Learning to Learn A Reflection

"The end-goal of this class is to create something so powerful -- something that you are so proud of -- that you can't wait to show it to the rest of the world."

If I were posed the question 'What is multimedia?' just a few months ago, I wouldn't have had a clear response. I might have cited sources of mass-broadcasting media such as Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube. "Doesn't it have to do with pictures and videos?" I might have guessed. And of course I wouldn't have been totally wrong. But until this semester, I hadn't realized what a limited response that would have been. By working with Adobe for the past few months, I have come to understand the intricacy that multimedia represents in its various forms. I have explored the tenuous link that exists between a mental image - an idea - and the physical manifestations/representations of that image. In a sentence, Multimodal Composition has taught me that there are no true bounds to the forms in which any idea (or any composite of ideas, no matter how complex or abstract) can be conveyed.

"Everything you do in here will be about specific choices. Format. Design. Audio. Visual. Form. Function. There are many paths to God. It's your job to make sure every decision counts."

InDesign

The first mistake I made in this course was underestimating the complexity of multimedia. With each layer (photo, video, audio, etc.), several dimensions of detail are added. Orchestrating these layers in a finished product proved more difficult than I had imagined. I found that creating an InDesign spread meant more than importing text from a Word document and uploading a few photos. As soon as the text and the images were brought together, there was suddenly an infinite amount of factors to consider. How far should the image be from the margins? How large should the text be? Bold or italics? Image borders? I came to realize that there is no 'perfection' - only precision. When these elements complement each other well, the result isn't flawlessness - it's a finished product that reflects a logical flow of conscious decisions. Coming to these realizations was made particularly difficult by the breadth of responsibility that is given to the user by InDesign. Having never used Adobe products to create media before, I was jolted rather roughly into a world of microscopic decisions that I found to be overwhelming. Though it took time, practice, and several failures, I eventually began gaining the intuition that is so vital to successful navigation of such powerful tools.

"It's all about searching for sound bites. You'll have a lot of material to work with. Edit continuously until you find the best of the best -- the diamonds in the rough."

Audition

The most fascinating thing about media production is the unexpected profundity that each platform brings. It doesn't matter how many pictures you see on Instagram -- until you hold a camera, adjust the exposure, fix the white balance, and set the shutter speed you never truly understand what is involved in composing a quality photo. The same goes for reading issues of 'Time' magazine, watching videos on Youtube, and listening to podcasts on NPR. Audition was my first exercise in this phenomenon. I can't say that I was well-versed in printed text layout and design. This is why it might have made intuitive sense for me to have struggled with work in InDesign. But given the fact that I spent the better part of my childhood listening to This American Life from the backseat of my dad's car, I figured that I would have an easier time grasping the ins and outs of audio production. Quite the opposite, I found Audition to be even more difficult to manage. As it turns out, expressing an idea becomes significantly more challenging when the aid of a visual context is eliminated. It's as if I had to close my eyes and consider the image generated by every sound. It's a different type of thinking altogether. I was painting pictures with sound.

"RRBIF - Revise Repeatedly Based on Informed Feedback"

Premiere

The biggest obstacle I faced in this class was time management. I found it impossibly difficult to spend as much time as I wanted to on each assignment. There were millions of details associated with each media form. Most of them I was consciously aware of (font size, image spacing, audio quality, etc.) Some of them I was not. Between fixing those things that I could see and constantly searching for those things that I could not see, I ended up spending hours in the revision phase of even the simplest processes. Out of all the projects, video editing in Premiere was the most time-consuming, detail-oriented process. I'm sure that I could spend a year working on my video and I would still feel that there was work to be done. This part of the class was more palpable than Audition because the visual complement made it easier to express ideas. However, it was simultaneously made more complex by the visual element. I had to link a video track to an audio track. I had to find the balance between a video that is static to the point of boredom and a video that is dynamic to the point of chaos. Maintaining that balance while attempting to keep the viewer engaged in the content of the story was the most challenging aspect of this entire class.

"This class is part of a campaign to take a generation of media consumers and turn them into media producers"

ExperienceDesign

The iPhone app is generally used primarily for functionality purposes. It differs from most other media forms in this regard. A video can be a platform for a narrative. It's not unusual to see a podcasts dedicated entirely to telling the story of someone's life. Magazines are the same way -- there are entire catalogues dedicated to telling peoples' stories. An app, however, is rarely used for these purposes. In almost every instance, there is a specific purpose (entertainment, social networking, research, etc.) for the creation and usage of an app. Clicks are deliberate and purposeful. Attempting to tell a story in this setting adds an element of lethargy to the user experience that makes it impossibly difficult to hold the focus of the scrolling user. It became my job to fight that by adding photos where I could and enhancing the 'click' interface as much as possible by adding icons and buttons. In the end, I was happy with what I had made but I felt that there was a deficiency in the experience that a typical user might have compared to the experience that a video watcher or a podcast listener might have.

"The key is preparation. This project will be messy. You will get frustrated. Think ahead; be patient. It'll take time but you'll get out what you put in."

Spark

Everything seemed to come together in Spark. The margins fit just right. The pictures meshed how I wanted. The text was sized beautifully. I believe that there are 3 reasons why Spark worked so well for me: 1. The application is so user-friendly. Almost everything that I needed done was done for me with ease and very little prodding. 2. I am most familiar with the style & general coherence of a website. More so than videos or podcasts. 3. I have finally come to a point of loosely understanding how to make things work together, especially by virtue of Adobe products. I'm now in a position where I know what it means to create something. I'm becoming familiar with the flow of editing software and the art of multimodal composition. This was my favorite part of the class because as I was doing it, I had very few questions that I was unable to answer. Experimentation with the app was natural and by the end of it, I had created something that I was so excited about - something that I couldn't wait to show to the rest of the world.

"Defy expectations! Grab your audience's attention and keep it. Go places that have never been gone before. Tell a story that hasn't been told before."

I leave this class feeling more confident about my abilities than ever before. My abilities to think, to compose, to express, to invent, to revise, to reinvent, to learn. These abilities will fortify my talents. They will be the cornerstone of my development and they will catalyze my growth. I don't know where I'll end up. I'm not sure what I'm doing or where I'm going. But I am quite sure that whatever I do...wherever I go...the skills I've gained in Multimodal Composition will follow me there.

Quotes by Todd Taylor

Photos by Embee Kanu

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