Media, Fans, & Participatory Culture: The Changing Landscape of Media Consumption

erotic-fiction-1422584338The Internet has changed the way in which we consume media in that it has created a space for an empowered, participatory audience. Media is no longer part of a simple input-output structure (i.e. create and consume), it’s now cyclical in that both sides are influenced by the other. As an audience and as media consumers, the web allows for participation: we can engage with our media, we can edit and alter our media, we can appropriate our media (i.e. turn it into something new or different), and we can provide impactful feedback that can even influence original media owners and creators to change their media artifacts.

There is also a burgeoning balance of power between fans and product owners due to this change. For instance many fans of popular shows, books, and comics engage in fanfiction communities, where they write, post, and engage in pseudo-original narratives based on actual original characters, stories, and entertainment media universes. (For example, someone might take the character of Jon Snow from HBO’s/George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series and write a fanfiction story with him that strays from the actual narrative of the original series.) This both engages in the media that exists while creating something new that the fan becomes a very real part of.  Fans can also mash universes in crossover fanfiction (i.e. stories with characters from different universes, like having Arya Stark meet Captain America to battle Darth Vader).

This type of fan participation, however, also creates tension between the consumer and the creator, as it blurs the lines of ownership and spurs conversation on rights, legality, content ownership, boundaries, and to some degree ethics. Nonetheless, this sort of participation (a “participatory culture,” as described by Jenkins) is revolutionary for empowering fans and consumers to impact the media it consumes. This momentum can be seen a lot in the realm of TV series and comic books, where fans have shown the power to band together in order to bring certain characters or series back from the dead.

Group Creative Process: Milestones and Challenges

TeamworkMy group filmed our clips this past weekend. In and of itself the filming was a huge accomplishment, as it not only brought us together as a cohesive group, but also showed how we could overcome challenges as a unit (including a mishap with some cars getting towed, as well as a few audio issues). Another accomplishment was working together on finalizing the script, which was a lot of fun. We already had the bare bones laid out of what we wanted to get across, but getting together as a group and finalizing and running lines was not only fun but also a n exciting challenge.

One of the hurdles I anticipate involves having to rerecord some audio for a voice-over, as since we didn’t have any professional-quality recording devices, some of our on-camera audio was too low and we have to record it. My concern is regarding syncing the rerecorded audio to the actual video, though I’m sure we’ll figure it out together! Another hurdle will be simply editing the video to make it consistent, professional, and funny. I think finding the perfect music bed for this will be a fun challenge for us!

Some of the tools that we’re going to in editing our video, tools that we’ve explored in this class, include audio editing (such as Garageband) in order to do our voice-overs and edit our existing audio for optimal effect, as well as video editing software to actually piece our video together cohesively. I look forward to finally using all these tools for this finalized, major project, as it will certainly synthesize and put to good use everything that we’ve learned altogether, and this time as a group team.

Utiling Media in Multi-Media Projects: Adding Sound, Images, and Video Content

Audio and visual media are aesthetic tools that can help propel any project to a higher level, making something more engaging, more informed, or more entertaining. For our final project video, which we are creating a loose parody of The Exorcism with (albeit more thematically and less in a scene-by-scene narrative sense), it may be useful to incorporate some additional media artifacts into our presentation.

Audio:

Sound is absolutely critical for any media project. (Even the absence of sound, which we can consider a sort of audio cue in and of itself, can create a powerful effect in media.) As we are doing a video hat parodies a classical horror film, it may make sense to use spooky or scary sounding music to score our video.

This independent music below, “Slenderman” by David Jaworski, might be a nice sonic addition to our video to create an over-the-top, comedic feel, since it’s quite spooky and while we’re referencing an iconic horror film, our take is much more humorous and light-hearted:

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Images:

In addition to music, still images can also serve as useful content for a video, and can often help to break things up and make for a transition into a different narrative or piece of content.  The offer a moment for the viewer to gather their thoughts about what they’ve just seen, and maybe even have a moment to really examine a piece of information.

Image via http://pixabay.com/p-276893/?no_redirect
Image via http://pixabay.com/p-276893/?no_redirect

For our video, as we’re going to do a scene at the end which brings the viewer out of the fantasy scenario and into reality, showing the Resume Builder application in use as well as other Rutgers/student/resume-centric imagery. It might be nice to insert an actual stock image of a resume, such as the professional one pictured here, somewhere in that part of the video under the voice-over.

Video:

Even though we are ourselves filming and editing a video specifically for this project, it’s oftentimes helpful and engaging to insert other video and film clips into a video project. This is something that many pop culture and film reviewers do online quite successfully, making their videos more engaging by having actual clips of the films/media they’re referencing spliced into their video.

While I don’t necessarily believe that, from a narrative perspective, we’ll need to make this sort of video reference, this clip of someone using various digital technologies might be a good model of the sort of video clip that could work in terms of transitional content into showing how the Resume Builder app functions. However, I don’t think this exact clip would fit, and I honestly struggled to find a clip that would work in general.

Thoughts On My Group Project’s Direction: Part 2

Image via http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com/2012/06/storyboarding-tips-from-dreamworks.html
Image via http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com/2012/06/storyboarding-tips-from-dreamworks.html

After creating a storyboard with my group members, I feel generally happy about the outcome of our project progress thus far. I think our narrative and goal vision is on point and aligned, and I’m very proud of the level of contribution all of my fellow group members have displayed.

However, progress is not without its challenges. One of the main challenges we faced as a group during this story-boarding stage was miscommunication, particularly in a virtual context. As most of this particular process was completed asynchronously in a digital environment, there was some disconnect between individual group member visions and expectations, as well as some miscommunication and misunderstandings during the collaboration process via email. However, we worked through this issue with a little sensitivity and communication skills, and were able to get back on track!

Another challenge we faced was being able to coordinate and include certain creative elements of the storyboard process using the digital tools we had on hand (i.e. email and Google Presentation in the Google Drive, as well as OneDrive, previously). For instance, we struggled a bit with including the artwork for our storyboards as we found it a bit difficult to coordinate including hand-created artwork in an evolving digital presentation that was constantly being changed and expanded upon. Again, in the end, we came up with a solution that everyone was comfortable and happy with.

One of the things that changed during the story-boarding step was that we added more detailed character cues and context for certain scenes, as well as added in a draft of the script, an addition that somewhat polarized our group in terms of identifying its necessity for the storyboard, but ultimately stayed in. One element that I’d love to see in a final draft of the storyboard might be camera angle cues and camera movement directions. Finally, my ultimate vision for this project is for it to be funny, informative, make sense, have a great flow, and also have good, positive energy!

Thoughts On My Group Project’s Direction: Part 1

Image via http://filmint.nu/?p=9923
Image via http://filmint.nu/?p=9923

Historically, group projects can be a total horror show. But as my group moves forward with our final group project, I’m quite happy with the way our creative direction is shaping up. We decided to go with a horror parody (i.e. playing with motifs from The Exorcist) to liken a prospective employee going to a job interview without their resume to a priest showing up to an exorcism without being prepared with his tools (e.g. holy water, bible, etc.) and basically failing his “interview” process.

I personally hope that our video plays humorously and doesn’t look too lo-fi in terms of production. (Of course, I know our tools will be limited, so I have reasonable expectations.) I also hope that our video doesn’t play out too long as I believe that this types of video need to get to the point and not drag out else we run the risk of losing the audience. I hope our script reads natural and not too cheesy, too!

For the storyboard, I hope our message can be clearly communicated and I hope that our scenes are clear and make sense for the narrative, as well as showcase the overall tone of the scene as well as the direction of the camera angles. Overall, I’m really happy with our initial creative direction, the collaboration we’ve done so far with one another, as well as how everyone is contributing to the group.