Paul (PJ) Folino's Reflections

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 11 | Final Thoughts

Link to Paul (PJ) Folino's Page on Tumblr

Day 1 Thoughts

I thought today was a good introduction and summary of what the class will be like this month. Despite reading the syllabus, I did not really know what to expect from this class, but I am pleasantly surprised as I see many applications of online video learning in my professional career.

I thought that the two articles were interesting. Hank Green's seemed to incorporate a lot of industry terminology which I found myself constantly Wikipedia-ing. I agree with his evaluation of the SMOSH's game plan in "being just a little bit better than the average person," worked for them in their heyday, but is likely harder today due to more competition. It seems like he really liked SMOSH and used them as the paradigm for YouTubers, but I think a better video of them could have illustrated his point better. I guess what I am trying to say is that the video only appeals to some (maybe I'm just lame?).

There was a lot about the Veritasium video I commented on. I think a healthy integration of YouTube into the physical classroom is the best answer for the immediate future until solid, repeatable evidence can be produced about online teaching. I think there needs to be reform in education, but there are a lot of legal battles that are currently being fought in Congress on whether or not to create nationwide standards for education.

The YouTube video was hard to make. I don't do well in front of cameras I have decided. Also, I realized that I was posting all of my stuff to my own personal Tumblr account so no one could see it. I really am inept with all of the social media stuff (I have yet to drink the Facebook Kool-Aid), but hopefully I will get better at it!

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Day 2 Thoughts

I thought today was very constructive. It took 20 6th graders to tell me that my previous idea was stupid (kinda was) and that I should do something more in line with what I enjoy (kids are so smart!). Aside from that though, I really wanted to understand what about online videos they liked. What they said was that it should be entertaining as well as informative. They don't pay attention to teachers when they present material in a "monotonous" way. I expected them to say exactly this, but it took actually talking to them to realize just how important entertainment and captivation are.

Natalie's presentation was useful as well. I understood how her non-profit organization had more of a give and take with teachers instead of teachers saying "do this" with regard to specific material. Jaime mentioned the national standards of education that are established, which seems to have inherent latitude so teachers can implement things like BioBuilder. I ask that Jaime might be able to give a brief explanation about the education system and how different media like online videos are acceptable in some school systems but not others. I know states have different standardized testing requirements (which likely mirror national standards), but I feel like a quick explanation might be able to address one of the reasons why online videos are not feasible (because they are not allowed in some cases / states / school districts?)

I agree with Elizabeth's blog, that the execution of many of the animated videos was not necessarily the best. I thought that maybe if they kept doing it that way ironically than they would have been more appealing.

I appreciated that we were given some extra time to really hammer out our video ideas. I feel that if I did not have that time, then I would have forgotten everything the kids told me.

The script was a good exercise to mentally hash out the video. I transported myself to the different settings in the script and imagined what it would look like in my head. I also read it aloud, which was suggested, and realized that there is a huge disconnect between my typing and verbal speech, so I started changing some of the words. Also, I had to make sure the language was clear and simple, so it could be understood by someone with a 6th grade intelligence level. I am curious to see how close my mental image compares to how my video will look when it's done.

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Day 3 Thoughts

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This video is courtesy of Paul PJ Folino on Tumblr and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 4 Thoughts

I thought today was really fun, but I now realize just how difficult it is to produce a video. I had no idea how deliberate every single action in the video is! It really drove the point home when Elizabeth said she re-shot the one scene in the video because of the lighting. I understand what she was saying after she mentioned it, but I don't think I would have caught that unless she said something. It is probably because this is all new to me. I do understand now, though, that every word in a script is chosen for a reason.

The animation exercise was awesome and I hope that going forward in the class, other people will be able to share their input on videos much like today. I understand that no one on their may have had the "perfect" storyboard, but everyone's input together seemed to generate an acceptable scene. Some of the important things I wrote down that resonated with me are that animations are good for taking abstract ideas and making them simple like space or quantum mechanics. I realize after hearing Josh say how difficult animations can be, that they should be used sparingly and only if absolutely possible. With regard to my video, I don't foresee using too many animations, if any at all, but there are definitely pitch ideas from some of the systems guys, that might be able to better describe a concept.

Really was impressed by everyone's creativity today, though. It is good that we have a partner who will be shooting our films because likely they will also be giving their two cents about what the storyboard will look like. I plan on revamping my script over the next two days and hopefully will be able to produce something decent, even though it is clear that storyboards are pretty fluid documents.

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Day 5 Thoughts

I really enjoyed today's class. All week we were learning things that would make our videos the best they can be, but today we actually got to put what we learned to practice. It was good to hone in on the point of my video today. I do realize that it sounded more like a YouTube description for a teacher to use rather than the actual point of it.

I gained a lot of insight from the presentation Chris gave. He really gave a good explanation about all the options of cameras such as optical vs. digital zoom, focus, focal length, framing, etc. Also he mentioned how good sound is usually more important than having the best lighting or angle. I would like to try and get each piece (lighting, angles, sound) right, but I will definitely not sacrifice sound over any other feature. I took his advice and started preliminary "scouting" for shoot locations.

Elizabeth mentioned recording the room tone which is also seems crucial to getting the sound just right. I think some of my locations have a considerable "hum" because of moving parts and such, so I will remember to record the "silence."

Something Chris mentioned was that we should try different deliveries, POV, and framing. Kenneth and I, during our shooting were working to get many different angles and were commenting to each other and possibly better ways to approach the scene than what we had in our storyboards. I was somewhat concerned yesterday that there would be minimal input from who records the video, but it is clear that making these videos is a collaborative process. It is hard to imagine scenes when you are not behind the camera. I am overall very excited for where this class is going, and I look forward to next week! I still have some refining on my script, so I will post it tomorrow.

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Day 6 Thoughts

I thought today was good to really get an idea about what my script will look like. Everyone's comments were really helpful and helped make me realize things about my script I could change more. Something I noticed even after multiple revisions was that my script didn't read like I talk. So I tried to fix this and I think it sounds better and will be easier to make the video. I remember trying to memorize lines in the rough cut shoots last week, and it sounded terrible, so I'll keep it in mind for Weds.

It was good to be able to review other people's scripts as well. It seems like we all had the same problem about putting to much scientific content in our scripts instead of trying to simplify things. I think that this is particularly hard, especially after studying engineering for so long… we are used to describing things technically, knowing that our audience likely has some idea of what we're talking about. Naturally, this habit translates to a much younger audience as well. I am glad that I realized this though because one of my goals for the course was to be able to describe things in a simple way.

I like Jaime's comment on my delivery. She is absolutely right, I need to loosen up a bit! I think I am going to employ that tactic we learned early in the class, where we say our lines in a completely different way or accent. I feel bad for whoever my partner is because I am going to be very annoying. I look forward to the editing lecture tomorrow and shooting the video come Wednesday.

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Day 7 Thoughts

I have been working on my shot list and I can see that it is making me rethink some of my scenes. I tried to mentally view what my video would look like and it is choppy in some places. I am glad I found this out now, so I can fix it before I shoot. I really am exciting with using the editing software after all the shots are done, I really enjoy plugging in headphones and just being on the computer for hours messing around so it will be a good change of pace from the next two "packed" days. Also, I already glued together my foam boxes today and realized that I am shooting out of order, so I have to show the inside of them today and sink them tomorrow. That means I have to destroy them before I sink them (hahah) but glue and duct tape can fix anything.

Hopefully the clouds can stay out today… realized one of my scenes is in a room with glass walls on all sides and I am filming around 1, so I am hoping that doesn't mess with the video's lighting. Today will be fun though… I feel a lot more comfortable with my script and I basically know what I am going to say. My only concern is that when I ad lib I tend to go on and on so I might need visual cues from whoever is shooting to tell me to stop.

Otherwise, I am excited to see how this all turns out!

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Day 8 Thoughts

Today went pretty well for shooting. My shots took more time than expected; if you shoot in a museum the curators just want to show you everything, so I am hoping we got some good shots so we don't have to go back! Yulia and Kenneth were very good and thorough and recommended a lot of things to me that I did not even consider. They were also trying to get me laughing so I could smile more in my videos.

It was good shooting their scenes too, because I was able to see the process through a different lens (hah get it). The sun was going down on some of the shots, so we might have to redo some, but I think we have the general plan of what to do for each shot, so it should go seamlessly.

I am exhausted though, and I was on camera for less than 2 hours, hardly a full day. Good night!

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Day 11 Thoughts

It is funny how I watch movies now and see the editing portion of it rather than just enjoying the movie, hahah. Anyway, today was very constructive in tweaking the last portions of our videos to make them as good as they can be. I thought that everyone's videos looked really good and I think all of our comments about possible fixes reflect what we have learned in the past week. All of the comments seemed to show me what I already that were the weak parts of the video, but there was also additional insight that I hadn't thought of that was very useful… like putting in b-roll for a scene to improve the angles of the shots.

I am going to take a break tonight after editing this past weekend and will make the final changes to my video all day tomorrow. Also, if anyone needs to re-shoot anything I will be around, just send me an email. I may have to ditch music at the beginning completely or have very poignant beginning music if it turns out that I am not finding anything to fit. Overall, it was cool seeing everyone's progress and how they envisioned shooting their videos. It will be interesting to see how much the final products differ from the shots we saw today.

I'd be remiss in not showing the coincidence here… Jaws is on TV and I am seeing the ORCA "save" Chief Brody's life as I type!

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Final Thoughts

Most of my final video has been completed, with a couple additional scenes to shoot later in the month. It was really interesting seeing the how final video production progressed. Having a professional film / lighting guy made me realize how meticulous lighting and audio is to developing a good final product. Although I will probably never go into this field, I was able to witness firsthand most if not all of the production principles that we learned in class. I did seem to drone on quite a bit at first, but I think I got more and more comfortable as the day progressed. It was very tiring though, and compared to other people who shot their videos, mine was probably one of the quickest! Ceri was spot on with drinking water too, my throat is killing me.

Overall, taking this class has been a good experience for me. It was one of the first "unconventional" courses I have ever taken. I always had information drilled into me during undergrad, but it was nice to be able to share my thoughts via blogs and seeing other people's thoughts; this really helped my learning. I really think that people are on to something with these YouTube educational videos, because after seeing everyone's videos I understood a lot more about different topics than I would have had I read a textbook. Also, I was very impressed with the quality of everyone's videos. I think that all our comments helped make our videos much better than the rough cuts.

My biggest takeaway from this class was what I set out to do from the beginning: Get better at talking. Specifically, explaining difficult concepts in a simple way. I can already see changes in how I explain things to friends and family about what I do for research. My second biggest takeaway was learning how to be comfortable on camera, and generally being comfortable in front of complete strangers. I would advertise this class almost as a Toastmaster, because it really helped out my public speaking abilities (even though I have a lot more room to improve).

I want to thank all of my classmates who helped me out in making a better product; all of your suggestions were on point and addressed many of my shortcomings… I'm no fun :-( Also, thank you to the guest lecturers and teachers (Elizabeth, Jaime, Ceri, George, et. al) for teaching the art of shooting YouTube videos and explaining scientific topics in a simple way. I am excited to finish my video later in the month and see what the final product looks like! I hope everyone keeps in contact in the future! Fin.

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