Student Reflections

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

Link to Andrea Desrosiers’ Page on Tumblr

Day 1 - Andrea’s Struggles

The theme here is a) “we are experiencing technical difficulties,” and b) fear of the camera.

  1. New camera, new tripod. Mac computer. Sigh. I’ll work on it again tonight.
  2. Much bigger issue actually. This fear took several forms, starting with the thought that it’s all been done before. Then I read entrepreneur Seth Godin’s blog, which stated, “Originality is local. The internet destroys, at some level, the idea of local, so sure, if we look hard enough we’ll find that turn of phrase or that app, somewhere else. But no one is asking you to be original. We’re asking you to be generous and brave and to matter… Sure, it’s been done before. But not by you. And not for us.”

So I stopped being nervous about being original. Once I was able to do that I was able to discard my first idea - how to teach kids about system dynamics. I actually had no clue how to present that material, even though I believe strongly that it should be taught as a key aspect of STEM education from a young age. Using the tenet of “Talk about What you Know.” I did then come up with an idea.

So, my pitch, keeping my middle school audience in mind, settled on describing what happens to your teeth when you have braces. It’s a common enough problem with kids that age. Also, I recently worked for an orthodontic company that makes braces, so this is actually something I know a little bit about.

OK, fine. Well, then, where’s my pitch? See above.

Goals for class: My primary goal is to become more comfortable with video as a format for expression of complex ideas. I’ve always loved science shows. In high school (in the 80s, remember I am Old), my Latin teacher showed episodes of the original Connections once per week. I loved how it tied science and history together, which made science more approachable and “human.” I think we saw that a bit in NDG’s interview regarding Isaac Newton. Who Newton was as a person was even more compelling than what he discovered. And I think that is one of the primary roles of science education - to convey its “human - ness” and thereby its accessibility. I don’t think we will ever want to be taught by robots - there will always be a person somewhere to make it relatable.

On the various videos on class: I loved the Veritasium format, and I confess to some nostalgia watching Carl Sagan. I could listen to Sagan’s voice for hours, which somehow managed to convey a sense of beauty and wonder in his tone. While I’m not a huge fan of Nye’s video, I could see it being very popular with 10–15 year old boys. This underscored the importance of understanding who your audience is. The Veritasium host appeals to me because it’s pitched at a somewhat sophisticated adult audience. I could see him seeming a bit boring to a 12 year old girl.

So that’s why I tried to pivot my idea for a pitch to something more for a 10–14 year old audience.

Link back to Day 1

Day 2 - Andrea’s Struggles

If there is one thing I have gotten out of my MIT experience, it’s the importance of running your ideas by the audience / customer early, and often. The 6th graders that were brought into the class for that purpose were surprisingly well read and engaged. I was happy to see a few shy ones coming out of their shells to talk a bit - mostly because these kids are reflections of me at that age. I enjoyed the skipping from topic to topic that the kids tend to do - it keeps me on my feet and I like trying to follow their thought processes as they respond to various stimuli. I will try to remember this “frequent cut” process as I put together my video. I’m hoping this can keep people engaged.

One kid (boy) in particular I really got a kick out of. His favorite phrase is to add - ish to anything (Yes - ish, like - ish). He was also the kid who made up a character when I asked about favorite superheroes - it’s nice to see so much imagination. I also liked how blunt the kids were with each other, and it’s a reminder that there is such a thing as being too diplomatic.

As for process, I managed to get the tech difficulties out of the way. Most of the barrier was psych - sometimes I feel too old to learn the new way of doing things (kids these days…). But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could learn deep down inside. Right?

I also worry in the class that I’m a bit intimidating because I’m older. Also, “Sloan Fellows” sounds really “important” (and the program office has drilled into us to self - identify that way), but this isn’t really the right venue for that. Oddly, I seemed to have dodged that bullet with the 6th graders, where I found more of my sense of humor coming out. Maybe i just need to project as “less serious”. Or maybe just impress on people how impressed I am with *them* - and really I am!

OK, on to script writing….

Link back to Day 2

Day 3 Reflections

This audio is courtesy of Andrea Desrosiers on Tumblr and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

Link back to Day 3

Day 4 - Andrea’s Reflections on Storyboarding And More Scripts

I really love animation. Sadly, I have just about zero artistic ability, so maybe that explains why I’m so fascinated by it. I can appreciate how much work goes into even one frame, never mind the hundreds that go into even a 2 minute clip. So, hat’s off to you Planet Nutshell folks!

I’ve used a very rough approximation of storyboarding for some of my programming projects, so the concept is a little bit familiar to me. I do tend to use whiteboards, however, so certainly using the technique for video imposes more constraints in terms of size. The tricky part seems to be getting the “Level of Granularity” correct. It seems like John likes to use a high level of detail / granularity - and I did find this helpful to really convey the storyline. I liked the advice to start in the middle of the action. I also find that the iteration between scripting and drawing it out can be very useful.

I also found class today to help out with concentrating on the science. The F= ma example reminded me of fun facts about tooth forces. So I think I’ve found a way around the “after school special” aspect, since I was concentrating too much on the braces and not on the science. I do tend to tell more human - centric stories, and fell into that trap here. It’s helped to watch a bunch of the SoL videos to get a feeling for how / when to zoom in. The science aspect can be one of two: Either the Pdl as a cushion of forces (the script I’m currently working on), or concentrate on the osteoblasts. This one I just started thinking about - it has a nice tie - in with some implant work being done here at MIT. Very promising.

Maybe I’ll even be ready with another trailer by tomorrow. Or two.

Link back to Day 4

Day 5 - Andrea And the Camera

My main takeaway from the class on camera techniques was that it represents a Lots of variables. No wonder it takes dozens of shots to get what you want! It seems like it really is all about perseverance. I was not able to get any footage over the weekend since I was laid up with this pesky cold / bronchitis. I realize that I’m relying too much on animation (but it’s so cool…). So it’s interesting to try to get creative about what you can substitute. I have a shoe - sized glass tooth sculpture that I can maybe use to demo some points, maybe get some play dough to model some of the other structures. I also hope to get in touch with my old colleagues to see if I can film a little bit in their demo dental office. Health permitting of course.

I loved the comments on the script and I’m encouraged. I had another idea for going at it from the perspective of “Bionics” which strictly speaking implants represent. But I think what comes more to mind are the mechanized things like prosthetic arms / hands / feet. Well, a bit late to change up the concept that much.

One of my goals in this class was to get more comfortable both behind and in front of the camera. I’m not photogenic (being squat and pasty - faced with flat bone structure), so I’m unsure how I’ll get over how much I cringe whenever I look at pictures / video of myself. My demons to fight, I guess.

Link back to Day 5

Day 6 Vlog

This video is courtesy of Andrea Desrosiers on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

Link back to Day 6

Day 7 Vlog

This video is courtesy of Andrea Desrosiers on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

Link back to Day 7

Day 8 Reflection - Andrea on Video

Wow, actually got some footage today! Just logged it all after giving them all a quick look. Feels good to know that I got something done. Hopefully tomorrow will go faster / smoother.

Still pretty daunted with everything that needs to be shot over the next 2 days… And I’m a bit nervous about the animation and editing. I might have to drop the animation for the rough cut, unless I can master the editing this weekend. We’ll see. As I said, I know it won’t be perfect, far from it. Just important to get the general gestalt of the video down.

Nathan is a pretty good cameraman! Many thanks to him for his patience. I hope we can get great footage of him tomorrow. We both have some stuff to shoot in a supermarket setting (Start Mkt for him, Harvest for me).

I emailed me old co - workers to see if I can shoot at the operatory in the office. My props weren’t delivered today since UPS needed a signature, so they should be delivered tomorrow. Might get some random footage of that stuff tomorrow evening, or Friday at the office setting if possible.

I still am not quite sure how to end the script. I’m giving myself the rest of the night to think about it. I’ll also try to upload a rough shot list by tomorrow AM before we start shooting.

Tonight is a rare night that I have actual internet access at home (husband is working). So I can actually upload my daily reflection early - YAY!

Link back to Day 8

Day 11 - Andrea’s Final Thoughts

First off, many thanks to Elizabeth, Jaime, and Ceri for the great instruction and help. The goal of the course was to learn about new media techniques, and you really delivered on that. I continue to believe that this video format will play an increasingly large role in both ed and business. I’m very happy I took the course and when I look back I’ve learned a tremendous amount.

I’m also incredibly impressed with the talent of the students - David, Yuliya, Nathan, Kenneth, Joshua, PJ - you are all pretty awesome. I loved the visual styles you all came up with. The scripts were compelling and your delivery was genuine. Thank you for the many helpful comments - you were a critical part of the learning experience (pun intended ;-)

Looking over the comments on my video, it seems you all liked it more than I did. To combat its boringness I’ll be making many of the suggestions, but also cutting a lot more out! Also, I had added in stuff in the script that you all had earlier said was extraneous - now I agree, out it goes. I’m hoping to get this down to below 2 minutes. When we viewed the videos on the first day, I tended to get bored at about the 45 second mark. Don’t know if I can cut the video down to that, but shorter with this kind of material is better if there isn’t much art to it.

And final comment - as I’ve said I don’t have an artistic bone in my body (remodeled or not). But I still enjoyed putting together the video. One thing I’ve learned in my old age - don’t let lack of talent stop you from doing something new, something you enjoy!

Have a great spring semester everyone!

Link back to Day 11

Final Reflection on Making Videos

I did want to wait to write this until after I had the experience of working with a pro crew. Wow, exhilarating and exhausting at the same time - I had to take yesterday (and some Toscanini’s mimosa sorbet) to recover.

Out of the entire experience, from ideation to script writing to shooting to editing to repeat, it would be easy for me to stick with the part I feel most comfortable with - the script writing part. But we only get growth when we throw ourselves at the things we suck at. It was reiterated when my sister-in-law (an artist) posted something on Facebook that was a riff on the Ira Glass piece that Elizabeth showed (here: What Ira Glass Explains In 1 - Minute Will Change Your Life Forever. Seriously.), namely that when you create art, often it’s pretty bad when you first start out. And because you have good taste, you *know* it’s bad. And often, that’s when people quit, because of that gap between what you want to accomplish and what you did accomplish.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit this class. But it was close there for a while…

As for the parts that I didn’t do well (camera work in particular), I did enjoy editing. The advice to wait overnight before working with the clips was especially relevant. Often after filming, I thought stuff was great. Then the next day, I was able to view it more objectively. This also applied to the editing I did. While I was editing, it seemed to go well. But when I viewed the final product the next day, I could more easily see how it could be improved. While I can’t say I’m happy with my final product (I think I went a little crazy speeding up my speech - should have backed off from 115% to maybe 110%), I can say that it was much improved over the rough cut. And looking back I’m somewhat proud of what I have learned.

I’m also super - impressed by my classmates! You all have great taste, and came a lot closer to realizing that than perhaps you believe.

Back to working with the pros - I didn’t see any of the clips they filmed, but I did gain an appreciation for the importance of lighting to set a mood. It’s more important than the physicality of my movements, and rivals the impact of tone of voice. I also thought it was ironic that I was called “The Talent.” - it seems to me that all of the talent is in the script, camerawork / direction, and lighting (and editing!).

And finally, just one more confession: I had always dreamed of hosting a science / natural history show since I was in middle school! But sometime during high school, I got it into my head that I was too unattractive to even be on camera. Nonetheless, I loved watching PBS (Crockett’s Victory Garden, This Old House, etc.) and I especially loved how the hosts were such approachable people. They weren’t drop - dead gorgeous, but they had a kind of authenticity and gravitas (leavened with humor). I struggled with my camera - phobic block during this class. But then I read an article on the defense lawyer for the Marathon Bomber. The lawyer, Judy Clark, has the kindest face, almost sad. The article talked about how she is very effective at gaining her clients’ trust, and in conveying her clients’ humanity to a jury. That power lies partly in her appearance and demeanor. And I thought I wouldn’t mind having that kind of power - the power to make people trust and understand. I hope that I managed to convey just a little sliver of that in my video (and the one for Science Out Loud as well).

Thank you 20.219 for making me feel more empowered!

Link back to Day 13

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 7 | Day 11

Link to Ceri Riley’s Page on Tumblr

Day 1

Today was more nerve-racking than it should’ve been (considering my part of the lecture comprised of sitting / listening to really interesting lectures on videos / storytelling and then giving a crash course in the mechanics of the websites we’ll be using). This is probably because I’m an inherently nervous person when it comes to first days, but also because of public speaking.

Even though I’ve used Tumblr and YouTube for countless hours and introduced friends to vloggers or the websites (especially when YouTube was in its baby stages), it’s felt weird to “teach” it? Good weird, like I’m really lucky to live in a time when I can conceivably convince people I’m doing something worthwhile when I say I’m studying / creating online educational video right now.

During the in-class activity, I realized how infrequently I actually watched science TV when I was little (aside from Magic School Bus) and how I have no nostalgic attachments to shows / personalities like Cosmos, Bill Nye, etc. But I’ll watch almost anything with Hank Green in it if I have the time, and am currently subscribed to several of the channels we previewed. I’m glad we pointed out the homogeneity of popular science hosts, but it would also be cool to show that semi-popular female-hosted channels Also exist like ViHart and TheBrainScoop (also Caitlin is part of the main SciShow team). Representation could still be far more balanced, but there are definitely successful channels out there that we should continue supporting!

I also have to refrain from jumping into all the discussions because I have a lot of feels about online video. I definitely aired on the side of caution today, but once people start speaking up / getting more comfortable with the class, I might feel better about adding to the discussion. I’m still figuring out how to transition from being a student to a TA right now, so asking me questions that I can (or can’t) answer will definitely help solidify what my role is / how I can best help you guys!

Link back to Day 1

Reflection Day 2

This video is courtesy of Ceri Riley on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

I think my written posts will always be more composed than an off-the-cuff vlog, but it’s still good practice to get more comfortable in front of the camera!

Link back to Day 2

Reflection Day 3

This video is courtesy of Ceri Riley on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

Thoughts about the creative process and acting exercises.

Get out the box. “Ira Glass on the Creative Process.” 21 July, 2011. YouTube.

karldallas. “Olivier’s Hamlet film (1948): To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy.” 26 January, 2010. YouTube. (the 4th one in the playlist is David Tennant’s in case you were wondering)

Link back to Day 3

Reflection Day 4

This video is courtesy of Ceri Riley on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

tl;dr if anyone needs (rudimentary) animation help, let me know after class someday!

I can explain my personal Adobe software workflow and tips to using Illustrator & what I know of AfterEffects (not Flash right now, but I’d love to have an excuse to learn if people had an interest in using it)

Link back to Day 4

Day 5 Reflections

I think if I were taking this class, today would be the day the video-making process would start to feel Real. Up until this point, we’ve been talking a lot about the (very important!) planning stages - scripting, storyboarding, idea webs, whatever. But with Chris’ lecture on filming techniques and Elizabeth’s on producing, you now have some of the tools to start thinking about how to make your visions more concrete. (Or how you’re going to try to make your visions concrete, inevitably get frustrated when they’re not 100% what’s in your head, accept how your videos look / sound as a learning experience, and hopefully be inspired to make more in the future!)

Even though I just sat in the classroom and saw a couple of you film, it was really exciting to hear little things like varying the camera angle / shots and little directorial decisions and multiple takes. As someone who’s almost entirely made videos by myself with very little real-time feedback, I think it would’ve definitely helped me to have another person being like “hey, let’s do that take again because you did a weird thing with your face” instead of future-me being like “past-me, you’re the worst.”

This weekend I’m going to catch up with all the things you’ve been doing and try to come up with my own sort of an idea / script. Even though I’ve been making videos since high school (but only seriously making them since last year, if I’m being completely honest), anything I come up with will surely need a lot of revision and iterations before it’s remotely filmable. Recently most videos I’ve been making have been 1) vlogs or vlog-like things 2) silly videos / parodies with my friends or 3) very technical biology videos for 7.28. So this will be an entirely different writing mindset and it’ll be good to switch gears as a break from other work.

Anyway. Back on track.

I think Chris gave a lot of valuable things for you guys to think about. I also think that the first time you film anything you will have So much to think about that you’ll forget about half of the things he was talking about (Yeah! I nailed that line. But whoops the background is in focus and I didn’t want it to be. Or there’s a weird patch of light on my face. Dang.)

I said this after class to a couple people in the room, but I think it’s still important to remember / reiterate. Video-making takes a Lot longer than people think. So even though this class feels very front-heavy as Elizabeth has mentioned, getting into the habit of working on your script a little bit each day will eventually help you get into the mindset of filming / editing / thinking about your video each day. Which will, in turn, prevent most (if not all) opportunities for last-minute panic.

I’m really excited to read scripts on Monday and see what you all produce!

Link back to Day 5

Day 7 Reflections

First off: Your scripts have all come so far! I can’t wait to see all of your final videos (or whatever stages you bring to us for help). It’s been really cool to see you guys learn so much over the course of a week (it feels like a lot longer) and push yourselves both inside and outside of class.

Elizabeth’s editing lecture was great and covered all the major points you should worry about when working on your videos. I’ve found that a lot of editing (as cheesy as it sounds) is about feeling - whether you feel the pacing is just right or too fast, whether you feel like your emotion or expression is off in one take, whether you feel like the music fits. For some formats like vlogging, quick dialogue in succession may be okay, but for our videos there’s going to be b-roll in a lot of them and much-needed pauses for the audience to take in information. Eventually you’ll find a familiarity with the tools and a rhythm for your video, and it should (hopefully) be fun from that point on. (Editing is one of my favorite parts of video making, if you couldn’t tell.)

Please remember to take advantage of us as a resource while you film and edit! Especially with the long weekend, it’ll be really easy to leave things to the last minute. For example, if you explain a vision to one of us, we might be able to help strategize the best way to do it to make it easier on yourself later (“it would be way easier to animate in post if you did x, y, z, while filming” OR “if you want to film there, make sure to go during certain hours and / or have a backup”).

Also, I think an important note (or at least it would be for me, because I can get really nitpicky / perfectionist when it comes to projects), is that all we expect from you is to try your best. Your videos don’t need to look like a polished Science Out Loud video, or a SciShow episode, or like you’re going to publish it on PBS’s YouTube channel. You should (hopefully) be proud of what you make, but it’s okay if there are little mistakes or things that you would change if you had more time to shoot / edit / get feedback / etc. So don’t do everything at the last minute, but please don’t drive yourselves insane over this video project!

See (some of) you tomorrow, and feel free to email me at any point! I’ll be happy to help in any way I can :)

Link back to Day 7

Day 11 Reflections

You guys have come so far :’) Not only because you now all have (almost) final video projects, but in the way that you’re able to describe things like what you like / what you don’t like / how to improve videos. Final screenings are going to be awesome and exciting (I invited all my friends plus the people I UROP with in MITx-we’ll see who comes), and hopefully you guys will all be somewhat proud of how much you’ve learned / done over these past 2 ½ weeks. So many feels, but it needs to be said.

I’ve been rewatching and subtitling some of my old vlogs for MIT Admissions and some of my transitions / delivery are seriously cringe-worthy. So the fact that you guys can not only identify mistakes in your own videos but also give feedback on each others’ is so valuable. Even though now I can sort of pretend I know what I’m doing when it comes to videos, this would’ve been such a great class for younger-me to take. I just keep thinking of all the bad habits that never would’ve formed (lookin’ at you, past Ceri, who wanted to make Every video like a Hank Green or Charlie McDonnell vlog… So Many Jump Cuts).

Hopefully in the future, even if you never make a video again in your life, you’ll remember little things like the rule of thirds or how to vary your delivery if you have to give a talk / presentation or “kill your darlings” or how to give constructive criticism to somebody else’s video project.

I was talking with Elizabeth about this sometime in the past two weeks, but because it’s so easy to access a video camera (of some sort) and editing software, so many people are making videos. And I’m all in favor of people making things and learning how to make better things, but a lack of best practices allows some people to become lazy and mass produce not-very-engaging videos that get a lot of views simply because there aren’t any other videos on the topic.

So, I guess, it’s really good that you guys are learning what to look for in an effective video (shaped by your personal tastes, of course). Because then we can keep spreading these informed opinions and pushing for better educational media instead of sticking to the same old “just okay” things. There’s an entire medium to be explored! So people should explore it thoroughly!

Soapbox aside; let me know if you need any animation help (or anything else). It’s coming close to the deadline, so maybe you’ll have to simplify some of your more complicated ideas, but I’m happy to help however I can.

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Link to David Yam’s Page on Tumblr

First Day: Lots of Things to Do

Today was the first day in the class of MIT219. I felt pretty much overwhelmed with the amount of coursework required from the get go, but also pleasantly surprised by the amount of enthusiasm from students and teacher alike within the course.

This will be a day of many firsts then-

First time making a blog.

First time using tumblr.

First time making a video describing something myself (previously we had it done in a group setting and it wasn’t such a good experience.)

I believe that this will surely be a course that will stretch and challenge me within this short period of 3 weeks.

One thing I hope to take away from this would be to be able to speak effectively and bring out my personality on the camera (which I had heard is pretty hard to do, and from whatever initial experience is not easy.) Secondly I hope to learn the skill of explaining something seemingly complex and difficult in a simple-to-understand manner.

All in all I thank God for this course and hope it goes well. *crossesfingers*

Link back to Day 1

Day 2 Thoughts

Wow. It surely was interesting pitching ideas to 6th grade students. It was like trying to angle whatever I know and feel to be interesting in such a way that they’d also understand it. It sure was a difficult task. And one that came unannounced until 12.10 in the afternoon. Was kind of disappointed that none of my ideas were mentioned as favorites of the kids there though, but then again its pretty hard to compete with lots of the other great ideas that the other students had about robots and bracers. I’d be very interested to watch videos about such things they had mentioned also!

Wondering how on earth the subsequent days of filming and editing will go. It seems that many of my thoughts seem to be described with animations, similar to those numerous videos of Ted-Ed that I was watching in Singapore before flying over here. But it was clear from today’s lecture that animations would be a difficult task to do within such a short time of 3 weeks. What method would I then possibly use to flash out a reasonable video within this time period? Possibly stop-motion cameras / holding out drawn objects.

Link back to Day 2

Day 4

I found today extremely interesting when I got to see a snapshot / hidden view into how people in the animation industry really did storyboarding. Prior to this I had not understood and hence emphasized the importance of storyboarding. This was when teachers in class wanted us to storyboard our videos, but then it wasn’t explained why such importance was placed onto it.

I see storyboarding as a quick way to save time and money, much like how quick and dirty prototyping is to creating a product. Of much importance to this is how there has to be many inputs into, in terms of opinion, when making and “re”-storyboarding (from the video). Thankfully this is present within the course we’re going through!

Storyboarding my script will be interesting. I really value the positive words from our teacher Elizabeth when she keeps mentioning again and again how hard scripting is, because I really feel it. The words always don’t seem to be optimal and adequate, and there’s always “something” better, but starting is already better than thinking about it and doing nothing.

Here’s to starting. :D

Link back to Day 4

Day 5 Reflections

Today was good learning how to edit and film and shoot in theory. I knew before that filming something and doing it well was not something that was easy, but I’d never been briefly exposed to the thought process behind all that goes through when filming something. Kudos to all those directors / short-film-makers / video editors throughout all the decades! Now I believe I get a better understand of exactly what it means when the director “brings you into his / her world” whenever you watch a movie. Everything, (or if not almost every), that you see in screen is there for a particular reason: Lightings, camera angle, focus, sound, and all.

What was awesome was to be able to get outside and shoot for ourselves. I was paired up with Yuliya, who was really helpful and positive about what was good within the scene and shooting angles and whatnot. I felt that a lot more would have to be grasped to really produce something good. May be not something that we can achieve in these 3 weeks. But already coming to learn from everything up till now, and all the help and advice we’ve been given, will allow us to produce much better videos than we could have had previously. It was really great how Elizabeth told us how exactly she went through the process herself to kinda give us an example and a model to follow.

Tonight will be editing the script and sending it off because tomorrow there’ll be skiing! Lots of stuff to do because I’m also sending a teaching video for an interview to be a TA in school. Wish me luck.

Link back to Day 5

Day 6 Reflections

I thought that the comments given today at the table-read were brutally honest but right. When I was reading through the script that I had revised the day before I was also getting bored and uninterested. Duh. No-wonder I didn’t have much good experiences with making videos before. The wordings weren’t natural and had too many long sentences too.

I think what was most important was how Elizabeth was going through the flow for Videos as compared to Essays. In videos there really needs to be a hook to pull in others. Videos aren’t thesis statements / essays that others have to trudge through, and even so, the sentence structures for a script and an essay is so different.

Streamlining the story and putting the questions in context was a good way to keep everything in check and not seem to be a bunch of random information that is unlinked. Thanks Jamie for this good comment.

Really hope that this next script is something better. Started it from scratch, without looking at its predecessor, as advised. Kind of getting tired now from writing it again. I think tomorrow I’ll look at it and read it again to make sure that the wording is better.

Felt that Paul and Yulia had really interesting scripts and everybody who presented today presented really well. (On a side note, I feel that people in America present better in general overall!) I would be very interested in watching their videos when it comes out! All the best guys. We’ve got about a week plus left. XD

Link back to Day 6

Day 11 Thoughts

I’d really like to thank all the teaching staff for all the work put into this video making process. Before MIT 20.219, I hadn’t imagined the collaborative and creative effort required to piece together an ~3 minute video. Really kudos to all the people who made K12 videos before us.

I strongly believe that the iterative process was what made our videos better and hopefully a success? Without it our ideas wouldn’t be fresh / flashed out in a proper way.

Really hope that the relationships / experiences shared during this 3 weeks will continue in the long run! Hope you guys will contact mysel / Joshua / Kenneth when coming to Singapore! We’d be more than happy to bring your around! XDD

Anyways, I’m glad that PJ is going to do his video with Science Out Loud! (Can’t wait for it to come out so I can catch it!)

Link back to Day 11

Final Reflections

This course was really an eye opening and stretching one for me! As per mentioned during the showcase: The course was really a course of firsts! And hopefully I can carry on whatever I’ve learnt here to other portions.

I’m glad to say that I’ve survived it and am actually pretty proud of my work! I won’t say its perfect (or really good) and there’s so many others in class who have more awesome work, but I think it was really worth it. XDD Through this I’ve learnt the nitty gritty dirty portions to short video makings. And can really appreciate and understand how intricate videos are.

Really like to thank Elizabeth, Jamie and Ceri for their awesome work in shaping our scripts / storyboards / video editing and cuts. But more than that, for encouraging us to express our creative-sides and pushing up to achieve more. Like I had mentioned in the showcase: I really feel that all our projects are a combined effort of all the teaching staff as well as inputs from various students! Thank you everyone!

One thing I would like to mention was that at the start I was torn between 2 problems to answer through the video:

  1. What makes math problems too hard to solve?
  2. How does one survive the cold?

I ended up doing qn 2 only after much debate because of feedback from the 6th graders, Elizabeth as well as finding a succinct and concise YouTube video on “P vs NP”. I feel now that maybe doing the whole video on “cold” is not something within my area of specialty and possibly a further improvement would be to do one within that.

Another area of improvement would be delivery and hosting. I felt that certain other videos had better hosting compared to mine. One reason was that I was unsure in front of the camera, and I feel the answer to this is just more practice and keeping the script only to main points. The second reason was that at the start of the storyboard I was having a more “Ted-Ed” (voice speaking with animation) mindset to creating the whole video.

Although I must say that I am unlikely to start another video on my own time, I do hope that these lessons can be brought forward when I do need to use them.

Other than learning about video making / hosting / script writing, another lesson I have learnt through class is framing opinions / feedback. I noticed how individuals in class, Elizabeth and Jamie especially, would give a precursor before stating their opinion. They said stuff like “This might be just me”, or “Coming from…”, or “You don’t really have to do this, but if I were you…”. (This enabled the listener to better understand the context in which the opinion is aimed towards.) I felt that this really helped in the creative process. Also, framing the feedback didn’t cause any unhappy moments, as is often seen when ideas get “shot” down in more direct manners.

I’d like to end off by saying that I’m really glad to have gone for MIT 20.219 and for the friendships made. I would really like to extend the invitation to all students and teaching staff to keep in contact and visit us in Singapore if you can! Please do visit!

(P.S.- @Paul: All the best with the video! Hope to see it on Science Out Loud soon.)

(P.S. 2 - @everyone: I hope everyone is doing okay with the snow barrage and all!)

With Best Regards,

David Yam

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 9 | Day 11

Link to Elizabeth Choe’s Page on Tumblr

Day 1 Thoughts

Phew! Day 1 over. Man, 3 hours goes by waaaay faster when you’re talking than when you’re listening. Thanks for being a good audience, you guys are troopers. Let me know if lecture starts feeling too tedious or if you all want me to break up the sessions more.

Y’all are a Quiet bunch! But I suppose that is to be expected on the first day. We’ll be sure to shake things up tomorrow… Loved hearing people’s experiences with video, and it was interesting to see how my personal tastes aligned (distaste of Khan Academy - agree with Paul on that one, and then same with the +1 for Veritasium with Andrea) or didn’t align with that of others.

It was really funny hearing Chris talk about the plastic elements of film today, because I took his documentary - making class, DV Lab, and heard him talk about that stuff maybe 4 years ago (holy crap), and I never thought I’d be using that information again (and then that class got me started down the video production rabbit hole, and now here I am trying to make a career out of it). That really is one of the hardest mentalities to overcome, though - the camera, casting, lighting… all that stuff is changeable and in your control! We just tend to get lazy about it or just do things the way they’ve always been done (and when it comes to educational video, I think we could use some change). I’ll be talking about producing later in the week where we’ll delve into the practicalities of those things, but just keep in mind that you have the ability to make things “a little bit better,” as Hank Green would say.

The 3 - act structure of web video that Chris talked about was something I hadn’t been able to verbalize or encapsulate like that - I’m going to have to steal that from him. I, too, also love the concept of making the unfamiliar familiar (and vice versa even more) - you thought you knew stuff about snot? Oh snap, turns out, you didn’t, and it’s weird and awesome as hell.

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Day 2 Thoughts

Another day down. I have to admit, I was pretty stressed about this one during class planning because of all of the moving parts, but I suppose stress is bound to happen anytime you’re adding 20 6th graders to the mix. I do want to emphasize that you can take everything we (all the teaching staff, today’s “guest lecturers”) say with a grain of salt. Walter Murch (editor of Apocalypse Now, Godfather III, and many others) says in his book, Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing. Silman - James Press, 2001. ISBN: 9781879505629.

You shouldn’t blindly follow what you learn from… test screenings any more than you should anything else… [they are] just a way to find out where you are. (54)

Hopefully today was just a way to see where you are from another perspective. I know it can be overwhelming sometimes to be bombarded with seemingly conflicting opinions and lots of abstract ideas - I promise that as soon as you start committing some ideas to paper, the concrete process will become so much clearer. Remember - “good” is difficult to define because “good” is often a matter of taste. The priorities here are the four class values: Spark, clarity, thoughtfulness, and challenge.

I was talking to Joshua and Ceri after class about how the pursuit of perfection on the first try can often cripple us and prevent us from trying in the first place. “Kill your darlings” has sort of become a professional mantra of mine, because so many of the ideas and work that I do end up being thrown away before getting to final products, and that’s okay. Actually, that process of creating and discarding is so vital, but perhaps we’ve become conditioned to ensuring that we only create darlings worth keeping with our scientist / engineering training (which I find problematic).

It was so interesting to hear Natalie’s perspective of a non - producer attempting video from a scientist’s perspective, and so refreshing to hear her honest reflections of what worked and what didn’t. BioBuilder really has discovered its niche in using video to highlight their real value proposition, which is the activities, rather than relying on the videos as their main products. I think that was a really smart decision. I do think that video is sort of blindly embraced by the scientific / engineering community - they recognize that there’s power in it, but don’t necessarily take the time or effort to understand how to best leverage that power. That’s why there is so much embarrassingly sub -par video content that’s promoted by scientific heavyweights. Just this morning, I was looking at the winner’s of last - years video contest sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering and did some hardcore facepalming.

I forgot to mention this during class, but there were really great and interesting points brought up regarding the readings last night. I will try to address some of those points in the coming lectures.

I’m really excited about the group of students we have in this class and to see you all opening up more about your creative process and questions. Don’t hesitate to let the teaching staff know how we can best help you throughout this process.

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Day 3 Thoughts

This video is courtesy of Elizabeth Choe on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 4 Reflections

Another day down. Hope you found this one fun and maybe brought more tangible examples of what works and what doesn’t in the world of scriptwriting / video. I do think it’s funny to think about what everyone’s reaction to taking out the line about density in that Planet Nutshell video would’ve been before this class… perhaps we wouldn’t have been so willing to comply with a less precise (but more accurate) script?

It was hard to figure out the best way to teach this class because so many of the “units” aren’t actually free - standing modules of information - storyboarding ties into scriptwriting which ties into hosting which ties into visual planning… it’s more like a web of interconnected elements rather than a train of sequential lessons. Hopefully you all are starting to recognize that, too!

I love the brainstorming that is happening in this ideation phase, but it really is so striking to see how crippling the perfection of an idea can be. It is a universal experience - every student I have worked with on Science Out Loud (including myself!!) has this fixation on measuring 20 times, cutting once. Maybe it’s our nature as engineers and scientists to exhaust the research phase before going into prototyping. But here’s the thing - in production, the reality is that we will be measuring 20 times and cutting 40 times. No matter how perfect your idea is, in many ways, the scripting process is what helps you refine (or even completely redo) your idea, and you will be re - scripting regardless of the level of perfection of your idea. Getting a script down on paper is - I promise - the most productive thing you can do to propel yourself forward. Even if you end up scrapping the entire script! But at least with a script that you toss, you have a better sense of what direction to move, whereas if you ruminate too much, you’re left in this fog of ideas.

The other thing is, the point of these videos should not be “how xyz happens” or “why xyz exists” - your point will be something bigger and in the process of reaching that point in your video, you will have explained to the audience what xyz is. For example, if you asked me what the point of my snot video is, I could say: “My video explains the chemistry behind farts.” But what the real thesis is, is: “There’s an incredible material that defends organisms, can differentiate between biological objects, that can self - heal… and it’s a material that we take for granted everyday and every moment we throw away a tissue - it’s our own snot.” (Eh, maybe the wording can be better, but you get my point.) I actually think this is a really powerful way to frame your thinking when you write scientific papers, do talks, write grants, pitch anything. If a layperson asked what the point of giving talks at conferences is, I think a lot of people would answer, “To explain my research.” But that objective can only get you so far, you know? Explaining your research is sort of a happy consequence that comes from you shooting to tell the story or argument of your research.

tl;dr write a script! It’s okay if you end up changing it! And really challenge yourself to write a point about your video (something beyond “My video is about how ___ works”).

P.S. Totally empathize with how difficult this is, you all are doing a great job.

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Day 5 Thoughts

Week one - Down! I do recognize that the coursework may have been heavy this week, but I just want to reassure you that I front - loaded this class to set you all up in the best way possible for the rest of the month. Tuesday will be the last “lecture” of the class, with every other day being open to classwork (table reads, screenings and time to film). We just wanted to best equip you all for the open time ahead.

It was so great hearing everyone’s “revised” pitches at the beginning of the class. I hope you see how different your points are with just a little reworking of your frame of mind and wording. These will ultimately help you create a stronger video (or talk or presentation!).

Hope you all had fun getting to work with the equipment today. I was watching Kenneth and PJ (FYI, Paul is actually a PJ, as I learned today) as they recorded because they stayed in the classroom, and it made me smile that 1) PJ offered the same directorial advice I was about to give (“Try one where you don’t emphasize the word ‘pizza’ too much”) and that 2) they tried some creative shots:

I can’t emphasize enough how awesome it is seeing you all brainstorm and work together-as Josh, Chris, and George have all said before, filmmaking is a process that depends so much on collaboration (I can’t imagine teaching this class without them, for instance).

It’s 4:30 right now and Joshua and Nathan just came back from filming in Nathan’s dorm (which, in my opinion, is the coolest one to see at MIT)… so, see? Lots of great things come out of not having to film by yourself:)

Very, very happy with the progress everyone is making, and even more excited to see where’ll you all go next week.

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Day 6 Thoughts

Well… table reads always go more awkwardly than I always anticipate them to be. Not sure why I’d think otherwise - I mean, you’re gathering a bunch of people and expecting them to freely share their creative work and then critique that of others… as per usual, you all were troopers.

Can you believe we only started this class one week ago? Today was a lot of script - reworking, but I don’t want to trivialize the amount of work that it took to get them to where they were today. Lots of improvements all around.

Working with this class has made me realize more and more how much our traditional education informs the way we approach things, for better or for worse. Take the five - paragraph essay format, for instance. Why are we so averse to opening with the money shots (that’s my instinct as well as a writer - I feel like I have to sufficiently explain and define everything before I start) and to think contextually? There’s a fine line between being click - bait-y and hook - oriented thinking, but sometimes I feel like academia could use a lot more of it (as long as it backs it up, of course). I had a really interesting conversation with Ceri after class about why there’s so much crappy science / educational media out there, and why it may be because as students, we’re used to emulating things that have worked for us in the past or the things that are the best that’s out there for now. We often seek templates, and if they don’t exist, we copy things that have seemingly “succeeded” (maybe why there are so many Khan Academy knock - offs out there).

I’m also feeling a lot of time crunch - pressure to finish lectures, to finish drafts, to finish the project… I racked my brain thinking of the best way to pace this class, and even so, we’re still super pressed for time. What have been the most vital components of this class so far? Do you think there are things I could’ve taken out? I thought about just having one - on  -one feedback with drafts just using Google Docs, but I wonder how much you would’ve missed out on by not reading your complete scripts aloud to the class and seeing their reactions and feedback (and hearing the teaching staff’s feedback for other scripts)…

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Day 7 Thoughts

I echo Ceri’s sentiments - the scripts have come along very, very far. You may want to watch your original pitches sometime this weekend, just to see the comparison… (both text and delivery!) Not to be too trite, but it really is so awesome hearing people give feedback to each other during class.

I realize it’s a bit difficult to teach and understand editing without just trying it for yourself… a lot of it really is a matter of taste and preference (remember the class where Chris said that his film school profs never let people cut before 4 seconds? That seems crazy - long to me now.). I could talk on and on and on about editing… I think it’s the most undervalued role in production, but then again, the whole point of editing is to be as “unseen” as possible (whereas the talent is meant to be seen as much as possible). If you’re interested in more of the “art” of editing, I highly recommend Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing. Silman-James Press, 2001. ISBN: 9781879505629. I think it makes a lot of sense to non - video types, and found it to be a unexpectedly beautiful reflection of how to look at the world - editing is that, isn’t it? Representing a reality by examining the reality at your disposal… Anyway, I wanted today to be a pragmatic approach to post-production, but at the same time, there is so much you can miss out on when it’s reduced to a this - is - what - buttons - you - push - when - you - edit lesson.

Somewhat unrelated, but something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: Ira Glass Interview on Why This American Life Feels So Different from Other Public Radio.

Public radio is good at being timely and analytical and giving you the news and doing all these things very, very solid… but what we want to do is take the smell of broccoli out of the air…

I think a radio show is better when the presenter, when the reporter exists as a person and, like, I feel like then there’s more to listen for.

Link back to Day 7

Day 9 Thoughts

Today I followed Yuliya / PJ / Kenneth around for a bit as they filmed part of Yuliya’s video on fractals in E ast Campus (a dorm nearby, for those of you who are unfamiliar).

(Just a little creepin’ ‘round the corner, don’t mind me…)

Beyond anything, I am thrilled with how you all are approaching shots, planning, hosting… I heard some great directorial advice from the guys. I know you are working under very tight time constraints and not the greatest equipment, and it’s okay if you don’t make a YouTube show. What’s most important is that you can identify how to make things better / why things work or don’t work in video, etc… and from what I’m overhearing, a lot of that is happening.

(Look! PJ’s smiling!!)

Then I hopped back over to the classroom, where Ceri was giving a brief tutorial on using the tablets in Illustrator to eventually create simple animations (jumping goats, in Andrea’s case). Again, I know there’s not a whole lot of time to create sweeping animations, but hopefully this gives you a little taste of some of the video production techniques you can play with long after this class ends.

(Smiles from everyone today! Huzzah.)

I’m guessing David and Joshua were filming in the hotel this afternoon - can’t wait to see how all that turns out. Home stretch! Ceri and I will be around and online this weekend if anyone needs help.

Link back to Day 9

Day 11 Thoughts

This video is courtesy of Elizabeth Choe on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 1 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 7 | Day 11

Link to Joshua Cheong’s Page on Tumblr

Day 1 Thoughts

Today was the day of many new experiences. This is my first time in U.S.A, this is my first ever class in MIT and this class is so great! In 2008 during my years in Junior College, I was writing a paper about the Big Bang. In a desperate attempt to make sense of what I had to write about, I chanced upon a couple of youtube lectures on Special Relativity from Yale and I was able write out the derivation of Einstein’s Special Relativity formulas from scratch. That literally blew my mind and I would never forget thinking that online videos would revolutionise the way that students study forever. A small kid in a small country like Singapore would have never imagined that he could be able to stand on the shoulders of academic giants through these videos and get the information he wants.

If only the video information I had at the time was more accessible and enjoyable.

Naveen Jain, the founder and former CEO of Infospace once asked (and I paraphrase) what if the children of the future would be addicted to learning and learning related games as much as they are addicted to popular computer games like Dota or Call of Duty (COD)? How would such a world look like?

Is it possible to develop a series of educational videos that are strangely as hypnotically captivating as top TV shows like “How I met your Mother”? What would it take for Tom Cruise to narrate his “Mission Impossible” moves using physics concepts as he take down the bad guys? How cool would it be if Kim Kardashian taught a sociology class on why controversy sells?

Perhaps I’m sounding more and more crazy here, but maybe what we need is a little crazy. Perhaps that’s what would tip the scale that brings humanity forward.

Looking forward to the next class!

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Day 3 Reflections

This video is courtesy of Joshua Cheong on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Vlog Day 4

This video is courtesy of Joshua Cheong on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 5 Reflection

Wow! Today things started to get real. Having filming partners really got us warmed up better with each other.

The lessons were so important & applicable and I was busily jotting everything down.

I loved the metaphor that the camera is the voice of this visual language and we need to learn how to speak it. The main key point I got from the lesson was that with the visual language, there is much more you can play with and experiment with, but do it in purposeful ways; instead of the idea of a traditional acting stage (proscenium).

I loved it that I learned some technical terms for filming such as B-Roll, Pacing, Close shots, and Wide shots etc. Nathan and I were immediately using those terms to communicate the ideas quickly. Those terms were super helpful, I wouldn’t have known otherwise how to describe a scene with B-roll.

I found Elizabeth’s tips on developing a checklist extremely useful and I can see how I would totally lose a lot of time if I were to be less prepared. I am soo excited to scout for locations and start planning the shots!! Have a great weekend to y’all!! Looking forward to monday!

Link back to Day 5

Day 7 Thoughts

Haha the script has come a long way after a great ton of iterations! I can start to see how things would be coming together. Currently I am building the storyboard up and getting up and running with the video editing software. I am very excited about the filming process but daunted at the same time due to my inexperience.

The lesson was amazing. I didn’t realise that there was so much in the thought process of simply choosing the music and the editing. Simply by going through this experience has taught me a lot of great lessons.

I really love those memorable quotes, “You must kill all your darlings!”, “Editing… is not so much of putting a film together but rather of discovering a path”, and “Shoot like you’re going to keep everything! Edit like you’re going to keep nothing!”

I also took both PJ’s and Andrea’s advice of simplifying the numbers.

Link back to Day 7

Day 11 Thoughts

Wow, this course was an amazing experience! I must thank all the teaching staff and participants for pouring all your experience into the projects given such a short period of time. Personally, I’ve gained a ton from the class (and from the pizza we had, pun intended). From scriptwriting, to video editing; it is incredible how much I’ve learnt about the planning, iteration and passion that is required for these k12 videos.

As I’ve previously mentioned, my mother is the Head of the Science department of all-girls middle to high school (secondary school) in Singapore (Tanjong Katong Girls School). I’ve shared my experiences and my project with her and she was very impressed with the MIT K12 youtube channel. She is looking incorporate the videos in the students’ learning experience.

In Singapore, since the 80’s we’ve had a strong emphasis on STEM education as there was a manufacturing, engineering, and R&D industry boom at that time. Till today, many Singapore parents insist that their children take a triple-science (biology, chemistry and physics) high school education. Although that may seem like a different situation as compared to U.S.A, my mother tells me that she always had an issue with inspiring students on the science subjects given the large coverage of syllabus material. From a larger perspective, the MIT K12 videos can give bursts of real-world application ideas on those scientific concepts that could encourage subject interest and still be short enough to be integrated in school lessons.

From a project perspective, I am quite happy with what I was able to achieve in the project. The first pitch I gave was about the usage of hashing in computer security. After the consultation with the middle-schoolers, it was quite clear that I might be heading in the wrong direction with my ideas. I chose the topic of hashing because I saw that this concept was the most fundamental building block of our modern cryptography protocols. However that was from the point-of-view that assumes that you’ll be interested in the subject of computer security. I then explored a few different topics such as the Google searches and Computer Viruses. I think the Google search topic was mostly accessible as I had previously asked the middle-schoolers if they knew about Google and almost all of them had some idea that you use Google to search for websites. It was a decent starting point I knew that I could start from as a topic to write a script.

The writing of the script was clearly a collaborative effort. Putting it in a Google doc and allowing comments / edits helped me to see the fundamental flaws with the script and its contents. I took most of the advice and comments given to me, especially the comments related to language expressions. Although english is my native language, Singaporeans tend to use their own set of colloquial expressions known collectively as Singlish. I did have to make a hard decision to keep or drop the “Finding Gloves.” portion of the script. I eventually decided to rewrite / shorten that portion and keep it since it was more accessible as a concept with physical props (gloves) instead of a conceptual jump that’s straight to the search engines (which was more of an abstract idea). I think a way I could have improved the script would be to read it aloud to a few people who did not hear of the pitch beforehand and ask them how much they can explain back to me of what they gained from the script. In that way, I could emphasize or de-emphasize certain portions to improve clarity.

I tried to come up with as many hooks as I could in the video to maintain viewer interest. At the back of my mind, I was thinking of the first lesson where we would annotate at what time did I shut off a certain video (Bill Nye, Veritasium etc). I was always a bit anxious if I talked for too long without the element of interaction, that it could result in a ridiculously boring video. I guess this could have been improved further if I was able to get access to some interesting locations to put into the video such as access to film in a Google office, or access to a server farm, or access to Akamai (Akamai has a strong relationship with MIT since it’s co-founder comes from MIT) etc. But due to time constraints, this was not really possible. Nonetheless, I was quite satisfied with the shots in front of the big Google sign despite shivering in the snow at that point.

In terms of “spark”, I tried my best to maintain a smile in my delivery. A while back, I was a telemarketer on a part-time job (I am sorry if I may have disturb people a while back!). One of the most interesting concepts I learned is that people can see you on the phone through your voice. So maintaining a smiling facial expression would change the quality of the delivery. I also followed George’s advice on making a ridiculous version of the narration before actual shooting, it definitely helped me to lose some of the butterflies in my stomach being in front of the camera. At the same time, I also tried to be myself or rather a slightly more enthusiastic version of myself (not too enthusiastic to become unnatural). It was quite a difficult balance, but I learned that it becomes more easy to become a host after a few shoots.

Lastly, in order to push my audience to grow, I kept the long chunk of the script which describes the inner workings of binary search. However, it was a combination of the words with the after-effect animations of the “classroom” and “students” that aided in the description of the process that would not have been possible with just my words. Perhaps I could have improved the video further by adding actual b-roll of running to and from classrooms to show how this process could be troublesome if done incorrectly.

Once again, thank you so much for having the students from Singapore around and it was such an enlightening experience. I am excited to try to make more videos on my own.

I wish you all the best for Spring 2015!

Best regards,

Joshua Cheong

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Link to Kenneth’s Page on Tumblr

Thoughts on Day 1!

As mentioned in class, I’ve always had a longing passion for teaching, something I have unfortunately not followed up on given a stronger passion for engineering. (oops)

I think my interest for teaching was mostly guided by my excitement when I see my students not just understanding the concept themselves, but understanding it in a manner such that they were able to impart it to their classmates and so on so forth. Education to me never struck to me as stopping at the student. It struck me as something that was limitless, boundless.

Coming into the class, although yes, I was a little disappointed in learning that we weren’t exactly creating a full fledged education series complete with a set of props and a weird hairdo / crossdressing (think Mrs. Doubtfire), being exposed to the idea that short videos such as those on YouTube, were a huge lot more effective in passing on ideas and ensuring their “longevity” in the minds of the “students” (loosely used, as it can be Anyone!)

As a kid, I Loved, and absolutely Loved watching a particular TV series produced in America and “hosted” by kids around my age, running around the house conduction experiments and craft projects that would be easily replicable in my own home (except those involving snow. I guess I can do them now…) It just felt so much easier to connect and learn when things were brought to such a relatable level. Eventually, growing up, with YouTube as such a huge influencer in today’s world, it was a matter of time before videos of the same nature were being utilized by everyone, and reaching a much larger target audience rather than just kids. The distinctive difference in feeling I have is that right now, I can choose what I want to watch though, and be able to pick up concepts a lot easier than having to sit through a 30 minutes program.

Link back to Day 1

Blog Entry Day 2

I don’t like kids, I said it when class started, and that’s probably because to me, I feel so old around them (I like to believe I’m Peter Pan)

Bringing the 6th graders into class today definitely reminded me of that fact, but it also reminded me how young at heart I felt, how inquisitive I was at that age. (These were kids that were exposed to movies of not just their generation, but of their parent’s generation. Gosh.)

I felt that unfortunately, I spent too much time trying to understand the kids and their interests (I often started off by asking what they felt their favourite subjects were, how they felt about science in general, and what made them more / less interested in science), that I didn’t have enough time to run through my ideas with them. But with those that I had tried to briefly run through my initial concept on the 3 main theories of time travelling, it had felt a little too abstract for them to understand or fully appreciate them, even if I had tried to resort to hollywood’s examples to better relate to them (again, no idea why they watched movies from my parent’s generation and not my own, I mean I’m only twice their age!)

The session overall led me to initially believe that the entire topic of time travel might have been a little too edgy or abstract for the 12 year olds, and I had initially decided to head down an alternate path of pain (literally, I was considering writing on how we perceive pain and how painkiller work).

I then realised that it wasn’t because the topic was unrelatable, but it was more of me not having asked the right question. Changing the question and rescoping my theme a little, I decided to focus on “Can we actually time travel?” as some of the questions posed by the students were asking “How do We Time Travel” and “The History of Time Travel”, rather than my initial proposed “How does Travelling Back in Time Work, When you Change Thing etc”.

Which has thus led, to my day2script post.

Link back to Day 2

Day 3

Being in front of the camera for the umpteenth time, I certainly don’t feel like I’m a stranger to it. And when I write, I’d usually write things a little too narratively too, so I’d never really had a problem writing scripts. While doing yesterday’s assignment, the words had come seamlessly to me. (Probably why my friends always call me the drama queen). (Probably why I like to speak with so much subtext too.)

What had not come so naturally to me though, was getting my point across. It brings to mind another incident during my teaching internship, where I had given an extremely detailed class on the foundations of kinematics, but had left the students walking away with many questions, but Not the one that I had hoped to inspire in them. Disappointed in myself, I set out to find out what was the best way to get the right questions out of them, and decided to have a set of materials with a lot more directed content, so as to better encourage and point the students in the right direction.

With today’s feedback session, I had realised that while my opening was witty, funny, and was generally enjoyed, it had left many of the class members confused as to what I was proceeding to say with my video, as it seemed that I had already painted time travel in a “nope, it’s not going to happen”, and then there was that foot-in-mouth moment where I called Stephen Hawkings lame (I kinda legitly did forget he was literally lame! I promise there was no ill intent!).

I guess when having my script revision; I ought to do what I had done with my previous material, which is to better direct audiences to ask the right question. Hmmm, the only question right now is, How?!

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Day 4 Blog Post

I like to believe I’m a creative person. Putting that with my stubborn nature, at times I feel it hard to accept conflicting creative decisions from others around me. Storyboarding itself was a huge test to this trait of mine, and the fact that we had to come up with a story board as a group was a little challenging, as I tend to quickly arrive at my own ideas, and could stick to them quite hard before even hearing everyone’s input. So when it came down to storyboarding as a large group, it helped that we were looking through the script line by line, and that helped me “buffer” my thought process and not to see the entire set as a huge picture (which I tend to do an) do not focus on the details as times.

However I realised soon after that my little problem came back as we broke into smaller groups and that I had sped through the entire remaining of the script and had started to generate ideas within my head. This proved to be a problem as I soon imagined everyone else’s proposed ideas through the vision I’ve had for my own idea.

Drawing it out however seemed to slowly help me better picture everyone else’s ideas, which seems to be a core part of my graphic-heavy visualising process.

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Link to Nathan Hernandez’s Page on Tumblr

Day 1 Thoughts

As a person who’s still pretty confused about a lot of things including my major and what I’d like to do with the rest of my life, I’ve had to figure my (vague) goals—a major one being making a positive impact on the world…somehow. I think teaching is a pretty good fit for that. I’ve always thought that science education is a really important thing not just for the sake of getting people to be interested in working in science or engineering, but also in order to form a scientifically literate population. I’ve also always wanted to try my hand at making videos, but never quite got up and did it. So when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do this IAP, I admit the clickbaitey title did catch my eye and after reading the course description, was pretty excited about the class.

The first day was pretty interesting and made me think quite a lot. I watch a decent amount of youtube, but yet I’ve somehow never really thought before on what makes a youtuber be enjoyable for me instead of one I close the window on. I’ve never really thought from the perspective of the creator, only from that of a consumer, so it’s odd to try to think of the whats and whys and hows. That said, I’m really excited to figure it all out since I want to contribute to the sea of content that’s already on youtube. Growing up, I never really did see any science shows, so a lot of my exposure to science videos has come from different youtubers or Ted or Edx, which really makes me want to make my own video (I suppose this is partly an exercise in narcissism).

The two materials we watched were pretty engaging. I’ve left some comments in the annotations, so I’ll avoid what I’ve already said there. While reading the Hank Green piece, his comment that a small team of people (<5) could work on a show that received from 30k to 150k views per video and make a living out of it. I ended up looking up a lot about how the Youtube Partner program functions, as well as the model where creators utilize crow-based funding sources like Subbable, Kickstarter, or Patreon and how they work.

All in all. Good first day.


Day 2 Thoughts

This video is from WaywardLightning on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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In Which I Ramble about Day 3

This video is from WaywardLightning on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

Sorry that it’s kind of disjoint and long

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Day 4 Reflection

This audio is from hiji on Tumblr and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 5 Reflection

This audio is from hiji on Tumblr and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 6 Reflection

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 11 | Final Reflection

Link to Yuliya Klochan’s Page on Tumblr

Day 1 Thoughts

What a wonderful way to start class! I’d been excited for 20.219 ever since the ad for it first popped up in my mailbox. I’ve always wanted to make educational videos, so it seemed like a perfect match.

Navigating the Internet is a highly complex task. I started a blog this summer, and way too many books and articles and blog posts offered advice on how to best do so. Thus, taking a class on making educational videos seemed like an easier option. Really, I couldn’t go through another one of the tedious “How To” books. The Internet is puzzling and complicated. Full of marvelous opportunities, yes, but not for those traveling alone.

Anyway, that’s my reason for taking 20.219, and so far it has totally lived up to my expectations. I can’t believe that I may soon create a video of my own! That is, for lack of a more appropriate word, awesome! Also, I’m happy to expand my YouTube horizons beyond SciShow and Vi Hart. I enjoyed watching other online science videos. VSauce may be my favorite so far (though second to SciShow). I enjoy both channels for the hosts’ personalities. I can’t quite explain why, but their quirky attitude and fast pace grasp my attention the best. Surprisingly, Bill Nye’s videos, though also quirky and quick, do not carry the same appeal. Mr Nye seems to be more of a “brand name” than anything, and, since I grew up in Ukraine, devoid of access to his work, I do not have any connection to this character from my childhood. Now, it’s too late to start. I wonder, though, how a host can position himself so highly in a culture? Everybody around here seems to know The Science Guy.

Lastly, I’m happy to say that I was actually able to start my video! And, yes, I am still thrilled to continue. Luckily, I was able to find a topic I love, and one that has not been featured on YouTube channels before. I searched for a video on it recently to show to a friend, but wasn’t able to find anything that explained it well in under an hour and in layman terms. So, the task is doubly interesting because it is practical.

Unfortunately, iMovie has failed me, and green blobs obstruct the view of my pitch. I’ll attempt to eliminate them immediately. Thus, excited for the next day of class, I shall end this first entry.

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Day 2 Thoughts and Feelings

Two (five?) hours ago, I firmly resolved to go to bed at a time that would leave me a sufficient number of hours for sleep. Ha! Like that could ever happen. Writing a script was way too fun (oh, and, oops, it’s not quite 300 words). For perhaps the first time in my life I brainstormed ideas on a piece of paper. One piece became two, and then the letters grew smaller, until at last I decided to stop the thinking. I had enough “mathematical superpowers” down for a whole season of Math Woman’s adventures.

I am still constantly amazed at new mathematical wonders I discover. Today especially, after some research (incidentally, the non-scientific Cracked.Com provided the most insight), it was hard to believe that some abhorred the subject. There are so many cool things you could bring up! And not just for kids. Latest research can help adults propose, find the perfect spouse, calculate how to make good sexual choices when drunk, predict the next hit song, and so much more. Then there’s also the more useful math research on finding the most probable location of a terrorist’s bomb, or which gang committed the crime. Game theory can predict Iran’s next step. We may soon be able replace lab rats with lab computers. So Much Cool.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of applying math. Formulas are nice to look at and plug in numbers, but it’s the mind-blowing concepts of infinity, homeomorphism, multiple dimensions that make me happiest. Mathematicians are able to do things that no other subject allows, like quite literally transcending infinity. So to me, math kinda seemed like a superpower. That’s how Math Woman came along after a conversation with Jaime on what I like and how I can make those concepts more concrete (which totally helped with inspiration!). I can see Math Woman evolving into a pretty cool character, and a different one, too.

So that’s the script thoughts. As to the class, i absolutely adored talking to the kids. I could talk to them for hours, just learning what they like and what gets them most excited. None of the ideas for Math Woman’s powers would’ve appeared without their input. Robots are way cooler than just math, of course. And who knew that Kurt Godel’s name sounded very much like that of KFC’s founder?

Children age 12 and under are my favorite age group to work with. They are open and willing to try new things. Some time in middle school, students seem to begin rejecting their ability to do well in all subjects, especially math. But 6th graders are still very receptive, and open. Also, I can kinda pull off being “cool” around them. That’s a bonus.

In summary, being around children was awesomely entertaining and useful. And, I learned many lessons from BioBuilder, as well as from brainstorming and discussion.

As always, excited for next day.

The end.

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Day 3

While the trailer is uploading to YouTube, let me try to remember class today…

I loved it! In general, I always enjoy class discussions. And, I like to be critiqued. I could tell very clearly that my video was, well, off. I needed help, and help was there. I got to listen to some fantastic ideas and input, and understood better what exactly a “point” of a video is, and what kind of writing / hosting is expected from us (though I certainly haven’t mastered it yet).

I realized, too, that mathematics (the “cool” kind) lacked concrete examples. Except fractals. And fractals are beyond awesome. I found myself digging deeper and deeper into research, unearthing MIT Tech Review articles from over 10 years ago, and learning so much about the wonderful Chaos Theory in the process. I expected fractals to be a fun topic to research and discuss, but it exceeded my expectations splendiferously. And, in a marvelous turn of events, all the research on fractals began with an MIT meteorology professor, Edward Lorenz, and his Butterfly Effect, which started the mathematical Chaos Theory (that Newton would surely abhor), and led to more fantastic discoveries when Mandelbrot (who also at one point taught at MIT) came along with his images of fractals.

The story of Lorenz and Mandelbrot (and MIT!) is a fascinating one. It took me 33 story-telling on camera tries to condense the trailer from 8 minutes to 30 seconds. A lot of words! Oh, and settling the lighting was a quest on its own. I hope we can learn that later in class, because so far, I’m not sure how it works. What started as one lamp became a lamp covered with a napkin, which was soon joined by my roommate’s lamp, until a flashlight sticking out from the top mattress covered in tissue seemed to be the best option. My room isn’t the brightest, but I felt that the chaotic poster on the wail was somehow essential to the clip about chaos, and did my best with it. Point is, I’d love to learn how to work a camera, and lamps.

Back to the class. It has challenged me to try again and again. Today I researched a totally new topic, one I had very little experience in previously. And it was good. Also, I never enjoyed feedback / critique / discussion as much. It’s great to know that we’re all learning together, and from each other. Before Monday, I’d be terrified to read through the script in front of everyone, but now I’m actually excited for next Monday’s read-through.

The feeling of the evening: still thrilled.

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Day 4

I’ll make this brief this time. I have about one hour left of sleep, so, well, brevity is key at the end of a long long (endless) night.

I have just completed the script and scene one storyboard. it’s the fourth idea I’ve had to work on in this week because, as I found, math is not very abundant in concrete examples. At least not the kind of math I can do and enjoy, because perhaps Statistics and Probability would be more “doable” topics for a video.

In addition to lacking a concrete concept, I found that I wasn’t really a mathematical expert. I’ve heard about fractals, and I’m excited about the concept, but it wasn’t until I started learning more about them that I realized exactly how prevalent they are in nature. I dug deeper and deeper into that fascinating world, and eventually came up with yet another overly broad topic. I just wanted to share all those cool things I found! Alas, I only have 5 minutes.

Now, fortunately, I have distilled the script to about 5 minutes, with explanatory animations / images intended. I’m pretty happy with it because, even though it’s far from perfect (and I’m anticipating a lot of good critique later), I was able to cut down 11 pages of precious material to the appropriate 750ish words for 5 minutes. That’s only 2 pages. It got easier to delete words and concepts as I went along. At some point, I realized I’d cut out enough material to make a whole other video. It’s nice to have such extras. And, regardless of whether the material is ever filmed, I enjoyed learning about it.

As to today’s class, I found it very useful. I’d been focusing on the script, unaware of how much the visuals really mattered, and how words connected with pictures. The ideas studied in class helped me better visualize my own script. The storyboard wouldn’t have happened without today, and not just because of the tips from the powerpoint. Discussion and Q & A is perhaps the methods of learning that help me best in this class. I love learning from other peoples’ perspectives.

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Day 5 Thoughts

Once I got a good mental idea of what the point of my video is, creating a draft of the script was almost easy. I was simply telling a story about some cool things I learned to friends. Then I cut off the extra pieces, remembering the density example we went over yesterday (when we chose to delete a sentence for clarity). That was a great way to see what can be useless in a video, even if the concept seems essential in life. Thinking back on that exercise, I shortened the stories, definitions, and later replaced some explanations with on-screen animations, another lesson learned in class.

I look forward to the Monday critique session. Now I really wish I’d had a script back when we first analyzed writing. Revising is almost as much fun as writing. In fact, it usually takes up about 75% of my time working on a piece. I like having a concrete structure and idea, then tweaking the sentences and painting over inconsistencies and gaps.

The class today was quite technical, which further deepened my understanding of how little I know. I don’t mean that in a bad way, though. Seeing how much work is done behind the scenes is fascinating. And it’s empowering to know that I’m not the only one putting a lot of time and effort in the production. In fact, I’m not doing nearly as much work as a professional team.

On a similar note, yesterday I accidentally clicked on a SciShow video by Hank Green from 2012 while trying to find inspiration for the script. How horrific it was! I had to check whether the host was indeed Hank in the description, twice. There was none of the wacky spark, or the confidence, or the quick narrative. The camera didn’t really move much, and tiny images popped up in the corners without really adding much to the video. Oh, and the jokes were awful! Or at least they weren’t delivered well by this slower, quieter version of Hank. The example was helpful, because it showed how much a producer can improve. Here is the video: The Sex Lives of Early Humans. I still shudder seeing how very awkward and scared Hank Green looks in front of the camera. Now, however, SciShow is my favorite science YouTube channel. Hank Green is my favorite host.

The start of filming today went quite poorly. One location had great lighting but a dreadful echo. Outside, the wind blocked out almost every word. A lot of my shots are meant to be done by the Charles River, and I doubt now that this can be done. The wind is a regular occurrence these days. I’m considering a new location already.

Seems kind of odd that I won’t be working on the video as much this weekend. I’ll look at the script again tomorrow maybe, but I remember it so well by now that I can’t make any major modifications. With the fast pacing of the class, I don’t really have time to let thoughts settle, so I’ll have to go with what I have. And that’s a good thing, too, because normally I wait for “creative inspiration” to compose anything. This week I’ve had to think by the deadline. That’s another useful skill acquired.

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Day 6 Vlog

This video is courtesy of Yuliya Klochan on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 7

This video is courtesy of Yuliya Klochan on YouTube and is provided under our Creative Commons license.

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Day 11

12:30 am. Stata Center. A student in a blue jacket creeps through the doors, humming a song that started in the winter air. Blue, yellow, red backgrounds are all around her. Will this shot work? Will the lighting cast ugly shadows? All are important considerations. But the student must hurry, because Stata Center is creepy so late at night (and very, very empty).

2 am. Final shots are done, and I, the student, am happy with anything but more reshoots. I wonder what the janitorial staff thinks of me, talking so loudly in an empty echo-y building. I’m no longer afraid of the silence, the vast emptiness of the building, and the loudness of my footsteps. The shooting that started with voiceless practice has grown in volume, until I stopped caring who may hear me (helpful thought: Elizabeth said my script is good).

Back home, I watch all the new videos (always a delight seeing the work of the day on the “big screen”). I approve of the lighting. So much that I get an urge to restart the video, do the same motions, but properly this time, with better lighting, locations, more experience. Alas, I have two days (Two Days!) to finish everything. And I don’t want to creep out the facilities completely, crawling quietly late at night through the building with a tripod every day.

I enjoy the late night walks though. Sometimes I bring a friend to appear less crazy with the camera (and also to play foosball later in the CSAIL lounge). Now that I have completed my morning class, 4 am is the optimal bedtime. I can do so much in the extra productive hours before that, including Stata filming sessions!

Feedback was good in class. I was quite sick of watching the video and had no idea whether it made sense. But it was nice to know that I don’t have to redo it all (although I want to now!). I’ll work on more fixes later. And, I appreciate the music commentary. Searching for music is the best part of re-editing, as many songs sound funny along with the video, which is good.

Lastly, I loved the way my partner’s projects turned out! I enjoyed watching everyone’s videos, but Paul’s and Kenneth’s were most familiar. It was wonderful to see the multiple takes all morphing into one great story. I was looking forward to seeing their finished product, and they did not disappoint.

With happy thoughts, I’ll rest. Then edit some more. And more and more tomorrow.

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Final Reflection

The production of the fractal video has been completed. I’m thrilled to see the final product. I hope the video’s soul is not gone after its bits are pieced together after tens of repetitions. I did my best to keep the meaning of the phrases as I said them again and again.

The original for-grade production was quite different. My directors, Paul and Kenneth, did their best to apply the principles learned in class, but with the poor quality equipment, limited resources, and time constraints, we couldn’t explore a variety of angles and deliveries.

If I could alter the video, the first part I’d change is the sound. My voice sounded high-pitched and unnatural in many places, and, as I realize now after the professional production, that can be quite distracting. Also, the music levels were off in most places. After multiple conversions and adjustments, many parts of the video only featured percussion, which wasn’t my intent. Sound levels (video vs music) are a tricky part to adjust. If I had more time, I’d definitely experiment with various levels of ducking. After all the video clips were divided into small cropped segments, adjustments were impossibly long (especially on my old version of iMovie which had the most annoying slider tool).

I would also ask my groupmates to change the filming angle. In many shots, the camera is filming from below. Much of the attention is given to my chin rather than, say, eyes. Also, I tend to look up while talking, which doesn’t help when the camera is underneath. I’d prefer if the camera was above eye level. This would be most helpful in the in-shower scene as well as the one where I sit on the windowsill and talk. That part was borderline condescending because of the angle (though the background was cool).

Having better animations would be awesome. I wasn’t able to do too much with those because my computer didn’t have the capabilities, and I could only transfer the video to another computer as one full clip, with no necessary breaks. For example, the phone image in the beginning looked odd because it had a white border around it and was different in shape and framing from the snowflake. Fortunately, the timing worked out well for those, and if the pictures were better, it may seem like I’m actually sliding them onto the screen.

The timing didn’t work that well for the image of the Menger Sponge. I intended to use the zoom in feature to cover up the odd shower transition (when I turn on the water for no apparent reason). The idea was for the Menger Sponge to slide out gradually as I turned the knob, as if I was “turning on” the sponge. The zoom would stop at the next section, and I’d have a static sponge for the next clip, until it disappeared quickly at the next transition (where I was centered). And I was able to achieve that, but for some reason, iMovie didn’t upload it to YouTube that way (which was heartbreaking, because the zoom in as I turn on the water part was probably my favorite part of the video and accomplishment).

On the topic of the Menger Sponge, I wish that I’d considered the animations more when filming. The part where I first introduce the fractal looked odd because I held up the hand to receive the sponge too close to the right edge, leaving lots of space on the left unused. To hide that flaw, I zoomed the Menger Sponge to full screen instead. Similarly, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to animate a hedgehog from an iPhone. The hedgehog clip I found on YouTube was a cute replacement, but not the best fitting piece of the video (and it took a long time to make it look sort of natural).

Lastly, I’d adjust lighting. The first / last scenes by the Stata mural looked the best. i didn’t even need to adjust the color levels. The lounge scene was also pretty good. I would, however, rethink the other locations. iMovie video editor helped a lot in covering up the odd shadows (and the bathroom stall), but if I’d had more time, I’d put more thought into good lighting from the beginning.

On a positive note, I am pretty happy with my final product. The final idea was way more concrete and clear than the first (I’m still shocked at how I ever thought Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem would appeal to middle schoolers). And, I learned a lot about fractals, which is great, because now I notice them around me, while before I knew very little on the subject. The video itself looks generally acceptable. With the limited time and resources I had, I can’t imagine making a better product. And, I never expected to learn so much about editing in a month!

In fact, I didn’t expect to learn so much about anything in a month. The class has even changed my outlook on life. For example, now I can’t watch movies without considering how much time was put into them, especially after the professional filming part. I never would’ve thought that making lighting look “natural” required so much “artificial” equipment. I shudder when I think at the incredible amount of time editors, producers, and directors put into piecing everything together, noticing the little details and making adjustments, and just generally creating the movie. I respect even the worst films now. I watch a greater variety of videos on YouTube, and learn from them.

However, I did learn that being an actor and having to say things over and over isn’t too bad. I enjoyed trying different deliveries. I do hope that professional actors get the lines right sooner (in fact, I’m pretty sure they do). It’s a skill I would love to have. And by the end of filming, I did feel more comfortable with delivery. I memorized the lines better and practiced on my own, tried to keep my voice down and not go high pitched, have smoother transitions between sentences and phrases (without pauses and weird emphases), vary the intonation in the most casual way possible, and, most importantly, keep imagining that I’m not doing a show, but rather telling a story.

Overall, I had a great experience, great month, and a wonderful filming time. It definitely made for a cool IAP. Thanks a bunch to all the instructors, guests, and students for making it so!

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