Finding a different way of success

On the first day of class back in August, I was terrified. As a broadcast major, I had been in front of the camera a countless number of times. I love taking photos and have put together high quality videos for both of my brothers’ weddings. But I had never produced work from behind the camera for a grade. Of course, my family and friends praised my work, but it’s very unlikely that they would have say something negative about my work even if I asked them too.

Me!

Me!

Though I was nervous, I looked forward to the class. Taking a multimedia class provided me with the opportunity to critique the skills I already possessed and learn new skills. It challenged me to come up with story ideas that were not just interesting to read about but also provided visual and audio aspects.

When our first assignment was given to us, I all but forgot how to take a picture on a camera, which was not great considering it was a photo essay. Our photo essays were really for us to get familiar with our equipment.  Looking back, my stress level was much too high for such a simple assignment. If I was to be given this assignment today, I could do it without any hesitation.

Newman Hall

Newman Hall

I decided to make Newman Hall the topic of my photo essay. We were required to take photos and videos of wide, medium and tight shots from different angles and different light settings. I live at Newman Hall this year, and I lived there last year. I’ve always thought it was a nice place to live, but I never fully appreciated the building itself from the outside. This assignment forced me to view this building from a different perspective. It made me more aware of things around me. Even the smallest aspects of my life can be produced in an art form.

The second assignment was very similar to the first in that we had to take wide, medium and tight shots from different angles. The difference this time is that we were adding natural sound. I made Grange Grove the topic of this assignment. I took my photos in the early evening when the sun had almost set. This was probably my favorite assignment because I had the most fun with it. I am one who loves absolutely everything regarding Illini athletics, so spending time capturing photos of one of my favorite places during a time when I was the only one around was extremely peaceful. Because it was something I cared about and enjoyed doing, I think my photos came out even better than if I had picked a different setting.

Grange Grove

Grange Grove

Our third assignment was a video essay. This assignment was given to us during my brother’s wedding week. I took this opportunity to use my homework assignment to not only have fun but make a nice memory for my family. My brother had a videographer at his wedding, but he didn’t have anything for the rehearsal dinner or time leading up to the wedding, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought this assignment was the kickstart to my love for the class.

Kevin and Lizzy toasting at the reception.

Kevin and Lizzy toasting at the reception.

The next assignment was an audio story. I loved this assignment because it involved using skills that I already had learned to love, which is reporting. I reported on the Illinois student population’s opinion of the McKinley Health Center. The best part of this assignment was reviewing our scripts with Professor Collins. I have written plenty of audio stories before, but I have never actually gone through a script with someone and have them critique it with me. Reading my script out loud with Professor Collins and listening to her critiques caused me to come up with new ideas of my own, which I think made my story even better than I thought it could have been had I completed it without going over it with anyone.

The McKinley Health Center

The McKinley Health Center

Following our audio story, we had a video story. We needed three video interviews. Since I am already extremely comfortable interviewing people, the most important part for me with this assignment was the video shots themselves. Making sure that the setting was quiet enough was a bigger problem than I thought. Another important aspect was using lower thirds to make the shot look nice. We also needed plenty of b-roll. This assignment was the most different for me because I had never done anything like this before, though I hope to produce plenty of more assignments like this in the future.

Credit to parking.illinois.edu

Credit to parking.illinois.edu

After that was our how-to assignment. I showed how to make a green vegetable smoothie. I thought this was a good topic because it is something that I make all the time. I was in my video, which if I was to do it again, I probably wouldn’t have done that. I preferred my classmates’ videos in which they used mostly tight shots to physically show what they were doing in each step of the process, where as in mine it was mostly me telling my audience what to do.

This photo of two green smoothies is from thelifechest.org

This photo of two green smoothies is from thelifechest.org

Our final assignment was a package consisting of an audio story, a photo essay, a video story and a how-to. We chose to focus our package on disability. My part was the photo essay. I took photos of the Illinois Wheelchair Track team’s morning practice and wrote about the team itself and the McFadden sister’s journey to success. I loved this assignment. Though we each had our own parts, we all helped each other out in different ways. This way, we all were able to learn from each others’ approaches to journalism and share our own ideas. Overall, I thought our assignment was a success.

The wall of the practice facility for the Illinois Wheelchair Track team.

The wall of the practice facility for the Illinois Wheelchair Track team.

While preparing to write my reflection, I went to look back on reflections from last semester’s multimedia class. The first post I read was Brett Lerner’s. His post was ironically titled, “In the Blink of an Eye.” This post hit me hard because Brett was a friend of mine and was taken in a fatal car accident on his way to work earlier in the semester. Brett was what I like to think was a perfect example of what a good aspiring journalist should be. He was passionate, devoted and would do anything to get to the top. Brett had so much potential to be successful, though his life came and went in the blink of an eye. When we lost Brett, the whole world lost someone special.

From that point on, I decided to dedicate every piece of journalism that I produce to Brett. To future students who take this multimedia class or any journalism class, do not take this opportunity lightly. Life changes quickly, and you may never know when that is going to be. When you do something, anything, do it the best you can. If you don’t try your hardest to succeed for yourself, do the world a favor and succeed for Brett.

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