In The Mind of a Musician

At age three, i realized my intense passion for a melody. My breath continuously got stolen away by the gentle strumming of my father playing guitar. The classical sounds that echoed throughout my house sent me into a tizzy; giving me a safe haven to dream in. It was by the age of eight, after the horrific day known as 9/11, that I learned how expressing my thoughts through music meant so much more than any other activity I’d previously participated in.

Pencil to paper, fingers to frets, pick to steel; I didn’t know the impact these little motions would have on my entire being. I began crafting melodies in my head. The sound of a guitar radiated through each ear without any instrument even being played. I quickly delved into an array of dark topics as a songwriter, ranging from depression to anorexia, from a bitter divorce to the dangers of drunk driving. Each lyric I write has always been arranged in such a way to provoke thought in the listener.

More than 500 songs later, here I am. I am 21 years old, on the cusp of a regional winter tour, and working to change the face of the music industry. I hold onto each of my guitars with pride, with the full intention of continuing to create work that everyone can find a small piece of themselves in. Even if it’s just a single line. There’s something very valuable in having the ability to captivate an audience through the words you string together.

This collection of photos replicates what a looking glass would show you of my songwriting process. frustration, celebration, exhaustion. My cheeks get flushed red as I pour myself into every single second of a writing session, and I detach a piece of my heart to stick in the middle of each song. It’s therapeutic, but the final product is so much more than just a three minute representation of my emotions. This is merely but a glance into my creative and musical mind, but I hope that these photos give you an idea of how this process has given me the ultimate outlet to submerge myself in.

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Divorce Mash Up

https://drive.google.com/a/students.rowan.edu/file/d/0B_zx3_WMZ17xSVlURWVWWEpibVU/preview

Initially, when asked to produce a mash up video – I was eager and excited to try something different. The videos we watched over the course of the semester that were considered mash ups were intriguing and creative. I questioned if I was going to be able to produce such a product myself. Thinking about a topic appeared to be harder than expected. I wanted to do something out of the box, not something that has been done before. My initial topic seemed clear cut and doable as I created my storyboard. When I presented my storyboard to the class – I thought I was off to a good start. Having a PC, I was going to use the program recommended, Sony Vegas for Windows users. Trying to download it was another story in itself. I got every error message possible. Therefore, I gave up. With that out the window, I decided to use a friend’s computer to complete my mash up on a Mac with the use of iMovie. This was a first for me but it was easier than expected. I was moving through the project quickly.

The hardest part in my opinion was finding proper YouTube videos. No still images; a sentence that will forever haunt me after this assignment. After finding the YouTube videos, they needed to be converted and downloaded into iMovie. Finding a video converter was also a learning curve. I personally have never worked with anything video related. I just watch them. Finding the proper programs that were free and posed an easier learner curve is exactly what I wanted and needed. After finding that – the saving of files had to be perfect. I was able to convert my videos and finish my three minute video. Done? No. It turns out that my final product wasn’t what I thought it was and I missed the whole idea of the mash up project. I was trying to cover too much of one topic within three minutes of video.

Finding this out was hard and I had no clue where to go. I could revise my initial idea and bring the focus in more or start over. I choose to start over. This time, I did my topic on the effect divorce has on children. Something that has been done before, probably but what I thought would be easier and more clear. I used Adobe Effects with the help of a friend on this one being as I felt like I failed with iMovie since my final product didn’t make the cut. Adobe Effects is very advance for my taste and I am sure my friend is sick of seeing me and all of my questions. It was fun trying to learn all these new programs. I am not a fan of the digital media creating – just watching and enjoying. I would much rather prefer traditional writing or writing and images such as our photo essays. The mash up relates to traditional writing in the sense that it conveys a story without words. The video images and audio create this story that can be interpreted in so many ways by the viewer.

As I stated in my above reflection, I used Adobe Effects for my final product of my mash up video. My overall goal was simply get it done and worry about the fancy stuff later. I wanted to convert the videos, embed them into adobe, and then edit. Cutting the movies was also harder than expected because I found myself watching the same video over and over again until I found the right sections to cut. I choose to cut a lot of longer clips because I felt as though the smaller portions of those did not convey the proper meaning I was aiming for. Although long, I do not believe they are overdone. Finding a vintage clip that met the needs of my video left a challenge. I choose to find a clip of a family eating dinner the traditional way. Families used to make dinner a big deal. Everyone would sit down together; no technology, no arguing and sit down and enjoy a family meal.

The idea of juxtaposition comes to play with the song. The song is perfect by Simple Plan. This concept that a child is saying “I’m sorry I’m not perfect.” Many times with divorce, children take the blame and the wrap for it. They often live with depression and anxiety with the feeling that they are the reason for the divorce. Children feel as though apologizing will make it better but in reality, it is not their fault and they have nothing to say sorry for. I didn’t want to use a song about a break up or family issues because it would be too literal and portray the idea too much. I want the viewer to be able to listen to the song while watching the video and grasp the concept. Without the song, the divorce idea is clear cut but it makes it more realistic when the audio is playing.

When it came to editing, I wasn’t sure what I could do to make the video more powerful or create an impact. I also didn’t know how to do such on Adobe Effects without the help from a friend. My initial idea was to change the whole video into black and white to create the idea of how draining a divorce can be on a child. Children lose their childhood and enthusiasm when going through a divorce.  After speaking with Professor Wolff, I decided to stick to the regular coloring of some of the videos and create some as black and white to create a more dramatic effect. I am not thrilled with the overall product because I believe the black and white looked more appealing and conveyed the meaning better. But in semiotics, meaning is determined by the reader or viewer depending on the gutters he or she may see throughout the video.

As the project comes to an end, I came to the conclusion that video editing is harder than I originally thought and I am not a fan of the process. Watching already done videos is so much easier and makes me wonder how these creates actually do that. I am not a video editor or graphic artist that posed many learning curves and challenges. I believe I now understand the concept of what a video mash up is and how to make one however I still think I have a long way to go when it comes to producing a high quality video.

Video Mashup Reflection 1

 

Video 16/80

One might think that studying and composing video remixes has nothing to do with being a writer, but in fact, writers demonstrate the same concepts as a video remix composer. I think writing and video composing are both considered art and can be analyzed in that category, instead of separating them.

From the video, “Everything is a remix”, it says “yet these techniques collecting material, combining it and forming it are the same ones you use at any level of creation.”  I completely agree with this thought. When creating a video remix, you use an already developed video, but are still forming your own original ideas to generate new meaning. When writing, you be using an idea or thought from someone else and editing or expanding it. Or you may be creating a completely new idea. It’s all a form of art which is why studying and composing video remixes could be very valuable for a writer.

Kim Middleton states in her article, Remix Video and the Crisis of Humanities, “Remix video is not the answer to the crises of the humanities; rather, the recognition of a common set of practices, skills, and values underpinning scholars and video practitioners’ work provides the basis for a coalitional approach: identification of shared opportunities to promote and engage potential participants in the modes of thinking and production that contend with complex cultural ideas.”  She labels that it as the “recognition of a common set of practices, skills and values” and not only that, but also says they make products with complex cultural ideas in mind. Writers are often writing about cultural ideas, current events, what is wrong and right today in the world, and this is exactly what video remix composers are doing. This is another reason why writers could learn valuable lessons from media remixes.

One last reason why writers could learn valuable lessons from video composers is because of history. Video remixes are not just horror movies recreated into comedies. They are so much more than that. They discuss topics happening now, but more importantly, history. In Jonathan McIntosh article, A history of subversive remix video before YouTube: Thirty political video mashups made between World War II and 2005, he states, “These transformative works, by their very nature, are suspicious of and challenge political, corporate, media, and social power structures. They focus on a wide array of issues, including race, gender, sexuality, and economics, in addition to more overtly political topics of government, public policy, and warfare.” There are several political video mashups out there that contain a great foundation for studying history. It will be a great way for writers and authors to become better writers by giving them a visual to help them better understand a time period or even daily current events.

In conclusion, writers could learn valuable lessons from video composers, and I also believe video composers could learn valuable lessons from writers. Now that some studies suggest media as a negative outlook, I vary my thoughts on media. I have thought writing would actually be the better alternative, but all in all, video composers are doing the same routines as a writer would and I think they both are very powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Illness Final Mash Up

This mash up video is a collection of videos, documentaries and commercials found on YouTube and other sites. The main message is to convey how our society views mental illness as uncontrollable psycho’s as something to be afraid of. In fact this is very untrue. Mental illness can range from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and other sever personality disorders. Mental illness has always interested me since I watched a documentary done by Oprah Winfrey about a 9 year old girl with the worst case of schizophrenia disorder recorded in history. It was very interesting to see something so uncontrollable, and although the little girl did have aggressive tendencies, she was not endangering anyone else.

Working multiple forms of media presented many challenges, as I am not technically savvy. Downloading videos, as well us working with the Sony Vegas video editor software presented its own challenges while creating the video. The video editor was very difficult to navigate in the beginning, because I had already been used to iMovie for Macintosh products. I had to watch  countless YouTube instructional videos to teach myself how to specifically use the software. When selecting videos, I did something very similar to when writing. In order to start finding videos, I first made a brainstorming cloud and pulled out a few key terms when I thought of mental illness. I thought of some terms like feeling out of control, isolated, not being able to control your own thoughts or being hospitalized and put on medications. I thought of darkness, moodiness and hallucinations and decided to start brainstorming about what I could use to symbolize  that similarly to using a metaphor in writing. To be a metaphor for having mood swings I found a video of a sunny day turning into a storm that I sped up in the software to show a quick switch. To show out of control I found a video of a car spinning out and crashing.

Throughout the video, I used clips from Alice in Wonderland for several reasons. The whole movie is very trippy and almost seems drug induced to begin with . I used the video because it showed Alice falling down the rabbit hole to symbolize falling into ones subconscious and being trapped there. In short, Alice represented the individual, and wonderland represented her own mind, and being trapped there. I thought this metaphor worked  very well for content.

Using each of these videos that did not directly point to mental illness were a collection of metaphors and symbols that put forth a certain meaning, which is often used creative writing through language and metaphor. Often in creative writing, an author can describe a scene or experience that does not relate to the story other than through the meaning. I used this very popular technique in creative writing to help portray a certain feeling in my mash up video.

The specific video techniques used combined with the messages in the video are what makes mash ups so great. In my video, I used over 25 videos, using different parts of documentaries, YouTube videos or commercials to get my point across. Besides Alice in Wonderland, I used clips from a Movie called Donnie Darko very often throughout the video. This is where there was some intertext in the video came in. Donnie Darko is a movie about a boy with a mental illness that has a hallucination that is a giant bunny named Frank. Frank follows Donnie throughout his troubled life in the movie, until he reaches his breaking point. Even without the intertext of knowing the premise of Donnie Darko, the message from that is still possible to obtain because it was pretty obvious that Frank was something only Donnie could see, providing the assumption that he was an “imaginary friend.” In addition, there would need to be some background knowledge about the Black Swan, as well as the background song “Creep” by Radiohead. Although the lyrics such as “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here” make the song sound like it is about a guy trying to get a girls attention, the real meaning behind it is about feeling isolated because you are differently viewed by society. I thought that was an interesting background for a track being put to a video about mental illness.

I took ideas from The Vocabulary of Comics by McCloud about symbols and icons to use other non-related videos to portray meaning. I played a few of the same clips to get across a substantial meaning from them.  The clips I played the most consistently were of a clock ticking, and Alice falling down the rabbit hole. The clock was a very conscious decision when playing it repeatedly every few seconds in black and white. When there is something cognitively wrong with a person’s brain, psychologists will call it a psychological tic, which involved anything abrupt, involuntary or persistent in someone’s psychical characteristics like a twitch. The tic of the clock was the most prominent use of a symbol in this mash up video, and represents the was society views mental illness as uncontrollable twitchy, and often uncontrollable human beings.

By Deanna Bertini

Influential Locations

Do you remember that one place you used to visit all the time? One that contains a lot of memories? Can you remember a place that had a heavy impact on your life? For me that place is Laurel Acres Park. I decided to do my project on Laurel Acres Park because it is a location I have held close to my heart for many years now. It has been a few years since I stepped foot in the park itself. This project is what caused me to return to the park from my childhood. The park had an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Throughout our lives we visit a variety of places that we often forget shortly after we leave. However, with this project I wanted to express how some of these locations can impact us for the rest of our lives. Laurel Acres had a great impact on me when I was younger simply because the different atmosphere it offers compared to my usual surroundings.

In the project I aimed to take photos that made it seem like I was a kid again walking around Laurel Acres Park. I wanted to show the very images that impacted me as a child. The very views that actually influenced how I grew as a person. I often visit Laurel Acres park in my down time. There were a lot of moments that left impressions on me in that park. Half of my childhood memories are from that park. I wanted to capture the wonders of Laurel Acres with the camera I used. I wanted to capture the atmosphere and type of place Laurel Acres is with my photos. To me this park offers an escape from the ever growing civilization we now live in. Every time I go to this park I am reminded of what it is like to take a step outside of society and into nature. My photos are meant to express how a single location can impact or influence a persons thoughts by merely offering an amazing view.

Lights Out in Atlantic City: Only A Memory

Introduction:

I live in a beautiful beach town in New Jersey called Margate.  It is just 10 to 5 minutes away from Atlantic City.  I love Atlantic City and all of the fond memories I hold with it.  From work to play to family vacations I always love it and always created wonderful memories.  But, Atlantic City is not what it used to be anymore.  There are fewer tourists, fewer casinos, more unemployment, and more vacant buildings than ever before.  As I was driving through Atlantic City, I thought to myself, “How sad, people will never experience Atlantic City the way I experienced.”

I saw a sign that read, “Welcome to the World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk” I looked around and saw no one, no tourist anywhere.  This leads me to the point of the photo essay. It is to show people what will happen and what is happening to the world famous Atlantic City.  The lights are dim, the buildings are losing its shine and the streets and boardwalk are empty. During the summer I worked in Atlantic City where many of my customers were very displeased by the surroundings in Atlantic City and said they did not know if they would be back.

I want people to understand that if everything keeps closing and shutting down, Atlantic City will become just a memory. I chose to make my photos look old to give them a vintage feel.  Making the photos look old will allow the audience to view them as if Atlantic City was just a memory. I hope these photos make people more aware of what can happen to Atlantic City if we do not support it.

The Broken Down and Forgotten

Introduction:

All across the nation, we are constantly faced with the fact that our economy is failing. This can be seen through the growing amount of lost businesses and homes. For this photo essay, I wanted to bring attention to what happens after these once booming businesses and occupied homes have been left behind. In order to do this, I have traveled to a variety of locations in South Jersey and captured photos of the different types of destruction these buildings now face.

Throughout this essay, you will see a once booming Friendly’s restaurant located in Turnersville, New Jersey; an old computer repair shop located in Blackwood, New Jersey; and an old WaWa located in Sicklerville, New Jersey, after they were each closed down. Photos of the buildings truly crumbling in on themselves from the lack of upkeep, signs covered in vines after being left on the ground, and torn apart gates protecting back entrances are just a few examples of the photos that can be found within to show just how run-down these businesses are now.

In regards to the abandoned homes, I have captured a variety of photos from two locations; one of which is in Winslow, New Jersey, and the other in Blackwood, New Jersey. Through these photos, you will be able to see exactly what has happened to the overall structure of these buildings that used to be considered a home to a variety of people. Images of broken windows, fire damage, graffiti tags, and knocked down mailboxes are just a few representations of this ruin.

As you, the audience, look through this photo essay, I hope that you are hit with a new appreciation for what happens to businesses and homes such as these after they have closed down or been foreclosed on.