Bright Agrotech- Video Project

Louisa and I decided to forgo doing an event and focus on a local business for our video project. A friend of mine works at Bright Agrotech and we had talked about it in class, so I decided to use that in for our project, and talked to my friend to set up all the of interviews and filming. The company is really cool, and I think what they are doing is going to be pretty big, so being able to do a story on this business was really cool.

The part I enjoyed most about doing this project was actually going out to the greenhouse and collecting the footage and talking to the guys who work there. Their set-up is really cool, and it was awesome to learn about how everything works and the way they are kind of innovating this market. Also, they were really helpful and willing to let us explore and get what we needed. I think the part I enjoyed the least was doing the awkward interview set up and trying to get everything perfect for filming in the midst of everything else. Since this project came at the busiest time of year, the biggest challenge was finding the time with everyone to get out and get everything we needed.

I think what surprised me the most was just how hard it is to gauge the quality of footage I was getting and how everything was going to fit together in the final product. I wish we would have had more time to get everything and try to get some higher quality and more stable footage for b-roll and during the interviews. I also think the sound quality could have been better, but for what we had to work with I think it was decent.

In the future I think I could use video in my career by posting informative clips of what goes on in day-to-day operations. I definitely think video is an important tool to use and will almost certainly be using it again at some point.

Live Tweeting

For this assignment, I decided to attend a concert in Fort Collins at the Aggie Theater. The concert was a bluegrass band called The Infamous Stringdusters, with an opening band called The Drunken Hearts. The concert was really fun and the bands were great, and I think I did an alright job with my tweets, though I did experience a few issues.

The main problem I ran into was a technical one. I was tweeting the event from my phone, and when I tried to tag the Aggie Theater with the designated @_________ sign, my phone would auto-select the first choice which was a radio station in Texas or something like that. After my first two tweets I decided to stop trying to tag it, because I didn’t want my tweets to be inaccurate. I am not sure if this was a problem with the app, or with my phone screen, but for whatever reason the tag kept showing up when I tried, and I thought it would be best just to not attempt it anymore. Other than that, I think the assignment went pretty well.

Overall, what I enjoyed most about this assignment was going to the concert. I really didn’t enjoy tweeting that much. I am not really a fan of twitter, and taking the time to tweet I felt like detracted from my concert experience. I just don’t think twitter is my thing.

What surprised me most about this assignment was actually how much you have to think about your tweets to make them fit within the designated character amount, while also being informative and professional. We have been learning about how twitter is extremely important now in regards to news, and I can see why, but for some reason I still have a hard time getting into it, and I can’t see myself using twitter in the future. I am sure I will be using social media, but most likely not live-tweeting.

Soundslides

For this assignment, my partner Louisa and I decided to cover a Cowboy Country Swing Club meeting. The club is the biggest RSO on campus and regularly has over 100 students in attendance at each meeting. We wanted to highlight what the club is all about, and try to get an idea of why it is so popular.

Working with Louisa was really great, and I think we worked really well together. We bounced around ideas for what to cover for a little while before deciding on the Swing Club. Going to the meeting I was a little nervous that we would just be kind of creeping around awkwardly, but it turned out to be a pretty good experience. Louisa and I interviewed our sources together with minimal problems. Our recorder wasn’t turned on for the first interview, but we worked around the issue and I think it resolved in a good way. Ultimately, everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic and helpful, and the experience made me feel a lot more comfortable taking pictures and hanging around the event.

Louisa did the audio recording section and I took the photos, so most of my challenges were trying to get decent pictures that weren’t blurry while everyone was dancing. This was actually pretty hard at times, and I had to take a lot of pictures to end up with 15 usable ones, and I still think that my photos could have been better. Perhaps with a camera that is a little nicer, I could have gotten more clear photos, but the dancing was so fast paced that mine seemed to struggle.

My experience with Soundslides overall was very good. I think the program is really easy to use and makes it simple to put together a nice looking production. The only scare I had was uploading the photos I took to my computer when i thought they had all been deleted. This wasn’t really an issue with Soundslides though, it was more of a problem with iPhoto. Luckily, I was able to recover the pictures and upload them to Soundslides without any problems. Other than that, my experience with Soundslides was smooth and easy.

As I mentioned before, the biggest problems I had with this assignment were struggling to take good quality pictures while people were dancing so fast, and the hiccup I had when uploading the photos. I think these issues are pretty easily fixed, and in the end didn’t really affect the outcome of the project. I don’t really think I would change anything except for maybe having higher quality photo and audio, but for the most part I believe we did our best with what we had to work with.

Edited Audio Interview

 

My audio editing experience was overall not that bad. It took a lot longer than I expected, and I don’t think it is as good as it could possibly be, but it was the best that I could do. Overall I think it took about 2 hours working with Audacity on my laptop. It was kind of a rigorous and time consuming process, but definitely not the worst thing I have done.

I think what I enjoyed the most was probably just already knowing how to work with Audacity. I am certainly not the greatest at it but it was nice having a little bit of background with the program because I think it sped the process along a bit.

The aspect I enjoyed the least was just the monotonous task of making all the cuts and trying to make them sound smooth (which I wasn’t able to fully do on all of them). It is really quite difficult to do, but I think my finished product would have turned out worse. Also, I really don’t enjoy the sound of my own voice when I listen to it played back, so that was kind of painful. However there was a certain amount of satisfaction that came from editing me out.

Nothing really surprised me about this assignment. As I mentioned, i have worked with Audacity before so I already knew what to expect going in. I think if anything surprised me it was just the fact of how difficult and painstaking the process can be sometimes.

If I could do anything different I would obviously like to have created a cleaner, more smooth edit for my finished product. There is always room for improvement, and especially with this recording. I think if I just worked more with Audacity and doing general editing I could get it worked out to a clean production, but with he experience I have now, I did the best that I could.

Raw Audio Interview: Louisa

Overall I think the interviewing experience went really well. Louisa was an awesome partner and was very helpful to interview. We chose to go to the audio lab in the basement of Ross Hall, so there was good equipment and not really any kind of noises that could distract from the interview. This wasn’t my first time interviewing someone, so I was pretty comfortable with it, however it was the first time I had interviewed someone without actually having a set topic or direction in which I wanted to take the interview. Thankfully, Louisa had a story in mind, so that made the whole process go really smoothly.

As far as being interviewed, I was pretty comfortable I think. It was a little nerve wracking at first, but I think once I kind of got into the groove and treated it more like a conversation it seemed like things went a lot easier. I don’t particularly think I cold say that I enjoyed it, but because my partner was good and we were both relaxed the whole experience was a lot better.

What I enjoyed most, as I mentioned earlier, was that my partner was really good. It was easy to talk to her so that made both interviewing and being interviewed a much better experience. Overall, I wouldn’t have done much differently, maybe just having a more clear idea and story of what I wanted to talk about. I think I got a little off track and kind of rambled for a little just because I was trying to figure out how exactly to say what I wanted to say. Ultimately though, this assignment went well and I think the interviewing was as painless as it could have been. Hopefully my partner feels the same way!

Photojournalism

Photo #1

James Mignin stares out the windshield as his friend drives them down the road.
James Mignin stares out the windshield as his friend drives them down the road on Saturday.

The title of this photo is “James Up Close,” and I got this picture in his friends car. I was interviewing his friend Sam for a story in another class, and we were all in the car so I took the opportunity to take a few pictures from a unique angle. The shot was pretty easy to get, I just kind of took out my camera and snapped a few shots while he was looking out the window. I used Cropping as the creative device in this photo, and I didn’t edit it in Photoshop  afterwards.

Photo #2

Comedian Raneir Pollard preforming in the Wyoming Union on Friday night.
Comedian Raneir Pollard preforming in the Wyoming Union on Friday night.

This photo is titled “Comedian.” I took it at the Union on Friday night when one of my other friends had to go and take pictures of him for the newspaper. The shot was pretty easy to get, I just took it from my seat, and I felt pretty comfortable taking it. I was happy with the way it came out, and the creative device I was going for was Color, as the background combined with the lighting creates an aesthetically pleasing picture.

Photo #3

Betty Johnson looking out from her garage Saturday afternoon.
Betty Johnson looking out from her garage Saturday afternoon.

This picture is titled “Front Porch.” I took it when i was walking my dog around on Saturday. I felt a little awkward taking the picture, but I stopped and snapped it real quick and went to ask her name and she was very nice about the whole thing. Overall it was a pretty easy shot to get, it just took a little nerve to take a picture of her when she was sitting there looking out at me. The creative device I used in this picture was Rule of Thirds, as she is lined up not directly in the center of the picture.

Photo #4

Ben Hallman takes a break from throwing darts to talk with his friends.
Ben Hallman takes a break from throwing darts at the Library to talk with his friends.

This photo is titled “Darts,” and it is my sports feature. I had just walked up to the top floor of the Library Bar and Grill when this group of guys sat down after playing some darts. I asked if I could take a picture, and I chose this guy because he had pretty unique look. I kneeled across the pool table to get this shot, so it was a little tougher to get, but still overall pretty easy. The creative device I was going for was Focus. I tried to get the dartboard behind him blurry, but still noticeable since it is relevant to the sports aspect of the picture.

Photo #5

Andy Rhodes peeks at a book from the shelf at the Library Bar and Grill.
Andy Rhodes peeks at a book from the shelf at the Library Bar and Grill.

The last photo is titled “Reading,” and I also took this one at the Library. I noticed this kid flipping through books on the shelf and I tried to get a picture when he had his head in one so he wouldn’t notice me taking a picture and it would be a little less awkward. Afterward I approached him and showed him the picture and got his name. Overall the picture turned out really well I think, the lighting looks like it was almost set up for a photo shoot, and there is the rule of thirds acting as probably the most dominant creative device.

Nothing in particular really surprised me about this assignment. i went into it expecting to feel kind of awkward taking pictures of people, but I found that generally everyone was really nice about it. I don’t think I would do anything really different, maybe just try to get better quality pictures and more variety.

Creative Devices

Photo #1

A plastic yellow toy cowboy takes aim on the windowsill
A plastic yellow toy cowboy takes aim on the windowsill

The title of this photo is “Stick ‘Em Up” and the dominant creative device used is Focus. It is easy to determine this because the background is blurry and out of focus, so the viewer is drawn to look at the main subject of the photo- the plastic cowboy. I think this picture is aesthetically pleasing because it is taken at an interesting angle, and the cowboy looks clear and focused.

Photo #2

For about five minutes the sunset makes Dilts Ranch look red
For about five minutes the sunset makes Dilts Ranch look red

This photo is titled “Dilts Ranch in the Evening” because it was taken out at my ranch, in the evening (duh). I think the main creative device in this photo is certainly Color. It looks as if a filter was used, however, it was actually the sunset that is giving everything a reddish hue. This is a really pretty picture that also uses the rule of thirds with the tree. This is the aspect where most of the attention is drawn, because of the interesting colors being created by the light.

Photo #3

Hank The Cowdog gazes longingly
Hank The Cowdog gazes longingly

This picture of my awesome doggie is titled “Eye of the Dog.” For this photo I used the creative device of cropping and got down on my side to capture just half of Hank’s face and his eye. The picture draws the attention to his eye because it sticks out amongst all the fur, and the cropping brings the focus to exactly that small bit of him. But let’s be honest, the picture is mostly great because he is a cute little dog.

Photo # 4

The sun shines through the trees on my walk to class
The sun shines through the trees on my walk to class

This photo I took on my walk to class, and is cleverly titled, “Walk to Class.” I think the dominant creative device shining through in this picture is Contrast, because of the shadows created from the sun being behind the trees. However, I do believe a case could be make to say that the sidewalk creates a leading line effect, and the tree trunk on the right falls into the rule of thirds. For the most part though the viewers attention is grabbed because of the long shadows contrasting the sunlight.

Photo #5

A closeup shot of the artwork on my longboard
A closeup shot of the artwork on my longboard

My last picture is titled “Bhangra” because that is the name of my longboard, and that is what the picture is of. While this picture is a selective crop, I think the dominant creative device is Symmetry/Pattern. I was trying to highlight the difference in texture between the wood and the grip tape on the board, but I also think that the symmetry/pattern creative device draws more attention because of the spiral that leads the viewer to look to the eye in the center.

Overall I didn’t have very many surprises with this assignment. I have done some stuff with creative devices in photography before, so most of the concepts were familiar and pretty easy to get done. I think I mostly would have done everything the same, maybe just taken higher quality or more interesting photos.

Vinotok: A Trial By Fire Celebrating Fall in the Rockies

The Burn

The defendant is bound in chains, immobile, but still able to move his head back and forth to look over the mob in front of him. Unable to walk on his own, hooded men wheel him on a cart down the middle of the street for all to see. Each step takes him closer to the fate decided in his trial just moments before- he will burn.

A ring of dead pine trees has been arranged in the center of town. As the prisoner is wheeled into the ring, a faint scent of kerosene permeates the air. The mob, becoming more and more restless, begins to chant and shout. They want him to be ash. One last glimmer can be seen from the eyes of the accused before the torches are thrown on to his combustible cell- and then the flames engulf him.

Photo Courtesy of Ian Johnson
Photo Courtesy of Ian Johnson

For 30 years the town of Crested Butte, Colo., has burned this man, whom they lovingly refer to as The Grump. Constructed by a local craftsman, The Grump isn’t really a man at all. Rather he is an effigy- and a central part of Vinotok, a fall harvest festival with ancient European roots.

Origins

Vinotok got its name from a Slavic word that means “month of grapes and wine,” but in Crested Butte, it is about much more than wine.

A weeklong event culminating in the dramatic burning of The Grump, the festival brings a community together to mark the changing of the seasons, a time of bounty, renewal and hopefulness for the future.

The Grump being marched down the street. Photo Courtesy of KDNK News
The Grump being marched down the street. Photo Courtesy of KDNK News

The Grump himself represents the problems of the summer season- all of the gripes and tribulations of the townspeople- and when he is burned, all of these are burned along with him.

“In 30 years it [Vinotok] has grown to really capture the heart, spirit, and value system that our community shares,” said Marcy Telander.

Telander is the founder and Master Storyteller of Vinotok Her kind face and sharp features reflect the nature of a woman with intense passion and a drive to affect change. When she takes the stage to welcome guests to the festival, adorned in aspen leaves and a flowing gown, her voice is strong, but calm as the mountain air.

Telander moved to Crested Butte in 1977. A Chicago native writing for several local magazines and newspapers, she came to Colorado after some friends discovered a newspaper for sale in the small village she now calls home.

Some controversy had recently been building around a local mine, and with her passion for the environment, Telander seized the chance to act.

“It seemed like this was where it was all happening,” Telander said. “This was before eco-journalism or anything like that really got started.”

It was this opportunity to make a difference that ultimately drew her to Crested Butte.

After several years she found a unique way to bring the community together and ease the growing tension between the “old timers” who had lived and worked in the village for generations, and the “newcomers” like her.

Telander worked to assimilate herself in with the old miners and ranchers of the community in order to find some common ground between the two dividing groups. A mutual love for storytelling as well as pride in the predominantly Northern European heritage of the area and in family made wine were recurring topics as the idea of Vinotok was being formulated.

Borrowing from Slovenian, Croatian, Celtic, Norse and many other European traditions, Vinotok was created to tell the stories that locals have cherished throughout generations and bridge the gap between the old and the new.

Photo Courtesy of Purple Mountain Bed & Breakfast and Spa
Photo Courtesy of Purple Mountain Bed & Breakfast and Spa

It draws on many traditions celebrating the fall harvest, and the notion that with the changing of the seasons also comes changes in our lives. And thus, The Grump must be burned to say goodbye to the woes of the past, and welcome the possibilities of the future.

Celebration

Derek Johnson is a Denver native who has been coming to Vinotok since 2009.

“There is really no other festival like it,” Johnson said. “It’s completely unique because it is put on entirely by the folks in Crested Butte. It doesn’t have any corporate sponsorship, it’ s just holistic and natural.”

Vinotok is a festival to involve the entire community. There are events every day of the week including a farmer’s market, feasts, storytelling and art exhibits- all leading up to the Passion Play, where trial and burning of The Grump takes place.

Elk Avenue, the central street in town, is where most of the festivities are held. It becomes a cacophony of drums and joyful shouting Saturday evening as the cast and crew of the play go around to local restaurants ‘mumming.’ This is a small performance of the play to entice visitors to attend the ceremony that night and witness the trial of The Grump.

“The town becomes sort of magical,” said Peter Bishop, a New Hampshire resident returning to Vinotok for the third time. “You will be eating dinner, then all of a sudden you will hear chanting and drums and all these people in costumes come in and practically lure you out to join the party.”

Photo Courtesy of Ian Johnson
Photo Courtesy of Ian Johnson

Bishop’s account seems to fit; the crowd on Elk Avenue grows steadily from the time the mumming begins until the beginning of the trial. People of all ages gather in the street, and chants of “Oats and Corn” can be heard all around, along with the ever-present chime of “Burn The Grump!”

The sense of community is palpable in the air. Every shop and restaurant seems to glow and fit perfectly into the surreal atmosphere that envelops the town. Young and old alike line the streets to hear their living mythology told for yet another year.

This wholesome, homey feeling is a clear indicator that Vinotok has managed to accomplish exactly what Telander had hoped to accomplish when she began it in 1985.

“I think it definitely bridged a culture gap and a generational gap,” Telander said, “and created a positive connection between young and old.”

Multimedia Usability Test

My initial impressions of this multimedia page are pretty indifferent. Overall I think the layout is pretty clean and straightforward. I think there could be a little more continuity between the main graphics. They all look good, but they seem a little disconnected from each other for some reason.

At first exploring this page I was going to start at the beginning and go all the way through. However as I scrolled through and saw portions about Wyoming and ranching, I decided to check them out before going through the rest of the site since they were  both topics that I already knew about. After that, I went back to the top of the site and went down through all the stories in the order they were set up. I did this because I wanted to see how the website intended for the reader to see the information.

Overall I encountered very few problems with navigation on this page. As discussed in our class, the site layout is relatively simple, everything is laid out on one page and it isn’t too big and cluttered that you miss anything. All the graphics and pictures were visually appealing enough, and they didn’t contain an overwhelming amount of information.

This story was done pretty non-linearly, and used a lot of videos, as well as a few interactive and non interactive graphics. For the most part I thought it made the whole page a little more interesting, but it did get a little tiring watching all of the videos. What I really liked was that all of the information was presented on the same webpage, and none of the links or buttons took me somewhere else. I would say that for the most part the multimedia was used in a way that presented new information every time, and wasn’t too obnoxious.

After returning to the website, I was able to locate an about/contact page within 3 minutes. It was fairly easy to find because at the bottom of the page there is a link to the about page that has names and e-mails and information about the team that created the site.

When I asked my friend to check out the website for a little, he had pretty similar opinions to mine. While he was taking the time to explore the site, he made remarks about the nice look of the site, how all of the photos were very well done and they did not contain too many words or information to becoming confusing.

He chose to go through the site from beginning to end, as the site was set up. His reasoning behind this was because the top of the site says “Start your experience here” so essentially he wanted to just follow the simple steps the page provides. When he went through the site, a couple of the extra little graphics or learn more sections would not fully appear on the screen. These were the only navigation errors he ran into, and this was something that I did not encounter.

When I asked my friend to find the contact information, it took him a little longer than when I searched for it, but still easily under 5 minutes. It was relatively easy to find, but he struggled because the actual word “contact” was not present on the page.

Overall our experiences of the site were pretty similar. We both went through the site chronologically, although I checkout out a few things closer to me before doing that. However, we both found it made sense to navigate through the site from top to bottom, in the order the site presented the information.

In my opinion the site should not change:

  1.  The simple, same-page navigation- this is convenient because it keeps everything all in one place.
  2. High quality images and graphics- they keep the site visually appealing and draw people in.
  3. Short, to the point segments of information- this keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and skipping large segments of the site.

However, the site should change:

  1. The disconnect between information on the main page- it makes the first impression of the site feel a little distant.
  2. More variety of multimedia uses- there are mostly videos, some more variety would keep me more interested.
  3. A more obvious place to find contact information- the site should have a place where it is obvious that you can contact the creators, that actually says uses the work “contact.”

My News Diet

As a consumer of news, I like to try and look at websites that make an effort to provide news that is unbiased. Because it is virtually impossible to find news that is not slanted in one way or another, I tend to gravitate towards aggregate websites that have stories from many different sources. I realize that practically none of the news I read is without bias. The primary websites I read world and national news from are: The Daily Beast, BBC News, and NPR. However, my absolute favorite news source is The Onion (though it isn’t the best for actual news).

the-onion-logo

As for the news sites that contain actual news, the reason I choose to go to The Daily Beast is because it is a news aggregate site, so it generally has stories from all different sources, which I like to believe makes it somehow less prone to bias. Another reason I choose this site instead of other aggregate sites is that it is easy to navigate and rapidly read a short amount about a news story.

BBC News I like because it is a source from outside the USA. It is interesting to me to read stories from this perspective, and I feel that BBC does a pretty good job of covering important world stories as well.

NPR I enjoy because it is easy to access on the radio from just about anywhere, and the stories are fairly interesting.

For the most part, the news stories I gravitate toward are  geared away from politics. I am more of a fan of news about  science, technology, heists, or something that has a little more excitement to it than a dull speech given by a political figure. To me, these types of stories are simply not engaging or entertaining.

I do believe that entertainment can be informative. A story written about something true that is humorous or entertaining does more to engage the reader (me) and make them more interested in the story. Often times entertainment stories can be informative in other ways, such a providing social commentary. For example, this story from The Onion. Though it is made to be entertaining, it makes a statement American people’s attitudes towards their lives.

Ron-BurgundyOn a day to day basis, I will usually discuss at least one news story with a friend of mine. Typically it is something that is outrageous or funny to us in some way, and we will essentially sit and laugh as we talk about it. Otherwise it is something that is rather dramatic and we will discuss how crazy it is that it happened. It is never really about disagreeing or agreeing, but just riffing on current events.

I am sure my news diet could improve quite a bit by reading more news and about a wider variety of subjects, but for the most part I find the news depressing. I believe it is important to know what is going on in the world around me, but at the same time I think it is bad to over-consume the news.