Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Diversifying my Skills: Documentary Filmmaking

March 12, 2014 1 Comment

 1622881_773739329321709_239015431_nTwo months ago I had one of the most amazing and stressful experiences I have ever had in my 19 years of life, the opportunity to study abroad in Quito, Ecuador for a documentary filmmaking program through Ohio University. I was not exactly prepared when I walked into my first class session during fall semester – because this was my first experience ever working with film beyond the mediocre short movies I made using a digital camera and a trial version of Final Cut Pro. During the first week, we split up into the four documentary groups we would work with for the entire trip.

Over the next few months we started preparing for the trip by finding contacts, doing pre-interviews and laying out the overall concept of our film. Those class and preparation sessions taught me a lot about film, but when we landed in Quito and got to work on producing the documentary, I realized just how much I was going to learn. Here are the five basic lessons I learned about documentary filmmaking while on an amazing adventure in Ecuador.

  1. Always Have a Backup for EVERYTHING: This means having backup batteries for your camera and audio equipment, a backup camera, a backup microphone, a backup tripod, quite literally a backup everything. I can’t even count the number of times a camera dies during a shoot or the amount of audio problems we had with the lavalier microphones (the personal ones that hook onto the interviewees shirt), and had to use the backup audio from the RODE microphone (the one that attaches to the top of the camera). Having a backup means you at least have something to work with even if it’s lesser quality than what you were hoping for.
  2. You Have to Learn to Roll with the Punches: Things don’t always work out with filmmaking, especially with nonfiction documentaries, and you need to learn to adjust to the issues. Traveling to Quito we didn’t know many places to set up a shoot at, so much of the time we went to our interviewees homes. We had to do our best to control the settings, but its hard to control when a child yells or a dog barks, and it’s impossible to control when the sun goes down or a cloud changes the lighting. For all of these problems you need to learn to adjust, whether it’s reshooting that portion of the interview or entertaining a 3-year-old girl by going to watch Finding Nemo with her.
  3. Film is HARD: I’ve been around a lot of people who work in photography or film, and I always knew the technical aspect must have been difficult, but I never realized just how difficult. I went into Ecuador thinking it’s a camera, they’ll tell me how to set it up and I’ll press record. Definitely not the case. You have to shoot manually in film because the automatic settings will adjust to the slightest change and usually overcorrect. So every setting needs to be set manually, and that is something I still cannot do. I would try and help set up the camera, and I could set up the frame, but then I had to have Gretchen Kessler (a film major in my group) come and set focus, aperture and basically everything else you can think of.
  4. Audio is HARDER: Now this may not be the case for everyone, but from what I experienced dealing with, audio is on a whole new level. Recording the audio itself isn’t difficult at all, other than the cruel and unusual punishment that is holding the boom for an hour interview. The real difficulty with audio is listening. While recording audio you have to make sure there is no background noise – background noise can come from something as small as the buzzing of a light bulb. While you’re recording the audio you have to make sure there are no peaks in sound and no unwanted noises or echoes. If there is an issue the only thing you can do is ask the question again until you get the right sound.
  5. Editing Takes a Special Type of Patience: I enjoy playing around on Final Cut Pro just as much as the next person, but when it comes to making a documentary you don’t realize the amount of video you have until you start editing. I would estimate we had over 15 hours of video that we had to be cut down into a 12-minute documentary. Thank goodness we had our own personal editing king, Jarrett Lehman, to shift through hours upon hours of film and edit everything into our final piece, and my first documentary.

I learned a lot during my experience in Quito, from a filmmaking and a cultural perspective. This past winter break has prepared me for a lot for my future in Journalism, and has given me a new sense of respect for all the hard work that goes into documentary filmmaking.

You can watch our documentary, “Ecuador, The American Dream” here.

Ecuador

Becca Zook is a sophomore studying Strategic Communication with specializations in South American Studies and Sports Management. You can follow her on Twitter at @BeccaZook.

International Travel for the Inexperienced Traveler

December 11, 2013 1 Comment

QuitoIn less than a month I will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador for a study abroad trip and I could not be more excited! Considering I’ve only been on a plane twice in my life and have only had one real experience abroad, preparing for this trip has been a pain in my backside. So here’s the basics of what I’ve learned so far in my how-to on preparing for traveling abroad:

Get a passport (if you already have a passport check the expiration date): I know you’re sitting there thinking, “Thanks Captain Obvious! I’m going out of the country of course I need a passport!” But let me tell you something, Lieutenant Sarcasm; putting off getting your passport can turn into a big problem.

I had a passport from my freshman year of high school, but unluckily for me it expired within five months after my study abroad. In order to leave Ecuador you need to present a passport with at least six months validity. (I recommend checking your country of travels policy on validity.) So I took my drivers license, old passport, social security card and another government issued I.D. to the post office to renew my passport. Because I was a minor when I got my first passport, those four forms of identification weren’t enough. I also needed my birth certificate and a copy of my birth certificate. Basically the only thing they didn’t need from me was a list of my ancestry and a written note from the doctor that delivered me stating that I was, in fact, myself.

I did eventually end up getting all thirty forms of the necessary documentation, filling out the application and getting my picture taken. A half an hour and $150 later, I had ordered my new passport.

Purchase your plane tickets: Make sure you have enough time to get from terminal to terminal if you have a connecting flight. I, being the inexperienced flyer I am, made sure I had plenty of time between flights… six hours to be exact. You know just in case I can’t find my terminal or get lost in the airport for five and half hours. On second thought, I’m probably going to regret that layover choice.

Pack light: You’re going on a trip, not moving you’re entire life to a foreign country. I realize you might really like those black studded heels but realistically you’re never going to wear them! Leave them behind! Only pack the necessities and when you’re dragging your suitcase through the airport by yourself, you’re going to thank me. Check ahead of time to see if you’ll have access to a laundry facility, because if so, only take enough clothes for a week. Just think the less stuff you bring, the more room you’ll have to take things back!

Embrace a more natural look: You don’t want to lug 50 different hair products or tools to another country, trust me. And this goes for the men too! Leave the hair gel behind! Take only what you need. I promise that you’re not going to want to spend an hour getting ready when you could be out exploring.

Adapters, Money, Identification, Etc.: If you plan on using any electronics you’re going to need an adapter. Research the type of outlet used in the country you’re traveling to and buy a couple adapters of that type. When traveling you don’t want to be carrying around all your money in case you get pick pocketed. Your best bet would be to take the money you will need for the day with you when you go out and leave the rest in the safe at your hostel or hotel. Same thing goes for identification; take COPIES of your passport with you and leave your original passport in your safe. In foreign countries your United States driver’s license will not work as identification, instead use a photocopy of your passport.

In Quito the American dollar is widely accepted so I won’t have to worry about changing currency, however they aren’t going to be able to break large bills for me either so I’ll be taking mainly smaller bills (10’s, 5’s and 1’s) and change.

The Not-So-Stand-Out American: Basically try not to look too American and tourist-y. Blend into the culture; wear clothing that doesn’t make you stand out. The more out of place you look, the easier target you are for pick pocketing and petty theft. If you make an effort to keep your belongings on or in front of you, you definitely reduce the risk of theft, but if you’re wearing name brand clothing that is obviously expensive you are basically holding up a sign inviting thieves to target you.

Last but definitely not least,

HAVE FUN! Traveling is fun and exciting. You get to experience a new culture with interesting customs, foods and languages. Many people don’t get the opportunity to travel so take advantage of it. Take risks and do something new! Personally, I have this crazy fear of sharks but while abroad I’ll be snorkeling with sharks and other tropical fish in the Galapagos Islands. Granted I might have a minor anxiety attack, but I’m still going to! Take chances and do something that you’ll remember forever; make the thousands of dollars you’re spending worth the trip. Don’t spend too much time stressing the little things and just look forward to the great experience ahead of you.

Travel safe and wish me luck in Quito! I’m going to need it with those sharks!

-Rebecca Zook is a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in studio art. Follow her at @BeccaZook.

Study Abroad Tips for a First-Timer

October 14, 2013 1 Comment

Study abroad tips for a first-time traveler, by a first-time traveler

Oper LeipzigThis summer, I had the opportunity of a lifetime studying abroad with the Scripps College of Communication in the historic city of Leipzig, Germany. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but it wasn’t without its challenges. Here are a few things I learned as a first-time international traveler that will hopefully be useful to future Bobcats looking to explore the world.

Understand conversion rates for temperatures, distance, currency and anything else. “It’s supposed to be a nice day. I think it’s going to be 25 degrees,” one of the German students remarked as he talked about the weather. I was confused – to me, 25° is cold! It took me a second to realize he was speaking in terms of degrees Celsius, and 25°C is 77°F – very nice weather indeed. It might take a while to get used to hearing measurements given in meters and liters and degrees Celsius, so try to gain a basic understanding of the system as soon as possible.

No matter how open-minded you are, expect culture shock. Other countries do certain things very differently than we do in the U.S. From paying a small fee (about 50 euro cents) to use most public restrooms to the lack of air conditioning in many buildings, I experienced my share of minor inconveniences while abroad. And be prepared for reverse culture shock upon coming home as well – my first night back in the U.S., I couldn’t figure out why it was so cold inside every building. Apparently I got used to living without AC!

Document your experience as much as possible. I contributed to three blogs while overseas: the Ohio University Office of Education Abroad’s blog; Borderless Bobcats, the group blog for our team in Leipzig; and my own personal blog. I also took hundreds of pictures and held onto little keepsakes such as my ticket from the soccer game we attended and a matchbook from one of my favorite restaurants. Documenting my trip through many outlets makes it easy to go back and browse through the memories when I’m feeling nostalgic.

Homesickness will set in at one point or another. For me, it happened Memorial Day weekend. My friends back home were posting pictures on social media of patriotic picnics and barbecues. Lots of people had the day off from work and school, but in Germany, it was just another Monday. This made me realize how much I love spending time with my family and friends in the summer, and I have a new found appreciation for that now.

Consider the significance of your experience – you’ll appreciate it even more. One of my favorite days of the entire trip was when we traveled an hour north of Leipzig by train to Berlin. Today, you can walk across Germany’s capital city from east to west without either presenting documentation at a military checkpoint or running into a wall. Twenty five years ago, that wasn’t possible. Part of what made Berlin so amazing for me was the sobering thought that not long ago, this modern, thriving city was the epitome of Cold War hell.

Being a tourist is fun. One weekend, I flew to Italy for a trip with three other girls. We snapped pictures of each other at all kinds of monuments, including the obligatory photos of ourselves “grabbing” a pillar on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The word “tourist” comes with a stigma, but don’t shy away from the typically “touristy” things – after all, who’s going to believe that I went to Rome if I don’t have a picture of the Coliseum to prove it?

-Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore with a double major in public relations and broadcast journalism. Catch up with Lindsey at @lindseyzim716.

A Bag Full of Tricks in Leipzig, Germany

August 5, 2013 1 Comment

KateThis summer I had the great opportunity to further my journalism education across the pond in Leipzig, Germany. Myself, along with thirteen other J-School classmates, traveled thousands of miles to gain a better perspective of international journalism at the University of Leipzig.

I have never had a burning passion to become an international journalist, but was curious how the other side of the world did this journalism thing. During my four weeks abroad, I explored Germany while writing articles, blogs and edited and broadcasted a radio piece. By the end of those four weeks, I gained an immense appreciation for international communicators and realized how important it was to have that skill set.

However, the tasks I completed abroad were tougher than I imagined. I had taken a step back from “traditional” journalism many moons ago when I found my home in public relations at OU. The world was not the same as back home in the United States. I found myself bored to death on trams and trains when no Wi-Fi was provided to check my Facebook or Twitter feeds.

It came as a shock to me when our group visited MDR, one of Germany’s new and innovative television channels that broadcasts to Saxony. A recent batch of interns were exploring the possibility of using social media to attract a younger audience. One intern took it upon herself to start up and run the social media for the company. One girl on her MacBook versus all of Central Germany; I get anxiety just thinking about it!

Because European media was not as tech savvy as I was used to, I had to re-hone my traditional journalism skills. Most of our class assignments were articles or radio pieces. As a result, my experience in Germany soon felt like a distant yet familiar dream as I dived back into the world of broadcast and feature writing.

After my first collaborative article I had shaken out most of the cobwebs and felt more comfortable writing my second article; a profile on an American female acrobatic performer who was currently performing at a local theater show. I stayed up all night perfecting the story before it was published and felt great sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t lost my old writing skills after all!

But how were these old tricks of mine going to help me improve my PR skill set? What was I getting out of this trip that I couldn’t get interning at an agency at home? Then I started to think like the savvy PR chick I am, and realized how important a solid background in news and feature writing was to the world of public relations.

I had spent so much time using social media to promote our client with ImPRessions last year that I forgot the beauty of PR is that we have so many mediums to work through to reach the public. The possibilities are endless, people! How interesting would it have been to post the acrobat story on a travel website or Facebook page to promote the show or entice traveling Americans to visit Leipzig to see the performance.

I think as college students, it’s easy for us to rely solely upon Twitter or Facebook as our PR tools because it’s easy in a college town. However, in the real world (as in the international world) you have to spread all of the pieces across the game board in order to pass go and collect 200 dollars.

What I learned studying international journalism abroad was that by taking the initiative to develop a wide range of journalistic skills, I am able to become the well-rounded PR guru I can be. Because we have to choose a specific journalistic field to major in doesn’t mean we have to limit our abilities. Studying abroad gave me the desire to not become stagnant with relying on what is easy, but to explore what’s challenging. There are so many great ideas and opportunities out there, it just sometimes takes a Bobcat to bring them to life!

-Kate Schroeder is a junior PR major with a psychology minor who studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany summer 2013. Follow her at @kschroeds7.

5 Reasons You Need International Experience

July 7, 2013 1 Comment

DSCN2714One of the biggest things that can make a candidate stand out in an interview is having international experience.  With an increasing global economy, it is extremely beneficial for students to get international experience and become more marketable and well rounded.

At Ohio University there is a program called “The Global Leadership Center” or GLC. The GLC is a two-year certificate program that focuses on developing “internationally-minded, locally-engaged leaders in all walks of life.” The purpose of this program is to make students better rounded and skilled, both professionally and culturally so they are prepared for working with international clients or on international projects.

Examples of past GLC projects have included working on juvenile justice and oil regulations in Ghana, transatlantic relations in Germany and marketing for Marriott International. When I heard about this program I applied immediately! What a great way to broaden my international horizons and learn about other countries while also earning my degree. The nice thing about the GLC is that it is open to all majors and truly complements all majors, since at some point in time you will most likely work with other countries or cultures in some way or another.

With that being said, this summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia and work with the GLC in Vietnam for two weeks and then later travel to Thailand and Hong Kong. I can honestly say that going on my first trip abroad was an eye-opening experience that will greatly impact the rest of my life. I am now a 100% firm believer that everyone needs to have an international experience in their lifetime, especially if you are still in college. Here’s why:

1. You learn about different types of work ethic. In the US, we have a very fast paced go, go, go! work ethic where we don’t stop until the work gets done, even if that means working through lunch or staying late hours. In other countries that’s not necessarily the case. While in Vietnam, my teammates would always take breaks from our work for a 2-3 hour lunch break, in which they would also take a nap. Believe it or not, a lot of countries are like this! Naps, going home for lunch and “tea time” are very common around the world and that’s something to be mindful of when working with international clients.

2. Language barriers. There’s going to be a time in your life when you come in contact with someone where there is a language barrier. Luckily, if you go on a trip abroad you are more likely going to be comfortable with that situation and know how to handle it. You might even learn a little bit of a language by talking with locals and learn important words or phrases that you would need to use in a business setting.

3. Companies are going global. Most US companies are no longer just in the US. They are starting to spread offices and networks around the world to expand and grow their markets. For example, Google has offices in the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and different parts of Asia! Nike also has offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and well-known PR firm Weber Shandwick has 74 offices in more than 30 countries! With that being said, your company may send you on business trips or transfer you to an international office and it would be extremely beneficial to you (as well as making you more marketable) to have already had an international experience.

4. Maturity. According to a spokeswoman in a recent New York Times article, “Often global understanding indicates maturity.” When you travel to another country you open your eyes and perspective to other cultures and countries, which often times leads to a newfound maturity. Also, when abroad you are forced to navigate in a foreign place, adjust to local customs and gain independency, which is an important part of your college experience.

5. College is the best time to travel. When you’re in college you typically don’t have too many full-time commitments such as a full-time job, a spouse, kids etc. making it easier for you to travel. There are also tons of scholarships and grants available as well cheap flights and using hostels.

Overall having an international experience will make you standout in the workplace and impress employers.  You will gain a diverse skill-set and knowledge as well as internationally minded thinking. If you go to OU and you are considering a trip abroad check out the Ohio University Office of Education Abroad for more information! Don’t miss out on the chance of a lifetime.

-Cidnye Weimer is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business administration and a Global Leadership Certificate. Check her out at @CidnyeWeimer.

New Executive Explores Florence, Italy

August 1, 2011

By: Brittany Venturella
Account Executive, ImPRessions account

Photo of the Ponte Vecchio taken by Deanna Sakal, a commercial photography major.


Walking down the streets of Florence, Italy, I was originally overwhelmed by the medieval architecture and the towering cathedrals.  Although Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s Duomo or main cathedral, is breathtaking, there is something even more unique and special that Florence houses:  the Italian people.

One night my friends and I ended the day by going to the Ponte Vecchio at sunset.  This historic bridge displays jewelry shops specializing in gold that have lined the bridge’s street since the Italian Renaissance. The jewelry shops are just one part of a long tradition of artisan shops that Florence hosts. From authentic leather to metal shops, you are able to meet the artists and possibly even watch them work. 

On the Ponte Vecchio, two guitarists were playing Italian and English songs; so my friends and I sat down to listen.  The mix of English and Italian music is a typical occurrence in Florence.  While the musicians performed songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” we quietly sang along.  Then as the musicians played upbeat Italian songs, the group of Italians sitting next to us clapped to the beat.  The jovial yet tranquil atmosphere that embraced us was quite different from the fast paced and somewhat chaotic daily life of modern day Florence.

The sun was barely lighting the Arno River as several tourists and Florentines walked past us.  The street lamps slowly came on, giving a yellow glow to the street’s gray cobblestone. Some Florentines leisurely rode their bikes, which is a common mode of transportation for them. The slight aggravation that would have been on their faces while riding through the sunny crowded streets was completely erased as they rode past the two performers.

Other Florentines walked swiftly past us, a destination clearly in mind.  Many women wore at least three inch heels with such mastery that I had to awe at their ability. These women fearlessly walked on the cobblestone, which is much more perilous than the bricks of Athens.  Everywhere the cobblestone contains sudden dips, cracks and other dangers.  Yet, they marched on as if they were on a catwalk.

By this time the sun had completely set, and the musicians continued to entertain the modest crowd.  As my favorite Italian song, “A Te” (“To You”) by Jovanotti, began to play, I looked out on Florence from the bridge.  I thought of the nice couples that told me directions when I got lost and “our” gelato shop where the man knows us by name and the square where the elderly gathered and with their pets. At that moment, Italy stole my heart.  It was not the art and cathedrals, but the people that impacted me.  With a simple song, modest lighting, and the soothing night that descended on the city, Florence became home.

——————————————–

Brittany is lucky enough to be spending her summer studying abroad in Florence, Italy and we would love to know what other awesome things our associates and executives are doing this summer! Feel free to leave a comment or send us a blog post so your amazing experiences can be shared with the firm and our followers!
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers