The Storyboarding Process

*Our Storyboard*

 

When confronted with the assignment of creating a storyboard for my group’s final project, I was quite confused. Was the storyboard supposed to refer to the mechanics of the project (the WordPress site, the content), or what we were trying to convey in employing such mechanics? Luckily, one of my group members clarified; the storyboard was to refer to what we were trying to convey in employing such mechanics, the narrative of the project. Understanding this, we took to creating the storyboard, utilizing Google Slides. This is where all of our ideas came together.

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While we were aware of the informative nature of our project, we were unsure as to how we would communicate such information, in terms of content. Creating the slides (what the organization is, what they do, how one can help etc.), provided us with an answer. Because our project is meant to inform readers, prompting them to take action, images and videos would be crucial in the project, for they provide the audience with the reality of the situation. Though I do find images useful, I hope that we utilize more video in the project. We can make videos of sites impacted by pollution, calling for our audience to volunteer. We can also make videos interviewing past volunteers, providing the audience with some insight to what volunteering is actually like. In the end, creating the storyboard allowed to flesh out our ideas and the materials that we need to employ them.

On my Group’s Creative Direction

For our final project, my group members, Samuel, Dmitri, and I, have been tasked with creating a digital project that serves the needs of a nonprofit organization. Although we have yet to receive permission from them to do so (we are awaiting a response), we have chosen Clean Ocean Action. Clean Ocean Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to, “improving the degraded water quality of marine waters off of the New Jersey/New York coast.” Though we are still brainstorming the aspects of our project, we have had some pretty great ideas. Because the organization already has a website, we were thinking of creating a WordPress site dedicated to volunteering (beach sweeps) with them. I hope the project takes this direction, for I believe it would prove useful in promoting the organization’s goal, as well as creating a sense of community. Having volunteered with them in the past, I can provide testimony to what the experience is like; perhaps we can capture this testimony in a video. Video will prove to be useful in our site, for it provides one with visual insight to what the experience is actually like. It will also serve as a great way to create a sense of urgency within our audience; in seeing the polluted sites of the beach sweeps, one will be moved to participate. Images will also prove useful, for we can utilize them to convey when certain volunteer events are happening.

Beach Sweeps(Image property of Clean Ocean Action)

In preparing for the project, we must create a storyboard. We can reflect this plan in our storyboard, by dedicating a number of slides to certain components of it. For example, we can dedicate a number of slides to the site (what the pages will be, the theme etc.) We can also dedicate slides to the pieces of video content we plan on creating. This will allow us to evaluate what we will need in order to fulfill our project.

My Top Five Favorite Midterm Sites

The midterm assignment for my “Strategic Presentations in Digital Media” class consisted of students making their own blog sites. While all of the sites created by my fellow classmates are great, here are my top five favorites:

  1. Samuel Ludescher’s Roger That! Copy
    Sam’s site is my favorite because it successfully communicates its legitimacy to the audience, which is extremely important to a profession-oriented blog. He succeeds in this by utilizing Weebly, a site that allows for more customization than WordPress. Customization is necessary for these kinds of blogs, for a unique site catches the attention of a prospective client; the bright colors of Sam’s site do this. It also succeeds in communicating its legitimacy through its sleek, professional logo, and video. Not only is the video informative, informing one on internet statistics that promote the service the page is dedicated to, copywriting, it is also extremely creative. Such creativity further promotes the service, for creativity is essential to copywriting.
                                                                                                                                                                         
  2. Amanda Crystal’s DIY Daily
    Amanda utilized Wix in creating her site, which like Weebly, allows for more customization. Her utilization of the site in creating a site dedicated to DIY projects is extremely strategic for this reason; the creative customization of the site reflects/promotes the subject matter. Amanda customizes the layout of her site, the color scheme, and the font. This creativity is elaborated on in her custom header, the creation (her making it) and aesthetic (what the header actually is, the site name over paint) of it. My favorite aspect of the site, however, is its accessibility. Three pages are clearly centered at the top of the site, allowing one to navigate with ease. Social media widgets are also provided, allowing one to keep up with the site via other platforms.
                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Carl Del Rosario’s Letters from Life
    Letters from Life is easily the most interesting of all of the midterm sites. Unlike the two sites mentioned previously, Letters from Life is a WordPress site. While one may be thrown off by its bare bones approach to aesthetic at first glance, it all makes sense when he or she listens to Carl’s podcast. The podcast is a performance of his spoken word poem “The Colors I Can’t See,” a moving meditation on colorblindness. Poetry, especially spoken word poetry, often requires the poet to be vulnerable, or exposed, as Carl is. This bareness is reflected in the site’s bare bones aesthetic. Although little information is provided regarding the page and Carl himself, the content speaks volumes.
                                                                                                                                                                         
  4.  Kristen Fong’s life through: photography
    life through: photography is a WordPress site dedicated to Kristen’s travel photography. My favorite aspect of the site is its theme, “The Orvis Theme.” This theme focuses more on images posted to the site, collaging them together in an appealing way. If one wishes to view an image up close, all he or she has to do is click on it. Because the site deals with photography, this theme is perfect. The fact that the pictures themselves are of high quality, elaborates on the effectiveness of the theme. I also enjoy the screencast that Kristen created for the site, for it lends one insight regarding photo editing.
                                                                                                                                                                         
  5. Paige Brizak’s ePortfolio
    Last but not least, Paige Brizak’s ePortfolio is a Wix site dedicated to her professional accomplishments/pursuits, a digital resume of sorts. My favorite aspect of this site is that although it is profession-oriented, it does possibly allude to personality in its aesthetic. Upon viewing the site, an employer may assume that Paige is outgoing due to the bright colors of the header and pages, or well-rounded due to the pictures of a football field etc. While the integration of personality in a professional site can be harmful to the site owner, this site integrates the two in a very nuanced, and thus beneficial way.

Creating a Midterm WordPress Site

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In order to satisfy the requirements of a midterm project in which I was to make a new WordPress account,  I created Let’s Talk Literature. Let’s Talk Literature is a blog dedicated to the analysis of literary works. Unlike Grooved Out, Let’s Talk Literature was created in the name of professional development. Once I graduate, I plan on either attending graduate school, or acquiring a job at a publishing company; Let’s Talk Literature can help me develop/demonstrate the analytical skills necessary for both. While I do enjoy literature and the analysis of it, I am not as passionate about it as I am other subjects. This made the prospect of creating the blog quite daunting.

Once I started creating it, however, I found the work enjoyable, for it allowed me to be creative. I harnessed my creative powers in nearly every aspect of the blog, though it may not seem like it based on it’s minimalist aesthetic, which was the point. I wanted the blog itself to reflect the analytical nature of the content, therefore I created the blog with implicit meaning. For example, the dark red background is employed to represent a a leather bound book, while the white text area is employed to represent the page of the book; the blog itself is an open book. Also, the header of the blog, a picture of various books, illuminates the large scope of literature that the blog deals with, for the books in the header are of all different genres. The header, as well as all of the pictures on the blog were taken by me, which I found to be quite fun.

Perhaps the aspect in which I harnessed most of my creative energy was the podcast. The podcast, an analysis of the Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, allowed me to be creative in the creation of it and the analysis. The podcast starts off with a three note introduction that I recorded myself using Garage Band. Once the introduction is over, my analysis begins and lasts for fifteen minutes, fifteen minutes of creative though, dissecting the text. The podcast closes with a three note conclusion that I also recorded. Once the podcast was recorded, I spent several hours editing it, for the volumes were off. Next time I make a podcast, I will write the entire thing out to eliminate multiple takes and thus editing (though it can be enjoyable).

Although Let’s Talk Literature may not be the flashiest WordPress page, it’s not supposed to be. The main purpose of the blog is its content, the design of a lesser priority. I did try to give the design meaning, however, and hopefully the audience will perceive it. Also, I hope that my effort in creating the blog is perceived. Anyone can utilize stock photos in their blog, or radio hits in their podcast; only some care enough to take their own photos and make their pieces of audio.

On Memes

In “The Language of Internet Memes” (2012), Patrick Davidson states, “an internet meme is a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission” (122). He continues by explaining the three components of the meme: the manifestation (how the meme is conveyed), the behavior (how the manifestation is created), and the ideal (the idea expressed) (123). Presented above is the “Bad Luck Brian” meme, an image macro. In this case, the manifestation is the picture of the boy with the braces, while the behavior is the person who created it, utilizing the picture. The ideal, or joke, the actual meme, is something along the lines of, “unlucky outcomes are funny.” This meme is usually formulated as follows, the manifestation, the picture of the boy is employed,  a situation in which he does something or something happens to him etc. is described in the first line, and the unlucky outcome is described in the second line. While these two lines serve the same person across variations of the meme, they sometimes refer to specific facets of culture. For example, there are some that refer to movies such as The Hunger Games.

“Bad Luck Brian” succeeds as an internet meme, for it reflects the culture in which it was created; Americans often find misfortune comical. This reflection of culture is crucial to the success of an internet meme because without it, one would not be prompted to transmit the meme. And after all, transmission is how they become popular. For this reason, one may only be popular in its own culture, or cultures like it. I found this article regarding popular internet memes in China. It also succeeds in its manifestation, the image of the boy with the braces. Because the boy looks very prude, the magnitude of the meme is multiplied; misfortune is comical, but especially so when it happens to someone so prude. Perhaps this may also be culturally reflective.

For some of the best variations of the “Bad Luck Brian” meme, check out “The 50 Funniest Bad Luck Brian Memes.”

 

References

Davidson, P. (2012). “The Language of Internet Memes.” In Mandiberg, M. (Ed.). The Social Media Reader
(pp. 120-136). NYU Press

Creating a Screencast

Of all of the different tools that I have had to utilize in creating content for this blog, screencasting was definitely the most foreign. Sure, I knew that screencasting existed, but up until this project, I didn’t know how, when, or why I would use it. For this reason, I found the prospect of making a video using it quite intimidating. Luckily, the program that I used, Screencast-O-Matic, was extremely user friendly, allowing me to complete my task with ease. I simply downloaded the program from the site, opened it, set the frame for what on the screen would be recorded, then hit record. The program utilized my computer’s built-in mic, recording my voice, while simultaneously recording what was happening on the screen. This allowed me to compare ePortfolios effectively.

Although I was uncomfortable talking into the computer microphone, for I do not like talking out loud, especially when under pressure, doing so in this instance was much easier than doing so while making the podcast. Unlike podcasting, screencasting involves visual reinforcement of the content being spoken, allowing me to stay on track thought-wise, communicating effectively. While making the podcast, this wasn’t the case, me unable to focus on what I needed to say, resulting in a lot of editing. Such editing, although I did my best, made my podcast sound unnatural. Unedited, my screencast sounds the exact opposite, organic and flowing.

Making the screencast has opened my eyes to the possibilities of screencasting. Screencasting can lend  itself to a number of different fields, especially business. For example, if I owned a company that was changing the programs that it utilized, I could demonstrate how to use new programs in a screencast. This would save time, for I would not have to show each individual employee how to use it, while also ensuring that everyone knew how to use it. Perhaps I could archive the screencast, making it accessible to all company employees at anytime. On the opposite side of the spectrum, screencasting can lend itself to art. One could create a screencast movie, the events of the movie taking place on a computer, recorded. For example, I could create a movie about cyber-bullying by screencasting my activity on social media.

Creating a Podcast

Songs used in podcast: “Colder Bones” by Goliath & Me, “Fall Bicycle” by Lymbyc Systym

 

While I had no previous experience in creating a podcast, I did have experience using Garage Band, the software that I used to make it. Because I play music, I often use Garage Band to demo out song ideas. My knowledge of the software made the actual recording of the podcast quite easy. In making future podcasts however, I may use Audacity, for it better suits the recording of voice; Garage Band is better suited for more in depth recording projects, making the recording of something as simple as voice a little more complicated than it should be.

That’s not to say that I didn’t run into any complications in creating the podcast. The part of it that I assumed would be the easiest, speech, turned out to be the hardest. Uncomfortable with speaking into the computer microphone and hearing my own voice, I found it hard to speak clearly. I kept saying the wrong words, and when I could manage to say the right words, I would pronounce them awkwardly. This led me to divide the speech into parts, having to piece them together after the fact. I also ran into complications when trying to upload the podcast. I assumed that WordPress allowed users to upload podcasts directly to the site. I found out that they do, but with a cost. I wound up uploading the podcast to Soundcloud. Seconds later, I received a notification from the site stating that one of the songs that I used in the podcast was copyrighted material and that if I wanted to use it, I must have permission. At that point, I had to choose a new song, edit it, rearrange the whole podcast, and even record new parts. I then uploaded the new version, the one posted above.

For a first attempt at podcasting, I’m quite satisfied with my finished product. The songs fade into one another seamlessly, as does the speech for the most part. The theme of the content reflects the blog, while allowing elaboration. Overtime, I will only get better at speaking and editing, making future podcasts even better. Having other people on the podcast will also help speaking and editing; a conversation with another human being is more natural. On top of that, having other people on the podcast will make it more entertaining, prompting listeners to return. If I do wind up acquiring a lot of listeners, I will take it more seriously, looking into how to sustain a living off of podcasting. Perhaps I could sell ad space in each podcast? If it does not get that popular, knowing how to make one is still beneficial. For example, if I was a journalist, I could use this knowledge to create my own podcast series, engaging people seeking information. Because traditional means of retrieving information are falling by the wayside, one must understand how to present and retrieve information using effective mediums.