I started a new sports blog (here), I got another job with a sports blog (here)… Needless to say, the semester has come to an end. It’s been a very, very, very eventful semester in my life, and I have come through a lot, learned a lot, been stressed out a lot, and laughed a lot. Honestly, I’ve learned more and more about myself this semester than I ever thought I could have, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the bad ones. Take a look at my semester in review!
Get to know your camera
Our first assignment was just a basic assignment to get to know the camera that we were given that was basically supposed to be our “best friend” throughout the rest of the semester. I quickly learned that this would indeed be my best friend, as since this point we have had several arguments, but also had some awesome times together taking cool pictures and videos, and getting the chance to interact with new people. I’ve had a lot of awesome experiences throughout this course, and my camera was always by my side (except maybe a certain audio package project I’ll talk about later). It was a really fun experience.
This project started with me procrastinating, which was a trend that I quickly lost when I got really inspired by Dr. Collins and started to really understand just how much work the course was going to be. I was motivated by the work of my friends and, at this point, colleagues, in the classroom with me, and started to aim higher than I could ever expect. I think that was what was most important about this project: it started me on the right path. You can view it HERE.
The photo essay may have been one of my favorite pieces that we got to make this semester. I really enjoy photography, and I like to make projects that can have a really deep meaning. This piece was more of an artsy piece for me, in that I took it to a deeper meaning than covering a news event or something like that. A lot of the reason for this falls upon me preferring to be a deep person, and also admittedly a lack of ideas for a news story (whoops!)
I took pictures of downtown Champaign-Urbana, in the older part of the area near where the police station is. I walked downtown and took pictures of what I saw. This action quickly pointed me to what my theme would eventually be: The contrast that comes from turning darkness, and emotions that go with that, to light, and happiness, and joy, even in the worst of times. I’m a strong believer in second chances, and I think with this area (being that I’m from close to here in Danville, Illinois) has been through a lot recently, and throughout history. I think the rebuilding process is still underway from when the area was hit hard in the early 2000’s in terms of the economy failing.
My pictures centered on graffiti, local art, and whatever else I could find in the area. I hoped through the project to create some sort of contrast, and to show how a community that has been through so much, can rebuild and redefine itself. I fully believe that every individual person can go through this change as well.
The video essay project was really fun for me. I once again chose to do one more artsy video production, that would showcase yet again another contrast. I really enjoy doing artsy pieces, and attempting to tell a story through my work. (I am, after all, a creative writer at heart) I chose for this one, after reviewing some of the material that I took earlier in the week, I decided that the theme was going to be “stillness vs motion in champaign-urbana”.
I took some videos at the local art trail just outside of the boundaries of campus, as well as some inside of the local church, and a few new places I hadn’t ever explored yet! It was a really fun time, as I got to see some really awesome and pretty landscapes, as well as experience putting a video compilation together. It was really different putting it all together, but it was a fun one. I thought I kind of was struggling at this point in the semester with coming up with ideas, but I think from this point on I turned the “idea engine” on and picked up the slack.
The video essay came together pretty well, and I really enjoyed it!
For my fourth assignment, which was an audio package, I decided to take on a story that was close to home. I have several friends that live in the Private Certified Housing-ran fraternity, Koinonia Christian Cooperative House. I decided that since most people walked by the house all the time, and still didn’t know that it existed or what it’s purpose was, it’d be interesting to find out about the house, straight from them.
I interviewed three people living inside of the house, and went from there. I didn’t really enjoy making just an audio package. I think it is because I’m mostly a visual learner, and like to be able to see things, and not just hear them. However, I was pretty happy with the final outcome.
Something important that I learned from this assignment was that people actually liked my on-air voice. Since I was little, I haven’t liked hearing my voice on camera, or on recordings, and would often ask people never to show clips that had my voice in them (funnily enough). I think that stems from my self-confidence, which can sometimes be a problem. However, I feel that when my classmates and Professor Collins told me my voice would be great if I just acted more confident, I think that I slowly but surely started to think that I really had a semi-decent voice, and got confident with it.
I was really happy with the outcome of the project, but it was definitely a challenge for me, and I feel like I took it pretty well. Everyone I interviewed for the project seemed to like the final outcome.
You can see the audio package I made, featuring Koinonia Christian Cooperative House, here.
Our fifth assignment, and last before we had an “easy project” (How-To was the theme, more on that next) was a video package. I really had to think hard about a subject for this, as it had to have a really good newsworthy element that would also end up looking good on film. I was really excited when I was sitting in my room about to go to bed one night and I was thinking “Good film ideas….hm…” and I realized that unofficial was coming up!
The theme of my video package ended up being “The Other Side of Unofficial” which I was really proud of. I wanted to showcase that, on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, not everyone just went out and got incredibly drunk all day, and didn’t do anything productive. I decided to focus on the events of the frat house mentioned in my audio package, Koinonia Christian Cooperative House, and their volunteer efforts during the event that so often is harshly criticized by many on the outside of the campus event.
During Unofficial, Koin, as it is called by it’s residents, goes into full-overdrive on the volunteering. They hand out water and snacks during the day to people that pass by their house on the corner of Fourth and Daniel St. on campus, and then, at night, put effort into handing out hot dogs once again to people going out and enjoying the holiday. I really wanted to shed a good light on this holiday, rather than just do another typical article on how bad Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is (depending on who you talk to).
I was happy with the end product of this, as I felt my confidence was a little higher, and I was successful in putting the whole package together!
The “How To”
My how-to assignment for Assignment 6 wasn’t one of my favorites. I thought that the idea was good, but due to a lot of things coming together I don’t feel that I did as well as I really could have. My idea was pretty interesting, I did “How To Perform a Basic Baseball Swing” and based it off of what I had learned in many years of practicing baseball, and from professional coaches I had been lucky enough to have in the past.
The video quality wasn’t great, but the one thing I think I’m really proud of from this project was that I was able to a) keep good NAT sound in it, of the balls being hit and b) keep good humor in it.
The loose nature of this project really allowed me to infuse some of my personality in it. So despite all of the difficulties I had with coming up with an idea for a How-To video, I really enjoyed getting to make this one as it involved something I loved: baseball.
Final Project *Que Dramatic Music*
The final project was awesome, simply. First, I want to shout out my awesome teammates, Emma Li, and Malec Caudell. I really enjoyed working with you guys, and couldn’t have asked for better partners for the final project.
We had some difficulties over the course of this assignment, but it all ended up working out really well. We worked great together as a team, and ended up coming together and making an awesome project, with some help along the way from everyone involved, Professor Collins, and all of our fantastic sources that we used. I really loved making this project, focused on Diversity.
The University of Illinois is hailed as being one of the most diverse countries in America, but we really wanted to investigate this claim and see if it was true or not. I think we reached a pretty good answer.
I especially hope you guys will check this one out: Check out our final project on diversity “Diverse Voices UIUC” here.
P.s. I was really proud of the picture I took of Emma interviewing Dr. Salo, you see it above!
The Semester, As A Whole
Overall, over the course of the semester I’m really excited with the things that I have done, and the things that I have learned. I got a new sense of myself, and all of the great things that I can do if given enough time and a small bit of guidance along the way. I really enjoyed working with everyone in the class, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do that again someday!
We all had struggles along the way, but with help from each other and fantastic leadership from Professor Collins (who I can honestly say is my favorite professor I’ve ever had), we all got through our issues, and ended up learning more about our skills, and each other.
Overall, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything else, and I’m so glad that I got to partake in this semester’s class.
Thanks for joining me on the journey.
I leave you with one piece of parting advice: Enjoy every moment of life that you can, even the bad ones. My favorite author, in his great book “Our Town” Thornton Wilder once wrote
“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”
Signing off, for the last time, for Off the Shelf and Online Illinois, I’ve been, am, and always will be, Nathaniel Williamson…
…and nothing will ever change that.
If you like the work, I’ll shamelessly plug my sports blogs to you. Follow them!