Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hello World

We learned HTML basics today, thanks to our colleague Phillip! He explained to us quite clearly what is an html because, even though I know it's a vital tool for web development, I had no idea what it was... now it's pretty much understandable... I just don't know how I would be able to use it in my DVD...


Thanks to Bieke, who showed us what our DVDrom would look like if we use html to program it, I now have an idea of what to do... my only problem now is, I have to rethink the structure of the DVD because I initially thought that I'd would only be showing powerpoint presentations, but with my new found knowledge of html, I think its more practical to use Flash or html as lecture presentations.  

Right now, what I'm doing is determining the text items and the animations that I would be doing for the course I'm teaching.  And... I'm also redoing my list... because now, everything has changed.

In a good way...

Monday, May 26, 2008

What rules my life

But first, what we did today

...was present a 'storyboard' of our individual project. I took on a more general perspective of what I wanted to do, so I did a mock up on how I'd like my DVD to look like, or at least an idea of what I wanted to do.

Rudi, Sandy and Bieke were there to enlighten us, advice us and they have also suggested ways of improving our individual projects.  I found their comments, suggestions and advice very helpful because there were some things I forget to think of , or simply miss.  I know what I want now, it's a DVD rom (but if it would fit in a CD that would be great).  I had initially thought that I would produce a DVD that would both run on a standard dvd player and computer... I didn't know any better then. So now I know! Thanks to Rudi, Sandy and Bieke!

The List

I'm an obsessive "lister".   I make lists... it is always the first step in doing everything that needs to be done.  Today, I crossed out 3 items off my To Do List:

X     DVD map (the chart/map of the DVD content)
X     Course Timetable
X     Inventory of Learning Materials

... and I have a lot more to do before I draw the last line on my list.  But as of tomorrow, what I would be working on is doing another To Do list (for the week) of the powerpoint presentations I would have to improve on. After that, I move to the next item, and that is to organize the files into one folder (with proper names and tags). My target for this week is to have at least 50% completion of the content folder. If I do that, I'd have crossed off 5 items easy off the list... and doing that action gives me some sense of accomplishment. It's a good feeling.  
I highly recommend it.


Friday, May 23, 2008


I love fridays, it's full of possibilities and potentials... of FUN! Its a mindset I always have whenever the weekend arrives so even if we don't have any weekend plans, I can't help the feeling of euphoria.

Today though, I did my work in my room.  I already started it there so it was impossible to remove the post-its and my other junk from one place to another.  My chaotic arrangement makes my mind logically capable of organizing my materials so I spent the day mapping the content of my interactive DVD.

My individual project

So I decided to focus on the SFFG 20 (Social Forestry and Forest Governance 20: Communication Skills for Forestry Technicians) because I want to update it and integrate the uses of new media in its instruction.  

What I've accomplished so far is drafting the content of the DVD, making an inventory of what I have and what I should have (presentations, pictures etc.) and distributing the lessons/modules to the class days. 

My To Do's include: editing/finalizing the content, improving some of my powerpoint presentations, encode the unwritten (handwritten) exercises and activities and many many more! I'm glad it's clear to me what I should do, my only problem is, I've started doing each of them, and I'm confused as to what I should do next...

Solution: make a priority list--that's my task for tomorrow. Till then!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Midweek

What happened in Wednesday...

Sandy was our teacher for the day.  She taught us how to make a bouncing ball!
After perfecting the bouncing ball, I thought of so many things I can do with my newfound animation skill... Hmmm... I attempted to make a ball fall on a puddle (it didn't work out), I tried to make a rolling eyeball (it reminded me of the Felix the Cat clock that creeped me out so I didn't save it).  Finally, I thought about making it bounce sideways, here's the result:

I did the "pass" by searching Google on how to add motion guides, and followed it step by step...it took me a long time! I wanted to make the bouncing ball text a button, that makes the other ball fall when clicked... but I didn't know how to do that yet.

Animations are eye catching, and I would really like to make my teaching portfolio full of interactivity using Flash.  But knowing the amount of work and time involved in making them, I can settle for keeping it simple (and elegant)... you know what they say... less is more.


Today, Sander taught us how to make a Flash video with a talking head--complete with slide sync and buttons. I learned that if I want to make more tricky things with Flash, I'd have to extend my tutorial reading list with Actionscript articles. The thing with this programming language is that always remember what files you named your files and what folders they are saved in.  I learned the hard way that items in the actionscript must correspond exactly to the files you want to animate or put in the flash video. We all learned that the hard way I guess.  But the good thing is, if we can practice it, one day it wouldn't be as hard. Right. (Yes)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Starter...

What we did yesterday...

We started the week off by stating our individual projects.  I decided to focus on stabilizing my instructional materials by developing my very own teaching portfolio.  It's hard and tedious work because I have to compile and organize a semester's worth 
of lectures and exercises, but since I have some materials here with me, I can start composing and structuring it piecemeal.  Starting with my SFFG 20 course, I hope to make an interactive DVD that will facilitate the teaching of the course, accompanied by a Manual and Online Learning support for students.

It sounds hard and difficult...ambitious, would be the right term... but if I can start doing it, I'm already a step closer to realizing it, ain't I?  Anyway, my problem is... where to start???


I loved what I learned today! Storyboarding and making shotlists
are not entirely new to me because I'm so fond of watching DVD extras (Director's interviews and commentaries) and seeing "The Making of..." featurettes.  But now, I'm beginning to understand the process of creation and imagination... and I have to say, it's really hard work.

Visualization is a frequently unused talent of mine, but I really exhausted mine today. I worked and thought real hard when making the Shotlist exercise because I can't make up my mind on a scene that works.  In the end I was quite satisfied with what I did, but I knew that it wasn't perfect.  Usually I don't give up that easily, but I was really curious about what mistakes Kristof would point out to me and tell me how he would do it.  I like learning from other people because it enables me to see another perspective, one that I've missed or ignored.

What Made My Day Today

I had RICE for dinner!  I've been craving to eat hot rice for two weeks now which means I've been curbing my desire that long. I've gone on a no-carb diet before, forsaking rice at lunch and dinner but I can only last 4 days max without rice.  So I settled for the low-carb diet instead, where rice was a staple.

Thanks so much ALMA for making my dreams come true. I will sleep soundly tonight, and will have a great day tomorrow...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On Video Production: Compression

What you're seeing here is the output of our compression exercise.  We were able to compress this file in a 60:1 ratio, from 112.9 Mb to 16 Mb.  The original format is in .mov (quicktime) and then we converted it to its .mpg version.  

What I learned during this exercise was that there are so many ways of distributing video on the net, and that there are specific solutions for different intentions and contexts. We tried uploading this video in youtube... but somehow I can't find it there... So I just posted it here!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Video Production: Editing

We started editing our video recording today.  It was good that Kristof was very patient with us.  He helped us bring fluidity in our video...

We made many mistakes during filming! But like Pina said, we need those mistakes so that we could learn.  Seeing what we did wrong now makes us remember what we should do so that in editing, we get the right shots.  

It was really difficult to combine uncomfortably looking clips.  At first I thought, "Oh no! We'd have to do a retake!" But fortunately, Kristof taught us some tips and tricks that could save our project.  So what we did was to insert fades in between shots of clips with the same angles.  It made it look like some time passed in between and we were only taking the important and interesting ones... but it works for me.

What I learned today, and what I'll always remember to do is that details are very important.  They will guide us in making the right cuts and pastes (marks) in editing.  It's also strategic to edit points between motion (but be careful about details) because the transition is guided accordingly.  

Boy, we really learned something today!

Next time we'll be better.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On Video Production: Recording

Rudi taught us so many things today! What I can say is that, I am really beginning to understand how filming should be done. Back when I used to do home videos (being the designated documenter of the family), I just took my filming cue according to what is pleasing to my eye... that would be, zoom in zoom out and lots of camera movements. I realize now that it's just pleasing to My eye and not everybody's.  

I took note of some important things that will really help me improve my skills:
1. During interviews, having the camera on eye level gives a more objective perspective of the person being interviewed.
2. The angle is very important.  It conveys some 'feelings' like
 dominance (frog's) and submission (bird's)... and lots more.
3.  Always think about continuity because it makes editing much more easy.
4. Pay attention to details! Especially when using one camera and shooting different angles of the same scenes...
5. Plan your shots by making a good first and last frame.

Christoph and Kristof taught us how to use the DV cam properly, and during the exercises, all of us got a chance to play cameraman/woman.  In fact, when we wrapped up I already felt like a professional! Hahaha! It was so much fun! I just really enjoyed the day today.

Tomorrow, we'd be learning how to edit what we recorded... I hope we don't do retakes because then I'd have to bring my brown shirt... and wear it again...we'll see.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On E-Learning

Endless Possibilities

I remember this scene from a movie (it was "Red Dragon") where the blind girl was saying she remembers what a tiger looks like because she was able to see one before she got blind...but she admitted that the picture in her head must resemble something more like a goat--her visual memory was a bit foggy, she said. 

I just started realizing the unlimited potentials of presenting and delivering lectures through the internet and using video for teaching. It was said in the course reading that there is an 80% recall with audiovisual presentation, and remembering that scene from one of the many movies (a favorite actually) I've seen is just proof that we remember these stuff better than hearing or reading about it.

What really stuck to me while I was reading the course material was that the audiovisual material isn't for entertainment only--its purpose is to achieve the learning objective and when making presentations like this, it's important to get people interested in it so that they'd learn it by heart... It's 'infotainment' or 'edutainment'.

Experiential Learning

 In teaching forestry, it is important to take students to nature and personally experience it.
 That's why in our classes we have lots of field trips and study tours.  However, there are times when we can't afford or be able to get them to the field physically and that is when audiovisual materials are important.  For example, I'd like to show them the differences in ecological urban conservation here in Leuven (bikes, waste segregation, other systems) and in our country, pictures won't be enough. I think what will stick to them is when they actually see me (or someone familiar)in action-doing this stuff for real (right?).  There is just so much visual impact in movies that we're able to make quick recalls and associations with them with lightning speed.

I mainly discuss the social aspects of forestry and communication so I did a lot of experimentation back home with multimedia materials.  I'm a little bit familiar with some of the concepts, hardware and software discussed in the course reading but it was just NOW that the mystery behind it was revealed to me. So I was really engrossed while reading about the mechanics of compression and lighting & recording terminologies.

But what I really found interesting was QuicktimeVR, where you could post 360 degree pictures with interactive features! I wonder how I can integrate that in my courses? I'd really like to use it... maybe I'd do a virtual tour of a typical indigenous people's tribal village where the hotspots would be historical and anthropological artifacts that would reveal something about the tribe...that would be interesting, wouldn't it be?

I'm also planning to make a website where I could upload course materials so that students can find learning accompaniments with class lectures and discussion.  It would also be nice if I could put a discussion thread there... but I don't know how to do that...yet (maybe you can help me with that?) 

What I would like to learn more about is podcasting because, having a class with an age group of 16-22, podcasts are really popular, I think it would make them interested. And getting their INTEREST is the first thing to learning.  If we would be able to make our courses worth learning and studying then students would go and discover on their own... and that's always the best way to learn.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to Sleep

I find myself sleeping at inconsistently odd hours lately.  It must be my confused biological clock. Back in my country (Pacific Time, 6 hours ahead) I usually slept at around 2-3am.  If that stuck with me when I came here, I should theoretically be asleep at around 8-9pm.  

But I find myself getting sleepy as early as 6-7pm  or  3-4am. Given I always get 6-8 hours of rest, so if I slept at 6-7pm, I wake up at 2-3am (at 3-4am I should wake up at 10-11am). So my sleeping pattern is spaced out unevenly during these past few days, it's either I sleep early and wake up at dawn or slee
p late and wake at noon...both are extremes.

If falling asleep is hard for me, just imagine waking me up... after working so hard to get some shuteye, I won't give it up so easily... 

I need balance in my life!So, I thought, I'd device a three step resolution to help me cope with my problem:
1.  From now on, I'll keep a sleeping journal that would monitor my sleep.  Hopefully it will help me seek out patterns and stuff.  I'll be keeping tabs of the Time, Weather, whether I had ice cream (it might be a factor) etc...

2.  So, what do I do when I'm up during the wee hours of morning? I read the "Green History of the World" by Clive Ponting.  It is  interesting and informative, but after 10 pages, it m
ostly gets me back to sleep. It's a great solution to my sleeping problem.

3.  If ever I wake up at 4am again, I won't try getting back to sleep again... if I try hard enough I just might succeed and find myself still in Dreamland at 12nn... that's not good.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

What did they do?

I'm sure, whatever the story was, it was funny...

There was a street play my two buddies and I saw last night in front of the Leuven city hall.  As far as I know, it was about a newly wed bride whose husband didn't show for the honeymoon, and the rest is a mystery to me.  But it was funny...

After that we left for the city square where there was another stage. On it, there were people whose hair are being 'creatively managed'.  The hairdos were outlandish and fanciful.  They also had crazy hats made of brown paper.  It reminded me of the do's on the "Wizard of Oz" and a little bit of Willie Wo
nka's Ooompa Loompas.  I imagined what the hairdressers would've done with my hair...and I came up with this...

Hahahah! I look like a court jester! I hope I would be half as funny as I look...

DISCLAIMER:  I did not go around town looking like this... I did this at home, but KIDS: don't do this at home without your parent's permission!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Blog Newbie

This blog is a journal of my Audio Visual Learning Materials (AVLM) Production and Management Training here at AvNet in KU Leuven, Belgium.  Here, I'll be blogging about what I've been learning from the training course, my training buddies, our activities, the charms of Leuven and every single thing I personally find interesting that I feel and believe needs some kind of validation (even if it's just from me).  

I have to say, I never thought I'd ever be a blogger because I'm more of a talker, not a writer... In fairness though, I found that I can have so much fun with it because I constantly find myself thinking what I'd be blogging about today.

To my readers, I'll try to keep my rants and raves short and sweet and include in my posts, ok? Feel free to comment. I *heart* feedback.

...there are odd-new signs and symbols everywhere

We saw a sign outside the AvNet building (the green one with the four people in the middle with arrows pointing [shooting?] at them) that we found interesting... it's something new alright, and we guessed that it's a meeting place.  

I thought, hmmm, that would be a good idea! Putting something like that would make it easier to have a common reference--a benchmark on where people could wait fo
r each other!  It reminded me of the pictures I saw in a magazine given at the airplane where, at the airport there are weird 'installations' that can be a 'meeting place' for people to go to as well. 

I think we need those alternative signs for our campus (Colle
ge of Forestry and Natural Resources) where the 'meeting places'  are tree species (ex:  the miraculous Fertility Tree [they meet there to... i explained that earlier], and the leaning Dao tree etc.) so that people would know where to MEET, right?  

But Johannes explained to me that the sign was intended for emergencies like when there is fire, that's the place where people can go because it's safe... So then, the sign is multipurpose in nature, if there's no fire or earthquake, it's available for by-standers (li
ke us).

Then... it reminded me of the signs in Manila put up by the MMDA.  I find it interesting that they would reinvent the color system of traffic and public
 symbols.  Look at the picture, what is the yellow door for?

(photo courtesy: waltervillaphotos@blogspot.com)