For March 16

a. Finish presentations of student work from last week

b. Semiotics, more:

Barthes, R. (2003). Rhetoric of the image. In L. Wells (Ed.), The photography reader. London: Routledge.  (Not my scan)

c. Editing

We are all used to editing ourselves, such as when we write papers.

We also do a form of editing when we forward information – posting, retweeting, whatever we do to pass on information from a source other than ourselves.  This is similar to the kind of editing that, say, news media editors do in deciding what stories to cover, what to print (or post), where to place stories on a page or a timeline, and so forth. Editors make decisions about both content and emphasis.

In creating multimedia products we are editing, in several ways. We do a form of editing when we decide what media content to make: photos, video, interviews.

We do another form of editing when we make selections among the available content. We may take 10 minutes of a person talking and reduce that to two. We decide what’s most important (for our purposes) in what they said. With photos, we not only pick images that tell our story, but we may pick those in which our subjects (human or not) look the way we want them.  We may pick flattering images, or unflattering ones.

We also make editing decisions in our post-processing of media. In audio, we take out their pauses, their “ums” – we may make them sound better.   In processing images, we make decisions have to make decisions in the processing that affect how subjects look – e.g., the infamous OJ Simpson news magazine cover images.

Finally, we make editing decisions in putting all the pieces together. We’ve talked about the power of sound; and about montage and the meanings created from sequencing.

This week we will look more closely at editing.  It is a part of our decisions about how we interpret and present what we observe.  It also has implications for our relations with our participants and how we represent them.

Most of the discussions that I found about this topic relate to ethics – clearly an important aspect of this topic, but not the only one relevant to us.

  • Liz Danzico. 2010. BETWEEN THE LINES: The art of editing: the new old skills for a curated life. interactions 17, 1 (January 2010), 16-19. This overlaps with the topics of interest for us.
  • Barrett Golding,From Edit to Air. November 16th, 2001. Special Feature w/ Hearing Voices. A concrete example of editing for radio.

Abstract: Below are three versions of a radio script for Savvy Traveler, the fifth part of a series about bicycling the Lewis & Clark Trail. The left-hand column is the first draft. The middle is the revision based on the comments of the SavTrav Editor, Celeste Wesson. On the right is the final broadcast version, revised after one more editing session. AX stands for actualities (field recording of interviews, sounds, musics); TRAX are my narration tracks. All AX times are actual; times for TRAX are guessed in the first two drafts, and actual for in the final.

Below are from the perspectives of journalism and oral history, not social science research. But very useful.

Media narratives–what makes a story?

I am looking at the tool Projeqt–a self-described storytelling platform –in light of Steiner and Ryan’s discussion of narrative using different media. In particular, I am looking at a sample Projeqt called Ubuntu.

This Projeqt, titled Ubuntu, describes a project by the same name, in which a photographer and a filmmaker capture images of South African children enrolled in a program called Room 13 and then exhibit the photos in New York. The Projeqt is made up of photos, text, video, and links that a viewer progresses through in a linear order. Here is what it includes:

  • Title
  • Definition of the term Ubuntu
  • Project description (artists traveled to SA to teach Project 13 students about photography)
  • Photos of Room 13 participants, some with name and age captions
  • Quote from someone about the photo collection
  • Video of exhibition opening of the photo collection
  • Video about Masilo, a participant in Room 13
  • Bio of photographer
  • Bio of filmmaker
  • Link to Ubuntu Facebook page
  • Explanation of Room 13

Although the third slide tells us that the artists went to teach a photography class to Room 13, this is not depicted in the Projeqt. Instead the materials jump between the artifacts of the trip (photos, a video) and the reaction to the photos when exhibited in New York. Only at the end of the Projeqt do we learn what the organization Room 13 is about, which explains that it is a charity that helps students create art. This makes me wonder if this Projeqt actually is a story, or if it just a collection of related materials.

Steiner and Ryan each offer different definitions of what makes up a narrative. Steiner focuses on a progression of time and a repetition of a subject. Steiner indicates that “story wholeness” requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. Ryan defines a narrative as having a setting, character, and events.

The Ubuntu project certainly has a time sequence, even though it is not told in a chronological order. Steiner does not require a narrative to have a fixed order of telling, so Ubuntu falls in the narrative under this definition. It does have repetition of repeated subjects; the photographer, the filmmaker, and the participants in Room 13 are repeated throughout (often the Room 13 participants are present through their photographs rather than as present characters). Furthermore, it has settings–South Africa and New York (where the exhibition was held), and events (such as a interaction with the Room 13 participants and viewing the photos at an exhibit).

Yet this Projeqt seems somewhat different than a true narrative to me. While it fulfills many of the qualities of a narrative, it feels as though the sequence of the elements is not essential. In fact, a different ordering might have made it clearer what Room 13 was. Certainly there are plenty of narratives that save key information until a final reveal, but this seems unintentional here. This Projeqt seems more similar to the hypertext scenario that Ryan discusses, despite its linear progression: “collections of little stories…lend themselves well to the relatively free browsing of hypertext because the story of a life or of a community is not a dramatic narrative aimed at a climax but an episodic narrative made of many self-sufficient units that can be read in many orders.”  Perhaps topics like this one are better suited to a hypertext scenario because the segments do not build on one another. Still, I am undecided whether I consider this a narrative.

Video cartoons/images

Here are the video depictions we came up with in class.


Speech Search for Video and Audio?

UPDATE 2/5/11: Forget it.  I tried it with a nice, clean audio file recorded under optimal conditions, and it was gibberish. They shouldn’t have this on the market.

Adobe Premiere Pro is supposed to now have a Speech Search feature that does automatic transcriptions.  No one claims it’s as good as a human transcriber, but some claim it’s 75% accurate or so.  They advertise it as being for searching audio and video for where certain things are said, but of course it could also be used to do a first pass at transcriptions, IF it is as good as they claim.  I don’t know anyone who has tried it.  I supposedly have access to it — need to see if I can get it working.

Here’s a review:

And this is from Adobe:

I found a blog posting about Get, an add-in for Final Cut Pro that does something similar, but it’s $499 on top of the $800 or so for FCP.