Let’s see how far we’ve come: Polcyn semester review

Coming into this semester, I thought I had it all figured out. I had a lot of experience writing between my time with classes, my work with the Daily Illini, and running everything on campus for Barstool Sports. But, after taking this class — I now realize I was clueless. With the skills I have learned in this class, I have been able to do much better work not only for the lass, but also in my other areas of work, and to me personally the difference has been astounding. Throughout every project, good or bad, I learned skills that I never had before, and for that I have to really thank Professor Collins for caring so much about all of us students and making sure that we continue to improve together. But, I’ll get back to all that later, take a look at how this semester has gone for me below! 

Get To Know Your Camera

A picture from inside the Acacia courtyard. I enjoyed the shot because it shows a lot of texture at different levels in the shot

Our first assignment, get yo know your camera, was very interesting to me just because I never really had much experience working with cameras. When I first saw the sheet listing the shots we needed to get I was definitely intimidated, but went on my way doing what I thought might fit the criteria for the assignment. Not to mention, I had never used premier either, so I was also pretty nervous about that.

But, once the assignment came together it turned out to be one of the easier assignments, and gave me a goo baseline for what I could expect for the rest of the semester. I think I ended up getting some pretty cool shots, and in the end thought that this was a very good introduction to what work was going to be like in this course. If you’d like to check out my full project, you can find that here!

Photo Essay

The photo essay was one of the most interesting assignments for me. I remember reading the instructions and being completely clueless as to what I was going to do to tell a story with my photos just because I don’t really have any experience doing something like that. As someone who was initially a print specialist, I have most of my experience in writing.

This is my favorite picture I took in this class. I think it’s really cool having the smile shirt while my friend (Will Sarchet) is showing a big smile of his own

But, this ended up being one of the cooler assignments in my opinion. I focused on showing the changing emotions and reactions of my friends from just hanging out, relaxing, or even doing work, but in the end I tried to end every shot with them smiling. I thought this was a different approach, and that it was something fun to look at for all of the viewers. Plus, it was very relatable to everyone and I thought that was my favorite part of the whole project.

If you want to check out my whole project, you can find that right here!

Video Essay 

Out of all of the projects I think that this is the one I messed up the most on. I originally shot and edited this project as a package on accident, and so it was tough for me to get around that and be able to focus on just the natural sounds that come in the house and actually edit out all of my voiceovers. 

In the end it turned out to be a solid project still. A lot of my shots are very shaky and I also panned over in many of them which I thought was needed to show the whole area but it definitely decreased the quality of my video. But, I was able to salvage some good natural sound and thought I did a good job of showing everything I wanted to so even though it was not my best I still think it was a decent project. For anyone in future classes this is not the video essay you want to emulate, but if you want to watch it anyway check it out here.

Audio Package

The audio package was one of my favorite things i have done in this class,  even though as I look back at it now i don’t like the sound as much as I did at the time I originally did the project. For this project I originally was working on a big thing as to how all of these new apartments and dorms change the places that students pick their housing and why so many new ones are being built. But, this ended up falling through and just two days before the project was due I ended up having to change my topic. Since I already cover the baseball team for the Daily Illini, I ended p being able to turn around quick and was able to put together a pretty cool feature on sophomore baseball player Jack Yalowitz.

Yalowitz runs the bases after drawing a walk

I enjoyed my work so much on this project for a few reasons, but mainly because it showed the importance to have a plan B, and also because I had a lot of really good natural sound and interviews from this. Through the whole class from week one, professor Collins told us to always have a plan B, and in this case it really came in to play and ended up working out for me. Definitely something to keep in mind for all of you future students. Make sure to give yourself other options and be able to adapt when things go wrong, because that will definitely happen at some point and you do not want to be left with nothing. Have a plan B.

If you’re interested in checking out my story, you can find the package here.

Video Package

The video package was probably my favorite individual project from this semester. I did a story on the campus bars and how they prepare for Unofficial St. Patrick’s day as opposed to other weekends and what the real difference is between that and a regular weekend.

Kam’s special edition Unofficial cup filed with the notorious Blue Guy

I have a bunch of friends who work at the bars so getting interviews was relatively easy, and it turned out to be a pretty cool project and I was able to get some good shots. My only regret with this project is going out to film at night on unofficial instead of getting shots during the day when there were more people out. There was still some pretty good shots n my opinion, but they could have been much better if I got more crowd focused videos. Plus all of the people I did interview ended up being very COOL subjects and were able to provide a lot of information.

Also, with Unofficial being such a big holiday not just on campus but as something that is known across the country, it was a topic that is very interesting to not just me but for people all over. I wish I could have possible gotten an interview with a police officer as well to show their side of it but I also enjoyed just working with the bars and think that they provided me with some awesome information as well. If you want to check out my full video, you can find that right here.

The “How to”

I really enjoyed doing the how to video. It was a very simple assignment and let us get pretty creative with what we wanted to do it on. Many of the students cooked some of their favorite dishes — which looked great — but for me I thought I would go back to something I had done all of my life. Since i played baseball for as long as I can remember, I thought that showing how to do a tape job on a wooden bat would be a pretty fun idea for the video.

The final product of what the bat looks like with the fresh tape

Some of the sound in the video turned out kind of funny because I was doing it in a room with a squeaky fan that was going on, but all in all it turned out pretty well. I got some good natural sound with the ripping of the tape and putting it all on the bat, and actually was the one project that did not use commentary because there was enough description in each step I gave in my lower-thirds. This was fun for me, and an assignment you can really enjoy and show everybody something from your personal life. I loved that opportunity and hope everyone else did as well.

If you want to see how to tape a wooden bat, feel free to check out my video here.

Final Project 

The final project was definitely the most challenging, but easily also the most rewarding. My group — me, Roger, Sammy and Maggie — are in my opinion all very unique, and I think that that made for a much better and very interesting project from us. Each of us had unique skills, ideas and personalities, and because of that, we were able to work together to give a very diverse project that on our own many of us might not have ever done. For this project we focused on campus accessibility to those that are physically disabled, and it came out better than I could have ever expected. We were able to meet some amazing people, and especially loved that we were able to address such an important topic. 

While this project is certainly intimidating if you can communicate with your group and all make your contributions, it is no harder than any of the others. Professor Collins gave us all of the skills and resources we needed to succeed on this, and I think that is why these all turned out so well. I loved not just our project, but I think the class as a whole did amazing on issues that are not necessarily easy to do such a big project on.

If you’d like to see our final project — and I hope you do — feel free to check it out right here and look through the whole thing.

The semester 

As I mentioned earlier, I thought this class was amazing and honestly turned out to be more than I ever expected. It’s safe to say I have learned more from this class than anything else i have ever really taken, especially since I got to college. I could not have asked for better classmates or a teacher, and I have to again thank Professor Collins for everything she has done for us this semester and for caring so much about each of us individually. I have never been in a another class like that and can not thank you enough for everything you have taught us.

Because of what I have learned in this class, I have been able to make some really cool videos for work. You can find many of them on twitter @BarstoolILL, but if you want to see a quick example of my favorite video I have made you can check it out right here. The video earned more than 200,000 impressions on Twitter and actually won me a huge contest that is also possibly leading to a possible job over the summer. Without this class I would have had no idea how to do any of that stuff, and it has already paid off so much that I actually learned to do this in Professor Collins’ class.

Again, I can’t say it enough but this was probably my favorite and also most useful class I have ever taken. I learned skills that I will use for the rest of my life, and I can/t thank Professor Collins enough.

For the final time this semester, for Off the Shelf and Online, this is Thomas Polcyn. Thanks for following along.

 

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