Wow, Journalism 215 “Multimedia” is actually over. As I sit here writing this, it’s amazing to look back and realize that this semester has gone by so fast. Over the span of these 16 weeks, I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot including how to use a digital single lens reflex camera, (DSLR for short), how to create an audio package, and especially how to make a story out of limited resources. It means so much to me that I feel better prepared for my career as a broadcast journalist because of Dr. Collins’ class this fall. As you continue reading, you will get insight into what my experience was like this semester:
Phase 1: Get to “Know Your Camera”
The first part of this journey started when my classmates and I got our equipment sometime during the first week of class. I was taken aback when I saw the type of equipment we were going to be responsible for as well as how heavy it was going to be to carry around on campus. I was up for the challenge though, and I remember feeling very optimistic and eager to get started on assignment one. This assignment, titled “Camera Practice” was all about practicing how to use our cameras, hence the name. We had to go out and shoot stills, wide-medium-tight shots with and without the tripod, as well as zoom ins and pan downs. Assignment one definitely allowed me to learn how to control my camera better so that when it’s time for more challenging assignments, I would know how to operate it.
Phase 2: Photo Essay/no sound added to the story
“On to assignment two!” was my reaction after assignment one was done. This assignment was a photo essay and it was a lot of fun for me because I decided to do mine on breakfast! 😀 Breakfast is my favorite and the most important part of the day and without it I would be hangry (hungry + angry). I captured a variety of shots of my favorite breakfast foods including bagels, pancake mix for chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Not realizing this assignment was solely supposed to be a photo essay with no movement, I filmed my sausage and bacon while it was sizzling in the skillet as seen in this screengrab from YouTube. Yum :p
Phase 3: Video Essay
For assignment 3, I decided to go back to my former residence hall, Illinois Street Residence Hall (ISR). I wanted to capture the student life there, to compare how it is currently from how it was two years ago when I lived there. It was very interesting to see the upgrades made, as well as how the students interacted with each other. During my visit there, I filmed the multiple facets of student life where students are seen purchasing food, studying, and even playing an instrument. This assignment for me was a little tricky because I didn’t have a specific angle, rather I wanted to revisit the places I more than likely would be—including the dining hall, the a la carte store Chomps in the basement, or the lounge. Dr. Collins recommended I could have followed one person in particular and the story line would have been more impactful, and I agree. Furthermore, this assignment helped me to acknowledge my shakiness. For some reason when I don’t have my camera on its tripod, I can’t keep it still when holding it. That is something I tried to correct throughout the semester.
Phase 4: Audio Package
Assignment 4 was the audio piece. Now prior to this class, I’ve never done an audio piece. Granted, I’ve recorded interviews on audio devices before, but to actually have to edit and create a script for it was something new for me. I decided to do assignment 4 on an event called “Homecoming Dress Drive” by student organization My Sister’s Keeper. I thought this event was very special because it allowed for local high girls to pick up shoes, purses and dresses for their homecoming dance. The girls who were facing financial burdens would not be able to afford to attend their homecoming without an event like this. It felt good to see the girls and their moms walk away with items, excited for their dance. Furthermore, I liked this assignment because it taught me how to effectively capture soundbites. For example, there were times I thought I had some good audio, and when I played it back it was low or had some noise in the background. With that being the case, I was very careful about the placement of the audio recorder and listened to the SOT through my headphones while it was happening. This way, I was able to make proper adjustments early on.
Phase 5: A Full and Complete Package
Whew… assignment 5.
For assignment 5, I’ve experienced so much. By the end of this assignment, I finally understood what journalists meant when they said that stories fall through all the time, but it is our job (as journalists) to find a story out of no story—which is something Dr. Collins stressed to us. Assignment 5 showed me my strength and perseverance as a journalist because everything that could have went wrong, did. Originally, I was supposed to cover a story on domestic violence. The event specifically was the Students Against Sexual Assault’s annual “It Happens Here”. Literally an hour before going out to shoot the story, I received an email from the president of the organization and she told me that cameras were no longer allowed in the room due to the sensitivity of the event. Since I still had a couple of days to come up with another story idea, I decided to film on flu shots since at the time it was flu season and McKinley Health Center were giving them to faculty and students for free in the Illini Union. On the day of, I waited at the union for over an hour, just to get told I would need permission from the Director to film. But guess what? The director was not in the union, or on campus for that matter. My last resort was to do the news package on the Medieval Irish exhibit. I figured since many people don’t know about it (including myself), it would be perfect to cover. I have to admit this assignment was not my best work and I am not proud of it. I am more proud of my willingness to keep pressing forward and at least attempting to get it done and stay on deadline.
Phase 6: “How to”
Assignment 6, or the How-To piece was my absolute favorite! It was my favorite for two reasons: I did mine on how to create a glitter cut crease (a makeup terminology) and because I felt I was able to show my personality a little bit more. For those that are unaware, a glitter cut crease is when one puts glitter in the crease of their eye and wing it out. It’s super cute and super fun to create. During this assignment, I had a lot of fun. I had to step out the box and implement all the things Dr. Collins had been giving me feedback on. I was determined to get those wide, medium and tight shots. Also, I wanted viewers to walk away from viewing my how-to piece knowing how to create a glitter cut crease. I filmed extreme close-ups of my eyes, I captured over the shoulder shots, stills of the products needed, and I even got some shots of myself looking in the mirror to make viewers feel they were there with me. I must admit, getting some of these shots was a hassle because I had to place the camera in awkward positons, but I’m very proud of the result.
(Still image of the items needed to create the glitter cut crease)
Phase 7: The last phase, our final project
No way! Where did time go? It was already time for our final project. It seems as though assignment 7 came extremely fast. It was now time to integrate all of the things we’ve learned over the course of the semester into this five-part assignment which included a how-to piece, a news package, an audio package, an infographic and also a photo-essay. To house all of our assignments, my group and I decided to create a Weebly website titled studentprotestsuiuc.com. The topic we used was “History of Black Students Protesting”. This topic was very important to us considering all of the timely events that had been taking place: Donald Trump became the president elect, black students have been pushing to get a new center on campus and there had been many protests to ensure Black students’ voices get heard regarding racism and inequality experienced on the same campus that claims diversity. Working with three other people on this assignment helped me to get out of the independent mindsight. Typically, I’m used to doing my own journalism assignments, but this time I had to depend on three other people to come up with ideas and split the work up with. Being that we all had very different personalities, in the beginning it was challenging because it seemed as though we were all on different pages. By the end of the project however, I can definitely say I’ve gotten closer to my group members one way or another. We all became in sync and we learned what each other’s strength and weakness was, which in the end turned out for the better.
(Image from student organization, Black Students for Revolution’s Facebook page. My group and I attended the event “Freedom Forum” to capture footage)