Three Featured Videos
Moving through the
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summer issues of Perception covered the mountains and valleys of
Project-Based Learning, Globalization and Advocacy, and Cognition and
Technology. The fall issues are all about video production, from the
beginning of the process to the end! This issue starts out by taking a
closer look at Digital Storytelling videos to learn from their strengths and
weaknesses. The videos demonstrate application of the ideas and concepts
explored. A major English
Digital Storytelling project will be
introduced, explored, and carried out in the October issue of Perception.
Perhaps the greatest inspiration for this issue is Joe Brennan, Wilkes
A Word from the Producer -
Inspired by a peer’s passion, I asked if he could impersonate his
inspiration, John Lennon, for a DST Interview. He had the hair,
look, accent, albums... so I started to work on the script and
storyboard. Well, I wound up putting the majority of my time and
effort into making the interview authentic to 1969. That meant
figuring out what was produced before our interview date, finding
the quotes from Lennon I wanted, watching samples to duplicate a
sixties/seventies talk show, working with the theater teacher to put
up a TV set, and unearthing a female talk show host working at that
time. I learned a lesson about working with others. I did not
convey the complexity involved in the undertaking to my actor, and because
expectations were not clear, it was actually too much for him to take on.
This was to be the day of the filming. While it was disappointing, the
show must go on!
Fortunately, after an hour of calls
and emails, I found Sam, a former student and a Lennon lover, and he
was more than glad to help me pull this off the next afternoon. My
colleague and I tried to create a set, but we found little to work
with; I gathered what I could to imitate a TV set. Although he put a
screen behind the chairs, it was too small. I was limited entirely
to shooting from one position because filming from either side would
have shown the rest of the room. I knew little about properly
lighting the scene, and looking back I would reposition the lights.
You can’t always count on people or resources to come through, so
you need back up plans. Clearly, I didn’t have enough of those!
The filming is simple, which works because it's like the
sixties. While editing, I stuck to dissolves and cross fades to be
as unobtrusive as possible. The cool thing I did learn was how to
make my new footage look old. I used effects like adding noise and
de-pixilation so that the clip looks like it was filmed forty years
ago. I can’t say I didn’t have fun with this, I just bit off more
than I could chew. Like Mama says, keep it simple. I should have
listened. If I had stopped to think, I would have realized I'm not a
Beatles' fanatic like my friend is, so to do Lennon justice, I would
need another good week of research.
A Word from the Producer
Recommendation for You:
I had a blast making my storyboard in
Storyboard Pro by Atomic Learning.
I have to throw it out there as one of the most incredible planning
programs out there, and it’s free! I’ll attach a little screenshot.
I highly recommended. It was perhaps the most valuable tool in
designing my project. I used AFI’s list of the types of shots to
decide when to use which shot to match the purpose I wanted to
achieve in that frame.
Entertainment at My Expense:
Shooting in the dark is crazy. I used an AC/DC power converter from
the car, ran an extension cord around the passenger’s side, plugged
in a lamp for back-lighting, and brought out a stool for the high
angle shots. I kept having to move the extension cord out of the
shots. I ended up climbing all over the car, abandoning the stool
entirely. There were some shots I couldn’t avoid using flash on,
which made editing in Photoshop a nightmare while trying to
reduce/remove flash glares. I felt like using the comic theme made
it better overall. I only used a couple of deliberate transitions at
the beginning and end, a different approach for me.
A Word from the Producer:
In an attempt to make a quality mini-video introduction to myself, I
knew that I needed a solid narrative and coordinating visual stimuli
that flowed naturally together. There were an infinite number of
possibilities for how I would develop my project. Many decisions
were made, from the organization of the narrative to the selection
of pictures and videos. I began by considering the immediate images
that my mind retrieved in relation to the prompt, then wrote the
narrative, a backward process for me.
One decision I made was that I wanted to find a universal
“thread” to weave through the piece so that it had some kind of
inherent message, trying to connect with my audience. I went with
the first line that popped into my head, and suddenly, the words
started to reveal a journey from past to present, organized
logically if even by accident. As I considered possible titles,
disregarding each, I came back to my name, Laura Joy, named after my
mother Joy, and that I take joy in teaching. The Joy of Teaching was
discarded instantly along with several other plays on the word. When
I set out to choose the soundtrack for my piece, it was quite
natural that “Ode to Joy” surfaced with no effort at all. My mind
returned to the journey concept and out came “Road to Joy”. It fits,
it’s unique, and it’s a bit witty at the same time… or at least I
Another decision I made was how to frame and deliver
content visually that matched up with my narrative, produced
consistency throughout all parts, and illustrated the
transformation from person to educator. I looked at my opening line:
“A century of preachers and teachers comprise my family history, and
my mother, Joy, inspired me to continue the legacy.” I could
actually see the faded, sepia colored photos of my family
generations ago, as pages flipping through a book. I went with that.
“Road to Joy” became a book, and I chose transitions accordingly.
Page peels worked as I quickly moved through images of my family,
pausing longer on my mother, then minimizing transitions unless
indicating a new “chapter”. I took to some
older footage that moved too much and restructure it to be
less distracting as our readings emphasize. I also checked release forms from former students
in the video.