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Toolkit 1 down – 2 to go..yeay!

December 12, 2007

The one thing I can say about this class is that I always enjoyed it in retrospect. Simple – when I was doing the work in the field I cursed and cursed, but once the results were out I was really glad I did it. Another thing I really enjoyed (and was also frustrated by) was the unexpectedness of things. A rainy day when you want to take pictures, interviewees who don’t say too much, unexpectedly helpful people, all of it!

I had come in to this class expecting much lesser than I got. But I feel so much more confident about some things that I had no idea about before. I came into this class after a web design class and was riding high on the ‘I want to know more about this online stuff’ wave. I am so glad this class went beyond my expectations. Now I want to learn even more about the online medium. I really wish we had gotten to learn flash too. That would have been a pretty good learning experience.

I know for a fact that all the things I learned in this class will be more helpful in reality than any of the research papers I wrote!

I am really excited about learning to make soundslides. I feel like going out and making soundslides of every single thing! Overall, though I was a little apprehensive about the fieldwork involved due to some practical issues I faced I am very glad I stuck with it.

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Final Package Done – The Water Wars Story

December 12, 2007

My third sound slides and final story package both are something that I can be proud of. The first couple of attempts were just that – attempts. Trials. Errors. However, by the time I got round to this final one I knew what kind of pictures looked good, what kind of sound actually made an impact. That is not to say that I managed to get the perfect pictures and sound; just that now I know what to expect from myself. Here goes nothing: Click on the image to view my final story package Drought

The funniest thing about the very first sound slides attempt was that ‘my mom liked it’. It was this very same parent of mine who confessed a few days ago “The third one was much much better than the first”. Well, thank you mom!

Well here’s what I thought of the individual aspects of the final package.

Pictures:

They are beautiful but dangerous creatures! Rule of thumb – a nice vacation picture that adorns your walls at home is most unlikely to win an award. The getting down on your back rule applies. In my story package, there is a picture of a boat marooned on the dry shore of Lake Lanier. That part of the shore was a) Down a slope which could only be scrambled down literally on your back. Try doing that with an expensive camera and it adds a new dimension to mental trauma. But it was definitely worth it because that picture has a fence with a no trespassing sign, a marooned boat and a shoreline – all telling a story.

Sound:

First time around no natural sound, second time – very bad interview sound and third time around respectable sound. One of the biggest practical issues I had to grapple with for the sound was how many times you have to go to a certain place to get the perfect sound. It is kind of tough to achieve when you don’t have a car. But gathering and editing sound was probably the most underestimated part of this semester for me – in terms of how much work it would be. Overall, the sound for the final package was gathered from three different water bodies. All for 30 seconds!

Map:

As mentioned in the previous post, creating the map for the story package can be easy if only you do it a few times before the actual thing. It is easy; just takes practice. The decision to create a map instead of a data chart was simple. The best way to explain this three state dispute was to trace the river path along the states and map the major water consumers. There is also an excellent CNN interactive map on the issue.

Overall, the final story package felt like I knew what I needed to do to get good results. The only part I needed to work on was getting exactly what I wanted. I am sure that will improve with time a practice. I really wish we had another fou months of this so I could churn out some more ‘decent’ ones.

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The Google Maps Class – Lost and found!

December 12, 2007

When we started out learning how to create the google maps I thought it would be so very simple. I mean, I figured since google made everything else so easy this would be a cinch! I didn’t know what hit me when professor McAdams started talking about spreadsheets, latitudes and longitudes. Just when I was recovering I was hit by getting HTML code for that darned thing. I am not a dud when it comes to HTML. I’ve dabbled a fair bit in website design just like some of my other grad school colleagues. So, as the class went on I started thinking this wasn’t going to be so bad.

What I had essentially gathered was that I had to find the latitutes and longitudes for the places I wanted to show on the map, put them into google maps; google would then generate a code for me (for those map locations), which I would have to paste into my HTML in Dreamweaver. NOW it was starting to make sense.

But the biggest mistake I made was not creating the map when the lesson was fresh in my mind. The most important thing on my mind was the soundslides 3 assignment. When I did finally get around to creating the maps I was as blank as a fake gun! I knew I was supposed to know this but I didn’t. I drudged through the instructions and got it done.  Th funniest thing was that when I was done with it, I felt like I had just had a deja vu of the entire class. So, my ten cents of advice to anyone planning in creating a map is DO IT THE INSTANT YOU LEARN IT.

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Soundslides3

November 28, 2007

Whew! Finally done! Well here is my third soundslides. It was a good experience. Tougher than I thought, but after cutting out all the unnecessary bits (heart wrenching!) here is the final product soundslides3. I will elaborate on my experience soon.

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Soundslides two

November 7, 2007

I actually had a lot of fun doing this assignment. I covered the events at the India Cultural and Educational center on 13th street. I have been here for a year and a half and I hadn’t even steeped into the place till now. It was quite emotional for me being there, especially during October.

In India, October is the month for a lot of festivals and celebrations. When I went there I realized how they bring a piece of home right to another country. I also really liked the idea behind its creation. The Indian community in Gainesville was worried by a number of consecutive suicides by Indian students in the city more than a decade ago. It was this that made them come up with a way of integrating Indian and other students into the community here.

Going there helps a lot of shy and introverted students open up because there isn’t the unfamiliarity of a “foreign land”. The organizers themselves admit that after the first semester, when the students get acclimatized they don’t often return. But they are still satisfied with helping them get over the initial hiccups.

Also, the best part about this place is there is no restriction on who can organize events there. You don’t have to be an Indian. In fact, the latest event there is going to be a Lebanese soiree. Even for the Indian events, as you can see from the soundslides, there are a lot of students from different nationalities participating.

Personally , what I love best about their approach is the fact that there is no religion involved! Being an atheist and coming from a religious country, that was quite a relief. It was a refreshing experience to see people doing good just for humanity’s sake.

Oh! And here are the results from my soundslides2.

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Soundslides1 Critique..brrr!

October 25, 2007

I am critiquing Saman’s soundslides called Muslim Women Celebrate Ramadan in Gainesville.

1. Well, first off I do think there is a story there. It is obviously a story about a celebration. The narration explains what the event is and the visuals complement and add to what she is saying most of the time. For eg: The pictures of the food are delicious! They actually give you a feel of what it must be like to be ravenously hungry the whole day and eat only after sundown.

2. It is not necessarily the narration of the event that draws me in or even the sequence of events. What is interesting is the image of the subject herself. She is someone who is obviously wearing make up so I am sure she is relatively modern. However, her headscarf, and I mean no disrespect, at least in the conventional sense is not something we ordinarily see in this part of the world. That is what makes me “curious” to know more.

3. I am a little undecided about the conclusion. The audio seems to wind things up perfectly. However, I am not sure whether I would like to see the picture of the girl praying as the last image, or of her being in a reflective mood (This is the original last one). Hmm, actually I would like to see the praying image last. I think that would make a perfect ending with the prayer chant.

4. It did not necessarily seem like a campus life story. Though she says she is a minor, it would have been a big help to the project if Saman had named the soundslides Muslim Women Students or something similar with “students” in it. However, there are some pictures of her on campus and with other students. Somehow most of the story seems off campus. Overall 65% (not profile) about Ramadan , 35% campus story.

5. Just as someone viewing the soundslide, I would suggest taking out 2 of the red eye picture. Sadly, they are nice pictures, but maybe she was just unlucky. I can imagine how much it would hurt to take those out if they were “perfect” shots. But they are a little jarring.

Also, I would have LOVED to see a picture of the subject in a cafeteria on campus when she says “It is tough to see other people eating”. I see a picture of her with a good expression related to the audio, but she is nowhere near any food! I would have loved loved loved to see that shot.

6. I LOVED the prayer pictures, and the audio going with it. I think they were the best part of the soundslides because they really convey the feel of the event.

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Soundslides One- Done!

October 24, 2007

The basic inspiration behind my Soundslides 1 Story, was my own experience as the only Indian student in the Journalism Department at UF. When Rajul came in she was the only one in her department too! Only the second Indian in the entire college of Journalism. Knowing from personal experience I wanted to document the isolation Indian students feel, from their own community, who are mostly in the Computer Sciences. There is no one to fall back upon. I know for a fact that she was extremely unhappy initially. However, he husband’s support helped her get through the depression.

Ironically, it was her husband’s hesitation which put a spoke in my Project. Initially, she agreed to it. Later, when her husband got back from his conference in Canada, he was a little apprehensive about me coming into their home and taking pictures, or of taking pictures of them together. Oh well! All’s well..and here is the product. Enjoy!

http://plaza.ufl.edu/rati123/SoundSlides1/