Category Archives: storytelling

Tony Adams – Adventure Cyclist

Here is a mini-documentary I made along with the students in my digital literacy class. Everyone was to make a video 2-4 minutes long about someone who is interesting that you don’t know well. (Here is the official DS106 video assignment.) I found Tony pedaling his recumbent bike along my morning commute, so I stopped to see if he would visit with me. This is the result.

I wrote about some of the challenges of making video this in an earlier blog. Needless to say, the shorter the video, the harder you have to work at making it something worth watching. I probably spent over ten hours making this thing, but I like how it turned out.

Thomas Pandolfi Pianist

Last night Emily invited me to go along with her and her friend Haley to attend a piano concert at the Brown grand in concordia. The pianist was Thomas Pandolfi from Washington DC and he performed works by various composers from America in honor of the Veterans Day holiday.  He began and ended with Gershwin. I think he adores Gershwin. I would not know Gershwin except for the fact that we sang Gershwin’s summer time in high school chorus. I have to hand it to my public school music educators. They did exposes to some of the greats. New line

He began and ended with Gershwin. I think he adores Gershwin. I would not know Gershwin except for the fact that we sang Gershwin’s summer time in high school chorus. I have to hand it to my public school music educators. They did expose us to some of the greats. New line

He was very eloquent and theatrical. He strolled out onto the stage and mesmerized us with  his virtuosity. He had an error about him that he plan to bring culture to the backward people of the heartland. Emily giggled uncontrollably at first but I made her quit. She was making me laugh too.

These are some sketches I made.  I forgot to bring my usual small sketchbook along with me to this concert but I had a small folded piece of paper in my wallet to make the sketches on. It was the hunting license I had printed out just the day before. I can print another one.

 

Thomas Pandolfi in concert

Brown grand theater

Concordia Kansas

November 11, 2019

Montage: Barbara Nicolosi & Sergei Eisenstein

Last night I went to hear a talk in Lincoln, NE presented by Hollywood screenwriter and professor  Barbara Nicolosi.

Barbara Nicolosi in Lincoln, NE giving a speech

While discussing Flannery O’Connor and Sergei Eisenstein she asked the audience if anyone had heard of Sergei Eisenstein and no one raised their hand. I’m thinking to myself, nope, I’ve never heard of him.

This morning, I decided to learn a bit more about him and after searching a bit online, I found this fascinating clip about Eisenstein’s pioneering use of montage.

After viewing the video clip, I flipped over to another tab I had open in my browser from some recent reading I had been doing. (I always have several tabs open, it is just my way.) The next tab over was an online copy of Notes of a Film Director by Sergei Eisenstein! Yes, I had just this week been reading about his work on Archive.org but did not put two and two together. Doh! What a goof I am! I was interested in the book, but really paid no attention to the author, only to the subject of film and the fact that this was a really old book about the subject.

Sergei Eisenstein

I do recall that one thing catching my interest early on in Eisenstein’s book was his discussion of the audience and how they were then becoming adjusted to the language of film; that is film with the cuts and edits of montage. It is useful to remember that in the early days of film, audience members had no experience with such techniques.

I’ll try to write a bit more about what Barbara Nicolosi shared last night in a future post.

 

 

 

Early Billgx Drawings

In a box of family treasures I recently inherited, I found this homemade birthday card I created for my grandfather Art Genereux. I’m guessing I made it during my middle-school years, around age 11 or 12.

Homemade birthday card with picture of fire truck and a cake with many candles.

I don’t think my usual drawing ability has advanced much beyond when I was 12. I know how to draw in a more detailed style, but I still prefer the cartoony look above all else, mostly because of the time involved in making drawings.

Hand written golf jokes

I can remember from early on not enjoying the process of writing words on paper. I always pressed too hard with the pen or pencil and my hand got tired. I’m quite surprised to see all of these anecdotes written out. But I loved my Grandfather very much.

After he retired from farming, he took up golfing, which came as a surprise to everyone who knew him. It was great fun to go golfing with grandpa. He had a golf cart and we would put around in what was essentially a cow pasture with sand greens. You had to drag the sand with a tool that made a smooth path for you to put on. When you were done, you raked the sand so there were no tracks left behind for the next golfer.

 

Go Fetch

This is a project from Chapter 4 of Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning book. Create a character, an action, a location, then tell a story using only images and no words. I started working through this book several years ago, but didn’t make it very far. I resumed work this summer when presumably I would have some extra time on my hands. Ha! That’s funny. I’ve been constantly on the go.

But this week has provided me some relatively free time, so I did this project that required first to make four frames telling a story, then four more frames that adds more detail. The above sequence shows the result of that effort. It took me around five hours or so to make what you see here from sketching out different ideas and concepts to solidifying and building on a story.

I decided to tell a story that describes my Blue Heeler dog Daisy. I started out with a girl character using Brunetti’s simple geometric shapes. A circle for a head. A triangle for a body. Little lines for arms and legs. Add some decorations and that’s it. Then I played around with a doggie character also in simple shapes.

I think keeping things simple like this keeps the  focus on the story. I also think this approach might be useful in a class project with students that encourages visual storytelling without requiring an extensive background in art .

Even with the simplified forms, right away I see the flaws in my drawings. There are compositional issues. There are better solutions to problems, I think. See the second to last frame? I wanted to convey the dog zooming by the girl without stopping but it seems really rough here to me. I think one or two frames have too few environmental elements, and some of the others too many.

I’m experimenting here trying to get a good feel for what is the right amount. I want things to be visually interesting without being overwhelming. But this is a starting point, and I have finally resumed work on something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. The Cartooning book.

 

 

Cartooning Week 3

I’m falling behind on my cartooning efforts. I made these drawings for the first assignment in Week 3 of Brunetti’s cartooning book last weekend, but haven’t had a chance to reflect or write on them until this morning.

For Exercise 3.1 Brunetti says to draw 12 scenes on notecards with prompts he gives like “beginning of the world” “end of the world” “something that happened at lunchtime” “an image from a recent dream” “something that happened early this morning” “something happened right after that” and so on.

These are drawn on notecards in order to facilitate arranging the scenes into a four-panel sequence noting the type of narrative you prefer, what visual elements connect the scenes, breaks in the narrative, reordering the scenes and so forth. According to Brunetti, “the haiku-like rigidity of the four-panel structure allows us quite a flexible starting point.”

One of my favorite sequences was “something that happened early this morning.” We spent the night in a hotel for my daughter’s softball tournament. I woke up in a panic because she wasn’t in her bed. I found her sleeping on the floor. All the while, her mother was sound asleep, oblivious to my panic over our missing child.

I wasn’t really able to make a four-panel sequence using that, as I only drew three scenes of it. But I did rather like the nightmare sequence of the person falling, the D-Day invasion, the asteroid falling towards the earth and the person in bed sleeping. I think that one worked with the sleeping person either at the end or the beginning of the sequence.

I think the ideas are connected by being nightmarish scenes, then the relief that they are only dreams. When I compared my 11 cards (I didn’t get the 12th one made) with Brunetti’s example in the book, I noticed that each of his panels (except one with an animal character) featured a person in it, whereas mine did not always prominently feature a character.

The other thing I noticed is his style of drawing characters with simple geometric shapes and background elements gives a consistency of visual elements in every panel. I don’t really have anything like that. He draws a line for the ground in every single scene. Many of mine have straight line elements, but some do not. He also uses a circle in the background in most of his panels, either a light fixture, the sun, or stars and planets in the futuristic scenes. This gives his work a distinctive and recognizable quality to it. He’s found his visual “voice” whereas it seems I’m still searching for mine.

Most Heartwarming Advertisement Ever

A year and a half ago, Gillette Razors released this short video, but it took me a year to discover it in my social media feed. It is probably the most heartwarming “commercial” I have ever seen. It is a perfect example of short-form digital storytelling. I often give an assignment to my students called mini-documentary and going forward I plan to show this to my students as an example of how it is done well.

The pacing, the lighting, the sound, the music and the story all flow effortlessly. It quickly draws the viewer in and you become absorbed in the story. That, my friends, is good storytelling. Please watch first, then come back and read what else I have to say after the video.

Did you watch the video? Read no further until you do. I will wait…

You’re back? It is really good, right? Ok, I have more to say, but that will come in another post. Click here to continue…

The Last Milkman Documentary

The Last Milkman is a video created by myself and Aaron Wertenberger for Twin Valley Television. It features Lawrence Schleuder, a resident of Concordia Kansas who delivered the milk to homes and businesses well beyond the traditional age for retirement.

Lawrence passed away in 2017. This is dedicated to his memory.