Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adobe Illustrator - Class of 2014

Chou Thao
ITA Technology Instructor

The Adobe Illustrator class allows students to take a sketch of their own (done with paper and pencil) and digitize it onto a computer using Illustrator. This doesn't mean that someone who wants to learn to use the program has to be a great drawer or artist. Illustrator has a bunch of tools for artists and non-artists alike to make professional and interesting graphics for tons of purposes, from print to web!

The Illustrator class was split into two classrooms taught by Chou, Cristina, Marc, and Tenzin. The first project's main goal was for students to get comfortable with the program and get a feel of how it works. The assignment was to create your very own penguin character using pre-made symbols of penguin parts. The results were amazing as students used their creativity to make unique penguins.

As the class went on and students learned the various tools the program offered they realized the difference between vector images and raster images. In Illustrator vector images can be made from raster images by utilizing the live trace tool. Students were put into groups of four and asked to use this tool to create a "four seasons" piece. They "live traced" one picture and color it in with the colors of the season they were assigned from their groups. The four seasons project was interesting because of how each student portrayed the same season with their unique perspective.

The students were learning Adobe's CS5 and they got a chance to test out the new perspective tool. Using the perspective tool students were able to create a city block with two different angles and create a 3D effect. Students picked up this tool very quickly and created some nice work.

To show what the students gained from the Illustrator class, they were asked to create a web site layout from scratch using Illustrator. This was a little bit of a challenge because the students have had very little experience in how websites are created, but after a few examples ideas started to pop.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Radio Commercials

Radio commercials are much different than any other commercial or ad because they only get to use sound and utilize the sense of hearing. They must grab the audience's attention without having them see anything, which is quite a feat!

The students first focused on writing a script. They thought about what goes into a script and what they should focus on. They learned some of the main questions to consider when script-writing:

  • Who's the audience?
  • What's the product?
  • What's the message?
As the students worked, they had to think about how they would "set the stage" so that the audience knows where the scene is taking place. To set the stage, you must carefully select what sounds to use to let the audience know where the commercial is taking him or her.

After the students set the stage, the students must say what their product is and the facts that make it the best product available. This is the "meat" of a commercial as it is the most important part for getting the consumer interested in the product.

The last part of a radio commercial is a call to action, or telling the person to buy the product.

This is a sample "call to action" that one student wrote:

"Little Litter Robot! Available for only 5 easy payments of $29.99! So pick up your iPhone and call 1-800-NO-LITTR, N-O-L-I-T-T-R, right now! That's 1-800-665-4887"

The students then got to focus on recording their commercials along with a new competition set-up. Each student all had access the same sound bytes of other ITA students talking about Madison, WI. They then compiled them into a sort of PSA for the city of Madison. Then, each student was to choose a music to create a mood from SoundCloud.

The whole process of making the PSA focused the students on the production of radio commercials. The winner was determined by the ITA Staff, which was Natalia. Her prize was a honorable congratualtions, and her commercial was played before all our guests at the 11th Annual Holiday Luncheon!

Enjoy all the Madison PSAs made by the students:

ITA Students PSAs

The best part about the experience for the students is that although we didn't have time for them to finish both of their commercial projects, at least they know how to make their own all the way from product to script to final production!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sound in Film

Sound in Film is a class that aims to improve all aspects of audio in student films. Students learned about professional film sound, multiple sound layer editing, techniques to help achieve common audio effects and how to put it all together on screen.

Students came into this course knowing little to nothing about professional audio editing. They were first introduced to professional examples of sound design. Here are a couple examples from the film Star Wars.

Students learned how to film dialogue with multiple angles and using multiple takes. This allows for easier audio editing in post-production. Then, the students learned about ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) or overdubbing all the dialogue in a film. They learned how to use high quality microphones to produce better sound than what is recorded from internal camera microphones. In this case we used the Zoom - H2 audio recorders, which are a great product and reasonably priced!

The students were then challenged to create their own film project, using their own scripts. Here's the catch: all the audio had to be created in post-production. This means that no audio captured during filming was allowed to be used "as-is." There were 4 groups and only 2 of the groups considered their projects complete. It was a challenging task that required hard work and dedication. It also required time, and sometimes we run out of that fast. And, although some of the final projects didn't turn out in the end, the learning along the way was invaluable. Students also learned the hard work and pre-production required to finish a project for a deadline.

Here is Clara and Lucy's final project, a trailer for an original gripping feature film called Code Red. It's an upcoming thriller (not really) about foiling a planned attempt to assassinate the president. (Spoiler Alert!) We asked, and he ends up being unharmed in the movie.

Thanks for reading!

MS Excel Last Day!

Paul Christopher
ITA Technology Instructor

This morning’s session was Elizabeth’s first session in a month, so she had a bunch of stuff to do in catching up with the students. We talked about what we did between sessions, and what our plans were for the Thanksgiving holiday. Anny is participating in a Hmong New Year celebration, but she’s not sure if she should sing or not (of course, she should.)

Then, once that was finished, Elizabeth led the class through a review of what we studied last session. Also, she brought cookies! In honor of the last day of Excel. Since we’re working on an Excel Game, which can be really, really complicated, (but also really, really fun) there were A LOT of fires to put out. Add in the network problems we were having (dropped connections, no available connections, etc.) and everything was slow-going, but the students did a great job of rolling with the punches and getting everything done. There were some really interesting issues, such as naming the right columns the right thing, and remembering to SAVE OFTEN, and everyone did a great job of helping each other out. Since Elizabeth and Paul had their hands full, team effort was really important to make sure everybody got to where they needed to be!

Eventually, and with a lot of hard work, most of the class got to where they needed to be. The game was played, and many battles were fought and lost. Keke and Jose came out winners, as did Tenzin and Jaylah. More importantly, it was a blast seeing the culmination of everyone’s hard work. Way to go, team!