The Good, The Bad and The Ugly From Lucas’ Year in J215

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A photo of myself

It’s finally that time of the year. Time to look back and reflect on this very memorable year in multimedia. Coming into this class I honestly had no clue was I what the content of the class would be like, and when we received our syllabus from Professor Collins a few weeks before class it made the class seem somewhat overwhelming. But honestly trying to put 16 weeks worth of work into context that early probably wasn’t the best idea on my part.

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The chains on a disc golf course

Once class began I realized how much fun this class would actually be though. I still remember going out the first time for our first assignment with all of the equipment and how cool it was to actually be out in the field putting together a project (even if it was just learning to work the camera). I decided to pick a fun topic for my first project, and took the camera out to the disc golf course while my friend and I were playing a few holes. It took a little while longer than I expected to get just a small amount of shots, but I really started to figure out what I was doing by the time we finished off the checklist.

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My dad dragging the roller across the food plot

Assignment two was a photo essay and was our first time actually putting together a piece in the class and it was a good chance to try out a creative idea. I was home for the weekend and wanted to get the four wheeler out, so I decided to make the essay appear like a trip across my family’s farm. It actually became a family project after dad spotted me in the field and had to give his two cents in every shot, but it turned out to be a solid photo essay in my opinion, especially with the sound of the four-wheeler, tractor and the natural sounds in nature added in. I learned a lot more about the power of shots, and how sometimes a tight personal shot can do more for a piece than multiple wide angle shots.

I’d say assignment three was the first real taste of editing and production as I put together a video essay which chronicled my friends going to spend yet another entire afternoon at the gym playing basketball. I liked getting to be in a sort of director position

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The ARC lower courts (Courtesy google images)

and really getting to have total control over what my video would be. Also, of course, any excuse to fit sports into my schoolwork is good with me. It was really cool to work in such a crowded place, too. I had guys all over the gym coming over and seeing what we were doing. Most of them thought we were shooting for a mixtape so that made it all the more fun. The editing process was my favorite part from this assignment, and I feel like that has starting becoming my favorite aspect of the journalism field.

Assignment four: no pictures, just audio. This assignment worried me from the start, because I am a very visual guy. Just finding somewhere to start was difficult for me, and I kind of just happened into my story. I was at a game store in Urbana with my friend and we found out there was an event coming up that was going to be one of the biggest of the year for the story. I talked to a few people while I was there, asked a few questions for the store owner and really put together an interesting piece. I feel like it was something

The official Battle for Zendikar logo (Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast)

The official Battle for Zendikar logo (Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast)

most people in class hadn’t heard of, since most people don’t play card games like Magic: The Gathering. The store owner was really happy to hear his store getting some PR on top of that, so it felt good to shed some light on such a great business. For me, this project helped me learn to speak for radio, focusing on annunciation and clarity, and also how to tell a story without actually “showing” the listeners what you’re talking about.

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Johnson County Fall Festival 2013 (Courtesy The Vienna Times)

Time to put it all together for assignment five with a full package. I had been looking forward to this piece all semester despite the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to cover. I finally decided on covering my hometown’s fall festival parade while I was home for a weekend in early October.

It was such a great experience getting to film my community taking part in one of the biggest days of the year for the county. I had a bunch of people asking what I was filming for, asking about me and the class and it was great to be able to talk to people about what I was doing and to be able to enjoy it with them at the same time. Despite everyone on the floats posing for my camera, I did manage to get plenty of quality footage. After finding some good interviewees and finishing off the gathering part of the project, I got to again do my favorite part: editing.

I feel like this project was where I made my most progress in the year, and that this was my best project. It was used by our town’s newspaper, and it also was shown in my high school’s newscast class, so it was great to be able to reach so many people with what started as just a class project. This project also helped with my ability to go out and get my footage, as I had always had trouble being to shy to ask for interviews or get right in the action, but being in a home setting helped make it easier.

Assignment six was a how-to video and it seemed to be a fun way to end our minor assignments, I just wish it had been more fun for me. I decided to do “how to shoot a

Patty Mills celebrates after hitting a three for the San Antonio Spurs (Photo courtesy of The Brian Method)

Patty Mills celebrates after hitting a three for the San Antonio Spurs (Photo courtesy of The Brian Method)

three-pointer,” but I had plenty of problems filming the piece. My entire first take of the piece was slightly out of focus, which required me to go back and reshoot the entire project. In my second attempt, the quality of video was much better, but we had to film in multiple gyms, due to interfering with the recreation center’s schedule. At that point, I felt rushed but it was not too obvious. I still had fun being in front of the camera and getting to play basketball for a video. I could do that every day.

Moving into the last part of the class, with only the project left on the horizon being the group project, I finally felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Too bad procrastination hit at the wrong time.

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Ryan Neiswender on the court (Courtesy of Craig Pessman)

The idea that the group consisting of Lauren Mroz, Jessa Corso, Abraham Koshy and myself, decided to do our project on the broad topic of disability on and around the U of I campus, while focusing in on different stories for each of us. My story was about Ryan Neiswender, the star of the Illinois wheelchair basketball team, and his climb through life to where he is today.

With two weeks left before deadline, Lauren accompanied me to film our interviews and B-Roll with Ryan and his coach. Things went well until our memory cards filled up. We still needed B-roll of Ryan, so I went back to the team’s practice at 6:30 a.m. (!) which is about 4 or 5 hours earlier than I usually wake up in the morning. That was difficult, but finally having all of the footage was a Godsend. From here, editing was more difficult than usual, do to the huge amount of footage, but I managed through with help from my group members. My piece was done and put up on our site about 2 days before the deadline which is closer to the deadline than I like to be.

The other part of the project which was difficult was the fact that I was the group leader. I was in charge of the website and getting everything into place for the final product. It was stressful, since I’m not too big on design, but it came out pretty good after many hours sitting in front of the computer. It was a good experience, but I’d rather not have to deal with that aspect of design again.

That’s it! That’s my semester in review. Of course, there were some ups and downs along the way, but it was a great experience, and this has been my favorite class I have taken so far in college. Professor Collins has been my favorite professor yet at the U of I. Her wild, energetic approach to journalism really shows her love for the subject and I could tell that she focused on getting the most out of us at all times to make us the best we could be. It’s funny; at the beginning of the class I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it to start, but now I don’t want it to end.

I don’t really know how to end an assignment in this class without throwing this in there:

Reporting for Off the Shelf and Online, I’m Lucas Wright.

 

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