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Author Archives: creativelycliche

Shooting the Planetarium

We were assigned to find an event or topic, film it, and edit into a final video. My partner and I chose to do a story on the University of Wyoming Planetarium. The edited video is below.

This project ran into more than its fair share of hiccups, beginning with the software not functioning on the school computers. The trial version of the software which I used to edit the program was incompatible with the school software even after it was working, which led to the watermark being difficult to remove from the final product.

The news-gathering itself was a little difficult too. While I enjoyed our time at the planetarium, the first thing the presenter said was that she was serious about keeping all digital devices off so as not to bother other viewers. This made sense, but was highly inconvenient. I ended up recording the whole show with my camera discreetly anyway.

Even then, though, I was disappointed in the lack of moving action in the show. Some planetarium shows I have been to have been pretty impressive – this one was a little less technically impressive and mostly consisted of a PowerPoint presentation on a curved wall. This made for a lot of filmed still images in our final product. The part that was more visually interesting, when the presenter had the Spitz starball running, was too dark, and my camera didn’t pick up any of it.

To add even more issue to the project, the two interviews we had were imperfect, in that while the room seemed well-lit to the camera, the video was not well-lit on a computer screen. This I mostly fixed in editing, which brings me to what I did like about the project. I enjoyed editing video the same way I have enjoyed editing audio. There’s a lot more to do in a video editing project (and this was the first time I had ever seriously edited video), but once I started figuring out Premiere Elements 11 it was fun to use.

I do wish I had had more time than me and my partner gave ourselves. We wanted to finish the project because of finals week, but I think the editing is a little rough in spots (especially the one musical transition toward the end of the video). Uploading the video to YouTube also seemed to decrease the sound level, which I had fixed in editing especially in the interview with Sam. I did like the addition of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets – Jupiter” as appropriate music, however.

I think there was a lot more I could do with the program that I didn’t get to try out simply because of limited time. I also wish we would have been a little bit clearer beforehand about what we wanted from the interviews, which may have made for a more fluid story than the one we have. I was also nervous enough during the filming that the camera is a little shaky, and hiding the camera during the show meant I wasn’t able to get the best shots.

I’m not sure how much I’ll use video in the future. It is not my favorite medium, but I think having some basic idea of how to use it is useful. I think that if I did another project the quality would much improve with what I’ve learned, this being the first time I’d used the video function on my Canon Powershot A3300 IS. The experience was valuable for this reason, especially because I don’t know if I’ll be using video in the future or not. It’s better to be prepared.

-Joshua C Geiger

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 10:43 am in online journalsim

 

Tweeting McCullough

This time I was asked to find and attend an event, and then live-tweet the event as it was occurring. This was my first real experience with Twitter (I had an account previously, but had never really used it). I loaded up my Twitter account and decided to attend a speech given by two-time Pulitzer prize winner David McCullough, writer of historical books such as 1776 and John Adams (the latter of which was turned into a TV mini-series by HBO).

The cover of one of David McCullough’s books, John Adams. McCullough won the Pulitzer prize for this work in 2002.

Jumping right into a platform that I was not used to was not exactly the easiest thing to do. I think it would take a lot more practice to be good at using the platform to write stories, but I think I was able to capture some good quotes and moments from the speech. I worry about the cohesion of the story as a whole and I feel like I had a hard time making a sensible narrative in the form of tweets, which I had hoped would be easier.

I mostly tweeted direct quotes because they seemed to be the most relevant and interesting parts of the event, though I did tweet the where and the when and elaborated on the who a couple of times especially at the beginning and right before the speech. I wasn’t sure if I should continue to repeat those kinds of things throughout the event or if the earlier tweets sufficed.

The tweeting itself was also a bit more difficult then I imagined. For most of the tweets I was fine on length, though a few of them required me to rework my wording. One was so long that I had to leave out the last period. That was difficult, because as I was trying to edit on a touch screen I felt like I was missing possibly important parts of the speech itself. I also had trouble taking pictures – I tweeted one from right before the talk, but during the actual talk all my phone could pick up were glowing people on the stage because the house lights were down.

Another thing I’d change in the future is the brightness on my screens. I brought both my phone and my Kindle Fire with me, but when the lights went down I had to hastily turn down the brightness on my phone and so never pulled the Kindle out. Thinking ahead, I’d turn the brightness down beforehand next time (it saves on battery life anyway).

I did do two brief interviews, one with an usher before the event started and one with a student afterward. Tweeting these interviews was short and sweet, which I suppose is true of almost anything Twitter-related. In fact, the whole thing felt rather hectic. For most of the speech I felt like I was just frantically typing at my screen, while simultaneously trying to listen to and remember what McCullough was saying.

I’m writing a paper right now in another class about multimedia and the future reporter, and even though I don’t want to be a reporter I know there’s a good chance I’ll be using Twitter and other social media no matter what job I get in the near future. It’s important to know how to use them effectively and to send succinct, meaningful messages on these platforms, even if I only use them to advertise my own writing and work (which I have been doing via a Facebook page for several years.)

For the most part, I enjoyed the project. There were a number of difficulties that I didn’t expect, and the actual reporting was a little stressful, but I think it would be easier to do if I did it a second time. It does make me want to use Twitter more often than I have in the past.

Signing off,

Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2013 8:55 pm in New Media

 

Combining Audio and Visual: Islam Awareness Week

For this post I worked with a partner to cover an event both with audio and visuals, putting both together in a single slideshow presentation using Soundslides. The goal was to prove that we could combine the two media effectively. The finished project can be viewed here. (Be aware that for some reason the slideshow only seems to play in Internet Explorer).

Poster for the Awareness week on the University of Wyoming Campus. Picture taken by Chris Anselmo.

Poster for the Awareness week on the University of Wyoming Campus. Picture taken by Chris Anselmo.


My partner and I chose to cover Islam Awareness Week at our University. In order to do so, he and I attended events for much of the week, snapping pictures and taking interviews. My partner did the first interview, and the second we conducted after a panel discussion on “Misconceptions of Islam” on April 2.

We spent a lot of time listening to people speak and taking pictures when we got the chance. We took photos at a tent that the Muslim Student Association (MSA) put up the pasture in the middle of campus as a cultural display, during their panel discussion, and at the Arab-American Night the MSA put together on Thursday, April 4.

My partner and I worked together on a lot of the project. I took most of the pictures because I had a better camera, but he recorded the interviews and in fact did one of the interviews on his own when I couldn’t make it. We both edited audio, spliced it together, and then collaborated on the creation of the slideshow, including where the audio went and in what order to put the pictures.

Once we started working with Soundslides things were a breeze. The most difficult part of the assignment was collecting audio and relevant pictures; the software itself was user friendly and largely intuitive. Attending so many events was both trying and helpful. We had plenty of audio and plenty of opportunities for pictures, but it made for a long week of gathering info.

The story we put together finally became about what the awareness week was meant to inform about. Our interviewees talked a lot about how Islam and Muslims had gotten a bad rap from Western and American media. The week was about inclusiveness and releasing ourselves from ignorance, and so that’s what we included in the audio of the slideshow.

For the photographs, we took pictures of people participating in the week, and of the diversity of the MSA and the University. This was definitely the most difficult part of the assignment. Much of what our subjects talked about was hard to put into a picture, and while our story was [i]about[/i] the awareness week, it really came to be about what the Awareness week could and was meant to do, which was a little hard to capture in photographs.

Had I more time, I would have liked to work with the Soundslides software more and polished our slideshow. I still think the slideshow is pretty good, but there were a few things that could have been smoother. I also realized I forgot to put a full identification in the “voice of” parts of the pictures. Instead all I included was a name, and if I could go back I’d make sure to fix that; it was a really lame thing to forget.

Most of the audio is pretty good, though it would have been nice if we had had more opportunities to get ambient noise. I am satisfied with ambient noise that we got, but more could have been used to improve the project.

I enjoyed doing this project. Especially, again, I enjoyed the audio editing process.

Signing off,

Joshua Geiger

 
 

An Edited Audio Portrait

For this assignment I was tasked with editing the rough audio portrait I completed for the last blog post. To do this, I used the free audio editing program Audacity. I edited out about three minutes of content, erased troublesome background noise, and rearranged some of the dialogue to give the story better cohesion. The edited interview can be heard below.

I had a lot of fun editing this interview. I had expected cutting and rearranging audio to be much more difficult than it proved to be. With the silences already in place, it wasn’t actually that difficult to cut out a phrase here or there and still leave the piece sounding natural. I’d even like to work more with it.

I was surprised at how much my recording device picked up. Even the silences are far from actually being silent – there is a constant kind of ground noise that just seems natural to the air. I had unplugged anything that was making noise, and at least to me the room sounded silent, but if I “generated” silence in Audacity it sounded unnaturally quiet.

I appreciate the work that goes into this kind of medium a lot more now. Even if I found editing to be easier than I thought it was going to be, it still took hours and it was disappointing that snaps or crackles from either me or my subject fidgeting ruined pieces of audio for the final piece. Some of that I could cut around, and I figured out that I could make almost all of it sound better, but other noises seemed buried with the voice and I couldn’t isolate them.

What I especially enjoyed was being able to create a sense of organization with the parts of the interview that I chose to include. Though the interview itself did not exactly flow perfectly from subject to subject as we spoke, once I was in Audacity I could move things around and transition from subject to subject more naturally. It helped that I needed to cut out so much anyway, so parts of the interview that didn’t fit could be cut without penalty.

If I could do it again I would attempt to fix the issues I ran into by getting a clearer interview and by working harder to avoid distracting noise while we were talking. You can do a lot with an editing program like Audacity, but you can’t fix everything. I grew comfortable with the program itself quickly though, and didn’t struggle – partially thanks to advice from past students and my instructor.

Thanks for reading,

Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 8:35 pm in Audio

 

Adriana Yankey: A Rough Audio Portrait

Continuing our work with audio journalism, this time I was assigned to interview a friend and record it. I decided to interview a trumpet-playing friend of mine. The rough audio recording can be heard below.

Despite knowing my subject and having questions prepared, I still felt nervous to begin the recording. Having the recorder set between us felt almost like putting up a wall. I mostly enjoyed the experience once we got started, however. I had to do the recording twice because on the first try I didn’t have enough questions prepared to reach five minutes.

One of the things I learned doing this assignment is that once you take on the role of interviewer, everything changes. The audio recorder sitting between us was impossible to ignore. I feel like I need to get a better feel for how long the response to a question is going to be before I ask it, and I also think it would have helped if I had more thoroughly prepared my questions. There are a few places where my questions feel a little disconnected, and I think that affected how she answered.

I enjoyed doing the actual recording, and I am excited to work on editing it. I don’t, however, particularly enjoy doing interviews. I also learned that the recording device is very sensitive, and even though I worked hard not to fidget there are still a few places where there is some interfering noise.

If I did it over I think I would spend more time working on how I was going to conduct the interview and thinking about what I wanted to get out of it. I would practice my questions so they don’t come off so confused. I think I have the hang of how sensitive the iPhone’s recording device is finally, so that, at least, shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

 

Thanks for reading,

Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 5:10 pm in Audio

 

Ambient Noise and Counting to Ten: Audio

Over the past week I was instructed to carry around an audio recording device (in my case, an iPhone 4) and record ambient noises. Below are six of the sounds I recorded.

The first ambient noise I recorded was traffic driving past me as I walked down Grand Avenue in Laramie. This kind of ambient noise might be used in audio journalism stories about car accidents or a stretch of highway. It might also be used as a transition where traveling in a car is involved.

The second ambient noise in this set is a shower turning on and running. I recorded this in Crane Hall, the dorm hall where I live. This sound might be used in an audio story about morning activities, hygiene, or anything to do with changes in water supply or the water system.

The third sound was taken while I was standing in line at a Walmart check out. Though this sound was recorded at a Walmart, the ambient noise could be used in almost any story that involves a large store, to set the scene or to introduce a story about holiday season shopping.

The next sound was taken in a classroom, a few minutes before class started. The sound mostly consists of mumbled voices, and only a few words can be picked out. This kind of sound might be used in a story about High School students and changing standards or problems with attendance or graduation rates.

Ambient noise number five is a recording of me brushing my teeth in the bathroom at Crane Hall. This is another sound that could be used in a story about morning hygiene, or more specifically in a story about dental health or the profile of a dentist.

The final ambient noise is the sound of my car starting. At the end of the recording the car is going into gear. I recorded this sound in a parking lot. This ambient noise might be used in an audio story about cars and the damage they do to the environment, or in a story about car trips during the summer.

Preparing myself for audio journalism, the second part of the assignment served as an introduction to audio editing. I was assigned to familiarize myself with the free audio editing program Audacity. For this assignment I recorded myself counting to ten completely out of order, and then used the program to reorder the recording so that it is in order. Both recordings are playable below.

This was my first experience with audio editing. While I have recorded brief things before, I have never used any kind of program to edit that recording. I did mess around a little with Apple’s GarageBand in high school.

That being said, I was certain I would be able to figure out the program with a little practice, and I am not the least bit afraid of editing or audio journalism in general. I like the idea of recording my own voice, and except for some small issues with the recording device I didn’t have any problems completing this assignment. When I recorded myself counting to ten, I did my best to leave space between each number and to include those realistic pauses in the edit. The biggest issue was that I let myself drop the pitch on the number nine (the last number I said out of order) which does not sound all that natural in the reordered recording.

Thanks for reading,

Josh Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 3:58 pm in Audio

 

A Day in the life of A Photojournalist

Over the past week and a half, I took on the role of a photojournalist, taking pictures at University sport events and around Laramie.

photo (1)

Cowgirl Marquelle Dent, 18, tries to pass around Chelsea Hopkins, 22, of the Sand Diego Aztecs. The Aztecs defeated the Cowgirls 57-51 in Laramie on February 20.

This photo, titled “Around the Block”, was taken at the women’s basketball game at Arena-Auditorium on February 20. There were signs around campus encouraging people to attend, and I decided it was a perfect opportunity for some photographs. Without a press pass, I could only get so close to the court, and it was hard for my camera to capture the action while zoomed. Still, some of the photos came out clear.

The crowd was loud at this game, but I did take a lot of pictures. For this photo, I kept my subject (Marquelle Dent) in one third of the photograph, and had her act toward the rest of the picture. The relatively uniform and clean background of the basketball court also helps to make this shot interesting.

photo (2)

A University of Wyoming student on a rock dances above a crowd of students in Simpson Plaza on February 21. The students were participating in a “Harlem Shake” video put together by the University Store.

I titled this photo “Neon Dancer”. Walking to the Union from class on February 21, I stumbled upon people in odd costumes unfit for the Laramie winter gathering in Simpson Plaza. Curious, confused, and seeing an opportunity, I pulled out my camera. With all of the movement, it was hard to get a good, still picture, but not impossible.

I later learned that this was being filmed and put together by the University Store as part of the latest internet fad, the “Harlem Shake”.  I used viewpoint and color as creative devices in this photo.

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Conroy Stout, 22, uses his phone while waiting for some friends in a computer lab in the Engineering building on February 19.

This photo is titled “Computer Lab”, and was taken in the Engineering building on campus. I was on the other side of the room, and as I sat down at the computer I realized that from table level, I could just see Conroy Stout through the chairs and monitors. It took me several tries to get the picture right.

This photo was taken with the camera sitting on the table. This is an example of using viewpoint to take an interesting picture, and to some extent, framing. I think the photo would be better if I could have gotten something framing him from above, too, but the computer monitors do frame him on either side.

IMG_0561

Ashley Sickles, 22, a senior playing forward for the Cowgirls, looks down the court during the game on February 20. The Cowgirls lost to the San Diego State Aztecs 57-51.

In this photo, titled “Looking Out”, Ashley Sickles of the UW women’s basketball team looks down the court. This was taken at the same game as “Around the Block”. I don’t know basketball very well and so had trouble getting into the game, but I did have fun trying to capture good photos.

In this picture, I used the rule of thirds to isolate Sickles. This, combined with the clean background, made for what I think is a visually interesting photograph. It almost looks like she is alone on the court.

IMG_0515

University of Wyoming #23, 20-year-old Chelan Landry, dribbles the ball during the February 20 game against San Diego. Twenty-year-old Ahjalee Harvey of the Aztecs prepares to block her.

The last photo is another Sports-action photo, also taken at the February 20 game against the Aztecs. Like the other photographs at this game, I found my camera and my distance from the court to be problematic.

This one came out fairly clear, and though its background isn’t as clean as the other two I still think it’s an interesting photograph. I think that a balance is created by the two subjects, Landry and Harvey, on either side of the photo. They are both poised to move, and the action all appears to be taking place at the center, between them.

What I learned from this assignment is that photography isn’t easy, and that most photos don’t turn out awesome. The ability to do some minor editing was helpful in making some of the photos better, but I think that in photography equipment is key, and my camera wasn’t really good enough to get photos from very far away.

I was surprised by how many visually interesting moments occur in a typical day, and how hard they are to catch. I wish that I could have gotten much closer for the sports shots.

Thank you for reading,

-Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 10:24 am in Photography