Before I start critiquing the work from both Jim Groom and I, I would first like to say that DS106 was truly a pleasure. It is very rare in college that I can say that I’ve truly enjoyed a class and gained something valuable from it at the same time, and I give DS106 the honor of completing both of those. Anyone who is reading this and debating whether to take the course, do it. From listening to the lectures, to taking daily shoot photos, to doing mash-ups, I have truly enjoyed every part of this class.

About the course itself, elaborating what I’ve previously said, many classes in college are taught straight from the textbook, with weekly quizzes and readings. The repetitiveness of it all can seem monotonous and sometimes I feel a lot of it is useless in a real-world environment. But sometimes, you can find a class that break from the mold and teaches you not just vocabulary or formulas, but experience. This is the kind of class where DS106 operates under. I found the lectures of the class incredibly interesting, because they were so realistic. Professor Jim Groom would often talk about real-world things that we all knew of, and increase our understanding of it despite the fact that it was something that we were so used to. For example, I especially enjoyed his lecture on Twitter and how the simple website had a huge effect of international affairs. He would also discuss intuitive ideas that were built upon things on the web, such as the website that can tracks who is away from their houses at any given time by using Facebook statuses. Though these examples can’t cover an entire semester worth of lectures, every discussion Jim Groom had brought something new to the table that wasn’t just a new chapter in a textbook, but rather an actual part of the real-world.

Continuing with the realism the class brought, much of the classwork was managing our own web-spaces. In DS106, one of the first assignments of the semester was to creating own own blog and domain. We added to them, we broke them, we changed them, we customized them, but most importantly, I feel that these web-spaces reflected who we are in some ways. We were asked to build a theme around our blogs and asked to create our own “digital-story”. At the time I had no idea what Jim meant by this but through the development of our blogs over the course of the semester, I s0on understood what mine was (and I will talk about it later). We then shard our own ideas and productions, commented on others, and then produced more. Through all of this posting or commenting, I soon saw why Jim is so enthusiastic about the Web. It is a reflection of who we are, and It is ironical that I am fully realizing this now when our first assignment of the class was to read an article called “We are the Web”. Again it is not often in a college class when you are asked to express yourself freely, and not bound by essay topics or parameters. We were asked literally to blog about whatever we wanted, and I found this freedom liberating.

That being said, the class had its difficulties and short-comings. My biggest complaint: the workload. Since from the beginning of the semester we were given assignments, some almost twice a week that involved long readings/audio or mini-projects that potentially could take a few hours, and on top of this our own website’s blog posts and projects we chose to do. I would spend many hours on DS106 assignments and many times stayed up to wee hours of the morning, cursing the name of “Jim Groom”. I tried very hard on these assignments and all they counted for were participation grades it seemed. So for those who did not try so hard on the work, they weren’t losing too much. However I will say that Jim gave just credit to those who have worked hard on them. Despite this, I feel that there was a lot of work in class and that matched with the work from my other classes, it really felt unbearable at times. Lastly, the cherry on top of it all was commenting. Yes, in theory it all seems very simple but many of the things people would write and create would be soooo long! For example the Google Street View assignment and the video commentaries were so hard to comment on just due to the sheer length of them (though mine were probably some of the longest). It was just too much to do just because the class assignments, our own posts on our blogs, and then commenting on the work of everyone else just took an incredible amount of time for one class. Lastly, I feel you need to tell and remind students at least during a few classes to look at the class syllabus, because last class when we were participating in a group reflection of the class we came to this topic and everyone sitting around me whispered to each other “We had a syllabus?”. A more advertised syllabus might keep the workload to be more manageable to students if they could know their assignments ahead of time and complete them early.

I also felt that the class time spent looking over people’s work in the class to be unbalanced from assignment to assignment. For example, we really drilled Web 2.0 into the ground we went over it so much, which despite the lengthy readings I liked. We also looked over everyone’s daily shoot photos everyday during that week, which was great to see some of the productions that I’d missed earlier. However, I feel that a lot of the cooler stuff in the class we didn’t go over nearly as much. For example we didn’t look over a single fan fiction project from anyone in the class, and I thought there were a lot of really cool ones. We also hardly looked at the Google Street-View presentations from some people, which was understandable to a degree because some of them were quite long (mine included). I know we had talked about the Google Street-View presentations in class, and I also thought the 9eyes website was really cool as well, but I still would have liked to have actually seen some of the presentations.

Lastly, I feel that there were some problems with the main medium of communication in the class, which are computers, and I feel these will increase since you plan to make your class almost entirely web-based next semester with no actual class time. I had a hard time in with the blog actually knowing “who was who” when I looked at work made by them or received comments from them on my own. I had a hard time linking the faces of my class mates to their blogs. The ones I knew were from the people who I had worked with in group projects, so maybe next year you should assign different groups for each project so people in the class can know each other and their respective blogs better.

Now to critique my own “digital story”, I would first like to say that I had a lot of fun with my assignments, and I think that as reflected in the quality of work that I produced. From the Power Rangers Recut, to the Dish-Washer story, to the Star Wars Techno Remix, I was very proud of all of the work I did for this class and I tried the hardest I could on each mash-up. Despite the quality of work I produced, the fact that I spent so much time on those mash-ups had downsides. One of the downsides was that I did not complete everything I promised. Along with the mash-up projects, I was supposed to produce posts relating to copyright laws and how they limit the read-write culture that remix-ers, such as myself, thrive in. Save one post, I didn’t really fulfill this obligation. The fact that it received no comments also discouraged me from writing them, and I found creating my own mash-ups much more interesting. This brings me to my next downside, which is that I had a lack of comments. This is for the same reason, that I just spent so much time on my class assignments and mash-ups that I really had no time to comment after it all. I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning multiple times throughout the semester creating these mash-ups and class assignments and by the end of it, I was so tired I was physically unable to comment. However, I feel that the effort that I put into my mash-ups more than makes up for the short-comings of my work. In retrospect, I don’t think I would have tried any less of my mash-ups but maybe I would have bought a little more coffee for myself to write about copyright laws and comment a little more.

All of this said, I’d like to bring my reflection back to what I first said about DS106; that it is an awesome class. If I had the choice to take this class again, I would say yes in a heartbeat. I truly have enjoyed myself in this class and I had lots of fun creating my own mash-ups and doing the class assignments. I feel that much of what we have learned in this class can be applied to a spectrum of disciplines because it is just so useful to know about our online culture that is so prevalent in modern society.

For my Fan Fiction project, I decided to continue on with my website’s theme of video mash-ups. I feel that fan fiction itself is very much a mash-up in it’s own sense, bringing together cultural icons/symbols, whether they are from movies, or books, or the internet, and creating your own story out of them. That’s why I couldn’t resist putting two titanic figures together and essentially creating a fight between them for this project. When I was a kid, I always had debates with my friends about who would win in a fight, whether it be Superman vs. King Kong, or the Flash vs. Spiderman, or etc. So I found my fan fiction fight mash-up of Batman vs. Godzilla to be particularly exciting. Much like I described Batman in my last post, Godzilla was (and still is) near the top of the list of obsessions. I used to watch all of the movies when I was a kid, and had many action figures (much like Batman). So this epic fight was one of the first things to come to my mind when I thought of my fan fiction project.

Much like many of my mash-ups, I used Firefox’s YouTube Downloader and found clips on YouTube of Godzilla and Batman and then used iMovie to put them together. About creating the project, I found many of my difficulties to be strangely similar to the problems I had when I did my first audio mash-up for this class, More Than My First Kiss. The lesson I had learned from creating the song was that putting together two different things and matching them can be extremely difficult. The most obvious reason for this is because each piece of media you are trying to match together has its own beat, tempo, pitch, background noise, etc. and trying to put two together often results in a cacophonous piece of you-know-what. So I encountered these same problems when I tried to match the movies Batman (1989) and Godzilla (1998), and most of my time was spent trying to make the sounds and transitions between to two to be as smooth as possible. I think I did a pretty good job blending the two movies together as much as possible, though the task is much harder than it appears. Other than that, I just used some of my childhood imagination and my master mash-up skills to create this fan fiction masterpiece. Let me know what you guys think!

I am so surprised that no one in the class has yet claimed Batman as an obsession.  I don’t care what anyone else says. When someone lists their obsessions, how can Batman not be on that list? He is just such an iconic figure of every boy’s and girl’s childhood, and now , every man’s and woman’s with the recent productions by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight). I know when I was a child, I always had those Batman action figures and toys that I would play with for hours, and for Halloween I always had a full Batman costume and a spare (just in case). Now as an adult, my current summer job is working at a Regal Cinema in Charlottesville, and the reason being because I wanted to pre-screen The Dark Knight and watch it over and over again with no cost.

So I can say that I am very excited to see what I can come up with for fan fiction for Batman. As far as some ideas, I’ve found some really cool pieces people have done to expand the Batman franchise:

I thought this was really funny, and there is a bunch of these kind of pieces of fan fiction over the internet. I particularly liked this one because it just because of all of the small details that added, for example all of the actors names and the distorted batman icon.

I think that this picture really encompasses a over-arching theme in most fan-fiction, which is trying to bring the fiction to reality. Much like the book covers and advertisement posters Jim showed us in class, I find this picture to be particularly awesome because it bring the symbolic and iconic Batman into a real life predicament; getting pulled over by a police officer.

Anyways, I know this post is a bit late but I can’t wait to get started on this fan fiction and hopefully come up with some really cool stuff. Stay tuned!

Due to the increased amount of work I’ve had this week, mostly because my professors are trying to wrap things up before Turkey Break, I didn’t have the time I normally have to produce a large mash-up (like a normally do). So I took this opportunity under these circumstances to try a YouTube favorite of mine, which is the challenge of attempting to summarize a movie within 5 seconds (which is just a label, it really means “in less than a minute” usually). There are thousands of these short-clips all over YouTube and some of them are quite humorous, for example, The Lord of the Rings in 5 Seconds. So due to my time constraints, I thought I would try one that no one else had done before, and convenient for me, no one had done The Prestige.

The reason I did The Prestige was because I had already ripped the movie to my laptop using MacTheRipper for assignment 8. If you want more detailed methods about how I downloaded the movie to my laptop, or if you have not seen The Prestige and want to better understand what I was referencing in my 5 second summary, check out my blog post. About the video itself, I found it really easy to come up with ideas because Ive seen the movie several times and after producing it, I feel that it has two different meanings. The first meaning applies to those who haven’t seen the movie, and just see a sequence of people falling into locked cases of water and then at the end, Michael Caine saying that it was agony, referring to the movie itself. The second meaning applies to people who have seen the movie, and realize that it captures each time someone falls into a casket and drowns in the movie and Michael Caine at the end saying it was agony, referring to the act of drowning itself. I think both interpretations are humorous as a 5 second summary of The Prestige . Anyways let me know what you guys think!

For my screencast, I chose my childhood neighborhood way down in Austin, Texas. I found this assignment and my choice of the assignment to be particularly hair-raising, it actually gave me goosebumps. The reason why was because this was the first time I had laid eyes on the place I grew up since I left it 8 years ago. It took my breath away seeing my old house and remembering so much of my childhood just by the mere sight of it. It was an incredible feeling of nostalgia. Coupled with this, I was also taken aback about how much my neighborhood had changed since I left it. Even my old house had a different color than its previous pink exterior. I thoroughly enjoyed telling all of my memories associated with my childhood neighborhood and I hope you guys enjoy my screencast!

For my class mash-up, I wanted to have another go at the whole “recut” thing because I had so much fun last year working on my Toy Story Rambo Remix. Starting this project, the hardest part of doing a recut is to do something that’s original and funny, and I spent a long time trying to come up with an idea. So I finally decided to use “The Expendables” trailer and mashed it to various scenes from Power Ranger episodes. I felt that this was a good idea, because “The Expendables” was quite a recent movie and there were not many mash-ups of it. I also liked how I was bringing life back to something so old; the first season of Power Rangers. I can remember when i was a kid and watching all of the episodes and it gave me quite the nostalgia from my childhood years creating this mash-up.

Starting this mash-up, I used Firefox’s YouTube Downloader to download all of the audio and video I needed for my project. If you use the Firefox browser, the YouTube downloader is a MUST! The addon made the whole process of grabbing video very stream-lined and easy. After I had grabbed some video, I opened iMovie, which is the video-editing software that comes standard on almost all Macs. From there I imported all of the scenes I was going to sample from to create my mash-up. After that, I was just a matter of choosing and timing to match the scenes from the “Power Rangers” to the audio of “The Expendables” trailer.

Honestly, the hardest part of this recut was coming up with the idea. I thought up of 10 or 12 golden ideas only to see that someone else had done them. Not only that, but their videos had a lot of views, which just made me think, “That could have been my video!” Past that, some other problems I ran in to were finding good quality videos (Power Rangers season 1 is pretty darn old) and lip syncing the video to the audio. However, I felt that I was pretty successful with the outcome of my trailer. I was able to keep an identity to each character and effectively blend the two movies together. Anyway let me know what you guys think!

For me, the entire purpose and point of my blog is to produce and show great mash-ups, and provide the methods for how I did them, as well as show the rules that I must abide by. So I was pretty excited when Dr. Groom told the class we would be working with mash-ups, not only was I excited to make and show more of my own, but I also really was, and still am, looking forward to seeing some of the remixes! I think I have some great examples I’d like to show to where I get my inspiration from and maybe this will also inspire others in and outside the class:

This video was produced off of one of the songs of DJ Danger Mouse‘s album, The Grey Album. What DJ DM did was he took both the White Album, by the Beatles, and the Black Album, by Jay-Z and combined them together into one album; The Grey Album. I think this captures the essence of a remix, especially with the contrasting titles and genres of both of the artists’ albums. The video is pretty funny as well, which humor is also a key element of a good mash-up.

After seeing the videos Dr. Groom showed us in class today, I feel that its quite obvious one of the great ways a mash-up or a remix is made is through music. Also the generic “recut” movie trailers never go wrong. So for my mash-up, I will try and do either one of those. Ill experiment with each and see if I can come up with something great.

For my video commentary, I did The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Its pretty much the only DVD we have in our apartment, so we watch it all the time. However, i find this movie to be incredibly symbolic and really thematically tied together, so I tried to stitch all of the parts together in my commentary. Much like the movie, I’d recommend watching it twice so you pick up on everything I try and show in my video.

How to Make-A-Masterpiece

Posted: November 1, 2010 in Audio Mash-Up

How to Make-a-Masterpiece

In this short screencast, I go through the process of making a remix, more specifically, how I created Trance of Fates. Let me know if you have any questions about the video or any comments, please feel free to write under this post. Otherwise just sit back and enjoy my first screencast!

Our group, consisting of me (Kevin), Garret, and Ed, have decided to base our project (which is simply to make a video based off of “All Souls’ Day”) on the popular video game variant of Call of Duty; Nazi Zombies. In the game, the setting is during World War 2 and you stay alive for as long as you can by fighting off zombies that also happen to be Nazis. We are attempting to recreate this scene in our project and see if we can make a successful transition from 1943, Germany to present day, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Without giving too much of our story away before it is produced, our protagonist will comeback from a long day of class to play his favorite video game; Nazi Zombies. He falls asleep playing and wakes up and realizes things are not normal on the UMW campus and has to fight his way through zombies. Our group will be meeting Thursday as well as this weekend,  and possibly Monday to shoot our video. Stay tuned!

-Kevin, Garret, & Ed