Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Final Films!

We are screening today at 11:30. Finally, the fruits of all of our hard work:

You can find the final projects here:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I need:

I need to start collecting the Informed Consent and Documentary Release forms for all of your interviewees. I'm assembling them as part of our archive, and I need one for each interview. If you don't have them, you will need to get them. I would like these no later than Wednesday of next week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Uploading to Vimeo

Just a reminder about your rough cut:

Be sure to see the previous email about Vimeo, and sign up / "contact add" me.

*** I want you to upload your rough cut by Friday MORNING EARLY so we can watch it in class. We will meet in our regular room as the lab is unavailable. ***
NOTE: Vimeo can take an hour or two to process your video when you upload it before it is ready to view. Keep this in mind!

To prepare your movie to upload to Vimeo, you need to use the "Share" tab in iMovie.

do this:


A dialog box will pop up. Make sure you are saving your movie to your portable hard drive. iMovie often defaults to the main drive.

Click on OPTIONS

Compression will read "H.264" which is what you want for uploading to Vimeo

Dimensions should read "1280x768" (or smaller in any 16:9 ratio). You can change this by clicking on SIZE in the options dialog box.

Your file will need to be smaller than 500 MB when it is processed, because you cannot upload a file larger than 500 MB for free.

If it ends up being larger than 500 MB, you will have to process it to Quicktime again, only at a lower resolution (Try NTSC 720 x 480).

Follow the instructions on Vimeo to upload this movie file. It is no more difficult than uploading something to Facebook.

Email me the link to your movie when it is done uploading.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Using iMovie to create your rough cut

At this point, you should have your portable hard drive with your interviews and perhaps even a few useful still images. Now it is time to start the editing process.

We are going to use iMovie for this class. This is a very easy-to-use video editing program on the Mac.

The first thing you are going to need to do in iMovie is set up your PROJECT.

It is important that you set up your PROJECT on your portable hard drive. To make sure you do this, follow the following steps.

1.) Make sure your hard drive is plugged in!
2.) look in the upper left-hand corner of iMovie, and you will see a button called Project Library - click on that.
3.) Here you will see all of the drives on the computer and the various projects that they have on them.
4.) Scroll down to your portable drive and click on it. It should highlight in blue.
5.) Right click (Option-click) on the drive and you will see a selection for "New Project..." - click on that.
6.) Name your project. Make sure the Widescreen (16:9) option is selected and the

Give your project a name, and make sure the Widescreen (16:9) setting is selected and the "Automatically add:" box is UNCHECKED

You have now successfully created your project on your portable hard drive.

NOW you need to add your films to iMovie in an "EVENT" but you are NOT going to do this by using the FILE --> NEW EVENT command.

Instead, do the following:

1.) To create a new event, go to FILE --> IMPORT --> MOVIES
2.) It is very important that you fill out this dialog box correctly:

A) Make sure the "save to:" drop-down box has your hard drive selected.
B) Make sure you are not adding to an existing event (unless you mean to do so.) If you have not yet imported your movies into iMovie, you want to create a new event.
C) Name your event
D) if your files are in the .mov format (Quicktime) - all files that are from me will be in Quicktime .mov format - you can deselect the "optimize video" file. If you have any other format - from the Flip for instance - you will need to check "optimize video" and make sure Full Size is selected. This will take longer.
E) When you import the files, select "move" instead of "copy" files. This will move the file into your iMovie Event Folder.

3.) Once you have imported all of your films into your event, you are ready to watch them and make editing choices.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Making Your Rough Cut

Your Rough Cut
Due date: Friday, April 16

Now that it is April, it is time for us to transition from filming our interviews to editing our footage. The first and most crucial step in this process is for you to spend a lot of time looking at your interviews and cutting and arranging your footage into a logical and easily-followed story that is of five to seven minutes in length.

The technology that we use is not all that sophisticated. We will be using Apple's iMovie, which is a simple program that I will be showing you how to use in class.

The REAL challenge here is

1.) Deciding which topical thread(s) you will follow in your interview(s)
2.) Identifying and cutting usable sections of your interview(s) into a logical and compact narrative.

Don't worry about transitions, still images, text, or special effects right now. What we HEAR in the rough cut is far more important than what we SEE. Though we are using video software, we are working primarily on the audio track of your documentary. Text, images, etc, go in AFTER we have a working rough cut that tells us a story!

Look at the example of Sam and Devon's interview at the Hare Krishna temple. Please watch this short three-minute unedited segment. Then play the 1:20 length edited cut. The editing choices that you make will be different, so I produce this example only to show the sorts of cuts you might make. Pay attention to your ability to put things in different sequence than they occurred during the interview!

Unedited Video - Student sample from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

And the edited version:

Edited video - student sample from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

And finally, I threw in a few transitions in one more version. Note that this video moves too quickly. Pauses in the narration where one might show images, etc, would definitely work. We'll look at all these things in the coming month!

Student Sample - with transitions from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the eve of spring break...

By my count, the class has thus far gathered 17 different interviews. Some are more useful and longer than others. Some are very remarkable! We have more to do, but we are definitely starting to build an impressive oral history archive.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Project Assessment

On the Wednesday that we return from Spring Break, I want you to turn in a page with the following:

What (specifically) will be the story that I tell?

What interviews will be most useful in telling my story? What specific parts of these interviews will I rely on to tell this story?

Do I have enough interview material to tell this story? If not, what am I going to do to rectify this situation?

Have I identified any still images that I want to use? Are they in the public domain and if not do I have permission to use them? 

Self Assessment

You need to turn this in to me via email by Wednesday 3/22 at NOON.  I will not share your responses to these questions with either your peers or your project partner.

1.) How much work do I feel that I have put into this project thus far?

2.) How does my work on this project compare with what my peers in this course seem to be doing?

3.) How would I assess the working relationship with my partner? Is my partner doing more or less than me or are we doing about the same?

4.) What direction do I see this project going? At this point, what does it look like the main focus of my project (specifically) will be?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week Roundup

We've done a bunch of interviewing this week, but we are always looking to do more! On Tuesday, Devon and Sam got a great interview for their project on the Hare Krishna temple on Esplanade. Wednesday saw Taylor and Quentin record a fantastic (and fairly long) interview with a Tulane faculty member for their work on Russians in New Orleans. On Thursday morning, Camma and Julio recorded our longest interview to date with the director of the New Orleans Opera Association about the French Opera House - and it is a real gem! Tonight, Kristin and Elizabeth will record their first interview for the Deutsches Haus project. Tomorrow, we hope to get Jack's first recording for Brocato's.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Studio!

Here are Carla and Taylor interviewing Johnny Marcias for their documentary on Hondurans in New Orleans. This will be our setup for next week!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More student interviews!

I'll bet you didn't know this about the fava bean! Way to go Hilary and Shelly, and thank you Joe for a great interview!

Now THOSE are some lucky beans! from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Equipment/Interview Calendar


I have sent out an email invitation to become an editor of the Google Calendar for the equipment and interview schedule. If you are planning on checking out the library's camera and going somewhere to interview without me, please put it on this calendar. If you are wanting to schedule an interview on campus, email me right away if it is not on Mar 17,18 so we can schedule it. If it is on Mar 17/18, go ahead and schedule it in the appropriate time slot on the calendar.

First Student-Conducted Interview!

Here is a brief nugget from Hilary and Shelly's first interview:

Snippet from the first student interview from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Formatting your hard drive


If you do not have your portable hard drive by now, go out today and buy one. You will quickly discover that there are no temporary solutions to storing and sharing your files. Hilary and Shelly recorded 28 minutes of video last Friday. Once converted to the Quicktime .mov format, the files were 19GB total. So you get the idea - you need a portable hard drive to store all of the data. It is likely that you will use 100GB of space for your files, let alone when you start producing your project.

Before you can use your hard drive on the Mac, you really need to reformat it for best results. REFORMATTING WILL ERASE ALL DATA ON THE DRIVE. If you bought a drive and plugged it in and it worked, it is still in a format that is not useful for our large video files. You will want to reformat it as a MEDIA DRIVE using these directions linked here.

If you do not have a Mac, this operation can be done on any Mac in the library running OSX. I encourage you to use the newest machine you can find.

The hard drive is also important because I will need to offload all of your files into the History Department's archive at the end of the semester.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mid-Term Update Interviews: Highlight Reel

Mid-Term Project Update Highlight Reel from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

We'll watch this together on Friday and talk about everything from interview technique to production methods.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tech tips for the library's Canon Vixia HG20


1.) Although the librarian will probably check, make sure the inventory in the case matches up with the contents of the case. (Make sure it is all there!)

2.) Go ahead, if you don’t already own one, and check out a tripod from Media Services. 90% of the filming that you will do should be on a tripod.

3.) Make sure the camera’s battery and back-up battery are fully charged before you head out to do some filming. EVEN IF IT HAS JUST BEEN SITTING IN THE CASE UNUSED, the batteries will be slowly dying. Allow an hour to charge the battery. If you have an electrical outlet where you are conducting the interview, then you don't have to worry about this. Bring an extension cord if you are planning to use an outlet, however!

4.) Before you head out, make sure your camera’s settings are right. Once you set them, they should not change. Chances are that the camera will be on the settings you need.

How to make sure the settings are right:

  • Turn the camera on.
  • Make sure that the thumbwheel (pictured) is set in the movie recording mode (the RED MOVIE CAMERA icon)

  • Press the FUNC button along the bottom of the screen.
  • Now you can use the joystick labeled “SET” that is on the left margin of the screen to navigate the menus.
  • If you click the joystick down four spots, you will notice that your shooting quality options are thus: MXP, FXP, XP+, SP, and LP. We want to be shooting in MXP, which is the highest quality mode. If it is not on MXP, click SET to the left until it is.
  • Next you will make sure the shooting mode is set where we want it.
  • Click the set joystick to the top spot. It should be one of the following settings: P, TV, AV, (filmstrip), or (portrait). (filmstrip) shows an icon of a film frame for CINE Mode, and (portrait) shows an icon of a human face for PORTRAIT mode. (You can see these in the photo.) I have had best results thus far with CINE mode, although you can try PORTRAIT also. There are a bunch of additional options with PORTRAIT. Don’t mess with them unless you really know what you are doing!
  • Now that the camera is in MXP and CINE mode, IT is ready for shooting. You, however, are probably not ready to start shooting yet!

5.) Plug your microphone into the camera. If you are interviewing someone, you will want to use a clip-on as you will probably neither need nor have the capacity to set up the History Department’s stereo shotgun microphone and/or have access to the microphone boom. These clip on mics are most often the best option anyhow. On the FRONT, RIGHT HAND side of the camcorder, you will see a little door. Plug your microphone into the RED outlet.

NOTE: at present, the microphone supplied with the library’s camera does not work. You MUST use a microphone that has a power source (battery) of its own or you will have complete silence on your recording! (for now, use mine.)

6.) Turn your Microphone ON and have your interviewee clip it to their lapel. Ideally, you will have them run the cord where it is not seen, like inside a jacket. Be careful – the foam windscreen and the clip come off of the microphone very easily!

If the battery in the microphone is dead, you are going to have to replace it with a fresh one. I will have a small supply of replacement batteries for you to use.

7.) Plug your headphones into the camera. It is a good idea to do this even if you are recording by yourself. It is essential that you confirm that you are getting a good audio signal. Headphones will confirm that the microphone battery is not DEAD! (i.e., recording silence!)

NOTE: You MAY get a ton of NOISE through your headphones with the HG20. This means that the A/V output is not set right. To fix this:

In movie shooting mode:
Press FUNC
Click down to the bottom menu selection (a box with lines for “menu”)
Push SET (down on the joystick)
Click the joystick to the right twice and land on the first little wrench icon
Click down six settings to AV/Headphones
Push SET
Select Headphones and push SET
Press FUNC to exit the menu

In movie viewing mode (blue movie camera on thumbwheel)
Press FUNC
Make sure furthest right icon “menu” is selected
Push SET
Click joystick to the right once
Scroll down to AV/Headphones and change setting as above.

On the HG20, the headphone setting works independently on the movie playback AND recording mode. Don’t ask me why! But I have gone ahead and changed both settings on the camera ahead of time and they should remain in this mode unless someone else changes them back.

NOTE: if the camera is set to Headphones, you will not hear anything during playback without headphones!

8.) At this point, if your subject/interviewee is properly lit and the camera properly set on the tripod, you are ready to start recording!

9.) Record a test. Have your interviewee talk into the microphone for a few seconds to try things out.

10.) Switch camera into playback mode (blue movie camera) – select the track with the SET joystick and press the joystick to play the clip. Listen to the audio through your headphones. If the headphones are buzzing furiously, go up to step 7 and follow the setting instructions and repeat the playback.

11.) Set the camera back to recording mode, and start recording your interview!

12.) When you are done, it would be a good idea to make sure your recordings are on the hard drive, so go ahead and check.

13. Turn OFF the microphone when you are putting away the equipment.

14. It is now time to head to the computer to offload your videos!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Walker Percy Documentary

Preview, Walker Percy: A Documentary Film from winston Riley on Vimeo.

On March 10 at 7:00 PM, Winston Riley will be presenting at the Nunemaker Auditorium about his upcoming film on Walker Percy. I'd like for you to be there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

External Hard Drive

I hope you all are getting lots of information for your projects this week. We need to be closing in on your interview subjects at this point. A number of you seemed to be lacking some basic secondary research in that you haven't actually *gone* to find books you need. This should have happened weeks ago.

Alas, time to think about an external hard drive. Here is a good one for way of comparison. Most drives these days are in the 320 GB range or bigger.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Research Reports

Okay, so your research reports will be due on Wednesday. Expect more of the same in class on Monday.

There is no specific format for your research report except that I ask you be as SPECIFIC as possible, giving me an inventory of all tangibles (books, articles, etc., with brief citations as well as much specifics as possible about your upcoming interviews.)

REMEMBER that the following week I want to know specifics about who you are interviewing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Preliminary Research Report

The preliminary research report is pretty basic:

Tell us (me and your peer review group) what you have accomplished, and make an evaluation of the usefulness of what you presently have in the way of the following:

books, articles, potential interviews, images, other archival or ephemeral materials.

Let it be typed, and let it be printed!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Interviewing tips

I'll be going over these more in class, but here are some interviewing tips to be thinking about:

Oral history can be used to explore almost any topic, including the history of veterans, the civil rights movement, natural disasters, the history of a business, group, or institution, and many other topics.

A. Before the Interview

The usefulness of oral sources ultimately depends on the interviewer and the questions he or she asks. Thus, background research, both of the topic being studied and the person being interviewed, is the most important task for oral historians.

The best way to arrange an interview with someone you do not know is by a letter or email, followed up with a phone call.

Check the equipment. Interviewers should be familiar with their equipment and test it prior to beginning an interview. Difficulties concerning the use of recording equipment are almost always the fault of the interviewer.

B. Asking Questions

1. It is a good idea to make an outline of topics or questions to pursue in an interview. The interviewer, however, should not become wedded to any outline or set of questions. Be flexible. The interviewee may open up new areas of inquiry not considered by the interviewer.

2. Try to rely on open-ended questions as much as possible: how, what, where, and why questions elicit the best responses.

3. Start with noncontroversial questions; save the delicate ones, if there are any, until later in the interview.

4. Do not ask compound questions. Interviewees will likely only remember one question when they begin to answer.

5. Do not end the interview abruptly. Ask some deflationary questions, such as, “Is there anything I have not asked you that you feel is important to bring out at this time?”

6. Oral historians must be active listeners. The interviewer must simultaneously monitor both the recording equipment and the quality of what the interviewee is saying while also listening for clues about areas to explore with follow-up questions.

7. Do not interrupt the interviewee. Interviewers should use a note pad to jot down things they think of while the interviewee is speaking.

8. Do not be afraid of temporary periods of silence. People, especially older adults, often pause briefly when they are gathering their thoughts or searching their memories.

9. Ask for clarification. If you don't know what something is, it is likely other people do not know as well. Try to establish at important points in the interview where the narrator was or what his or her role was in the event.

10. Do not challenge accounts you think may be inaccurate. Avoid giving your own opinions.

11. Use props if you have them.

12. Elicit emotions and dialogue.

C. Interview setting

The interview should be conducted at a place wher ethe interviewee is comfortable. It should also be a place free of interruptions, distractions, and background noise.

D. Length of an interview

Most interviews last about 60-90 minutes. Generally, interviews that go longer than two hours start to become unproductive. If the interviewee is not tired, the interviewer should be (active listening is hard work). Remember, a second interview session can always be scheduled for another time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Amicable Divorce Date

If you and your partner are not getting along for whatever reason, you may have an amicable divorce. The deadline for this divorce is:

Friday, February 5

Peer Review Teams

Here are our peer review teams. You should have the email/contact information for your peers. Everything that you hand in to me deadline-wise, you should also give to your peer reviewer(s). You will be conducting the progress interviews of your peer groups as this course goes along.

Hilary and Shelley <-> Sam and Devon

Thomas and Casey <-> Elizabeth

Taylor and Quentin <-> Taylor and Carla

Kristen <-> Julio and Camma

Isolda and Hannah <-> Jack and Jason

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Proposals, Part II

Here is part II. I can't put up part III until Monday, because I am out of Vimeo space for the week!

Proposals, Part II from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Proposals, Part I

Here are the first four proposals. I only get so much upload space on Vimeo a week, so I downprocessed the video to 760NTSC. It makes you a little taller than normal, but took a 720p HD video from 800MB plus to about 250MB

The password is what I mentioned in class as being my dog's favorite treat. If you can't remember it, think breakfast. If you still can't remember it, email me.

Project Proposals for Student Documentaries: Part 1 from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

I'll post the rest of the interviews as they process / upload

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Archive profile: Louisiana Division/City Archives at NOPL

You can get there downtown, and their collections and staff are excellent. The best part is that it doesn't cost you a thing!

I'm talking about the Louisiana Division and City Archives at the New Orleans Public Library. Be sure to take some time looking at the website. You can search the special collections including a great selection of historical photographs of subjects in and around New Orleans.

Plus you can always go down there and ask one of the helpful staff members by saying, "I'm doing a project on that and I want to accomplish this... where should I look?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guidelines for your topic proposal

This is a reminder that your topic proposals are due next Monday, February 1st. Just because you submit a proposal, it does not mean that you will end up doing exactly what is on your proposal. It may get modified a bit by me, but most likely it will be modified by you. At some level, doing creative research takes you in unanticipated directions. Seldom does the finished project match the proposal. Consider this to be a formal declaration of your starting point.

Be that as it may, here is what I expect you to turn in on Monday:

A one-page topic proposal (typed) that includes the following information:

1.) Names of the team members

2.) a "working title" of your project - this will change over time

3.) a paragraph or two explaining a) the subject matter of your documentary b) why this is an exploration of the immigrant experience in New Orleans c) some preliminary ideas as to how you plan to find information about the topic.

I'll be expecting these at the start of class to be considered "on time." If you are not in class for some reason, I'll expect you to get this to me BEFORE Monday. Absences do not extend your deadline.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Library today!

Just a reminder that we will meet in the library today for class. I'll be waiting by the circulation desk!

Friday, January 22, 2010

What can I do in 5 minutes?

Here are a couple of films that my students at Ole Miss did for the "Oxonians" project. Both are very different and can teach us a lot about ways we might go about telling our stories.

Proud Larry's: In Between The Scenes MAIN from Zack Thompson on Vimeo.

Phil Stone & Faulkner from Sarah Simonson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

St. Joseph's Day and Foodways

Below is a picture of a St. Joseph's altar (modern)

St. Joseph's Day is a religious and cultural celebration in which food and religious faith both play an important part.

What does the food represent?
Consider the ingredients, the preparation (where, when, how, why), the final shape it takes, how it is consumed.

How about the religious aspects?
Why an altar? What do the elements represent? What are the origins of the tradition? What are the expectations of the participants?

Here is a great website that discusses some of this material.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CSNO event: New Orleans in the '60s

The Center for the Study of New Orleans at Loyola will present "New Orleans in the '60s" on this coming Wednesday night, January 20. It takes place at 7:00 PM at Nunemaker Hall. More information is available here.

I will offer two grade points (2%) extra credit to any student in my 193 First Year Experience class who attends.

A morning at the Vietnamese market

I went down to New Orleans East very early on Saturday morning to take in the farmer's market that takes place there. It is organized by the Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church.

Fewer vendors showed up because of the rain, and I think the cold weather of the last two weeks must have ruined some of the more recently-harvested vegetables, because the market had primarily seafood for sale. Check out the video below:

New Orleans East Vietnamese Market from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Irish Channel and St. Alphonsus Church

The Old St. Alphonsus Church was deconsecrated in the 1970s. You might find some interesting information about it here that might even serve as the inspiration for a project!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Topic ideas

Here are some things to consider when selecting a topic:

1.) Does this topic engage the "immigrant" theme?

2.) What ethnicities does this combine with the New Orleans experience?

3.) What story do I propose to tell?