Freitag, 24. Mai 2013

Remains of the day

Die, die we all pass away
But don't wear a frown cuz it's really okay
And you might try 'n' hide
And you might try 'n' pray
But we all end up the remains of the day

Not only humanity but also time passed so far and as fast as a blink the course is over. Its hard to believe that nearly 4 months are gone  and that the end is near. Gosh that sounds dramatic but its not the end of the world but the end of a time of working together. I don’t want to write end of the project because we really want to continue and this would sound so negociating. Anyway our time together as the glorious five is nearly over and this means its time for a little resume. The project – it started as a normal course but become more a personal and group project so Ill stick to this term – was an entertaining but also sometimes exhausting time. I think I also write enough about the project itself in this blog so Ill focus on the circumstences of the course and about the blocking stones on our path. This will be a reflection of how I felt as a student in this course and what is my impression about it, what could be improved and what were my personal highlights.
Its hard to say what were my expectations now then everything is over. I had, to be honest, very little clue about what would be going on in this course. Even after the introduction on the first meeting I was not sure at all and this feeling lasted for a long period. The course was open structured to give lot of freedom to the students and I really struggled with this at the beginning for two reasons. First I was not really used to this “freedom” to do whatever I want and second to fulfill the expectations of the professor. I spent too much time guessing what this expectations could be and I think the others did the same which lead to some of the troubles we had inside the group. When everybody guesses about expectations you are not really free to use the freedom that is given to you. I think sometimes a hint in one or other direction would have been something that really have prevented some of the argues we had inside the group. It has always been hard for me to formulize expectations and concrete goals for me and its even harder to follow a path to goal without feedback also in a critical way. I think this can guide you in some way better than accepting everything. 

The course is about the “production” of social media and so we tried to use as many media and tools as possible (in a meaningful way ;)) to get used to them and see how the production of content works with them. I first really liked our “learning”platform wikiversity. It has a nice structure which is so similar to Wikipedia that you have no troubles to find content and know how to sort and organize the content. It was also not too difficult to use after you figured out some codings to create headings, links, etc. I really liked how my text good this nice Wikipedia structure and looked far more “professional”. Now there is the part where the BUT pops up and in my case its not just a small but like…”but its not good to include pictures or something like that”, it’s a huge BUT like “But the system kicked me out, banned me and erased my content”. This was so damn frustrating for me, you cant really imagine. You work on content for over a month and suddenly everything is gone. I was a bit disappointed because I did not feel supported at all in the beginning but at least I learned to stay calm and continue contacting people from the helpdesk. After a disturbing weekend the problem was solved and although some content was gone forever I could continue working but my trust in this page was gone. This made me think about the construction of the page. I think the platform itself is nice for creating content at a very high level based on scientific sources but I think its not the best tool as learning platform. Content by the students itself might get claimed as spam and that is everything else but not motivating. I guess our professor mentioned it in one of our first meetings that he had chosen this platform to show us something new beside the common moodlething. This is an excellent thought especially concerning the theme of the course but the selection was maybe not the best choice because it is no protected space where the students can come up with own ideas and try out different things. It is a stable system that doesnt allow any mistakes and is also public for everybody. This shall not sound like blaming a person or a system. Things like this can happen but what I really learned is to have a look at a social media, its system and its rules before I add content and another thing we should always keep in mind. Make backups. Lots of people are praising the cloud but just make sure you have your content also saved somewhere at your own computer.

What did I learn beside making backups? Working in a team was nothing new to me because you start with groupworks already in primary school but this groupwork was a bit extraordinary. We had to come up with complete own ideas and the whole responsible was on our shoulders. We had no leader figure but tried to give every member enough room for own ideas. We tried to include the strengths of the individual so that the whole group can benefit. I think the whole process was not only working on a common goal but also a learning progress. What is my opinion to this topic? What do I want as outcome of this teamwork? What can I do to realize it? We had the moments where we stuck but when the stones continued rolling and goal was insight we were more than glad that we made it. 

In the end it is great so see that have not just finished a course but produced a concrete idea that that hopefully will grow and become real. For this reason its even topping my expectations because I would never believed something like that in the beginning. I think one of the essential points which make this project possible was the size of the group. Five is a perfect number. Enough brains for collecting ideas but not too many cooks that spoil the broth. Overall I can look back on a sometimes quite rocky road but it was really worth going and I hard ever had such nice accompany which wants to continue walking together after the goal for finishing the course has been reached.

In this way
So long and thanks for all the fish

P.S. pardonne my youtube overkill here but I really like that I can include the music/lyrics that came into my mind while writing this feedback for the course. In traditional feedbacks you dont have the chance to include such things but a blog is more open and so I thought I just give it a try ;) So if you dont like the text you can at least enjoy the music.
Especially the music from the hitchhikers guide through galaxy because today is Towel Day ;)

Samstag, 18. Mai 2013

'In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king'

When you are working on a project you must be aware of so many things. You consider this and that, take care of different point of views. No matter how aware you want to be at some point you get blind for your own project. Its essential to take this a fact, a process that you can hardly stop but find a solution for in through getting feedback from outside. In our case we had the advantage to have an audience that gave us interesting points to think about. All were skilled and had a different background and also working and project experience in the cultural sector.

We all appreciated their critique and suggestions a lot and so I decided to write a bit about it.

Why should people use our app and how we can introduce it on the market? 
There are already tons of apps available so what a new app needs to be suggestful is a "twist" something that distinguishs it from all the other apps. We thought that for our project the "social aspect" would already be enough twist but maybe there has to be more extra features to make it attractive. I liked the idea of a competition and contest to make people not fighting against each other but having a little challenge that they can solve also with each other and share their results with their friends. Its also a nice idea to inlcude such competitions in real events. In this way the app is no longer just a technical gimmick but also becomes more real for the people because its part of a real social event. When we want to make people start using our app and adding their content we have to take care on some basic informations - content that is already there. i liked Nanas suggestion for getting people on board as content producer. This is my frist blog I write myself and I am not so used to the blogger-scene. But I know that there are several people around blogging about their life and their surrounding out of an very different personal angle or with an quite artistic touch. In this case it would be awesome if such people share their impressions with others and as Nana explained further: They are used to express themselves in the internet and you dont have to push them to post something. The same system of including local people as contributors could work with local institutions, communites etc.

Back to Business
When we talk about business I always feel a bit unformtable maybe because business and management is always so connected to suit up people and I dont know most of the time how to dress myself. But its sure part of a project and all administration stuff which makes a project become a project out of a simple idea is necessary and I'm used to it. Im less used to think about concrete plans to create a real business strategy out of a project in this way. We developped a product in theory and now the next step is to think about the necessary steps to make it become real. 
Money, Money...must be funny in a rich mans world. We had focussed on founding possibilities before but never really considered to contact a company to support us. I like the idea of the guy in the audience to have a look for people with an already done technical solution which can easily be transformed to fulfill the needs of our tracker. To raise attention social networks seem obligatory in our days. Most of the companies have a site on facebook before they set up an own website.

What was one of the key sentences from the feedback that really kept in mind was "You came up with the idea and when the plan is made everything else is just programming" Sounds true but I think as humanist you often forget about the value of your work. Your environment is rating the theory far below the practical outcome and you start to feel less important then the technical crew. In this way its good to get feedback that confirms you in what you are doing and that your research is the essential thing in the project. 
Jaako mentioned student collaboration-networks in the end and that they have a system at the University of Tampere where they bring students together from different fields of study to help each other in realising projects. Great idea. I don't think that we have something similiar in Graz but I think never the less its able - maybe through social media - to get in touch with other people to make our project become real.

Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2013

My Pori is...

Its kind of a strange feeling when you are travelling to a city you don't really know but when you told people about it their reaction was quite negative. Even if you want or not this conversations stay in your mind and influence your way of seeing a city. I  had also analyzed the "Mu Pori u kaunis" page which was a project to erase the bad impression people have about the city.You start to walk around and pick out the ugly places.

There were many buildings which doesnt look "breathtaking" at all. But when we passed the church this impression changed a bit. Also the building of the university looked really nice to me. I think its a brilliant idea to recycle an old building in this way.

The presentation about the university was not so interesting. I would have preferred to have a walk around and get an idea of how they integrated the university into the cottonmill. I got the impression that the university is a very international thing with cooperations worldwide but on the other hand it doesnt seem so friendly for international students cause they offer hardly any courses in english.
I was really glad about our "babysitter/guide/great accompany" Nana which showed us where to have nice lunch and guided us later on through the city.
The presentation was something some of the others really worried about. They drove me a bit mad with their behaviour of selfblaming matter I think everybody did a good job. I was glad that we had an audience. Its always a bit lame to present your project to the same single person again and again. What was even better was the fact that we had a skilled audience. Their questions and comments really brought us forward to think in other directions as well. We had considered some points they mentioned before but it was good to have qualified answers from people who work in the same field of study or in the culture sector.

Ill go into detail in another post I think otherwise this post would get incredibly long. After the presentation we (incl Nana) went to the city and had a look at the church. Awesome. Okay its really easy to make me happy...just send me with my fisheye into a church and place some nice lightressources there. But the church in Pori was really nice. I also liked that we were allowed to go to the first floor and to stand closely to the organ. Magnificent instrument. I also really liked the statues infront of the church.

Unfortunately the weather became quite windy and rainy and so we went ahead to a nice café. We met a friend of Nana who was one of the heads behind "Mu Pori u kaunis". A bit of a courious situation because we had talked about this project before and I even did an analyze about it. But then I decided to share my thoughts with this guy and that was really good. I got a deeper inside view and also the guy(too bad I forgot his name...Im really sorry) seems to profit from my thoughts about the project.

So in this case the trip to Pori was really fruitful to me. We got helpful feedback for our own project to work on with it and also were able to give another project some feedback and to help them thinking in new directions.

Samstag, 11. Mai 2013

Blood, Sweat and Tea

Im always underestimating the workload when it comes to videocut. Today Nina and I started early and I really mean early. 8 a.m. on a saturday morning. Just a tea and quick breakfast before I head over to Ninas place. I brought my laptop with me and so we had the chance to work together simultaneously on two computers. Nina had the idea of working together, which was a brilliant one. 

I had prepared and organized the graphics the other had made into a good order so that I would easily find them today. Nina worked on our blog while I spend hours on cursing the software and switchings scences all around. From time to time  I asked her for advice. She gave me good feedback and so we really made it together today. Its really helpful to have a second opinion when you stuck in some point and don't know how to continue. Sometimes the new ideas really bother you cause you already spend so much time on the previous version but in the end the result is worth it.
I think thats the advantage of working together in one place. Immediate feedback is a good thing. It might take more time till you end up with a solution that both of you like but I think its less time then on working alone and the present it to someone else. You work hard on a version you like and think that its good enought but you dont get some essential points and forgot about some other things and have to redo it anyway. 

Somewhere around lunchtime we were done. We left the computer at Ninas place because it would take quite some time for the export of the video data into a format that can be viewed in normal programms. The endfile had about 880 MB in AVI. For the youtubeversion I transformed it into MPG4 which has only 110 MB. The upload was quick and I could share the link with the others.

Nina and I also reflected the whole videoprogress a bit. It was hard for us to combine text and video sequences with the graphs. Everybody was waiting for the other parts ...nobody wanted to say...we have to do things like this and take over control. You can see this in a good or bad way. Its good to seperate the work. Its more comfortable for everyone and everybody can do what s/he's best in. It has also disadvantages when the workflow stucks because the smaller groups or single person don't know how to go on because they have to wait till someone else has done his/her part of work. I think the only solution is communication. We met quite often to figure out the weakpoints and also encourage each other by highlightening the results so far. I could go on for a while but it was a exhausting morning and after my thrid cup of tea today I ll have a short nap...But I wont leave you with lot of blabla about videocutting alone..

please prepare the drums for a great drumroll and prepare your fingers for a click on the "LIKE"button.

----seems that there is an error right now...will add the video later

Freitag, 3. Mai 2013

Scissors Sister

I had breakfast while I started the computers and switched them off somewhere in the early evening. I knew that cutting would be time consuming but it even took more time than expected. Before I started with the actual work in Premiere I had to finish some graphs in Photoshop. I found out that we had no startscreen so far so I created one. I hope the others will like it but I had a very short conversation with LeighAnn and she didn't complain so I think it will be okay.

It was good that I had two screens so could I work simultaneous. I had a look at the text on my computer and arranged the scences with text and music on Ninas. I like to watch tv shows next to working cause the bring a nice chilled athmosphere. I decided for the Big Bang Theory. I already know most of the episodes and so I dont have to take care on the pictures. Actually watching/listening to other filmstuff is a bit irritating when you have to focus on cutting. I had to switch off the sound when I made the excat cuttings. At some points where we had a looooong sequence but only short text a became a bit desperate. The girls did an amazing job with the text but it was so hard work to do. It felt a bit like the want me to do some mirecals and it always leaves this bad taste in your mouth when you have to remove nearly whole scences cause of time limitations. Anyway. The first rawcut of the whole video is done. The quality of the sound is not perfect but I'll ask Thomas to take care about it. There are also 2 or 3 graphs missing but most of the work is done.

After the work I had to do...I made another short videocut for a project long time ago.

Sure it has nothing to do with our project but it really showed me how bad my skills were a year ago behind the camera and also in telling the actors what to do. It feels good in some way to see that I improved at least a bit and its also fun to see that you get more clue in a new programme and the outcome becomes better and better.

So loooong all the scissors are stump and my eyes look like squares. Good night Princes of Maine, Kings of New England.

Montag, 29. April 2013

Vappu Shooting

It was not planned to make a 2nd shooting but we thought that an extra scene would make the story more complete.We figgured this out while we did the first raw-cut and synchronized it with the spoken text. Nina, LeighAnn and Nathalie worked really hard on getting the lyrics right. 
They have to have the right length and must be easy to understand but have niveau at the same time. It took us a while because we were not sure if we should make the text or the cut first. I gave the girls my rawcut to work on and while the others will be in Russia Ill continue with the cuttingprocess.

In the missing scene we did today we shoot a VappuCelebration. It tooks place at the stone you can see in another scene in the video. A couple is sitting there in their student overall and with their a-level-hat and celebrating Vappu. Vappu is a holiday that the fins celebrate on the 30th of april and 1st of may. I liked the double meaning the girls had in mind. You have the memory factory on the one side but also the heritage factor on the other. Those who know Vappu can figgure out the traditions and clothes performed and shown in the scene.

The scene shall be some sort of memory that give a personal touch to a normal tourist sight. I think I'll use a soft overlay to highlight the memoryprocess...maybe also another colorkey would underline this effect nicely as well. Not sure how I can do this. Maybe I can ask Clemens or Shirin how to do.
I usually hate to be infront of the camera but it this case it was alright. I played one of the Vappu celebrating students. I wore the overall of LeighAnns husband Will. Was a kind of nice feeling. LeighAnn also organized lots of material for the scene like a bottle of champagne, glasses and some "fake-booze". Nina replaced myself behind the camera and directed this scene. 

I think its maybe good to change the roles sometimes to get a feeling for the different aspects of producing media. Don't be confused cause you see Nina on the photos. She showed me how the scene shall look like. 

 I think I ll really miss the others while they are in Russia but it will be also nice to have a bit of time for university and finish some projects. I also like to finish some other videos I made a loooong time ago and were unable to cut them since then. :)

Sonntag, 14. April 2013

Graphic Day

 I spent the whole friday night and saturday morning with installing the cutting software to Ninas laptop and cutting the introduction scene for monday. I like the result. Its much better than the first version and now the sound fits very nicely to the video sequences. I uploaded it to youtube but on private-mode to be able to show it to the others and also concerning the contest it is good to have it on a sharing platform.

Thomas and Nathi came around 2 p.m. to my flat. I first wanted to start later to be able to do other things but Thomas argued that we have so many things to do and we would really need this time. He was more than right. Nathi started with a Prezi to conclude all our ideas for the project in a short form that is good for presentations.Thomas and I focussed on the graphics. 

The funny aspect was that we were working on four laptops. One room. Three People. Four Laptops. Meters and meters of kables. Thomas and I worked on the same computer most of the time. I usually prefer to work on my own but on this day we were a great team.

We started with working on the background. Thomas first idea was quite similar to the final one we have now but instead of leaves we included footprints. We tried for a while how we should arange them. When we talk about tracks it would be good to show a path and so we ended up in showing a row of footprints from the left bottom to the right top corner. We placed the smartphone a bit to the left.

In the next step we focussed on the screen of the smartphone. We wanted to create a unique style that is visible on all graphics we will show in the video.
We want to look professional and so we want to have one certain design for all our graphics. We used the font that I had chosen for the track button and the logo before. It fits nicely for buttons and headtitles. For other texts we used a more simple writing without curls to make the design not to overload. 
We also created a menueline and highlighted the category where the user is right now. Thomas and I wanted to wait till the others set up a order for showing the different graphs before we go on with the graphics. It would be nice when the menue-buttons get pushed in the right order from the left to the right.  I think we did an awesome job. Also the others seemed quite happy with it.

I also made a very raw cut of the other scences so that we have at least a brief idea of the story. I have to transform this data to make it available for the others too.