I’m a senior with one more semester to go. All I need is some gen-ed credits, and an intensive writing course. Composing Digital Media? That sounds interesting, maybe I won’t actually have to write essays and just make sweet videos… boy was I wrong (except for making some sweet videos).
I came into the class thinking it was a software-based class, in which I knew half of the software already. It’s not because I wanted to take an easy class… I really wanted to learn more about the video and photo editing software I already knew to prepare me for a software-based world. But the class turned into so much more than software. Once I started reading DJ Spooky, I knew I was in for a journey. Initially, I was bummed that we spent the first month of class talking about the theory of archiving and the idea of a citizen archivist before we even turned on the computers, but I learned a lot about the idea of composition in a digital world. It made me think differently about my previous and future digital compositions.
First, I made a photo essay. It was a story about my grandfather’s beach house that was wiped away in a hurricane. It originated from his memoirs, which were recovered when he passed away. It turned out alright, but the presentation method I used is very lackluster. In another class of mine this year, we discuss methods of presentation for pieces of work, and I think that a large-scale presentation method would be much more effective. At least more effective than a 500 pixel high picture. No one likes squinting.
Second… I made a website. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t even spell my last name correctly when I was making the domain name. It’s danbetesman.com/whatever. Not a good start. If I ever decide to use the website in a professional way (which I plan on), I will find a new host for it so people can actually find it. The website is the weakest of my projects, although I plan on improving it before the term ends. It’s a personal ideal of mine that I don’t show off all of my finished projects; only if I personally approve of said project. I currently do not approve of my website.
Next, I made an audio essay from a humorous historical event. I think that the script turned out very dynamic and entertaining, but the final audio file was not. My voice actors were not differentiated and dynamic enough, and the microphone I used had too much buzzing and feedback. It was hard to remove those sounds in the final piece. I also narrated the piece, and I hate my voice. So that didn’t help my overall feelings about it.
Finally, we made a group video portrait about two student rappers at Pitt. I think the project turned out great, and I am really proud of it, as the rest of my group should be. It is deep, has great music and visuals, and flows really well. This is something I would approve of showing off. Although some of the audio files were not very clear and were buzzy. But that is about it.
So I learned a lot from composing digital media, and although I did not in fact not have to write any essays, I wrote about as much on reflections and blog posts as I would have writing essays. I also really enjoyed how our class developed. Our group discussion was very open and stimulated. I think once we got past Derrida and DJ Spooky and started discussing contemporary project like photo essays and videos and audio essays, discussion started flowing freely. I am glad I took this class, and although I was not ready for the work requirement in the final semester of my senior year while taking 18 credits, I finally got through it.
California, here I come! Wait… need to finish that remix video first!