Tag Archives: Cain Lever

Cain Lever: a journey worth reflecting

My Video Essay “Good morning Procrastination” was easily the most fun assignment to do. Dr. Collins gave us no guidelines at all, so it was a pretty simple assignment. Basically, I just woke up one morning and decided to start filming a ton of stuff in my room. To create some kind of story, I started filming my shower to show a sequence of events. I tried to tell a story by showing my bedroom and then my shower and bathroom. After showing my video to the class, I realized the importance of editing. The order I put my shots in can make the difference between a coherent video essay and a nonsensical one. Although my video wasn’t nonsense, it lacked certain shots that would’ve made the story easier to follow for the audience. For instance, a close up of the actor looking down at the phone and then up at the door would’ve made it more obvious to the audience that the shots of the shower were meant to represent the actor thinking about starting his day but deciding to stay in bed instead.


My first VO/VOSOTVO was about KU bus drivers and icy roads. Getting film for this was easy, but I realize now I could’ve gotten even better shots. I needed more shots of the actual bus drivers. I only had one person in my video and that was the guy I interviewed. Getting more shots of bus drivers at work would have made my video felt more personal. Still, I thought I cut up my shots well. My script could have been a lot more conversational too. I think that after doing this video, I started to realize the importance of having a script in mind while filming. That way when I’m on the scene, I can look for shots that I know will go perfectly with whatever I wanted to say. I could’ve used a wide shot near the Chi O fountain to show all the buses on Jayhawk Blvd and all the snow that was there too.


My second VO/VOSOTVO was about Campaign Maka’s new mixtape, Comfortable. I tried to get more shots that related to the subject I was talking about in this video, so I got a lot of shots of the recording equipment he has. I needed more shots of him actually using the equipment though. At the time, he wasn’t planning on recording anything, but I could’ve asked him to show me some music on his computer. Then, I could’ve gotten shots of him at his desk working which may have been more entertaining than just to see a mic, headphones, a piano, and so forth. Learning from my mistakes from the last video, I got shots of awards he received knowing that I wanted to talk about them in my script. I came with a plan in mind of what I was going to say already, so when I got into his studio, I already had a pretty good idea of what shots I needed to take. I had fun trying to mess with the rac focus on the piano, but I need to mess with that effect more to find the best way and best times to use it. I think it’s hard to do a 30 second video on an artist that isn’t a household name, because I felt like I had to give him prominence in the script without sounding promotional. He is a rising artist in KC, but I didn’t know how much I had to emphasize that in my script to show that he is a newsworthy figure.

 


For my third VO, I made a video about ONEDAY, ONE KU, a 24-hour fundraising event on campus. I had been working in the newsroom a lot prior to making this video, so I felt I was getting a great understanding of how to get good video and write to your video. I knew the facts I wanted to address in my script before hand, so I got video of the sign and close-ups of important things that were written on the sign. In my script, I just wrote to the video and used the sign as my primary video for talking about the major facts of the event and used the video of the flags to talk about whatever filler details I needed to address. At this point, I think I really was beginning to understand how to film affectively so I can  “say it and see it.” My biggest problem was that I had trouble getting low shots of the flags. I really wanted to get a rac focus shot of a line of flags, but I had a lot of trouble keeping the camera steady while changing the focus on the camera. I think with better equipment this would have been easier. However, I think that I’m capable of getting good rac focus shots with my camera, I just need to continue to practice it. I also wish I knew when people were putting the flags in the ground, because I wanted a shot of that.


For my third VOSOTVO, I did a video on the event Unpacking Whiteness. This was an interesting event because it was set up in a circle instead of a normal panel. My camera doesn’t zoom well, so it was hard for me to get any close ups of the speakers. I still think I got some decent shots. My initial shot was a tilt. I know Dr. Collins has said multiple times not to use a tilt, pan or zoom in these videos unless we could defend why we used it. I had seen CNN do a similar shot for a DACA event. I thought that it was an interesting beginning to the video, but Dr. Collins still didn’t approve of it. I think if there was a poster or sign above the crowd that the camera was on at first, then it would’ve made more sense to have that. Now, I’m realizing how shots like those can be effective, but otherwise they’re just unnecessary. I want to learn more about those rules and when it’s okay to break them. My camera died at the end of the event, so I had to use my phone to get an interview.

Through the Lens: A Self Reflection by Cain Lever

My First VOSOTVO, VO, and video essay

I had a lot of fun while making the VOSOTVO and the VO. It was easy to find shot of buses and snow on Jayhawk Boulevard. I think the hardest part of filming, for me, was the interview. Since the bus driver was on a schedule, he didn’t have a lot of time to talk. On my bus ride to Jayhawk Blvd., there’s a parking lot where the driver always stops at for about 5 minutes. I was prepared with questions, but I didn’t think about where I would get my shot of the bus driver. I ended up putting him in a spot where the sunlight ruined the shot. I also had my camera set at an angle that was too low. My footage was usable, but it could’ve been a much better shot.

I enjoy producing videos, so I didn’t have a lot of trouble doing that either. I think I struggled more with writing to my video edits. How I decided to edit my video was to write one or two sentences at a time and then find video that I knew would fit to those sentences. It made the process easier, but I realize now that I didn’t think enough about how the script sounded. I needed to be and could’ve been more conversational. I know that the snowy weather is pertinent to all students. I could’ve made my script more conversational by being more personal while also speaking with caution. Part of the problem were my shots. If I had more shots of people on the buses or the bus drivers, I would have had more freedom to speak personally. I also need to work on my delivery. I think that my delivery will have more character when I’m talking about subjects that matter more to me. I need to find a way to talk colorful about matters I don’t care much about while not sounding fake and cheesy. I think by writing more conversational, I will sound more conversational in my delivery. I also forgot to include my slate in my VOSOTVO. If you’d like to watch my VOSOTVO or VO, then click the hyperlinks.

I really enjoyed making the video essay too. I don’t think I conveyed my idea well though. I needed one or two more shots to explain exactly what was going on in the video. I’m starting to realize how deliberate I must be while producing videos. I don’t necessarily need sound to convey a message, but instead, I can use artifacts, facial expressions, and rhythm to make the viewer see and feel whatever I’m trying to convey. I’m looking forward to doing more projects like these after having learned so much more. I think that if I start to report on topics that really interest me, than I will naturally write more conversational scripts and produce more appealing visuals. If you’d like to watch my video essay, then click here.

-Cain Lever