There’s a lot to say about this class. It was stressful, it was fun, and it was cool. Even if you just needed an elective credit, like I did, it’s really worth it. I learned so much I otherwise never would have, and the creativity on part of Professor Bond, his collaborators, and the other students was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This class will push you, but it’s also a great balance between “left-brained” and “right-brained” thinking that will produce awesome stuff. Besides BUDGETING YOUR TIME for the SAME AMOUNT OF WORK AS A FACE-TO-FACE CLASS, my main piece of advice is this: when it comes to your radio show, plan, plan, plan, and plan some more. Something will go wrong. In the case with my group, most of our technical problems happened at the very end when doing the final edits and uploading, which meant that we had to turn in our work a little late. It’s an online class, so it’s very hard to meet with your other group members and to find a time when everyone is available to outline the show, let alone actually recording anything. The key is to plan everything out as much as you possibly can, and do whatever you can in the show as early as you can. The radio show is DIFFICULT. But in the end, you can make something really awesome. You can listen to my group’s show here:
Breaking Bond was a tough assignment, as it should have been, but it was a lot of fun. Megan Carey, A.K.A. Agent Annabella Smith, and I made an awesome final. We basically organized our final as a story with different journal updates throughout the semester. The premise we chose was that Professor Bond was up to some kind of espionage, and our spy characters were going to get to the bottom of it. In week one we decided on a few specific assignments to put in our final as pieces of “evidence” or “intelligence” to support the story (whatever it was going to be).
Most of the work was trying to come up with a solid story to fit the premise. It took a surprising amount of thought. It’s a long story as to how we got there, but we decided that the plot of our story would be our agent characters (our covers being students, of course) investigating Professor Bond and finding out he was at the head of an illegal pure maple syrup operation, sort of like Breaking Bad. We got together and sort of storyboarded the journal entries and what types of assignments we would put into them. We both worked together on making a promotional poster parodying Breaking Bad, which took a little more time than expected. I took on the responsibility of writing the journal entries and creating a Google MyMap interactive map tracking the locations of Professor Bond’s mysterious private jet. Megan took on the responsibility of creating Professor Bond’s fake Canadian passport and in taking the “lab” photographs. The assignments took about a week to complete, especially amidst a lot of other preparations for finals and papers and presentations for other classes. It took a ton of thought and work and time, but I hope you find it as cool and as funny as we both did in making it.
The same kind of went for my group’s radio show, which was the topic of my advice to future ds106 students:
If Professor Paul Bond has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is as it seems…
Journal of Agent Annabella Smith with Roderick Rush—Breaking Bond
Jan 20, 2017
Agent Roderick Rush, my partner in espionage, and myself have signed up for an online digital storytelling course at UMW taught by Professor Paul Bond. Our organization has told us to investigate Professor Bond as a potential High Value Target. The organization has been watching him the last couple of semesters and thinks he’s up to something. Here are my thoughts so far on the possibility of Professor Bond (if that is his real name) being an agent or criminal mastermind engaging in some kind of plot worthy of attention by our organization:
-What better way to hide one’s activities than through teaching an online class?
-Using video as instruction could possibly fool students into believing he teaches and works from the same location, when in reality he could be moving from place to place.
-The theme of the class would be perfect. He could be throwing us off the scent by making it “obvious” that he’s actually a spy.
-It’s always the quiet ones.
Professor Bond also used a tweet of mine as an example in a post about what this course will be about. Of course, being a spy, I’m wary of Twitter and other social media sites that emphasize one’s public persona and making what would otherwise be personal information open to the public for anyone to see. Was it a simple way to answer a student’s question, or was he really saying that he was on to us?
Beneath his endearing and intelligent façade there might just be the next Moriarty or Goldfinger. Agent Rush and I have our doubts as to if he is that nefarious, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled. In the meantime, all he needs to know is that we’re two average students, but we’ll be gathering intelligence from our sources, and we will find out what’s really going on.
February 3, 2017
Week three of Mission 106, and we already have our first piece of intelligence.
An agent in the field was able to locate and discreetly scan a passport belonging to Professor Bond.
Needless to say, something is up here. Three big questions arise from this piece of evidence.
- Why does Professor Bond need a Canadian passport?
- Why was the passport issued by the Russian government?
- Why did he obtain the passport just at the beginning of the semester? Why is he travelling while teaching an online class?
Neither Agent Rush or myself has an answer just yet. For all we know, he might have more of these. Whether or not he would use the same name on those passports, we don’t know. Agent Rush has a suspicion that Professor Bond might be working with Russian intelligence, but for now, we just wait and see.
February 17, 2017
The organization found out Professor Bond possesses a private jet. So much for the humble librarian and teacher. Now we wait while the tracker collects data so we can find out where Professor Bond is going.
February 24, 2017
The last two weeks have been very difficult while creating our radio shows, but it has given Agent Rush and I enough time to collect data from the private jet. He’s definitely up to more than what the average professor should be. We’ve had plenty of results, but the data is less than helpful.
It seems Professor Bond is quite the jet-setter. Unless the Society of American Librarians is meeting in Istanbul, Rome, Moscow, and Singapore, it seems Professor Bond has more on his plate than computer science and the Dewey decimal system. Agent Rush and I have looked at the map over and over, and there has to be a pattern, but we’re not seeing it. Maybe by next week we can come up with something
March 21, 2017
Bad news. Some of our contacts have informed us Professor Bond intercepted our tracking device and threw us off his trail. We do know, however, that he didn’t do so until after he had left the US. The other question is: why does ds106 keep receiving interference? Is there another party at play here? Or is it just Professor Bond purposefully trying to throw us off?
March 24, 2017
Agent Rush and I decided to split up and do what we can in the field. He’ll be heading to Russia, and I’ll be heading to Canada. We’ll be able to maintain our covers by continuing to submit homework and pretending the class is still going smoothly. Our contacts in both countries should be able to tell us something, given the right leverage. Professor Bond isn’t the only one who can take advantage of the online class format. He will be exposed.
April 7, 2017
A source close to the organization has found something that might explain our strange map data. Reports from the Canadian and American maple syrup authorities have been busting a couple of vendors for selling illegal maple syrup. The government, especially in Canada, does not play around with this. There are special regulations about maple syrup, including who can traffic it across the border. This stuff is popping up all around the Northeast and in New Brunswick, Canada (which just happens to be his first international stop in the tracking device log).
The organization we work for has heard of these syrup kingpins before. If this stuff is as good as the syrup junkies say it is, and if we can find hard evidence of a large-scale illegal syrup operation, we might have found the root of all this. It would explain the passport, the wild goose chase that came out of the jet tracking device, and a lot of other strange behavior.
April 14, 2017
Finally, the last break in the case. We’ve got him this time.
While searching the woods of New Brunswick, Canada, Agent Rush and I found a goldmine (or a syrup mine).
Our intelligence was correct. Professor Bond is actually running the largest clandestine maple syrup operation in history. He’s been flooding the markets in Maine and much of the Northeast US and parts of Canada with his syrup. It’s highly addictive and the purest product the authorities have ever come across. With our help, the authorities seized more than $5,000,000 in “amber gold.”
To make sure it we were on the right trail, we took some samples back to our organization’s lab.
This is 99.7% grade B maple syrup. Grade A is meant for eating and not cooking, but grade B is purer. This is the purest maple syrup ever found. No wonder it has thousands of syrup junkies hooked. The humble but mysterious Professor Bond has been making a killing.
After a quick taste test (all things in moderation, of course), Agent Rush and I agree that, even though he is an evil genius and a syrup kingpin, Professor Bond really is onto something here!
Agent Annabella Smith [Megan Carey] and I will be working together to compile a dossier and build a case against Professor Bond and catch him conspiring with the Russians. As of yet, for the final mission, we plan on compiling a journal of sorts of our encounters and escapades as we try to track down and expose the plot being formulated by the nefarious Professor Bond. We don’t exactly know yet what he’s up to or who else is involved in this plot, but we’re planning on including several pieces of evidence to support the case as we go along. In addition to narrative accounts of the story, these pieces will probably include things like audio clips of discreetly gathered conversations (audio assignments), documents like passports linking Professor Bond to espionage activists (design assignments), maps that track Professor Bond’s travels throughout the world (web), photos of locations or people connected to the story (visual) and many others. We plan on splitting the workload evenly with respect to each of our strengths and collaborating on the plot of the mission.
Twitter poll here:
— Daniel Hawkins (@Hawkins10000) April 19, 2017
Week 11 proved pretty difficult for me. Due to some extenuating circumstances, I was unable to really do the whole week’s worth of assignments, but what I did end up doing I was pretty happy with, even if it means not getting the full grade. Creating the Hugh Jackman highlight reel was a lot of funny especially, despite the time it took meticulously downloading and trimming clips. Besides the time-consuming elements of that assignment, the other difficulty I had in was just in choosing the assignments and brainstorming ideas. It was fairly difficult to actually balance the spy theme and to use it in a video and to make one with whatever theme I wanted. Not too many of the assignments in the video category really lend themselves to it, so it was more of a challenge to think unconventionally. I don’t know what category will be assigned next week, but I’m looking forward to it. Three more weeks!
— Daniel Hawkins (@Hawkins10000) April 7, 2017
— Daniel Hawkins (@Hawkins10000) April 8, 2017
This was, again, a pretty difficult week. I do have some experience in editing videos and in basic cinema studies, so a lot of the assignments didn’t have a huge learning curve for me (maybe except for the kinetic typography video). A lot of the work was just time-consuming. As a tip, if you plan on ever using software like After Effects, make sure you have LOTS of disk space and a lot of time to wait for it render. That was, unfortunately, a lot of what set me back this week, too. I started the assignments about a week ahead of time, but the time it took to upload videos and that sort of thing took a very long time. Here’s hoping next week isn’t so bad (and that I won’t have 2 papers due the same week!).
— Daniel Hawkins (@Hawkins10000) March 25, 2017
— Daniel Hawkins (@Hawkins10000) April 1, 2017
Here is my spy interview for ds106. This one took me a while in selecting the questions, coming up with answers, and splitting the clips and moving them around, but other than that, it wasn’t bad. I decided to go with the “disguise” that everyone seems to wear in the Marvel universe.
I created this video essay analyzing the cinematography of a fight scene from the film Quantum of Solace, because what’s a spy movie without a good fight? I made it using iMovie and Audacity (and just as a tip: the freeze-frame option in iMovie is a life and time saver). It wasn’t too hard to make other than the writing and trimming clips. Enjoy!
For one of the assignments, I decided to create a kinetic typography video from Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York, where Bill “the Butcher” Cutting, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, delivers a chilling speech. I love kinetic typography videos, so I thought I’d jump in. The first thing I learned when starting this assignment is that kinetic typography views are very, very hard to make. So I shortened the speech as much as I could within reason, and set to work using After Effects and watching a LOT of tutorials.
The film takes place in the 1860s in Five Points, New York, so I wanted it to look a bit like an old 1800s newspaper. I set the background solid to a pale yellow and chose a couple of fonts from my favorite graphic resource, dafont.com, and began working. It’s best to plan out, at least in your head, where your various words are going to be placed throughout the composition and whether you want some phrases to be one words, a couple of words, or a whole sentence on the screen at a time. The best way to do that was by listening to the monologue a few times.
After I got a rough idea of where I wanted to words, I winged most of it. The idea is to have the camera track along where you want the words to appear in your order, so you have to use key framing to manipulate the time it takes for the camera to go from one place to another in 3D space (since zooming in and out makes the video a lot better than just panning or tilting).
The next thing to think about was text animation. Kinetic typography is as much about text animation as it is about camerawork (hence the name). This all depends on the mood of your audio segment. For example, some kinetic typography videos can be more whimsical, like this Who’s On First video, or a mix of funny and horrifying, like this Ingourious Basterds one, or just something clean and interesting, like this Stephen Fry one.
There aren’t tutorial videos for everything, so I had to learn some aspects of After Effects that I’d never known before. Someday I want my skills to be good enough to create something like this Interstellar video. As you can see, the video is only around a minute long, which is a very short monologue. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be (if it were possible, I’d rate this assignment 10 stars), but it was a lot of fun to mess around with the different possibilities.
For the Inanimate Motion stop motion assignment, I took photographs of some fruit that I was eating and a made a .gif to make it look like the fruit was disappearing. Photoshop has a great feature where you can create a frame animation and export it as a .gif. It was a little difficult to try to put the fruit back in each spot where it was while taking the pictures on my phone (without a tripod), but I think I was pretty successful with it.