The Explorer’s Guide to J410: Tips, Tricks and Advice for Success

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Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 12.25.36 PMIt is difficult to believe that I have made it through all 8 assignments. It is even more difficult to believe that I made it through without failing the course.

I entered this course with absolutely ZERO experience. I am a history major with an interest in journalism. I didn’t know what Final Cut was and I had never worked with a “professional” camera before. I considered my iPhone camera pretty professional, but alas, I know things now.

I offer this explorer’s guide as a testament that anyone, I mean ANYONE can be successful in this class. So, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Assignment 1

As you head out to shoot your assignment, do not fear! Just shoot whatever you want. Books, trees, dogs, buildings, etc. The world is your oyster. I just shot around my house, getting used to my camera.

My favorite textured shot from Assignment 1
My favorite textured shot from Assignment 1

Then, you will open up the infamous Final Cut to begin editing. But, your guide for this part of the project will be Professor Collins. She will take you step-by-step, so take good notes and pay attention! You’ll be using Final Cut all semester.

As soon as I learned how to do this, I was able to edit things on my own for the most part.

Luckily, helpful classmates like Joanna, Gino and Ralph, helped out when I wasn’t sure what to do.

Check out my first piece.

Tip: YouTube is a great resource if you forget how to do something in Final Cut.

Assignment 2:

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My favorite shot from Assignment 2

I was still shaky on what I was doing in this class. I wasn’t confident in what I was doing. But, if you are feeling this way, take comfort in the fact that most of the class is feeling this way. You are still getting used to the pace of the class.

I took this assignment my own way. This assignment asked for a variety of shots, but I just did textured ones. I DO NOT recommend this. Follow the assignment as assigned. It will help you out with Assignment 3. Don’t forget to use your recorder! (You’ll need the sound for Assignment 3).

Tip: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Call, text, beep your classmates. They are there as a resource for you. Bonus: you can make a new friend.

Assignment 3:

This assignment is VERY straight forward. Just use the audio from your recorder on top of your pictures from Assignment 2. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

Assignment 4:

If you are interesting in watching cute dogs, then look no further then my video for Assignment 4.'

Einstein and Dante: the stars of Assignment 4
Einstein and Dante: the stars of Assignment 4

Starring my two adorable dogs, this assignment is where I really felt I was beginning to get a handle on what I was doing. I felt very confident shooting and editing this piece. This does have JUMP CUTS FOR DAYS, but now I know to use dissolves to avoid this.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Yes, you should always try your best, but you don’t know everything, yet. Let each presentation to the class be an opportunity to improve yourself further.


Assignment 5/Assignment Meltdown

Okay, I know I’ve been pretty positive thus far. But, this assignment is the one that almost killed me. I cannot stress how important it is to SAVE AS YOU GO. REPEAT: SAVE AS YOU GO.

I got to the end of my project, perfectly edited to my specifications and BAM: General Error. I still don’t know what that means, but it taught me that don’t wait until the end to save or try to export your video. Check as you go along that everything is formatted properly by trying to export it to quicktime. Seems silly, but it will make sure that you don’t get suck with a general error and you have to restart the whole thing.

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Final Cut Pro on my computer

Tip: If you are able, I would recommend buying Final Cut on your computer. Apparently there are free but illegal ways of getting it, but I’m not into breaking the law. It’s expensive but nice to have for the future and you don’t have to drag your butt to Greg Hall all the time.

Assignment 6

This is my FAVORITE assignment. Bust out your creative thinking cap because this is your chance to showcase what interests you! The number one reason people go to the internet to is to learn how to do something (<—- memorize that! You’ll need to know it)

Those are my hands writing a thank you note for this assignment
Those are my hands writing a thank you note for this assignment

When thinking on how to approach this assignment, do something that you enjoy doing or know how to do well. I find that in this class, if you film something interesting, you’re going to to be more excited to make it perfect.

I did thank you notes because people need to spend more time writing thank you notes. It makes a HUGE difference to your family, friends, potential employers, etc.

Assignment 7

I do not have the voice for radio, but I got to pretend like I did for this assignment.

Take time when writing your script. Truly think about what you’re saying. Are you conversational? Are your words succinct and powerful?

For mine, I covered the All-Campus Career Fair that took place on March 25. Employers add almost 200,000 jobs in February, but that still makes Career Fairs daunting.

The room filled with conversations was excellent natural sound that added something extra to the piece.

Assignment 8

Duh, duh, duh, duhhhhhhhh….YOU MADE IT! You’re at the last assignment. This one requires you took take all the skills you’ve acquired in the last 8 weeks and apply it to a package.

For me, this assignment was the most difficult because I had no personal connection with the footage. You are given everything you need, you just have to write the script and edit.

Jimmy Fallon after his dip in Lake Michigan during the Polar Plunge. Source: Daily News
Jimmy Fallon after his dip in Lake Michigan during the Polar Plunge. Source: Daily News

Tip: Be sure to spend time on your script, it will help when you’re editing.

The Polar Plunge is a fun event to do a package on. It is a popular fundraising event and there are A LOT of COOL people.

Even people like Jimmy Fallon do it.

That’s probably why this year the Polar Plunge raised over $1.8 million for Special Olympics Illinois.


The End

So that’s it, that’s my journey through J410. It was one of the most rewarding classes I have taken. Always be sure to be prepared for anything and act accordingly. You will be treated like a learning professional in this classroom, so try to live up to that standard.

I wish you the best of luck on your journey! I hope yours will be as fun as mine. Time to take on the real world.

Signing off for the last time,

For Off the Shelf and Online

I’m Natalie Leoni

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