Category Archives: Alex Strack

Only Sleeping

Nestled on a tranquil, tree-covered hill in South Eugene, the Eugene Masonic Cemetery is a real “country cemetery left in the city” – one of the few left in Oregon – and its ‘residents’ still have stories of the past to share with visitors today.

Find out more at www.eugenemasoniccemetery.org, or stop by and explore at the corner of 25th and University in Eugene.

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POV

7/8

In the end, all good news reporting, and storytelling, really, comes down to
perspective.

Everything we’ve watched so far in this class has gone a step beyond the simple act of written, textual information and brought us (the viewers) into the story’s world – into a place where we, as active consumers, can interpret a story’s message based on visual cues. More often than not, these visual cues do a world of good at showing how a story plays out, rather than relying on words alone. And since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” imagine how many words must be packed into a multimedia clip…

Here are some of my favorite clips off of YouTube that I’ve found that show a distinct point of view, or intent. All were created to persuade audiences of a certain truth about the subjects in question – and each of these clips shows truth, but presented in such a way that some might disagree with the final conclusion. One is more serious and clearly persuasive, and the other is just a fun twist on an old favorite. BOTH videos make VERY GOOD POINTS about the subjects they focus on, and show views and perspectives that are absolutely true, but that (from our limited worldviews) we may never have considered.

(And yeah, the second one…Mary Poppins IS a pret-ty scary movie at times. Admit it.)

Either way, it’s all about the editing! Think about how the combination of images and sound in each equates to an overall meaning – you might be surprised.

Prop 8 & Civil Rights

Scary Mary

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Reaction to Intended Consequences

7/7

MediaStorm – Intended Consequences

I also watched the media package Intended Consequences, and really enjoyed all the little nuances of the production process, even if the topics themselves were horrifying. I thought it was most interesting how the music specifically punctuated the video throughout at specific times: the tolling of bells as faces went by, the punctuation of the eye movement at the sound, and the background sounds that made the voices all the more cavernous and hollow when the faces disappeared.

I also thought it was interesting that there were so few natural sounds.

Sometimes media packages like this (even if they’re talking about events from the past) come all the more alive when there are the sounds from the actual event setting the backdrop. Even though it was eerily silent throughout, the silence and the quiet music in the background gave the viewer all the more prerogative to imagine the sounds that must have occurred during the event. Perhaps the creator’s choice of relative silence throughout the peace was supposed to emphasize the calm after the storm – which is definitely what it did for me.

The most moving part out of the entire thing was the part where there was just text describing the woman’s request for a glass of water, and receiving blood instead. While it would have been powerful in spoken words, the shift to absolute silence (and contrast, as opposed to relative silence) made the words that were printed all the more terrifying.

It was just..nicely done. It’s tough to say anymore than that. But the mark of a good multimedia package is that the viewer gets lost in the storytelling and forgets to pay attention to the editing…and so even though I was supposed to be paying attention to the editing, I definitely forgot anyway.

What can you do.

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from the get-go

Backtracking a bit…but sometimes technology fails when you need it the most, so you do what you have to do.

~~~~~~~~~`

6/22

Multimedia storytelling is as simple – and as difficult – as the words that create the term: ‘multi’ and ‘media.’ Most of us know the ‘media’ half of this, hearing the evils of mass media and all the chaos and lies that it seems to perpetuate, all while being blamed and labeled ‘horribly biased’ by everyone and their mother, when of course in reality it is almost completely impossible to not have some sort of bias in every form of media….but I digress.

It’s the ‘multi’ bit of multimedia that throws most people off.

You see, blending together the photo, audio, and video (and sometimes Flash) that multimedia often requires is no easy task. It requires not only writing and scripting finesse, but an understanding of how to tell a good visual story. In a sense, it’s the most literal opportunity most journalists have to really ‘show’ instead of just ‘tell.’

Multimedia packages can tell stories without necessarily following a set sequence, jumping around in time and space while sticking to a central theme. Sometimes words come into play, and sometimes they don’t. It all depends on the message trying to be conveyed.

I really like this piece – fun visuals, one particular message, and something you don’t see every day.

The Best Peace Sign

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Josh Tyrangiel – Storytelling Across Platforms

Who says that Show and Tell ended? Most news writers probably don’t think so.

Of course, journalism-related educational institutions have a different take on the traditional elementary-school notion of showing and telling. Their conclusion? Show something instead of just telling it.

Josh Tyrangiel, Time.com’s chief editor, points out that while telling a story is good, showing the story can be even better, because the interpretation of how something happened is left to the viewer…because they can see it!

Audiences know that wars occur, that great elections and overthrows take place, that national disasters strike…. It is straightforward enough to get the facts. But add a photo of someone salvaging the remains of their home, or a new leader in front of a triumphant crowd, and the emotion is left in, while keeping the facts in the story at the same time.

While a story can be told, gleaning the experiences that interview subjects have, once again, weave the feeling back into the facts. Especially in cases of stories that are over-hyped or very rich in emotion, pausing to describe some of the feelings in the story can slow down the momentum and give new light to an old report.

Tyrangiel’s example relates to a story about a massage spa in Israel that uses snakes as their means of relaxation. Although many people would be interested reading about how it came about and how much it is, a good video of the subject itself is a surefire way to draw people in.

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Spoke-in’ — Biking, Schooling, Living the Dream

His tattooed wrist declares “Ride or Die,”  but don’t be fooled by a motor-obsessed world – Ian Summers’ wheels of choice are of the chain and gear variety.

For confirmation, look no further than the back of his legs — ink renderings of bike gears. And for a Californian who loves to ride his bike, and even make a sport out of it, Summers found just the right place.

Although he’s not entirely sure how he ended up in Eugene, Ore, Summers is completely sure that the School of Journalism and Communication’s Advertising program, with a close-knit, family-like atmosphere, was the route he wanted to take – and take it he has. In learning advertising tricks of the trade, Summers has learned to do a little of all: writing, art designing, and lots in between. It’s the perfect blend of creativity and media creation for him.

“Where else can I write and do cool stuff and get paid for it?” he says.

Besides majoring in Advertising, the skills he picked up in his Multimedia minor inspired Summers to do something he’s dreamed about since he was 15 – write, illustrate, and create his own zine.

It was those skills in Advertising that led Summers to make a zine about a sport he’s adopted as his own – the emerging and up-and-coming sport of bike polo. A cross between street hockey and a demolition bike derby, Summers is now fully responsible for Eugene Bike Polo. (“The other guy moved away,” he says.) And his zine has become the up-and-coming how-to guide for Eugene’s bike polo community that’s quicky shifting into high gear.

Although it originated in Portland, bike polo cruised down the Willamette Valley, Summers says, and “sat in Corvallis” until his friend Sean brought it to Eugene. “New York claims they started it, but New York thinks they started everything,” he says with a chuckle. All it takes is four cones, four mallets (made from ski poles), a street hockey ball, and enough enthusiastic people for a three on three team. Oh, and some bikes.

There’s not a lot to the game – the goal is to make goals, after all – but the game is better kept that way: flexible and malleable. “The whole thing is to keep it without rules,” he says, “because if you put a bunch of rules to it, it gets lame.”

Summers is rampantly enthused about anyone coming to join the Eugene Bike Polo entourage – it’s a sport that people from all walks of life can, and do, come and play. “There are bike nuts from across the board,” he says. “We have bike mechanics and mountain bike racers and the fixed gear kids… People come from all walks of cycling.”

The concept of putting polo while simultaneously riding a bike might seem intimidating to some, but Summers brushes that aside with a wave of his hand. “It’s really hard, but anyone can learn it,” he reassures. Anyone can get good at it really quickly, but it’s still tough to learn. “Sometimes I forget that it’s really hard… It’s hard to remember how hard it is.”

So once Summers graduates – and passes the Eugene bike polo torch on – he plans to scoot on up to Portland, where an ad agency and an edgy weekly magazine are catching his eye. And needless to say, when he’s not taking the reigns on a campaign, he will probably be found hollerin’ out commands with a bike polo mallet, his legs melding into his bike with a wide grin on his face.

 

Anyone interested in playing bike polo should either contact Ian for more details, or just show up to the Washington / Jefferson Park at 8:00 PM every Thursday with an open mind and  (believe it or not) a bike.

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“great success!”

To make a successful video, make a series of successful moving images. When it comes to film, every 15-30 seconds (in my humble opinion), a person should be able to pause the movie in question and be left with a photo they might like to hang on their wall. Rule of thirds, no poles jutting out the tops of people’s heads (unless it’s a slapstick comedy), attention to what’s in the particular “power spots” of the image, jumping back and forth between viewpoints (whether or not you can see what they’re seeing…), and so on. Showing scenery from further away, and bringing the camera in closer to where the characters are is often a good tactic…unless, as in this case, the characters in question wander away to their own devices.

All this applies to images, but video is slightly more challenging because 1) there are a ton of these sorts of images that all must be strung together coherently and 2) sound can go right along with them. Sounds, angles, and lighting can do a lot for a scene…

Sound cues the viewer as to how they should feel about the scene — wistful, happy, dreary, somewhat fearful. In the case of horror movies, no sound is usually coupled with EXPLOSIONS of sound to shock a viewer not only in screen content, but sound to go with it. (Scary movies ARE less scary with the sound off….it’s true.) Of course, indirect, juxtaposed audio and visual cues can be fun too. Wasn’t it Clockwork Orange that featured a rendition of Singin’ in the Rain, using a formerly happy song to meld humor while the couple is robbed… If I ever made a horror movie, there would definitely be some Ella Fitzgerald or Michael Buble in there somewhere! But I digress.

In the first video clip, the music’s futility couples with the setting sun, swells as Our Hero dreams of a destiny beyond a wasteland, and then fades as he comes back to reality. In the second, angles from above, a disembodied voice, and shadowy darkness with carefully planned tilting give a dreamlike quality to the second scene. Indeed, it is those angles, and that throaty, humming sound in the background, that give an otherwise odd video of a kid walking down stairs into something much more surreal. All of this, of course, is furthered only by the fact that a rather disturbing-looking rabbit appears on the golf course.

Careful attention to composition makes every shot a photo in itself…and if it’s timed correctly and placed appropriately, music and sound (or lack thereof) can enhance the overall mood of the piece.

Watch these two clips (you may have seen them before) and see what YOU think.

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