Adobe After Effects is the program we will be using to create the slideshow element of our audio slideshow podcasts. As I have previously used many of the Adobe creative suite products, including Adobe Premiere Pro, I am looking forward to using After Effects for the first time and learning what it can do in comparison to Adobe’s other similar programs.
It looks and feels very similar to Premiere Pro, but I have already started to notice some substantial differences. After Effects seems very much catered to special effects and 3D work, whereas Premiere Pro is a video editing program. Initially, I had major newbie issues with playback in AE, but found out that was just because the program must render every frame before it can play, something which works very differently in PP. A couple of really interesting tutorial websites, which are going to be a great help in learning the ropes in After Effects are Video Copilot and Creative Cow.
Despite the initial difficulties which I encountered with After Effects, I am happy that with a bit of work I will be able to take my images and video footage and turn them into a professional audio slideshow.
After a lot of research via the library, where I found several journal articles, and the internet, I have realised that due to the relative recency of my subject I need to supplement my findings by purchasing Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen – a book which discusses many of the bee’s problems and the impacts they are having upon agriculture. This piece of literature has been brilliant at laying out a lot of the bees problems, although it does seem somewhat overly focused upon America.
Drawing information from this book and a number of other sources, such as helpsavebees.co.uk and much research undertaken by Dennis vanEngelsdorp, I have been able to collate a list of reasons for why the bees might be experiencing such heavy declines:
CCD – Colony Collapse Disorder.
The Varroa mite.
Viral/Bacterial issues (Nosema and Cloudy Wing Virus).
Forced in-breeding due to human-selected breeding, which can impact on the immune system and genetic strength.
Climate change & bad weather.
Monoculture farming (habitat destruction, ecosystem destruction, transporting bee hives around on trucks, so that they can be used as tools to pollinate crops).
Habitat destruction & fragmentation.
There are clearly a huge number of reasons why the bees are in trouble.
Last night was Bonfire Night, so to get material for my podcast, I took a dictaphone and camera to the public firework and bonfire display at Roundhay Park. As well as taking still images at the event, I also captured some video footage with the intention of utilising it as the intro and outro of my podcast. After the public display, myself and a few friends headed home with a couple of packets of sparklers. I created some more images, candid and constructed, which I intend to use in my slideshow. Particularly of note are the sparkler-drawn numbers 1-5, which I will be using to bullet point the top five ways to stay safe.
Over the weekend, I managed to record my part of the interview, which, hopefully, will not need to be changed after I have recorded the actual interview. I did this with the intention of saving myself time when I do have the interview recorded.
I have been in constant contact with the Fire Service via email over the weekend, and finally managed to arrange a meeting for this afternoon with Clare Hesselwood at Leeds fire station.
Update: The interview went very well and Clare answered all of my questions fully. With the benefit of hindsight, I have now learnt that in a recorded interview situation it is important to let the interviewee answer the question on their own and come to a stop before making any audible sound myself. This is because if you (the interviewer) speak in agreement it can be detrimental to the recording. Similarly, I have also learnt that it is best to let the interviewee answer the question fully with their train of thought, rather than ushering them in a certain direction. By doing this, I feel I will gain the best and most honest answer from a journalistic perspective.
Editing the audio has been a long process for such a short podcast. I have managed to cut down seven minutes of interview to less than two minutes. I have even made sure to cut out pauses, “erms” and other unnecessary artefacts to make the podcast as concise and pleasant to listen to as possible. During editing, I found that I was unhappy with the quality of the audio from Roundhay Park for a number of reasons (background music, crowd noise, clipping, etc), so I have downloaded free firework sound effects from the web and have used them in stead. I decided to let these run throughout the entire podcast as I felt it added more aural interest and gave the feeling that the interview could have been recorded at a firework display. To ensure that the audio did not become lost amongst the sound effects, I decided to pan my own voice moreso to the right channel, and Clare’s to the left. Whenever the speech switches between Clare and myself, the fireworks pan to the opposite channel, making good use of the stereo editing techniques we have learnt.
To add depth to the voice, I have used various editing techniques in Adobe Audition, such as De-Hiss, Noise Reduction, Parametric EQ (tweaking high and low), Loudness, Compression and Normalising.
Agriculture, and more specifically mass production farming, is a huge part of the modern human ecosystem. I have been investigating just how important the bee is in this ecosystem, and I feel I have gained a good understanding that it is vital to us and our food production. Below are a few facts I have collated on this subject, which I intend to make the back bone of one research objectives.
A few facts:
30% of crops and 90% of wild plants rely on cross-pollination.
80% of the world’s agricultural crop pollination is attributed to the European Honey Bee.
Bees contribute £26 billion to the world economy via pollination.
Bees contribute £200 million to the UK economy.
Almonds are 100% reliant upon honey bees for pollination, whilst apples are 90% reliant.
Einstein once said “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”.
I feel that these facts will come in handy when I create my questionnaire to test the public perception of the importance of bees. Some of the figures are staggering, and I, for one, did not realise quite how important these little creatures are to us and the food we eat.
Up to this point, I have really enjoyed learning about the world of bees. I feel the subject I have chosen is really becoming something that I can gain a lot from. If I put my mind to the test and work as hard as I can on this project, then I am confident that I will create something which can be genuinely educational for a lot of people. I hope to make this project not just any other University project, but something that can make a difference – something to really be proud of.
Plagiarism is the other side of the ‘referencing’ coin. If you reference, then you don’t plagiarise. Pretty simple, really.
To make sure I am not at risk of plagiarising, I will be making sure to note down all books, films, websites, images, videos, etc, so that I can make a comprehensive list of material that I have been assimilating.
Recently, I have been researching the plight of our bees and the ways in which people have been trying to help them. Via The Naked Scientists podcasts I have discovered that people are trying to help bees by planting bee friendly plants and wildflowers in the place of grass, which has taken over much of our open spaces. In addition, urban beekeeping is seeing a boom, particularly in the city of London. Although, the London Beekeepers Association is warning that there are potentially too many bees in the city of London and not enough plants for them to feed on.
I feel that these (bee-friendly planting & urban beekeeping) are two areas, which I will look to focus on further in report.
The assignment brief required us to create a scene, which would be photographed twice using different lighting for each image. The challenge was to change the mood, and therefore, meaning conveyed purely with the use of lighting.
The image I chose to construct was that of a large knife on a kitchen table with a few spots of water on the blade – an image, which would offer vastly differing narratives dependent on the lighting used. Below you can see the first image – the well-lit, clean, commercial product shot.
I lit this using two diffused flashes with make-shift softboxes, one beneath camera and the other behind and to the right of the subject. You can see better how this was set-up in the diagram below.
As I have already mentioned, I feel that the result achieved is one akin to a typical still-life / product / stock image. The lighting is even and soft, giving pleasing shadows and good focus to the subject.
In its second form, the feel of the image is altered entirely. Instantly, the red colour and sinister lighting conveys a sense of evil, and in this particular image, murder.
This image was lit using one flash with a red gel and a long semi-opaque snoot to focus the light around the knife, whilst still allowing some ambient fill light.
By lighting the image in this way, the atmosphere shifts to convey a dark, sinister mood. Low-key lighting and long shadows (techniques we often see used in horror films) cast by the blade of the knife create a look we associate with wicked and evil circumstances, and this changes the tone of the scene entirely.