Sunday, 27 September 2015

2015 Blogs: Posts You Should Have So Far

Your blogs should be starting to build up a picture of your grasp of media language, semiotics and how the film industry works. You will have followed closely the very specific instructions on blog settings, and will have (perhaps with different titles) the following posts. Where I've put [Film Title] you should type the film title(!); I use the abbreviation WT for Working Title - you can use either.

When you receive blog comments please make changes within two days; if you're unsure or need help/clarification, please ask! You will be writing up a log of improvements across the year.

FORMATTING + PRESENTATION:
You can find MUCH more detail (and illustrations) in this post.
The post title should be short, pithy but clear. This will appear as large bold text, effectively your heading.

Provide clear sub-headings where relevant: adjust size, font, colour, bold.

Don't use underline or colour highlight.

Don't use Courier font.

Remember to highlight terminology with bold + pink.

Add relevant tags ('labels') to your posts.

Round box office up/down to a useful, memorisable figure, using k or m not 000 or 000,000.

Denote quotes of 2+ lines by changing font to Trebuchet, colour purple and clicking speech marks icon to indent. Provide the source; describe in a word or two, make bold - [] are advisable, e.g.: [BritCinema blog post]
More guidance on providing sources, and quoting, here.
Provide links as often as possible: if you're blogging on a film, making the film title (the first time you use it in a post) into an IMDB link is useful. If discussing box office, the boxofficemojo.com or the numbers.com link are useful. If quoting an article [source] or [article] are always expected. Always make it clear where your information comes from, even if its not a direct quote.
TIP: When adding images, videos or other embedded material, hit return, type ..., and go back to blank line before pasting in embed code. That will prevent later problems with adding more text. Before formatting a sub-heading or quote add a return/blank line with ... before highlighting text to format. That avoids having to re-format for 'normal' text. Same point for terminology: finish the sentence then format the terminology. If you've forgotten this, just copy some 'normal' text, paste it and type over it.
Always give the director, year of release + budget of a film you're analysing. This applies to essays too (budget isn't vital here), eg:
This is England (Meadows, 2006) sparked Warp's first franchise and demonstrates convergence with TV... [I've set this out as I do for quotes]

YOUR BLOG SHOULD HAVE THESE POSTS...

Sunday, 13 September 2015

SOFTWARE Editing with Pinnacle Studio aka Avid

Okay, so if you have the option you'd opt for Final Cut Pro X and editing on a Mac ...

If not, there are many options out there. Pinnacle Studio may not be as highly rated as Final Cut or Premiere, but it is a very powerful package, and in a different league to basic editors such as iMovie.

I've just started with it myself, and find it straightforward to use, but if you're new to video editing, or haven't moved beyond iMovie (or the even more basic Windows Movie Maker), it will take you a while to get used to it.

The best way to do that? Use it. Not to 'practice', but simply to edit video - practice film exercises, or vodcasts to better present your research. You could also spend time with it for non-Media or even non-school work. The more time you spend using it the more familiar it will become (and this will prepare you for other video editors; they may look different but there are common elements across most).

Pinnacle was bought up first by Avid then Corel; it is effectively the offspring of three big name software companies.

VIDEO CAN BE SLOW...
Video is best to get you started, but once you start looking for more specific guides and instructions do consider looking for text-based step-by-step guides too, which can be much quicker to use, and without the potentially annoying quirkiness of some of the presenters.

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE AREN'T FREE?
Unlike Final Cut, I can't see any paid-for online courses (indeed, you can gain Apple certificates in Final Cut!) on the likes of Lynda.com for Pinnacle Studio. However, there is a 2013 guide book by Jeff Naylor, listed at £30 on Amazon UK. This offers a series of tutorials as well as a reference guide.
This might be a useful investment
FREE ONLINE TUTORIALS

There aren't as many online guides as there are for the big two, Final Cut and Premiere, but there are enough to get you going, and to enable you to master more advanced techniques once you're familiar with the basics of importing, organising and editing.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Art of the Vodcast

I have previously burbled on at greater length about vodcasts - here. This post will be less detailed.

In the context of coursework, podcasts which summarise research are great ... as you can re-edit these for your Evaluation, including comparison with what you actually produced/did.

A vodcast is a podcast with video. It is likely to include your voice, though you can use titles to the same effect.
A mini GUIDE TO GOOD VODCASTING PRACTICE: brief, pithy, well illustrated, creative, expressive, analysis, terminology, concepts, opinion, titles, chapters, top ten, short clips, fair usage copyright law, mix audio levels, limit face time, branded, ident, channel watermark, target audience, tags, YouTube, links lists...

It will be quite brief. About 2 minutes is good; 5 minutes is starting to push it ... and don't go beyond 10 minutes. If you can't fit all your content into that time limit, think about how to split it up into themed chapters.

Brand your vodcasts, as I do. Once you've created a basic 'opening title' sequence for one, you can copy/paste the sequence into any future vodcast and simply edit the titles. I also recently started adding a watermark, in the style of the company or channel logos you see on TV, asserting my brand but also ensuring my work can't be ripped off!
I've created quite a few vodcasts, and will be adding more - a playlist is embedded below

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Setting up new blogs

You will need a gmail account to complete this.
Your task is simple: carefully following the instructions below, set up a new blog and start adding to it with the tasks at the bottom of this post!

ONCE YOU HAVE WORKED THROUGH THE 10 STEPS BELOW, CHECK YOU'VE SET   (1) 'WORD VERIFICATION FOR COMMENTS' TO NO;   (2) 'COMMENT MODERATION' TO ALWAYS (YOU NEED TO PROVIDE AN EMAIL ADDRESS) [both of these through DESIGN-SETTINGS-COMMENTS];   (3) TIME TO GMT [through DESIGN-SETTINGS-FORMATTING];

Read the following carefully; take the time to think of a brief and memorable URL:

PREVIEWS OF THE BLOGGER SCREENS:

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

WEBSITES Using Wix to build your band website

Not such an issue for film openings, but cross-posting this guide on creating a music act website...

IN THIS POST: Guides and how-to's for using Wix to build your own band website, incorporating multiple top-linked pages and deep social media integration, plus e-commerce for merchandise and music sales (even if not ultimately connected to a card/payment account), search engine hits (SEO) and more specific techniques through YouTube guides. 
To view a range of student websites following the music promo package brief, see this post.
First up, perhaps uniquely, an advert...


WHY WIX?
You may not have heard of Wix before now (I hadn't until it was recently recommended to me), but it is a high profile, internationally popular website build option (they claim its used in 180 countries), reflected in the range of languages how-to YouTube videos come in. It fares well when compared to rivals. It operates a freemium model - you can access most things for free, but can pay for more options.
Wix manages to make intricate, fully-featured website design easy and intuitive - and there are plentiful online guides...

WordPress is the dominant player in the online website-builder market (DreamWeaver remains the dominant software option), but Wix boasts a vastly superior ease-of-use; there is a much steeper learning curve with WordPress. Other rivals such as Weebly are not only more limited but also charge for options bundled for free with Wix. According to this site, Wix is the third most-used online website builder.

Wix is largely controlled via drag and drop, with the ability to go into menus to edit site layouts - you should find it a highly user-friendly website builder... [You can read more basics at the Wix Wiki]
Wix.com's 90-second intro to working with Wix


If you do go on to look to monetise any of your work, a former student (Amber) who got a job handling e-commerce operations for a an online retailer on the back of her Media work, not least the blog, tells me they found the e-commerce provision in Wix quite problematic, and had to get onto the helpline frequently. How typical or not that is I have no idea!

BEFORE YOU GET TO WIX...
Read the guide on the steps involved in researching and planning your website.

YOUTUBE GUIDES
When I approach new software or ICT tools, YouTube is generally my first port of call. In time I will seek to create one or more vodcasts myself. You can use Wix's Help function and general online search for alternatives to video; eg this is Wix's step through guide to creating your own landing page (and the Wix site has a search box of course).

Wix provide this '10 must-see Wix techniques for Newbies' page which would be a good starting point too; it appears to initially load in Spanish (but then auto-translate into English).

EG1 - ANIMATED GALLERIES; EDIT COLOUR SCHEME; CREATE ICON
For now, take this short (3min) example. Its a run-through of just 5 tips, but shows you clearly how to do so - I'd skip to tips 3, 4 and 5 (animated galleries; changing the colour scheme; creating an icon for your website which can be embedded - just as the Twitter etc icons are - on other sites, including your social media) from 1:03 in:


EG2 - FULL RUN THROUGH OF SETTING UP, EDITING A WIX SITE
Here's a lengthier (17:33) overview, taking you through the entire process from picking a template to customising and adding your own content. I'd skip to 1:14.


EG3 - FULL RUN THROUGH OF SETTING UP, EDITING A WIX SITE
One more lengthy video guiding you through the full process; you can easily find more should you wish to(?!).
This one (25mins) is aimed at teachers, but again runs you through the process and various specific techniques:


It may be worth watching one or more full runthroughs to get a preview of some of the techniques involved, and perhaps some reassurance for the newbies that this is very manageable, but these videos aren't so useful once you're sat trying to figure out specific techniques. For that you'd want to find more specific guides - and perhaps look at web pages as well as videos, according to your own preference (video can be a slow way of getting precise information). Some examples follow, but I've gathered more into a Playlist, and will shortly point you to an official Wix playlist which you could use...

EG4 - ADDING MEMBER SIGNUP/LOGIN BUTTONS
A good example of the strengths and weaknesses of video tutorial; it starts with a minute of waffle (skip to 1:09 to avoid it), but is clear and easy to follow.


EG5 - APPS + ADDING A SEARCH FUNCTION
Whilst not entirely thrilled with his style, I clicked through to the 'ComputerMDofGilbert' channel and searched for Wix. This is one of ... lots of hits that came up; The Doc has put together guides on many of the topics you might want to figure out in time. Once again the first half is waffle (the final minute too!), but skip to 2:02 and you've got a good, clear, concise (really just 90 seconds!) guide thats very easy to follow.

In this example, you need to access an app, just as you might with your smartphone. These mostly follow a freemium model; the free version of the search tool here is limited to just 30 searches per month, but if you're concerned an examiner might think something is broken you can always have blogged a brief demonstration of it working (or pay for the app upgrade).


EG6 - E-COMMERCE
Business users appear to be the predominant Wix user, and many of the online guides are focussed on e-commerce. Much of the point of any contemporary music act website will be to raise revenue, through merchandise at least as much as through music (and Miley Cyrus was hardly the first to decide that giving away her music could still be a profitable model).

There's a complete start-to-finish walk through centred on e-commerce (the link skips a minute of waffle); a 14min 'Blogtrepreneur' guide; a feature promoting a specific Wix e-commerce app (Shopify); the Doc has done a shorter guide, which I've embedded below - as usual, there's waffle which you can skip by going to 1:08. Later, I'll highlight Wix's own video guides.

As I noted above, one former student who got work while still on the Media course through the quality of her blog experienced difficulties with real-world use of Wix's e-commerce tools, but how typical that anecdotal experience is I don't know.

EG7: ADDING SEO (search engine optimisation)
There are lots of videos on this too, a useful point for you to consider as part of your engagement with audience and use of technology. This example is from 'Website Builders Critic', a 6 min video - there's an exhaustive 40 minute webinar too!


A fragment of a 37-video Wix playlist, generally short (1-2mins) + focussed!

WIX'S PLAYLISTS OF VIDEO GUIDES
Wix themselves have produced a wide range of highly focussed video tutorials (in addition to the site's Help function). Have a browse by clicking through to the YouTube page on this video, part of a playlist of 37 videos, generally 1-2 minutes long and mostly highly specific. This is their guide on adding a shop to your site.


FOUR USEFUL LINKS FOR WIX
Simple 'Wix' search on YouTube.
ComputerMDofGilbert's Wix guides.
The Wix.com playlist.
10 Top Techniques For Newbies (wix.com).
...