Remix #4 – Video

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As a teacher, I realize the value of a well-crafted video.  Taking the written word and making the themes, images, and ideas explode in a cacophony of color for the learner.  What many of those learners do not realize is the sheer amount of time it takes to make each minute of those short videos come to life.

This project was the same.  Days were spent going through all of the different options for this video remix project.  Finally, I settled on looking at movie that influenced or left a lasting impact on my life.

The task for this assignment was to find three to five movie clips and discuss through my narration how the movies changed me, influenced me into the person that I am today.  On the surface, this seems easy.  But in reality, I had a difficult time deciding which movies to include and why.  Limiting the choices to just 5 made this assignment even more challenging.  Should I have a theme (best firsts, best teachers, most memorable)?  Should I just say I “like” this film?  I struggled with narrowing down a focused theme so that what I was creating had a specific intention that would be obvious to a viewer.  I finally decided to look at notable films – my firsts, my favorite, and my influencers.  Now I was ready to begin the creation of the video.

 Step One – Collection

I located specific clips for each of the five films that I wanted to use.  In order to accomplish this, I used Youtube.com and a Download program to capture the exact clips that I wanted.  I convert the videos to .wmv for use in the video creation program.  The five clips that I chose were:

It’s a Wonderful Life (my first movie memory);

Star Wars:  A New Hope (my first drive-in movie – influenced me to learn to play the trumpet);

Elf (the movie I watch at least twice a year);

and of course the teacher movies that have influenced me to be the teacher that I am – I leave those choices a mystery for you to discover!

Step Two – The Script

I wrote a script to explain how each of the clips have left a lasting impact on my life.  Then, I recorded the script using Audacity.  This free program is easy to use and save the files into the extension that I needed.  I split the narration into parts so that each file would be small.  In part, this makes it easier to insert the narration after.  However, the true reason I split the narration into chunks is that it takes me forever to get the text correct and I often have to re-record the section over and over and over.  Eventually I have the script recorded just the way I want, and then I export them as .wav files for the video.

Step Three – Create the Introduction

Any good video has a great introduction that captures the eye of the viewer.  I wanted mine to include elements of a visual, music, and text.  After several attempts, I decided to go with a typewriting-esque entry of letters.  This effect looks cool but is actually a lot of work.  Using PowerPoint, I typed out the way I wanted the final text slide to look.  I then duplicated each slide, removing one letter on each new slide until I started with only the visual image without any letters.  Twenty-eight slides later, I saved the PowerPoint slides as individual .jpg files.

Step Four – Choose the Background Music

Music is one the most essential parts of a well-crafted video.  I wanted something that was fitting as a movie score, upbeat, and majestic.  I decided on a song from Pirates of the Caribbean Sound track.  This song would support the title entry, the credits, and the narration between the music clips.

Step Five – Assemble the Video & Publish

The program I like to use for my video creations is Adobe Premiere Elements.  Yes, there are free programs available, but I like the options that this program offers.  When I get to this step, I find it easier to intentionally complete each section, perfecting it’s appearance before moving on to the next scene.  I began with the introduction and the individual .jpg files.  Then I add the music.  Finally, I time each slide so that the .jpg files move swiftly as if the letters are rolling onto the screen, timed to the music. With the intro done, I quickly begin to add the rest of the narration, movie clips, and background music.  The final touches included adding a Works Cited page and transitions (cross-dissolve) between each slide.  With the video assembled, I save the creation as a .wmv file and upload it to my Youtube.com channel.

The one wrinkle that I encountered during the project occurred after I uploaded the file to Youtube.com.  The video was blocked and flagged for violating copyright law.  The file admittedly contains copyrighted creations of others.  However, I protested the flagging by stating that the project was a remix project, one that adds values and changes the components from their original structure.

Overall, I am pleased with how the video bloomed.  I enjoyed sharing it with my family and students.  This is an activity that I would like to add to the beginning of the school year lessons next year.  I often have the students do some sort of creative telling that introduces who they are.  By adding this movie remix project, students could explore their sense of identity through movies.

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Remix Project #3 – Design

I love to work with design.  From the corporate world to the classroom, I have been known to play for hours with the elements of an artifact.  I have created brochures, business cards, invoices, multimedia PowerPoint, and graphic organizers to name just a few.  While this may make me look like an expert, the fact remains that each time I create a new artifact, I am always a beginner.  Why would I saythis?  It is simple.  The artifact is never about the creator, but always about the audience.  As the creator, I have to consistently and pervasively consider who will be using the artifact, what the intended purpose of its use will be, and how to best covey the message required.

My Process

Kennnesaw Mountain Writing Project
2013 Literacy Conference

1.  Brainstorm Ideas

2.  Gather materials

a.  software

b.  design elements

c.  text wording

3.  Create QR code

4.  Execute the design

5.  Edit and Revise

6.   Publish

The task I chose was to create a flyer for the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project’s (KMWP) Literacy Conference.  I was provided with the theme “Get Connected with Literacy,” a link to the conference website, the request for a QR code, and KMWP’s artwork.  With these pieces, I began my creative process by brainstorming possible ideas.  As I thought about the theme, I jotted down elements that came to mind.  Finally, after much consideration, the thought of collaboration and its link to connection sprang forth as the guiding element.

Next,   I chose the platform I would use to create my flyer.  My favorite software is Publisher.  I know there are other programs out there, but this felt like the software for this project.  In addition to the provided artwork, I wanted to add an image of an open book.  My favorite royalty free image site Animation Factory.  While a membership is required (for a fee) to use this site, I like the variety and the quality of images available.

The process of the design was relatively easy from this point forward.  I started with the layout of the KMWP logo.  I wanted to make sure that it was visible and aesthetically pleasing.  Once placed, I began the process of balancing the images on the page.  The focal point needed to be Literacy, so I placed the book in the center.  To balance the line created from the logo to the book, I created and included the QR code at the end of the line.  The line intentionally will bring the eye into the Z pattern when one views the flyer.  Surrounding the image in a border are the mountains of the KMWP logo.  I intentionally have them appear to touch as they surround the elements of literacy found in the center of the design.  The border appears to be random squiggles, or the connective-ness that is circling the literacy elements.  The Font for the title was intentionally reminiscent of the border, again adding to the feeling of free-flowing connection.  The colors used were duplicates of the colors used within the KMWP logo.  The final element of design was the stars that are shooting from the book.  The key words I chose to use came from the text of the KMWP Conference website.  I chose these words with the audience in mind.  If a teacher considered attending, what key words would peek their interest?

Finally, I added informative text to enhance one’s desire to want to attend, even further.  I centered the date and time under the textbook.  Then, I included a rhetorical question to allow the viewer to say yes.  The last element of text that I added was a paraphrased description of the conference.  I kept the tone upbeat and connected to the theme of connectivity and collaboration.

The most challenging component of design falls in the revision and editing component.  I could spend hours upon hours changing little elements that many would not even notice, but would forever bother me.  This creation was no different.  In fact, I decided to walk away and allow my brain to think about the creation for a while before submitting the final product.  Three days later, the final idea came to me at the gym, much to my trainer’s dismay!  Overall, I am pleased with the design’s simplistic appearance.  I feel that I connected with the ideas presented for the conference and I hope that the intended audience feels drawn to attend this conference.

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Remix #2 (Audio): Jingle Jangle Tutorial

Step 1:  Write the Script

All projects start with a good script.  This script, while not my best, was fun to write from the perspective of a dog.  I was inspired, of course, by the cutest puppy in the world!

Step 2: Pick the Background Music

I believe that this step is just as important as the script.  I wanted to make sure that the music not only fit the tone of the project, but that it had meaning to the subject as well.  Jordan LOVES Adele, so her song “Someone Like You” was a natural fit.  I chose an instrumental version of the song to enhance, but not detract, from the voice over.

Step 3:  Choose the Program & Record

I used , an open-source program to create Jordan’s Audio Mix.  I have used this program before to edit narration and audio for movies that I make for my classroom.  This is the first time that I have actually played with the effect options within the program.

First, I need to disclose that I am a female and I have made several voice recordings for multimedia projects.  The feedback I have received from my videos usually focuses on how the narrator’s voice (mine) is the part that makes the video.  With that in my head, I decided to keep my voice normal with added inflections for excitement and emphasis within the text.  I then went to effects and began to experiment.  The first option I tried was GVerb – not a good I idea as I sounded like a Cyborg!  I then experimented with pitch and bass boost.  Nope, didn’t work, time to re-record.

Step 3:  The Finished Product

So after all of the trial and error, I decided to try to imitate the pitch of a male voice and then lower the pitch.  This worked.  I played around with the levels, and soon realized that I needed to put an echo on the voice to make the track more exciting.  Naturally, I tried the echo affect, but that sounded like I had put my voice into a blender and hit the crush button.  Yuck!  After playing for some time with the length of the echo, I finally, found the right length (as short as it could go) and got that booming, projecting voice that I was striving for – at least somewhat!

RECAP

1.  Write Your Script

2.  Choose Your Background Music

3.  Choose Your Audio Software – I recommend Audacity

4.  Record your Script

5. Play with Effects

6. Play with Effects

7. Play with Effects

8. Play with Effects

9.  Realize you sound like a Cyborg

10.  Re-record

11. Play with Effects

12.  Finally Figure Out the Right Mix

13.  Add music and export as a .wav file!

That’s it!  Hope you have as much fun as I did!

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Remix #2 (Audio): Jingle Jangle

I have to admit, I love mixing audio into a video file.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  Finding the perfect song that matches the mood of an image – purely delicious.  That’s why this project challenged me to tell my tale with just my voice and music.  I decided to keep the subject of my audio recording something easy and fun to tell, so I chose to write a short intro to my new puppies transition from pound puppy to princess.  Her favorite music is Adele; In fact we play Adele to calm her down when she is puppy wild.  The two meshed well together, even if my voice sounds wickedly horrible lowered so many octaves!

Jordan Voice Over

I’ll post my how-to in another blog – stay tuned!

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Remix #1 (Visual): Adapt an Artist’s Work / Techy Mona

The hardest part of this assignment was deciding which option to choose in order to complete the task.  Now I really understand how my students feel when I tell them to “be creative” and they look at me as if I am speaking Latin.  So, I settled for remixing the work of a famous artist and the piece of art I settled on was DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.  

I love tech.  There.  I said it (shocker, I know).  However, I do not love editing photos!  I would rather spend hours setting up the perfect shot with a camera, or finding a different way to portray the needed visual aid.  Why?  Patience.  The amount of detail that it takes to use photo editing software surprised me.  One little line to far to the left can ruin what you are trying to accomplish.  Overall, I think the image turned out well.  I like that I portrayed Mona as I feel she would be in today’s society.  AND, I gained a huge amount of respect for graphic artists!

How To:

1.  I used Pixlr as my editing tool.  After loading both images, I began with the image of a Mona Lisa skinned iPad.

2.  I created a white border around the image, to simulate an iPad case with the marquee tool feathered (feather setting) to 40.  After inverting the selection, I was able to color the entire portion outside of Mona Lisa’s iPad covering.

3.  Next, I used the free transform tool to rotate the image slightly so that when it was moved to the final image, it would looked natural in Mona’s hand.

4.  I created a new image with a transparent background and then I copied and pasted  the image of iPad Mona into this transparent background.  To make this happen, I used the inverted wand tool.

5.  I re-sized the transparent iPad Mona so that it was less than half the original size so that the iPad would look normal in Mona’s hand.  This was a lot of trial and edit/undo’s.  I really was just eyeballing the two images side by side in order to have the right size.

6.  I then copied the iPad image into the image of Mona Lisa, which created two layers on the untouched photo.  The next step was to create a third layer of just her hands so that I could sandwich the iPad between the two layers.  Using the wand tool, I carefully selected the hands – this was a pain!  With the hands now a layer, I placed them on top of the iPad image and erased the extra bits I missed with the wand.

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Exorcism, Wikipedia, & Britannica – Oh my!

Our task was to examine an entry into three different mediums. The topic of examination was exorcism and we researched this term through a hardback encyclopedia, an online encyclopedia, and Wikipedia. We all have a perception that what we read in an encyclopedia is true. Similarly, a any believe that what is found in the user-edited sphere on Wikipedia must be doubted. However, it’s hard to dismiss the relevance of a entry like this one that contained perceived citations, in-depth discussion, and a wholistic approach to exorcism’s presence in many religious traditions.

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My Teaching Life

The Images
What is my day like as a teacher?  That’s a complicated question for any teacher to answer.  We would all say that our job is to educate the minds of the future, but the reality of being a teacher goes so much farther!  The images I chose go so much farther.

In the top left and bottom middle, is a picture of students collaborating on an assignment.  I am a firm believer in collaboration that has partner’s working together to enhance and redefine the content.  If you were to walk into my room on any given day, you would see collaboration in process; From the seating chart, to activities.

Etowah, the school I am proud to call my education home, is depicted in the upper left, middle, and lower right.  The picture at the top in the middle is one of Etowah High School’s September 11th Memorial.  For the past year, I have been an active member of the committee that made the memorial – and its legacy of service – possible.  I am also the 9th grade T.A.A. (Teacher’s as Advisors) Chair, Technology Committee Member, and B.A.L.D. (bring a learning device) Pilot Teacher.  What many outside of education do not realize is that teacher’s do not just “teach” – we are responsible for so much more than our classrooms.

The upper right photo depicts a mix of collaboration and technology.  Students are learning new and exciting ways in which the little device that they usually must keep in their pockets can be used in the classroom.  I am loving the way that the things we normally do in the classroom become exciting extensions of the content.

The bottom left is the cover art that I use for all of my custom classroom videos. I love making videos that connect our texts to pop culture.  From British Literature Romanticism, Edgar Allan Poe, and Grammar, my videos bring the classroom to a visual wonderland.

The Editing
I chose the collage layout so that I  could incorporate enough pictures to truly give a glimpse into my teacher life.  The next step was to round the edges of the pictures.  This is intended to show the way my day continually shapes itself to the needs of my students, parents, colleagues, and administrators.  Purple can be found surrounding the photos.  Purple reminds me that we all are connected regardless of the things that make us different (religion, race, sex, etc.)

I chose to not edit the pictures any further, because I am a straight-forward person who likes to appear just as I am, with no polishing or editing to make myself appear as something I am not. Just ask my students who often shake their heads in amusement as my fellow English teacher’s and I have a dance party in the hallway to start our day!!

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