Pandemia Upon Us

The Story

Connor McClain, a local university student, decided to take a stroll through the woods to capture some pictures for a school project during social distancing orders thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Little does he know, he is not alone. Follow Connor through this multi-media story arch and discover whether or not he has what it takes to survive.

Part 1 – A Stroll For The Hunted

Part 2 – Pandemia Upon Us

Start from the bottom image –

Part 3 – A Final Chance

Behind The Scenes

First, I started off with buying a new camera tripod that came with a smartphone attachment. Once I had all of my equipment ready to go, I drove out to the countryside near where I live and found a nice wooded spot where nobody would bother me. I walked about 100 feet into the forest and set up for my first shot, with zero script prepared. I feel I perform better on camera when I improvise compared to using a script and memorizing it.

I shot for about an hour in the woods, getting stationary shots and handheld shots. Right as I finished shooting my last scene it started pouring rain so I had to run through the woods as fast as I could, getting stuck in rose bushes all along the way. Not a fun experience, that last bit.

When I got home, I uploaded all of my footage to my computer and booted up iMovie to create the video. After cutting together the video clips and getting everything smooth transition-wise, I used to download tons of free soundbites for my effects in the video. I downloaded growls, snarls, screams, creepy whispers, forest sounds, and even the creepy “humming” music that occasionally is heard. Fun fact, the birds and waterfalls you hear during the video are actually sound effects and not real. The actual forest was right next to a street so you could hear cars and horns every now and again so I had to mask those.

With the video done, I could focus on the next part, the instagram page. I decided to run with the idea of the Covid-19 virus affecting and mutating someone into a beast that can transform between beast form and human form. This concept lent itself to the story better, logically. I started the page Pandemia Upon Us and used it as the captor’s personal instagram account. It documents his struggles and his crimes. For the pictures, I used “covid-19 panic” images from google to develop the captor’s motives. For my hostage picture, that was fun. Being one or two days later, I had to go back and wear the same clothes in the video and stage a scene where I’m kidnapped and in a basement. I used my parent’s storage room to shoot in and had my hesitant-yet-loving parents tie me up and take pictures of me on the floor in the dark. That was weird but hey, art? Anyways, I got a couple great pictures to use so I went home and uploaded them all with creepy captions.

For the final part, I decided to have Connor find a radio in the storage room and make an emergency call for help. I wrote a script that my friend and I recorded:

Using an audio software, we spliced together our respective parts and added a myriad of effects to emulate a CB radio. The ending result came out pretty well, in my opinion.

Overall, this final project was a true pleasure to work on. It encompassed everything that I have learned this semester in DS106. For a 100 level class, it has by far been one of the most demanding yet rewarding classes I have ever taken in my college career. Spring 2020 semester has been a wild ride and will forever be known as the Pandemic Semester. Thank you for a great semester and I wish Professor Bond and the UMW class of 2020 the best of luck!

Best regards,

Connor McClain

Final Project Outline (Week 13 Summary)

This week, I started to brainstorm and come up with ideas for our final project. Going with the theme of the ongoing pandemic crisis right now, I decided to do a post-epidemic survival story spanning YouTube, Instagram, and SoundCloud. Here is the outline and idea that I will be following for the project moving forward:

This weekend, I will start filming on location, and creating the accounts to follow the next portion of content creation.

Week 12 Summary

This week has been pretty chill, to be honest. I’m finally settling into a full online class environment just when we are about to be done in a couple weeks. For this week, we were tasked with 2 Mashup Assignments, and 2 Remix It assignments.

Text Conversation: A Wild Ride

This Mashup assignment was fun to make using Final Cut Pro. Utilizing video, editing, and sound techniques, I learned a lot. Here is my blog post explaining in further detail.

Animoji Karaoke 1980s Style

For my other Mashup assignment, I did an Animoji Karaoke video and posted it to Twitter. Singing along to Men At Work’s hit song Down Under was a lot of fun and my friend got a kick out of it. Here is my blog post for it.

Remixed Logo: Dr. Seuss Edition

For my first Remix It assignment, I was asked to remix my surfboard company logo and add Dr. Seuss characters to it. Naturally, I did just that! Here is my blog post telling you all about it.

Back To The Fonz Poster

For my final Remix It assignment, I was tasked to my remix my Back To The Future poster with a picture of Happy Day’s The Fonz. Here is my blog post talking all about it.

Daily Creates

Back To The Fonz

For this week’s final remix assignment, I chose to remix my Minimalist TV/Movie Poster assignment.

when I hit the “Remix It” button, I was instructed to add a Happy Days vibe to it via adding The Fonz to my new creation.

Because my previous movie I used was Back To The Future, I decided to add a picture of The Fonz with the Delorean in the background, accompanied by some simple minimalist text.

Text Conversation: A Wild Ride

For my second and final mashup assignment this week, I chose to do the Storytelling Through Text Mashup Assignment.

In order to complete this assignment, I used my friend’s laptop that had Final Cut Pro installed on it and downloaded a plug-in that simulates text conversations. Entering my script I had written into each text bubble was time consuming but I think the end result came out really well. The bouncy, fun music was also a nice touch.

Remixed Simple Logo feat. Dr. Seuss

For the first remix assignment of this week, I decided to remix my Create A Logo That Is Simple But Detailed assignment. This was my original logo:

When I clicked REMIX IT on the assignment page, I was told to add a Dr. Seuss character.

Not sure how I was going to accomplish this, I got to work googling Dr. Seuss characters. The first characters I remembered were from the book 1 Fish 2 Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I found a high quality cover of them and brought them into Procreate on my iPad. Using the eraser tool, I isolated the fish and put them around the surfboards in the logo. This was the result:

I loved the idea of using fish with a surfboard brand. I also think the colors of the fish compliment the logo and aren’t too jarring to look at.

Remixing this logo was a lot of fun and I learned better techniques utilizing my Eraser tool and layers.

Animoji Karaoke 1980s Style

For this week’s Mashup Assignments, the first one I chose was Animoji Karaoke. I chose to sing along to Men At Work’s 1981 hit song, Down Under. I chose to use a Koala face as my Animoji because its only fitting for the “Down Under” theme. I also think I somewhat resemble a koala thanks to my round face and lazy disposition. This assignment was very fun and I got to use my phone’s technology to make something entertaining.

My New Hobby (Week 11 Summary)

Cooking With Connor

This week, I decided to create my own assignment by making a cooking video where I make a homemade sauce and burger! Taking all week and using video, sound, and design techniques, I believe this video was well worth 10 stars. The link to my post describing the entire process cant be found, here.

Revised Project Ideas

When asked to revise some of our project ideas, I looked at other people’s suggestions and liked their ideas more than mine. In my blog post, here, I go over what some of those ideas were.

Weekly Daily Creates

Cooking With Connor

For this week’s video assignment task, I decided to make my own assignment for the first time! I spent all week writing, filming, and editing a cooking tutorial video on making a burger and some homemade In N Out Animal Style sauce. With the amount of effort and time I put into this video this week, I decided it seemed fair to delegate it a 10 star rating because it incorporated video, audio, and design techniques to complete the video.

First, I started with the idea phase. I had to think of an idea for one video that would be worth 10 stars. I first thought of doing a sitcom with multiple characters (played by me) but I did not have the costumes or time to film and edit an entire 5-10 minute episode. After a couple other ideas not fitting, I decided on doing a burger cooking video based on my favorite burger restaurant with heavy 1980s vibes: In N Out.

The next part that had to be done was the voice over for the video. After writing a script and labeling each part, I used Audacity to individually record each part. After the whole script was recorded, I now had to film.

In order to film, I needed to first clean my kitchen. After doing all of the dishes in my sink, wiping down the counters, and stealing my roommates lamp for extra lighting, I was able to start staging for the video. Following my script structure, I positioned all of my ingredients on my counter accordingly. I used my iPad with my AirPods in to listen to my voiceovers while I badly mimic my hand gestures to make it look like I’m speaking while filming. After the first-person intro, my roommate was kind enough to help me film the rest of the footage from a 3rd person view.

After filming was over and we shared the burger I made, we both went to bed so I could start editing the next morning. Using Final cut Pro for Mac, I started editing. The first major task I had to get right was syncing my voiceover with my terrible hand movements so it looked as organic as possible. Once that was done, I started editing the ingredients list using a sports-related format plug-in and re-did it so I could add ingredients and my own footage into the viewfinder. This took a lot of time but I think it came out pretty good.

Screenshot of my editing timeline

The next shot I edited was making the sauce. Using video graphics and text, I added a layer of labels over the ingredients for added information for the viewer. Cutting the video into quarters for quickness was then added. Now, its burger time. This part I was able to add sizzle sound effects to when I push down the burger patties to flatten them. Using fade-in and fade-out intensity levels, I was able to add a realistic pressure-activated sizzle effect overtop the video.

Finally, I added some funky 1980s type music over it all to give it that extra 1980s feel.

Overall, I had a great and exhausting time creating this video. I hope it can at least teach a couple people how to make a great burger!

Revised Project Ideas

When reflecting back on my original project brainstorming post, I noted a few ideas that I thought were interesting. My board game idea and my movie scene idea were my two favorites. But upon looking at other classmate-made ideas, I notably liked the ideas of playing with the past. Taking historical events and creating different outcomes is a really interesting idea I think would be great to explore further.

The Next Best Movie Critic (Week 10 Summary)

This week in DS106 has been more relaxed than the previous. Everybody, including myself, has finally been settling into our new remote-working lives. That made this week’s video assignments much easier to work on.

Video Essay

To start off the week, I created a Video Essay on one of the iconic scenes from The Shining. Stanley Kubrick’s use of camera angles, color, and noise effectively create an eerie and tense scene. Here is my blog post talking about it.

Land Before Time Spoiled in Under 30 Seconds

For my first of 4 video assignments I did this week, I chose the Spoil A Movie in Under 30 Seconds assignment. This assignment was a lot of fun to make because I loved the movie growing up and it fit the retro 1980s theme great. Here is my blog post talking about it.

Yoda Won’t Eat His Cracker

For my second video assignment this week, I chose to do Ryan Gosling Wont Eat His Cereal assignment. I chose to do this assignment because I think the concept is hilarious. I chose Yoda because it was a scene from the 1980s film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Here is my blog post talking about it.

Beautiful Iceland

For this week’s third video assignment, I chose to do Where Do You Want To Go. I chose this assignment because I love making videos about places I’d love to visit someday. Here is my blog post talking about it.

The Evolution of iMac

For this week’s final video assignment, I chose to do a Product Evolution assignment about Apple’s iconic iMac. I loved doing this assignment because I love Apple products and enjoy making videos about them. Here is my blog post talking about it.

The History of the iMac

For this week’s final DS106 video assignment I did, I chose to do the Product Evolution video assignment. I chose to do this assignment because I love Apple and iMac computers and it was relevant to our 1980s retro theme.

Using iMovie, I gathered a bunch of pictures of every model of iMac andput them back to back in a video, set to music with titles, saying every model and the year it came out from Apple.

Beautiful Iceland

For one of this week’s DS106 Video Assignments, I chose to do the Where Do You Want To Go assignment. I chose this assignment and place because I love making bucket list-type videos for places i’d love to go to.

Using Google to find a bunch of gorgeous pictures of Iceland, (made by National Geographic) I imported the photos into iMovie, added some classy music, and uploaded it to YouTube.

Yoda Won’t Eat His Cracker

This week in DS106, I chose to do the Ryan Gosling Wont Eat His Cereal Video Assignment. Instead of Ryan Gosling, I decided to use Yoda from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and attempt to feed him a delicious Club cracker. He was certainly not having any of it.

Using my phone to record the whole scene, I then made 5 separate cuts of the video and created one continuous shot using iMovie.

Land Before Time Spoiled in Under 30 Seconds

This week, I decided to do a Spoil A Movie in Under 30 Seconds video assignment. I chose Land Before Time because it came out in 1988 and it was one of my favorite childhood movies growing up.

When creating this assignment, I used iMovie to voice over images from Google of the movie characters and major plot points mentioned.

Come Play With Us Video Essay

This week in DS106, we were asked to create a video essay from a 1980s movie or TV scene. In order to do this, we were also tasked with reading Roger Ebert’s How to Read a Movie. It was a very interesting read with a lot of useful information in it. In my video essay, I made sure to connect how the camera angles creates a specific emotion, similarly mentioned in the article. The Tony Zhou Every Frame a Painting YouTube channel also effectively taught me many interesting and unique ways that cinematography is used to convey certain emotions and accomplish goals that writing or directing could never.

For my Video Essay, I chose to analyze a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 psychological thriller, The Shining.

The way the camera angles shift between the subjects, the lighting in the scenes, and the use of uncomfortable sounds and music all culminate in creating an eerie and tense scene.

In order to create the video essay, I painstakingly used iMovie to create video clips from the YouTube video and overlap them over 5 separate voice recordings of me, reading my script I wrote for the essay. Towards the ending, I wanted to make sure it ended on a creepy and impactful note so I cut it to the point when Danny says “I’m scared” and it cuts to black with a loud boom.

This assignment helped me learn a lot about camera techniques and strategies used to add extra depth in films.

Time For a Quarantini (Week 9 Summary)

First, let’s not ignore the elephant int he room. The Coronavirus has made massive moves into the United States and countless other countries, infecting thousands and killing hundreds. As a result, school has been closed for the semester and the economy is hurting severely. But this class is not about that. Let’s focus on what this week was all about in DS106.

Radio Show Reflection

This week, everybody had their Radio Show projects aired on DS106 Radio with the entire class an in interactive audience via Twitter. Here is my post, reflecting on one of the great shows I listened to and my thoughts on having our team’s radio aired live as well.

Project Brainstorming

As a class, we were asked this week to brainstorm some project concepts for later this semester and next semester. Here is my blog post, outlining some of my favorite ideas I came up with.

Daily Create Story

This week, we were asked to create a story using the last 3 Daily Creates from our Twitters. I had a lot of fun writing this short, silly story about my dog, Hank Hill, and a unicorn named Toby. Here is the blog post illustrating my beautiful story.

Double Assignment Rework

This week, we were tasked with reworking or improving upon two of our past assignments. I decided to rework my Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and Four Icons/One Story assignments. I enjoyed reworking these assignments because it gave me the ability to go a different route with both of them. Here is my blog post showing off both reworked assignments.

Rework Makes the Dream Work

This week, for our weekly assignments, we were asked to rework or remix two past assignments and I chose to rework my Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing assignment and my Four Icons/One Story assignment. Here is the assignment page for Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and here is the assignment page for Four Icons/One Story.

For the first assignment, I decided to improve upon the original idea of just switching the logo and I decided to change the logo on a car, plus its badge, and wall logos.

Pictured above, we have a beautiful 1987 Rolls Royce Ferrari F40 with an elegant Aston Martin badge. Using Procreate on my iPad, I thought of multiple luxury brands from the 1980s and put them all together to create a car image that any car enthusiast would punch me in the face over such simple heresy. I Chose to do this past assignment because I wanted to see how far I could take my terrible imagination.

For my second assignment, I decided to recreate the assignment with a new movie that I recently watched, thanks to a friend. My friend and I binge-watched the entire Star Wars series over the past week or so, so I thought it was fitting to use the 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back film for my story.

The snowflake symbolizes the battle on the Planet Hoth, the hiker pas homage to Luke Skywalker carrying Yoda on his back while training to become a Jedi, the teddy bear represents the Wookies, and the lightning bolt is used to indicate the way Darth Vader kills Emperor Palpatine in order to save Luke, his son. Recreating this assignment was fun and perfectly relatable to our class theme.

Daily Create Story Time

Our incredible story starts off with a special unicorn named Toby.

At first, Toby just seemed like any other unicorn but there was something unique about him. Toby had the special ability to start fires with his eyes and read other creature’s thoughts. This was all thanks to the special purple and pink shirt he always wore, that he found at Goodwill. But one day, He encountered a beast that even he could not read its mind. That terrifying creature was no other than Taz, Destroyer of Worlds.

Dubbed the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion in the 1985 regular season, she was the toughest dog you’ll ever meet. With a look of pure evil radiating through her beady-yellow eyes, nobody stood a chance against her. Toby knew what he had to do. He had to destroy Taz, The Undestroyable. But if Toby wanted to defeat Taz, he knew he was going to need some help. Even the power to start fires with his eyes was not enough to take her on alone. Knowing this, Toby recruited the help of the only man he knew that could take down such a beast. Hank Hill, propane and propane accessories salesman extraordinaire.

With fate and knowledge and their side, they rode at dawn to take on the dastardly villain. Upon arrival to her evil lair, the battle immediately commenced thanks to an ambush. After several hours of fighting, both Toby and Hank Hill grew weak. Bloody and beaten, Hank Hill takes out one last can of WD40 and sprays it right into Taz’s eyes, creating a chemical chain reaction sending her back into the Nether Realm from which she came. Toby and Hank Hill went down in history that day as the Two Who Conquered.

Story Concept Brainstorming

When thinking about project story concepts for DS106, almost anything could be used to fuel a great assignment. Here are some of my favorite ideas for future projects:

  • Write and act out a part of a movie script
  • Design a product, make an adv poster, and commercial for it
  • Create a new board game
  • Make a new company with a logo, merchandise, and a commercial

Social Media in the 1980s Reflection

Over the past week, the DS106 project teams have been able to listen to each other’s Radio Show projects on DS106 Radio Monday through Wednesday. One specific radio show I thought was noteworthy was 80s Crime and Social Media: An 80s Rewrite. It pondered the idea of what the 1980s would be like if today’s social media had existed.

Structurally, using a host and caller-in format was a great idea. It led itself to the radio show platform fantastically. With an exciting host dictating the show and callers calling in to talk about their specific events was very well done. The use of sounds amongst the team members pieces were executed very well and the background music and tracks perfectly fit the era and style they were aiming for.

As for the concept, the rationale of exploring how current social media platforms would have affected the world during past events that shaped humanity’s history is riveting. From basketball legends stories about Larry Bird to war-time motions, giving any normal person the ability to share a story within seconds from anywhere would have truly changed the way we see the world today. The team did an excellent job in both concept and execution.

When reflecting on having my team’s radio show aired on the radio with the whole class listening in, it was very engaging. I, as well as my teammates I imagine, felt a strong sense of pride in knowing that something that we all worked very hard on was being aired live on a streaming radio website. Getting to interview with Professor Bond was another great portion of the live-listening night, where we talked about potential new themes for future ds106 classes and getting to briefly describe the work we did on the show before it aired. During our show live on air, our audience/class was engaging and seemed to enjoy the show. This was a great project and I highly recommend it for future classes.

The Next DJ Khaled (Week 7 Summary)

A week full of audio assignments, song writing, and graphic design made this week really challenging yet exciting.

Roadtrip Playlist

For the first audio assignment of the week, I made a playlist for an upcoming road trip I’m going on, under the audio assignment Make Your Own Mixtape. I used Spotify to make a playlist including many of my favorite artists. My blog post can be found here.

1980s Song Mashup

For my second audio assignment of the week, I made mashup of two 1980s-style songs, under the audio assignment Take Any Two Songs and Make A Mashup/Remix.

In order to do this, I used a website called to algorithmically mashup two royalty-free 1980s songs I found on Youtube. My blog post about it can be found, here.

My New Single: Dynamite

For my third audio assignment of the week, I decided to do the assignment Play DJ and Make A Song. I really loved doing this assignment because I love music and have always been interested in making my own.

Using GarageBand to create a song using their pre-recorded instrumental loops was really easy to understand and fun to use. I could spend days just messing with all of the loops and making some really awesome songs. Here is my blog post talking all about the process.

Daily Creates

For my three daily creates this week that I participated in, I first showed off what my dream place to live would be. I would love to live in an industrial-style, modern loft in a cool, relaxed city.

For my second Daily Create, we had to use an old book image search engine to find a cool picture and talk about it. I found an awesome old sketch of a man and woman in a study from the 1800s.

For my third and final Daily Create of the week, we were asked to show off our book collection. I don’t read that much so I don’t own many non-textbook reading material. When I do get a chance and the urge to read, I enjoy reading science fiction and self-help books.

Radio Show Progress

During the week, I met with my radio show project group to talk about what our show was going to be about. We decided on “What’s Their Damage?”, a radio show about notorious criminals in the 1980s.

We continued to figure out who would like to do research on what criminal and use our team’s Google Doc to talk about new ideas and work on existing ones.

As for this week, I designed my own logo for the radio show. Using my iPad and Photoshop, I created a logo that I believe does a great job at telling the viewer what the show is about immediately. Here is a link to my blog post talking about the process.

Radio Show Progress

This week, I designed a logo for our group project radio show. The name of our radio show we chose is “What’s Their Damage?”. We chose this name because we wanted to do a radio show on criminals in the 1980s. Some notable criminals we will be highlighting are Pablo Escobar, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Richard Ramirez.

We chose 1980s criminals because everybody in our group is really interested in it. Watching documentaries, thriller movies, and tv shows about historical criminals are super fascinating to all of us.

Specifically, this week, we first all met in a group meeting and discussed who and what we wanted our show to involve. After delegating who will be given which criminal, how the commercials and bumpers will be constructed was discussed next. With a successful meeting and everybody knowing exactly what they needed to work on, we all headed our separate ways.

I came home and immediately got to work on designing my own logo for the radio show using photoshop on my iPad. With a show based on killers and criminals, I definitely wanted to showcase one as the logo itself. It’s simple yet very effective in telling the viewer exactly what the show will be about.

Later this week, during spring break, I will be creating the main commercials for the show as well as working on my portion on the show content. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

My New Single: Dynamite

This week, for one of my audio assignments I chose to Play DJ and Make A Song. Music has always been a part of my life and ever since I was a young kid I’ve always wanted to write and produce my own song. DISCLAIMER: This song is by no means a serious attempt at songwriting or producing for me but I did love making it and had a lot of fun constructing the beat and writing the lyrics for it – even though you can barely hear them, sorry.

With a catchy, 1980s-style beat, and lyrics to match, I wanted to attempt to capture a little bit of the era in my song. I love electric guitar melodies and punchy drums so I made sure to incorporate those into it.

I first started by opening GarageBand on my Mac and creating a new project. I started off by playing with some digital instruments like pianos and synthesizers but nothing was flowing. I then googled some ways to make simple song beats and learned that GarageBand has a built in looping feature with tons of pre-recorded soundbites. These perfectly timed loops featured guitars, drums, pianos, bass, and everything else!

First, I started with a good drum beat by searching 1980s in the search bar. Once I found a drum beat I liked i dragged it onto the timeline and made it loop forever. After that, I found a couple of cool old school electric guitar riffs and melodies and dragged those onto the timeline as well. I staggered every new instrumental loop, coming in 4-bars after the next until all three were playing. Then, I wrote some lyrics, trying to use the 1980s party scene as a theme. After writing some lyrics, I recorded my voice into GarageBand and added it a couple bars in after the final instrument started playing. I made my two verses repeat twice and voila, a finished novice-piece!

After realizing how many amazing beats and sounds are preloaded into GarageBand, I will definitely be using it on my own personal time to try and make some cool music to jam out to.

1980s Song Mashup

For one of this weeks audio assignments, I chose to do Take Any Two Songs (Similar or Not) and Make A Mashup/Remix. I chose to do this assignment because song remixes and mashups are some of my favorite types of songs. I listen to remixes and mashups all the time on Youtube.

In accordance with our DS106 theme, I found two royalty-free 1980s-themed songs on youtube and used a website called to mashup the two songs. After entering both links to the videos, the website rendered and completed the mashup. Here is my Twitter link to the website to listen to the mashup.

This assignment was a lot of fun. The fact that a computer program can use AI to perfectly mashup two songs is amazing. The knowledge I gained about computer music programs this assignment, I will remember for a very long time.

The Perfect Roadtrip Playlist

This week for one of my audio assignments, I chose to do Make Your Own Mixtape. I love making playlists for all types of reasons. Road trips, sports, acoustic songs, sad songs, etc.

For this assignment, I used Spotify to create a playlist for an upcoming roadtrip I plan on going on, across the United States. I wanted to incorporate a lot of songs that I can really belt out while driving long, boring stretches of highway.

From pop songs by Khalid to more acoustic indie songs by Side Saddle, I wanted to create playlist that mirrored my extensive library of musical genres I enjoy. AJR and The Bad Suns are two of my favorite bands so I made sure to add a hefty number of songs from them.

Any new reason to create more playlist is awesome in my book. Music has always been a huge part of my life since and any assignment based around it, I always love doing it.

Wine and Design (Week 6)

A logo I made for Design Assignment #2002

Weekly Summary

This week has been a doozy. Flying out on Tuesday for a family emergency without any access to a computer all week has been hard. But, I made it work, for the most part. Apart from personal troubles, design-wise, the creative juices were really flowing.

The week started off with reading The Vignelli Canon by Massimo Vignelli and A Kid’s guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd. These two reads were excellent for anybody wanting to dive deeper into graphic design on a more structural level. Design is creativity-heavy but structure and guidelines can really help facilitate one’s ability to create amazing work. Here is my blog post on those two fantastic reads.

After reading and dissecting those two great works, I got to work on a Design Blitz. My design blitz blog post (as seen here) was very successful in my view. I took a lot of pictures and only came out with 4 noteworthy pictures, for good and bad commentary. Knowing the difference between what makes a picture fundamentally good or bad is incredibly important when thinking about what to take pictures of and how to do it.

For this week’s Daily Creates, amongst all of the travel, I was able to complete 3 of them. The first one was a Table Top Inventory where we had to take a picture of a table near us and document what was on it in detail. My second daily create was to explain something you’d love to see in claymation. Mine was using the movie Coraline to display cold weather. My third daily create was answering the question of what my ideal last meal would be. I, of course, chose spaghetti and meatballs with tiramisu as dessert. Here is a link to my twitter to see my tweets.

Weekly Design Assignments

My first weekly design assignment was a minimalist movie/TV poster I did for the 1980s film Back to the Future. This was a good assignment because I enjoy practicing minimalist art and design. Blog post, here.

My second weekly design assignment was One Story, Four Icons. This assignment asked us to tell a story of a movie or book or anything in only four icons. I chose one of my favorite tv shows, Stranger Things, as the story to tell. Telling a full story with only four icons is very hard but it is very rewarding when you get the concept mostly covered. Blog post, here.

My third weekly design assignment was A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This assignment asked us to take two opposing companies and combine their logos together. At its core, this assignment must really make the marketing teams at both companies really mad.

For this, I chose Lamborghini and Ferrari to put together and I believe it came out really well. My photoshop skills were put to the test and I hd a great time working on it the entire time. Blog post, here.

My fourth and final design assignment of the week was to Create a Logo that is Simple but Detailed. I love designing logos so this assignment was right up my alley. I asked my sister to come up with a company idea and she told me surfboard company so I rolled with it. After some trail and error I came up with a cool triple surfboard-based design which was simple but just detailed enough to show the viewer exactly what the company is all about, surfboards. Blog post, here.


Overall, this week has been pretty hectic but productive. A lot of love, sweat, and tears have been shed this week, with and without family. Design wise, I really loved this week’s assignments. Graphic design is one of my favorite hobbies and I hope to have many more weeks like this moving forward. Learning about graphic design from Massimo Vignelli and Chip Kidd was very interesting and the design assignments were excellent practice for certain things I needed more work with.

Breakpoint Boards Logo Design

This week I decided to do the Design Assignment Create a Logo That is Simple but Detailed. I decided to do this assignment because logo design is probably my biggest hobby in my free time. I love designing logos for fun, for friends, and for my own personal projects. The chance to design a logo for this class was very exciting.

For there assignment, it asks you to create a simple but detailed logo, that is it. So, I asked my sister for a random company idea and she told me a surfboard company would be really cool. After some quick brainstorming, we came up with Breakpoint Boards as the company name. A Breakpoint is a type of wave, apparently.

I quickly jumped onto my iPad and opened up Procreate, my favorite designing app. I played around with some sketches using waves and beaches but settled on surfboards as the main logo concept.

After some trial and error I liked the above logo orientation. Three surfboards, with complimentary colors in a fan-like pattern. This logo, to me, is simple and nice to look at while also telling the viewer exactly what the company does/sells.

After the logo was done, I found some nice typefaces that matched the aesthetic of the logo and the surfboard company theme. Designing the logo and the company name was a lot of fun. I always love designing new logos for existing or new companies, real or fake. This assignment helped me with my drawing skills, as well as my proportion and coloring techniques.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

This week I chose to do the Design Assignment A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. I decided to do this assignment because the concept was interesting and sounded challenging. I love designing and creating logos so getting the chance to mesh two opposing company’s logos together was right uo my alley.

Coming up with two companies to use was challenging. I thought about shoe companies, fast food companies, and even computer companies. I eventually thought about car companies and loved that idea so I rolled with it. I ended top using Ferrari and Lamborghini as my two companies because in reality, one company is the result if a guy leaving and starting the other one.

In order to design the cross-logo, I used my trusty iPad and loaded up Procreate, a design app. I inserted the logo badge of Ferrari on the first layer and inserted the Lamborghini logo on top of it. I then proceeded to use the eraser tool to erase everything around the Lamborghini Bull so it would be the only thing left of its logo. After some resizing and precise erasing, the bull was positioned exactly where I wanted it, on top of the Ferrari logo badge.

I loved this assignment because it gave me the opportunity to see a new type of Italian sports car company that would only exist in a parallel universe to our own. My Procreate skills were put to the test on this assignment and I believe it made me much better at using the app in the future.

Minimalism in the Movies

For one of this week’s design assignments, I chose to do a Minimalist TV/Movie Poster. I chose this design assignment because I love minimalism and movies. Minimalism is a great way to express oneself with as little effort or material as possible. I also love movies from all eras, especially the 1980s.

I chose to do Back to the Future because it is a staple movie classic that person must see.

When designing the movie poster, I wanted to do a simple clock design with the numbers counting backwards, showing time going backwards. With a minimalistic two color palette, the orange and the yellow convey a sense of urgency and thrill.

I used my iPad to photoshop the poster together, using multiple layers for every aspect. Using two circles to create the clock and two rectangles to create the border, I was able to make a nice, minimalist poster with zero clutter.

I liked this assignment because it pushed me to use photoshop lettering techniques which I do not use much. I also enjoyed using two specific colors to advertise a certain emotion.

Four Strangers, One Thing

For the design assignment Four Icons/One Story, I chose to use Stranger Things, set in 1984. I chose this design assignment because it sounded fun and engaging while giving me the freedom to add a 1980s twist to it.

I wanted to use Stranger Things as my story because it is one of my all time favorite shows and it fit the theme for our class. First, I started off using Creative Commons image search to find a 1980s related picture I could use as the background. After I found a fitting picture of some random people circa 1980, I moved into Keynote on my iPad to add some symbols to represent the storyline.

First, I chose a dragon. The dragon symbolizes how the gang started the show by playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons in Will’s basement. This was there beginning of the downfall for the small town of Hawkins and the Bower family.

Second, I chose an upside down arrow to symbolize the “Upside Down”. Clever, I know. The Upside Down is the backbone concept of the show and what enables Eleven to find and get Will back.

Third, I chose a police badge to symbolize Sheriff Hopper and his role in the plot. Sheriff Hopper plays a major part in solving the mystery of what is happening in Hawkins. His devotion is what kept Hawkins and Will alive.

Lastly, I chose a waffle icon to symbolize the shows most important character, Eleven. Eleven is the inly reason Will was ever able to be found and she is also the main reason why Hawkins did not fall to the Russian scientists running experiments in the town.

I learned a lot from this design assignment. I learned how to dissect a story into four crucial aspects and what design imagery to try and find to relay that message to the audience. Using nothing but icons and a background image to tell a story is intriguing and a great way to tell a story through unconventional means.

Design Blitz: California Edition

This week in DS106, I had to complete a Design Blitz with my camera. I am currently out in Southern California, visiting some family and handling a heavy recent tragedy. While this week has been filled with sadness and heartache, the week has also been filled with happiness and strength. Taking some time to walk around and take some pictures gave me an opportunity to clear my head and try to take some meaningful photographs.


While taking some items to my aunt’s storage unit, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant YELLOW doors her storage unit building had. In person, the yellow colors actually made it feel less creepy, which is what I hope their intentions were. Thanks to a wonderful stigma surrounding storage units and horror movies I wanted to take a picture of one of the numerous long hallways to edit for later.

After getting home, I opened up my phone and went to a photo editing app called PicsArt and started to mess around with some effects. I wanted to use color to convey a sense of creepiness and anxiety so I changed the hue of photograph to a vibrant red. After that, I found some cool effects that made it look like an old film photograph from there 90s. finally, I added some grain to it to give it a more grungy, old look.

For myself, the color red makes me uneasy and restless. The colored doors also brings out the symmetry in the hallway, following the dark wooden floors all the way down to the middle point, creating an excellent payoff with a final door at the end.


When it comes to unity, it can mean many things. Unity can mean two things perfectly designed for each other but it can also just as easily be used when putting two opposing things together too. This stone was a remainder of an old Spanish missionary set in the rolling hills outside of Santa Barbara, CA. A decaying, forgotten structure juxtaposed against a beautiful sunset in the middle of nature is a prime example of how unity can be the pairing of two opposite ideas.


Situated in the suburbia of southern California, a dated storage unit building still stands tall.

Typography has the power to change the way anybody views and reacts to any given word. One typeface can convey a sense of excitement or wonder, while another can infer sadness or loneliness. In this case, the typography on the side of this building, set an incredibly-standard foreground for an exquisitely-normal partly cloudy day.

Within the Helvetica Neue typeface family tree, the chosen typography is bold and forgettable. Telling the viewer exactly what they need to know at in a seconds glance. A simple font in this case trumps all other options. With simplicity comes assurance.


Sometimes you’ve gotta throw in a bad picture to remind you about what makes pictures good again.

For one of this week’s Daily Creates, we were tasked with taking a picture of a table near us and documenting what was on it. I found a coffee table in my aunt’s living room which had an assortment of fun items on it. A big box of Scrabble, a letter opener, and a melted candle laid upon the tabletop.

This photograph is not good, in my opinion. The proportions of the image are all off. The letter opener is straight up, just right of the center of the image which makes me uncomfortable. The melted candle is just plain ugly and adds nothing to the overall photograph. The box of Scrabble is just out of frame only on one side.

If I were to retake this picture I would change a couple things. First, I would change the angle of which I took the picture to add more depth to it. Next, I would remove the melted candle and focus more on just the Scrabble box and letter opener with an emphasis on the cool table design. Then, I would adjust the Scrabble box and the camera angle so that it is going out of frame on at least 2 sides, to create a better framing composition. Lastly, I would remove some of the effect edits I added to it, in an attempt to make it look more rustic and antique.

Proportion is very important in photography because different objects have different “viewing-weights”. This means that more objects than others attract more attention from the viewer, resulting in a potentially skewed impression.


During this Design Blitz, I learned a lot about what makes a good photograph, good. I also learned what can make a photograph really bad. Through trial and error, I think we all are trying to find the best way to live our lives. Simply knowing any day could be our last justifies the effort we should put in finding what makes you happy.

A Kid’s Guide to the Vignelli Canon

To kick off the week, we started with a couple noteworthy reads: The Vignelli Canon by Massimo Vignelli and A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd.

The Vignelli Canon

The first article I read was The Vignelli Canon by Massimo Vignelli. Designed as a quick guide and deep dive into the world of Vignelli’s approach to graphic design, the 96 page booklet gives the reader an exorbitant amount of critical information necessary to start implementing incredible guidelines into ones work.

The canon is broken up into two parts: the intangibles and tangibles of design. In the first part, Vignelli states that “guidelines are set by ourselves for ourselves” (6). I think this simple phrase captures a major essence of what graphic design is all about. Graphic design shouldn’t be all about following rules and guidelines set by one or a few. Design is fluid and no design is right or wrong – to some capacity.

Vignelli continues on to talk about different aspects to design such as semantics and syntactics. Semantics are, as he defines it, “the search of the meaning of whatever we have to design… by understanding the subject in all of it’s aspects…” (10). Semantics are always present. They are the required steps to accomplish what needs to be understood. On the other side of the coin is syntax. Syntax is “the discipline that controls the proper use of grammar in the construction of phrases and the articulation of a language, Design” (12). With syntax, the application of what has been learned is key. Without demonstration and successful implementation, nothing can be accomplished or moved forward.

The read also covers, intellectual elegance, timelessness, grids, scale, texture, and even the role that color plays when designing. Intellectual elegance coupled with timelessness solidifies the belief that design should not be grounded in obsolescence. Good design should last years, or even decades, with no grand need for change. Grids and scales should add structure to ones creativity, not stifle it. Texture and color can also add an additional layer of depth and dimension, creating a more visually-exciting image or layout. The Vignelli Canon was an excellent read that showed me countless tips and tricks when thinking about design. His approach to using structure to heighten creativity rather than hinder it is stimulating.

A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design

The second piece I read was an article titled A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design by the Iconic Designer Chip Kidd. This article was a fair amount shorter in length compared the Vignelli Canon but still an excellent and interesting read nonetheless.

The article starts out by stating that design touches every aspect our lives. If nature did not make it than someone else did. Design is inherent to human nature and that is something we need to always remember. When it comes to design, it is our job to convey the intended message within seconds. This can be done using specific colors or certain verbiage.

Colors are highly effective in conveying a specific human emotion in advertisements, products, and overall design imagery. “Cool” colors can be made up of blues, purples, grays, and greens. These colors give us a chillier sense, resulting in a more somber tonal mood. “Warm” colors can be red, orange, our yellow and convey a sense of happiness or anger. Color alone can immediately affect how a person interacts with a design.

Because Chip Kidd works so much with children design, he states that it is important that you never talk down to them or confine their curiosity. Using too simple of a design can contextually be taken badly by the kid if they feel they are too old for the design or layout. On the other hand, having too complex of a design can also be harmful to the design if the kid cannot understand what information is trying to be conveyed.

Designing artwork and publications specifically for children can be difficult, but Chip Kidd expertly knows how to treat them with respect while getting the most out of an effective kid-targeted design language.

Radical Weekly Summary (2-14-20)

This week has been really fun learning the in-and-outs of Audacity, iMovie, and GarageBand as well as listening to Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad and his insights on what makes storytelling via radio so compelling.

Moon Graffiti was a very interesting podcast on SoundCloud. The idea of preparing for a disaster is always fascinating to me. The voice acting paired with the superb sound effects created an excellent atmosphere to tell the story of the moon landing.

Creating the radio show bumper was unique. Using Audacity to add a couple soundbites into and create a nice 14 second clip was simple and fun.

The DS106 Radio Show Live Tweet session on Twitter was a fun time. Deciphering and analyzing the use of word imagery and the sound effects used was an engaging way to learn about the material.

For the audio assignment “Song Played in Another Room”, I used audacity to edit Dan Fogelberg’s Same Auld Lang Syne. I went to Effects and used the Low Pass Filter effect to add a reverb and dissonance to the entire song.

Overall it was a great week and I am looking forward to the group projects!

Sick Beat, Dude!

I have never made a beat before and it is quite hard, not gonna lie. After watching a couple YouTube tutorials on GarageBand beat-making, I decided to give it a shot.

I played around with drums, trumpets, and some piano notes to create a pretty fun, upbeat instrumental. Here is my first beat I’ve ever made, enjoy!

Here kitty, kitty, kitty…

Creating a story only using sound effects is very interesting. When starting off with ideas, I thought about doing a music concert or a spooky story. I decided to do a spooky story because I am more interested in that kind of content.

After deciding my concept, I went to Freesound and found a bunch of sounds I thought would be perfect. A creepy laugh, some footsteps on a wooden floor, and heavy breathing to name the ones that I used.

I used Audacity to import all of the sounds and put them over some creepy music and I believe it came out really well! Here is the link to it on Soundcloud, enjoy!

Radio Bumpin’

Creating a short 10-30 second radio bumper was a lot of fun. Using BBC Sounds and Freesound, I was able to get two great sound effects. One being a laser sound to start off the bumper and an explosion sound to close out the bumper. Here is my radio bumper, enjoy!

It’s 1981 and You’re Sad

It’s 1981. You took your high school crush to the Senior Prom. When you both got there, your date ran away to dance with another person for the rest of the night, forgetting you even exist. You run to the gymnasium bathroom and lock yourself in a stall, crying while you hear Dan Fogelberg’s Same Auld Lang Syne play in the background.

Moon Graffiti

Listening to Moon Graffiti by The truth podcast was very interesting. As a fictional piece, based on the true story of landing U.S. astronauts landing on the moon, it was very well done from a storytelling standpoint.

The re-enactment of Lance Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was enthralling from start to finish. The two voice actors did an incredible job portraying a realistic and heartfelt interaction between each other during such a momentous achievement.

The sound design was exceptional. The constant ambient humming created a desolate and alien-like atmosphere. This level of details makes you feel as though you are right there with them on the moon. Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad, talks about creating empathy through intricately described images and sound bites. Without empathy, the listener has no connection to what is being heard.

The juxtaposition between the reenactment and the podcast host giving us information about the alter-script written for Nixon was a nice way to bridge the gap that the listener has to face. Through audio storytelling, so much can be achieved. Audio gives the listener the ability to paint their very own world in their head using somebody else’s words.

Knees Weak, Summary Heavy (2-7-20)

Visuals of Storytelling

To start off our work for the week, we had to read Becoming a Better photographer and offer our input on how it can help our own photography skills.

This article and the included TED Talk video explained how pictures can be more than images. Photographs have the ability to tell an impactful story, no way words could. Using photographs, emotion can be visually displayed and seen by the audience compared to written or told.

Using certain techniques such as different lenses and playing with foreground/background subjects and settings can positively affect your photos and add some good depth. Contrasting colors can also create dynamic movement in a photo.

Michael Galinsky, circa 1980

When applying what I learned to the buzzfeed article These Pictures Of American Malls In The 1980s Are Actually Incredible, it was very interesting seeing how human and muted life was back then in atmosphere but not color. Picture composition was very well done and it conveyed a very nostalgic feeling of the good old days (for people who were alive back then).


The 20-Minute Photoblitz was really cool and engaging. In 20 minutes, I had to scrounge through my apartment and find specific objects to photograph. Sometimes taking bad pictures really fast is better than not taking okay pictures at all.

Visual Assignments

I did 4 visual assignments for a total of 13 stars (1 more than required). First, I did a Chimeratic Composition. I had to photoshop 3 random items and make them into something bigger than the sum of their parts alone. I created a dragon sitting on a Scottish castle with a UFO in the sky. Mysticism is very interesting to me.

Second, I did “Who Said What” where I photoshopped a Daniel Craig quote over Sean Connery with credit to Jack Flack. We had to use 3 separate spies to create a quote meme.

Third, I did “Combophoto” which required me to splice two images together to create something unique and with correct flow. I found a picture of an acoustic guitar and a squash and spliced them together to create the one and only, Acoustic Squashtar™.

Lastly, I did “Pop Star Out Of Place” so I chose my favorite Pop star, Arnold Schwarzenegger from his 1984 film The Terminator and placed him in a fairy tale setting. I highly doubt he never thought he would get himself into that kind of situation.

The Terminator in A Fairytale

When hunting Sarah Connor, the Terminator can sometimes make the wrong turn. For this visual assignment, we had to take a 1980s star and put them somewhere we would never see them. I used photoshop to place Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 1984 classic The Terminator. The movie is very dark so I figured I’d place him in a very fairytale setting. Maybe Sarah Connor can use this time to figure to how to stop him.


Splicing two pictures together really led me down a weird path on this assignment. I created a brand new instrument, the Acoustic Squashtar™. I pondered for a bit, wondering what two items I could splice together and I immediately knew I wanted to turn something into a guitar. So I took the neck of an acoustic guitar and thought of what “acoustic-shaped” objects existed. I found a great picture of a squash and knew I hit gold. I used my photoshop app to cut off the body of the guitar and the stem of the squash. I then positioned them on top of one another to create a masterpiece. this assignment was a fun expression of creativity and challenging use of photoshop.

Who Said What

When asked to combine 3 different but similar spies together for one fantastic meme, you can’t not use James Bond. In accordance with our 1980s theme this semester I wanted to use a James Bond from the 1980s. After finding the perfect image and creating the perfect wrong-dimension meme, I realized the man pictured above is actually Sean Connery from the 1964 James Bond film GoldFinger. I do know, for a fact, that Jack Flack is from the 1984 spy movie Cloak and Dagger. The quote itself is from Daniel Craig, the latest actor playing James Bond and I used Keynote to create the meme. I love a good meme.

Chimeratic Composition

A crazy dragon defending a castle from aliens, circa 2455 B.C.

This piece was a lot of fun to photoshop. Believe it or not, I did not actually take this photo. Wild, I know. I scoured the interweb to first find a really interesting background. I stumbled upon this really cool picture somebody actually took of some sort of old castle structure. I then found a picture of a sitting dragon and a UFO to add some flare. Photoshopping the dragon took a really long time to delete the background of but I think he and the UFO came out pretty cool.


My Uniquely Generated Photoblitz List

Two Related Objects Big & Small

I chose my Apple AirPods and a pair of old headphones I had laying around in my closet. The size and quality of the AirPods beats the old headphones in every way. It’s amazing how far technology has come in even the last 5 years.

Me, Myself, and I

I had to really think when coming up with how to execute this photo task. I decided to take a picture of myself in the mirror “holding up” an old picture of me and then photoshop an old image of me under my hand. I look so different now and I think thats a great thing.


While looking around my room for something destructive I came across an old, empty box of self-defense ammunition. Bullets are manufactured to destroy but when your life is in danger, the better word might be “protect”.

How Old Am I?

Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy on PS2 was my childhood in a nutshell. My playstation 2 was my prized possession and all of the Jak And Daxter games were always my favorite. Luckily, I still have that same Playstation 2 and sometimes bust it out to play for a little bit to wind down a bit. This game came out on December 3rd, 2001 so that definitely shows how old I am.

Two Contrasting Things

On the left is one of my black Nike soccer cleats and on the right is one of my white Nike golf shoes. These two shoes have opposite colors yet both display the two sports I love to play recreationally. Kicking around the soccer ball and playing golf whenever I can are two of my favorite hobbies. Both black and white easily go with any outfit so they both make it easy to look stylish out in the grass.

Once Ugly, Now Wholesome

Staple removers can look quite evil but with a few brushstrokes they can look rather harmless. One of the many random objects in my desk, I chose a staple remover because as a kid I was always scared of them and thought they kind of looked like panthers. With a nice smile and some kind eyes, it completely changes from harmful to harmless.

The Great Toy Action Shot

Surprisingly given to me on my 21st birthday, this disc-launching-party-starter is one of my favorite forgotten things in my closet. Discovered under one of my old lacrosse jerseys, this gem has yet again found its way into my hands and now onto the internet where it will stay forever. Truly a masterpiece of an action shot.

The Process

The concept of a rapid 20-minute Photoblitz was very fun. Running around my room trying to find everything was interesting and challenging. Using my iPad to edit some photos was also fun to me. I had trouble with finding someone who had an older picture of themselves so I did have to improvise but I think it came out well.

Photography and Storytelling

Michael Galinksy

In analyzing These Pictures Of American Malls In The 1980s Are Actually Incredible published by Buzzfeed, many aforementioned storytelling aspects can be found. When it comes to selection, the pictures show a wide variety of mall shoppers and the businesses they are perusing. The fashion style of the mall shoppers compared to the business-professional attire of the business owners is very evident.

The contrast between the bright colors of the clothing with the drab color of the mall itself is an interesting comparison, indicating current architectural trends.

Depth and balance can be seen with several shots where certain potted plants or people are in the foreground and interesting people or subjects are in the background.

The lighting is a bit musty and flat. This is probably due to the fact that cameras back then were not as sharp and clear as they are today. The mall atmosphere also attributes to some of that mood lighting with little natural light and muted colors covering the walls and floors.

Visuals of Storytelling

Mt. Cook, New Zealand, 2019, taken by Connor McClain

Over the years, I have taken thousands and thousands of photographs. My phone is always in my pocket on every adventure, lunch with friends, party, and even the occasional hike. I have never been a hobbyist of photography but if I had the money, I would be in a heartbeat.

Photography gives you the ability to capture any moment you want and preserve it for as long as the medium survives. When I take photos, I usually take them of my friends or landscapes. Visiting really cool places with friends and family are amazing so being able to have physical memories to look back on are so powerful. I think when I take pictures, I try to use more-creative approaches like the Rule of Thirds or abstract subject positioning. These angles and compositions give the photo more depth and character compared to always having a subject in the dead center of the frame.

Whenever I take pictures, I always hope to capture the emotion I was feeling at the time. When I studied abroad, I was so full of excitement and awe so I wanted to take visually striking photographs that conveyed that emotion. Some of the destinations I visited were so breathtakingly desolate I wanted to capture the sheer size of what I was seeing but at the same time maintain the dark, dismal color palette in all of its beauty.

Lake Wanaka, The Wanaka Tree, taken by Connor McClain, 2019

Every time I show my family and friends the pictures I take, they always praise me and tell me I should “go professional” like every good, supporting friend and family member. I think my pictures are great but not in a conventional sense. I like them because I took them. They remind me of times when I was the happiest. At peak Connor, to an extent.

After reading Becoming a Better Photographer by Alan Levine and watching the How Photography Connects Us TED Talk, there are a few key takeaways I can use to make my photographs better:

  • Looking to the light – Paying attention to where the light is in a scene or on a subject can make a huge difference.
  • Exposing for Aesthetics – I never realized the potential that playing with different shutter speeds and apertures can create dynamic effects in real time. I don’t have a DSLR camera so I don’t have the ability to manipulate photos in a similar way but on my phone, there are photography applications that can replicate the same effects.
  • Using foreground to enhance background – Having a great background is nice but a great way to add depth is to add an interesting foreground subject. This can help you learn how to avoid clutter and distracting elements.

Pictures have very powerful ways of storytelling. A picture of a lion post-meal can show you the harsh realities of wildlife. A photograph of a soldier coming home from deployment, hugging their spouse. With images, the audience can see a glimpse into a world they are unaware of. Giving people the opportunity to look behind the curtain of certain industries and places is a fantastic way to grow awareness and tell a story of a specific life.

What is Write and What is Wrong

Pop Art – Roy Lichtenstein WHAAM! (diptych), 1984 (1963) | Lithograph | Sold for $21,250

Graphing A Story

Every great story has a rise, a fall, and a conclusion. But not every story has them in that order. Some stories have characters starting off poor and end up wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Some stories follow the demise of powerful individuals or regimes by incredible ordinary people. Stories are designed to sell you on an interaction or experience someone has encountered and make you feel as though you were with them every step of the way. Feeling every emotion they felt, breathing every breath they took. good storytelling is more than starting from nothing and gaining everything. Good storytelling should invoke feelings of great empathy, true fear, and never-ending wonderment.

Kurt Vonnegut’s “Story Shapes” help facilitate a visual understanding of how stories are told. This conceptual idea of graphing the ups and downs of important story moments is not new, but nevertheless fascinating. when taking a look at the graphs of Cinderella, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, they are similar, yet different. Each movie begins with a nobody, that nobody finds a purpose, discovers something about either themselves or the world around them, and makes out victorious in the end, triumphing over evil.

For my chosen additional article to read, I chose The History and Evolution of Pop art by Heritage Editorial. The art of the 80s has always been so captivating. From the bright, bold colors to the subtle glances into the dark, capitalistic mindsets of Americans nationwide. Founded through an obsession with consumerism and POPular culture, Pop Art paved the way for new artists to expose the American people’s true habits and beliefs. As far as the article structure goes, the Kurt Vonnegut Shape Graph would look like a high frequency waveform. Bouncing up and down quickly between history lessons on certain artists and locations of new art styles.

When asked to analyze similar 1980s concepts, Pop Art influenced the entire decade. Glorifying popular movie stars and painting soup cans displayed America’s ever-growing interest in mass-produced goods and the entertainment lifestyle we consume. Storytelling through pictures and collages (Rauschenberg, Johns, Rosenquist) helps sear the idea of combined realities into the everyday American citizen. The 1980s were a time of freedom and bold thinking. For every citizen living their day no differently, there were 4 others trying to live life on their own terms. It is my opinion that I believe in the 1980s, we were more likely to take care of one another. neighborhoods could be walked alone at night with no fear, parents and kids lived happy and ignorant to the world around them. In today’s age, every single aspect of how America is run is being shoved in your face, no matter your age. The 1980s had James Rosenquist, we have Banksy. Both artists represent a side of the country we do not want to see or hear about.

The article did an excellent job providing historical storytelling with real examples of the artists’ work; Not being bogged down by artistic lingo or droning anecdotes about irrelevant information.

Writing Done Right

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

– Marcus Aurelius

Another Day

When faced with another day, we grow with anticipation or anxiety. Excitement or dread. What could happen today? Anything. A dog being walked by their owner could walk right up and demand love from a complete stranger. The love of your life could be having breakfast on the same street you decided to take your car to for an oil change. I see a world of endless possibilities. I see a cloudy day filled with endless sunlight just waiting around the corner. Trees, flowers, old brick buildings; they all remain stagnant, waiting for an outside force to change them. Maybe change comes from within. Maybe growth lies in the realization that with every new day, you will experience excitement instead of dread.

– C.M.

Facing Your Fears

How many people can you name with a fear of heights? A lot, right? What about spiders? Way too many. Hell, even snakes or crawl spaces. We all know someone that can stand any of these (rightfully so) terrifying things. But I believe I have a fear that is quite unique. Would you like to know what that fear might be?


Yep. Moths. The tiny, little, rejected butterflies that live off that delectable lamp light. Here is what I think goes through a moth’s head when they have the audacity to be in my presence…

Ah, what a beautiful summers night it is. All my friends are flying around, having the time of their lives, smacking their heads against the Johnson’s newest porch light. It really is the nicest on the block, let me tell you. Oh, what is that? That person opened their door to let their dog out. It has some weird perm haircut. I don’t understand this whole “1980s aesthetic” these people are doing these days. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to see what the ~inside~ lifestyle is like. Fantastic, flew right in with no problems at all. It’s so strange how my flight pattern is so sporadic and uncomfortably fast compared to the other bugs that I’m friends with. Oh well, its what makes me unique I suppose.

Wow! He has ANOTHER light on upstairs in his tiny mirror room, I want to go check it out! OH MY GOD, HE LOCKED ME IN HERE WITH HIM, WHY WOULD HE DO THAT??? I HAVE TO ESCAPE! The only way I know how to escape is to continuously fly into him until he agrees to open the door! Why is he swinging at me??? I’m just trying to leave this terrifying predicament I have gotten myself into!

Oh hey, he’s grabbing a 1985 GQ magazine to hit the door open w-

Poem Parody

An 80s rendition of The Door in the Dark by Robert Frost:

In going from street to street at night,
I rode hastily on my Schwinn,
But little did I know what I would win,
Getting to a friends for an overnight.
An Atari game system lay untouched,
And hit me with a feeling as though I got punched,
My body posture quite crunched.
Time and space doesn't matter

when the level I need to beat requires a ladder.

- C.M.

That Bucket List Though

No better time then now to create a list of things I’ve always wanted to do…

  • Visit a new country with my wife
    • Exploring new places is fun regardless but when you have someone special with you to enjoy it with, that makes the entire trip more memorable.
  • Get a tattoo
    • I have always wanted a tattoo in honor of a special person to me and hopefully one day I will pull the trigger and make an appointment.
  • Start my own company
    • Whether it be a clothing company, inventing a new product, or building new homes out of crazy materials, it is a dream of mine.
  • Design my own custom dream garage
    • I love cars and having a dream garage completely outfitted with workbenches, cabinets, and car lifts would be amazing.
  • Go to a drive-in movie in my Jeep
    • I’ve never been to a drive-in movie and my vehicle would be perfect for it.

Weekly Summary

This week has not been easy. Many personal things have come up, hindering my ability to work on any of my school work. But once I started it, I really got the ball rolling and finished it all within a days work load.

First, I started the readings and watched the assigned videos. I really enjoyed the Shapes of Stories video by Kurt Vonnegut. It was an excellent visual tool to better understand iconic story structure. These readings and videos better helped me understand what makes a story important.

Second, I applied what I learned from the readings and videos to the Pop Art article I read. Breaking down articles by story structure was new to me but it was fascinating learning about the history of Pop Art and how the artists shaped art as we know it today.

Third, I started on my four written assignments for the week. My first assignment was “Another Day” where we had to talk about going outside and observing what is around us and what it could mean. I took that opportunity to look into what a day can provide for you mentally, rather than physically. My second written assignment had me write a story from the perspective of what I fear most. That fear being moths. Moths terrify me because they have no expected flight path and that terrifies me. I need to know what bugs and animals are doing or else it sketches me out. They also love to only touch me when they fly into a crowded room. Nobody else.

My third assignment was to parody a famous poem. I perused the internet for a little bit to find a great poem that wasn’t too short and wasn’t too long. I finally decided on Robert Frost’s “The Door in the Dark” poem. I put my own 1980s spin on it with my favorite old video game system, Atari.

This week had its ups and downs but it ended on a good note and I am thankful for that. looking forward to what next week brings.

Three Times The Charm – Weekly Summary (1-24-20)

Every new week brings new challenges. Navigating through the Assignment Bank was a new type of freedom I, as a student, have never felt before. this being my first ever online class has sure had its fair share of culture shock. Once the shock wore off, I quickly found 3 fun assignments to take on. This is my journey from start to finish this week.

Averaged Portrait

First, I decided to do the Averaged Portrait assignment because I am not one for taking selfies so this immediately got me out of my comfort zone. The act of taking several pictures in the same spot with different expressions is a unique form of picture I’ve never thought about before.

I accomplished this by taking 12 almost-identical photos and importing them into an iPad app called Procreate. In this app, I’m able to insert each photo into its own layer on top of each other. On every layer, I turned the opacity to 50% so every layer was noticeable. And that, friends, is how I got this monstrosity of a masterpiece.

Creepy (and funny) Anime Eyes

The next assignment was a bit more light-hearted and funny. The objective being “take a photo of somebody and give them huge, creepy, anime eyes” grabbed my attention right away. So I got right to work.

To start, I found a photo of a famous 1980s pop star, to fit the theme of course. My poor subject was nobody other than the man, the myth, the legend: David Bowie. Fortunately, because I have a smart phone, I have an app called Snapchat. Using this app I took a picture of David Bowie and applied a filter on the picture I found. Poor David, I’m sorry for putting you through this, you deserve more than this.

Ferris Bueller’s Radio Commercial

Everybody knows the classic movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, premiered June 11th, 1986. I was not born in the 1980s but if I was, I would have wanted to see this in movie theaters as soon as possible. What better way to find out about a movie coming out, you ask? Excellent question friend, that would be a radio advertisement in the family kitchen on a Thursday night right before dinner. So I made just the thing. Using a couple computer programs called Audacity and iMovie to record my voice and add some rad 80s music in the background, I was able to make a pretty convincing 1980s radio commercial that I then uploaded to YouTube for everybody’s viewing pleasure. Please enjoy.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Radio Commercial

To Summary It All Up

The mix of fun and creative assignments this week was refreshing from the mundane college work in my other courses I’m taking this semester. From getting to use my new microphone to taking selfies in my bathroom, I ventured out of my comfort zone a fair amount this week and I look forward to doing it more and more.

A Wild Weekly Summary (1-17-20)

This week has been a wild ride. Usually the first week of classes are mainly reviewing the syllabus and securing textbooks but not this time, no way. The start of this semester started with creating and using my own website for the very first time. It is all very exciting but also quite stressful. I had to visit the Digital Help Center in the HCC to help get it up and running which was fun. Luckily, we got everything posted and good to go and I was able to make my first post. Just in time, right?

Thanks to friends, and some handy-dandy trial and error, I was able to figure out how the simple yet confusing WordPress operates. I look forward to furthering my own unique website and having a lot of fun along the way. #WeeklySummary

My First Blog Post (1-16-20)

Hi everybody, my name is Connor McClain! I am a senior studying International business and i’ll be graduating in May, very exciting stuff. I was not alive during the 80s but I do know it was an era filled with crazy colors and even crazier music.

You can follow my Twitter and my SoundCloud accounts, linked on my page, if you’d like.

I’m looking forward to this semester’s class and meeting everyone! #ds106