“Don’t Be Such A Show-Off”….Too Late!

I took a different approach to the interactive character assignment this week. Rather than assuming the role of Julia James, I decided it was time to show off some of the work I have created, with her in mind. This provided a perfect opportunity to work with Brianne Comden, as we collaborated to make a joint video that showcases some of our favorite noir character creations. The assignment, “Show Off” states:

So you’ve come to the end of the season of DS106 (yes the season, because DS106 is #4life) and you want to showcase your work! Go through all of the work you did for DS106 and showcase it as you see fit with audio and video.  Ideally this will combine your audio, visual, design, and video.  Show us what you’re most proud of and display it in an awesome way!

This assignment is worth 4 points.

Brianne’s character, Margaret Pinault, was established as Julia’s grandmother in our radio show, so the past week we collaborated on a Google History Map Assignment. She also created a pop quiz about our two characters. It was great to be able to include our own personal works and works that feature both characters for this assignment. It was also refreshing to look back at all of the work that I have done while developing Julia’s character, because her backstory has just grown so much since the beginning of the semester. Completing this video will showcase her growth, as well as her grandmother’s, which is the ultimate goal.

I created this assignment using iMovie. I imported pictures (some screenshots) and sound clips from our favorite assignments into a scrapbook theme. In my opinion, this theme gives it a feel of fondly looking back on the assignments, as one would look back at a scrapbook of memories. For the background music, I played a jazz song, representing “noir”. I hope you like it! :)

“Notorious” B.I.G. (Movie)

A major part of this week’s assignment was to create a video essay for a movie that was included on a list that the professors provided. Considering that I have always wanted to watch an Alfred Hitchcock film, I chose “Notorious”. Preceding the viewing, we were required to read Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” and watch three videos that include cinematic techniques. The three videos that I chose were “Examples of Editing Techniques”, “Camera Angles and Techniques”, and “Hitchcock Loves Bikinis”. I thought the latter would be useful because of my choice to watch Hitchcock’s film. However, it did not provide me with a lot of help for the video essay that I constructed. This assignment is a variation off of the Video Essay assignment in the Assignment Bank. It states:

For this assignment you need to select several scenes from your favorite film (or one of your favorites), and edit them together and comment on some of the filmic elements of the scenes? Why do you like these scenes? What strikes you about them? What makes them good cinema? Is there a subtext at work in this film? In short, construct an essayistic commentary on the scenes as a narrator explaining to your audience what you find important about the scene, and why. What’s more, what do the details you have pinpointed say about the film more generally.

However, for this variation, we were only required to select one scene. I chose my scene carefully, to make sure that I could apply a large portion of Ebert’s article to the visual quality of it. After viewing the entire film and making note of a few scenes that caught my eye, I made the final decision to analyze the scene of Alicia Huberman and Devlin conversing on the morning of her hangover, about a job that he wants her to do for the police, spying on Nazis. I chose this scene because its camera angles mimic a lot of the points that Ebert makes in his article about dominance. Plus, it has a very unique 180 degree turn of the camera that really intrigues me. The video proceeds with interesting camera angles and jump cuts (mentioned in the “Examples of Editing Techniques” video) from Alicia to Devlin.

I created this video essay in iMovie, after downloading “Notorious”, in its entirety, from YouTube (using 4K Video Downloader) and trimming out my chosen scene (using MPEG Streamclip). I input voice-overs for my commentary. It was rewarding to “read” the film, because I felt like a true film critic. Rather than just watching the film for fun, I took an educational approach and found crucial elements that make this scene work the way it is intended. Check out what I mean, below:

A Walk Down Memory Lane!

Although I graduated from high school just last year, it seems like a long time ago! My years at Stafford High School were pretty great, despite the many, many hours that I spent on homework and studying for AP and Honors classes. Four years of varsity basketball, combined with awesome friends, provided an outlet for the stress of schoolwork. Thank goodness! You may catch a small glimpse of what my high school years were like, if you watch the video that I created as part of my Assignment Bank choices this week. One of the video assignments, titled “High School Memories”, encourages the creation of a video to remember those years. The prompt states:

It’s time to relive your high school memories. Create a video that will take you back to your days of high school and those times that you may have forgotten. We all have them, so why not document them and share them with the world. Add videos, pictures, and audio that will relate to your story. Have fun reminiscing your high school days. Never forget those memories and times.

This assignment is worth 4.5 points.

My creative juices started to flow the moment I began browsing through the multitude of pictures on my old laptop, which I used during high school. (Who’s got time to transfer photos these days?!) I want to make a video that highlights my academic and athletic achievements and shows my biggest obstacle, but also includes my friends and social side. The process began with choosing my favorite photos of basketball games, homecoming court, proms, senior activities, my senior photos, graduation,  and special times with friends, as well as, a photo collage that included my Grandma, Granddad, and myself. You might ask, ” How does that collage fit into a high school memories theme?”  The answer…It represents the biggest challenge that I had to face during those years. You see, my Grandma, who I love very much and was extremely close to, passed away suddenly, after returning home from one of my senior year basketball games.  :( Needless to say, it was devastating, depressing, and the hardest thing that I have ever had to deal with in my life, much less during high school. She was a special lady, and I will always remember the love and support that she showered me with every day she was alive! This video will be a way to share her with the world!

In addition to photos, videos are also a required element. I came across three videos, which are great memories of high school that I want to share. One is of me running up the same steps as Sylvester Stallone did as “Rocky”, which I accomplished while traveling with my summer AAU basketball team. Another is of my best friend and teammate and myself dunking on a short basketball goal, after a summer’s day workout at a park. Additionally, the third is of a game-winning three-pointer that I netted (sort of a buzzer-beater, but not really, because the other team had one more short possession), which helped our team advance to the Regional Tournament.

The final required component of the compilation video is to add audio. This took a little time to decide upon. I wanted to include a song with lyrics that would go with my photos and videos, but also have a special meaning to me. I reached out to Google for help finding inspirational songs, but while searching it dawned on me that the song my principal sung at our graduation ceremony would be perfect. So… “I Lived”, by OneRepublic, is the background music.

As the material chosen is all on my old Hewlett Packard laptop, I figured that it would be easier to create the video on it as well. It was back to Windows Live Movie Maker, which is fitting since it was the program I used for high school video assignments! I began by titling my video under the Home tab, using the “Title” option. Then, I added the photos and videos, one-by-one, in random order, which took a considerable amount of time, as I failed to copy my favorites into a separate folder. (Note to self for next time!) This was done by using the “Add videos and photos” option under the Home tab. Then, I added the music using the “Add music” option under the Home tab and decided I would make the video as long as the song. There were a few photos that I wanted to add text to, which I accomplished by using the “Caption” option under the Home tab. Then, while under the Animations tab, I applied individual transitions for each photo and video, to add some visual appeal. The final and painstakingly long process was to move the photos and videos, by clicking on them and dragging them, to a place in the song that best fit the lyrics. I also had to adjust their duration time to coordinate as well. After I had the video just the way I wanted it, I published it as a movie and uploaded it to YouTube. I hope you enjoy my walk down memory lane as much as I did! What a great assignment! :)

 

 

You Follow the Map…It Knows the Way!

When searching for assignments together, Brianne Comden and I came across the “Google History Maps Story”, which we thought would be perfect for our characters, as they were connected in our radio show as grandmother and granddaughter. We also thought it would be great to collaboratively work on this assignment because it would allow our ideas to mesh like they did so well during brainstorming for the “MaNOIRpulators”, and also, we would get bonus points. Who doesn’t love bonus points?! The prompt states:

Use Google Maps to tell a story of historical or literary figure! The only rules are that you have to use Google Maps proper in order to tell the story- the map by itself should tell a story. You will need to create a map under “My Places” and edit the map o add your locations. The story portions should be added to the descriptions in each location, use text, links, even pictures. In your blog post, use the link tool to embed and or link to your map.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

We began by studying our own character dossiers so that we could find a way to link both of them in one story. Since Margaret Pinault, Brianne’s character, is deceased, we decided to make Julia James take a trip to visit her grandmother’s grave in France, while also doing some “business”. Julia ultimately uses the trip to visit the grave as a cover for her real reason to be there: she is working a job for a woman who wants her degrading husband out of her life…forever. Therefore, this Google Maps story follows Julia as she leaves Chicago for Denain, France, the birthplace of her grandmother and the place where she is buried. She leaves the grave for Margaret’s home in Paris, where she picks up “something” and then continues to her grandmother’s art gallery, Gaston Art Gallery. After meeting with a client there, she makes her way to the Sully Hotel, where she meets the woman’s husband and takes him to dinner. Following that, Julia makes an urgent trip to La Seine river to “drop him off”. She then returns to Gaston Art Gallery to gather money from her client and pick up a piece of art that her grandmother left her years ago. By bringing this piece back home to America, it creates an even better cover story for her trip. Julia makes her way to the Denain Airport to fly back home to Chicago, about $3,000 richer and with a piece of art. The details of this story are outlined in the interactive map below, so I do not want to give away too much before you take the trip with Julia yourself.

We utilized Google Maps to create this story, as per the directions, and added text and some images to each location and the lines connecting them. Each connector line is labeled with the place she leaves and the place to which she travels. For example, when she leaves Chicago for Denain, the line is labeled, “Chicago–Denain”. If you follow the map step-by-step, you will be treated to a very mysterious and compelling short story, or at least Brianne and I think so! This assignment allowed us to connect our characters and give them a richer backstory than they already had. By the way, I was very pleased with how I could embed an interactive map into this blog post. It is so cool that I can’t stop playing with it! I encourage you to do the same!

Can I Pinterest You in Our New Board?

When searching for assignments that would ideally combine my character with another, I found the prompt, “You’re a Pinteresting Character”, which states:

Build a Pinterest page of at least 20 pins for a character of your choice. Search for pins that relate to your character and things that he or she would want to pin for themselves. Use X-Ray Goggles from Hackasaurus to modify the board further to personalize it for your character. Bonus points if you build a page and have visitors to your blog guess which character you picked!

This assignment is worth 4 points.

Rather than building the page for only Julia James, I made it a joint page for Julia and her cousin, Edie Waz, as their relationship was established in our radio show, “The MaNOIRpulators”. The 20 pins were divided, with 10 relating to Julia and 10 relating to Edie. I studied my own character dossier and that of Aubrey Howland‘s, the creator of Edie, to find pins that apply to all aspects of the characters’ lives.

Pinterest board

I will begin with an explanation of Julia’s 10 pins, which highlight her favorite things, her classic look, and her interests.

1) Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka is the main ingredient in her favorite martini that she enjoys after a long, hard day at both of her jobs.

Vodka

 

2) Upon graduation from high school, she got accepted into Harvard but was unable to go, due to her parents’ divorce. Therefore, it is, and always will be, a dream of hers to attend law school there.

Harvard

3) Julia is a natural beauty, so she does not feel the need to lather on make-up. She always goes for the natural look, especially with her eye makeup.

Natural Eye Makeup

4) She often does not have time in her day to apply a lot of make-up, which is one of the reasons why a natural look works so well. A minimalist routine gets the job done!

Minimalist Makeup

5) Jewel’s all-time favorite book is, “The Black Dahlia,” so she had to pin this one up on her board, of course!

Black Dahlia

 

6)  Julia must work out consistently to maintain the tight body that helps attract her “targets”, but it is also something that she loves to do.

Ab Workout

 

7) In the midst of all of her sexy blouses and high heels, the one piece of clothing that Jewel is sure to wear daily is her signature black pencil skirt. Therefore, she wears it in a variety of ways to spice up her look.

Skirt wearing

 

8) Julia lives her life based upon the idea that women are strong and independent, and therefore, this quotes speaks to her soul and background.

Quote

 

9) As a big fan of enjoying a delicious alcoholic beverage at the end of the day, Julia is always looking for cocktails that satisfy that desire without hurting her healthy diet.

Cocktails

 

10) The final pin of Julia’s is her subtle weapon of choice, sharp scissors. She carries them on her person constantly for times that she may “need” them.

Hair scissors

Julia’s cousin, Edie, has some similar interests when it comes to drinking and her look. However, she also has some things that are all her own.

1) As the owner of her husband’s bar, in his mysterious absence, Edie must learn the lingo that is used by its customers.

Bar vocab

 

2) Edie is a Polish woman who grew up in the Polish section of Philadelphia and always longs to get back to her roots.

Poland

 

3) A major part of her classic look is a big hat and mesh veil that she wears with mystery.

Veil and hat

4) Edie smokes all of the time, typical of a woman in distress and a woman who grew up the way she did.

Marlboro

5) Another aspect of her fashion statement is tight, black clothing. She wears a different combination of tight garments, always in black, everywhere she goes.

Tight black clothes

 

6) As a girl standing just above average height, she often wears high heels to seem more imposing.

Black heels

7) Short girls often have a tough time finding fashion trends that fit their body type, so Edie is sure to pin them to her board.

Short girl fashion

 

8) Edie grew up in Port Richmond, Philadelphia, also known as Fishtown. It is the polish section of the city where she left after her mother died.

Fishtown

9) When Edie smokes, which she started after her mother’s death, she often chooses to smoke cigars.

Cigar

10) Edie’s final pin is a Polish proverb. She often speaks in these proverbs, as she has a rich knowledge of them.

Polish proverb

 

 

These pins represent almost everything that is Julia and Edie. These cousins have dark pasts and even darker futures. I found the pins by either searching Google and using the “Pinterest” button to add it to the board or by searching Pinterest directly. Completing this board was an ideal way to visually portray Aubrey’s and my character dossier, as well as strengthen the connection between Julia and Edie. This assignment was fun and allowed me to branch out into the social media world even more by creating a Pinterest account for Julia, in addition to her Twitter and Gmail.

Give Me Your Money! Seriously…Here’s an Invoice.

After viewing the video this week, I thought that the “Design an Invoice” assignment would be perfect for the work that Julia James does for women who are verbally abused by their degrading husbands. She has to get paid for her services, so an invoice is crucial. The prompt states:

Create an invoice for a transaction that has happened in a film, TV series, etc. For example, Boba fett’s invoice to Jabba the Hutt for capturing Han Solo. http://www.geek-tastic.com/page/tag/boba-fett

This assignment is worth 3 points.

To make this assignment a collaborative character one, I had to search for a female character who is single, but has had a husband in the past who died. I asked Twitter because it has been so helpful in the past, but unfortunately, I did not receive any responses.  Upon my search of character dossiers, I found Victoire Absinthe, who was fabricated by one of my creative peers on their website, FATALE. Victoire’s husband died in a “rainstorm of bullets”, and she was supposedly heart-broken. However, I twisted the story by making her heartbreak fake, as she really hired my character to kill her husband, due to his degrading words and because he treated her like property. Julia lives to bring justice to these men, because of the way her father treated her mother. She is more than willing to dispose of them, in order to help poorly treated women.

The items and tasks that Julia must invoice for vary by client, but for the most part they consist of surveillance, a meal of some sort, a disguise, travel, removal of the husband, and burial. Although it was a bit expensive for Julia to complete the job for Victoire, as laid out in the invoice below, she said that Julia is a lifesaver, and that she will be forever in her debt!

I created this particular invoice by using a Microsoft Word template. I changed the theme colors of the template to appear darker and more serious than the original. I also changed a few of the items in the charts because, for example, this kind of business cannot be federally taxed so there would be no Tax I.D. or additional tax payment. Therefore, I added categories such as “Payment Method” and “Deposit”. I also included a name for Julia’s business, which is Woman’s Best Friend. It has a double meaning, as her nickname, “Jewel”, relates to the common phrase, “Diamonds (or jewels) are a girl’s best friend”. Also, the job that she completes for these women really does make her their best friend because she rids them of a horrible man in their lives. My final touch to this invoice was to add a logo for her business. If dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, cats can surely be considered “woman’s best friend”. Plus, the addition of a noir cat is always relevant when it comes to dark and mysterious businesses like this one!

Invoice Photo

NO-NV Does the Trick!

As a contribution to my group’s radio show and the five points of character assignments this week, I decided to complete the “DS106 Radio Commercial”. However, instead of inventing a product for a movie or TV show character, I fabricated one for my own character, “Jewel”. The prompt states:

Create a commercial featuring an item that you have invented that would be extremely useful to your favorite movie or TV Show character. Try to be as creative and abstract as possible. Must include sound effects or background music and be at least 20 seconds in length.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

With the idea of inventing a perfume that encourages other women to trust the woman wearing it, I went to work developing one. “Jewel’s” good looks, as noted in her character dossier, can be very intimidating to other women. However, she must be able to get these women to trust her, in order to get them out of their damaging relationships. At the same time, she must maintain her irresistibility towards men. My invention, NO-NV (Get it?…No Envy) perfume, does the job!

At first, I had created a type of bronzer that maintains Jewel’s natural look. However, I read the prompt again and focused on the instruction to make the product “as creative and abstract as possible”, so I changed my mind. There is nothing close to my NO-NV on the market today. It revolutionizes the perfume world, as it emits a trusting aroma targeted at women and an attracting aroma targeted at men, concurrently.

I wrote the message for the commercial first. I have listened to many commercials on DS106 Radio and they all start with their target audience, either addressing “Ladies” or “Gentlemen”. By beginning my commercial with the former, I am able to grab the attention of those who will benefit from the product. I also pose two questions, as a way to invite listeners in and get them to answer. After a short description of what the product does for consumers, I offer a free trial if they call the phone number announced or order online. The components of my commercial are typical of any commercial over the radio waves today: an opening, a message, and contact information. Once I constructed the message, I wanted to find background music appropriate for advertising and that would portray a happy vibe. I literally typed “happy instrumental music” into YouTube and after looking through a few videos, I found Jeff Kashiwa’s “Remember When”. It is upbeat, happy, and even has a hint of noir feeling, with the saxophone dominating the jazz track. Then, I imported it into Audacity with my message recording and placed the message about five seconds into the background music. While the message is played, the Amplify effect allowed me to lower the volume of the music, so that my voice can be clearly heard. At the end of the message, I played the music for a few seconds longer and then faded it out. I am very proud of the outcome, as I believe the commercial sounds professional and the product is something that “Jewel” would find extremely useful. Go get your NO-NV perfume today!

“Jewel’s” Calling…G.W.D. (Gym, Work, Drink)

When considering the five points to be dedicated to my character this week, the “Character Bird Calls” assignment grabbed my attention because “Jewel” is attracted to specific things in life, given her nature and profession. By completing this assignment, I am able to add a bit of depth to her character, as well. The prompt states:

Like some people use special whistles to attract birds, your task is to create an 30 second or less audio file that might be used to “call” a particular character from a movie, tv, or real life. It cannot feature voices, but sounds only (try freesounds). Write a description why this sound would be attractive to the character, why it would be effective (be inventive, write a story about it). My first example was calling Dr Oliver because he would not respond to me otherwise

This assignment is worth 2 points.

I began the process by searching for sounds on the FreeSound website. As soon as I read the prompt, I knew exactly which sounds would attract “Jewel”. Three activities that this Femme Fatale treasures are working out, going to work (even though she does not like being a secretary), and drinking. As a woman who uses her beauty and body to manipulate men who degrade their wives, she works out consistently to maintain her well-known figure. She also loves to workout because it clears her mind so she can focus on her second job and plan ways to free women of their authoritarian husbands. Therefore, the first sound that would be attractive to “Jewel” is the sound of running on a treadmill. Nothing lets her devious mind go wild more than running! The second sound represents her dream job as a lawyer. She was accepted into Harvard, but was unable to attend due to her parents’ divorce. “Jewel” longs to be a lawyer, fighting for verbally abused women in the courtroom…legally. Since this dream is likely to never be realized due to lack of funds, it will always be something she longs for and something that catches her attention. The gavel sound would attract this aspiring lawyer any day of the week! The final sound that I chose to attract “Jewel” ties in her favorite drink, a Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini. At the end of a long day working two jobs, one of which can be quite stressful (as removing a man from a woman’s life can take quite a bit of work), there is nothing more that “Jewel” enjoys than having a martini. Whether it is from a bar or she makes one herself, the sound of the liquid filling the class will grab her attention immediately. This combination is the perfect bird call for a hard-working, aspiring lawyer who deserves a drink at the end of the day.

 

A Sultry Bumper for a Sultry Show

In the midst of the first radio show week, I tried to focus my audio assignments on prompts that would contribute to our show idea. Therefore, the first assignment I decided to complete was the “Create a DS106 Radio Bumper”. This would be round two for me with this assignment, as I created one during audio week. However, this time I concentrated on the concept of the Femme Fatale, using sultry music and seductive language. The specific prompt states:

Now that we have a #ds106 radio up and running creating a 15 to 30 second bumper for the station. What is a bumper? It is a short recording that identifies the radio station with signature music or an expression that makes sure the listeners know what they are tuned into (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumper_(broadcasting)). So for ds106 it should certainly include “DS106 Radio” and some sort of message about the station with voice over music.

This assignment is worth 2.5 points.

Considering that our radio show will be set in modern times, with neo-noir Femme Fatales, I searched for more recent sounding background music than classic noir. This search took the most amount of time because I could not seem to find exactly what I wanted, in order to portray sexy and dark at the same time. However, I finally found a mix of instrumental blues music that had the perfect beginning for my thirty-second bumper. The next step was fabricating a message to tie in the seductive nature of the Femme Fatale with an announcement of “DS106 Radio”. I channeled Sandy from “Grease”, as she delivered her famous line, “tell me about it…stud”, when voicing the message, “Hey there ladies and gents, you’re listening to DS106 radio”.  I tried my hand at a raspy and sexy voice. Don’t judge too harshly! :) Although this bumper specifically applies to our show about the “maNOIRpulators”, it also applies in general to the DS106 noir style, as Femme Fatales are a typical noir trope. I utilized Audacity to put the clips together, importing the music track and cutting the section after 30 seconds elapsed, and then recorded a voice-over for the message. I placed the message in the middle of the bumper at about the 15-second mark and used the Amplify effect to lower the music volume in the background as it played. My final touch was fading out the music at the end to avoid an abrupt ending. I did not think I could like a bumper more than my first , but this one might take the cake! :)

Can You Feel It!?

After experimenting with the FreeSound website during audio week, I could not wait to get back at it! I found so many cool sounds when completing the assignments that just did not fit with what I was doing. I took advantage of them this week, however, with the “Emotions Through Sound” assignment. The prompt states:

Try to convey a certain emotion, such as fear, stress, sadness, etc. by combing sound effects. They can be human sounds, such as crying with laughter in the background, to maybe express someone’s fears or being embarrassed, or you can get really artsy and try to convey an emotion by sound effects– like loud noises to show intensity, thunder to show fear, or quick, chirpy noises to show happiness. Edit at least 4 sounds together to show an emotion, upload it to soundcloud and then tag it with the appropriate tags.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

The most difficult portion of this assignment was deciding which emotion to convey. I thought about going with fear, but I felt like it was a bit too easy, given that we had heard so many examples of that one through ds106 radio and other mediums. I began with “excited”, but I was unable to find the sounds effects to convey this emotion in the way I desired. I finalized my choice with the decision to portray “sadness”. I began the process with a search for violin music on the FreeSound website, because most people tend to associate sadness with the sound of this instrument when played slowly. I found the perfect track and laid it down twice in Audacity for the purpose of overall length. My next task was finding three more sounds to edit in with this background music. The first thing that came to mind was the sound of crying. Crying is the sole action that conveys sadness in any form. The three variations that I chose were a woman, a dog (more like howling), and a baby crying. I imported them into Audacity and used the time shift tool to put them one after another in the midst of the violin music. Just listening to it once made me a little depressed. I hope it makes you depressed, too (that did not come off very nice, but I really want my emotion to be conveyed through these sounds :) )!