentary by the same name.

Luis Ortiz is a 30-something year old Hispanic man living in Harlem. He was a military man and is now in search of a stable job to keep a flout. Ortiz has something special about him that could help him make his way out of his hole. He looks just like the president of the United States, and the one feature that makes it believable is his ears. Louis notices this, thanks to someone in a bar pointing it out and goes with it. First Ortiz buys a suit, gets head shots and begins his impersonation career on one of the largest stages in America – Yankee Stadium. Ortiz dresses as the president, asks his law enforcement friends to protect him and enters the stadium getting recognized and asked to kiss babies. The suddenness of recognition is what skyrockets Ortiz’s career.

As his career progresses, the calls for appearances and jobs fade as Obama’s approval rating disintegrates. His and Obama’s careers are interwoven. He also gets all the negativity that Obama personally can’t get. He experiences racism like never before and is genuinely scared for his life. Louis Ortiz, after his career has hit a low point, tries to reconcile his relationship with his daughter, who he never sees. But lack of money and stability this attempt is unsuccessful. Louis is now trying to perfect his craft in order to revitalize his career as Obama’s look-a-like in an attempt to get his life on a steady track.

The story itself was very compelling. Produced on the radio it played like watching a documentary. Through transitional sounds and music the show was able to tell the story with energy and interest. All of the interviews were pre-recorded, which allowed for fluidity as the story was being told. Interviews included voices from all of the main characters, including Ortiz and Murdock, the documentarian.  The radio also employs use of sound effects to put the listener at the places described by the various characters; this keeps the story very intriguing. Also playing speeches and an expert from ­Flight of the Concords puts context to the story as it’s being told to queue in the audience if they have not seen or heard about these Oritz appearances, which adds depth to the story being told.

By telling the story in such a dramatic way, with production techniques like such as interviews, music and sound excerpts, the radio show is able to have a energy that keeps the listener engaged and moved by the story. The show remained gripping and had a life that did not sound read, but rather preformed, which is a treat to any listener.