Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things I'm Thankful For

Image by honor the gift

In honor or Thanksgiving and inspired by Lisa Dabbs, I reflected on all the people that I am thankful for: 
     My amazinfamily who have been so supportive of everything that I've done. Their selflessness and sacrifice have contributed to my success and they mean the world to me. They keep me grounded and I always know that I can turn to them when I'm feeling down or want to celebrate.
     I've been blessed to have some great friends in my life. My oldest friends have been there for all of the crazy life transitions. It has been an amazing journey of laughter, happy times, career moves, graduations, weddings, babies, relocation, etc and they make every moment so much better. I don't know what I would do without them. I'm also thankful for the new friends I've made who add flair and laughter to my life. They never cease to amaze me with their challenging questions, tough love and genuine concern. 
     Mentors who believe in me and push me to be better. I am so thankful to have Chris Penny and Larysa Nadolny as my (unofficial) mentors. It is so amazing to have teachers who see the talent in me and partner with me to help it flourish. They've opened up a whole new world me, they're great to bounce ideas off of and they're constantly encouraging. 

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Natural Ability of Storytelling

Image by Gracieli Lisboa
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with one of my undergraduate students about media production (a little background: he worked in LA in film production). He said something I thought was really profound: that we all have a natural ability for visual storytelling. He said that we are capable of seeing a group of images and telling that they make a story. That we can all see moments and the natural story it creates. While I agree with that I think it's easier said than done. I can see a moment and see a story revolve around it but it can be hard to take tools, technological or not, and bring that moment to life or capture it in a photograph, an animation or video. I think that's part of the reason I don't delve into photography as much as I would like. Seeing a story and creating a story, breathing life into an idea and making it something that people can connect to, are two skills that I'm finding myself trying to merge because you can't have one without the other.

Monday, November 7, 2011

ZooBurst - 3D Pop-up Books

ZooBurst is an online tool where students can create their own 3D pop-up books. A user can control the look and feel of their book such as page color and background color. Objects can be moved, re-sized and rotated using a mouse. Sound effects, animation and voice recording can be added to each page of the story. Characters can be made clickable so readers can learn more about them or read their dialogue. Pages of the book turn like pages in a real book. By printing a symbol, the user can view and flip through their book using their webcam. Books can be shared with a link or embedded on a website.

Classroom uses for ZooBurst: Teachers can create books for their class and narrate them or have their students create their own stories based on what they see. Students will love creating their own pop-up books individually or collaboratively. ZooBurst gives students a chance to practice storytelling with digital media and using augmented reality. Students will also be content creators as they can contribute their stories to and share them on the online gallery for online discussion.

Here is a sample book I made:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Door Scene: Take 2

Last week my Digital Media Production and Storytelling class returned to the door scene that we had filmed the week before. Instead of filming off the cuff, we spent the week individually storyboarding the scenes we wanted to shoot and shared them with our group (my group members were kind enough not to laugh at my terrible drawings). Excited to reshoot our door scene, we were surprised to find out there was a twist: we were going to be switching storyboards with another group and shooting their scene. It was interesting to see a scene from another group's perspective and the direction they planned to take the project. We were not allowed to make any alterations and we had to shoot exactly what we saw on the paper. The challenge that my group had was knowing specifically what to shoot and how to shoot it. In the end, I think we created an excellent video that was better than our first one.

Image by dsevilla
The experience of shooting that scene taught me the importance of storyboarding. Storyboards need to be clear and specific enough that someone else could take it and see the same vision that I had in my head. What was also great about having a storyboard is that it gave our group direction when filming because we could shoot one scene at a time and we weren't confused about what to shoot next. I originally struggled with pre-production planning but I am starting to see its value more and more. The main reason I had so much trouble with pre-planning was because I thought that it robbed stories of its creativity and emotional drive out of a story. But I'm learning that that's not necessarily the case. Storyboarding can ensure that the elements that create that emotional pull in a story are included. The process of making one can make you think about what angles, sounds and movement would convey the most meaning. It forces you to take the emotions and power of the story and make it concrete so you can make it real to your audience. Most importantly, pre-planning makes sure that you never lose sight of the story you're planning because you can see it in black and white.