Friday, July 28, 2006

creative process

These include some thoughts about the creative process.
I was asked to write some about my experience of creating 'for Harry'.

At first I was not sure where to start. I rattled ideas around in my head. When the class was asked about their project, I made the mistake of listening to their ideas when I still didn't have a clear one. I felt fairly discouraged in the beginning because of my troubles with the first assignment. (which I found out weeks later, was a software/equipment issue) I thought, 'I'm not getting this shit.'

I know from experience that my best work comes from subject matter that I have a passionate curiosity about. It is akin to pulling a string on a ball of yarn. Pull and you may continue to unravel an interesting story or pull until you get stuck and realize all you have are knots. If you do not have the interest to sit with the knots, unravel them through the discovery process until the truth of the matter (a story) is revealed then frustration and indifference will follow. Nothing will kill a project faster than indifference.

The storytelling process was not new to me as a photojournalist. I usually approach a topic/subject with the commitment and luxury of time. The time constraints on this project forced me to consider a subject that I have already photographically documented. A few projects came to mind. I would build on something already familiar to me.

Genealogy has always interested me. On a trip out to the prairie over ten years ago, I traveled to the 'town' of Insinger, Saskatchewan to see where my father was born and raised. The population is less than 20 people. It is a literal ghost town. My father and an uncle showed its churches and grave markers to me. They told me the story of my grandfather. Later that day we discovered pieces from the mold/form that was used to create the grave markers. My grandfather was an enigma and his story intrigued me.

I pieced as many images as I could find. Some chromes and some prints needed to be converted and stored digitally. Some images were found on the Internet. When I did a Google search for Ukrainian cemetery crosses, the first site listed had pictures of the churches from Insinger! I took this as a sign that I was barking up the right tree and would continue with new confidence.

My father served as my fact checker. I called him and reviewed what I knew and ask questions. He was helpful. Then I wrote and recorded (and re-recorded) the script on the video recorder. The audio was downloaded and extracted. I experimented with the sound effects in iMovie.

The audio portion of the story ran just under 3 minutes. Since we were asked to create a 1-2 minute piece I began to trim. The final narrative runs 2:16. Next, I placed the photos in order on the timeline and paced them to the narrative (still without transitions).

The placement of transition proved to be challenging since the iMovie software is new to me and I was not familiar with what was in my toolbox. I literally spent hours doing this. Which allowed me to learn tons about the software. My objective was to keep the visuals moving along so that the story would not drag. (it’s too swift in some places)

If I could do it again... I would have found/hired someone to do the voiceover. Also, I think I would have left the video at 3 min. so that some lost info would have remained and the speed of the narration would not have to be tightened too much.
Overall, I was very pleased with the results. It was my first attempt at iMovie. The personal subject matter kept me motivated enough to sit in front of the computer for the long hours necessary. There is more to the story itself and further development is possible/probable. It served as a vehicle to pay homage to my grandfather I never knew but had a great impact on his family’s lives and mine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

War Diaries Online

The Blogging Beirut site is impressive.

Today's technology is able to illustrate the war's impact on people and the civilization as never before. It was a big deal to have 'realtime' video 15 years ago on the media outlets. Blogging and personal video is a reflection of changes in the media, not the changes in war or war tactics.

Let's face it war is not pretty. Or meant to be. People with different ideas 'forcing' others to change or creating a barrier for protection is superficial at best. It would be far more interesting use today's technology to discover what brings groups to the point where they feel violence is the solution. That may be a better place to start documenting. What we see today is reaction journalism.

I envision journalism and storytelling to be a greater tool and put to a much higher use.

War's objective is not going to change, but journalism’s objective can. (away from entertainment and spectacle and back to the culture of 'informed citizenry' and broader understanding)

Monday, July 24, 2006

for Harry

Vlog for video storytelling class.

Producer/Writer/Narration: Brant Karmen

Research Assistant: Maurice Karmen

Inspiration: Harry Tkatchuk

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Breaking the Sound Barrier

The buzz about Rocketboom's Amanda and Andrew is much more satisfying than Brad and Jennifer or Starr and The View or Christy Brinkley and what's his name.
Maybe because to has revealed some meaningful truth of today's e-media reality.

Rocketboom's 'not so private' business debacle was, as Ms. Congdon put it, fairly 'transparent'.

The fact that it made waves in the 'traditional' media as well as in the blogoshere indicates the growing status of online media and it's very 'real' impression that it has made already.

Rocketboom may have finally broken the sound barrier.

The recent turn of events can be viewed as a barometer, showing the rest of us the potential (and legitimacy) of online media.

Remember the days when all the corporate world had to consider (worry about) was bunch of kids downloading music?

Friday, July 21, 2006

to tell a story

Finally getting caught up on some reading tonight. Between reading the textbooks and working on the project assignments, I've fallen behind on the readings posted on blackboard. The examples of scripts Dorian gave us match the format with which I'm more familiar. The two column scripts help layout the story better, in my opinion than the examples given in 'Exploring Digital Video'. It's structure assists with timing of action, movement, and perspective. Since after all more than one thing is going on at one time.
Another comprehensive resource for our process of video storytelling...
The silence Speaks site was moving. I noticed that their site has not been updated in a couple of years and was wondering what new stories they my have to share. They did after all the site includes war as an act of violence. I wanted to see if they would offer any pieces describing the effects of the most recent conflicts that the U.S. has gotten itself into.
The stories I did view were very moving. I viewed the 'Capturing Wales' last, which in comparison felt uplifting. (!)
I found the opening quote on the Silence Speaks site.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sound and Fury

Tonight I was able to use what I read in the 'Manual' in regards to sound editing. I reduced some of the noise and began laying the Foley track. I was surprised how much I was able to remember from the book. I thought it was only going to be useful as reference but I was wrong. Also, spending some quality chill out/no hurry/don't have to be anywhere time on Tuesday really paid off. I can see that once the software became a little more familiar, new techniques came easier. I refer to it as learning to think like the software. Learning the in's & out's and some of the shortcuts make me feel less helpless. (I know that I've only begun to scratch the iMovie surface though, too.)

The next step will be to get more face time in the lab to lay down a music track and add the transitions. Some of the clips will be getting the 'Ken Burns' effect before it's time to compress and upload. Somes easy enough but I know now how long it all can take!

One other item, I noticed that not everyone's blog was linked to Dorian's. And not all the QuickTime links seem to be working. Maybe I have to adjust some setting on my 'puter, but some of the clips are running fine...,huh? Wanted to watch 'Incredible Beauty' again!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Learning Curve

Dorian wasn't lying when he said in the beginning of the class that everything would take longer than we think. I have spent a couple more solid days working on the 2nd project. The process is slow but I know I am learning more about the Mac and iMovie, as well as the process of putting a story together. I feel like I'm constantly moving from left-brain to right brain. Can't wait to be in a different place on the learning curve. I also realize how much 2 min. 30 sec. actually is when generating images for the story. (Guess we can thank the MTV generation for quick cuts and over editing, or is it the sugar our parents fed us that's responsible for our short attention spans?)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Moving On

I re-vamped my mash movie, only to find that many of the clips did not save properly. It was a disappointment to find this out after working on it for hours. I wanted that sense of accomplishment. Maybe I will go back at another time to re-do it again.
For the time being I need to move forward.
Had an idea for a comical clip, but will shelve it for the time being since it involves quite a bit of shooting video (maybe usable for the third assignment). This second assignment was to incorporate still photos into a story. I spent some time gathering background info for my story (checking facts) before I began writing the script. I want to finish recording it so that I can get it on the computer on Friday so the sound editing can begin.
I scrounged for images. I had quite a few in mind, but only found a few chromes. I think the rest of what I wanted to use is in storage in Orlando. Will probably be able to work without them if there are plenty of images on the internet to 'borrow'.
Last time I did an assignment like this it was on a Wallensac system with a tower of stacked projectors. Times have changed.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Readings~missing manual and exploring

The Missing Manual reading was full of technical information that will be helpful. The ins and outs of the software is important to learn. I tend to be more of a hands on kind of learner. So next time I go into the suite I will definitely have the 'Manual' by my side so that I can use those chapters as reference. Once I complete a task a number of times it will become, like you said, 'muscle memory'. Plenty of the tips to make the most of iMovie were included.

Not sure if anyone feels this way, but each time I read the 'Manual' it touts how wonderful the iMovie software program is. It reads like a brochure to get me to purchase the software. It seems carefully crafted and too often brags about the software. Wish it would simply state the tasks available and go through examples of how to complete certain tasks or combination of tasks. Don't want to sound too cynical, but how much of a kickback are the authors making form Apple, Inc.?

The chapter in Exploring read like a definitive in script writing and creative thinking. I laughed. A subject like creative thinking could be a whole area of study at a University. Trying to sum it up on a page or two in a video manual maybe well meaning, but short sighted. I realize the author was intending to inspire us but gee wiz, we haven't come this far without knowing how to stroke a muse or two.

I have never worked scripts for T.V. shows or movies but I have worked with commercial scripts and have seen them done in a variety of layouts. When Rysinger writes about this she approaches the subject like a definitive source, instead of simply presenting some commonly used formats for script writing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hindsight is 20/20

Just a few notes on my experience with the mash assignment.

I realize after the fact that the first thing that may have been helpful is to make a copy of the video clip before beginning to cut it up. The trailer I picked had lots of music and speaking which edits' did not coinside with visual transitions. The existing visual cuts often lagged behind the audio transitions. So in order to use any substantial audio in sequence, the audio would need to have been cut differently than the visual. I approached the project initially from a visual standpoint.

The small piece I came up with will hopefully not be my final piece, if I can get into the lab on Monday morning. Still have lots of the visuals rambling through my head but would like to come up with a cohesive way to pull together the audio track.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Readings from Books

The reading assignments were helpful. Some of the terminology was familiar, some was new. Most of my digital photography knowledge is self taught... So it is interesting to learn some of the technical background to 'fill in the holes', so to speak, in what I've been able to piece together on my own. Needless to say I learned fast, and anticipate a similar 'learning curve' with digital video as a medium.

I'm not ready to purchase a video camera, but is good to know something about the market. The readings put some of the technical information into perspective. The chapter(s) indicated which features are more useful and which ones are more or less fluff.

While reading the iMovie book in a coffee house on Central Ave. I noticed the guy sitting next to me edited video on his Mac notebook. I quietly watched while he clipped and added some fades and transitions. He was appeared to be concentrating intently so I did not bother him.

Blogs and Vlogs

I must admit ever since a friend sent me a YouTube video clip a couple of months ago, I've been hooked. I would spend off time staring at the screen looking for the next laugh.
There is so much more out there than I could imagine. Some trends I discovered were disturbing. Can't tell you how many 'fight scene' clips are out there.
I had seen mashups but never knew the name for them.
I'm looking forward to this class. As a documentary photographer, I see video storytelling as another tool for communicating ideas and expanding my visual language (my primary interests).
The thought of a diary online never interested me. I viewed blogs as something bored, prepubescent schoolgirls did to expand their make-believe social life. Had no idea that I would participate in writing one. (Up until two weeks ago I had no idea that I would create a myspace home page either!)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

mashmovie~it's a humble beginning

My expectations were so much higher.
I keep forgetting that this is new to most of us.
The limitations of the computer
equipment we used frustrated me.
This sure isn't Full Sail!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark's photograph taken in Miami (1979) was my inspiration for this blog's name. The woman's relationship with the jukebox and her unrequited freedom reminded me of my relationship with electronic media.