A Walk Through a Different World

Howdy! This is Sterling, back with another week of content. This assignment began as one and kind of turned into another. My original intent was to do a modified form of “Exercise And Socialize” by Jeremy Hillberry, which has the following description: “Neighborhood walks used to be a good form of exercise and a good way to meet your neighbors. Nowadays, exercise is at the gym and socializing is online. Record a video of yourself taking a neighborhood walk and play a song in the backgorund of the video that your neighbors would enjoy. Get out there, exercise and socialize!” It is rated 2.5 stars.

I’m pretty camera shy as you will find out from the video, though I needed to get out of the house for a bit and figured I would record it. This lead to me doing a bit of narration, which made it morph a bit into “VLOG ONE DAY” by Eric, rated 3 stars. “For one day, attempt to vlog your day! What did you today? What was your favorit part about today? Who did you encounter? Let’s hear all about it!” Of course, this is quite abridged since it only centers on one walk. It also deviates from the ‘socialize’ part of the first assignment because, well, I’m practicing social distancing. And I don’t know my neighbors well enough to play music for them.

In brainstorming this assignment, I had some clear, cinematic ideas as you can tell by the clips of me getting ready to leave and opening doors. It took a lot of revisions because half of my in-house clips I had recorded in portrait mode rather than landscape. Eventually, though, I made it out the door and I found myself stumped. Vloggers don’t seem to have it as easy as I thought. I consider myself a pretty decent conversationalist, and I knew I had a lot to talk about regarding COVID-19 and my feelings on social distancing. However, as soon as I pressed the record button, I was lost for words. I was suddenly hyper-aware of the people around me even though they were several feet away.

I didn’t want to make it obvious I was recording, so I recorded my feet as I walked. I got to greet a neighbor as well. I had to delete and speed up a lot of clips of my shoes since I imagine they get quite boring after a while. Finally, I arrived at the plaza that has the grocery store. It was alarming to see so many store closures: they weren’t like that last time I was out. Marty’s (a restaurant) is only doing takeout. The beer shop is leaving. The nail salon has clearly closed. It isn’t shown, but the Great Clips that is always open has closed its doors. That is why my family and I are doing our best to support local restaurants when we can. I hadn’t considered the impact on cosmetology businesses: those involve close contact and tools used multiple times.

Then, I went into Kroger. There was a surprising number of people there. I found that the best solution was to make it into a montage of sorts so as to avoid filming people directly. The toilet paper carnage was interesting to witness for myself. Practicing social distancing was difficult: it was quite packed, and as I remark in my video, I couldn’t maintain six feet between myself and others. I also saw quite a few people I knew, and it would’ve been impossible to talk more then 4 feet apart. The end of the video tends more towards this “vlog” format as I attempt to gauge in conversation (but keep looking in the distance anyways). Definitely turned into word vomit at the end, but I hope you could garner something from it.

While I enjoyed my massage, I worked on editing the video with my phone. My first step was to delete all of the clips I messed up on (I’ve locked the door more times than I have unlocked it). After that, I still had about 60 clips to combine, crop, and edit. The app I used was YouCut: a free phone app that one can use to edit videos. It features all of the basic editing functions one might need to put together a decent video. I separated my clips into 5 sections: getting ready, walking to the store, inside the store, heading home from the store, and final words. Each section was between 1 and 2 minutes.

As you can see, YouCut offers quite a few editing options. My first step was to trim the cut down to omit the parts where I am turning the camera on or off. Then, I muted the audio if it was a montage clip and sped it up (walking was 1.6x). In clips like the one where I say goodbye to my big gray cat, it was all in that one recording. Therefore, I had to split the walking part from the cat part in order to speed it up as I wished. Finally, I combined all of my parts and put a brightening filter over all of the footage. Overall, it took around two hours to edit. It probably would’ve been easier if I used something like Windows Movie Maker or Adobe Premiere, but I wanted to curl up and make a day out of this.

My next step was to edit the audio. I uploaded the video to my computer and then used a MP4 to MP3 converter to allow me to edit it in Audacity. I did a quick little clean-up where I took out some wind and unnecessary background noise. I did not edit my voice much since it was difficult to eliminate some of the background sounds. After that, I layered Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi on top (from a YouTube to MP3 converter) since it matched my video length exactly. I made sure to de-amplify the sound a little bit whenever I spoke. Then, I returned to YouCut and muted the sound from the original video, replacing it with my new mix. This part took another couple of hours since everything took so long to download

There you have it! Overall, the exercise portion of this assignment was certainly beneficial given our current circumstances. It allowed me to think of ways I should take care of myself physically, mentally, and socially. I feel like it would be a very fun assignment otherwise if someone is more familiar and comfortable with their neighbors. The vlog part was certainly a new experience. I completely recommend it; we watch YouTubers daily, but do we ever put thought into what work goes into their process? I have a newfound appreciation for them after completing this assignment. Can I advocate that this project is worth at least 5 stars?

Oh, and my message at the end of the video isn’t very clear: I mostly wanted to say that it is hard to socialize with others, so we should use this time to socialize with ourselves. Please note that I do intend to privatize this video at the end of the semester since it advertises my location.