Blog Post 10 – Video Storytelling

For the final assignment in this course, I worked with Ben Banta to create a video highlighting safety in backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Ben interviewed Greg Ley of the UW Outdoor Program who discussed the importance of safety and experience while recreating in the backcountry during the winter. Greg also briefly discussed some of the rentals and courses that the UW Outdoor Program offers that relate to backcountry skiing. We also interviewed Anthony Natale, a backcountry snowboarder who discussed why he prefers backcountry snowboarding and how he stays safe.

We decided to not place talking heads in front of the camera for this project, but instead record audio interviews and compliment them with related footage. In order to execute this, we had to spend a fair amount of time filming snowboarding and skiing in the backcountry. I found this experience to be interesting because I basically had to act as a director. Rather than simply filming people as the were snowboarding, I tried to set up shots and get specific angles which required a lot of communication and coordination with the riders. While this was difficult at times, I think our final product came out a lot better than if I had adopted a “point and shoot” mentality as riders came by.

I was surprised with how much raw footage it took to complete this project. Our final product was close to two and half minutes, which I estimate required about 6-8 hours of raw footage. The footage on our final video is the culmination of four different days spent filming in the backcountry.

Filmmaking is my passion, so I hope to be able to apply my knowledge of editing frequently in my future career. I like making videos because it is a combination of all forms of media. Filmmaking incorporates concepts from photography, audio editing, graphic design, and journalistic knowledge. I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a story using multiple formats, and I hope to one day work full-time as a filmmaker.

Blog Post 9 – Live Tweeting

For the live Tweeting assignment, I attended the Laramie Valley Trout Unlimited monthly meeting at the Wyoming Technology Business Center. Scott Christy, the Wyoming Coordination for Trout Unlimited, attended the meeting and spoke about conservation issues, river restoration, club financing, the programs TU has in place in Wyoming, and 2015 events. I attended the meeting as part of the University Fly Fishing Club to discuss working together with LVTU for spring semester events and conservation projects.

Since I was participating in the meeting, I was not able to tweet on my phone or computer while it was in progress. I wrote my tweets down and entered them after the meeting concluded. Attending the meeting with the intention of tweeting it made me listen to the speakers in a slightly different way. I normally don’t think about the way I am listening to someone when they speak, but knowing I had to tweet the event made me do so. I listened carefully for good quotes I could use and information that would be interesting and useful to people who may not be involved in fly fishing. I liked how knowing that I had to tweet the event made me participate in it in a more journalistic way. Listening for quotes and information that may possibly appeal to people outside of the fly fishing world was a bit distracting at times and caused me to miss some information.

Unfortunately, I entirely forgot to take a photo of the event, and in hindsight it may have been better for me to choose an event that I did not have to participate in. I think the fact that I had to think about how I was going to tweet the event while I was trying to participate caused me to lose focus. Although I wasn’t as focused as I could have been, I think this assignment was good practice for learning how to multitask as a journalist at an event.

Soundslides Project

For the Soundslides project, my partner Ben Banta and I created an audio slideshow about opening day at Snowy Range Ski Area this season. For this project, Ben and I had to capture a large amount of photos of the ski area and facilities, as well as conduct and record audio interviews with two Snowy Range employees. Our goal was to create a slideshow with complementary audio that highlights the work that goes into opening a ski resort for the season.

I enjoyed working with a partner on this project; I think that introducing a new perspective to a project greatly improves the outcome. It was good to have Ben’s input on different aspects of the project because it allowed me to see what we were photographing in a different way. Ben also asked some important questions in his interview that I would not have thought to ask. The only thing I found difficult about working with a partner on this assignment was actually finding the time to get together. Ben and I found that we both had fairly busy schedules and weren’t able to meet up and work together as much as we would have liked to. We were able to complete some parts of the assignment together, but we also had to figure out how to work separately and still complete the project. We went to Snowy Range and photographed the mountain together – I liked having two perspectives for this portion of the assignment.

Ben and I had to work on the remainder of the assignment separately. I conducted an interview with Jarrod Tamez, edited the photos, and edited the audio files. Ben conducted an interview with Anthony Natale, and put the edited photos and audio files together on Soundslides.

Overall, I enjoyed this assignment and working with a partner on a multimedia project. I would have liked to have planned the project more efficiently, this would have allowed Ben and I to collaborate a bit more on the final product.

Edited Audio Profile

This is the edited form of the audio interview that I conducted with Ben Banta recently. I found that the audio editing process presented its own unique challenges, just as the audio recording process did. I have been editing audio as a part of my video production work for several years, so this stage of the assignment was the least difficult for me.

I enjoyed being able to work with Adobe Premiere Pro for this assignment. Although Premiere is a video editing program, it is also a very powerful audio editor. Premiere features many audio effects and editing tools, some of which I was able to familiarize myself with during my internship this past summer. Working with this program allowed me to negate the guesswork of learning a new audio editing program, and focus on the quality of my project. Although I was mostly familiar with the basic audio editing features of Premiere Pro, I still tried to take my time with this project; I listened to the entire raw audio file several times in an attempt to locate the most interesting topics that Ben discussed. I also tried to experiment with some of the effects that I wasn’t entirely familiar with – most of this was trial and error. By experimenting with different effects, I was able to learn how bass, vocal enhancers and equalizers vary the quality, tone, and pitch of an audio track. In the end, I decided to add a bit of bass and vocal enhancers to the audio file. I believe the edited track has a better, more rich sound.

I was mostly aware of what I would be doing with the raw file once I decided I would edit with Premiere Pro, so there weren’t any surprises for me in this assignment. There is still some audible shuffling that can be heard in the edited profile. The background noise is something that I found difficult to eliminate in the editing process, and I wish I had set the microphone up in a way that eliminated this during the interview. Overall, I believe this project went smoothly. Ben was an excellent interviewee, and aside from a bit of background noise here and there, I am extremely satisfied with the result.

Raw Audio Profile

I interviewed Ben Banta about why he decided to pursue a degree in Communications at the University of Wyoming. I have been involved in recorded interviews before, but only as a camerman. My experience as an interviewer for this assignment was fairly simple, I asked open-ended questions and he told his story; I don’t think either one of us really noticed the microphone once the interviews began. As the interviewee, I felt comfortable, it is usually easy for me to talk about things I am interested in, and the whole interview felt conversational and fairly informal.

For me, the most difficult part of the interview was timing. I had to think about how to time questions and estimate how long answers would be so that I could keep the entire interview within the proper time limit. I had a hard time communicating to Ben that we were running short on time, which made it difficult to wrap up the interview. I thought the content of the interview was excellent, but I did find that the ending was rather abrupt. In hindsight, it would have been beneficial for us to agree on some sort of hand signal to indicate that time was running out before conducting the interviews, but I am still satisfied with content I was able to record.

I enjoyed that I was able to interview someone with an interesting story. It was easy to tell that Ben was passionate about the events in his life that led him to seek a career working with multimedia, which made for excellent content in this interview. I was actually surprised with how few questions I had to ask throughout the five minute process; there were a lot of events in Ben’s life that led him to where he is now and he spoke about them passionately. I am confident that I will be able to create a compelling edited audio profile with the content I was able to capture.

 

Photojournalism

An angler casts in the Snake River near Jackson, WY
An angler casts in the Snake River near Jackson, WY

I took this photo of an angler fishing in the Snake River in Jackson, WY. I was intrigued by the colors of the trees against the mountainous background; I was also hoping to capture the fly line as it moved through the air.

 

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Non-sports feature: I took this photo on the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, CO on labor day weekend. As I was fishing, a group of whitewater rafters came by, I thought I should snap a photo while my fishing was ruined.

 

A skater cruises through one of the bowls at the Laramie skatepark.
A skater cruises through one of the bowls at the Laramie skatepark.

Sports feature: I took many photos during my time at the Laramie Skatepark, some of which had good action in them. I chose this basic photo, however, because I really liked how all of the shadows fell on the image. It felt to me like there was a sense of activity and stillness at the same time in this image.

 

A pedestrian looks on as leaves collect in one of the corners of the Laramie Skatepark
A pedestrian looks on as leaves collect in one of the corners of the Laramie Skatepark

I took this photo during my shoot at the Laramie Skatepark. While I was shooting action shots, I noticed leaves collecting in one of the corners and an individual looking on subtly in the distance, which I thought would make for a striking but subtle image.

 

Students emigrate from class to class along Ivinson St.
Students emigrate from class to class along Ivinson St.

I took this photo on my way back from class on a fall day in Laramie. I was struck by the line produced by the seemingly endless sidewalk and the canopy of trees that towered over it. Additionally, the flags on each post along the entire length of sidewalk to 9th street made for a nice canopy although many of ended up blocked by the foilage.

 

 

 

 

Creative Devices

Stars over the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.
Stars over the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

This photo uses the slightly illuminated tree in the foreground to create depth. Including the tree in the foreground creates a sense of depth and gives a little bit better sense of the distance to the Tetons in the background.

 

A fisherman looks at his fly stuck in the tree above.
A fisherman looks at his fly stuck in the tree above.

The main device utilized in this photo is focus. I decided to focus on the fly to indicate that it was stuck in a tree, if I had focused on the angler, the fly may have not even been noticeable in this photograph. This image also uses color as a balancing element as the blue jacket draws focus to the angler, resulting in focus moving between the angler and fly stuck in a tree. This photo also uses perspective as I was about 20 feet higher than the fisherman I photographed.

 

A bent sign indicates Wilderness Area in the Medicine Bow National Forest
A bent sign indicates Wilderness Area in the Medicine Bow National Forest

I was mainly attempting to make the sign stick-out when I took this photo. I used background and got close to the sign and focused in on it. By getting so close to the sign, I effectively blurred the background enough to make the sign really stick out in the image. I used focus to create the effect on the background, by focusing on the sign, I didn’t remove anything from the background, but I did make it unnoticeable and the least dominant force in the image.

 

Aspen and Cottonwood leaves collect along the banks of Laramie River.
Aspen and Cottonwood leaves collect along the banks of Laramie River.

The main focus point in this image is the color; the brightly-colored leaves are the dominant aesthetic force in this photo. This photo also uses balancing elements as the leaves, being the dominant force, are balanced by the gray rock and the exposed ground on the right-hand side.

 

Storm clouds build in the distance over the Encampment River.
Storm clouds build in the distance over the Encampment River.

I tried to use several devices when taking this photo. This photo primarily uses rule of thirds; the tall trees are offset in the left-hand third of the photo. I also tried to use framing in this photo by using the angler on the right side and the trees on the left to frame the river. Since the angler on the right side is much less prominent than the trees on the opposite side, balancing elements are created.

University Flycasters Club Returns to Campus

 An RSO Revived

The University Flycasters Club is being revived after a year of inactivity. Torin Mann is the new president of the University’s fly-fishing club and hopes to pick up where the former club left off in some areas, and introduce some new ideas and activities of his own.

Mann was enthusiastic about recruiting members for the fishing club. “The best thing we can have is people to teach to fish – I just want people to want to fish”, said Mann after the club’s first meeting Thursday evening.

According to the constitution for the University Flycasters, the main goals of the club are to “promote fly fishing locally, regionally and nationally” and to “teach fly fishing and fly tying techniques and proper stream etiquette to newcomers interested in the sport”.

Teaching beginners to fish will be a top priority of the club. Photo: Dominic Citriniti.
Teaching beginners to fish will be a top priority of the club. Photo: Dominic Citriniti.

 

Fly Fishing Background

 Fly-fishing is a popular form of fishing, especially in the Rocky Mountain west. The idea is to use the weight of the fishing line to present a very lightweight pattern that typically imitates an insect on the surface of the water, but can also imitate anything from minnows to mice.

This method of fishing is often regarded as difficult to learn and nearly impossible to master; simply learning how to cast far enough to put your fly in front of a fish is often a feat that can take beginners weeks or even months to learn. Mann hopes to attract a number of students who have never fly fished before and utilize the more experienced members of the club to decrease the learning curve for beginners.

A more in-depth description of the basics of fly fishing can be found on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website here.

 

Introducing Beginners

The University Flycasters Club currently has members ranging from experienced fly fisherman to beginners who are eager to learn. Mann spoke with the greatest passion about getting beginners into the sport: “Let’s get a bunch of new people in here that don’t know how to fish,” he said to the members present at the club’s first meeting.

Willie Greenman, UW student and new club member, is no rookie to fly-fishing, however he was still excited about the opportunities to learn from other members. “I haven’t fished the area a lot, and there seems to be some veterans in the club to show the new guys new spots and tactics” Greenman said.

The University Flycasters are not just interested in attracting people who have never fished before. Experienced anglers are not only encouraged to join, but could even be an asset to the club and getting more students involved in the sport. Greenman expressed excitement to learn the area, he stated “There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to a new area and not knowing where to go or what flies to use, I think it will be good for people who are experienced, but don’t know the area”.

 

Club Activities

Mann spoke with enthusiasm for the future of the RSO, as members pitched ideas for club activities at the first meeting. “The old club used to do a spring symposium and some well-known anglers would come and give seminars and demonstrations; I’d like to get that going again”, said Mann.

Mann wants to focus the club on conservation, fishing with members, meetings, tying flies, and hosting symposiums and film screenings. During Thursday’s meeting, it was clear that the organization was in its formative stages as members attempted to pick up on activities from the previous club while brainstorming some of their own. Mann was very open to suggestions and encouraged input from members. The most popular idea for an activity amongst members was an annual fishing and camping trip to a currently undecided destination.

The RSO is currently planning clean-up projects for the Laramie and North Platte Rivers. Photo: Andrew O'Neill
The RSO is currently planning clean-up projects for the Laramie and North Platte Rivers. Photo: Andrew O’Neill

The RSO plans to make impacts outside of the realm of the fly-fishing world as well. At the first club meeting, members discussed hosting clean up days on the banks of the Laramie River, where members of the community not only spend their time fishing, but biking, walking, and otherwise enjoying the outdoors as well. Greenman was happy to be part of the new club not only for the fishing and learning opportunities, but also for a chance to give back to the rivers. Greenman stated “I’m looking forward to taking part in some conservation efforts so the fish will always be around”.

The University Flycasters is a Recognized Student Organization at the University of Wyoming; see all of the fine student organizations UW has to offer here.

Multimedia Usability Analysis

My roommate, Anthony and I recently conducted a multimedia usability analysis on a website that integrates photos, videos, text and audio to convey a message. We reviewed “100 Gallons“, a multimedia presentation from Powering A Nation which highlights the significance of the average amount of water one U.S. citizen uses daily.

My first impression of the site was very positive; the presentation had a clear and simple layout. All of the content could be viewed on one page, and hovering the cursor over each stage of the presentation indicated what form of media that particular stage was and a title. The presentation begins playing automatically, but it is not immediately clear how to navigate through the presentation individually, but there is a “How To View” tab located directly beneath the main viewing window.

I began my usability test by first assessing the overall layout of the page. I then watched the auto-play video briefly, and proceeded to explore the different supplemental presentations located beneath the main viewing window. Finally, I attempted to locate contact information for the page owners. I chose to assess the page in this order based on increasing interactivity required for each action.

One small issue I ran into was that the “back” button on my Internet browser did not allow me to return to previously viewed pages within the main viewing window. For example, if I wanted to view “Video: Cloud Juicer” followed by “Text: The Purest”, I would have to jump between on the timeline; the back or forward buttons on my Internet browser would not allow it. This only slightly violates the rule of keeping navigation simple, but it is a small factor that could make an already great multimedia presentation even more functional. The one navigation tip that seems to have been violated by the “100 Gallons” presentation is limiting navigation options to no more than seven; this presentation has 16 primary navigation options. Although each navigation option contains a fairly small amount of content, the excessive number of options is a bit overwhelming.

Contacting the website creators took only a few seconds for me; I clicked about, which brought me to a descriptive about page containing a link to see more about the staff. After clicking the link, a “Contact” link is prominently displayed at the top-center of the new page, and directs you to an e-mail submission form for questions and comments.

My roommate had a very similar experience to me in navigating the site. Anthony found the site to be functional and informative, although it took him a few minutes to figure out how to navigate using the timeline. Anthony did not like how difficult he found it to contact the page creators, stating that the process to get in touch with the people in charge of the page was “too indirect”. He thought that with the important message this page was trying to send, there should be a direct “contact us” link on the page itself.

There a several factors of this site that I would not change, the “100 Gallons” website closely follows some important navigation tips including “keep navigation simple”. Navigating this site, while not entirely obvious at first, is very simple and viewing all of the content in this presentation is easy to do. This site also follows the navigation tip “place controls and navigation in logical places”, as all of the main navigation tabs run left-to-right and are displayed prominently in the center of the page. The presentation utilizes a clean and simple design to convey a message effectively, there is not too much or too little going on, and navigating is relatively simple.

Despite ease of use and a simple design, there are still a few small issues that should be change about this site. As my roommate stated, a “Contact Us” tab to compliment the “About” tab would probably be in the best interest for the creators of the site as they try to raise awareness about their cause. This site also violates the navigation tip of making navigation buttons large enough for a finger touch; the navigation buttons on the timeline are very small, and would likely be frustrating for mobile users. This site also contains sixteen main navigation options – over twice the number recommended in our navigation tips.

While this website may have a few issues with performance and functionality, overall it is well-designed, informative, simple, and an excellent multimedia presentation.

My News Diet

My savviness on important current events is marginal at best, due to my poor news diet. I stay on top of all the latest updates on issues that are important to me, such as the newest snowboarding gear or college football. Over the course of this past summer, my total consumption of current events news probably averages out to less than a couple minutes per day.

When I do look to major news outlets for information on current events, my main priority is to avoid bias and get the facts, which can be tough to do. Finding a relatively unbiased source of news can be challenging due to how difficult it can be to determine who is being sincere or ethical. For pure functionality of a news website, I like The New York Times. In order to gain several perspectives on particularly important matters, I also like to check out CNN and occassionally Fox News. I think that all news outlets have some bias, and it is up to me to consume news from all of them and attempt to filter out the bias.

When I don’t regularly check the news, I often become aware of events through other websites that I use to pass the time. Facebook and Imgur are my top two non-productive websites that I visit, and several times over the summer, these sites brought major world events to my attention. I learned of updates with ISIS and the pressing matter of net neutrality via these websites that are designed more for entertainment.

I rarely speak to other people about current political events, because in my experience, discussing politics with friends and family and trying to sway their opinion closer to your own is more often than not a futile effort.

Environmental issues, such as the Elwha Dam removal, are important to me
Environmental issues – such as the Elwha Dam removal – are important to me and I follow them more closely

 

Overall, I would say that the amount of time I spend every day reading up on current events is pretty shameful, and I hope this class can be the kick I need to become a more informed citizen. I have been thinking lately about how much more I should know about current events, but haven’t actually acted on it until reading this assignment. I look forward to becoming more informed on current events and beginning a habit of staying informed both during and after my enrollment in COJO 3530.

University of Wyoming