Lights! Camera! Action!

There is a saying that behind every good man is a good woman. This week, I learned that behind every good director is a good film editor. Truth be told, I had never really thought much of moving angles. This might be because my favorite films are rom coms. So, reading Roger Ebert’s How to Read a Movie was really eye-opening (no pun intended). In the article, Ebert explains about positive/negative sides and strong/weak axis. For example, a person located somewhat to the right of center appears ideally placed on the “strong axis”. To try it out, I did a search of famous movie scenes. It was a harder search than I thought to find movie titles/pictures. I did come across the epic film Casablanca. In analyzing the pictures included, I noticed the following:

Rick Blaine in his Cafe Americain nightclub playing chess by himself – Center placement, “postive side” facing the future…but…he’s looking down so it suggests that it might not be all rainbows and sunshine

Final farewell scene between trench-coated Rick and Ilsa on the rainy, foggy airstrip with “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid” – Ilsa is on the positive side but facing to the left which symbolizes the past. Rick is on the negative side. He’s looking at the future…even though he’s letting her go.

Now, let’s think about how film editing can play a part in these iconic scenes. As Hitchcock explains, simple editing can change the feeling and sentiment of a character/scene. In the scene where Rick says, “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”, imagine how the mood would change if editing flipped to Rick and he was wearing KISS make-up. Obviously this is a ridiculous example. BUT, I thought Hitchcock’s explanation of how just a simple change in a picture…like swapping out a baby for a girl in a bikini changes the whole sentiment towards a character. We do that in real life also when we meet someone. We have an initial perception and then as we learn more, that perception changes. I find it interesting that directors/editors capitalize on that during movie making.

I found the history of film editing really interesting. I particularly appreciated the comments from Spielberg and his relationship with his film editor. Because he had spent so much time trying to film the shark, he wanted to include as much frames of it as possible. However, her vision of the film included a “less is scarier/more tense” approach. The end result was an award-winning film. But it reminded me that many times in my team’s presentation, because they fall in love with a particular slide, they fight to keep it in…even though it doesn’t add (or may subtract) from the overall presentation.

I also found it interesting when one of the film editors explained that their job is to take on the POV of the viewer. To make sure they do that effectively, they stay offset so they do not bring prior knowledge into the editing room. Since I develop training materials, I think that’s a good rule of thumb to bring to my development process. It was also amazing to me to see how far film taping/editing has evolved as I watched videos on special effects. But, even watching the basics on the 180 made me realize how much thought and attention to detail is put into film making that the audience just takes for granted.

Finally, I appreciated Ken Burns’s perspective that his job has an element of manipulation. He uses filming and editing to tell his version of the “truth” to make the audience react a certain way. This feeling was also supported during the film editing movie when one of the editors stated that everyone likes editing because they want to edit their own life. I think that’s true…there are definitely times I wish I could edit parts out, slow things down or fast forward. All in all…I have a whole new appreciation for films!



I constantly feel like I’m being overwhelmed by noise that begins with my alarm clock (that goes off way too early in the morning) and ends with email alerts coming from my laptop (as my India team gets working as I’m heading to bed). This week, we learned all about sound and the profound impact it has on stories. It helps set the tone and mood. Given how hectic life is for me right now, I’m not surprised that the “noise” in my life feels overwhelming.

In addition to always feeling like I’m being bombarded with noise, I felt a little overwhelmed using new tools like SoundCloud and Audacity. However, both of the tools were fairly easy to use once I got the hang of things. My first endeavor with the software was with my news broadcast. Recording a ridiculous story…while pretending to be serious…was pretty fun and got me away from worrying about how my voice sounds.

Next, I honed my sound mixing skills to create a tribute to my sister’s upcoming wedding. I took a little creative liberty with one of the sound files to create a story that had a greater emotional impact on me…and something that I can share with her to help explain why I’m busy with school and not doing such a great job with being the maid of honor.

While reading my classmates’ blogs, I got the inspiration for my design assignment. Since we’re paying homage to sound and how it impacts storytelling, I took the same Craig’s List post and reinterpretted it with my recording. It was actually interesting to listen to my post and then relisten to hear’s. While completing this activity, I thought that this may be a good activity for the class to do….to highlight how everyone interprets and uses sound differently.

I learned about the Foley Artist and how awesome their role is! Since I can’t sing, dance or act…I used to always joke with my mom that a behind-the-scenes soundmaker may be my only shot at show business. After raading all the things the do, I think that’s even out now! I still need to create my Foley video.

Finally, I wrapped the week up with updating/enhancing an existing final project idea based on a suggestion by the professional!

All in all, I found a new appreciation for sound….the soundtrack for my life!


Missed Connections…A New Take

I got my inspiration for this week’s DS106 audio assignment by reading a follow classmate’s blog on Craig’s List’s Missed Connections. Truth be told…I’ve never been on Craig’s List. But, I read her “Missed Connections” interpretation and got inspired. Since this week is all about audio and using sounds and audio to tell a story, I decided to take the same words she recorded and interpret them myself. I wanted to see if we could create different stories based on tone, cadence, volumn and background noise. The Craigslist Missed Connection is:

I saw you this morning on the orange line metro (towards largo/new carrollton), you were beautiful. I got on at Dunn Loring and you were already on. You had red tinted hair and a tealish bag. You were short and fit.

I never do this and I’m sure you’ll never see this but I wish I had said something.

Tell me what stop you got off at if you see this.

The words are not particularly eloquent and I initially read them as if they were posted from a male. So, I decided to slow down the pace and add more angst into the delivery. I also added in female crying from This gave the post a distinctive female feel. Then, to comply withe request from the activity, I dropped in a rap beat. It actually fit well into the recording and almost made the crying sound musical.

Final Project Idea: Self Help…for Fonts!

Last week, I proposed doing a final project on how the usage of fonts can create a mixed message. The professor suggested creating a self-help group for misunderstood fonts. That got me thinking…could I create a story about a misunderstood font and his bad news bears group of friends – other fonts with other notorious reputations.

Based on Pixar’s Storytelling Rules, everyone loves an underdog who they can resonate with…and who HASN’T been understood at some point in time? I was thinking that I could create a similar underdog story much like the commercial I reviewed a few weeks earlier.

I could leverage appropriate sounds to indicate the emotions and design similar to the commercial below. Through the “story”, the group could encounter different graphic designs that seem to “mock” the font. For example, whenever Comic Sans encounters a clown, it has a comic sans name tag. The more I think about this idea, the more I think it could be pretty fun to create…similar to this self help job ad.


Wedding Bells

My sister is getting married in about 6 weeks. So, wedding bells and relationships are hot topics within my family. One of the comments that everyone keeps telling my sister is how fast the wedding day actually will go. They then usually proceed to ask my sister when she’s planning on having kids! Talk about rushing things! I used this topic as a base for my sound story. I tried to create the boy meets girl story using sounds from Free Sound. I editted the story together using Audacity, a tool I have never used before.

The story starts off as most…in a bar with lots of noise. This is where the boy meets the girl…although that has to be inferred. The next sound is of a couple laughing…presumably in a date setting. The track then skips to a proposal, wedding bells, clinking glasses and then…a baby crying.

The story is a tribute to my sister and her fiance! The original Audacity files had romantic music in the background. I’m not sure what happened when I outputed it to an MP3 file. I left the file “as is” so the listening can use their imagination with what happens in the blank spot. 🙂 I will admit that I cheated a bit with one of my sound bites with the proposal but since it was just one piece of the story and came from an open source file, I took my chance.


This is Sammy Sparks reporting for WKLMTZ…

Recording my own voice…the thought terrifies me! So, when I saw the assignment to record myself pretending to be a newscaster, I got a little freaked out. I also realized that I would have to learn how to use yet another new tool, SoundCloud [since this is audio week, I’ll let you know that I let out a big sigh]. However, I found the activity fairly painless.

I began by setting up my SoundCloud account. I chose a name similar to my Blog to help users make a connection. Based on feedback from another classmate, having pictures helped provide a connection. Therefore, I decided to use a picture of me as my Avatar. However, since the site is a little funky and cool, I decided to use a funnier picture of me from when I completed the Warrior Dash.

Next, I had to find a funny article to record. I tried searching for articles using things like “ridiculous news stories” and “funny news stories” and didn’t really come up with anything appropriate. So, I used inspiration from one of my classmates and her use of an Onion article. I selected an Article on American Idol contestant Bo Bice and recent news that Alabama was going to cancel Bo Bice Day.  The article resonated with me because I am currently staffed on a project in Arkansas and have witnessed firsthand how southern states love their local celebrities.

Next, I searched on SoundCloud to find some appropriate news intro music. I was pretty excited with what I found. I then made my recording. It turned out ok…I was just happy that my dog didn’t start barking mid-recording. The intro music didn’t turn out all that well so I’ll learn in the future that I need to record differently. All in all…I was pretty pleased and didn’t totally cringe at my voice.

Missed the Boat on Graphic Design

Life has been a little crazy! My project is launching at the beginning of June, my sister is getting married, I’m getting a new roommate and I’m finishing up with school…all within the same two week period. So, in reviewing the Design Safari blog posts from fellow DS106 participants, I realized that I had missed the boat this week.


I was really proud of myself for keeping my head up and looking around to recognize and capture pictures of design elements. I had watched this week’s video and look more of the Georgia O’Keeffe landscape photographs rather than signs and designs. Although the exercise really got my creative juices following, I realize that my design safari wasn’t on target. Speaking of Target, I’ll be sure to be on the lookout this week for graphic designs and provide an update NEXT week.

I loved the video on Symmetry. It really made me rethink the definition of symmetry which, prior watching the clip, I would have defined as matching, balanced or proportional. The video made me think more about relational, cause/effect and partnership symmetry. Some of my favorites included the cop/robber, the baby walking/old man walking and the families. It was eye-opening.

Similarly, I loved the video from Kelli Anderson. Her take on the Christmas card and the wedding invitation were amazing. In keeping with the theme of wonderment and looking at the unexpected, I found a really cool article of artwork that is so realistic, it looks like photography.

Reviewing the Finding Design Elements document sparked some inspiration for my final project on how using the wrong font can really send the wrong message.

I also had a lot of fun completing one of the design assignments in creating a four icon storyboard to represent a movie. I was super impressed that someone got it right off the bat! Apparently I need some help in my creativity since I thought the movie was more obscure than I realized. Reviewing the other blogs and seeing how they depicted movies was also great!

All in all, although I missed the design safari assignment and ran out of time to complete a second design assignment, I really feel like I learned a lot this week!