Video Killed the Radio Star

Hello! This is Sterling, back with another post. In this post, I thought I would share my project ideas, my thoughts on a COVID-19 theme, and my Daily Create story since I think it mostly revolves around our current situation. I do not own the featured image. Here is some mood music to show my enthusiasm of moving to video and the title of this post (1979, but close enough… also that thumbnail):

Project ideas! I know for a fact that I want to aim for an interactive narrative if possible. Writing is likely the best medium for this, since I think I can express my imagination the most fluently through it. However, I’m open to graphics and audio if anyone wants to work with me towards a more video game-like structure. I’ve discussed my interest and experience with interactive fiction here and here, as well as uploaded a revised commercial revolving around it here. I just watched the Clue (1985) movie recently, and since I’m stuck with Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (from my quarantine book raid at Riverby Books), it would be really cool to make a short mystery story set in the 80s. Though if anyone wants to join, I’m cool with any genre really. We can create the biggest choice web if we have more people!

I’ve been watching people like PewDiePie play Detroit: Become Human all week because I love the cinematic choose-your-own-adventure structure it has, and how it reveals a map of all the different ways a scene could have gone after each episode. It’s my dream to be involved in something like this!

Of course, I would use the second-person perspective for this. But is that normally an odd thing to do? In my French class Skype call today, one of the guys said that second person and the use of “you” was cringy. Is it? I actually do a lot of creative writing in my spare time with third-person, and only use second-person for projects like this. I just never thought it was weird if done to be in an immersive narrative. It’s like my roommate who informed me that it was weird and unusual I drink milk all the time, when I’ve been doing it that way all my life (college is very eye-opening). I’m open to shifting to other ideas, but this is what I have to offer right now. I’ve made stories on programs like Inky and would love to explore it more, as well as perhaps looking into Twine which was used for Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018). One can incorporate video in there and other media if they want.

Speaking of short films, check out the trailer for the one I’m involved in! I choreographed some of the (spoiler) fight scene and act as an extra. Will update you guys!

As far as COVID-19 goes, I mentioned what I thought during the DS106 Radio Broadcast on Monday night:

In my opinion, if someone feels like they want to post about coronavirus, by all means. If they don’t find any creativity there or just want to focus on something else, then it should be about the 80s. Right now it makes a lot of sense that people (including me) are posting quite a bit of content covering it, though unless something alarming happens I probably will progressively post about it less. I do like how it has been incorporated into the Daily Creates, though! Which takes me to my next part: my story.

I wasn’t sure of the best way to unify them, but one thing I know is that there is a clear flow. Like any story, it begins with the setting. Society is “Under Pressure,” being set on by only the start of a notably-fatal pandemic. This disease “burns a building down / Splits a family in two / Puts people on streets.” Well, perhaps it keeps more people off the streets in our case, but people are being turned away from hospitals. I’ve heard of some families that are split; I don’t know when I can see my mom or cousins next since some of my relatives are vulnerable. “It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about / Watching some good friends screaming / “Let me out!” / Pray tomorrow gets me higher.” Don’t think I need to explain this lyric.

Next, we come upon the main plot. The world has to combat this pandemic, and it is a communal effort to practice effective social distancing and washing hands. Schools are closing. No more high school proms, or in our case, no more Spring Formal. People are beginning to find optimism in their situations, and can have a little school dance fun when they wash their hands. Enter “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.. I’ll be honest in that I haven’t tried this yet, but maybe I’ll have to give it a shot if it fits in with any video assignments next week. Would you watch that?

Finally, of course we come upon the climax and resolution. The situation is under control. Pollution has ebbed and waters are clearing at an exponential rate. People will soon able to meet together to a brave new world under a bright new sun. Things won’t be the same, but two generally-standoffish cats mirror humanity as they can finally rest together after exhaustive months. A fire has been lit in the background; hope is here. The unified stand has paid off and we now know how to face challenges ahead as the world. Of course, it isn’t actually all sunshine and rainbows given certain international political circumstances, but… I think we’ll change. For the better.

Update:「Week 8」

As one can tell from other weekly summaries, this week has been quite an adventure. I went from completely dismissing the coronavirus to having school closed for a few weeks. I’ve been in the dark this whole week – classes and all – since I was out with the flu. Of course, challenges this week included trying to complete my Daily Creates. They were few in number, though not on the top of my list at the start of the week. Unfortunately, I was not quite sure how to interpret these so I did what I thought matched best:

Another challenge of course included those I encountered with the radio show project, which was detailed in my post. In short, those included creating the script, trying to use the vocal booth, and trying to blend the four differently-edited audio clips. I am proud of what we did, and I think it is very informational. With more time, collaboration, resources, and different circumstances, this could have been slightly different though I am not unsatisfied. I hope people will use my script to be able to understand my words. I actually just watched the Clue (1985) movie and I think it would be very cool to see or do a radio show orienting around a mystery like that. To create something featuring alternate endings, like Clue, would be a great project to take on.

I have reviewed the assignment more in-depth in my post. To be honest, even though I never feel like I have enough time to finish the regular assignments, I am eager to return to them if that is next on the agenda. I enjoy the original content and freedom of imagination. Perhaps these next few weeks at home, without my crazy amount of extracurriculars, will help my content production level.

Around the World: Premiere!

Featured image is Kaitlin’s poster!

Hallo! Welkom! In this blog post, I will detail the process of creating our radio show. Together with AllisonMaeve, and Kaitlin, we created a tour of 80s culture in Australia, Germany, Japan, and South Africa. We each talked about things like fashion, music, technology, and sports. Feel free to listen as you read:

As I covered in my first update, we worked on outlining our materials and shared the content we created that could be contributed to the project. As a group, we discussed adapting Professor Bond’s suggestion of unifying our narrative and establishing a storyline. That was definitely a challenge, and we ended up settling on our original idea but making sure we used the same categories. We employed the use of transitions like Allison’s traveling noises and making sure to refer to other group members’ content to make it truly feel like one is travelling from place to place. Next, we reserved the HCC Vocal Booth on Tuesday night for 12:30-2 PM Thursday, March 12th. Unfortunately, we were faced with several issues: it was locked upon arrival, Audacity had been uninstalled and required admin access, and on top of that the microphone would not record. We called upon the Digital Knowledge Center for assistance, but they could not figure it out either.

Did my best to clean up what I got.

We had to record with our phones in the soundproof booth. This lead to a reduced quality, but certainly not terrible as we were given advice to distance ourselves from our phone microphones to avoid “popping” consonants like “p” and “t.” I actually tried to record, but I’ve had the flu all week so I kept stumbling on my words. I’ve definitely been a little out of it after my 102-degree fever on Sunday, which hindered some of my planning as well. My throat has been sore, and as you can tell congestion really got me in my recording when I tried again earlier today. As an actor, I pride myself in my articulation and enunciation but there was no helping it this time. Just in case you cannot understand my recording, you can view my script and list of sources.

Here is the source of the music I used to introduce my section!

Regardless, it was fun to mix in the music by including ‘previews’ like they do for music stations and to try to imitate the high energy radio hosts present in their shows. To achieve this ‘preview’ effect, I made sure to use the Amplify tool in Audacity to “de-amplify” the sounds when they were not being featured. This can be achieved by inserting a negative value when determining how much a soundbite should be amplified.

After I did that, I did what I had promised in my post last week and fixed up my Infocom commercial regarding text adventure video games. I chose to nix the 8-bit dungeon theme in favor of the Tears for Fears “Shout” instrumental. I’d love to find a way to implement it again in the future, and perhaps repost my revised commercial. I added that, as well as my radio bumper to our radio show. Since I have the most audio editing experience, I volunteered to compile all of our sections together. To do that, I simply imported the clips to Audacity and dragged them together using the Time Shift Tool. Since everyone else’s clips were quieter than mine (since I used a compressing tool on my track), I tried to de-amplify my section as a whole without losing too much of my voice.

Here is Allison’s great logo!

Overall, this was a neat experience. I liked being able to meet some of my classmates in person and to see who is behind some of the work I’ve been looking at throughout the semester. It was cool to learn about 80s around the world. This assignment clearly takes a lot of work to make it into something that knocks others out of the water. I am proud of what we have done, and with the circumstances that happened at this time I believe we handled it well. Under different terms, I would love to follow the suggestion of a more unified narrative and perhaps attempt a story like what I heard at the tweet-along.

Menu and Valentine’s Placeholder

Here is my menu so far, scroll down for an original spin. Decided I would start off by listing my favorite foods: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z3_9rcDU8jqq4_AGPnykK08ZH_ojOyCTdwayj3apGBM/edit?usp=sharing

Excited to edit this in the near future!

Planning on making some meme Valentine’s and 80s ones, too.

Macbeth Episode IV: A New Hope (1606)

Hello! This assignment is called “Create A Silly Movie Poster” by Richard Barnes. It is worth 3.5 stars and has the following description: “Take an existing movie poster and make it look silly. My final project involved an Ewok who wanted to be in a movie with Arnold Schwarzengger. This is his idea of a poster.”

Therefore, I decided to work on something I started in my junior year of high school: what I affectionately call Macbeth Episode IV: A New Hope (1606). It has been a long time since I have read Macbeth or watched Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), but they seem to share vague similarities. I decided to take most of my images from Justin Kurzel’s film adaptation of Macbeth (2015). As the protagonist with a grand destiny, Macbeth is Luke Skywalker, of course. Lady Macbeth is Leia as his lover (nothing else). The Three Witches are odd and I almost could consider them comic relief, much like R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca. Banquo, the friend, is Han Solo. King Duncan, who was killed by Macbeth, is the ghost of Moff Tarkin – they are both killed by their respective protagonists.

Of course, this was done with my favored image editor Pixlr Editor (I sure hope this doesn’t end with Flash!) It was difficult to size the proportions of the characters’ heads, for some either had hair that needed to be covered up or their heads were in angles that I could not match a picture to. To replicate the colorfulness of the original poster, the saturation had to be tinkered with quite a lot. Shadows had to be added in large quantities to mask lighting differences and match skin tones. As for the logo, I used the Star Wars font generator on Fontmeme. A paintbrush tool with a slight smear was used in various sizes to speckle the logo with stars. I am not quite sure why I used a more vignette-type of filter on the border of the image, as that is one of the things I did back in high school, but I enjoy how it looks instead of being blindingly white.

One thing I would consider doing if I decide to keep editing this is to reduce the saturation and eliminate the vignette to reach a more ‘vintage’ image. To unify these elements into a favored aesthetic would help reduce evidence of my status as an amateur. This activity fit into the 80s theme, for while Star Wars was first released in 1977, its sequels and the popularity of its characters flourished in the 80s. Overall, this assignment grew my experience as an editor and to just have fun. This image isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, although I am proud to reflect on what I did in the past (2017) and see how far I’ve come today. It is worth 3.5 stars and then some!

Look at this “Photoblitz”

Hello, and welcome to my Photoblitz, started at 4:20-21 PM! The images are Imgur-embedded and contain their information in captions –

  • Get close! Photograph an ordinary object from as close as you can manage.
  • Texture adds a dimensional quality to photos, and changes with scale.
  • “Music is what feelings sound like.” Make a photo of something musical.
  • Someone else’s artwork in an interesting way to make it yours.
  • Glasses help many folks bring the world into focus each day.
  • Make a photo of a scene looking out a window.
  • The theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.

click for another list.

I actually got relatively far pretty past, though I found myself stuck on a few: especially the music one. As you can read from the posts below, I had to switch some around. I also had to resist running to the set of UMW’s current musical Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon, which will premiere this Thursday!

“Get close! Photograph an ordinary object from as close as you can manage.” Here is an image of a cobweb in the window. The sun just started to peek out of the clouds, and I managed to line it up right in the center. The other lines of the cobweb are probably what makes this my favorite image.
“Texture adds a dimensional quality to photos, and changes with scale.” This is actually a the seat of a chair. I tried to do it closer, but it blurred quite a lot and couldn’t focus. This distance is better, showing off the unique matrices and the crumbs, which look much larger with their own shadows. If one looks closely, they can see where the cushion curves.
“‘Music is what feelings sound like.’ Make a photo of something musical.” Beyoncé is god – there is a lot of musical fierceness to that statement. On such an elementary medium, its simplicity strikes pointedly. I’ll admit that this category is the hardest to find, and that this picture was originally for the “texture” category.
“Someone else’s artwork in an interesting way to make it yours.” Of course, ‘art’ includes writing such as scripts for plays. The highlight on Jared’s line in Body Awareness by Annie Baker next to a cup of soup was just too fitting. For the record, I don’t expect Panera soup to be gross!
“Glasses help many folks bring the world into focus each day.” Quite literal, but they certainly provide a certain amount of clarity and focus. Every pair is different: smudges and all. Mine have been a bit dusty all day from working in the scene shop. Observe how the lenses distort the view.
“Make a photo of a scene looking out a window.” This has the same view as some of my other pictures, except from a different part of the window. I enjoy the little arch and its reflection. I wish I could’ve leaned over the table to make it a bit more symmetrical, but it works!
“The theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.” Big red button! These are instructions on how to use the air hockey table. I liked how glossy the button is, as well as the red carpet reflecting on the side of the table. Also, I encourage you to try to read the steps! Especially #4.
I finished with a few minutes to spare! The music and texture ones had me in a bit of a panic, though it all worked out in the end.
And here is the physical timestamp.

That was my Photoblitz! Overall, it was simple and not too stress-inducing despite the time limit. This activity lets you see what is around you, and I got to discover what lengths I would go to for a photograph. It is interesting to see what others view around them and to gain a new awareness for familiar spaces. I would certainly consider doing this activity again!