Telling the story of FarmHouse through the Object.
The purpose of this project was to inform non-fraternity people about FarmHouse through the Object. Through my storyboard, content gathering and editing, I tried to create a video that builds on itself, much like my fraternity builds on the goals stated in the Object.
I planned this video to break down into three segments: interviews, a collage and the Object.
Through several interviews with FarmHouse members, I wanted to answer one question: What is the Object? I believe the first interview in my story, of Matthew Doumit, answers this question most concisely. From there, other members elaborate on what the Object means to us and how it impacts our fraternity.
Next, I wanted to build on how the interviews “tell” us what the Object is by showing it through a collage of photos and videos. When someone watches this section, I want them to think: brotherhood, service, fun and social. I think the collage “shows” these ideas well.
Finally, the video ends with the climax: reciting the Object. With the details of the interviews and collage in mind, I think listening to the Object speaks volumes about our fraternity.
Gathering the content
I started my project using a simple digital camera, but the audio and video quality was not sufficient for my project. So I reshot all my footage using a HD video camera I rented from the university. I tried applying the recording techniques discussed in class, but because I had so many people to interview, this proved difficult. For each interview I tried to get at least two different angles (a close up and either zoomed out or side shot). Although no single person was shot at 5 different angles, between taping in different rooms at FarmHouse and using a couple basic angle changes, I feel like I adequately created a variety of shots.
I relied heavily on photos our house has to fill in the gaps of what our fraternity looks like. Facebook proved to be an excellent resource for gathering photos.
Music is always an afterthought for me, but I thoroughly searched for a piece that would capture the tone of this project. Jared Beck helped me out a lot with this. I told him I was looking for a military-like score of music; something classical but with a upbeat big band vibe. He gave me a list of songs I should check out, and I probably listened to at least 12 songs. The song I chose, Voice of Asia, had a three-tiered growth to it that I knew I could apply to my “building up” theme.
Going into this project, I felt like I had a great idea. As soon as I downloaded Premiere onto my computer, however, I knew that this project was going to be a challenge. My laptop couldn’t render the HD video while I was editing it, so it was kind of like flying blind.
Once I got used to the lag, I was ready to dig into editing. My goals was to keep to a clean, simple format that will display my powerful content. As mentioned before, I set up my storyboard to build upon itself, so that the project began simple and quiet but ends fired up.
I used a quiet section of the music I found to start things off. I used a basic title sequence, dissolve transitions and the movement/position effect to display the title of my project. Then with another dissolve transition, an interview video fades in. So far pretty simple.
In between the interviews I use no transitions. It just seemed right. I’m always afraid of looking like an 8-year-old who’s just discovered Windows Movie Maker when I use too many transitions, so you’ll notice I use them sparingly.
Finally, the interviews are over. I faded the music and video. Then the project picks up speed with a powerful drums and a stream of photos and video. Again, I don’t use any transitions to keep things simple, but I timed when one image replaces another by the score of the music.
When the music adds another layer of horns, building up the energy even further, I transition into reciting the Object. I spliced together video of several members and used a zoom in/out transition to fill the gaps where they would naturally take a breath. Editing the words of the Object was difficult, because we tend to say it fast (and usually mumbled) so it took me a while to sort out who has a strong, steady and confident voice.
I wanted to end my project with a lot of energy, so you’ll notice the loud music carries into the credits. I created my own credit sequence by splicing together four title sequences that scroll up, pause and then continue to scroll up.
When a pledge comes to FarmHouse, the object is just words to him. But through time, experience and growth, the meaning of the Object builds within him. Understanding the Object is a life-long mission, but I hope this project can demonstrate the foundation of my fraternity and the basic technical skills I have learned in this class.
In a few words: I have much to do.
My goal for this project is to explain what the Object of FarmHouse Fraternity is, and demonstrate what FarmHouse is all about through the Object.
What I have so far is the Object being recited by several members, but in the finished product will be prefaced by a few members answering the questin “What is the Object?”
After letting the members describe the object, the interviews will seemlessly transition into reciting the object. I want to encorporate more members, doing more things while they recite the object. For example, I am trying to film our six members that serve in the military while they are in uniform. This weekend we’ll be doing a lot of community service, so I’ll be filming that.
If I have time left in my video, I will finish by asking members what the Object means to them and FarmHouse. This will likely lead to stories about supporting our brothers and serving the community, or seeking the best in our studies and careers or for our friends and families.
I’ve collected three videos similar to this one, each video shot at two different angles. I still have a lot of gathering to do, though.
A rough video I made in class to learn some basic Premiere functions.
Making this story:
I believe that, if a person could get a glimpse at the life of another, that experience would benefit the person far better than any stereotype or assumption could. This audio story about Aaron’s experience joining FarmHouse Fraternity is just that—a glimpse into fraternity life.
The story: Finding the purpose
This story follows Aaron from when he first came to WSU through his pledgehood at FarmHouse Fraternity, but my search for this story began with FarmHouse executive officers. I originally started gathering material from executive officers at FarmHouse in hopes that they could describe the “experience” of being a member of our fraternity. The hour long interview gave me a lot of background ideas, but I wanted to show a story rather than have members tell one. So I followed a lead from Jared Beck, FarmHouse president, to cover a story about Aaron’s challenge with becoming a member.
Aaron’s interview was exciting. He had stories to tell, emotional responses to situations, and I felt it portrayed the “experience” I was looking for well.
For the final stage of gathering this story, I challenged myself to create an audio collage that could elevate Aaron’s single perspective story into a multi-perspective view of the house. This launched a campaign of recording random events at FarmHouse, like meetings, dinner and video game tournaments. Finally, I felt like I had enough material to start editing.
Technical application of editing:
Most people will agree that, while finding a story takes up a lot of time, editing is still a challenge. First of all, I had hours of audio, so I mapped out important sections that I might use in a Word document. That way, I had an index to pull clips from as I needed them. Aaron’s audio challenged me the most for editing. He had a lot of run-on sentences, words blurred together, and it seems like he never stopped to breath. Unfortunately, I don’t think I completely overcame this challenge, because some of Aaron’s audio is choppy.
Only real adjustment, besides splicing, that I applied to the audio would be volume levels. Last, I feel like my project could benefit from some equalizing, to buff out the hissing sound in some places.
Elements and effects: Telling the story
I tried to create a diverse range of layered sound for my story, to avoid a uniform (and thus boring) sound.
To accomplish this, I found a song that could capture multiple moods (especially excitement and tension) without taking away from the audio. You’ll notice that segments of this story do no have any music, and I did that because the tempo make the pace of the interviews seem rushed.
The main element of my story is the collage of sounds. This combines interviews of Aaron and Jared along with my narration to give context to the story, while “background” sounds of members eating dinner and video-gaming capture the real audio experience.
My story occasionally has 2-5 second pauses in order to let the preceding audio sink in. Occasionally this creates an awkward gap, however, and I tried to fill that with music.
The final product:
Altogether, the story of Aaron is about what it’s like to join FarmHouse. Through this story I provide a few glimpses of what it’s like to hang out with the guys, but as things progress, they get more serious. When Aaron fails to make the grade requirement to join the house, he reaches a crossroads. Here we learn the deeper reason of why Aaron belongs to FarmHouse: It’s home; It’s family. Furthermore, FarmHouse is not just a place to socialize. We want our brothers to succeed, and we provide an environment to encourage and help our brothers achieve their goals in life.
After working on this project, I understand what Ira Glass meant when he said most of the time writing an audio story depends on the recording stage. But I’ll get back to that.
The purpose of this project is to share a pledge’s story about joining FarmHouse Fraternity and, through the process, reveal what FarmHouse is about and what it’s like to be a member. I interviewed Aaron, of course, and a few members of the house, in order to create a multi-perspective story.
Right now a lot of the audio is still raw, but I’m starting to tie it together with narration to make it a more cohesive story. As you may notice, the story ends with a cliff hanger: Aaron grades will keep him from joining the house. The last few minutes of my project will be completing the story and how Aaron has decided to pledge again because FarmHouse has become home to him, and he can’t imagine leaving. Through the last few minutes I hope to tie in some comments from Aaron’s big brother, Jared, and the pledge educator, to discuss the issue to grades and encouraging academics in our house.
Right now there are some obnoxious gaps in the audio, and I intend to fill that will background music (mostly classical, and a dance-style song during the discussion of parties). If I get far enough, I want to start to play with some ambient sound I’ve been recording (such as the whole house saying The Object, playing video games, serenading a sorority, eating dinner). This will create more of an audio collage, which we’ve talked about some in class.
One huge problem I need your help overcoming would be filling in the audience on “Greek” terminology that regular people may not know (such as, what is the Object, Greek Row, pledging, etc.). I’ve already thought of a few, but if you could point them out, I’m sure I’ve missed something.