My Last Post! Reflecting on COJO 3530

I liked this class a lot. I enjoyed how the class was set up by doing more projects rather than just writing stories. My favorite project during the semester was the Soundslides project on the Cowgirl Volleyball team. I think I liked it so much because it was the first time when I really got to apply the skills we had learned and I really liked seeing the final result. I also liked it because the team was very cooperative with getting interviews and taking pictures, which is one thing I struggled with during most of the other projects.

I learned a lot of things in this class that I will use in the future. The biggest one is audio. I knew nothing about audio recorders, how to gather audio, or how to edit audio, coming into this class and I think that is a very important thing to know. The other thing I really learned was how to write stories for the web. When I had posted things online in the past, it would be in a normal writing form. Looking back though, it really is important to have shorter paragraphs and links, because I know it is true for me when I say I think most online readers are scanning for information rather than taking the time read the whole thing.  Having shorter paragraphs allows people to find what they want quicker and also will keep their attention better. Both of those concepts I did not really know about before this course and I think it is a very important thing to learn.

Eventually I want to get involved in sports radio, and I think this class was a good first step. Especially with gathering audio, I think it will help a lot down the line. Online Journalism did not affect my decision of a future career path, but I think I learned some things in this class, that will help with radio when I eventually start working.

Nothing comes to mind about other things I would have liked to learn in this class. If there was one thing that I could change, during the second half of the semester, sometimes if felt like we were doing the same thing over and over again. Having 2 soundslides projects and having 2 feature stories was not the best format. During the second project of each, a lost a bit of focus and effort because it felt like I had been working on the same thing for too long. I would try and find two new projects to try, but that really is the only thing that comes to mind.

Overall, this was probably my favorite class this semester. I can’t say I was always looking forward to going to this class, but I was never dreading going to this class. It was a lot of fun, and I thought the skills we learned were important and applicable to our journalism and communications majors.

Individual Soundslides Project

Here is the link to my project.

This assignment was pretty much the same as the group Soundslides project. We had to gather photos and audio and put them together in a slideshow.  The main purpose for this assignment was to show that we are able to tell a compelling story using only photos and audio, rather than words on paper.

I liked working alone better than having a partner. Part of it was because I didn’t have to okay any of my ideas with someone else, and could do things my way. The other big reason why I liked it more was because was I could do things on my own time, and didn’t have to worry about including anyone or finding time where both of us were available. If there was one thing that I didn’t like about having a partner would be not having another opinion on the work. It was nice to get some feedback on which pictures were best, if the audio quality was strong enough, and things like that. But in most cases I enjoy working alone, because I don’t have to rely on anyone else to get the project done or get a good grade, and this project was no different.

I don’t think there was too much that was interesting with this project. The pictures took a long time to get, because if you don’t get the ball in tennis shots, the pictures are generally not going to be that interesting. I would say the most of the audio went well, the one thing that I would complain about was the tennis coach had me interview him at his house, and for about half of it his dog was barking and running around, so that audio was unusable.

By far the biggest and most frustrating part of this project was the public’s lack of cooperation with the interviews. I interviewed 10 members of the facility and not one was any help. I would explain what the project was and the importance of it to the class, but when I asked questions they would respond very sarcastically or short. I asked one member why he comes to play tennis at the new facility, and his response was, “To see Megan’s (his playing partner) socks.” So it was either stuff like that, or all three word answers. I asked another member what she thought of the UW facility compared to other courts she has played on, she responded, “They’re better”. When I asked her to elaborate on what makes them better, she said, “Everything”. That was essentially the whole experience of the public interviews I did. I thought it would have been nice to get some public quotes, but none of them would take it seriously. It was very frustrating and disappointing.

If I could change one thing about the project, it would be the story telling. I wanted to make it more about the public’s use of the courts and their response to the new facility, but because of their lack of help to gather audio I had to change what the story was about and make it more about the Cowgirl tennis team’s use of the courts.

Group Soundslides Critique

First group: Alex Edwards and Ashlee Oslund

Audio: I thought the audio for the story was very good. I liked the ambient noise a lot, because it was in my opinion, the typical music you hear when you see dinosaurs in movies, and I thought that it added a lot to the story. The critiques I would have from the audio would be that some of the transitions from person to person were a little rough, and you could tell that they continued to talk after you cut them off. The other would be that there is some distracting noises in the background when someone is talking. I can’t say who, but one example starts when there is 1:41 left in the slideshow.

Photos: Honestly I thought the photos very good. They synced up with the story very well, and the shots were creative.  There is not much I can critique about them. I thought both of you did a very good job with them. If there was one thing I would change, it would be when you first introduce Mary Aguayo, maybe a picture of her working rather than a portrait would have added a little more. Also, every time there was a new voice, a caption on the picture of who was talking was not given, which was confusing, but overall good job with the pictures!

Storytelling: Once again, I thought the storytelling was very strong. You got good quotes from the people you talked to, that related to each other, and the provided for smooth transitions from speaker to speaker and subject to subject. Very interesting story, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Second group: Zak Bolender and Justin Trygg

Audio: The interviews were good for the most part, were clean and did not have any distractions. The first interview was the worst one you had. There was a lot of noise in the background and because you started the project with that ambient noise, when the interview came on, it was distracting. I didn’t think the ambient noise at the beginning was very good at all, and should have been taken out, but other than that, the ambient noise was solid. The cuts were good, except for the ending, where the last word you hear is “and” which makes for a bad finish. Overall, I would say your audio was average.

Photos: I thought you did a good job with photos. The story had potential to get boring with just shot after shot of people jogging, but you did a good job mixing it up. The syncing of the photos was good. I didn’t really notice and outstanding photos with the audio, or any bad photos with the audio, so I think you were fine there. The creativity of the photos were good. You kept the audiences’ attention with not just having running photos and using different angles. Good job!

Storytelling: Overall, the storytelling was good. The story made sense throughout the project, with really no points of confusion. The only thing I would say to improve is the ending. It stops abruptly and like I said before, ends with the word “and”, but aside from the ending, the storytelling was good.

Third group: John Czerwinski and Andrew Joannides

Audio: I thought the audio was very good. The interviews were clear and there was no distracting noise. There was maybe one rough cut, but overall the transitions were very good. The one critique I have is to add more ambient noise. I think either the crowd, or coaches on the sideline, or anything could have added a lot to the story.

Photos: The photos related to the audio well, and were pretty creative, but you used way too many stock photos. I would say the majority of your project was stock photos and that took away from the story in my opinion. I understand it was impossible to get pictures of Randy Welniak playing football yourself, but so many stock photos made the project feel less authentic. I’m hesitant to compliment the photos at all, because I don’t think you took many of them. Overall, I would have taken more pictures of the stadium and team now, than you did.

Storytelling: The story was very interesting. There was a nice transition between the speakers, and the quotes you got were good. There were no points of confusion for me, and I thought the story ended well. Overall, I thought the storytelling was pretty good.

 

What I learned from viewers other students work is how important it is to get photos than line up with the audio. When you are listening and watching to the same thing, I think it makes the project a lot better than having random photos with the audio.

 

Group Soundslides Project

Here is the link to my project: http://klandreville.com/hess_pajak/

This assignment, in short, was to gather pictures and audio and put them together in a slideshow. The main purpose of this assignment is my opinion was to show that we can effectively take pictures and gather audio that relate to each other, and that we have the skills to edit the audio and put it all together in a compelling way.

I had no problems working with a partner. I thought we were a good team because for the majority of the assignment he would come up with the ideas about what we were going to do, what kind of pictures we should take, and what kind of audio we should gather, and then I would go do it. Without Cody, the project would have been a lot harder because he organized things well and came up with good ideas. The one thing that I might struggle with for the individual project is coming up with an idea and what angle I’m going to take.

The SoundSlides experience was overall pretty good. I liked how it was easy to use and didn’t take much time at all to learn how to use it. It also allowed you to do a lot of things that I never would have imagined with just a demo, or any software for that matter. The product was very well built for its use. My only complaints are that the photos are so small and you can’t see the photo well unless it is on the specific time where that slide would be showing. That caused some problems because it was hard to order the photos because you couldn’t really see which photos were which. The other would be that the ordering process was odd. If you wanted to switch a picture in a certain place, the two photos (new and old) would not switch places, but once the new one was in place, everything would shift down one, which made for some confusing photo placement editing.

The biggest problem I had with this project was getting a volleyball player for an interview. It was lucky that a friend of mine knows the team, and eventually he got me together with the team, but it took a while, and was frustrating. But without him, I don’t know how I could have done this project, because talking to the players added so much to the story.

I honestly would not change anything. I was very pleased with how the project turned out. It I had to say something, I would have changed one of the players giving me longer quotes. Most of her answers were only five to ten seconds, and that was hard to work with at  times. Overall though, I really liked the project. I thought it was a lot of fun gathering the photos, thinking of questions for the audio, and interviewing people. And to be honest, for my individual project I want to do something very similar. Maybe with one of the basketball teams this time. I am really looking forward to starting the project, and it is not often I say that about school work.

3 Soundslides Ideas

The first story idea we had was to do a feature/news story on the Volleyball team. I realize it sounds weird to do both feature and news, but the idea I have for the story will talk about the team off of the court, and all the things they do together, and how they get team chemistry. From there I could transition to how the team chemistry is making the season a success so far, and the overall on court success the team has had. I think this story would be interesting because it would give people a look at the team off of the court, and how there is more to success than talent. The sources would be easy to get too. The players would be a good source because they could talk about the team chemistry. The coach would also be a good source because she could talk about the team chemistry from her perspective, which would be different, and then talk to fans, or people in the athletic department about the teams’ success on the court.

The second story idea I have would be feature a business like Brown and Gold. I would talk about how they prepare for a sporting event in town, and how they are involved in the university and the community. A behind the scenes look at how Brown and Gold operates.  I think this story would be interesting because I get the feeling that a lot goes into getting ready for the public, that it is not as easy as showing up with some shirts and selling them, and not many people would understand what goes on. Finding that out would be something I think most people would find interesting. The three sources I could talk to would be the owners of Brown and Gold, who could probably tell me a lot about how they get ready, and how much of everything they make. Also some employees who work there, because they could talk about the smaller things that have to get done, like printing the shirts, and that process.  Another source I could talk to would be someone at the athletics department about how Brown and Gold helps the University out by marketing their product.

The last story idea I have would be to do a story on Coe Library. I could talk about how students utilize the library and how it can help students, along with how many students use it. I could also talk about the librarians, and how they are able to help students, and what a typical day for them is. This would be an interesting story because so many people use the library but once again, few people realize what goes on to make sure students can be successful and productive. One source I could talk to would be students who use the library. They could talk about how they use the library, and what they like and don’t like about it. Another source would be the librarians because they could talk about all the work that is done by the staff, that students don’t realize, but could contribute to the students success. The last source I could talk to would be a professor who could talk about how he uses the libraries resources in class, and how his student’s use of library resources, and not just the databases, but everything the library offers, is important for the students’ success in the class.

Audio Interview Critique

First audio critique: Megan Tanaka

What I liked the most about this interview was the transitions, and how the story he was telling flowed. It sounded very natural, and the only time I could really tell there was any editing done was at the 22 second mark. But other than that, the story really sounded good. I also liked how I got the feeling that he was passionate about organic farming and helping people who are hungry. I think showing emotion in an audio interview could be tough, but I think you did it well here.

If there was one thing I think you could improve on, it would be to focus more on one subject. While the transition from the farm to helping people is pretty smooth, I feel like there was too much time spent on talking about the farm and the festival when I think the subject of the interview was meant to be more about the farming and helping people with organic farming. That is a fairly little thing though, and might just be a personal preference. Overall I thought the interview was very solid.

Second audio critique: Justin Trygg

 

What I liked about the interview was the quotes you gathered. He described Wyoming well, and told an interesting story about going to Los Angeles. You must have asked good questions, because he gave good answers.

There are a couple of things I think you need to work on however. First, I think you need to make the transitions smoother, because there were a couple of times when I thought it was obvious that it had been edited. Another thing that could be improved was how the story ended. I was not on the same webpage when I was listening to it, and when it stopped I thought it was buffering because it seemed like it was mid sentence. I would  use the envelope tool and fade it out at the least, if not find a different ending all together. Overall, I thought you did a good job with the actual interview, but maybe should spend some more time working with Audacity or whatever editing program you used.

My audio interview: Patrick Pajak

What I learned from my experiences would be to put in the time when it comes to the whole process. Cutting corners will show up with the quality of the work, but that is expected in most situations. I also learned to prepare before the interview. Having all of the recorder settings set, and having some questions written down goes a long way in making the interview easier. If I could go back in time, and give myself advice for this assignment, I would say not to rush.  I don’t think I did rush too much, but taking time with the interview, and especially in the editing process is huge if you want your story to come out well.

Edited Audio Interview

I really enjoyed the audio editing experience. I like seeing immediate results when working on things, and being able to see the track get larger and listen to what I had edited so far, was pretty fun. It was cool doing something that I really had not ever before. I had never really edited any sort of audio or video or anything, so learning the basics, if nothing else, was fun. What I learned from the audio editing experience was that a lot more goes into it than I thought. It is harder to make sure everything is set with the audio recorder during the interview, it is a lot more work to edit the audio as well. When I am just listening to an audio story, I had never really thought about the piece being edited, even though it probably was. And a lot of work goes into the listener not noticing that, which I never knew.

What I liked the most about this project was probably the editing of the audio. I find a sense of accomplishment comes on when I can see results happening right before my eyes (or ears) and I had fun because the audio track felt like a creation. What I didn’t like the most during the project was the interview itself. Not that interviewing people is bad, because I like that, and I liked having an audio recorder there, but keeping track of all the settings on the audio recorder was hard, and because I failed at that the first time, and had to take more time out of my day, I would say the second interview was my least favorite part. Along those lines, it surprised me how many variables there were with actually getting the audio. The microphone sensitivity, the distance from the person to the recorder, not having ambient noise, and even the surroundings in the room playing a part in how the audio sounded was really surprising, but I now have a greater appreciation for all the work that is done with audio interviews.

I know I have mentioned some before, but there are a couple of things I wish would have gone more smooth. First off, not having to do a second interview would have been nice, that definitively would have lowered my stress level. The other thing is I had a problem learning the audio editing software. It took me a while to figure out in order to copy or paste anything, the track could not be paused, it had to be stopped completely. That was pretty time consuming before I figured that out, but other than that, I can’t really complain about anything.