Archive for April, 2012

Final Reflections

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I am very pleased with how our group project turned out. Putting this resource together has been a learning experience for all of us, and pushed us all to try things we never would have done without this project. Despite the learning curve we experienced, our website has become a useful resource for lectures on James Farmer. I think our website will be useful for campus faculty, staff, and students, as well as others off campus who may be interested in James Farmer.

As far as our group contract is concerned, our group met our contractual requirements in all but a few ways. The major deadline we missed was producing the trailer on time. That requirement was entirely my job, and so the blame should not be placed on anyone but me. I got behind on the video trailer project, and ended up posting the trailer over the weekend instead of on the Friday deadline. While there were certainly things that contributed to this delay (there was confusion about if the audio and video matched up, and there were some issues with the video being different qualities from video to video, which meant I had to do some unanticipated conversions) I still did not produce the material on time. However, I am proud of the resulting video. I feel that if I had rushed to produce the video trailer on Friday instead of over the weekend, the trailer would not have been something I would be proud to show to the class. I also tried my hand at creating a graphic opening in After Effects entirely from scratch (something I had never really done before on that scale) and I was extremely pleased with the result. I had fun deciding what music to use; I thought jazz would work well, since it would be period. I used megatrax to find the music; it is a website which allows you to download music for commercial use that I have a subscription to. I also made a shorter version of the trailer so we could show the video during our presentation at the history symposium.

There also were some minor transcript issues Kelsey had to fix after the deadline for the final transcripts had passed. Quite frankly, though, I feel that this is entirely excusable – she transcribed thousands of words, and so realizing she’d made some mistakes and taking the time to fix them I think shows how hard she was working. Also, there was the same confusion over the audio and video I had. We all had assumed that the audio and video were exactly the same; unfortunately, there were some minor but occasionally significant differences. This meant Kelsey needed to transcribe the video separately from the audio, something she had no reason to suspect she would need to do initially. As such, I think her updates show how hard she was working.

As a learning experience, this project was a definite success. This project required that we all learn some new things we’d never done before. I don’t think Laura had ever managed a website before, but I know she put hours into learning and designing the website. The end product is excellent, though, and I think she should be very proud of the work she produced. Similarly, Michelle had never worked with Premiere before, but nevertheless helped me upload the videos to vimeo. She also edited the transcripts, and wrote a lot of the text on the website. Kelsey wrote the transcripts, which was an extremely time consuming task with relative ease. I had worked with Premiere before, but only once (in the History of the Information Age class last semester). I also had created small graphics before in After Effects (like lower thirds) but had never really done a complex opening graphic before. It took a lot of time to do, but I am extremely pleased with the result and I think I learned a lot. In fact, I put the opening graphic into my demo reel. All in all, I think we learned a lot that will prove useful in the future.

This semester, I have been so impressed by my group members – we got along and worked very well together. Kelsey worked exceptionally hard on the transcripts, Laura did a great job designing and taking care of the website, and Michelle worked really hard on uploading, subclipping, editing the transcripts, and managing the vimeo account. Even though we had to tweek our group contact somewhat, I think that we nevertheless produced an excellent resource. We have come a long way this semester, and I am proud of the results.

Sickness and a Shorter Trailer

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Hello all!

This week has been kind of hectic for me. I missed the presentation at the creative symposium because I was extremely sick, and I spent much of the week trying to catch up with everything I had been unable to do while I was sick. One of the main things I did was create a shortened trailer for the history symposium next week. Since we are limited to only 6-8 minutes for our presentation, that meant our current trailer was too long to show. So I cut the trailer down to about 1:30 so we can show a little of what James Farmer sounded like. If we don’t end up using this, it isn’t the end of the world, but I wanted us to have the option of showing it if we wanted to. The trailer is below:

I have also been going through the website and making small changes to layout or spelling and grammar. I’ve made more changes to layout than to spelling or grammar (hopefully a reflection of our excellent writing skills!), but overall I think its made the site look a little better. I added and updated the map tab, and messed around with the photo dimensions on our group photo, as well as having our names link to our digital portfolios. I’ve been having issues with the site crashing a lot when I try to edit it, which has been very annoying. I think it might have something to do with multiple people trying to edit it at once…? Thankfully, all of my corrections have always gone through (if very slowly) so that is all that matters.

We are so close to being done! I cannot believe how quickly this semester has gone.

Update of the Week

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Phew! We are getting down to the last sprint of the semester. However, this week has been extremely productive, so I think my group is in very good shape.

First of all – I finished the trailer! Whoo! I think it looks pretty good. We decided to cut out the voice over, because I couldn’t figure out how to get my audio to blend well with his – there is too much noise on his, and not enough on mine. I never thought I would say this, but gosh darn you digital media lab and all your fancy equipment! :) Quite frankly, it is probably for the best. Since our slogan is “In His Own Words” a narrator seems a little out of place. Also, I’m not the most riveting speaker anyway; James Farmer catches everyone’s attention more effectively than I can. Anyway, feel free to watch the video (I’ve embedded it below) and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have!

The James Farmer Lectures: “In His Own Words” from UMW History on Vimeo.

 Next, I created an audio file for lecture ten and I think Kelsey is working on getting it uploaded to the Website. I wasn’t entire sure how to do just audio in Premiere, but it turned out to be wonderfully easy, and we got a high quality .mp3 out of it! I am quite pleased.

Finally, I took group pictures of our group for the website, and took some more pictures of the James Farmer statue in front of Trinkle. Not only are they posted online, but I made all of the statue photos creative commons licence, so hopefully someone will get to use them for an awesome project in the future.


Updates and Readings for April 10th

Monday, April 9th, 2012

For the James Farmer Lectures, I am currently still working on the trailer. I am having some difficulty with getting technology to cooperate with me, but hope to be mostly done by the end of the week. Mt goal is to have a working draft of the video up by the end of this weekend (!!). We might need to revise it, or decide to change some of it, which is why I say ‘working.’ But it should be mostly done by Sunday!

The first article I read was “Doing History in the Digital Age”, by Barbara Weinstein. I adored her description of the uses of Google – being a Goddess of Google is something everyone should be able to experience once in their lifetime. Or, similarly, finding a perfect article on JSTOR or googlescholar. Similarly, it took me forever to figure out how to use accents on a computer. Sad confession – it was only when I started taking French in college that I figured I should finally give up the ghost and google it. Who knew it as so easy on a Mac? I can use accepts on a Mac to my little heart’s content now. What she seems to be getting at, though, is her generation’s ‘fits and starts’ method of learning new technology. Certainly, my mother and father are this way. Sometimes I am amazed at what they can do and find on a computer, and other times I am surprised by what they have yet to figure out. This confusion and lack of knowledge of technology is definitely reflected in different classes. Classes where computers are banned and teachers write on the eraser board contrast jarringly with classes where every student has a computer and they are used as a way to further discussion.

The second article I read was “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia) by Christopher Miller. I was instantly intrigued. The bashing of Wikipedia seems to be a professional sport among the academic community, and so anything that might go against that logic is appealing to me.  One of the first, really key points in Miller’s article (in my opinion)  is that “many… professors ban vaguely defined “internet sources” as if the means of acquisition determines a source’s reliability.” I have found this to be unfortunately true – I had one professor say that if we used any books that could not be found in the UMW library, he would not give us credit because it meant we used an online resource. He was an extreme case (and thankfully not a member of the History department) but I feel that he nevertheless demonstrates the extreme fear and dislike of internet resources. But many are tempted to believe ALL internet sources are bad and the worst internet resource of all internet resources is Wikipedia. The only really ‘safe’ information is in books. I find this infuriating. While I do not believe that one should be able to use Wikipedia in, say, a capstone senior thesis, I do think it is worth looking at. Its footnotes can be very useful, and it is often a good jumping off point.