One Wall Finished!

This last month I’ve been working hard on making frames in Blender for our Unpacking Emanual’s Tavern project. The goal of the current phase of the project is to create a 3D model of Manuel’s Tavern for better visualization of the space. The frames we’re finishing are on one wall of the space, soon to be followed by the other walls. In past posts I’ve explained how we’re using Blender to make the picture frames, but now we have a script that will allow progress to be made much quicker. Once we’ve made the frame we use the Unity game engine to make the rest of the space and “hang” the frame on the wall. More effects can be added in Unity. Once all of the walls are finished the project will be made available to the public and everyone can enjoy looking at Manuel’s Tavern and the history of the restaurant.

Making Frames

Making Frames

This month I’ve been working on exploring Blender even more, specifically learning to make frames for the project Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern. Using the 3D modeling software we’re creating models of the existing picture frames and items and using those models to create a bigger room that would be freely traversable, much like the way a video game would work. These modeled frames will allow anyone to move about freely and look at Manuel’s Tavern as it was before it was remodeled.

To preserve these items each one is first roughly modeled out, and then smoothed and textured with blender. Once each individual piece is ready, it’s added to a bigger file that has the walls and furniture modeled out and textured. These files will use one of Blender’s features, which is a game engine built into the modeling software. This game engine will allow for testing how the final product will look and how it will run. The process of delegating and modeling each piece separately leads to a cleaner product that has more detail and care put into each piece.

Using Blender

Using Blender

The last couple of weeks I’ve been learning how to use a 3D modeling software called Blender. This software allows me to render 3D models that can be used in anything from pictures to video games. Recently I’ve been learning the software to start working on 3D modeling buildings. Blender allows the user to build each piece separately and allows the user to texture all of the models before rendering, and can even be used to detect how difficult it will be to use in a video game and what kind of frame rate and processing power will be required for the computer to build it in the game.


I’ve been working with simple tutorials that use many different facets of the software to allow me to use it effectively. Blender offers many different uses in making 3D models, and can even be used to create models that can be understood and printed by 3D printers. This modeling software is infinitely useful and easy to understand after only a brief introduction, I recommend it for anyone looking for a powerful tool for 3D rendering.

Green Screen Week

This week I have been working again with editing, but this time I’ve been working with images behind a green screen. When you use a green screen, you’re making everything that’s not that particular shade of green disappear, so it opens up opportunities to have something in the background. It’s extremely useful in terms of giving more information about what the person is talking about. You can put an example of what a person is talking about behind them to give a visual indication of the topic. These visuals to accompany the person create a better idea of the topic. It can also be used to put a person in an environment that they cannot physically be in. Green screen, or blue screen, is often in movies. Editing green screen can be tricky, as if the setup of the green screen had any wrinkles in the background, those will be visible. If there are any holes or odd looking pieces of the person, those can usually be corrected in editing using tools. Green screen is an amazing tool that can add a whole new dimension to a video.

B-Roll Collection

For these last couple of weeks, my task has been to collect b-roll, or background roll. We use this footage to fill in the spaces in a video. Taking it is usually simple, you decide what you need and go film it. Or in certain cases, like mine, you film everything. This is so that when we need b-roll we’ll have some readily available to choose from. Frequently it features daily activities around the Georgia State University campus, for instance students walking. You’ll film for maybe 20 seconds at a time, but those 20 seconds could be valuable when putting a video together to show off the campus. Having a bunch of angles and times of day is important, as you never know what you will need in a video until editing it. When you do use the footage, however, you can no longer use it for any video. People would notice when watching multiple videos that the same clip is being played, hence the need for a lot of small clips. Background roll does not need to be people walking though. It could  be anything from a persons’s hand typing on a keyboard to a city skyline. The b-roll sets the mood of the video, and takes the place where a cut is made. It’s infinitely useful, and easy to get. You simply go to what you want to shoot and start recording. B-roll usually will be silenced in the video while something plays over it, so you need not worry about noise. Whatever you are shooting it for, it can add that little extra to your video.

The Shift to Online and Hybrid Courses

Over the last couple weeks I have been interviewing some professors that have all been speaking about how to take a class that is strictly taught in a regular classroom and make parts of it online. This has many advantages, including freeing up classroom space, and letting commuting students not have to come to campus to take certain classes. However, there still is not enough evidence to claim that a hybrid course, which consists of one part of the course being online and the other parts in classroom, is as effective as being in the classroom with the professor themselves. Some results from trials of these classes showed students in the hybrid type courses doing more poorly, though why this has occurred is unknown. It could be that the professor sees the students in the hybrid course less, and therefore grades them more harshly. It is also possible that the students are not focusing on the subject matter when they are at home as opposed to in a classroom. Regardless of these trials, some professors are pushing ahead with their classes and preparing different models of a hybrid course to see what is effective, and what is not. The results of these classes could either make or break the hybrid course idea, and the more research and practical application that is done would mean constructing a more solid template of what one would look like, and how it would work.

Thinking Beyond the Essay in the Classroom

This month I’ve been focusing on learning more about using technology in the classroom, and how it’s being implemented in classes that don’t use much technology.

Many classes are striving to bring digital components into their lessons. Such examples include an Intermediate Spanish class that is taking steps to move parts of the lessons online. One of the challenges that they face as a language class is how to assess the student’s pronunciation. The professors are experimenting with a tool called VoiceThread that allows users to record their voice in a clip. They are planning to use the program and have their students record their pronunciations of phrases and submit it to them online. Other departments are also attempting to move more assessments and projects online by utilizing Brightspace, or creating websites that students can submit projects to. My honors literature class last semester created a new website for our projects, and when the semester had come to a close we were able to see all of our projects side by side, and it created an online portfolio for the class. Teachers utilizing these countless online tools is allowing for more innovative ways of thinking about how to assess student’s learning, and for students to learn how to create an argument or prove a theory without having to write an essay, but to be able to present an argument in many different ways.

Learning Premiere

It’s been a fantastic week for discovering alternatives in technology for me.

I’ve recently been learning a lot about Final Cut Pro, but never thought much about the other program used to edit videos, Adobe Premiere. Recently in my Digital Literacy Initiative literature class we’ve been talking more about how to turn a paper into a digital argument, and one of the big ways is through video. On our given laptops we have Premiere pre-loaded, so I thought I would give it a try. I quickly found out that Premiere doesn’t particularly like opening on laptops, as I had multiple crashes and even some losses of data, but managed to look at the program and see how it works. One of the things I really like about it is that even though it might not be intuitive when going from something like Windows Movie Maker or a simpler program, it is intuitive when moving from Final Cut Pro. The two programs are in no ways exactly alike, but they share the same feeling when looking at them from the beginning. A quick exploration of the program, though I eventually did give up on it as it had no fondness for the laptop at all, and I was impressed at all of the different features that gave me so many possibilities. To me it doesn’t look as polished as Final Cut Pro, but then I did have experience using iMovie before that, so the configuration on Apple computers is more familiar. I believe in the coming weeks I will attempt to do some more exploration into Adobe Premiere. I would definitely encourage others to take a look at both programs, because one may be easier to use than the other for Apple and PC users.

Happy Editing!

Becoming a Final Cut Pro

Hello all!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been learning about how to film and edit videos. I have been using a program called Final Cut Pro, editing software that is native to Apple products. The software is extremely easy to learn, and has many more features than iMovie, which was popular before Final Cut came out.  I hadn’t used any of the software since iMovie, and found Final Cut much more accurate and polished. One of the most amazing changes was in how detailed the editing of the clips can get. I practiced cutting and looking for pauses in speech earlier this week, and was not disappointed with how easy it was to find the small nuances in speech to cut parts of it out. Another amazing change from earlier versions was the effects system. Now the editing software is able to go in and add other moving pictures onto the screen, and layer other movie clips on top of the first one. While these seem normal today, as many of these effects go into the common video, these actually require skill to be able to use effectively. As I continue to use it I hope to unlock more of its capabilities and hopefully manage to create some awesome videos that will be able to show all of the amazing projects that the SIFs are working on.

Digital Arguments in the Classroom

As an incoming honors freshman to GSU in the fall of 2015, a student will find themselves going home from orientation with instructions to sign up to retrieve a laptop to be used for your first year at GSU. I was one of those students, and found myself mystified as to how this laptop was going to be critical to our work this semester, besides writing papers on it and my frequent visits to Wikipedia to look up things I have no idea about.

I found in one of my honors classes in the course of the year that I will be using the laptop in a different way than usual. In my honors English class I bring my laptop every day, and almost solely use it to do my assignments in class. As the guinea pigs of the initiative, even our professor is unsure on how to integrate a 10 page paper into the curriculum as anything but a 10 page paper. However, this changes the way we think about how we get collected information together and present it as an argument in fewer words, but more pictures and videos.

My most recent assignment was to create a timeline using technology found online, and to use that technology to create my argument. I used pictures and videos explain something, and had very few words on the project itself. These ideas are incredibly important, as while the Internet becomes more and more of a medium in which we express ourselves and our thoughts, the classroom should also strive to adapt and use the medium to spread its arguments and lessons to those that aren’t interested in reading a scholarly article in the library.

In my honors class we keep running into roadblocks in terms of how these projects should be graded. Should we grade holistically, or should there be a strict rubric on how this project should look finished? As we go through this first semester we will have to adapt what a project means and how the meaning and ideas behind the project can be explained, whether in lecture or in words. What makes an argument proper? Do you have to use words that are more than 3 syllables and never use contractions? Or can a more informal way of thinking present an argument better to more people? These questions are ones I’ll keep in mind as I go forward in the class, and hope to get even the smallest glimpse of a theory or answer in the process.