Week 12: Mashed up

So, this week, I started with a 4.5 star assignment that was like one I enjoyed doing last week, but with a little more nuance.  This one fit better together as a complete piece since I already had a story I was trying to tell, and I even fit somewhat of a story inside it. The narrative underlying the assignment really gives it focus.
After that, I did an assignment for 4 stars that incorporated my character. What goes better together than a poker playing cowboy and a poker playing St. Bernard?
After that, I took some time to fix a post that I didn’t complete the way that I liked a few weeks ago. I researched how to get a story map into a WordPress site, and learned how to do that an more, so, I created a tutorial from that.
The next assignment I worked on, for 4.5 stars, bringing me to a total of 13, allowed me to finally use something from Lord of the Rings.
After that, I did a couple of remixes. The first was a remix of a digital reflection assignment that I completed earlier in the semester, but it took an interesting twist. It was fun to see how a new take on an old assignment could lead to something so fun.
My next remix was, essentially, to turn a guessing visual assignment into a fun joke.

Last but not least, my daily creates this week.  This week I learned how to make simple fireworks with Gimp.

Week 11

So, I spent the first part of this week recovering from a hard drive failure. I had only partial backups, so it took some work to get back to square one. Then, I tried my hand at video editing with adobe premier, but although it seems to have more useful features, it is not nearly as intuitive as windows movie maker. I will try again another time. So, the first assignment I did this week, with movie maker, for 5 stars was a review of a few powerful moments in film.

My next assignment for 4.5 stars was a montage of Benicio del Toro, one of my favorite actors. I tried to emphasize both his range and his intensity.

For my first 5 stars involving my character, I made a video of a Morse code puzzle of sorts.

For my final assignment for another 5 stars with my character and a total of 19.5 overall, I made a service announcement.

My Daily Creates are here. The one I particularly enjoyed this week was making the surreal image from the photo of the valley. I say some interesting ideas for surreal photos that I might play around with in the future if I have some time.

Week 10: Whats in that shot?

So, for this week, we turned out attention to video where I realized that despite having seen more movies than almost anyone I know, I know almost nothing about the film making process that guides them or what makes them good. In watching the “Every Frame a Painting” my owns were pried open to recognize some of what separates a bad film from a good one other than superfluous explosions. I watched a few that were not assigned, and now I am curious if he ever does a show on Guy Ritchie, my favorite film maker. So, after learning what needs to be learned to start the week, I made a video essay to reflect on Django Unchained.

Week 9: Sounds of the West and some Character fun.

So, this week, I listened to the various radio programs and tweeted along when I was available to do so. I am still bummed that I was on my way home from class when my program played. It would have been fun to listen to my work shared in such a way. I did read a blog post or two about it though, so that sorta made up for it. I reflected on a show of my own here.
As usual, my daily creates can be found here. Nothing particularly noteworthy this week except puns, ok, well, nothing noteworthy.
After that, it was all about character assignments. For my first 4.5 stars, I created a buzzfeed quiz. It was a pretty interesting assignment getting a bit into the heads of other characters. Hopefully the character creators like my portrayals, I sent them links to check out the quiz. I may add more characters to it later, I just started with three for now.
For my next 4.5 stars, I read about even more characters to create a story map where I encountered several ds106 characters. If I had done this one first, maybe the buzzfeed quiz would have been more inclusive. I somehow feel bad for all the characters that did not make that quiz. Maybe I will do a 2.0.



Week 8: Something to (radio) show for it.

My DS106 experience this week consisted mostly of creating the radio show. It was in some way a welcome reprieve from creating assignment after assignment on my own and fun to work with a group, which is odd because I usually dislike doing so. Maybe it was because this was a creative process more than a purely academic one. Anyhow, most of the details about that can be found in the post dedicated to it.
I did a couple daily creates this week as well. They were both pretty cut and dry. For the tongue twister I just looked down the twitter feed and grabbed a few names that started with the same letter, s. Then, I made a pun or two to fit them all together in a tongue twister. The other daily create was just to think about the song that the wood nymph might be dancing to. That though process was interesting because I though first that such a creature seem Tolkienesque, and that I need a song to go along with that so I chose Led Zeppelin. Then, however, I thought about the line about a flower in her hair in going to California and it seemed like a perfect fit.

Week 7: Radio report and assorted assignments.

So, this week was a bit slower than weeks previous. We made in some headway in at least laying a bit of a road map for creating our radio show, more details about which are here.
I also put my design skills to use, limited though they are, and designed a logo for our radio show group.
My daily creates for the week were pretty interesting. The video to record myself making a Foley sound effect pushed me to try some rudimentary video editing techniques using windows movie maker and audacity to handle and fine tune the audio. My western triple troll meme got a couple likes and a share. Not that that is significant, but it is nice to see when people enjoy my work.
For assignments this week, I earned my first 3.5 stars completing an audio assignment that, while it did not either apply to my character or create anything useful for the radio program, was just a lot of fun to do.
For my next assignment worth 4 stars, I decided to get a bit of a head start on my radio show work and create a commercial for my made up brand of playing cards.
For my final 3 stars to put me at 10.5 for the week and 7 involving my character, I decided to do a life story bit from his perspective based on a portion of the background I have him earlier.

Week 6: Design Matters

This week has been all about design. Because of a class I took earlier, some of it has been just a reinforcement and refresher, which is actually pretty useful given a natural tendency to forget things I do not use. I think to this point, the rule of thirds, rules about typography, and dominance were about the only aspects of design I could recall. Reading the post for the weeks was therefore interesting and helpful, especially the run through on the concepts of design. Hopefully because it is all rehashed information, and because this class focuses on a different usage of those concepts than just designing magazine spreads and flyers in Adobe InDesign, I will retain more of it this time around.
The first things I did was go though the readings and material for the weeks and write a couple of blogs about it all. I appreciated Vignelli’s abstract tone but rather straight forward message about the importance of design and what separates good from bad. He dispelled some important misconceptions, e.g. that more is better, that good design is costly and bad design is not, and that there are less important elements of design that require less attention. That blog post is here. The next thing I did was, using the information I garnered from the readings, examined western design in all its various forms and blogged about it here. I put all the principles and elements discussed here to use in my design blitz

For assignments this week, of the mandatory options, I chose the digital reflection. I tried to use some design elements to represent something meaningful in the photo, but I don’t know that on its own, the design properly conveys what I am saying. Design is sometimes like trying to write in a new foreign language, a few misused words and the meaning changes entirely.

The next assignment for my first 3 stars was  the 4 icon story which really illustrated how just a small amount of meaningful imagery and design can convey a far more complex, albeit coded, message. Plus, it was a lot of fun.

For my next four stars and to make sure I had at least one 4 star or higher assignment, I made a popular character venn diagram. The design elements are rather simplistic and I wish I could have thought up a better way to represent it all, but I do think that the design reinforces the overall content of the image.

My final assignment for 3.5 stars, to put me at a total of 10.5 not including the mandatory assignment, was making a design that conveys a catchphrase. It was fun and an exciting opportunity to learn a few new tricks in gimp.

For my daily creates this week, It was mostly just some photo edits with a little creativity. The new skill I worked on this week was how to create engraved wood for my old trail sign. I found a tutorial on youtube that helped out. I made mine a little darker for readability, and tried to incorporate some of this weeks design elements. I used proportions and the rule of thirds for the sign placement. I sought out a nice western font, one that included an @ and ? symbol, so that I could have consistent typography that tied into our western theme, and I gave the whole photo a western trail feel. For the heading west, I made my albeit lame joke visual by adding an absurd amount of sunscreen to my photo for all the fishing I’d be doing.

For participation, this week, here are a few of the comments of which I kept track. Here, and here, and here, and here. I also commented on a few other pieces of work from those people and some other places earlier in the week that I did not keep track of.

Week five: Sounds of the Old West, and some other places too.

This week, I really ventured outside my comfort zone. I am fairly tech savvy and for most of the work we have done so far, It didn’t require that I learn any totally new skills. I have never really done anything with audio, however, so this week was uncharted territory. I played with audacity on my own for a minute, and the tools and things were not as intuitive as I would have hoped. I knew basically what I wanted to do, but how to do it was something else. So, I searched around and found this tutorial video that covers the basics of audio editing with audacity. I used that simple crash course to create my first piece of work for the week, the radio bumper. I am pretty satisfied with my results in the end. To me it sounds like any bumper on an actual radio station.
After that crash course in audacity, I put my new skills to work and created my audio story, Bad Deal, for my first 3.5 star assignment. While doing that assignment, I had to continually seek out new sounds as my ear picked up on elements that were notable absent in the story. There are still a few places in it that I think need some fine tuning, the speed of some things and such, but overall I am pretty satisfied with how it turned out and pretty amazed at how intriguing it was to let my ear do the story telling for me.
As a part of that assignment, I also created and completed my own 1 star assignment to upload a sound effect. It was both useful for me and a good way for my to inspire people to contribute something to freesound.org instead of just employing resources from it.
Audacity being the wonderful tool that it is, I also used it for the audio recording for my song reflection assignment. It takes all the difficulty and anxiety of making audio recordings. I just record whatever comes out of my mouth, and fix it all in edits.
I applied those audio editing techniques and a few more for this assignment. I recorded myself reading a 2 minute long poem that I loved because I could not choose a single quote. I edited the whole quote, but in the end, being unsure of the copy right issues involved, decided not to post my result. In the process, however, I learned how to edit out breathing sounds, splice in new sections to replace pieces I did not like, eliminate unwanted verbal clutter and so on.
So, to complete my assignments and get all my stars, I did this 4 star assignment. It was interesting and gave me a chance to play around with several effects, even though I was not totally satisfied with my result.
For Daily Creates this week, which can be found here,I had more fun with gimp. I created the treasure map from scratch, the only elements I incorporated was the mountains that I laid over the top of my custom made aged paper texture. I also put a curious cowboy on mars looking down at a more curious rover. The frontier knows no bounds.
After the assignments, I composed this post to reflect on the power of story telling. In particular, I thought about the ability of sound to create apprehension and fear. Also, I have my radio show ideas posted here.


I also left comments… here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and at least a dozen other places before I started keeping track of them.



Most classes with the number of assignments that this one has are, to be blunt, overly repetitious. That the focus of the class is shifting from one media type to another each week, and that there is some amount of freedom in choosing which assignments I do is somewhat refreshing.
So, this week, the focus was on visual media forms.
The assignments all made me thing about different aspects of both the power of images and their ability to tell stories of their own. They also made my give more thought to what constitutes a photo and perhaps for a short while at least, they will inspire me to focus on taking better photos. Maybe I ought to practice more on taking them where the subject and my own informed context do not define the image, i.e. photos that are good for their own sake. When completing the Brady Bunch family photo assignment, which I think tells at least some version of my family story without the background provided in that post, I considered how static elements and cultural icons, especially when attached to new media, have a profound impact on the potential message of the photo. Another aspect of that assignment was that it reminded me of the power of the correct fonts. For that one and for the Oregon Trail daily create, I downloaded custom fonts for each.

The saddle bag assignment was another example of how images can convey elements of a story. It does not require events or any internal dialogue to reveal more about characters in the story. Their visual appearance reveals some important aspects of their character as well. This is something that occurred to me in some form when I created my character, as I included the deliberate idea that he does not dress the part and that his appearance is willfully deceiving.

The love at first sight assignment revealed that the stories that someone might be told from a photo is not necessarily the one intended by the photograph. Meaning, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and perceptions may well cause two people to decode visual information quite differently.

The next assignment I completed for 2 stars was to turn an image into a drawing. Photo manipulations depends heavily on the photos themselves, so it would be worth while to have a better understanding of what each tool and option in Gimp actually does so I can gain more control over my edits. The other lesson is that placing photos in blog posts is a fickle business, and it might be worth looking into some css code to more effectively text wrap the images.

For my final 4 star assignment, I decided to break out my brady font again and combine it with a Subway logo. The results were not as interesting as I had hoped.

Of the daily creates I did for the week, the Oregon trail ds106 combination was the most fun. I never need an excuse to go play and let a family member or two die from cholera. The versions I found online too play were all the newer, updated sort, so it wasn’t quite a recreation of the green and black screens of my youth, but close enough.

One last thing I did, in the interest of continuing to improve my website itself is to change the menu and headers on the main page to more accurately reflect the reorganization and category structure that I created as a part of last weeks assignment.

Week Three: Writing the Old West

This week, I spent the first portion of my time revising my website. I used a WordPress site for a previous class, but shy of distinguishing between pages and posts and adding a timeline to our page, we did very little to flush it all out. The first things I did this week was to reorganize categories so that my site is easier to navigate for potential visitors. Realizing the limitation on posting single twitter post for my daily creates, I searched and found how to create a category and add tweets which can then be added to a widget that provides a feed for those posts. Accordingly, I created a new page dedicated entirely to my daily creates.

On the daily creates, one was rather simple. I just posted an old photo from a Civil War Museum as a bit of history. The other two were gimp edits. The first, putting a saying on western picture, I just created text, outlined it with a path, grew my selection, filled it, dropped it behind the white text, and moved the white text off center above the created layer to give it an embossed look. The saying I chose about not making bets later provided some inspiration for my character.

The more challenging of the two was to put a western scene reflection on a window; it involved doing things I had not done before or at least using photo manipulating tools I rarely touch.  I cut out the glass in the windows, and I took a few elements that could be seen from inside the window and cut and made new layers out of them as well, the lamp and the picture on the wall, in particular. I noted the different reflections from the interior window trim as well, so it became a layer on its own. I distorted a picture of the OK Corral using transform tools, the way that a window reflection might. Then, using different levels of transparency, smoothing on the light from the lamp, and careful layer order selection, I created a window reflection that has some of the indoor elements from before showing though the window to give it a realistic effect.
The western story analyses were rather straight forward, but they inspired more thought toward my character that I created afterward. The first I chose two stories and sorted out some common elements to investigate the nature of the western literary genre. The second, I used Kurt Vonnegut’s simple story shape analysis to think about how the story I read had been composed, what shape the plot had on the simple graph.

I think the most interesting task of the week was creating my own western character.  A couple of the key elements, that he was a miner turned gambler, but not necessarily the deceitful sort, I had decided on before hand. Inventing him though, was just a matter of sitting down and writing in a way that might explain how and why he was the way he was, as well as revealing something about his internal character. I look forward to the things we will do with the character later in the course as I give him more life.

For the weekly assignments, the first one I chose was to write a letter to my future self. As I detailed in the post, although I dislike writing or even thinking about the future, it is a healthy thing to do at times to make sure I keep to my path in the present.
The two assignments, I was able to relate to the western theme pretty easily. In the first, I wrote a pair of haikus about the joys of eating beans. In the second, I wrote the ending of a story about a gun battle gone horrible wrong.The final writing assignment I completed had nothing to do with westerns, but it did give me important time to contemplate and research every word that starts with x in the English language. It was a very simple story using the alphabet as a guide. The story ending was the most entertaining of the three but they were all fun ways to be creative with words, and in two cases, to get even further into the western theme.