Thursday, November 5, 2009

Weekly Post: November already!

A large part of this week was dedicated to researching the technical aspects of my project.  I am planning on using audio for my multi-media story and need to purchase a flash recorder.  After speaking with Stephanie during our meeting, she gave great advice on the latest portable audio recorders available at a reasonable price.  Stephanie provided great websites and helped me understand the specs of various recorders so I know exactly what I am getting.

I spent 2 hours researching websites and figuring out what audio recorder I should purchase based on my budget.  I was just about to click the “buy now” button for the Olympus LS10 on, when I noticed in fine print it read “shipping may take 2-3 weeks.”  I called Full Compass right away and found out none were in stock and it would take closer to 4 weeks to arrive.  Four weeks is just too much time, so I called a few more places and found one store in Arizona “The Midi Store” that sells audio hardware.  The woman was very nice and agreed completely with Stephanie’s suggestion of the Olympus LS10.  Luckily, they had it in stock and I should be getting the recorder on Tuesday.  Picture of the recent purchase:

I spent another hour looking at various 2009 statistics recently published by Harvard about homelessness and the state of housing.  Glad to have found this resource because very few 2009 statistics have been published.

I spent another hour on Friday meeting with the Executive Director of Alpha House.  She really liked the idea of my project but mentioned the difficulties of privacy.  She said I would be able to interview people who have successfully went through the program and overcame homelessness.  I am definitely open to speaking with these people, and maybe one of them will have a compelling story that I would be able to use. 

She also gave me a video that a professional video company put together for Alpha House, where they interviewed 3 people who overcame homelessness.  I spent 30 minutes watching and re-watching the 9-minute video and critiquing it.  I believe this video is great to show at auction events because it communicates how Alpha House has brought these people back on their feet.  However, the video is long (9 minutes), thus not something that would be as effective if shown on a website because observers lose interest quickly.   The people interviewed are static-they tell their story as they sit in a chair.  For my stories, I want to frame the stories in a way to connect viewer with the story by emphasizing “it could happen to anyone.”  The visuals would not depict participants sitting stationery in a chair; photos would consist of participants in various environments (at work, in their home, cooking).  I want the viewer to feel like they know the person.

I spent another hour on the website.  Stephanie recommended I participate in “National Day of Listening”, where I sit down with a family member Thanksgiving weekend and record our conversation for one hour.  This is a great idea, and it will be great practice for my project in getting acquainted with the recording equipment; it will also be something very nice to have for my family.  This website is great because it has a section called the “question generator” giving examples of questions you might ask participants.   

I also spent another two hours doing more research on tent communities and found great articles that I will publish in another post.  

What I learned/encountered:

This week I enjoyed showing the photos to my classmates.  They gave great advice and some things to consider.  It was suggested that I look into video and creating a documentary. This is a definite possibility, but after further group discussion, we ruled this out because we agreed the format of a 2-3 minute multi-media story is more intimate.  I feel I could edit the audio to precisely match the photographs being displayed.  I also really enjoy how multi-media stories allow the viewer to connect the voice with the face in the photograph.  In addition, photographs allow viewers to focus on a specific object or person for a longer time.   This format is also great for sharing on the internet.  

I also received great news…Jay has agreed to be interviewed.  Once I get my recorder on Monday I am going to start dedicating times to interviewing him.  Do you suggest I meet for one-hour blocks a few times a week?  Or half-hour blocks multiple times?  Or one really long session?  Or just see how it goes?

I also have a few challenges when working with sound:  I have to deal with being outside and dealing with the wind and traffic factors.  I have to see how it goes- the outside sounds might actually enhance the piece.  I think I have to go out and see what happens.

What's next:

I am attending a lecture next Wednesday "Corporate Social Responsibility" which discusses how to fuse business with social action.  

I am going to follow up with all of the shelters.  

I am going to spend time learning about how to use the new audio recorder, which is very exciting!

I am going to start making a list of questions about what I am going to ask Jay.  I won't list off these questions to him one by one, but I will make notes about things I want to ensure I cover.  The more natural the conversation, the better.



  1. I'm impressed Flood! You've done so much since we tossed around ideas at the beginning of the semester!!

  2. Meg,

    So glad to hear you've been able to get a recorder. Stephanie will obviously be your point person on audio issues, but I think you are right to practice -- particularly with outdoor conditions before you connect with Jay. (I have seen Stephanie using a large furry cover on her mic to soften the outdoor noises. Not sure what the equivalent would be on this model, but be sure to consult when your recorder comes in!)

    I think it will be interesting to work both with someone currently homeless and a family that is back on track. It is smart to not discount what alpha house can offer. What ever happened re: SOS?

    This weekend in DC we saw a very powerful, immersive (still image) projection + audio exhibition at the National Building Museum.
    (Claire, Katie Matt, or Olivia can also tell you about it...)

    Have you been able to shot any more pictures since that first visit?
    At one point you were thinking about going with Jay, etc to job interviews, old house, etc. Any more development on that front?
    (I am mindful of the increasingly cold weather and importance of using the time you have.)