It's done. Am I forgiven? Thank God, thank God.
My final project was a silent film, and the second that fact was revealed to me, my mind jumped on the creative possibility, then jumped immediately backwards.
I had too many ideas. I only had two minutes. I only had one location! I only had one week! I only had stock music!
I was panicking on what I wanted a silent film to be, as I was struck out of luck on a Chaplin-esque plot. But I approached it from a different angle and it all came together.
Silent films. Films without sound, but with music. What did silence mean to me? What is silence? How does the absence of sound matter?
Noise fills the world. Noise is all around us. The undercurrent of the world is the sound of life. I initially thought of the one minute of silence to celebrate the armistice to end WW1, but in the end I had a different concept more dear to me: Being silent about yourself.
Struggling and suffering in silence because you are too scared to ask for help is a very misleading idea. In truth, people who are "suffering in silence" communicate all the time. Their behavior is a constant cry for help, that someone will come and make things alright. Even those people who strike out at their families, friends, school, and harm people around them are suffering in silence but calling for help.
In silent films, text is presented onscreen after somebody speaks. I gladly took this logic: How do people who suffer silently speak? What are they saying?
With that philosophy, I put together a string of moments where I am not talking, but I am still speaking. Text appears on screen as if I vocalized, but the real language is what my body says.
The biggest challenge was the one set restriction. The timeframe was perfect for me, but I had a good chunk of the video with a lot of good footage I decided to remove to be more in line. My concern was that, while yes, sloughing around with your head in your hands or lying dead in random places is very accurate behavior for depression and suffering, trust me, it isn't entertaining. It's a string of clips of someone sitting around, and so I included an outside section at a park to lighten things up. In the end though, I didn't want to risk being against the spirit of the final and removed it. It was a hard choice, and while I think the video would have been improved if it remained, I had to conform to what was asked of me.
Just as well, the second biggest challenge was the music. You had to have music. You had to use the music provided. The only music provided was pretty comedic. I immediately thought that perhaps the comedic music underneath everything would create an ironic juxtaposition, but then realized while watching that it was too much and went on for too long to simply become laughable again. I had the idea of simply fading the music lower and cutting over time, just hoping to get it out of the way quick like a tumor, but this turned out to be a gold decision.
This is the first video (or anything) I've made that made me feel kinda spooked at the end. Before the music fadeout, the whole video was audioless, and was fine. But with the music fading out at the end to be left with the image of silent suffering and someone facedown on the couch made me think I'd watch somebody die. The only thing I could focus on was the light creaking of the house around me while I edited. And the video was done.
I thought to myself: "Wow. That was a gold decision. That was also really morbid. This is fantastic."
It's certainly my favorite video. My favorite project? Eh, I don't know. Maybe. But video-wise, it's the best. I can say nothing poor about it except for the cutting of the rest of the scenes I made. I loved to be able to use the monotone features. I loved fiddling with the technical elements of the old school film effect I hand-made myself. I loved getting to be real wordy with it and say something poetic. I made a two minute video where someone dies at the end, and I didn't even know it. I love this video. The person critiquing and grading it will likely not be as blinded as I am by my love for it, but I am proud nonetheless.
Videomaking has been a struggle. Confining myself to an assignment guideline has been a struggle. Cutting what I don't need and learning to move on has been a struggle.
This is a capstone. Final. I win. The gradebook may disagree, I don't know yet. But I feel a sense of overcoming.
Pictured: The palette pad after the full figure was painted
Well! One month on the dot exactly after the last blog, here's my latest project.
For this assignment, the idea to create a commercial/advertisement for a specific product stuck out to me as it would be a good way for me to incorporate a specific hobby that I love teaching other people about. When I first set out to make something related to citadel paints, or miniatures in general, the first thing I looked to as inspiration were the many painting guides I had read as a kid. They were extremely helpful when I was first just starting out trying to paint, and were incredibly detailed in the processes that explained the reasoning behind their choices, and how to apply their paints.
There's a million more details I could've included, but taking it as a "your first painted thing" approach, I was confined to some simplicity in the process. I used the same method I teach most beginners when I teach someone how this works in person, which unfortunately can be a bit constrained on paints and materials. But I think I got most of my points about how important a good color scheme, lowlights and highlights, and layered application of paint is to a miniature.
Painting miniatures can convey so much more than the board games and war games they are intended for- there are a thousand things that the artistic medium of miniature painting can convey using the medium of figures in a 3d space that normal canvas paintings can't. The best resource I can recommend for delving more into the scene would be 28 mag, a wonderful collection of art pieces and essays from miniature painters across the community. It really opened my eyes to the different ways you can think about it, and what painting means beyond purely the material aspect. (It's blocked on the school computers. The Ladue Arts program sheds a tear for it's loss.)
The biggest challenge I encountered while working on this project was probably the formatting and detailing of the painting guide itself. Adobe Spark is wonderful for a lot of things when I use it, but I can say that it's terrible for re-sizing and complex projects. Each project has a limit of 32 "details" you can put on it, which means 3 times I had to create a new project by just starting a project on the base of the old one where I would have a new limit, but no longer able to edit the other parts. A bit like paining miniatures, ironically. In any case, the size formatting and custom detailing was the hardest part, as I had a lot of text and information to convey but I didn't want it to just run together in a bland document. I am satisfied with the tiny borders and decor I was able to have, but I still feel it lacks some visual variety and the flow could've been done better.
Mostly it was finding workarounds to the software itself was the problem- resizing images, text, fonts not carrying over, detail limits, not supporting cropping effects- It was all a hassle, but I worked my hardest on it, and I'm satisfied with the end product.
Hello, my name is Levi Miller, and here's the media genre that's important to me greatly which I've decided to make an effigy of me for this project: Investigative Reporting.
A majority of the videos I've made in this class have followed the relative formula of aping some media form I like, and it's because I greatly appreciate the types of media I follow and I enjoy sharing them with others.
I'm particularly interested by watching and reading the work done by very small journalists that attempt to "uncover" some particular point, or at least spread awareness of it's existence through their platform. Equality Alec, a police reporter from a small group of lawyers who spread awareness for wrongfully arrested convicts and corrupt police, Anton Ceballo who makes culture pieces based off economic datasets, and many others are all small journalists I appreciate. They to me represent the idea that even one person can publish something important, get noticed, and say something meaningful. Even independent writers who publish shortform, like Sam Kriss, are inspiring.
This brings us to my little attempt to demonstrate the power of checking the facts even if you're just one person. It started when I began getting weird Twitter ads for "He gets us", a religious organization that seemed to have no purpose, no listed sponsor or donator, and freely gave away various goods and merchandise. I thought it would be a good experiment for me to demonstrate my digging around to see what my initial feelings of weirdness brought, and this log has been compiled into the graphic I present here now.
Like most everything I do, the research was by far the most intensive part of the process, and quite enjoyable to spiral into various companies and holdings and partners until I could put names to the organization. It was a stroke of luck that He Gets Us happened to publish a Super Bowl ad at just around the same time I started working on this, which made it a lot more easier to relate.
I think this is the most professional piece I've done so far. Literally speaking, these types of graphics are the ones I see on posters in the hallway most often, or in magazines or newspapers, and I wanted to recreate that to my best extent instead of going for that much particularly "artsy", instead dedicating myself to conveying good information in an easily digestable format. I can pretty easily imagine this if it was hung somewhere in the Ladue halls, or posted on the social media account of a number of organizations, and I am pretty proud of that. Linking the whole topic back to being careful about predatory internet dangers for teens was natural, since it's pretty much how I found out about it.
I always am very afraid to ask for exceptions. I'm trying to be better about advocating for that type of thing, but it just terrifies me. It feels unfair to other people, I think. But I was lucky enough to have someone ask for me, so here I am getting to do something I prefer much more than real world filming. Not to say I don't have any bright ideas on that- Plenty of projects in the woodworks. But, as happy as I am that I get to flex my passion in graphic design, I'm a bit saddened at the same time I wasn't brave enough to ask earlier. But it's alright, because nobody's born perfect. SEGUE!
Working on this project was a lot of cutting work for me. Almost none of the graphical elements I used (besides the text) came as presets for Adobe Spark, which means that pretty much all these assets are custom made. Some of them were quite testy to make as well, I wanted to make the central photo I used of myself a very wavy color, and it took a loooooot of effort to do.
I initially tried using a basic color palette swap with Paint 3D, my favorite image editor, but it didn't give me any satisfaction from replacing big blocks of colors.It was very flat. The solution was to "write" lines in my hair to represent wavy streaks, and then plug the newly edited flat colors with hair marks into an image filter, which made the color swap "pop" as well as keeping the hair as an image with a lot of depth in it.
As with the theme of the written elements being people having multiple sides, I wanted a big contrast in the colors of the elements I used between very monotone graphics and a huge blast of color in the middle. All of the grim illustrations come from one of my favorite books, Mordheim. I can talk about it for hours, but the artist John Blanche is prolific and one of my all-time idols. Getting these on here was a process. I scanned in the original images from the long page cut outs in Mordheim, (the original book! pressed onto a scanner!) used Paint 3D to cut out all of the text and background to make them transparent files, then uploaded them onto Adobe spark to arrange them about the image.
Overall, i'm super excited to get to work on more graphical projects in the future while still making videos. I hope that I can keep going strong, and really hit my stride with creative work that I can use my technical expertise to make good work out of. Here's to the future.
(I also cooled off with some graphics work for Maxwell. Was nice.)
First project! Second semester! Luckily enough, it doesn't involve much filming which is good for me. I get to stretch out into the nice comforts of graphic design once more. The real benefits of this project was the relearning of how to film interviews using a bit of the critique that my finals granted me. Looking back at the rule of thirds and other advice, I used a tripod and phone to set up a more stable interview angle than the more shaky "candidness" than I did for my final. Of course, the interview footage wasn't included in the actual submission, but it was still certainly useful as anything I'm going to do later is probably still going to involve that stuff. I still need to learn how to use the DSLR, but for now I'm trying to hold that off as long as I'm able. Sometimes it feels like I'm only open to learn new things when a great idea hits me, so I think that when inspiration strikes I'll be ready to lean into it. The better part of all of this, of course, is getting to flex my graphical talents again. I'm pretty happy with what I came up with, especially considering most of the designs I make are pretty monochrome or dark-hued in their palette, it was pretty tricky to nail down the use of the full color wheel instead of the darks I tend to stick to as my trademark, but it was also fun getting to use a more expansive catalogue of design assets. In the end, it was definitely a nice project that let me use a lot of my prior skills, and relearn the ones that I needed to refine. The challenge now for me is going to be thinking of interesting film ideas for the remainder of the semester, but I'm definitely excited to get started.
It's about that time again! Well, I say "about", but to be precise it's fourteen minutes until it's due.
In any case, this semester's final was super enjoyable- I like it a lot more than the one last year, although that's not to say they were both fun in their own ways. But I got to be a lot more emotional with this one certainly, and the experience of making it definitely fit with my style. We didn't have as much time as any of the previous projects- only two class periods and the final of whole dedicated work. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the way that I was able to work on it, especially considering the subject matter. If the last video I made was the one that appealed to my personal hobby the most, I can certainly say that this video is the one that I felt I was able to make the most emotional impact with. Like any project, the initial plan for it was different than the final result for time reasons, but I stand by the end product just the same. The main regrets I have was that I underestimated my ability to clean up background audio in final cut- A lot of the general sounds of the school in some scenes still shine through, and while I was able to edit out some annoying bits, a couple interacted with the main video in such a way that it wasn't able to get cut. The thing I'm happiest with the most is how fate lined up when it came to the backing audio (which, sneakily, wasn't actually played by me! Also meaning I didn't have to spend time memorizing a new song) completely synced up without me needing to use any effort. I barely had to cut anything for the musical beats to line up in their best measure, and I can't stress enough how fortunate a turn of events that was.
I loved making this final, and while the backing audio issues hinder the overall result, I stand very happy with what I ended up with.
It's hard to say how people get their passions. I can barely recall what spurned me on this path, but ever since I was a kid I really had something for history. I suppose I can thank good history teachers when I was younger putting a passion into it for me, and RPG video games for giving me a fascination with people in heavy armor.
In any case, the second that "storytelling" or "sharing our stories" was decided as the theme for the Ladue View, I knew this was the time to whip out such an obscure passion. My goal was really to try and capture the excitement that I feel for history and my thoughts on how it connects the world together in ways people don't think about, and share my passion with others in a video. Unfortunately, that's a pretty tall order, especially if you only look at history as a boring lecture subject to be taught in stuffy classrooms, but I hope I could do my best to share the energy I feel for the topic.
The research that went into putting this video together was easily the biggest amount of time I've spent on any broadcast technology project. It's almost impossible to describe how many pages of references, research material, characters, geographical locations, modern historians, and other troves of images I had to sift through in order to weave a valid story together through all of them. To say that the final script that I produced barely touched upon the research I did would be a joke. Every conceivable offhand reference or character name mentioned had a plethora of time put into them, trying to see what I could summarize, put together, what overarching story could be made out of it. In the end a lot of it got the cut to make a better video out of things, but the effort to get all the information together was immense.
An "angle" to the video was one of the first things I developed, and that angle would be how stories people told in history is similar in stories people tell today, and they spread across the media collective, broadcasting, etc etc etc. In the end I collected a bunch of medieval stories together and researched all the connections between foreign or various locations or other stories they showed up in, and pointed them out. The script had to be changed plenty of times of course, and the audio recording took a bit to get the right levels on as well but overall I'm happy with it.
The production of the video itself was very much near the end of the work cycle. Again, this was a very time consuming production! Luckily for me, Keynote was easy enough to learn all of the quirks of and before I knew it I was able to add in and order up the visual traits that I needed for the project. My only concern was making the video itself not look like an "active slideshow" and seem more like an animated thing that was the background to a lecture, like the history videos I watch which I based this project off of. In the end, I think that I managed to accomplish this goal pretty well. The animation quality might not be Mate Daus, but it's certainly visually appealing enough to not be static. Either way though, my main hope was that the information presented would be valuable enough to fill in for the lack of particularly flashy visuals.
Overall I really loved to work on this, even though I had to put plenty of my own time outside of class into the heaping amounts of research and writing that the video would need to be successful. Regarding the final result itself, I think the presentation could have things added onto it to make it more interesting but there's only so much you can do when working towards deadlines. Nevertheless, working on something that I was passionate about and getting to participate in other people's films while I was working was really fun, and I enjoyed this project a lot.
I love analog horror! I love it. It's the latest "thing" when it comes to horror trends on Youtube, which, is a lot. From the Walten Files to Local28, there has been a lot of free horror out there which take the theme of "old technology" and increases the scariness to major levels. It'd take a while to explain the ins and outs of each series, but the appeal is universal: Weird, static overlays combined with unnerving sounds and barely visible or audible details underlaid underneath spooky VHS or security camera visuals. When I did the Podcast project (a WHILE ago) I certainly tried to aim for an analog horror feel there as well, though my audio mastery has definitely picked up since then. Hopefully. In any case, editing this was a real task to do.
Luckily, Final Cut Pro came through with a bit of creativity. A lot of its transitions or generators can be toggled about with options, and with enough enterprising spirit, a simple "stripes" overlay very quickly becomes a flash of static in strange technicolor. The security overlay was the most useful, and only required minimal touchup before that was in working order, certainly.
The audio was killer here. I had to record a lot of still sounds and borrow plenty from free sites myself. Final Cut Pro came in killer again here, as it had a perfect static overlay to any audio which decreased the quality, but I still had to do a lot. If you open the files up in Final Cut Pro, you will discover a LOT of effects and audio overlay for extremely brief sections. A whole lot of work went into that, and I'm glad the final result paid off.
Overall, this project was my favorite to work on by far out of anything I've ever done in this class. Getting to work with minimal live action footage, good audio, all in a short timeframe really was the best of every world I could imagine.
First project back, and oh boy, it's a stinker! 60 Seconds: Fencing is my first debut into the field of "informational topics that I need a lot more time to talk about than sixty seconds, but what can you do". In all seriousness, I wanted to pick one of my not as niche hobbies and try to explain it. Unfortunately, there's a lot to go through with fencing. A lot a lot a lot.
1: Materials and Filming
Filming an accurate set of materials was pretty easy. All I needed was a way to show off the sword, the jacket, and the helmet. Unfortunately, when it comes to cinematography I am hardly that creative, so most of the shots regarding those wound up being bland. For the explanation of the movements themselves I didn't need to worry that much as the camera would have to keep still to point out information, but the angle or position could've been shot better. Some of the shots with the full body were dreadfully cut off as well from the height being an issue. Overall, most of the scenes I wanted had to be spliced badly from the cutoff.
2: Sound Recording
Recording all of the various audio took ages. I think I rerecorded the audio for everything about three times for the full video itself. It certainly took a while! But in the end everything got mixed up fine, and there weren't any glaring audio issues. But sorting and filtering and re-recording took a very long time to get through.
3. What next?
I really don't like this video much at all. I think it's pretty terrible even if the idea was sound. My predictions of it's score was pretty correct, and most of the footage I have absolutely needs to be reworked from the ground up (literally, the camera cut things off from being too close to the ground) and the editing choices also will have to be realigned to fit this. But I think there's a nugget of good concept here, even if the format is terrible. By the end I doubt I can work it into sixty seconds.
Yes! It's here! The end of all things! Or, at least of the final. On the grand cooperative two week (or really, like 4 hour) movie creation effort, I played the role of one of the directors. So, with a high up position like that, I can give some insight into the process:
First, I would like to say, that Fiona and Lizzie are great people and some of the most organized and capable of the role that I had the pleasure of working with, however I would like to note about the problem with having three directors, that is the "creative vision". Now, at risk of sounding like an art snob, what I'm trying to say is that everyone has a different idea on what the project is. The scriptwriters, the actors, the directors, and all of that. The problem with that is that with a lot of creative voices speaking on that, who gets to call the shots? When me, Jett, Mate, and Jack all wrote the script, some of our ideas were cut out of the final production, for good reason most likely. However, this brings up the issue that with so many creative producers someone has to be the one to cut out ideas that aren't necessary, and that's an integral part of the process, but they'll always ending up looking like a bad guy. But who's creative vision is the right one to follow? All of that is to say, and with no ill will towards my super competent and amazing other directors, I think that there definitely were a few cases that having too many directors was doing more harm than good. Super professional people, kind, and integral to the process, I loved their inputs, but I really wish that more of our other students part of the creative vision was kept.
Air Of Confusion
I think if there's one responsibility as director I failed at during the process, it was keeping everyone in the know with all the decisions being made. I specifically remember Austin on the first day saying that he didn't really know what was happening, but he knew that a lot of work was being done. I think that this idea kept through with the whole production, and if I could guess I would say that a lot of other people wrote about this. I think the problem was that with such a scope of different people and everyone being an actor, it was hard to keep everyone updated with what was happening, or what they were working towards. I think the way this could've been resolved was handing out the scripts better. I doubt many people working on the project besides the "board of directors" and scriptwriters themselves had a good grasp of what the plot was going to be, not to sound insulting at all. I think that if I could redo this, I would make sure the checklist we had going on would be placed in the TV studio room, so it wouldn't be erased as often, and people could know which part of the process we were working towards. The lack of information being passed around is a big regret I have on not handing better on the project.
"Broadcast is the only reason I don't snap at school, I think. This class is what keeps me going." -Austin
I absolutely am going to admit that most of the actual work on the project becoming a successful final result was left to two people, Mate and Austin in editing. And I must say, there absolutely could not be two better people we could have left it to. Let it be known that Austin is a broadcast technology star who is going to make more hits than any of us ever will, and that Mate is a technologically advanced overlord who has graced us with his presence. My wholehearted thanks to those two to taking this work home.
Tyler was one of the most driven cameramen in the face of not knowing what to do and always was ready to do something new.
Jack was here at the very start and tail end of the project, and both times he managed to put all of himself into his work.
Maxwell stood shirtless in the main hall of the high school, an action that took so much bravery it speaks for itself.
Kenneth was always there for everyone, and always pushed himself to finish his work even when he was the only one on site.
Fiona is the most logistically organized mind I think I know, and that's saying something when the only people I know are RPG gamers.
Lizzie is the sweetest person to ever describe themselves as a "control freak", and give out death glares on set (in the nicest way possible).
Gabe put on a pink cardigan and headband, marched in front of a camera and wore it with pride while still doing more camerawork.
Heather, when we were in our scene together, couldn't stop smiling and laughing, which kept making me smile and laugh, which I think is the best problem I have ever had.
Jett was always there with the scriptwriting set with good ideas, and you could constantly find him in the TV studio helping out the editors.
The list goes on and on. I couldn't believe some of the absolutely incredible work the entire team put into this project. I can frankly say I didn't know the names of half of my sophomore class before this, but I feel a connection with all of them after.
This was a triumph. A triumph! A triumph, that I think really is going to get a middling grade, there were a lot of places we fumbled some things, but every scene there was laughter and joy. This is the only time in my life where the takeaway really was "Well, at least you had fun doing it."
I can't believe most of these people are coming back to broadcast. Help us all.