Category Archives: J2150

The Light

Katy Perry's Proactiv Commercial
Would Katy Perry’s skin look as clear in hard light?
Photo Courtesy of: Strategies Against Acne

I know that a certain KOMU reporter said that we should treat our audience as if they had the attention span of a gnat. However, that is not how the subjects should be treated. Not many people are attracted to a blinding light, but a bright light may be needed for the shot.

Heath Ledger as The Joker
Hard Light is used in The Dark Knight to provide a sinister look for The Joker.
Photo courtesy of: Hot

This all depends on one question. What effect do you want? Let’s say you want a dark or sinister look. Then, you would probably end up using hard light. Why? According to the Lights Film School website, hard light creates hard, dark shadows, which makes the Joker in The Dark Knight even more intimidating. Hard light’s rays are almost parallel, and that is what is behind the shadow effect, since these rays can be cleanly interrupted. In addition to sinister, hard lighting can be used to create dramatic and glamorous looks as well.

Contrastingly, soft light does not create hard shadows. Soft light is diffused. The clouds blocking the sun, light shining through a t-shirt, or light shining through a glass, are all examples of soft light.  Some say soft light is used to create a realistic effect, but some people say that really it is a combination of hard and soft lighting. Perhaps the best use for soft light is for portraits because it creates a clear picture, but at the same time it is not too bright and unpopular blemishes are not as noticeable.


Paying Attention to Detail: Slow Art Day

Slow Art Day is for all ages. Here, a docent, or guide, leads a discussion with the children on what the colors symbolize in Marrion Reid’s “The Sorceress”.

Pickard Hall hosts the second annual Slow Art Day today from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Kathryn Lucas, one of the docents or guides, said, “This event is a retreat from the hectic world.”

Rebecca Cuscaden believes that Slow Art Day allows art appreciators to ask themselves, “What does this mean to you?”

Slow Art Day is open to the public, and admission is free. Art appreciators can explore Columbia’s “hidden gems”, as Gary Tatlow puts it. In addition, Lucas and fellow docent Rebecca Cuscaden said, “Slow Art Day allows people to formulate their own ideas on the artwork and examine it in closer detail.”

For more information, go to

Words of Wisdom from Wilbert Harrison

Wilbert Harrison
Wilbert Harrison says that we need to work together. Photo credit: Discovery Records

Many of you are probably wondering, “Who in the world is Wilbert Harrison?” He wrote the song, “Let’s Work Together”, and now you hear the song (George Thorogood’s remake of it) being played in commercials. The song starts out, “Together we stand, divided we fall. Come on people, let’s get on the ball. Let’s work together.” I believe this song should serve as the motto or mantra for all group projects.

Communication is key. Everything should be planned out in the beginning. First, figure out times and locations for meetings. It is best to meet often, and a convenient time must be chosen for everyone to be “on the same page”. At each meeting, assign everyone’s roles. Choose some responsible people to lead the group. Assign co-leaders, if needed. Never place a heavy burden on one of your teammates. Divide the load. Ask to see what people are willing to do and what their strengths are. You never want any member to be lost.

Rick Agran believes that a mission statement is important for a group project. It is supposed to guide us and “define our sense of purpose”. The mission statement is also supposed to reflect the goals of each individual. How do you write a good mission statement? Agran said, “Focus on the values or outcomes rather than what specific tactics. Explain what the story is going to accomplish.”

That may be challenging, but groups need to be prepared to overcome any obstacle that may be thrown at them. Sometimes, “Plan A” does not work, and then the group needs to improvise. There will be times where a member may not be able to make a meeting or hold their end of the bargain. However, you cannot let that destroy the mission. Going back to the song, “United we stand, divided we fall,” teamwork is the most important element for a group project. Listen to Harrison’s words of wisdom. Everyone needs to collaborate and participate. Help each other out. Bounce ideas off one another. Brainstorm a list together like on the show House. For journalism projects, figure out what the people do not know. Also figure out what they want to know.

In group projects, the key word is group. If there is no unity, then members will be lost, and the goals of the mission statement will not be achieved. Agran said, “Make sense of things while your reporting is fresh in your mind.” Well, as a group leader, make sense of things when delegating tasks to one another. Simplify what is expected of the group, when ready for the next step. These assignments are never easy, but working as a team makes it easier.

The “Icy-Hot” of Journalism: Warm vs. Cool Colors

Aurora Borealis in Norway
The Aurora Borealis provides many cool colors. Photo courtesy of: APNI Travel Tips

Warm colors and cool colors are discussed in art. They also apply to photography. Blue, green, and purple would be your cool colors, while red, orange, and yellow would be your warm colors. Each group sets a mood that is opposite of the other.

The Blue Whale under the sea
A Blue Whale chilling under the sea. Photo courtesy of: The Garden of Eden on

Cool lighting is used to establish a calm or gentle mood. The blues and the purples also make the picture more relaxing and easier to look at than the warm-colors. Good examples of cool color pictures would be the Aurora Borealis and of marine wildlife.

Huge Explosion
A huge atomic explosion. Photo courtesy of:

On the other hand, warm colors are very intense. They contrast from cool colors as they are not easy to look at, and usually are very bright. Explosions would be the best example of warm colors.

“Live and Learn”: Some Mistakes You May Make in Journalism

Homer says, "Doh!"
Don't worry Homer, everyone has a "Doh!" moment. Photo Credit: Bad

Some people say that we should learn from history. I agree. We should try to learn from our mistakes. No one wants to feel like an idiot. I compiled a list of scenarios that you may find yourself in. Try to learn from our mistakes and be prepared for the future.

Not Having Enough Space on Your Memory Card: Always bring an extra one. I prefer one 8GB card and one 4GB card. Anything less may not be enough to capture the whole interview.

Focus: Always make sure your camera is in focus. Blurry pictures are frowned upon.

Shutter Speed: When taking action shots in sports, or any shot involving motion for that matter, be sure to have a high shutter speed. Blur effects are cool sometimes, but usually people want to see a clear picture of the defining moment.

Scheduling: Make sure you have made travel arrangements in advance. Set appointments up in advance as well. If you plan on doing multiple interviews in a day, then leave plenty of time between them. Things don’t always go according to plan, and if everything is scheduled close together, then you will be left scrambling.

Jump cuts: The Free Online Dictionary defines “jump cut” as a cut to later action from one film scene to the next, creating an effect of acceleration or discontinuity. Everyone makes this mistake. It is inevitable, but after gaining experience, you will learn how to avoid it. In film and in photo slide shows, everything needs to be presented to the audience in a logical order. If the audience loses track of what’s going on, then they lose interest. For example, if a person is walking towards you, film them walking all the way towards. Don’t cut from far to close right away. This acceleration may freak out the audience, and you do not want to lose your audience.

Future journalists, you have been warned. Be ready to learn.

“Planting the Seed”

Picture of the Dos Equis Character
"The Most Interesting Man in the World" Photo courtesy of: Fast Company

In high school, I had to read the tragedy of Othello. The part I remember the most was when the villain Iago tells Othello that his wife may be cheating on him. At first, Othello ignores Iago, but the idea grows in his head, and eventually he became paranoid. Iago’s tactic was deemed as “planting the seeds of doubt”, and he was very successful at it.

If you think about it, Iago would have been good in strategic communication, or in other words, advertising. He was able to convince Othello to buy his story. In strategic communication, the person’s job is to get the firm’s message across and/or convince people to buy their product. It seems as if firms will almost do anything to “spread the word”. They will call your house, they will stick ads in newspapers and magazines, they will put up billboards, they will sponsor events, they will put ads on buses, they will clog your digital and physical mail boxes, and of course, they will pay for ad space on television. Wait, there’s more. Now they are talking about using the iPhone and iPad App that reads QR codes. All you would do is scan the QR code, and next thing you know, a video starts playing on your iPhone or iPad. Freaky.

Like I said, firms will almost do anything to achieve their goal. One popular method of gaining attention is celebrity endorsements. Proactiv is firm that uses that strategy. They have used Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry, and now Proactiv has come down with “Bieber Fever”. Every commercial is the same where the celebrities talk about their acne problems, and now Proactiv has made them more confident. In addition, they show before and after pictures to ensure the audience that the product works.

Another method used in advertising is creating a character. Tony the Tiger, Kool Aid Man, the Geico Gecko, The Most Interesting Man in the World, and the list goes on and on. However, this method is not necessarily the best. Look at the Burger King. He was kind of creepy, and that’s not the image Burger King was looking for. Then, there’s Six Flags. In their commercials, they used to have an old man with huge glasses do a funny dance in their commercials. At first, it was funny, but then people could no longer stand him. Characters are a Jekyll and Hyde relationship. They will either work to your advantage or they will backfire.

The most important thing about advertising is to consider ethics. Yes, it seems like many advertisements do not look that way, but they will call you out on it. Group On is one example of a firm learning that lesson with their Super Bowl ad a couple years ago. Just don’t create controversy.

Fishing for a Good Story

When people consider the news to be boring, what do you do as a journalist to change that? You find a good story. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Finding a good story is like fishing; you need patience. Some days are slow, and you don’t find anything. On the other hand, there will be some days where your boat is hauling, and you return to the lodge with a great story.

Finding a great story is only half the battle. It also needs to be presented effectively. Otherwise, the audience will not listen. One example of a good news story is BBC’s Emmy “Inside the North Korea Bubble”. This feature story contained fantastic images (emotions of the people), great transitions (car rides, buildings that prohibited filming), and oblique references (Kim Jong Il paintings, Sunday, Great Leader’s Birthday). BBC presented the story in a way that was visually appealing, and shown in a logical order that made it easier to follow. In addition, Sue Lloyd-Roberts and her crew exposed some of North Korea’s lies, which allowed Lloyd-Roberts to pose a strong question at the end. For example, North Korea claims that they are self-sufficient, yet the lone tractor at the mechanized farm contained a European Union logo, and the market BBC was not allowed to film in had items made in China. Then, in the end, she asks the audience, “How could they expect us to believe that this was not surreal?”

Some people may question why is this a good story if the sources just presented the script they were given? Well, in a way, the story presented itself. BBC understood that this might happen since North Korea usually does not allow media coverage from other countries. Despite that, BBC still achieved their goal and found a story to tell. They showed the man’s reaction when asked if they could visit a city that did not look “neat” or “organized”. Hence the title, “Inside the North Korea Bubble”.