With less than twenty-four hours to go from the time this is published until the end of the semester, this is my last update here at DS106 for 2015. As for what happened these past two weeks, there really wasn’t much. Sure, I wrote a prequel to one of my favorite manga and anime franchises of all time, Gosho Aoyama’s Magic Kaito, with the comedy-drama “Shot Through the Heart,” but everyone had to do one of those for our final exams, so that’s nothing new. I even created a behind-the-scenes featurette for my project, entitled “The Slug Hunt,” so everyone knows how each part of the story was told, heard and shown, and I put it in a separate post, but since the checklist made sure to point that out, I can’t really bring that up, either. On top of that, I can’t really complain about the tutorial portion of this exam, since both of my entries were made earlier this semester, as well. I am speaking of “Remind Me Someday,” which basically became a parody of mixed signals on the radio and was worth three-and-a-half stars at the time this went to press, and “Down to the Last Morsel,” or as its also known, the “Morse Code Challenge,” which managed to keep its ranking of five stars throughout the semester.
Having done everything I can do in Digital Storytelling, the question must now be asked: In the words of David Essex, “Where do we go from here, and which is the way that’s clear?” Well, I’m currently planning on wrapping up my studies at the University of Mary Washington with an English major in creative writing, which this class helped me out with in spades, and my favorite assignments always seem to fit one peculiar theme. As it turns out, the BuzzFeed personality quiz, “Shot Through the Heart,” and of all things, my fan fiction reading of “Reality” were all among my favorite assignments for this class, and they all tie back to writing and editing, the latter helping out in the making of some of my other favorite challenges, among them being the “Five-Second Movies” of Stay Tuned and Kimagure Orange Road.
So, yes, this class was especially helpful in getting everything back on track for me, and I couldn’t be any grateful for this experience; with that in mind, I would like to give thanks to Ms. Polack for letting me learn the importance of modern media, social and otherwise, in these sweet sixteen weeks here at DS106. I’ve learned a lot about who I am, in terms of creativity, during this time, most important of all being that it’s not too late to start again in life. With everything being as hectic as they were, I still consider this second chance to push my artistic limits more than worth it, when all is said and done, and the fact that all of this was done from the comfort of my own home still surprises me, here and now. I know who I am when I say this, but Ms. Polack, once again, thank you for letting me see what, for the longest time, even I never really knew existed within me: a creative ability that has to be heard, and seen, to be believed.
So, as much as I want to say “goodbye,” and be done with all of this, I’m afraid that’s out of the question now. The experience I’ve just had is too priceless for me to just throw away. Ergo, I will simply say, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again.” I’m Mitchell Eubank, and if you think that you’re seeing double… that’s probably because I post multiple videos of similar themes, just to make sure that I did everything I was supposed to, and did it right. Also, I left the inspiration tags on the media portions of “Shot Through the Heart,” for tradition’s sake, but I won’t credit them on this site, this time around, out of your blessing. Thank you for seeing, listening and helping me out if there was any trouble, and I hope to see you again real soon, preferably next year.
Thanksgiving break has come and gone here at DS106, and with next week bearing the full weight of the final exams upon our collective shoulders, now is the time to look back and see what we’ve done in our final preparations for the main event. Over the course of the last two weeks, I modernized a classic TV ad; painted my house red – figuratively, not literally; returned to the proverbial pumpkin patch; took snapshots of a week in my life; made an a cappella mash-up; attempted to remake the podcast I made for my mid-term exam; and paid tribute to my friends and family on both sides of the “Great Divide.” Also, I had a brief conversation with my mother, with regards to how mash-ups and remixes actually work, but that, suffice it to say, is neither here nor there.
The main lesson I took away from these two weeks is that it’s never too late to show off your creative side, and remixes and mash-ups are their own, bizarre form of creativity, as they provide us with different perspectives on the world around us using things originally made to show just one way. I do understand that progress can harm, as much as it can help, and the corporations of the world can at least agree with me on that, but the reason why one of the biggest films of 1994 was entitled Reality Bites is because it actually shows us what happens when we opt to see things from one perspective alone – in the end, everyone suffers. We need new perspectives to better understand how to make the world a place worth fighting for and living in, and remixes and mash-ups are among the most effective ways I can think of nowadays that can help us do that.
As for my favorite challenge of this particular grading period, I would have to vote for “Alice (Still) Lives Here,” as a sentimental gesture. While my one-man recut of the “Wacky History” podcast was a full-circle conclusion to one of the more awkward parts of this semester, it was my remix of a photo of a high-school shooter, to promote cancer awareness, that I felt needed to be done at this point in time, since cancer’s as real as it gets.
Thank you for reading this penultimate edition of my weekly summaries for this semester; check back in next week for the big finish. I’m Mitchell Eubank, reminding you that you only get one chance to make a good last impression.
The last assignments of the semester are about to be handed out, but before we prepare for the biggest tests we’ve faced to date, it’s time to look back at the last two weeks, and see how creative we really are. In the last fortnight alone, I created sidewalk crack art; made a selfie using an unused filter; read one of my favorite works of fan fiction; wrote a six-line poem about the universal search for purpose in life; drew my host character; made two “Five-Second Movies” for the price of one; merged classical music with modern music videos; celebrated an anime character’s in-canon birthday; manipulated a photo of Virginia in winter; crossed a bridge over troubled water; took a midnight ride to class; created a “grook” about risks and rewards; managed to single out all the dramatic entrances from the middle episodes of Darkwing Duck; and split myself in two to bring you the first episode of the “Five-Word Book Club.” Also, this happened.
My favorite tasks were the video assignments, as I really got to enjoy creating my own short films, and seeing what works, and when; the fact that some of the tricks I pulled off worked as naturally as they did was a highlight of my brief run with editing, as the stories I told showcased just how over-the-top, yet eloquent, the world around us is. It was also a bit of therapy for someone like me, who tends to overcomplicate every single thing he so much as attempts to do, to the point of almost never thinking he should step back and read the instruction manual. Even now, I jump to conclusions without thinking everything through, and it isn’t until after the damage’s supposed to be done that I realize exactly how harmless the actual challenge was. Everything just tends to work out for the best for me, despite my inner demons, and in all seriousness, these last two weeks were a prime example why nothing’s always what they seem.
The lesson I learned revolves around patience and self-control. Even when things don’t go your way, be it scheduling conflicts or just the general indecision synonymous with the pre-production phase of filmmaking, taking the opportunity to think things out can clear your mind of any confusion and help you get whatever your intended message is out to the masses in a more effective manner. The big project that we had these last two weeks, a “split-screen” challenge where I had to make it look like I was having a conversation with myself, was a key example of this; my entry’s subject was the “Five-Word Book Club,” inspired by the “Five-Second Movies” I worked on earlier in the grading period. I had originally planned to turn it all in as an Audio Assignment of its very own, but if I have to be honest here, I think that this is a far more interesting test-run of the piece.
Overall, this was the greatest amount of effort I put into a grading period in quite some time, and I certainly won’t forget anything I’ve learned from this experience. However, the action isn’t going to stop any time soon, as we still have three more weeks of classes, grand finales included, before we can close up shop for DS106 in 2015. Check back again next week, when the final countdown begins, and all things must come to their end.
Next week marks the long-awaited start of the last full month of Digital Storytelling classes, but before my fellow students and I can make our way down the “home stretch,” it’s only fitting, since today also marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, to look back at what we did upon making it to “double-digits.” In my case, the last seven days saw Bigfoot raid a local Food Lion…
…and the DS106 world receive a different kind of S.O.S.
I also listened in on the opinions of the late Roger Ebert and the like, when I wasn’t delivering some of my own to a few classmates of mine.
When it comes to playing favorites, the one task that stood out for me – in terms of visual aesthetics, at least – was the haunted house, as it was a pretty tough trick to make such a visual treat out of paper, especially when it had to be made in one afternoon, and the shoot had to take place in the dead of night, hours before the 11:59 deadline, if I wanted to have the best possible effect. To be fair, however, the “hidden ghost” in the photo still cracks me up.
The main lesson about storytelling that I picked up this week revolves around how the “show, don’t tell” argument can actually work both ways. Believe it or not, you can still tell a story from time to time, but by doing it in a way that no one expects you to, odds are, the end result can be something that more people will want to experience for themselves, and enjoy it, than if you were to take the advice of High School Musical, and just stick to the status quo. You can take something as common as a wanted poster, or an over-dramatic break-up, and somehow make comedic gold out of it. A simple letter, to your teenage self, can feel like an optimistic montage of things to come once the right song starts playing in the background. As my favorite assignment this week points out, something that should be as easy to pick up as “scissors cut paper” can result in a macabre masterpiece, given the right lighting, design, and amount of enticing details, that leave the audience mesmerized at what they see.
This is why digital storytellers do what they do – to take something that should be common knowledge, and spin the thread in a way that hasn’t been seen before, or at least in quite some time. I couldn’t be any prouder of having taken this class than when I look at what I’ve done this past week alone, for I know that when someone shares what they love the most, with who they love the most, then they truly have nothing to fear, even on a day like All Hallow’s Eve.
All in all, the events of this week serve as a creative high point for me, as nothing could’ve gone wrong for me, at all, especially when Halloween rolled around; at that point, I must have felt unstoppable with the quality of work I produced. Needless to say, no advice was necessary, as I have complete and total satisfaction in the projects presented before you. Keeping all of this in mind, I request your presence in seven days’ time, as the road to the grand finale is about to begin.
Tomorrow starts our tenth week of DS106, but before we make the transfer into double-digits, let it be known that this week, I used four different Daily Create assignments to tell the tale of how there’s no such thing as “theonetrueking;” tried to see what went wrong with two of our mid-termpodcasts; somehow celebrated a day that only came because Marty changed history the first time; did my best Willy Loman impression to sell Audacity to the masses; and hopefully earned my redemption from my earlier tribute to Magic Kaito with a much more subtle salute. Also, this happened.
As I brought up before, my favorite assignment this week was the BuzzFeed quiz, as it was as tough as my rewrite of a headline news story, with much more satisfying results. It was interesting to see how much effort it actually takes, just to manipulate data. The result was one of my stronger efforts this semester; it’s quite the highlight, if I do say so, myself.
The most important lesson I learned is a common one in all forms of storytelling, both real and fictional: Never judge a book by its cover. I’m not going to lie, when I first wrote my critiques for Wacky History, it felt like Statler and Waldorf had taken control of the keyboard. There was nothing but insults flying across the screen, directed at everyone. Then, I listened to the second half of the proceedings, and saw what I really missed out on. Needless to say, I was rightfully embarrassed at what I had said about my one-time teammates, and rewrote my critiques in a way they will enjoy, or so I hope.
Overall, this was another one of those weeks where everything is planned, but nothing goes according to plan. I couldn’t have been happier with the results, even though I know I’m not out of these woods, just yet. With that being said, I hope to see you all again next week, as I will likely have even more interesting things to talk about.
This week, I learned about one of life’s darker inevitabilities, both in and out of DS106: the missed opportunity. Say what you will about the bad ideas that make the front page of your local newspaper, but at least someone had that idea, and took advantage of it. This week, however, I learned about what happens when an opportunity presents itself, and you can’t find the time to seize it for yourself. All chances to make your life better are sacred, and to ignore one of them, much less several, may not seem like much, but there’s a reason why Ebenezer Scrooge needed assistance from four ghosts – including the spirit of his former business partner – to properly change his ways. In a class that celebrates the creative mind, in all of its forms, any excuse to stifle it is, ultimately, a bad one to make, regardless of the ramifications to follow, and I hope to never take my opportunities for granted, long after this class has dismissed for the final time.
I also did several projects involving the use of my Audacity account, in which I learned about the difficulty that comes with being a sound editor, both for your voice, and for the people, places and things going on around you. While my segment on wedding rings had the most effort put into it, like an episode of Radiolab, I think that the better option was the minimalist, “shoot interview” style from This American Life, which I used for my dentures epilogue. While I still acted over-the-top, yet eloquent, in both takes, I prefer the latter of the two because it contained a more down-to-earth, human approach, with only the DC Metro humming along in the background, compared to my full-length report, and the overabundance of noise and sound effects, almost like a radio play directed by Michael Bay. Either way, my final entry may have been the weakest of the bunch, because I had so little time left to do anything, and the subject I was left with was so bereft of anything befitting the title, that I felt like a chicken with its head cut off, or the cook who invented potato chips when a customer of his complained about the cut of his fries.
Suffice it to say, I felt that working with audio, like all of the other forms of media we’ve been juggling all semester long, would’ve been an easy thing to pull off, and, to an extent, it has. My earlier drafts of my “Wacky History” segment are both worthy of my favorite assignment of the week, because it allowed me to use my creative freedoms to tell a story with what I had, by making everything come together in a way that I think everyone could’ve enjoyed. Audio editing is definitely one of the highlights of this class – for now, at least – and I am duly grateful that sites like FreeSound and SoundCloud, and software like Audacity, exist to make this experience even more worthwhile.
With that, my mid-term period draws to a close, and we return to our regular schedule this coming Monday. I’m Mitchell Eubank, reminding you that to be history, or to make history, isn’t as simple a choice as some of us think.
Out of all of these projects, I would have to give the vote for my personal favorite to my “Designception” task, which was a tribute to the 2008 anime series, A Certain Magical Index. I’ve actually enjoyed this particular anime series since getting the first season on DVD and Blu-Ray as a Christmas present last year, and doing a Design Assignment on it was definitely a fun thing for me to do this week. The use of symbolism to describe how costly Toma’s bad luck was, both for him and for others, combined with Index’s optimism in the face of certain doom, really helped tell a story of redemption for someone like Toma Kamijo, especially in a world where scientific research can give you “esper” powers, and magic is the focal point of a secret religious sect.
This week, I learned all about responsibility. No matter what job you have at any given moment, we all have a part to play when it comes to a specific gameplan. In Digital Storytelling, its exactly what it says on the tin: telling a story in everything you do, even if it seems nonsensical, at first. You have to take the time to get the job done, first and foremost, before any time can be given for rest. This is especially true when you’re writing your own wacky history, like me and a few of my classmates will in a couple weeks’ time.
If you don’t believe me, here’s the logo one of them designed…
…and here’s the confirmation of the team’s name, courtesy of another’s Twitter feed.
@youcanimagethis We may have a group name ready! But it might still be a work in progress.
For now: Group 3 is Wacky History. #umw#ds106
Speaking of which, we’re planning on using our Twitter accounts to communicate with each other more effectively, heading into our all-important mid-term project, which will either be a straightforward send-up of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or a round of The Unbelievable Truth, a radio panel show that’s aired in the UK since 2006, and had a TV adaptation in Australia in 2012.
In all honesty, I think things are already looking up for my team. Then again, all of my work was completed on time, without complaint, and with no questions to ask, as usual. Nevertheless, I hope to see you all again, with some brand spanking new material, to go with the same old running gags.
We’re fiveweeksintoDS106, and in the last seven days, I made sure not to look a gift horse in the mouth; saluted the end of one era with a nod to the end of another; celebrated the International Day of Peace with some latte art; put all my cards on the table because I could; said “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” to a lesser-known conflict in Korea; and got to know my future partners for the upcoming mid-terms. Also, thesethingshappened.
My lesson this week involves balance between life at the workplace, and life at home. When working under deadlines, it is of the utmost importance that you don’t take your time for granted, as anything that can distract you from accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, will. Sometimes, those who can help you out with your projects aren’t going to be there to do so, which only adds to the stress. Ultimately, there’s a reason why an old saying suggests that patience should be taken as a virtue, and it’s because everything will, hopefully, turn out for the better in the end. It’s okay to enjoy your life, every once in a while, but you’ll only have yourself to blame if your stories make no sense to your designated audience.
As for my favorite assignment of the week, that would have to go to two Daily Creates, which couldn’t have come at a better time for me. To be more specific, I’m talking about the challenges where I made latte art for this past Monday’s International Day of Peace, and when I took a Japanese print, currently in the public domain, and made it feel like a scene from MASH. These were great stress relievers during this last week, as I felt like I was strapped for time, and didn’t have any idea how to work through some of the week’s more important assignments. I am not saying I now know how those who actually worked in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, back in the days of the actual Korean War, felt during their stay in foreign lands, but different events in life can trigger similar emotions. If nothing else, these Daily Create tasks make for an interesting alternative form of therapy.
As always, everything was turned in on time, without complaint. I still don’t have any problems to note, going into the mid-term podcast. This concludes both my weekly retrospective, and the first third of my semester as a digital storyteller; I hope to see you all again soon.
Well, Week Four isdonefor, and this time, I created covers for two self-help books; experimented with photographs, both new and old; earned some helpful hints, regarding audio storytelling, from a couple of masters in the field; said “buon viaggio” to Sig.Groom in the style of Sig. Henson; and put my vocal abilities through a gauntletof my owncreation. Also, this happened.
As for my favorite assignment this week, that would have to go to my one-man play, where I did the voices of Hermes and Pan. Considering one of my favorite musicals, Xanadu, is a send-up of Greek mythology, it was only inevitable that I would use it as inspiration when concocting Hermes’ voice, as well as my one-thirds French, one-thirds Irish and one-thirds German heritage for Pan’s brogue. The thing I take the most pride in, with regards to this and my other SoundCloud entries, is the fact that all of this was recorded in one take, with no edits. I actually had a good time making my SoundCloud projects, as I got to test out my acting ability for the first time in a while. In the end, all of the objectives on the weekly checklist were completed in short order, and ahead of schedule.
I also took the time to learn about the importance of what happens in the background as a story is being told. To be more specific, I learned about how the things we take for granted when making radio and television productions, like sound, are just as important as the story being told; without the right effects and the right cues to guide the audience through key moments, they might lose their attention before they get to the “good part.” I also learned about the importance of being earnest when it comes to your on-air personality, as being yourself is a better way of obtaining listeners and viewers, than following the proverbial leaders. Finally, I learned about the importance of treating your story less like something that everyone must know, and more like a simple conversation between friends. The job of the narrator, or narrators, is to provide their story with an illusion of realism, for the audience to resonate, and relate, with; whether it’s a fictionalized account, or based on true events, your story won’t be heard by anyone, until you take the “Golden Rule” to heart, and treat your audience the way that you want to be treated.
While I can’t exactly call any week of this class my favorite, I must admit that this was one of the candidates. Admittedly, it was kind of tough for me to choose eight stars’ worth of assignments, much less those that allow me to play to my strengths, as a student; the most challenging part of this experience was trying to record everything in one take, since I didn’t have Audacity to work with at the time. After the usual round of experimenting, I was able to pull off an interesting compilation of works, that I think everyone will enjoy; as I have mentioned before, the takes I uploaded to SoundCloud are among my best performances to date, in my opinion. I am largely satisfied with the final products I’ve presented here, and as a result of this, I have no questions to ask this week, either. In closing, this was one of my better weeks, when all is said and done, and I suspect that things are only going to improve for me, and the rest of the students of DS106, in the weeks and months to come.