So, a big theme at the end of the school year is the graduation of the class of 2022. So, I wanted to make something related to graduation, growing up, getting older, change, and whatnot. The second the project was announced a month back, I opened up a notepad on my computer as the project details were being described, and I started shooting out what ideas I had. I really had nothing to think of for a creative film, so I just looked at what was around me. What could I do with it? A pen. Maybe the pen is moving around on its own. Maybe it's a senior's pen. Then, everything struck and I was off to the races typing out a very basic script. Seeing a new student grow into a senior through the lens of a pen, and the student doesn't want to change his ways but eventually learns that he has to change. The best part? It's called stationary.
I am so, so very proud of that pun. It's amazing in every conceivable way.
Filming was a real challenge though. For those interested, this is how you move a pen in a straight line without ever touching it:
METHOD 1: BLOW ON IT
Responsible for the straightest shot, but the shortest distance. Caused me the most trouble.
METHOD 2: FLICK
Distance, and straightness, but very very inconsistent.
METHOD 2: LARGE STICK
Can hit well, but the spherical end makes it spin out of control.
METHOD 3: LARGE (MEASURING) STICK
Hits well, hit straight, gets good distance but has a risk of spinning. The main method I used for most of it.
METHOD 4: JET ERIKSON
Good for dropping things while you have to film. Thanks for the help!
Overall, I severely respect the art of making things move in actual movies, and without the typical resources a puppeteer has, I did the best I could. Other than wild pen movement making up the most challenges in filming, the other big struggle was production scale. I had to conscript a lot of people, film a lot of places, and every day not spent filming was spent organizing said film into an edit. Editing and filming at the same time in the process was hard, but I think it got me done quicker than separating them.
Most story elements had to be cut out for time, but I think what I ended up with is a pretty good result, all things considered. I hope it stands as a test to what I've learned from the start of the year till now, that's for certain.
Now with a grand upheaval of the website, only about eight months too late.
For my project pathways project, I chose to do a podcast, because I like writing things and I figured I could transform a neat script with some audio editing and nice effects as well as some research from other podcasts, it would be a lot more interesting than me just reading an essay. In my pre planning phase, I had to do research on the podcast I took the inspiration from:
Welcome to Nightvale is a podcast about creepy paranormal stories in a weird town reported on by the town radio broadcast, and is wildly popular. I cannot state enough how huge the internet community for Nightvale is, with many books compiling the episodes and other stories being written. Also wildly popular with the same crowd is the work of author H.P Lovecraft, a horror writer from the 1920s. While he was mostly forgotten while he lived, his works have gained popularity with millions nowadays. So, do the "Welcome to Nightvale" style with Lovecraft source information and inspiration, and I thought it would be a recipe for success. Which means I had to balance having references to the works of Lovecraft that fans could look into and recognize, I also had to do it in a format that kept the stories entertaining to people who didn't know anything. So, the Arkham Advertiser (Arkham being the town where Lovecraft's works took place) was wrote. Which took a lot of different efforts in a lot of places.
I had to research radio broadcast frequencies in the area of Massachusetts so I could make a realistic station signature, radio broadcasts from the 1920s to get the general theme of the broadcast, and a lot of writing, rewriting, getting some friends to voice random people, and finally recording and getting things together in Final Cut.
The biggest challenge I had was audio mastery, which, while seeming obvious while working with a podcast, was tricky for a reason I didn't find out until it was blasted out loud to the entire class at a loud sound: I had been editing the podcast with a lower volume on my Mac, so I made everything a bit louder which ended up being a fatal error from a innocent mistake. So, while editing things went well- especially the "creepy ghost interruption" in the middle, which was fun to splice together, I had to double back and rearrange the audio levels to be quiet.
One of the surprises for me was exactly how long this thing took to write, because a typical podcast episode is pretty long and I wanted to at least create a mini episode of that, which meant a lot of writing which had to itself go through a lot of revisions. Funnily enough, rearranging the audio files in Final Cut Pro and reassembling my script as I wrote it was pretty similar to each other.
Overall, looking back on the finished product, I'm happy enough with the end product but I'm worried that it doesn't have enough substance. While it's gimmicks and novelty may carry it a bit, a lot of the stories I put in there seemed a bit repetitive and the general format was as well. It's good to open strong and end with something nice, which is what I tried to do, but the middle seemed like it could have done something more with it.