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Week 13: Grassroots Creativity

I found Jenkins piece on the Star Wars fandom very interesting. It really gave many interesting perspectives, especially on how vast the internet is and just how many things it has changed within our culture. The internet has given a creative space to even the most amateur creators, and a place where absolutely anyone can share their work. This is perfectly illustrated through the Atomfilms contests. It is described as “grassroots creativity” by Jenkins, and can be traced back as far as history goes. But the internet is the largest platform grassroot creativity has ever had, which blurs those lines between producer and consumer even more. Another thing the Atomfilms contests showed was the scope of fandoms.

The more consumers participate, the more they are able to lead those who are producing the content. After all, producers cannot exist without people willing to buy whatever they sell. Because consumers demand that they take an active part in the media they’re passionate about— like the very passionate Star Wars fandom, for example— the teams that make Star Wars are forced to listen to their suggestions, no matter how demanding they may sometimes be.

Since the internet gave more opportunity to fandoms, it puts producers in a tough place. As much as they want fans to participate and have to encourage it, they still can’t lose complete control. Yet, when they place legal limits this could turn fans off to the franchise. Because of this, there is a constant push and pull between the two. If they do not feel appreciated by the makers of Star Wars, they’ll simply take their work elsewhere, as Jenkins said: they’ll “go further underground … but they aren’t going to stop creating”. Producers are on-board, then they’re not, then there’s pushback from fandoms, then they’re forced on-board again— it’s an endless cycle that won’t stop as long as the internet doesn’t either.

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Week 11: The Creative Process So Far

So far the production of our video has been going well. The only speed bumps I felt were when we were just talking about the idea or drawing up the storyboard, but once we met and actually filmed it went great!

 

The first milestone has been getting the storyline and format of our video down. When we were drawing up ideas it wasn’t exactly clear. We knew the theme— informational with lighthearted humor— but without physically seeing it play out we weren’t sure which exact script would work.

 

The second milestone was shooting our scenes— and they came out great! The humor we intended to incorporate is just right for the subject of the video, and we were able to make our vision come to life. We still have a little bit more to shoot, and probably more once we look over all of our footage after it’s finished.

 

The only digital tools from class that we’ve used so far have been screencasting and the different camera techniques we learned. Both have been extremely helpful in creating our video. The screencasting helps us literally show the viewer how to navigate Candid Career without breaking our narrative. The camera techniques make our video look professional; you can hardly tell we’re shooting on an iPhone and not a professional camera!

 

The comments from the professor on our storyboard were essentially just to give way more detail, so we’ve reworked it to do that. It’s helped because all we have to do to film is just follow the story we drew up, and acting it out gives inspiration to make changes. For example, we were able to create our main source of humor after seeing one of our main characters act out the scene from the storyboard. All we had to do was think, “How can we make this person funnier?”
I’m even more excited to finish this up!

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Week 9: After the Storyboard

Storyboarding was definitely helpful for our group. We talked a bit in our group chat about the direction we wanted to take with the video, but actually collaborating and drawing it out was much more helpful. Our vision for the project is much clearer.

Though it is lighthearted, our video has become mostly informational— not so much humor. We’ve decided to have a walk-through narrative, highlighting the different services and benefits given by Candid Career. It will still be straight-forward, with a clear following of the Candid Career process.

With the tone of their existing website, the topic of the video, and the service being provided, we discovered through storyboarding that this is the best approach. The career services at Rutgers aren’t known nearly enough by the students that need them, so a clear yet pleasant video will benefit most that watch them.

This is my favorite type of a group project— one where we’re allowed to be creative and can really sit down and plan something out together. Just writing a paper or making a powerpoint together doesn’t allow everyone to use their talents or really take the best direction for the project. I can’t wait to see our final video!

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Week 9: Before the Storyboard

So far I feel pretty confident about our group for the final project! We all seem to be on the same page with the creative direction: straightforward and informative, with just the right amount of comedic relief. We’ve also established an understanding of what the video’s subject matter calls for, and what the most effective approach to portraying that is.

We decided to focus on “Candid Career” for the project, and there are a lot of possibilities. This is a tool at Rutgers that not many students (myself included, before this class) know about, so it’s important that we really drive home just how useful it is. A touch of humor will definitely help!

I’m excited to begin our storyboard. I think the three of us have unique insight despite our shared ideas— our midterm blogs were all very different, in a good way! I hope that by collaborating on the storyboard we’re able to contribute those individual talents and insights. Another good aspect about the storyboard is that we’ll be able to lay out all of the materials we’ll need to complete the shoot. I know I’m not all that experienced in video production so having the storyboard to refer to will be super helpful.

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Week 8: The Midterm

My Midterm Experience

First of all, this was definitely the most fun midterm I’ve ever had to complete. It was nice to be able to just be creative, instead of spending one night memorizing things I’ll forget by the next and staring at a scantron for an hour.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make an entertainment review blog. What better subject for someone who does nothing but watch Netflix and give her opinions on things? I ended up honing in on film and created “forREEL”— a review site dedicated to delivering an honest, candid perspective on movies.

I’m minimalistic by nature so I designed it using just black, white, and yellow, leaving the real color to show in the writing (and a single, very awesome header image). I chose a fun and bold yet simple font, too. I created the site logo myself, using the “Rated R” symbol in “Reel”. This is self-explanatory as well as cheesy— and I’m proud of it!

Though I’m the only contributor, I decided to write from a “we” perspective instead of “I”, — as if there is already a full forREEL team. It felt a bit weird saying, “Welcome, this is going to be one chick’s opinion week after week! Trust it!” A community of movie lovers is much more inviting.

As for the video… please forgive it. I forgot to turn my iPhone sideways, the editing barely even passes for elementary, and the sound couldn’t have been worse if I filmed inside a wood chipper. My video skills are at the top of my polishing list, I promise.

Overall, this midterm smooth sailing. This is a topic I really enjoy so building forREEL felt less like a project and more like finally doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t say that for any other class!

 

…And now for group work!

Like many others, I’m sure, I always groan when I hear the words. I love being around people— I don’t love depending on other people for my grades.

The Hyde reading was interesting because it described the extent of most of our collaboration these days: sharing on social media. We have no problem doing this all day, or tweeting, or Instagramming, but the moment a professor wants to put us together to do a project we all dread it. As Hyde et al point out, getting into these groups is what collaboration truly is. In which case, I think I can suck it up for now.

 

My Top 5 (in no specific order and not without saying that everyone’s blog was awesome)

  1. The Homeopathic Helper (Sarah Alaskar)

https://thehomeopathichelper.wordpress.com

I was instantly drawn to this blog because of its super cute title, and because it’s a topic I could definitely use more information on. I loved the header image, color scheme, and font— they all worked really well with the premise. It looks like a professional health blog! The writing was also excellent, with a very serene tone that also complemented the ‘helping’ aspect of the theme. It makes me want to continue visiting this blog to see what’s next and to learn more.

Sarah, great job, and I really hope you continue to update The Homeopathic Helper!

 

2. The College Road Trip (Deanna van Woerkom)

https://thecollegeroadtripblog.wordpress.com

This is an awesome idea. I loved everything about this blog— the layout, the writing, the widgets, the colors, the video and photos, all of it! It was clever to have an “Example Trips” tab along with “Reviews”; this adds a personal touch and credibility without making it a blog all about the creator. College Road Trip feels like a blog I would actually utilize, especially if the posts are as helpful as the hotel guide. Every college student knows what it’s like to have an empty bank account and wanderlust at the same time. Thank you, Deanna for lending a hand!

 

  1. Just Go Shoot (Jeffrey Gomez)

https://justgoshootblog.wordpress.com

I’m currently trying to learn how to do photography, so this blog caught my eye immediately. Jeffrey, you did an awesome job at actually being helpful! I love how the simple layout complemented the front page’s photo (a great shot, by the way) and the way the posts are aligned makes it easy to navigate. The title is also clever and oddly really effective in motivating the reader. I sincerely hope you continue to update Just Go Shoot because this is definitely one I’d keep up with. There’s nothing better than learning from a knowledgeable and talented person, especially when you’re like me and know absolutely nothing and have zero talent.

 

  1. Give Me The Aux (Alex LaTouche)

https://givemetheauxblog.wordpress.com

My first reaction to this blog was, literally,  “Yessssssss!” I love hip hop and I love everything about Give Me The Aux. First of all, that’s a clever and catching title. Second, the layout is exciting, modern, and fits the theme perfectly. “Cultural Conversations” is a great idea for a regular segment on this site. It was well-edited and placed, as were the photos. This blog encapsulates everything a music blog, especially one for this genre, should be.

And sidenote: shoutout to the interviewee for showing Drake love because I was not expecting that; the current bandwagon seems to be clowning him! Agree to disagree on J.Cole, though.

 
5. NYC Eats Under $20 (Rhianne Alcantara)

https://nyceatsunder20.wordpress.com 

I don’t think there’s a more useful blog topic for me in the universe. I spent $30 on a meal at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan 3 years ago and I’m still mad about it. The same stuff would cost me $7 at home!!

I digress, New York is crazy expensive, and this blog is a cute and cool guide through it. I love that your posts include the address of the restaurants, and a very clear Yes or No answer to if the place is worth trying, and worth the hype. When it comes to food blogs, I just want the writer to get to the point! Your use of images and colors worked beautifully with this idea. I really hope you keep updating it!

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Editing Video

My experience with making the video assignment was frustrating, to be completely honest. Not so much because Screencast-o-matic or iMovie are particularly difficult to navigate, but because my computer always decides to freeze when I really, really, need to get something done. And I had a splitting headache.

But enough about my woes! As for the reading, the whole time I was reading the Bogost article I kept thinking about how much the portrayal of women in video games fits its message. He writes,  “Playing such games can have a political impact because they allow players to embody political positions and engage in political actions many will never have previously experienced, and because they make it possible for players to deepen their understanding of the multiple causal forces that affect any given, always unique, set of historical circumstances.” In this case, the “political position” isn’t exactly one of any political party, but rather their position in society.

As long as video games have been around, they’ve followed the Male Protagonist Saves Female In Danger plotline. (Actually, as long as anything has been around, it’s probably followed that plotline too). While the role of women in games have certainly evolved from the wailing and helpless Princess Peach, it’s rare we see a woman who isn’t helpless in some other way, or overly sexualized. Even the roughest, toughest, crime fighting female character is almost always in a crop top or low cut shirt to accentuate her abnormally large breasts.

While this may not mold male players into being straight up misogynists, it can definitely shape their view on women. They can learn to view women as sexual objects no matter how equal their strengths may be, or feel like— no matter what— they will always be the ones to save the day.

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The Glory of Garageband

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in Garageband, but I have certainly dabbled. I downloaded the Garageband app a few years ago on my phone in hopes that I could give a studio effect to some music I wrote without actually going into (read: paying for) a studio. Long story short, editing audio on an iPhone 4s isn’t exactly ideal.  

Now that I have a Macbook, though, and after watching the tutorial, the process actually seems like something I can tackle. I still write music and I’m still broke so Garageband could definitely be an awesome tool for my hobbies.

As for my future job, there are a million ways being proficient in audio editing could be useful. My ultimate goal is to be an author but in the meantime, while I’m trying to figure out what the heck to write a book about, I plan on running my own blog. Media is a huge part of having a website; nobody wants to come on your page for just words, words, and more words. Integrating not just pictures but audio— original, captivating audio— grabs plenty more viewers than pages of my ramblings do. If I create my own videos or my own sound bites, that definitely makes for a more interesting and impressive site than just throwing in some stuff other people made.

This carries into any career you could have. Whether you run a website or write books or have a corporate job (God bless those of you with the patience to do so), you’re promoting a brand. Any skill that gives you authenticity and makes you attractive to consumers is incredibly helpful. (And with Garageband you’re saving a ton of money, which is a big, big, plus.)

I am definitely looking forward to learning more about audio editing!

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Phreaks and Trolls

The peak of my experience in editing photos was back in 2007– when I was 12, an idiot, and thought it would be super cool to add gaudy texts and colors to my MySpace pictures (I will absolutely not be attaching evidence of this. In fact, forget I said anything at all. MySpace who?)

As far as actual, professional editing, I don’t know much at all. I can do some basic cropping and color alterations but I don’t have any skills I could put on a resume.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about where editing images and the whole “hackers and trolls” theme of this week’s reading could intersect is the constant cycle of photoshopped images that are clearly photoshopped images but go viral anyway. For example:

hill

This fake photo of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with Osama Bin Laden (truthorfiction.com) that made its rounds on the internet during campaign season, and had middle-aged republicans broadcasting their meltdowns on Facebook…

btf

 

…Or this ever-viral screengrab from Back to the Future ll (mashable.com), which is photoshopped to display a new date every couple of months and then shared on social media because “Oh my god, today is the day Marty McFly traveled to the future!” It never actually is.

The common theme here is deception. Through the shifts from hackers to phreakers to trolls that Coleman discusses, and their current conglomeration, each group has set out to manipulate commodities and technologies. Whether it was for the good of the people or personal gain does not change that someone is getting duped in the process. And it’s a spectacle. As Coleman writes, “These technologists make a spectacle of themselves… even if they may vilify their trackers, they nonetheless take some degree of pleasure in performing the spectacle that is expected of them.”

This comes full circle to the concept of the viral photoshopped image. Photoshopping Hillary shaking hands with terrorists or causing the internet to erupt in hashtag hysteria over Back to the Future is meant to be a spectacle– a deceiving and weird, weird spectacle.