Weekly Summary: Project Recap

My final project revolves around storifying the instructions from IKEA. I first introduced this idea back in week 4 and received a lot of good, useful feedback. Just a few weeks prior to first introducing this idea, I purchased a bed frame from IKEA and had a great deal of trouble constructing it. I eventually prevailed and I’m happy to say the bed has been great, but I didn’t forget how many times I had to look over those instructions just to understand where to put a couple of screws. When thinking of what else I could “Storify” the instructions popped into my head.

The sense I got from the feedback on my blog post from week 4 was to go a little wild on the story so after thinking of how I can “fix” the instructions or make them better, I came up with an idea that’s a little from “right field” if you know what I mean. My story contains a main character who, in his day-to-day life works as a well-respected constructional engineer. I tried to make the character seem as though no project would be too tough or challenging for him that way when the IKEA instructions come around, he hits a wall. This gives the perception of how tricky IKEA instructions can be, especially if a popular engineer can’t even figure them out. The story goes on by using videos to capture the main character’s struggles but also includes an encouraging audio track that ultimately helps the main character assemble his IKEA item and take his engineering career to the next level.

The climax of the story is the audio file. This is what helps the main character overcome his inability to construct the IKEA furniture item. My idea for this was to create something motivational and relaxing since its common that when people are in the middle of an IKEA project they tend to get frustrated, impatient, and potentially upset. The audio file (which is found in the IKEA box via a flash drive) is meant to be the resolution to the IKEA instructions, an encouraging and soothing sound that changes the customers thinking and attitude. I created the audio in Audacity using a soundtrack from youtube (see Sources section below) combined with a recording I did of myself using SoundCloud. In audacity I used some echo effects to make my voice come off a little more soothing, here is the screenshot..

ProjectAudacitySS

As for the videos, I ran into some issues. I recorded the videos using my smartphone, however I had a hard time getting them onto my computer. I first tried uploading them straight to YouTube but they never loaded, staying in “pending” status. I then tried emailing them, but their size was too large to send from a phone. Finally, I was able to upload them to Facebook. In Facebook there is an option to download the video, but for some reason my computer was freezing up when attempting this. After a little searching I came across this site, which had me use Google’s browser, “Chrome.” Following the steps from this site I was able to finally download the video file, then upload them to my YouTube account!

My project fits the story spine format.  It begins with providing a background of the main character and setting up what kind of obstacle he may need to overcome. The story goes on to tell how the main character overcomes a problem and the subsequent results of what happened based on the learning experiences the character went through. You will notice that throughout my story, I have included some of the key “story spine verbiage” from “everyday” to “finally” and more. However, I didn’t want to be too overt so in some cases a changed how I introduced or began part of the story spine.

Sources:

I googled search for several of my images.

The time machine image came from here.

I did a little extra research on other people’s perception of IKEA instructions.

 I used this soundtrack from YouTube for my project’s audio file.

IKEA Instructions – From Irritating to….Encouraging?

Chris is an intelligent man, a professional engineer excellent with tools and carpentry work, and savvy when it comes to thinking dynamically. He has an impressive resume with constructing things, from a 500 sq/ft tree house 50 feet up; to the most beautiful wine cellars in the villas of Tuscany, Italy. He doesn’t shy away from taking his designs to the next level and a common saying by his friends, family, and admirers is, “Chris never needs instructions.” The dedication and patience he has for all his projects helps display his ability to turn something from simple to complex.

Everyday Chris was looking for something new to create, to be imaginative, to master something unique and original, but he ultimately looks for a challenge, something that will force him to test his creative limits.

One day, however, after a trip to the home furnishing retailer giant, IKEA, Chris was ready to assemble a new office desk, an unsuspected challenge he never saw coming..

It’s not like Chris was trying to build a time machine..

PROJECT_IKEAInstructionsJoke

Just a simple office desk for his home. Some IKEA instructions may be easier (yet still difficult-to-follow) than others, like the one below,  but the desk Chris was attempting to assemble (the “Fredrik”) just wasn’t making sense, even for the engineer himself.

IKEA2

Because the instructions were too complicated and easily misinterpreted, Chris became frustrated, impatient, and irritated. This desk was advertised as a 45 minute job and with Chris’ professional experience, he was confident it would only take him 20 minutes tops! But now after 2 hours and many arguments with his friends (who are now trying to help after observing Chris’ struggles) Chris notices something else in the IKEA box..

Even after finding a flash drive which presumably included help on building the desk, Chris was just too fed up and stubborn to even see what was on it. He figured nothing else could help him at this point and he’d have to return the desk anyways. But because after failing himself and getting no help from his friends or research on-line, he decided to insert the flash drive into his computer and was surprised to what he heard..

An excerpt from the audio file:

The encouraging, relaxing, calm audio is definitely not what Chris expected to find on the flash drive. It was very random and almost sounded a little “brain-washy” but for some reason he couldn’t turn off the audio. He listened then listened again, realizing that his frustration and irritability slowly drained away. Although he didn’t want to admit it, the words in the audio were beginning to help him relax and visualize/interpret the images on the instructions better. Because of this, Chris was able to complete step one of the instructions. He immediately went to step two and again, staying relaxed and calm, he was able to understand how the screws, arrows, and desk pieces align.

Finally, just after 20 minutes, Chris was able to assemble his office desk!

Fredrik

Now every time Chris buys a home furnishing from IKEA, the accompanying instructions are a breeze, simply by staying relaxed and envisioning how all the pieces come together. He has even taken this concept into his personal engineering work and just last year designed the top-selling office desk in the world, its called the “Flash Drive” and when asked about his inspiration in the design, he answers “I closed my eyes.”

 

Weekly Summary Week 6 and 7

Definitely the most interactive assignments thus far has been the past two weeks revolving around video reviewing and editing. This was a very informative week for me since previously I’ve had absolutely no video editing experience. In fact, when watching a YouTube video, for example, it never occurred to me how titles or credits were created. After using Windows’ Movie Maker, I realized how straight-forward it could be.  I also developed a keener eye for criticizing video/movies whether it is based off of Roger Ebert’s strategies on how to read a movie in which one of his underlying themes is how “movement to the right is more favorable” or based videos I watch on editing techniques like this one:

My work this week included breaking down Roger Ebert’s methodologies on how to read a movie, which I came to the conclusion that reviewing a movie is a lot more work that I could imagine. With all the different type of cinematography, editing techniques, and subtle effects, it can be tricky to find the things that make a movie great.

I then had the opportunity to break down a movie scene on my own! I chose one of my favorite scene’s from the movie Gladiator. I applied some of the techniques from Roger Ebert, such as the foreground is more dominant, rule of thirds, and right is more positive. I found that a lot of the way the Gladiator scene was filmed fell in line with Ebert’s techniques but I did find some areas where it didn’t.

Possibly one of the trickiest assignments in the class so far for me was the chaplin/foley assignment. It required us to take the chaplin short film and add the audio from our classmates foley clips in order to match them up. There were a lot of parts to this from organizing all the audio, familiarizing with video editing software, and determining the best way to layer everything together. Here is my take on this, as you can see, I also added in a soundtrack! Once I got the hang of Movie Maker, I was much more efficient but it did take some time for me to get comfortable. I foresee using this tool in the future, so I’m glad I took time to learn it!

One of my favorite assignment thus far in the course has been my play-by-play video on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With this I found a youtube video, removed the audio, recorded myself doing commentary, then added in a background audio track. I also got to practice my skills on creating movie titles and credits. Although still very basic, I was happy with the result!

Looking Back at Storifying Ideas

This week I have taken some time to review my classmates blog posts relating to their ideas of things that can be storified. There were a lot of good ideas that spanned across a variety of creative topics, from grammar instructions to amplified guitar pedal boards. One thing I observed however, was that there were quite a few intangible ideas such as aforementioned grammar help, relationship building, and describing ones day-to-day work responsibilities. For the exception of my IKEA instructions storified example, my ideas typically focused on an object and that objects point-of-view. Things like ice hockey skates and my car. It would be interesting to see how one storifies something intangible compared to how someone else storifies something tangible. How will the story spine compare? Contrast? How will the media used to portray the story differ?

Play by Play – Peanut Butter and Jelly

For this assignment, you are supposed to provide play by play commentary on a video. I thought to mix it up a bit and do something a little different, so I found a video on “how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” since it’s one of my favorite foods 😉 and add a different spin on it..see my video below..

I first downloaded the video using “pwnyoutube” then uploaded it directly into Windows Movie Maker. Once I had the video, I recorded my commentary in SoundCloud and uploaded that clip into Movie Maker as well. Finally, I added in a soundtrack to the beginning and end. The song is “Manners” by Klaypex.

Here is the original video..

Here is a screen shot of my movie maker project..

PBJscreenshot

 

 

Chaplin Circus Fraternity Initiation

This was my first video creation/editing experience! I learned a lot from this assignment and it was cool to see how easy it can be to add in things like a title and credits. The trickiest part for me was adding in the overlay audio, but I ended up using Audacity to create the “layered” audio that I needed.  The story that I used was that the man in the video was a new employee looking to join the Circus’ fraternity and part if joining it, he needed to prove his “worth” by entering the lions cage. There really wasn’t any main reason as to why I chose this storyline, it’s just something I thought of and went with it.  For the audio, I used Avicii’s Levels (video below)

Here is the final compilation after my video editing using the Windows Movie Maker software in conjunction with Audacity.

Then I grabbed the Foley sound recordings of current and past classmates to provide the sound effects..

 

 

As you can see in the below screen shot, the audio section is all one file that I imported from Audacity.

MovieMakerSS

Look, Listen, Analyze – Gladiator: “My name is Maximus”

In this assignment we are to analyze a movie scene in three ways; Without volume, without picture, then as normal. I chose the movie, Gladiator, not only because I LOVE this movie, but also since I remember it having some awesome cinematography and this would be my chance to break one of the scenes down.

The scene I chose is when the main character, Maximus, reveals his name to the emperor..

I first watched the video without sound and observed the following:

Not until you really pay attention to the camera movements (like in this exercise) do you realize how many “cuts” the camera makes. When the volume is off, those cuts become more obvious and sometimes even distracting! Here are some particular areas in the scene that captured my attention based off of the techniques of “how to read a movie” by Roger Ebert.

Foreground is more dominant: This occurs at :04 and :06 very blatantly, but also in a less obvious fashion at 2:03.

Right is more positive: I didn’t notice this technique of Ebert’s much at all in this scene except for the boy running at :27. In fact the the opposite happened several times at 2:59 and 3:05 when the emperors soldiers exited the screen to the left.

Rule of Thirds: You can notice this at :13 and 1:27 specifically as the people in the frame are off-centered.

Brighter areas are dominant: I noticed this at 2:26 with the emperor’s gold headband and again at 3:25 with the women in the crowd wearing white.

I thought one of the coolest angles was at 1:07 which adds substance to the animosity Maximus has towards the emperor.

I then watched the scene with just sound. I noted several things including the usage of an orchestra playing the background almost the entire scene – it set the mood and rose in pitch when to signify compelling points of dialogue. The violins also made the scene very dramatic as this scene is a huge climax in the movie and turning point in the story (the emperor finds out who the “Spaniard” is). I also noted the usage of foley sounds with the crowd and footsteps of those on the coliseum floor. The sound level of the crowd played an intricate part.

When I watched the scene as normal, with sound and picture, it’s almost as though both the sound and picture were enhanced! By that I mean I became more keen and observant, essentially getting more out of it and appreciating the scene more than if watching it for the first time. It was more obvious to me this time how the audio is synced to the picture and how subtle some audio effects are (like the footsteps or light crowd noise in the background) that make the scene come alive.