Author Archives: Seventh Blog of a Seventh Blog

I’m Done With This Class Once I Submit This: Week 5

Man, this week sure went by fast. I wonder why that is. Is it because I was having so much fun? Is it because I learned so much interesting stuff? Or is it because we only had four weeks instead of the usual seven? Yeah, it’s probably that last one. Hey, at least it was mostly one big assignment instead of a bunch of pesky little annoying ones.

What I Learned Undercover as a UMW Student

Ah, a tale of great espionage. Here, our bold protagonist commands wild animals, explores the country, and even crosses paths with the law. Truly a story for the generations.

How I Did the Final Project

That’s how I did everything! I utilized all the different techniques I learned this semester, shoehorning all the different forms of media into this project. It did indeed feel like a final project.

Create a T-Shirt

Hey, there’s the second of the two assignments I created! I even included a reference that surely no one will get, for good measure. Just think, in the later semesters other students will look at this very assignment and say “meh, I guess I’ll do this one”. It even has a type-o, to match the grammar error in my other assignment. Now future generations will know exactly how much thought and care I put into this class.

Things are certainly a lot different when you don’t have the weekend to work on your stuff. I guess that helps teach me time management skills, or something like that. I also got to learn how to use Audacity more thoroughly, since I kind of avoided it the first time around. Other than that, this week was mostly just reviewing the stuff I already learned. I guess that’s kind of the point, being the final week and all. For the class in general, I think I got a lot out of it. I got that pesky art credit I need to graduate, and I learned a bunch of stuff that I almost certainly will forget by the end of the summer. What more could you ask for?

How I Did the Final Project


For the video, first I found a UMW video online. After cutting out the parts I didn’t want and muting all the audio, I used the handy “Record narration” button to add my voice.

video editing


In both audio segments, I incorporated sound effects I found on Freesound. For the first segment, I used an eagle cry and the sound of a crowd screaming. In the second segment, I used a police siren sound and the sound of a car door. Once I had the sound effects I needed, I used the record button in Audacity to add my voice. I also had to cut and paste some of the sounds to make sure everything was in the right order.

eagle editing screenshot

arrested editing screenshot


For both visual components, I used Paint. For the map, I took a screenshot from Google Maps and added the circle and text in Paint. For the Iowa picture, I found an image of the state and added the text in Paint.

hiding paint

iowa paint


I made all of the beer pictures using the same PowerPoint file. First, added a rectangle to take up the entire slide, and made it red. Then, I added a blue, 24-point star. Finally, I added two Word Arts to the slide. For each individual image, all I needed to change was the image in the center and the text of the Word Arts. I found the picture of the beer bottles and the Heavy Seas and Starr Hill logos online. Using GIMP, selected the background color then clicked on “Color to Alpha” under the Colors tab to make the background of each image transparent.



What I Learned Undercover as a UMW Student

I have been tasked with a super secret mission: to investigate the life of the average college student. I was assigned to the University of Mary Washington by, like, the FBI or something. The basis for my cover is some some random online class I signed up for. Since the class is five weeks long, that’s how long I have to finish my mission. Again, this is an important mission from the CIA (that’s what I said earlier, right?). This is NOT something I just decided to do because I’m bored.

Week 1

The first thing to do is to get familiar with my surroundings. I need to explore the campus and memorize where all the important stuff is. This will also give me insight into the activities of the average college student.

Well, I think I have all the basics down now. Next week, I can focus on the more detailed stuff, whatever that is.

Week 2

Remember that online class I signed up for? Well, apparently there was a bunch of homework that I was supposed to be doing. Who knew? I ended up with a zero for the first week, but I’m sure there will be a curve or something.

Well, enough dwelling on my grades, now I need to figure out what the deal is with the mascot. They say the school’s mascot is the eagle, but I don’t see any eagles anywhere. The way I see it, there should be eagles all over the place. Luckily, I found an eagle for the campus. I can’t wait to show everyone!

Well that didn’t go as expected. You know, for some reason everyone seems really mad at me. Well, I’d better hide out in the woods for a while. At least until the heat dies down.

Where I'm Hiding

Week 3

Since I spent most of last week foraging in the mighty wilderness, I didn’t get any homework done. I ended up with another zero for the week. Now I’m actually starting to worry about my grade. Maybe I should start taking my schoolwork seriously. Or, I could figure out what all this college drinking is all about. That sounds more fun, so I think I’ll do that.

Beer Gotta Drink 'em All

I wasn’t actually sure how much success I would have walking up to random people and saying “I want beer”. As it turns out, if you do it long enough, you’ll get invited to a party! They have lots of different types of beer at this party, I wonder which one I should try first?

It's Heavy Seas

Wow! College students sure do like the fancy stuff, don’t they? So, how much should I drink. Like, ten or so? That’s a normal amount, right?

Too Drunk To Care

Update: I woke up in a dumpster. Yep. I’m in… uh… Idaho? Illinois? Indiana? Geography’s not really my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of those “I” states.


I guess that’s what happens after a crazy night of drinking. Better start hitchhiking my way back to Virginia. See you next week!

Week 8

… or not. So, where I have been for the last 5 weeks? In jail. Remember that eagle I found earlier? Well, apparently it’s an endangered species.

It gets even worse. Not only did I fail that class I was taking, but I got expelled. I guess the whole not doing any classwork/getting arrested/spending a week living in the woods thing doesn’t sit too well with UMW. Overall though, I think my mission was a success. I hid from an angry mob, hitchhiked across state lines, and violated the Endangered Species Act. If that’s not the full college experience, then I don’t know what is.

An Excuse to Rewatch Firefly: Week 4

Oh Firefly, what more can be said about this show? Should we continue to berate Fox for daring to cancel this masterpiece? However many times its been done before, it’s never enough.

The Complete Package: Firefly

Look, there’s the assignment with all the Firefly! So, Weekly Summary over, right? We already have all the Joss Whedon goodness, so what else could we need? It’s not enough? I need all the other stuff? Seriously? Okay fine, here’s all the crap nobody cares about.

Reading Movies

Here’s the part where we learned how to read a movie. We got to learn about all the different camera angles and whatnot. Long gone are the days when I can just sit back and enjoy a movie. Now I’ll just be fixated on how all these camera angles are supposed to make me feel. Thanks, DS106!

Look. Listen. Analyze. Prison Breaking

Wow. It turns out 1994 was a pretty good year for movies. Here’s another movie I’ll never be able to take at face value again, The Shawshank Redemption. Might as well throw my blu ray copy out the window, this one’s all analyzed up.

That Bleeping Censor: Pulp Fiction

You know, I thought that adding the car noise would make things funny, but it just made them sad. I guess you just can’t improve a classic. Especially when said classic has 265 F-bombs.

Hobo Speech

Look what I did! I gave people an excuse the ramble on in a semi-coherent manner. Yep, I made one of those mandatory assignment thingies.

Hobo Speech Tutorial

I even made a tutorial to go with it. Sure, it’s basically just rambling into a microphone and adding background noises, but now people will know how.

Where the first comment is

Where the second one is

This is the part that I’m not so good at: interacting with other human beings. I typically avoid that activity at all costs, but it seems mandatory here. I tried to give constructive criticism, since that’s what it seemed like I was supposed to do.

So, what did I learn this week? I got to learn all kinds of stuff about different filming techniques. All that rule of thirds stuff is kind of cool. I will definitely look for it in future movies I watch. I also got to brush up on my editing techniques. The trailer took me a lot longer than I expected. I forgot how long that type of stuff took. I actually liked this week beeter than the other ones. Light on the busy work, heavy on the actual learning.

Look. Listen. Analyze. Prison Breaking

For this assignment, I chose the prison breaking scene from The Shawshank Redemption.

When viewing the scene without sound, first we see Andy looking defeated. He is cast in shadow, to emphasize this. Then, we see the poster. The shot zooms in on this, and Andy gets up, out of the shadow. This foreshadows the upcoming event. This change from dark to light is a common theme throughout this scene. When breaking his way into the sewer pipe, the camera is behind him while waiting for the lightning to strike. He looks at the window, which we see light up. Then, the camera moves to show his front as he strikes the pipe, his face illuminated by the lightning. Later, we have one of the most iconic moments in film history. At the movie’s climax, we see Andy finally escape Shawshank. Before the camera zooms out, it lingers on Andy, at a slightly elevated angle. This contrasts with the defeated look we saw at the beginning of the scene, bringing it in full circle.

When listening only to the sound, the tonal shift was more noticeable. The music starts of soft, then grows more tense. Red’s narration offers as a natural buffer for the music to grow more upbeat. Then, near the end of the scene, the music goes from dark to light as it evolves into a triumphant symphony.

Watching the clip in its entirety helps piece together the more subtle changes in tone. The lightning plays a large role in this. While Andy is climbing down to the pipe, we hear small, but noticeable, changes in the music. Here, the lightning represents the light that Andy is working towards. Probably the biggest change is the climactic point at the end of the scene. We hear the music become triumphant and upbeat as the camera begins to move away from Andy. The camera moves upward as Andy has finally left his problems behind, a message that is difficult to decipher without both picture and sound.

Reading Movies

Ebert’s post offers some good insight into reading movies. He often noted that breaking some of the “rules” of film making can, at times, prove fruitful. It is more important to know what effect these rules have on the audience rather than to simply follow them. A lot of the traditional film making techniques are designed to feel seamless, so the audience may feel uncomfortable when the conventions are broken. Sometimes, however, that’s what you want.

Stanley Kubrick makes good use of this concept. It’s rare for other types of movies to, for example, focus the character in the center of the shot or zoom during a shot, but it works well in his movies. He wants the audience to feel unsettled, so he breaks a few rules. It isn’t so obvious that the audience views these decisions as bad or sloppy, but rather works on a non-conscious level. Thus, simply throwing in a bunch of bad filming techniques wouldn’t produce the same effect. The key is to be subtle.

Sometimes using an unusual camera angle can also trigger psychological effects. Quentin Tarantino often makes use of shots angled upward. This shot has the effect of making a character look powerful or intimidating. This is an example where the camera angle can produce an effect that others would not. It is important not to use a specific angle because it looks cool, but because it produces the emotions the film makers desire.

Hobo Speech Tutorial

The first thing to do is to record the speech itself. If you have a microphone, the easiest way is to record directly into Audacity. You could also use another program to record the speech, or record it on your phone and move it onto your computer. Either way , if the speech is saved separately, you can click “File” then “Open” and find the file you want to use.

file select

Next you’ll need to import the background noise you want to use. I found some city noises on Freesound. Click “File”, then highlight “Import” and click “Audio” and find the sound file you want to use.


If the sound is too short, you can highlight it, then copy and paste it to the end of itself, effectively doubling its length. If the sound is too long, you can highlight the excess portion and press the “Delete” key. You will most likely need to use a combination of the two.

Once the background noise is at an appropriate length, listen to the project and make sure everything sounds okay. If the speech is too quiet or the background noise too loud, you can use the volume controls on the left side of the screen to adjust accordingly. After you’re satisfied with the way it sounds, go ahead and export it as an MP3 file. To do this, click “File” then “Export”.


Now all that’s left is to upload the MP3 file to SoundCloud and write your blog post. Don’t forget to include all the right stuff in your post.

The Complete Package: Firefly

For this assignment, we were to make a trailer for a TV show that’s run its course. I chose the tragically short lived sci fi/western Firefly. Apparently you can watch the entire series on YouTube, plus it’s on Netflix. For anyone who hasn’t watched it yet, you’ve got some binge watching to do.

What’s the deal with this trailer then? Well, it’s a product of the evil wizard Nameijustmadeup. You see, Nameijustmadeup mind controlled all of the executives at Fox into cancelling the show early. However, Firefly is so awesome even someone as vile as Nameijustmadeup couldn’t help but be moved by. Thus, he made this trailer, hoping that at least more people would watch the current episodes.

First, I found the music I wanted to use. Then I took clips from the first episode and edited them into the order I wanted.

movie maker firefly screenshot

It was actually a fairly involved process. I spent a lot of time cutting out the right clips and playing with the volume settings. It definitely took a lot longer than I though it would.

That Bleeping Censor: Pulp Fiction

For this assignment, we were tasked with taking a movie clip and ruining it via censorship. So I thought to myself, “what good movies have lots of swearing?” Well, anything Quentin Tarantino would work, so I went with Pulp Fiction.

Why exactly would someone want to censor Pulp Fiction? After all, who would do such a thing to such a brilliant cinematic classic? It must be the work of some advanced alien race. They are trying to demoralize us before they take us over. It’s the only possible explanation.

The assignment page included a helpful video that details the process of censoring a video. In lieu of a tradition bleep, I decided to go with an old-timey car horn. The only tricky part was pinpointing the exact segments of the video that contain the swear words. That took a little bit of trial and error. If you feel the need to watch the video with every nasty syllable in tact, here’s the original:

Lots of Sounds and Participation Points: Week 3

This week was all about the sound. We had to listen to a bunch of stuff and then talk about that stuff. Yipee! Of course, we still had the Daily Creates and stuff.


A Death Poem

We also had some of those user submitted assignments. This we only had to do two! So, naturally, I cherry picked the easiest looking ones I could find.

Favorite Song: Face Melting Goodness

Here’s the first of those easy assignments. Here, I posted one of my favorite guitar solos. In case you couldn’t guess it, it’s Rainbow’s Stargazer.

Heavy Metal In Space

And then there’s the world’s most ridiculous poem. In a weird way, I’m actually kind of proud of it. Its so weird and cheesy, you can’t help but appreciate it. I actually spent a decent amount of time coming up with all the rhymes, too.

Next, I got to listen to these two radio guys I’ve never heard of. Then I got to post in my blog about the stuff I learned from their videos. Boy, aren’t I the luckiest?

Reflection of the Radio Stuff

You know, this week doesn’t seem to bad. No “blitz” assignment, only two audio assignments, pretty easy so far. Almost seems too good to be true.

Talking About the Story I Listened To: Getting Away With It

Ah, there it is. An entire hour of radio. Heck, most assignments don’t even take me an hour. I certainly didn’t spend that long writing about it!

Warning Poster Tutorial

Look, I even did one of those tutorial thingies. It has screenshots and everything. Since a certain someone felt the need to single out my warning poster in one of her videos, I decided to go with that one.

Oh, and I also commented on other people’s blogs. It had nothing to with those pesky participation points either. I did it because I wanted to. Sort of.

Where my first comment is

Where the other one is

Huh, some people actually put a lot of work into their assignments. Here I am, trying to get away with as little work as possible and there they are actually trying to get something out of the class. It’s kind of sad, really. Oh well, it’s their choice.

So, what did I learn this week? I learned that sounds and music can be used to separate ideas in radio. I never noticed that before, but now I can’t help but listen for it. Gone are the days when I would just sit back and listen to something. And it’s all thanks to DS106! Although I do feel like the differences between audio and written storytelling could have been capitalized on a bit more. Maybe we could listen to and read a similar story, and do a compare/contrast on the two. Just a thought. Other than that, good stuff.