The life and times of Mr. Chicago River (Aka Chi River to my friends)

Preview of Chicago and your future tour guide!

Mr River Poster

Mr River Poster


Thank you for downloading my app on your phone and welcome to my city of Chicago, I am Mr. River or Chi River if you please. I know that my city can be a little confusing and there are a lot of signs, tourist maps, and guides but let me try to help you. I will be your guide today and I can give you information about my dear city from the very beginning or present day. You will notice I have a photographic memory (pun intended) and can tell you anything about our shared history. You see I was here before Chicago was even thought of and have seen it all from start to finish.

What’s that? You don’t know where to start? Well let’s start with where it all began first. I can tell you about all the rest later if you have time. If you ever need a break you can hit pause and I will start where we left off next time you launch my app. I have been told I talk a lot so I don’t mind a little break if you need one. Okay where was I? Oh right the start of Chicago, the city. The name “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as “wild onion” or “wild garlic”, from the Miami-Illinois language. The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as “Checagou” was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir written about the time. During the mid-18th century, the area was inhabited by a Native American tribe known as the Potawatomi, who had taken the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox peoples. The 1780s saw the arrival of the first known non-indigenous permanent settler in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who was of African and European (French) descent. In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, an area that was to be part of Chicago was turned over to the United States for a military post by native tribes in accordance with the Treaty of Greenville. In 1803, the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which was destroyed in the War of 1812, Battle of Fort Dearborn and later rebuilt. The Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi tribes had ceded additional land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis. The Potawatomi were eventually forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago in 1833.
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of around 200. Within seven years it would grow to a population of over 4,000. On June 15, 1835, the first public land sales commenced with Edmund Dick Taylor as U.S. receiver of public moneys. The City of Chicago was incorporated on Saturday, March 4, 1837 and went on to become the fastest growing city in the world for several decades.

Well that is a lot covered in a short amount of time. I have a lot more to tell but you should go explore some of things we just talked about. Make sure you visit part of the Fort Dearborn’s outline that is marked by plaques and a line embedded in the sidewalk and road near the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Wacker Drive for example.

Come again and we will start where we left off.

Special thanks to our friends at wikipedia ( for all their support in making this content possible.


Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Your final blog post for this class should include a link to your project and a discussion of at least 5 paragraphs that include the background information for your idea, a reflection on how your project fits the story spine, and media references, and details of how you produced it.

I can’t believe the end is finally here and I have created my final project for everyone to enjoy. Again the task for the final project was outlined by our professor ( and it was a huge undertaking.  To think I have outlined all my possible ideas over the weeks and now have to pick one!  I decided to go with my idea about the Chicago River telling the life and times of the City of Chicago.

The first steps I took after coming up with the idea was look around on internet for where I would get the historical and relevant information and decided Wikipedia would be best. I found two sites that had a ton of information that would be great to start my project.  Those were:

Next, I decided to treat my little history character as an app you download while you are in the middle of the city to find out more about it. There are a ton of guides, signs, and websites but this would be a great way to learn while walking around.  I could even see it as chapters on the app that you could launch.  Others would probably have ideas like this from historical figures or someone just reading the facts so I liked my idea of having the River take on the persona of the guide and fix the information overload.

I choose to just give a taste of what the concept app would sound like and cover just the brief beginnings of the city. The full blown app could cover all of the past and present.  I even thought about the idea of having some of the buildings take over talking points and act like they are friends or other inanimate objects in the city.  The potential is limited only by imagination and need.

For the script I used a lot of the wiki information and put it into a word document so I could make sure I added the beginning and the ends of the script to give context to someone that is listening for the first time. I then used audacity to record my voice reading the script.  I figured I could change my pitch so it would sound different and represent the River’s voice.

Then, I used photoshop to come up with a concept poster or advertisement for the app that could be placed downtown or online for people to find and use. I found images of Chicago online but none really worked for me so I went back to my photos I took myself when I was there last month. I also thought this was fitting since it was my inspiration for the character. I used the layers feature of photoshop to manipulate the images, put in shapes for his face, and put in additional text on the app and where to find it.

Screen capture of Photoshop poster creation

Screen capture of Photoshop poster creation

Finally, I created a video to use the promotional advertisement, the voice recording I did earlier, and combined them to create a video advertisement to showcase my story on why the app is great to meet Mr. River and discover his city of Chicago. I just imported all the items and created the final video. The website helped me download the original.
Original video I used:

Image of Movie Maker

Image of Movie Maker

Final video:

The final story fits the story spine well in that it has an introduction, a middle, and an end. It would go something like this:

Once upon a time there was a river named Mr. Chicago River. Every day, he saw events unfold before his eyes and a city rise around him. Until one day, he saw a tourist staring confused at an information sign and looking around lost. Because of that, he decided that he could tell his own story about his beloved city and not waste people’s time reading.

Overall I think it went really well and like the final product. It was challenging as always to use all the different software but it came out fine.  Oh and I had such a hard time saying all the tribe names! I am horrible at names. But, I could see myself pitching this concept to the tourism department of Chicago to get additional funding to make it a reality. Mr. Chicago River could have friends like the former Sears Tower that talks or well anything really. Also, the app could have a gps feature that lets it tell the story of the item closest to you.

I may just go to Hollywood after all!

Weekly Summary Checklist

The last 2.5 weeks have been crazy when you think about all we had to do and what we did as a class. I finished final week off with some computer issues but finally got it all under control and finished all the assignments. From other posts I was not alone but such is life. I still had fun doing all the assignments. Speaking of let’s recap what I did this week.

The Reading the movies assignment was very interesting. I never thought about how placement or how a director can use unspoken things to influence how a movie unfolds. After reading through all the insights by Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” it made sense that it could work that way. Reading about other techniques was interesting too. I for sure relate to finding mistakes in the shots from scene to scenes and I got to sum it all up in a blog about it too.

Next the Look, Listen, and Analyze assignment was interesting as well. It helped me when I got to review the Matrix and watch/listen to it three times and come up with my thoughts on it. The one downside to this assignment is the amount of time you watch it starts to influence what you think you should say but overall it was a good exercise in seeing how it all comes together.

I must admit the assignment that took me the longest was the Foley assignment and it was just getting my PC to do everything I wanted and lots of watching video tips or searching google. But I finally got through it and learned that doing the assignment on a Mac was probably easier. Too bad I do not have one. Stupid Microsoft! I do have to admit it came out okay after all. Hopefully people like my story about him talking to animals!

The two assignments we got to pick this week were so varied and awesome to put together. I got to do my own chipmunk video and tap into my childhood memories of watching the cartoon. Next I got to practice using the new Vine App and creating a video that way. The think about that app is you lose some of your editing but you have to be very smart in how you lay everything out and your script/sequence. So crazy that kids are doing that type of video creation more and more.

I was glad to take a break and look at other people’s ideas for their final projects and provide feedback. Lots of creative people in our class and good ideas.

Overall these last 2.5 weeks were great and scary at the same time but glad I got through them. I have never been late to publish all my homework assignments before but this needed extra time. I didn’t want to rush and not do something well. Also the computer issues really held me up. But overall I am proud of what I did!

So glad it is over and done!!

My new friend! Thanks Westin Hotels.

For this two week segment you should complete two more ds106 video assignments, each should be posted to your blog, appropriately tagged and categorized. All videos should have an opening and closing title/credits sequence.

For the second assignment I was looking around the possible items and came across the one that requires you to use Vine. This really sparked my interest since Vine has made a huge splash in the video space with just 6 seconds of footage. People are no longer going to their desktops to create video they are doing it right on their phones. Now I have never done Vine and this was a good excuse to practice. I had no idea it was so hard! You can’t dub in the music so you have to do that at the same time. So I had to go through my shot sequence with thinking where I would put my laptop to play the music. Since I am in a hotel this week and they did a towel animal it was too cute not to use. I came up with a story that he is my new friend and he spends the day with me while I work. He loves popcorn so I give him some at the end to say thanks. I had to do this a few times because the towel animal would fall apart as I moved him, or the song wouldn’t go so well, or the shot was dumb when I played it back. You are able to touch the screen and release to move to the next scene but that is it. No editing after or anything so you have to start over. Not sure how these folks do it with so many vines online.

Here you go! My first Vine and the future of video creation on your phone. (Make sure you click the speaker icon in upper left to turn on sound)

Screen shot of the Vine App:

screen shot of Vine app recording

screen shot of Vine app recording

The source file for the song is

Also this does make me want to try another one at Christmas with my nieces and nephews. They are such hams!

And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going without my NUTS!

For this two week segment you should complete two more ds106 video assignments, each should be posted to your blog, appropriately tagged and categorized. All videos should have an opening and closing title/credits sequence.

I was trying to think what assignments to do this week that would make me laugh and be interesting to make. This one about making a normal scene sound like a chipmunk when you speed it up was great. I decided to take an iconic song in Dream Girls that Jennifer Hudson sings and turn it into a chipmunk version. First the song is sung slow and takes a while to build up so it was perfect. Not only that but everyone knows it so it would also get a laugh. I went to YouTube to find a video clip of her singing it and downloaded it using Next I use my movie editing software to play around with the speed. At first I made it 4x but you couldn’t make out the words so I toyed around and settled on 1.75X. I then added a title and closing credits, put in some transitions at front and after/before each text that comes in. Finally, I played it and laughed at my work. Oh and I am a big fan of the Chipmunk movies too so this is great way to do my own version too. Hope you enjoy!

My changed one where she is only thinking like a chipmunk that wants her nuts is here:

The original is this clip here in case you want it:

Screen shot of my video editing:

Screen Shot of Video Editing

Screen Shot of Video Editing

Not bad overall right? Was interesting concept.

Charlie the Animal Whisper!

Write up a blog post embedding your new version of the story. Explain where the idea came from, and include reference URLs for all media you used. Also include a screen shot of your video editing interface.

I knew this assignment would be challenging and it lived up to it. Talk about using all we have learned in one homework assignment! I was able to download the files just fine using and also soundcloud to get all the files. I used moviemaker on my laptop to edit the movie and audacity to do the sound track because it was easier to work with the files. I also found my singing lion on YouTube
My story for this Charlie Chaplin reimagined is he is an ‘animal whisper’ that can talk to animals via his mind. He has found himself in a circus full of crazy animals that are either super excited to talk to him (horse and dog) or mostly bored with him (lion). The woman in the story does not get that he can talk to animals telepathically and is confused. However, in the end the lion gets tired of him interrupting his sleep, is a little playful and sings that he is sleeping, and then yells at him to leave him alone. This scares Charlie and he runs out and up a pole. But everything is fine and he comes down.

I hope you like it! Here it is:

I couldn’t have done all this without my source files used. Here you go!

Sound files

Original video clips

Screen showing my movie editing:

Video Editing screen shot

Video Editing screen shot

Overall it was a good experience and great use of Movie Maker. However, I think it would have been easier with a better movie editing software like Apple has but I can only do what I have free on laptop. The sound piece was hardest and the titles.
Not bad for my first time if I say so myself!

There are a lot of people telling stories!

Write another blog post summarizing what you saw in other students’ project ideas or what suggestions you made that focused on adding the story element.

I was glad to get a break from coming up with story ideas for the final project and instead helping comment on others. I honestly wasn’t sure I could come up with another idea since I like some of my others already. So here goes my thoughts on what others have come up with on their stories.

This story on problem solving tool was very thoughtful in taking a present issue and making a story that could be told to the buyer. The thing that struck me and I offered as a comment was the idea of the buyer having different personalities. So you could tailor your solution pitch to them if they needed more data, less data, etc. It could add a fun story telling piece for the consultant to use to help follow up on the live story that unfolds as you pitch your first story.

Next I was interested in the fact that when we first started some of the ideas folks had were raw. I provided some comments on how to take something that seems easy, eating healthy, can be hard when you add in food labels or BMI. I hope that helps flip the idea of how something might have tons of stories to one where you can focus in on a new story.

The idea of doing a baptism was very interesting. Especially as a Southern Baptist raised kid from NC! I liked the ideas of different angles but also offered up the idea of the ‘backstory’ that got them into the waters. So you do a story of what they did to get to this point and why they are doing it. That could help others understand why it is important for them to do it.

Overall good ideas from the class and interesting ways folks are thinking this assignment through. I think that was part of what I liked is how different people took different angles with their story. That gave me some ideas on how I can make my story just a story about something that happened. It does not have to be something that is a step-by-step process.

Matrix, oh how I love thee after all these years.

Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?

I must admit I was a little worried about the assignment to analyzing a famous scene from a movie. These are scenes that tons of people know and love so it is with care I decided to do the Matrix clip.
Matrix: Birth of the chosen one

I remember being so amazed by this movie when it first came out and how fresh and new everything it did felt. I know this will be one of those movies that just stays with you forever. So without further redo here is my notes on the three views of the scene that I did, I hope you like it.

Without Sound: The scene starts with just a door on the left which is on the negative side and on the right is darkness. So your focus is on the door that is on the negative side. Overall, there is not a lot of light which is telling of something bad going to happen. When the door opens Agent Smith (bad guy) is on the left and Neo (good guy) is on the right which further aligns to the negative on left and positive on right that Roger Ebert talks about in How to Read a Movie. There are a lot of camera cuts from character to character and lower and upper body. It has a way of focusing the scene on the two men and the gun fire. Also the Agent was in the foreground when he shot and Neo was in the background showing that the Agent was more dominate in this section of scene. When the scene cuts to the hallway again you see Neo on the Right as he is shot and Agent Smith is on the left that is doing the shooting. There are some nice up close camera views of the gun to show it in a dominating fashion. There is another cut to the ship where the characters outside the matrix are and Trinity is looking over Neo. As Neo dies he falls down and to the left implying the death and negative consequences that would cause. Lots of great cuts from the hallway to the ship and the Agents coming from different sides of the hallway to check on Neo. As we look at Neo dying on the table in the ship you can see his face is bathed in light as if to convey hope. When Neo is alive the alignment of characters get out of whack but since Neo is nearest to the room, phone, and light it still grounds us in the purpose of him verse the Agents that are bad. The fight scene is great with the slow motion and camera angle changes as Agent comes at him down the hallway. Actually the whole fight happening in the hallway was a nice touch to focus us on a small playing field where we could only focus on the characters and fight.

Sound only: Dramatic sounds start off then lighter sound and the sound of the bullet dropping. Then total silence and the phone ringing as the shots fire. Music was light and then rising as the phone continues to ring. The heart monitor sound is dramatic to denote the passing of the character but the phone continues to ring. The sound climaxes with lasers, voices but then silence (no ringing) and just the voice of Trinity. We are forced to focus on her voice with light music before the volume/sounds start to climax until you hear the heart beat monitor and the phone ringing again. The music tacks over and no dialogue as the bullets are fired by the agents. You hear the music imply almost god like angel call. The fight scene is dramatic with the music playing and the sounds of punches. Then only music as it builds towards him jumping into the agent and followed by God like music again. The electronic sounds that play when the Agent explodes is a nice touch to imply matrix.

Sound and Video: Now as I watch it I am more a tuned to the phone ringing in the Matrix and how it doesn’t in the ship. It helps ground you to which reality we are watching unfold. I hadn’t thought of that the first time but the lasers are a constant sound in the real world. I hadn’t really heard the god like music that plays when Neo comes back alive. The audio track and video play well together to give you the dramatics and climaxes of action that are happening. Also in more serious scenes the lack of audio focuses the mind on the statements.

I must admit since I have gone to the Museum of Moving Image these concepts were not new to me but I still enjoyed watching the hard work that went into the audio and visual elements that made up this movie scene. I always thought they did so a great job in the mix of the two for the Matrix. Heck who can forget the 360 stop motion video angles they basically patented in this movie.

Did you see that? It changed! Rewind!

Write a blog post that includes your response to the methods suggested by Ebert– why might they work (or not)? Summarize what you learned from the two videos you watched about cinema techniques.

I thought Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” was very interesting and insightful. For those that have never heard the basic run down that DS106 gave us is spot on. And I quote,

“In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them.”

The parts of this that made the most sense to me is the right and left side dictating positive and negative. I think that is how a lot of our living world is constructed too but that is a very Western World thought process. I wonder if we looked at other countries where left is more dominating in the world they live it would be the same. But none-the-less I did relate to this line of thinking to some of the films I have saw recently. It also made me think of how I have come up with some rules for myself with Sci-Fi films where the characters we do not know their names are more likely to die than the ones we do know. That is just one example that comes to my mind when I think of how you can come up with rules that help you make sense of a film. I also thought it was interesting to read about how he came to this thought process and used to have students help him decipher a movie or ‘read it’. Some of his other thoughts on tilted shots did not really make an impression on me because the talk of characters “sliding perilously into their futures” seems like a stretch. However, that is just my opinion but seems a little over analyzed.

I also enjoyed watching two film editing techniques. The first was the •Examples of Editing Techniques

that showed different cuts, freeze frames, and other methods. I related a lot to the rocker band cutting methods they used. I had not thought about all the different cuts you could make until you see them lined up. And the thaw frame with the people on the treadmills I remember watching a bunch of times. It was so inventive! I couldn’t imagine sitting in an editing room with hundreds of hours of film footage and having to not only come up with what to cut and splice together but also how to use cuts and edit techniques to piece them together. No wonder they have Oscars for these types of things!

The next video clip I watched was something near and dear to my heart, •Star Wars Continuity Mistakes

First it is Sci-fi which is one of my favorite genres but also I have a knack for picking up continuity mistakes in a movie. I am the person that will shout “Wait! Did you see that? The person had….” And make people rewind. Okay I don’t always shout it out unless it is in my home and we have all seen it or it is not too serious of a watching event. But I really do have the gift to pick up those things and think about them in my head. I can spot a glass in someone’s hand that ends up on the table when they cut to a different angle. Or I am good at spotting when hair or clothes change between shots. It is most fun in a TV series setting since they have less time or energy it seems to catch those items. Overall, again this is a hard job for the set folks to keep in mind when they are shotting a lot of takes and for the director to keep in mind for lighting and time of day. The Star Wars mistakes were fun and I liked the storm trooper hitting his head the most.

Chi-town sure was loud

You would think each week has me in a new city and that would be true the last two weeks. This week I was in Chicago for work and needed to do my assignments while in either a hotel room or a friend’s house. So that was an adventure but I was up for it!

First up was the creation of my account and that was super easy. I even got to do my first sound upload for it and thought it was a breeze. I did use my iphone to create the file since it is something that is easy to do and fast!

Next up was my sound effect story that was a little harder to do because I had to think of the story I wanted to tell! But my surroundings gave me a great idea and I just ran with the spring weather and lake idea. The software, Audacity, was easy enough to use and I figured it out.

The Charlie Chaplin Foley assignment was a little harder to do in a hotel room and being in one spot to record everything in one take was hard. However, I figured it is not meant to be perfect but show that I am trying. So that’s what everyone got!

The audio assignment bank were not filled with a lot I wanted to do but I finally found the mock 911 call idea and loved. That concept goes with my silly humor and I know I really did want shorts badly with the nice weather!

The story idea came to me with all the touring around I did and the great stories my friend gave me. That also means others might not know the stories so why not share!

I got a lot of good comments from the professor on getting more detailed on the images and concepts. I am still waiting on some additional audio comments and plan to update this when I have them. I saw others were doing a great job on the sounds. I like how some were doing screen shots with numbers on the clips to help explain. I should try that next time for mine.

Overall, I think this was a good week but not as easy as images since making sounds is very technical and not second nature to me like images. But I tried and got better!

And here is a nice remix to get you excited for summer!