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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!!

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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.

I have an alarming story to tell you

Write another blog post summarizing what you found that might or might not work for something that could use a story approach to make it more effective. Explain why you chose it. Even if you are not sure if it will work, keep the ideas going.

I was thinking about what my next story would be and saw the piece of paper under my alarm system that I left out for a guest that stayed last week. I have the basic instructions for how to set the alarm and commands. That got me to thinking how I might change the instructions into a story to make it more memorable. Right now when folks come to stay with me they are so nervous and keep that paper around for the whole time. But if I was to make the instructions into a story it could help people remember maybe and not get confused. I think I could make it a story told from the viewpoint of the alarm system as if they are welcoming a guest and are like the door man, letting them in and out of the building.

A quick search of youtube shows you that I am not alone. My alarm has stay and away which can confuse. Here is an example to see what it can be like to try to remember.

Reflect via photos

So this week was interesting to practice all my photo skills and imagination. I knew this week might be a little harder than others so I took a look early and tried to plan out how I would accomplish everything. The photoshop pieces would be the hardest for me since I am still learning that program but overall I enjoyed it. The practice of becoming a better photographer was interesting and got me out and about on my street. I wasn’t kidding when I say lots of people take photos on my street in the fall so I looked like a normal tourist but it is my hood. The five photo story really tested my imagination and what I could come up with on photos presented to me. The photo safari was fun and I just realized one of my photos was really something like a safari when you think about the elephants. The two visual assignments from the bank of ideas were interesting. The color splash assignment gave me an excuse to buy the app I have wanted for a while. At 99 cents how can you complain? For the historical selfie it was fun to think who I wanted to come up with and being the sci-fi person I am, Albert Einstein was great. For the story I thought about how my roommate struggled when he first moved into my apartment and had to learn how to use my tv remote. It was hopeful he was watching a show as I was thinking of my next story.
So there you go, another week done and some interesting stories come out. I hope everyone enjoyed watching the street and inside of my house come alive. I feel I really got the hang of all the assignments and put some thought into what I would do via photos. The titles were a little harder to come up with this week but I think I still did them justice. Oh and hope everyone noticed I was still able to carry through the idea of escaping via tv, different views of your home/street, and just everything else I put out this week.

All these photos made me think of the song by Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”, well not the killing your boyfriend part but all the photos and media.

Escaping the Pull of Gravity!

This week was a fun one but some of those podcasts and videos were long. But the funny thing is I did not mind them since they were well done both production and story wise. I am also better able to appericate the thought that goes into these productions. When I started listening to Evelyn Glennie’s TED talk I had no idea she was deaf and played music. So once I figured that out it wowed me even more and made me so smart to be even hearing this amazing story.

Also, how great to start off the first assignment listening to some good radio programs and learning about audio editing and producing. I chose an NPR piece to write about and joked my Mom would be so proud. I must admit that I never thought of the fact that someone could record three different audio tracks for program that could include the sounds around them, the interview with no sound, and then the interview with someone doing something. It just allowed for a lot of different layering and shaping of the story. It also made me think how it could also be used to reshape a story to be what you wanted like a political ad. So hopefully people use it for good and not bad!

I cannot wait to tell people that part of my assignment this week was to blog about a commercial. Okay for the second assignment 2 you really were treating it like a good short film and they were good commercials. If they were bad or just dumb you could find this assignment boring. I did find the work a little time exhausting with the break down every 5 seconds but it actually made me pay attention to all the thought, camera work, storyline, and audio that went it producing it. I remember the 1984 commercial and now just know I can capture some of the key elements in a commercial now. Bring on the Super Bowl commercials! I need another Star Wars kid Darth Vader vs VW car to watch. That inner Sci-Fi fan can watch those commercials over and over again. Make sure you read about it here and for fun re-watch it here:

I was glad I got to catch up with my classmates and read/comment on some of their blog entries and see what was said on mine. When I was looking at some of the blogs I found a clean looking blog that was crisp and fresh on the eyes. I will need to keep that crisp theme in mind for mine. On that same blog I found it interesting that they divided up some of the blog entries into more pieces than I decided. I think that could help focus a reader but also miss some of the overall stories. Also on another blog I was reminded how much I love gif and surprised I did not think to use them in my blog posts. I use them all the time in texts and now need to figure out a way to do it in my blogs. Also I liked the use of youtube videos and links to give context.

The class was really good at giving me feedback and glad to see my Bus Story idea is a hit and folks get it. I also need to up my game with images and links to keep folks engaged . I think next week I will have to do more with gifs.

Image of gif key

Wish there was a gif key – from shutterstock


My second idea around a story is one related to performance reviews. I thought this one could be a different way to teach a concept that has system and people aspects. I am not sure how folks will get excited about it but I know it is a twice a year requirement for me!

Overall, I can tell I becoming more comfortable with the format of the class, the time commitment, the videos/audios we must read, and used to the blog tool. I feel like week 1 was my rocket just starting to blast off from Earth and now I am starting to escape the pull of gravity and really speed forward! I feel I gave each post a lot of thought and tried to get the concepts down. I feel I am getting better and better!

Look Ma! I am listening to NPR. No really…

Pick examples from the episodes below to use as a basis for a blog post with your observations of the audio methods, techniques you can identify.

After listening to the sound techniques and layering that can happen in production, I was ready to test how well I was going to catch everything. As part of our assignment this week we had to listen to an audio program and practice. Now to be fair I actually do listen to NPR but not since I gave up my car about six years ago and left NC. So my mom would be proud to see me listening to NPR. Anyways, I listened to This American Life and specifically their episode 477 titled “Getting Away With It

In the Prologue Ira is on a flight with a travel writer named Ken Hegan who happens to be over 6 foot tall. The story revolves around him trying out a new gadget called the Knee defender.

Knee Defender Site

Knee Defender Site


I liked how they used the sound of the plane to give you a sense of placement and the act of this happening live. Instead of it being a post discussion the sounds clue you it is real time. They use the use of music as well to clue you into a new part of the story which helps you to know the next part is a new paragraph. Additionally they use layers of sound by having their voices happen over the plane sounds but also total quiet background while Ira is talking. It helps to keep the listening interesting and when there would be talking with no sound my ears would perk up. I really found myself wanting to listen to the story because I felt like I was in the seat next to them and getting to ease drop. That’s how I felt listening and I could sense his desire to not be a dick using the device that prevents people from reclining. However, the woman could not recline but he also did not want his knees to suffer so You feel bad for both parties.

Act One “Take Your Kid to Work Day” has me very interested in what I have gotten myself into with this episode. Here I thought I would be listening to vacation or travel blogs but instead it really is about people getting away with it. Guess I should have read closely that the title had “with it” and not “away from it”. Guess that shows my mind wants a vacation. Okay back to the story about a family that had to turn trucking illegal drugs from Mexico to USA. The theme of music to note paragraphs is used again to help booked thoughts as we move through this segment. As he tells the story of his parents at the witch doctor the music slowly turns to give a sense of almost magical but a little happier. I noticed with this piece the music choice fits the more country rural landscape you can imagine them driving through. Additionally, it even makes me think of a simple life outside of the city. So the use of the music genre is also setting the tone for me and helping me imagine them. As the story starts to climax the music changes to match but in a much calmer sense as if to draw you into the impending danger that the father can now not avoid since they are next at the check point. I find myself reacting with fear for them and wondering how this will turn out. Then the music stops as the main point of the story comes through on how risky this all was and how they almost have no hope of getting through the checkpoint. The clarity of the moment in time is laid bare by the silence of music and raw voice as he speaks. A small piece of my childhood just popped into this story because they ate at Whataburger which I was obsessed with as a child visiting family in Texas and Oklahoma. Sorry, I couldn’t let that moment pass without mentioning.
Whataburger Logo
So I find myself relieved that it all worked out and also still coming down from the anxious feeling you have as you watch a thriller on the TV.

Act Two let’s listeners call and tell stories of how they got away with things. The fact they play the voicemail messages kind of surprises me since you would expect them to give a general list of what people said. But now that I am thinking the entire idea of this show is to give folks the opportunity to speak about it with their own voice. The music is very hip and airy as we listen to the voicemails layered of it. Odd choice but does keep it light and moving through them all. I liked how Ira introduces the last and final story to alert us this will be long but the last. So it is a good set up for the ending coming and they even stopped the music to focus us.

Act Three tells us about Molly Shannon and a friend that take a trip half-way across the country but only twelve years old. And as if that isn’t enough to get your attention they do this while wearing tutus. The feeling of this segment is a lot more cheerful and fun. They mix in a laugh track (or live audience laughing) to the story as it is told. You find yourself smiling or laughing as you imagine these kids sneaking onto a plane. The banter back and forth between Marc (host) and Molly as the story carries forward just adds to how funny it is and shocking. He plays the conscious we all are thinking inside on the wild story.

Act Four has us listening to Producer Alex Blumberg tell a story of how education in Oklahoma made a huge turn around. The use of different voices to tell the story, the absence of music when they want you to pay attention, and the music being used to bookend the paragraph kept this segment going. You felt like you were getting a big secret and you needed to pay attention.
Oklahoma Flag from Wiki

I am sure I missed some of the key elements that they used in the production of these segments but I can tell you that I was picking up more. They use a mix of music, interviews, paragraphs, and layers to tell the story. I found I was drawn into the stories and excited to hear the outcomes. The music would break up the voices and then the voices would break up the background noise. It was well done.

Wondering how to use the DC bus system? That reminds me of a story…

I knew the minute the first video blog came out for this class that the picking of the story for my final project would be tough. In our other GMU classes it was always a struggle to come up with a topic for the final project and I knew this would be no different. So I thought back to all the things in my life that I interact with but are not always explained well to me or others. Since I live in DC and like to use public transportation it dawned on me that that could be a great topic. Almost everyone seems to figure out the Metro Trains first and sometimes graduate to adding in the bus system. But I have heard more than once in my 7 years here that folks have a hard time figuring out our bus system. I feel the reason is the complex nature and multiple lines. The metro trains are fewer and thus the map is as well. You have less of a fear of getting on the wrong train and headed in the wrong direction than a bus it seems.

Why not rethink how the bus system guides are provided and rethink how to convey the message to readers. I bet stories based in the areas folks live with a journey to the major points in the city could be exactly what the doctor ordered. I think depicting the day and life of a character as they go to work and live life could really connect with people.
Picture of dc bus system

What’s your storytelling got to do with me?

Storytelling is conveying a message to an audience through images, words, and/or audible communication.  I always think of my father who is an ex-marine and would have the craziest stories to tell. 

family photo in Sydney Harbor

Myself, Mom, and Dad in Sydney.

Some of them are jokes (no I can’t tell you them all), life happenings, or just random thoughts on his mind.  There was never a person my father wouldn’t talk to and he loved to see a smile.  So he would weave in a joke or a story to get a rise out of anyone he met, and I mean a-n-y-o-n-e.  As I aged I grew tired of this and would be embarrassed but in my 30s I learned to see it for what it was; him trying to make people smile and light up their day.  So I now no longer roll my eyes but sometimes I still walk away so I can continue on with my task at hand because he can get lost in his conersations.  I came to find out as I grew closer to my grandmother that this trait is very dear to the hearts of people in my extended family.  Everyone loves a good story and has practiced it over and over again.  So it would seem that I come from a long line of storytelling folk.  I hope I do them justice every day through my work and friends and humor! 

When I add in the thoughts of digital storytelling I think there is no limit to what you can visually show to someone in the story and how it can expand/support the story.  When storytelling was just about words and basic pictures you could leave it to the imagination all the grand pieces of your story.  But now with digital resources you can depict them for the audience.  This can be a blessing and a cruse if you think about how people revolt against a popular book being turned into a movie that does not meet their expectations or differs from their images they created.  However, I think people can appreciate that everyone’s story can co-mingle and you are not forced to confirm to any one story.  That is the great thing about storytelling, you can mix in your own thoughts, images, and plots. 

Now thinking about my work and how the videos by Ira Glass and Andrew Stanton can influence my thoughts on the implications of storytelling for my training classes.  I like to think I use anticipation, get people to care, and allow them to put the pieces together.  All these features can really help folks learn and understand the story I am trying to tell them.  That story is how the topics I am teaching them will make their work life easier or better.  The more I can convince them it is in their best interest and to come up with the solutions using my tools, the better off they will be overall.

Adventures in setting up WordPress

Try writing a welcome to me blog post. Write about how the experience of setting it up went, if it feels like it represents something interesting. Make sure you use one of the categories you created from the box in lower right to associate it with the ones you set up. Try adding an image to your post as well.

Setting Up Your Digital Work Space.

Setting up WordPress was interesting to say the least. I have always seen people blogging using the website but never had the nerve to try it myself. Also I hadn’t decided that I had anything worthwhile to write about or the time to do it. Well that all changed once this class started and it is a requirement.
Thank god there were steps outlined and tips on what to do as I got lost a few times. (Great how to video Allen posted helped me a lot.) That is odd considering I am very technology literate and can figure things out quickly. I had a hard time finding my dashboard to get to all the other settings but played around and finally found it. I think once I did that the rest just fell into place. I hope folks enjoy what I am writing and I get a lot out of this experience.
If I can climb Mount Kilimanjaro I can master this as well!

Photo of Clayton on Mt Kilimanajaro

Made it to the top!