I started this semester fortunate enough to be familiar with much of the technology we ended up using, though with some gaps. And between class time and projects, I was able to fill in many of these gaps. For example, I learned about the pen tool in Audacity and In- and Out-points in Premiere. This existing familiarity allowed me to focus largely on the other goals of the course, specifically, improving media literacy and understanding ways in which media can themselves be messages.
There were two main components involved in the building of our media literacy: learning the vocabulary associated with digital images, photography, video production, etc., and putting them to use in critiques and presentations. With each unit (image, audio, and video) came a new crop of words associated with the medium. For the most part, I had heard of the words, but learning their precise meanings was a huge boon, allowing me to confidently use them in my critiques. An example of this that sticks out in my head is when I finally learned the difference between a camera's iris (the mechanism which controls how much light is allowed through the lens) and its aperture (the measure of how wide the iris is). The second component, using our new language for various applications in class, gave cohesion to what we learned, as it allowed us to explore the relationships between the parts of our learning.
Above all else, this course has taught me to find and analyse all the production decisions in a particular piece; to see the medium as the message. The true intricacies of a creator's work are hidden here. While this won't necessarily be true for many amateur productions (case in point, the music video below, which I produced in a time before I understood the meaning of "proprietary"),
it certainly is true for any professionally produced media you might find "out in the wild." Some of my favorite examples from this come from our class's discussion of photography. Take the below image, for instance:
Other than "it looks cool," why might the photography chosen such a low angle for this shot? As we learned in this class, a low angle increase the perceived size of a form in an image. The vertical lines in the shot also communicate power and grandeur. The photographer is clearly trying to inspire a certain "urban wonder" with this image.
One challenge I faced throughout the course was time management during the production phases of our projects. In particular, I often failed to give myself enough time to collect raw media (interview material for the audio project and A-roll for the video project), forcing me to settle for less-than-optimal raw media. This was particularly pronounced in my audio project; I only gave myself enough time for one sit down with my interviewee, and didn't catch the audio issues until the post-production phase. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to schedule another session with my interview before the project was due.
Looking to the future, I see at least a couple specific applications of my learning from this class. First and foremost, our work with digital images and photography has already and will continue to support my web design practices. This course has taught me to be highly intentional with my design decisions. Whether it's in color, layout and composition, typography, or elsewhere, my new media literacy can be applied to web design in general.
In conclusion, more than anything else, this class has taught me not only how to, but that I should analyze as much of the media streaming into my life as I can. Or, at least, to understand the messages, both explicit and implicit, embeded in them.