RIP, Multimedia Composition

The University of Colorado Denver Multimedia Composition course began its busy, interesting life on June 6, 2011 and for eight weeks it educated, inspired, and challenged so many of us.  On July 29, it met its final end. 

What can I say about Multimedia Composition?  It taught me how to create a blog, to develop a multi-sensory narrative–even to create my own documentary.  In its short life, it inspired me to meet new technologies: CyberLink Powerdirector, Audacity, YouTube Downloader, MP3 Splitter, and Freemake Video Converter to name just a few.  And these are just the technologies I ended up using in my projects.  Multimedia Composition was never content with a simple essay; it always demanded the best, the most immersive, the most engaging work I could produce. 

When I chose to make my visual narrative with Prezi, Multimedia Composition encouraged me to add an unprecedented audio component.  When I complained about how difficult such a task was, it sent me straight to the FAQs and tutorials and told me not to come back until I found a way to make it happen.  I did. 

Multimedia Composition changed my life. I will never watch a documentary the same way again.  It showed me how even such a small project can take so long to create.  It gave me perfect shots I couldn’t use, great shots that eluded me, excellent segments that were too long, powerful segments that were too short.  I could go on for much longer, but I won’t.  The point is that this Multimedia Composition course taught me that creating a concise, informative, and engaging documentary is not as simple as slapping a few clips together and adding a soundtrack.  Because of its inspiration, I hope to make more projects like this in the future, and I know that with the skills I’ve gained because of it, those projects will be far less intimidating, and hopefully of an even higher quality.

So, today we lay this course to rest.  It has selflessly served so many of us well.  Rest in peace, Multimedia Composition.  You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.


Constructing My Visual Narrative

I created my visual narrative with Prezi because my story’s tone is reminiscent, and its contents are scrapbook/photo-album worthy.  Prezi also offers structural options that align with the themes of the narrative; readers can either follow the path of the story exactly or wander off a bit and explore.  In either case, my point gets across and my story gets told. 

I decided to structure my narrative in a circle because the plot is circular.  I start off hoping to change the world, and I end up changing the world (albeit unknowingly).  I kept the body font a simple serif, with the exceptions of the tile and section subheadings.  With the parchment backing and all the other images, I think any other font choices would have been overwhelming.  I didn’t include the subheadings on the path because I don’t think such a short story necessarily warrants a dedicated focus onto its separate sections, but if I were to put this story on a canvas without a designated path, I would add the section headings to give it a broader sense of structure. 

I spent a lot of time working with sound in this presentation.  Outside of making Youtube videos, I had never used sound in a Prezi before, so I made it my mission to try something new this time.  I kept an ambient jungle track looping throughout the entire presentation to bring readers into the environment.  I also added sounds to certain images (e.g., the river under the bridge, the clucking chickens near the village boys, the children playing soccer, etc.) and balanced the volume and intensity of sound effects with the jungle track to make them work together.  I think the addition of sound adds an effective dimension to this narrative that people don’t frequently encounter when reading stories. 

The tension in my narrative lies between youthful expectations and reality.  In literary terms, this would probably fit in as man vs. self, with a bit of nature thrown in for good measure.  I went to Thailand as a cocky malcontent hoping to do something important and discovered with some well-earned humility that importance is relative.

Brainstorming for My Visual Narrative

In 2006, at nineteen years old, I left America for the first time to save the world. When I came back home, I discovered the world had saved me. My visual narrative will tell the story of my connection to the profound and inexplicable joy in some of the Third World’s poorest communities. As the photo essay follows my experiences as a tsunami relief worker and English teacher in Thailand, my audience will catch a glimpse of the incredible personalities I encountered along the way. I hope it will challenge my audience to both appreciate what they have and consider what they can give to others.

While researching possibilities for this essay’s presentation, I discovered Magnum in Motion’s brilliant online photo essays. While my photography skills aren’t great, and I did not intend to make a photo essay while documenting my experiences in Thailand, I would like my essay to have a feel and presentation similar to those posted on Magnum in Motion. I hope to use a program like Soundslides to create this essay, but I am not yet sure how much text I can include in a Soundslides presentation. If Soundslides falls through, Prezi is a safe bet for this kind of project, and I am fairly confident in my abilities to create a compelling photo essay with it.

They say a picture says a thousand words. Since I only have a thousand actual words to use in this project, I hope I can gather a bunch of great pictures.