Going beyond the written word: My multimedia journey

It has been only three months since the semester’s start, but I have learned more about filming and editing in these few months than I ever have before.

unnamedI came into this class with limited experience using a camera and a lack of confidence in audio and video reporting. I would shudder at the thought of recording myself for a voice-over narration. I had never used Final Cut Pro. I only vaguely recognized what “NATsound,” “soundbite” and “lower third” meant. And that made me anxious that I would struggle through this class.

But, eight assignments later, I can say I had a much more positive experience with multimedia reporting than I had anticipated.

Holiday lighting wrapped the streetlights on Main Street throughout January 2014.

Holiday lighting wrapped the streetlights on Main Street throughout January 2014.

For Assignment 1, the class had the opportunity to get creative and get used to how our new cameras work. I forced myself to venture out into the freezing winter weather and take shots of downtown Champaign. The dark lighting allowed me to play with the settings on my camera to best capture the darkened streets and focus in on different objects far away from me.

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An improv comedy group performs at the Illini Union’s Courtyard Cafe on Monday, Feb. 5.

Then I was really challenged in capturing motion for Assignment 2. I went out to the Comedy Night event at the Illini Union’s Courtyard Cafe one evening, thinking the expressions of comedians doing improv would make great still photos.

For Assignment 3, I added audio to the previous project’s photo slideshow. That really helped bring the photos to life! I think nothing better illustrated the power of audio in multimedia. It also introduced new challenges in leveling out the audio so that one clip doesn’t overpower the others and creating sound that nicely flows for the listener.

Icicles hang off the PIzza Hut building during a snowfall on Feb. 15, 2014.

Icicles hang off the PIzza Hut building during a snowfall on Feb. 15, 2014.

My Assignment 4 video then became my most creative use of video and music to set a mood. I had a great time moving up and down Green Street, looking for the right angles and subjects to convey the quiet Saturday night snowfall. After I paired it with an Animal Collective song, the video had a very calm, serene tone to it, I thought.

 

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Edward and Hannah Howelt serve as volunteers during C-U at Home’s One Winter Night on Feb. 21, 2014.

I found Assignment 5 to be the most challenging project in terms of filming. I chose to cover C-U at Home’s One Winter Night event that took place in downtown Champaign. I found it hard to smoothly edit the different soundbites, as I experienced difficulties in working the lavalier microphone.

The pitcher waits for the next person up to kick during a game of kickball Monday, March 10, 2014.

The pitcher waits for the next person up to kick during a game of kickball Monday, March 10, 2014.

For Assignment 6, I had a more relaxed time filming adults playing kickball. I was glad to cover a topic that was both fun and important, as more than one-third of its adults and 17 percent of its children and adolescents (aged 2 to 19) are classified as obese. Kickball is a great way to enjoy exercise, and players can burn 300 to 600 calories on average per hour. The pacing of the video took extra time to work out, but I really enjoy the movement throughout the video.

Weener Ware was one of the 25 vendors from across the Midwest at the Hatch Festival’s art fair on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Weener Ware was one of the 25 vendors from across the Midwest at the Hatch Festival’s art fair on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

I had to learn the basics of writing an audio script and voice-over narration for my Assignment 7. The Hatch Festival Art Fair had some great, talkative participants to add fantastic soundbites, but I feel I was pretty lucky to have Tony Taylor from Ascendent Instruments playing his handmade guitar at the festival. It made for beautiful NATsound in the assignment.

 

 

Polar Plunge participants rush into the cold waters in Bloomington, Ill., on Feb. 27, 2011. Photo courtesy of Doug Pieper, Flickr

Polar Plunge participants rush into the cold waters in Bloomington, Ill., on Feb. 27, 2011. Photo courtesy of Doug Pieper, Flickr

Finally, for Assignment 8, we were able to take a break from filming and focus purely on our editing skills. I loved creating a video on the Polar Plunge, as its more than 38,000 participants have raised more than $10 million for the Special Olympics. However, I found it was difficult to create a 1:25-to-1:35-second video with the limited footage we had to work with.

 

 

I feel I am now leaving this class with a greater appreciation for what multimedia has to offer in the field of journalism. Future students just have to remember: stay calm and always have several backup plans. I am very proud of the work I have produced and had a lot of fun creating each assignment!

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