Looking Back: End of Semester Reflection

Woohoo- we made it! I remember first getting our class syllabus and being really intimidated, but honestly, I did not find any of the challenges to be insurmountable. With the help of Professor Collins and some ingenuity, I found that I was able to push my limits as a creator and a journalist and create work at a caliber that both surprised and impressed myself.

A photo of Buddha from my first project

For theĀ first project, I remembered thinking I would have it in the bag. I own my own DSLR, I own a film camera, and I’ve been interested in photography since I was seven or eight years old. However, the videography was another story. I have a very shaky hand, and I remember being really frustrated at the quality of my videos early on. However, I did get some good stills from this project from playing with angles and light. I also completed the assignment in my apartment, so it forced me to look at everyday objects in a different way, which I enjoyed.

A photo of a homeless man at the Phoenix Drop-In Center from my photo essay

For the photo essay, I decided to focus on homelessness in Champaign-Urbana. This was a topic I had been writing about for my beat in Journalism 315, and I thought it would be powerful to capture it with images. I did my shooting at the Phoenix Drop-In Center on Green Street, which is a daytime shelter for homeless people in the community to interact with one another as well as those in the community who are not homeless. I was really proud of my work on this assignment. Even though most of the people did not want to be photographed, I felt like I was still able to capture the essence of the center. Plus, I really made my shots with willing participants count, such as the one shown above.

Joli and Franz

The third assignment was probably my least favorite. While I really enjoyed my topic, my friend Joli and her dog Franz, I really did not do it justice in my videography. I was imagining something completely different in my mind than what I ultimately created. However, this assignment really was a learning experience for me. It showed me that I needed to rely on a tripod, and that following a subject on video tends to look very amateur. It also showed me that animals are often not reliable film subjects! I did enjoy the stills I got from this project, such as this one here, and I did have fun filming it.

No Comment rehearses for ICCA semifnals

The audio package was where I felt I really started to come into my own. I wanted to focus on something musical, since this particular project would have no visuals. Being that I was a choral music education major and sang in an a capella group for a few years, I decided I wanted to profile No Comment A Capella. I ended up sitting in on one of their rehearsals for ICCA semifinals and, though I felt sort of bad intruding because of how busy they were, I was able to get really phenomenal sound bytes and quotes. This package was also when I started to get comfortable editing on Adobe Premiere, so I feel like the improvement in quality is definitely noticeable. Also, being that I am a print journalism major, I was happy we got to write a story to go along with this piece.

On display at the Native American House

My idea for the video package came from seeing a flyer on Facebook about a Chief Illiniwek apparel collection campaign at the Native American House. I had always wanted to write an article about Chief Illiniwek, being that it is such a divisive issue on campus, but the opportunity had never really presented itself until now. I was able to interview students on both sides of the issue, and they all had really powerful sentiments. They gave me phenomenal quotes. Professor Collins even posted my final package on Hear My Voice, which was fantastic; it’s so important to be able to get clips like that as a journalist.

Dixie Lynn Cartwright mid-beat

For my “how-to” project, I knew what I wanted to do immediately: drag makeup. I have friends who do drag, I have loved drag since high school, and in my entire time as a journalism major, I had never written one thing about it. However, I should have taken into account that doing drag makeup is not a short or easy process. I was filming Chicago drag queen Dixie Lynn Cartwright for over three hours. The editing took me over eight hours, and I went way over the time limit. Despite that, I am really proud of what I put together. I think it is some of my strongest editing, and I was really glad I finally got to create something relating to drag.

Practice wheelchairs for the wheelchair basketball team

Lastly, there was theĀ group project. This project seemed incredibly daunting from the get-go. We (Roger, Sammy, Tommy, and I) landed on the idea of wheelchair accessibility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after Professor Collins prompted us to focus on marginalized communities. Plus, once we tossed around a couple of ideas, Tommy said he knew some of the guys on the wheelchair basketball team, so that gave us an “in,” so to speak, right away. Unfortunately, it was not completely smooth sailing; we had a really difficult time getting in touch with sources at first, so we ended up having to work really hard in the last couple of weeks. However, I cannot understate how proud I am of what we created. I had never made an infographic or built a website myself before, and I probably never would have tried it if it were not for this class. Also, the information we found was both interesting and surprising to me. I had known that UIUC had a long history of accessibility, but I did not know about all of the “firsts” associated with Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). This is one of my favorite work samples I’ve ever had, and I am really proud of myself and my whole group.

Overall, I loved this class. The environment was very supportive and fun, I loved getting to work with my classmates, and I feel like I was able to really be creative. I never would have thought of myself as a videographer or producer before this class, and I’m really glad I can add all these new skills to my resume and feel confident about them. I was always excited to come to class, even if I knew it was going to be a lot of work, because I knew I’d be supported. Professor Collins is an incredible resource, and I’m so glad I got to work with her and learn from her. I will miss this class, but I’m excited to take these skills with me into my future journalism career. Thanks for everything Professor Collins and J215!

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