Reflecting on my first video

When I saw Michael Wesch’s lecture on an anthropological approach to YouTube and “context collapse” I was intrigued. That lecture (and the resulting paper) was written in 2008, since then YouTube has grown, and vloggers have only become more popular. I decided I wanted to look into vloggers and their audience, but present my opinions as a video so I could really experience the context collapse that the “recording webcam” it is meant to create. Here are some of the things I learnt about the process and the industry by creating my first video.

More research is needed.

The interesting fact about researching YouTubers is that there are a lot of opinions out there, but very little research, particularly from a communications disciplinary approach. This meant that my video had to become an opinion piece; it was unavoidable with the time and resources I had. However, I made sure that my opinions and views were still grounded in research and data. I would love to conduct further research at a later date.

Talking to a camera takes practice.

My footage from the end of the filming was already significantly better than the first minutes of filming. I actually refilmed the first few points once I had warmed up to the camera. However, when I got to the editing stage I noticed: I read too much; I had too many notes; I looked at the screen not the camera, I said ‘um’ 1000 times…

Equipment.

I didn’t have a camera available, so I just used my computers in built webcam. Though the quality was poorer than I would have liked, the fps were good and I was still able to export a HD version.  I decided to record audio separate and I am glad I did. Though it meant for an extra step in the editing process the quality of audio was infinitely better. I used natural lighting so because I recorded in the afternoon I lost the light as the video progressed. I think if I was to continue with videos I would invest in good lighting equipment.

Editing is a process.

It took far longer than I ever thought. And I knew it would take a while.

Find a program that suits you.

Most have free trials online. Use them. Using a basic program like Movie Maker meant I didn’t need particularly advanced skills. But it limited what I could do. However, I made far more mistakes using Adobe Premiere Pro. There were techniques I wanted to use, but didn’t have the skills or the time to develop them. I ended up using a combination of both, but ideally I am still looking for a program that is somewhere between the two.

Overall

It’s annoying because you have the idealised image in your mind of how it will look, how it should look. And, especially because I was learning the skills as I went along, it was taking too long to get to that level. So I had to find the middle ground. After weeks of research, filming and editing, and a lot of hard work I am happy with the video I produced.

Check it out and let me know what you think:

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I Could Be Anything…

I was in a lecture hall, only half listening to a lecture titled “Who Belongs Where?: Anti-Racism Outside Dominant Media Paradigms” when the lecturer referenced Whoopi Goldberg. It caught my attention.

“When I was nine years old Star Trek came on, I looked at it and I went screaming through the house. ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’

I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be. ”

 – Whoopi Goldberg

I usually try to stay out of race debates.

I grew up in suburban Australia. I lived in a town where only 5% of the population speak a language other that English at home (17% lower than NSW average). And of those, most are European. I was white, my family was white, and all my friends were white. I have no place in talking about the challenges faced by racial minorities because I didn’t have to face them. I never saw them.

I felt that anything I tried to contribute risked further white-washing the issue.

So the quote struck me, but I dismissed the topic (plus attempting to facilitate a racial discussion, especially in an online forum like blogging, is risky).

But, less than 48 hours later, this video popped up in my YouTube subscription feed –

– and it made something click.

The question is no longer whether or not racial minorities face inequality. Because regardless of how progressively anti-racist the world becomes there are still numerous stories of racial inequality, discrimination and hatred.

The question is now where race is visible.

Television is a slowly dying medium. It is through alternative media sources that the next generations will see the representation of race. So by having places where people like Whoopi Goldberg, a famous activist and actor, can reach millions with a personal story about the need for and importance of racially diverse role models, we are creating a space to educate and accept.

The internet is creating those spaces. It is allowing boys and girls all around the world to find their Uhura, to find the person (through blogs, videos, forums…) who will make them realise that they can be anything they want to be.

The Homeless Spectacle

Growing up on the outskirts of what almost qualifies as Western Sydney meant that I spent a decent amount of time in the Sydney CBD.

I don’t have a memory of my Mum telling me not to look, or of Dad shushing me when I tried to ask questions, or of Nana pulling me through a crowd to avoid them… But it must have happened. At some point I must have been told to avoid looking, to pretend not to see, to not ask questions.

Because now, at 22, I still don’t know how to react around the topic of homelessness.

There are currently 105,237 people in Australia who are homeless.(Photo_Credit: marquetteturner.com)

Do we look at them? Should we? Or should we avert our gaze? Is our gaze invasive? Judgmental? Does it make them a spectacle? Does it mean they become an object? Make them worth nothing more than our gaze?

A recent post on The Homeless of Melbourne Facebook Page popped up in my newsfeed. A 23 year old girl who had lost everything in her attempts to help a dying mother. A girl that up until a few months ago was a lot like me. She opened up to a stranger with a camera and broke a lot of the stereotypes people associate with homelessness.

Because it wasn’t my parents who told me that there was something to be feared in homelessness. It was the media. The problem with homelessness. The homeless of Sydney. They are only ever portrayed in two ways: as needing our pity; or as cheating the system. They are identified as a group, not individuals with greatly varied circumstances. They are stripped of their humanity. We give them sympathy instead of support. They receive judgment instead of guidance. They are stepped over, rather than helped up.

And we need to find a way to give that all back.

And of course there are a number of great organisations, supported by government or donations, with employees and volunteers who help people in need. But in order for there to be a real change, we need a change in the public perception.

But I worry, how can we solve a problem when we can’t bare to meet their eye?

The Projections of ‘Self’ on Social Media Platforms

Think of all the places you upload photos- of your food, your family, your pet, or yourself.
Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Tumblr? Snapchat?

Now think-
Is there a difference in the type of photos you choose to upload to their respective platforms?

Each platform has a specific and different function, role and audience. Each is popular for its own reason.

I can’t speak for you, but I know I get stressed when I see that notification –

Facebook

– someone has tagged you in a photo

Why? Why does that make me nervous?

For me it’s because I am very aware of the fact I use my social media for different purposes. And that on those platforms I have very different audiences.

Twitter

And if someone else is uploading an image I don’t have the ability to control my image; or the perception others will have in the response to my image. It means that I constantly review the images I am tagged in; and it means that more often than not I remove my tag from images that I haven’t put up.

Doing a media degree means that I know all too well the visibility of the images we create for ourselves on the internet. And it doesn’t matter how anonymous we think we are keeping ourselves, the internet is a very public sphere. Recent history has shown the effects a resurfaced photo can have on lives.

Regardless of the debate surrounding the idea of ‘authentic self’ I think the true message should be;

Keep your online identity(s) true to yourself.

Cooler

You can hide behind what seems like an ‘internet alter ego’ but it as much a part of you as any other part of your life.

Search History

Regardless of the excuses and justifications we place on our internet behaviour, those actions are our own.

Benefits

And that internet username, irrespective of your attempts at distancing yourself from that self, is still you.