Week 2 – Summary

Some very engaging content this week starting out with the video of Evelyn Glennie explaining the importance and value of listening well. I thought it was very intriguing and I thought her accent added in keeping me in tune the whole way through. This week I broke down a fictional radio show by “The Truth” titled “falling.” I found it very interesting to hear how they combined simple audio elements to make a story go from boring to intense. I also selected a commercial and broke down the elements of said commercial by 5 second increments. It was a good experience to appreciate the subtle things the marketing directors add to a commercial to make it work. Finally, I brainstormed another idea for storifying, this time recalling my time coming across one of Oscar Mayer’s wiener mobiles.

Meanwhile, my navigation skills and level of comfort with the WordPress site is coming along well. At first I was a little overwhelmed by all the functionality, but now that I have a sense of my whereabouts at any given time, it makes it easier to find the posts I want to read and comment on.

Storifying – Take 2

Oscar

While in New York City during super bowl weekend, amongst the hundreds of different festivities going on around me, I noticed the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile drive by me. I immediately snapped a photo and stood there in awe and amazement since it’s something I have see only in TVs, magazines, and other media. After a minute or so, all my excitement calmed down a little and I realized it’s not really such a big deal 😉 However, I can’t help but think how many people have felt the same as me after seeing this vehicle? I think about all the different places the wiener mobile has been and all the different people who have taken a ride in it. All it’s expeditions, appearances, and advertisements must have a story behind it somewhere, right?

Hooray Beer!

The above commercial is for the Jamaican-based beer, known as Red Stripe. It is one of my favorite commercials simply because it keeps me laughing the entire time. It is safe to say it was a low-budget commercial and even includes some “cheesy” elements such as the blinking text at the end. Either way, after breaking it down a little more closely, this commercial does have a shape of a story behind it, although simple and straight forward. Breaking the commercial down..

0:00-0:05 – At the beginning, the setting gives away a lot of the story. You can see two man standing in a small, village-type bar with just a few other patrons in sight. In these first five seconds, one of the men is clearly dancing, smiling, having a great time, and also wearing a red stripe sash. The camera zooms in on the second man, of different ethnicity, who has the expression of feeling a little awkward or feeling a little out of place. However, the great times the by the other man seems to be rubbing off.

0:06-0:10 – The camera now zooms in on the man dancing, where the commercial enhances the point that the man dancing is truly having a grand ol’ time. At this point, it is made clear that the dancing man is wearing a red-stripe sash and also holding a red stripe beer.

0:11-0:15 – The turning point in the commercial is in this section where the man dancing hands the bottle of beer to the second man. The second man immediately begins to dance, suggesting that red stripe beer is so good that it makes you want to dance. But this also suggests that the second man now feels more comfortable in his surroundings, since at first he gave off a vibe of being out of place.

0:16-0:20 – The camera zooms out, both men are now dancing.

0:21-0:25 – Now that the point is made that red stripe can influence your mood, the narrator of the commercial (the first man dancing) says, “Red Stripe and Reggae, helping our white friends dance for over 70 years.” Narrowing in on a particular race may have been a little risky, but because the second man was a clear tourist, I think it was ok for the commercial to walk the politically correct “tight rope.”

0:26-0:30 – The commercial leaves the viewer with a positive outlook and a sense that the second man, now that he was introduced to red stripe, has a great rest of his vacation.

Relating this commercial to the story spine..

Once upon a time: There was a man on vacation in Jamaica
And every day: He was feeling out of place and a little uncomfortable with his surroundings.
Until one day: He was introduced to Red Stripe beer.
And because of this: He was able to dance and have a great time.

Reactions to a Podcast Story (Learning by Listening)

I just had the opportunity to listen in on a podcast by “The Truth” titled, “Falling.” It was quite the dramatic story, based on an emotional roller coaster romance between a man and the woman who saved his life. To be honest, I usually am not drawn to romantic stories, but i’ll admit that I believe the story kept my attention since I was only listening. I think because I was using only my sense of hearing, it forced me to constantly sculpt images and settings in my mind; it allowed me to be creative and very imaginative. I liked how the podcast itself started with suspenseful and dramatic sounds with narrative from a bystander then immediately goes straight into what the ending is. I feel like it’s sort of a tease since it works to lure the listener in. The sound effects all came together nicely in this beginning segment.

Some audio techniques I noted while listening were the use of sound effects and background noise. Sound effects were used not just to emphasize the setting (such as the sound of boiling water) but to also provide the hint that a new setting/scene has taken place. I particularly noted that the change in settings worked better when there was a sharp sound effect (like an alarm clock) which was more helpful from a listening perspective since otherwise I found it difficult to catch when a new setting/scene has taken place. The use of background noise (such as dogs barking or doors opening) helped me form the setting in my head which I thought was a key element for me to follow the story. I liked how during the buildup of the story, the listener was given an “inside look” of the man and woman’s individual lives. This candid look made me feel more part of the story, like I was connected to it, as weird as that may sound. A good example of the use of background noise can be found at the 7:43 mark of the podcast.

Week 1 Summary – cbedross1

I thought the opening week of our Digital Storytelling course was very informative, interesting, and challenging. The videos were very creative and were easy to follow and at times, very suspenseful. The main point of the week was to introduce what storytelling is, but I like how we were never really given an official definition, rather, it was left up to us to decide. Getting my WordPress blog set up was pretty straight-forward but learning how to edit things was a bit tricky for me. I’m sure in a couple weeks I’ll be much better suited with navigating through the site. Some things I liked: The live video of the family in the NY three-story apartment, Vannegut’s video, and the notion of “baiting” the audience to keep them engaged to a story. This was all about constantly asking questions and answering them along the way. Some things I was challenged with: Figuring out how to navigate around in WordPress, figuring out how WordPress is structured and what features apply to my work, and viewing the NY times article as well as the touchcast video. Looking forward to the rest of the course, particularly adding digital elements, and should be fun to see how our pages develop.

What to Storify?

Living in an age where technology and media are unavoidable, the digital world has begun to consume our lives. This may seem to have a negative connotation and many would agree, but it is at the point where those part of generation X and younger are beginning to feel more comfortable with digital interfaces. Younger generations may never hold a hard copy article! It seems as if everything is storified/or at least can be storified through digital means.

As I brainstormed for something to “storify” I wanted to choose something that many people have experienced and could relate to. But of course, I wanted something that may sound a little ambiguous, so that I could clarify its meaning via digital channels. While eating Chinese food, I noticed the fortune cookies at the bottom of the carry-out bag. To me the fortune inside the cookie was always something either farfetched or dramatic. As I opened the cookie, the little piece of paper inside said this..

“Your luck has been completely changed today”

fortune

I chose this option since I feel the story behind the cookies fortune can be perceived and drawn up in thousands of ways. What is one story behind it? I figured this would be a cool way to “digitize” the “story inside the cookie.” A challenge to this is that it’s very open-ended and there are no leads, the story can be taken in a number of directions. It would be key to not lose focus on what the main message is behind the fortune.

My Idea of Stories

I can’t say I’ve personally defined what a story is or even considered what items/pieces make up a story. So as I wrote down what I think a story is, the first thing I placed on my scrap paper was this..

..Beginning and End..

I sat and looked at this for a moment then realized that I possibly just defined what a story is in three words! Can it be that simple? What happens between the beginning and the end? Well if I wanted to be stubborn or picky, I could argue that the “beginning” and the “end” in this context are simply all that’s needed because without one of these there is no story. However, although I agree that the beginning and the end are not mutually exclusive, what occurs in between these two is what makes the beginning and end stand out and ultimately what makes the story shine.

I also noted that stories can come in a number of variations from real-life to complete science fiction. They solicit different emotional characteristics from feeling happy, excited, angry, to being sad. Although one story may possess many emotions, I feel as though all stories end with just one.

When I thought of storytelling the first visual that came to mind was a grade teacher, sitting on a rocking chair, having “story time” with his/her students. I have associated storytelling with the literal act of someone talking out loud and sharing either an experience they had or reading a third party source. I have never thought of it being “digital.” But with how technology (particularly the internet) has taken over the way we communicate, I am not surprised the concept of “Digital Storytelling” has emerged. When I think of this, the first thing that comes to mind is social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter. The fact that someone is updating their Facebook status or “tweeting” throughout the day, can actually encompass a story. Their entire day, week, month, and year becomes a story saved “digitally.” People are telling their stories, from being sad to being happy again, over and over again, displaying times of good fortune and bad. If there was anything that relates to what shapes a story as explained in Kurt Vonnegut’s approach, it would be how people are using social media today. People are storytelling all day, but indirectly and to an undetermined audience. They are slowly revealing pieces of a larger story that could in the end become an implication to privacy or even cause misinterpretations of one’s reputation.