This is the end

Image result for jim morrison“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend
The end”   — The Doors


My final project took a dark turn. C’est la vie. I have to go where the muse takes me. It can’t all be silly videos. I chose to tell the story of letting go, how a father comes to grips with his child embarking on new and dangerous ventures, told through multimedia and wrapped up with wistful text. I hope I hit the mark. Sometimes I get too ‘artsy’ (ahem, first post).

I have to admit, I did procrastinate a little starting it. Then again, I did have some other things occupying my time …

When I finally buckled down, I started by making the safety video. It took some time, incorporating photographs, video from camera, cell phone and dash cam, titles and text, music, and sound effects — then adding movement, transitions, and other video and audio effects.

The next part to tackle was the infographic. It was fairly simple, and I wasn’t entirely pleased with the overall look, but having put several hours into it, I felt I reached a solution and added it to the project.

I wanted to include a scrolling gif of Danielle through the years, something to convey the idea to viewers that this is my baby growing up. I selected some images I thought would show her growth and uploaded them to a gif animation website. For some reason in WordPress you have to click on gifs to animate them, so I hope those reviewing my project take the time to do so.

The final touch in expressing this ‘story’ is hearing from Danielle herself. I took her out on the porch where I knew the sounds of traffic would make a great audio foundation for our interview. Importing this to Audacity, I added a music bed which had to be copied and pasted several times to cover the whole thing. I cut myself out of the interview and used the Auto Duck tool to lower the music when she spoke.

Auto Duck fades then raises the selected audio

Her interview reminded me of things I’ve heard on NPR, so I’m fairly sure I hit close to the mark I aimed for. But then I faced the quandary of how to present these seemingly disparate media into a cohesive story, remembering it wasn’t about learning to drive but on a father letting go. What you see is not the first layout. For example, the first draft included the video only as a link from the infographic, but I was afraid everyone would miss the video. It took a few tries until I had it where I wanted.

Of course, this last week also saw me working on Daily Create 1, Daily Create 2, and Daily Create 3.

And with this final project, it’s only fitting I add some parting shots. I’d like to thank Professor Polack for her guidance and instruction and my classmates for their critique. As an aspiring writer, my grasp of ‘new’ media is much more firm than before the semester began. Techniques I picked up here will help my storytelling remain relevant in a rapidly evolving age.

All the best,


Driving Safety

We make things a little more serious with this post on driving safety.

My oldest daughter is 16. With her learner’s permit acquired in September, we’ve practiced driving since. I forgot how strange learning to drive was. It’s all coming back.

Nothing teaches you to do something like teaching it to others, and I’ve spent a great deal of time and sleepless nights thinking about driving and safety.

I can’t help it. One third of what’s most precious to me is taking up something that kills nearly 40,000 Americans each year.

Moments after she entered the world, as I, proud papa, beamed over her hospital basinet, she gripped my pinky, squeezing it tightly and not letting go. But we know who was wrapped around whose finger.

Click image to animate

Moments of my fatherly failures come back to me now and again. When she was a toddler, she wanted to jump off a cement block. I helped her climb up but walked away in frustration, leaving her teetering there, when she chickened out (Grandma rescued her). And later, when she wanted to learn to ride a bike, I almost threw it in a ditch because she wouldn’t listen to my instructions. I’m not proud. I’m human.

How human have I been teaching her to drive?

Anyone lecturing me on letting go who hasn’t actually gone through it can get punched in the face. Yeah, yeah, yeah, all you can do is teach them to make good decisions. You can’t always be there to guide them. Save your platitudes. Try it first. This isn’t the sideline of some soccer field. There is no you’ll get ’em next time.

And so I speak calmly, soothingly, when the passenger side tires loudly object to running off the road’s edge. “Keep it in your lane,” I coo, “You’re doing great.” I watch other drivers fool around on their phones and drift across center lines. I hear them roar past our house far above the posted speed limit. And the sirens. The volunteer fire department is just up the road. Their wailing trucks scream by several times a day. I know where they’re going. Someone did something stupid behind the wheel. Someone else was minding her own business.

Powerlessness. Impotence.

The other day she informed me enough time has passed. She can take the test and get her license any day now. Shortly after that I’ll stand in the driveway watching tail lights and a blinking turn signal, silently and desperately clinging to thin hope.

War Slug

Just saying the phrase spirit animal conjures the narrator’s exploits in Fight Club.

Image result for fight club spirit animal

Today’s Daily Create called for creating your dream animal, forcing one to ask ‘what qualities represent me?’

Well, laziness, for sure, combined with hatred of the outside world. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, War Slug.

Most of these images were fairly easy to manipulate, a simple matter of highlight, copy, paste, and free transform in Photoshop. I added and manipulated a flame thrower, flame, helmet, and pistol belt.

Some more creative work was required to bring the slug’s eye stalk above the helmet, which I did by using the lasso tool to highlight the stalk, copy it, then paste it as a new layer above the helmet.

Even tougher was wrapping the pistol belt around the shell. I copied a portion of the belt, then used several transform tools, including free, skew, distort and warp to extend the belt and make it curve around the slug’s body.

Maybe not my best work, but fun.

Video Extravaganza!

What a fun assignment week!

We were tasked with reaching 12 stars worth of assignments. Mine are 4, 4 and 5 stars and I really enjoyed producing them.

The first video I made from the Assignment BankPsycho Cheese, came about from a brainstorming session with my youngest daughter, Cordelia. We needed help from my other daughter, Danielle,Image result for hitchcock funny gif and together the three of us played a joke on Hitchcock.

We shot the video in 4 or 5 takes. I imported it to my laptop and used VideoPad to lay it out and add a title and credits.

The second Assignment Bank video idea, How Tea’s Made, came from Danielle, who helped me by acting as well. She drinks a lot of tea. Like, seriously, we have enough tea to clog the Boston harbor. Anyway, I love the show How It’s Made, so this was also a no-brainer.Image result for too much tea funny gif

Dan and I ventured into the kitchen, where she took my directions and, I might add, made a great cup of tea. I also used VideoPad to edit, this time with many more clips and adding theme music from How It’s Made.

But the most fun was the Assignment Bank old-time instructional film. We all participated in producing Your Teenagers and You. The girls enjoyed the brainstorming session because they got to point out all my flaws and failures as a dad to help decide what to shoot.Image result for bad father funny gif

We shot in black and white, importing 26 takes to filter down to the 1:11 video. Elvis lent us the music, and the ‘old flim’ effect added the finishing touch in making it look like something I watched in school so long ago.

I went in to do some peer comments, but as of 7 p.m. Sunday night, found little to no videos produced since Wednesday. Makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong…

Best Dad Ever

Since today is Father’s Day, it is only fitting that we present to you this old-timey educational video from the Assignment Bank (5 stars).

This video was a lot of fun to make, and the whole family chipped in. After some brainstorming, I had the idea and wrote the script in MS Word. We all got dressed and Image result for incompetent with technology funnystarted filming, shooting 26 takes to get it all. Brenda suggested we shoot in black and white and helped me find the setting on my camera. 

Image result for internet expensive funnyAfter shooting and recording narration, I went looking for supporting music, but found nothing online that was suitable and didn’t require that I enter a credit card number to download. Elvis was already on my hard drive, so I went with him.

I started by laying the music track down. Going through our 26 takes, I set in and out points at the portions I wanted to use, laying them into the timeline and then un-linking and deleting the audio. Once I had a rough cut, I went back through and did some fine-tune editing, trimming or extending shots as needed.

Now that the video and audio stood where I wanted them, I went in to add audio and video fades and transitions. Strangely, one of the free video effects that is included in VideoPad is ‘old film,’ which was definately the look I wanted for the movie. I used the shift key to select all the video clips and applied the effect, then exported the completed video.

How Tea’s Made

Via the Assignment Bank, this video shows how to make a cup of tea in today’s kitchen (4 stars).

How’d we do it?

After some planning, my personal barista and I went into the kitchen and began filming. Uploading and downloading 8 clips took considerably longer than the previous video. While that dragged on, I found the themeImage result for sucked in by tv music to How It’s Made, with which I’m very familiar because the dang show sucks me in every time.

Loading these into VideoPad, I started with the background music. I set in and out points on each video clip I wanted to use and lay them into the timeline, unlinking the audio from each clip and deleting it.

Once I had things roughly where I wanted, I watched the assembled video, pausing to write the narration. I recorded it with a handheld audio recorder and imported it to VideoPad. I laid each portion of narration on a second audio track in its appropriate place.

Image result for funny money memeOnce that was complete, I did some fine-tune video and audio trimming. As it turns out, if you want to do good audio work you have to buy the $100 VideoPad upgrade.

But I did find a way to lower the background music so it didn’t drown out the narration. Finally, I put in rough dissolve video transitions where they were needed to show time lapse and exported the video.

Psycho Cheese

Courtesy of the DS106 Assignment Bank, here is the 5-second film (4 stars), Psycho Cheese.

How’d they do it?

After brainstorming some ideas, Cordelia and I settled on parodying the shower scene from Psycho.

As I prepared the cheese tray and Cordy did her makeup, Danielle came home, which was great because I soon realized I needed three hands to hold the knife, hold the camera and tear aside the shower curtain. We enlisted Danielle as the knife-wielding psycho and shot it in four or five takes.

Image result for got that goin for meWe used a real knife, by the way, and they did their own stunts.

Importing the video into VideoPad, I trimmed off the excess beginning and end, parring the thing down to exactly 5 seconds.

I downloaded and imported Bernard Herrman’s “Psycho Theme” from the onlines (or the ‘interwebs’ to be technical), laying the music down on a second audio track. I unlinked the main audio from its video, split it right before Cordy speaks, and cut away the unnecessary beginning sound.

Deciding it needed a title, I used a preset ‘wave’ effect and a text overlay to make the opening credits. I created scrolling end-credits also using a preset from VideoPad.


After watching it a time or two, I extended the music to begin with the opening credits to help set the mood. Of course, that screwed everything up already in the timeline, so I made a few adjustments, added a fade or two, and exported.




Weekly Roundup!

I started this week with (of course) a Daily Create.

Yes, perhaps it didn’t follow the assignment exactly, but once I saw the Thunderbirds (never heard of ’em) I couldn’t stop thinking about Team America. Image result for cheap funny gifI even tried to pull it up on demand, but they wanted like $2 to watch it. Funny, but not two dollars funny.

Next up was Schadenfreude. The word didn’t really fit because I didn’t get to enjoy the pain of others, but I did revel in knowing I was right after all. In the post, I discussed Roger Ebert’s article, “How to Read a Movie,” where he discusses elements on screen and how they’re used to influence an audience’s mood or contribute to the plot.

Image result for harry potter spell gif

Reviewing a few short films about techniques used in longer films, like Tarantino’s use of low-to-high angles to empower characters, reminded me of the subtle power of video storytelling. Image result for hitchcock funny gifSome of the other things that jumped out included Kubrick’s use of slow zooms for various effects, the ‘zolly’ technique shown in an example from Goodfellas, and a short film featuring Alfred Hitchcock that I’m convinced he did specifically to poke fun at his accusers.


Tuesday saw me venturing outside (rarely done) and writing a haiku for the Daily CreateImage result for school funny gifI do kind of fancy myself a writer, so I enjoyed this project, done in a combination of old skills and ones I’ve learned in this class.

Tuesday I also tackled the Weekly Question, but went back in Wednesday to add the news article I found:

Of course, I made comments on my peers’ work as well:

There once was a man from Nantucket

This week’s question had us re-writing a nursery rhyme.

I went through a dozen, most too short to do anything with, and kept coming back to Peter Piper for obvious reasons.

Image result for peter piper funny

But, rejecting Peter, I chose Rock A By Baby, which always perplexed me, even as a very young boy. What is that baby doing in a treetop, anyway?

How’d I make this?

Finding the image was easy. I wanted an old-timey illustration. I copied my new rhyme and pasted in over the image, then adjusted the font, its size, color and spacing. I added an outer glow to make it stand out from the background and an inner bevel to make it pop.

Recently, though, I found this related news story:



Today’s Daily Create had me outside enjoying nature.  It says poetry is an option. Between that and the photo subject I chose, I couldn’t stop thinking of a sketch by The Kids In The Hall.

Click me to animate!

How’d I make this?

After taking a dozen photos or so, I chose this one for the framing and the way the leaves lead you to the empty space.

Importing it into photoshop, I added the text of the haiku I wrote, then adjusted the font and added an outer glow to it.

To make it a gif with motion, I ‘saved as’ a different version with each line of text added, then uploaded these to Giphy. Of course, I had to do this three times because the file size was too large, but after paring it down I had it.