Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Part 2: A Week in the Life of an MPTC Student

Note: For best video quality, change the settings of the video player to HD.​

Here is part two of my "Week in the Life of an MPTC Student" video series. Tuesday was a full day of work, homework and class. I also talk about a cool project I've been working on.

You can view Part 1 here: A Week in the Life of an MPTC Student - Part 1

Friday, March 21, 2014

Part 1: A Week in the Life of an MPTC Student

Note: For best video quality, change the settings of the video player to HD.​

Here is part one of my "Week in the Life of an MPTC Student" video series. In this series you'll be coming with me to class, attending on-campus events, going to work and accompanying me to an Oscar party.

A special thanks to Yvette Johnson.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A New Appreciation for the News

Not too long ago I saw a shot in a news segment where the camera was in a sink facing up towards the faucet. The water came rushing down onto the lens. I thought to myself, that seems like an awfully elaborate shot just for a simple news story.

Since then, I really pay attention to news segments – the shots they set up, the transitions they use, creative camera angles and graphics. A lot of thought, planning and creativity go into presenting news stories.

There are shows I watch where the writing and the acting is great, but the camera work and editing are equally as great. One of my favorite shows uses text in a creative way. The text and graphics on the screen allows you to see inside the mind of the main character. I was watching this show last night, and it was exciting to see particular effects that I admire and figure out possible ways to recreate those effects in After Effects, the program I am currently learning in class.

Speaking of my Motion/Visual Effects class, it will be ending soon. It’s an accelerated class and will be ending before spring break. After spring break I have another accelerated class starting called Video/Sound Editing where I will be learning more about Adobe Premiere, a video editing program. I can’t wait to learn more about the program so I can make even better projects.

I’m working on a project for this blog you’ll see soon hopefully. I’m trying to do it the proper way and incorporate some of the things I’ve learned in my program this past year. As the saying goes, stay tuned!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Perks of Being a College Student

I am pro education. If you know me, or have read a handful of my blogs, you could probably tell that is true. But I’m not just pro college; I am pro knowledge through whatever outlet it can be acquired.

There are so many ways you can obtain new information and new skills besides going to college. You can find a mentor in a field you want to enter, like photography, and learn from them. Books, obviously, are great sources to learn about history, art, science and anything else you’d like to learn. You can start at the bottom of a company fetching coffee and learn everything you can by watching and asking questions, and then work your way up. You can go online where there is no limit to what you can learn through articles, blogs and video tutorials.

As you can see, there are lots of options out there for you to learn something new whether it’d be for personal enlightenment or for your current or future career. So if you have all these options, why should you consider college? Well, the way I see it, college incorporates all of the above outlets to obtaining an education plus there are additional benefits to being connected to a college.

How Different Options for Learning Are Incorporated Into the College Experience

Built-In Mentors

As I had just suggested, you could find a mentor in your field and learn from them. That means you’ll need to seek out somebody knowledgeable and willing to teach you. I have that at MPTC. In fact, I have several mentors who are professionals with experience in their fields. They are my instructors. And I didn’t have to search them out; I simply signed up for their classes. They are the college’s built-in mentors.

Traditional and Technology-Based Learning Tools

I mentioned earlier that you could learn through books and the Internet. I’ve been asked to use all kinds of learning tools throughout my time here at MPTC. I’ve been assigned to read online articles and view video tutorials. Through searching online, I’ve been asked to find information and additional resources. I’ve also read textbooks about customer service, grammar and JavaScript. If I wanted to step outside of the required reading, I could find a fresh batch of new books each semester in the library about topics relating to any of the programs offered at the college.

Real-World Experience

So, how do you get real-world experience by being a college student, like the example I gave about the individual who works his or her way up the ladder by learning from the higher-ups?  You become an intern. Oftentimes, interns are college students. If you work hard and learn from them, they may hire you after you graduate and you can start climbing that ladder. As a student in the Wisconsin Technical College system, I have access to a statewide online employment information system that posts internships (as well as jobs). It was probably the best perk I received as a student, because it is how I found a job. Actually, my current employer found my resume on this site and contacted me.

I’ve had instructors who’ve notified my classes about competitions that not only offered real-world experience but also, for the winner, offered something nice to ad to their resume. In fact, I was told about three graphic design competitions I could enter right now. I would not have known about them if it weren’t for my instructor.

The Additional Benefits of Being Connected to a College

Equipment and Discounts

I’m not going to lie, college costs money, but it can save you money, too. Let’s suppose I would have decided to learn about video production and editing by myself instead of enrolling in a program at MPTC. I would have to buy a camera, a tripod, microphones, and a couple of lighting kits. Well, that would have been more than I could afford to buy, especially all at once! But, I enrolled in a program where I have access to that equipment, so I don’t have to run out and buy a soft box or a boom mic.

If I weren’t a student, I wouldn’t have received a student discount on my editing software. The cost of these professional software programs is pretty substantial, so I’m glad I was able to save a nice chunk of money by attending school instead of purchasing it on my own.

Services, Resources, and Activities

As a student, you have access to resources you may not have access to if you weren’t connected to a school. I’ve probably said this more than twice in my blog posts, and I know I have given this advice to a lot of incoming students: Use the campus’s resources and services. They are free. Use the library; use the career center; use the counseling services. These are all things you have access to, and it’s one of the greatest benefits you have as a college student.

Being connected to a college, you have the opportunity to take advantage of free entertainment, free speakers and free food. Some events even give away prizes. If I weren’t a student and didn’t attend events, I wouldn’t have the new Blu-Ray player I won playing BINGO in the cafeteria last year. It’s not something I necessarily needed as part of my educational experience, but it’s definitely one of the perks of being a student.

After Graduation

There are perks even after you leave campus. As a graduate, you are an alumnus. You are invited to networking opportunities, and you still have access to the career center should you need help updating your resume or finding a job.

Speaking of resumes, one of the most obvious benefits of going to college is that, at the end of it all, you get to put something on your resume. In the education section you’ll list your degree. It’s one line of written proof that you’ve learned something.

As I said at the beginning of this blog post, I am pro education. In fact, I enjoy learning for the sake of learning, and it’s been beneficial to me as well as my employers. I encourage everyone to learn, whether it’d be by attending college, on your own, or by some other means. We as a society can never be too educated nor can we have too many educated people. So if you’re thinking about learning something new, I hope you consider college as an option because it does have its perks!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My New Schedule

An animation I'm creating in After Effects
It may take some time adjusting to my new schedule this semester. Last week was the first week of the spring semester, and with a new set of classes comes a new routine for me. Since I have class twice per week, I have to make up my hours at work by going in early and staying late certain days of the week. But, it seems to be working out just fine.

My class this semester is called Motion/Visual Effects. We will be learning how to use After Effects, a program used to make those pretty cool graphics you see in movies, TV shows, on the news, and the Web. We started going over the interface in class. My homework for this week included working with some exercise files. After we get a handle on how the features work, we’ll move into some more creative projects.

Despite the fact that some of my days are really busy, I do have one day every week where I don’t have work or class during the winter. I use this day to work on homework, do some cleaning around the house, and continue my volunteer work for a local educational non-profit.

Unfortunately, I can’t attend as many fun activities on campus as I like, but there are a few I’ll be able to take part of in the future. I was looking at the upcoming events on the myMPTC portal, and I was happy to see that many of the acts I suggested we have on campus are booked for this semester. I discovered these speakers and performers at the conferences I went to with Student Senate last year. At the conferences we got to watch these people speak or perform, and we also talked to them one-on-one. Please check out the events calendar and attend some of these events. I’m sure one or two of them will spark your interest.

My schedule will change yet again in March for the second half of the semester. The class I’m taking now is an accelerated course. Once this class is over in March, my other class, Video/Sound Editing, begins. I have been looking forward to this class for a long time. I noticed it a few semesters ago in the course catalog when it was first offered. Having made a video as an assignment for one of my other classes, I was really interested in learning video editing. I am fortunate to be in a position now to take it, along with other classes in the Audio-Video Certificate.

Good luck to all those who have begun classes. It’s going to be a great spring! (Especially after the snow melts and this bitter cold ends!)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don’t Let Your Brain Turn Into Mush This Winter

It may sound a little strange to say, but I already miss going to class on Monday nights. It’s been three weeks since we’ve finished, and I miss my classmates and all the cool stuff we’ve gotten to do together. I am still in contact with a few of them, and that has been nice. Some of us are continuing our education through the break by working on building our portfolios and doing extra research online. One of my classmates has an interview for an internship, so I’m crossing my fingers for him.

At work we’ve purchased a new camera that takes excellent photos and HD video. So far I’ve only taken photos, but soon I’ll be filming. I have learned enough in class this past fall to do a few short videos. I’ve jotted down some promising ideas.

During the winter I have an extra day off of work each week, so I’m choosing to spend time teaching myself more about filming and editing. I also don’t want to lose any knowledge I’ve gained in class. I’m also hoping that there will be some awesome events on campus on my day off so I can attend them. I haven’t been able to participate as much as I did in the past recently.

I was watching a YouTube blogger today, and he was talking about New Year’s resolutions. Instead of resolutions, which tend to be pretty generic, he suggested making a list of New Year’s accomplishments. This would be a short list of things you want to accomplish by the end of 2014. I love that idea, especially since it’s attached to a timeframe. And, if you accomplish them by New Year’s Eve, you really have something to celebrate! I want to write down three things to accomplish this year. I want them to be attainable and something I’m proud of completing, so I’m going to give myself some time to think about it.

If you’re on winter break too, enjoy the rest of your time off, and don’t let your brain turn into mush! Keep learning and you’ll fall right back into place come spring semester.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Family, My Friends, and My MPTC

Nothing is a better conversation starter than when you find you have something in common with someone. Soon I will have something in common with two of my friends and a family member. We will all be students at Moraine Park Technical College.

Even though we won’t have classes together, because we’ll all be enrolled in different degrees and certificates, it’ll be nice if we have classes at the same time. There are events, such as bingo, that happen during the afternoons and evenings. It would be fun to spend time with them doing activities like that should our schedules permit. My two friends are from high school, so I feel nostalgic about hanging out with them on campus, especially in the cafeteria.

Speaking of next semester, I’m all signed up for classes. I’ll be on campus twice every week next semester. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule at work quite a bit, but my employers are supportive of my continuing education. I’ll have to go in early some days and stay late other days. No doubt, I will be busy and tired, but I’m happy that I’ll be able to do it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turning My Summer Goal Into My Fall Project

I like having creative freedom when it comes to assignments; however, when I’m allowed a lot of creative freedom it can be daunting. Sometimes there are just too many good ideas. Other times I feel like there’s a better idea out there, so I won’t settle for whatever comes to mind first (or second, or third). So, when we were given the freedom to choose our topic for an instructional video assignment, I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I could make a pretty decent instructional video about a lot of things. But, when I work on projects like this for class, I keep in mind that I’m not doing it just for class. These are the kinds of things that will go into my portfolio. The project is for my career, not just for a grade.

I generated a list of ideas in my notebook. They were all reasonable ideas, but I didn’t feel motivated to pursue any of them. It wasn’t until I looked down at my shoes (my favorite pair of shoes that are black, white, green, and pink) that the idea struck me.

If you have been reading my blogs for the past few months, you would know that over the summer I started running. I wanted to run properly and work up to running a mile at a steady pace. Fortunately, I have a friend who has been involved in track for years, so she knew how to run and how to teach me the right way to run.

When I looked at my shoes I thought of all the great shots I could do to make this instructional video visually interesting. There is a lot to learn when it comes to running, so I would have plenty of content. You have to be aware of your posture, at what angle your arms are positioned, and proper shoes and clothing. It’s actually pretty significant to know these things if you’re going to take up running so you don’t injure or exhaust yourself.

So, now that I’ve got the idea, I’m off to write a script and a storyboard. What’s the most challenging part of all this? It’s November in Wisconsin and I want to film at least some of this outside. I’m motivated enough by this idea to figure it out, and that’s exactly the kind of idea I was looking for.