Parenting in community . . .


This is still exciting! The possibilities available using the multimedia approach to explore how we do (or do not) honor a parent’s autonomy within the community seem pretty infinite at the moment.  I think the multimedia approach can perhaps give more voice to the parent, the person who should be doing the defining. And who should have the platform and the supports to have her or his voice heard loud and clear when set against the backdrop of our American society that sends conflicting messages of self-sufficiency and autonomy, but also the “do as I say because I know best” message.

I received thoughtful reflective feedback from three classmates. They had a theme in common, encouraging me to slow down the scrolling text panes. To do that I moved the text clips to the track above the main video track and lengthened the text clip out. that of course meant I had to reset the video transition effects, which I did next. Another bit of feedback was to get rid of the “shhhh” clip entirely. I had wondered about the jarring effect of that text clip and removed it entirely and reset the video transitions.

As part of the final video project, I had used the audio recording from the previous Adobe project. In my review of the draft, I realized I needed to credit my friends Laura Adamson and Joyce Duerfeldt  for their participation and fabulous voices in the introduction, so I added their names to the credits at the end of the video.

I also needed to re-credit the open source crowd noise, which was part of the audio clip I submitted for my Adobe Audition assignment. As stated in that assignment, SoundJay explicitly allows the use of “sounds free of charge and royalty free in  . . . projects (such as films, videos, games, presentations, animations, stage plays, radio plays, audio books, apps) be it for commercial or non-commercial purposes,” provided the user follow their few simple rules.  The SoundJay sound in my video blog that came over with the audio clips was the sound of the crowd talking. This was at the tail end of the video clip, leading up to the final “Stop!”

I don’t think I can say enough how grateful I am to the Alfani family for sharing their time and experiences with me as brand new parents. To protect their privacy, I made sure to upload the video as “unlisted” on the YouTube site. I’m glad they live in my community. It will be a joy to watch them grow as parents and to watch Elijah grow to adulthood and beyond!

One piece that didn’t make it into my video story was Laura’s comment that the experience of parenthood was giving her new insight into the important work she does with home visiting and family engagement. there’s nothing like the voice of experience — especially when that person can hold her perspective and another person’s perspective side-by-side comfortably. Laura will be bringing new depth and intuition in how to support parents in the ways they want and need. Stay tuned!

Video Project Storyboard – Final

(Video address:


The Village and the Parent

I think there is a fine line in audio production in which less is probably more. However, this story seemed to invite some additional layering of sound effects, so I gave myself the freedom to experiment. I also carefully reviewed the comments from the draft audio story and spent time cutting narrative here and there, and reworking the ending for a deeper sense of continuity in entire piece. Some of the rough transition spots were smoothed by reworking how I faded the thumb harp and hand drum in and out of the narrative.

I  also shortened the introduction by several seconds, based upon feedback. I felt fairly ambivalent about doing so, as I personally liked the build-up of tension over a longer period time. However, I had also questioned the length as possibly being too long. I decided the length appealed to me simply because it gave an auditory reflection of experienced and remembered stress. One friend’s comment was fairly instructive, however, in that she felt the story probably functioned as a catharsis for me. With my only child launching into his adult life, I have been reevaluating the whole parenting journey fairly repetitively. I suppose most parents go through something similar as their children leave the nest. Gaining that bit of insight increased my willingness to adjust the introduction.

The search for open source and free sound effects that I could use in my project was quite instructive and finally took me to SoundJay.  SoundJay explicitly allowed the  use of “sounds free of charge and royalty free in . . . projects (such as films, videos, games, presentations, animations, stage plays, radio plays, audio books, apps) be it for commercial or non-commercial purposes,” provided the user follow a few simple rules. I appreciated the clarity with which SoundJay laid out their rules, actually. So many times, rules get muddied in legal jargon. Each webpage included the following injunction:

You are allowed to use the sounds on our website free of charge and royalty free in your projects but you are NOT allowed to post the sounds on any web site for others to download, link directly to individual audio files, or sell the sounds to anyone else. Remember to read Terms of Use before downloading and using the sound effects or music tracks.

The first sound effect I chose was that of a baby “cooing” — to my ear it didn’t sound as much like a coo as the beginning stage of fussiness, but it worked well in the spot I placed it (1:17). The other effect I added was that of a crowd talking. I’m actually rather proud of the way I was able to build the narrative, hand drum and crowd together and stop them at the same time (1:47 – 1:56) in a way that accentuated the story.

Out of the three tools we have used thus far (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and now Adobe Audition), I have enjoyed the Au tool the most. It has seemed the most intuitive and user-friendly of the package thus far, and I wish I had more time to play with the different features. The trial period is soon to end, however, so further experimentation will have to wait.

In terms of my final audio story — it’s not really final in my mind. If I were to start all over again, I would probably ensure that I had a clear outline, written my narrative or in some way crafted the individual points along the way first, rather than just rely on a stream-of-consciousness approach. I think the amount of time I spent replaying different tracks of narrative to cull out what didn’t work and keep what did work for the story would have been far better spent playing with some of the different effects. But, for a first go-around, I feel like I learned a great deal, and had a chance to at least “sneak” a peek at how NPR produces the radio shows I like so well.


The Village and the Parent: Audio Storytelling Draft

Well, this was a fun adventure in audio storytelling. I pondered numerous approaches and ideas when jogging or biking. There’s something about fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity that helps the brain function more holistically. Once I had the idea fairly well fleshed out in my head, I started collecting the bits and pieces I thought necessary for my story.

Blowing off the dust from my hand drum and thumb harp, I improvised some background music I hoped would complement the story. I also invited two of my girlfriends, Laura and Joyce, to provide voice recordings of parenting messages. I borrowed from my earlier recorded tutorial footage and also recorded an introduction and conclusion. After downloading the segments, I opened Adobe Audition and imported the MP3s into the project files. After which I drug the files over into several tracks and got down to business.

The first part of business included the drudge work of heavy editing. In the assigned readings, this was stressed as critical. I took it to heart and spent considerable time in removing clunky pauses, ums, sniffles and entire sections that didn’t add to the overall story. I tried focus on selecting for emotion, eliminating repeated thoughts, and identify those segments that got straight to the point. A large part of my work-a-day world consists of casting an editorial eye on written communication for plain-talk and brevity, so I was a bit surprised by how long this actually took.

I wanted to open the story building tension and capturing the anxiety created by competing voices and philosophies. To achieve this effect, I overlapped and layered the Laura, Joyce and narrator voices, and broke the percussion track into three overlapping sections. The tension resolves with “Stop!” and then the thumb harp cuts starts growing in volume as the narrator introduces the story.

At various spots, I faded in the thumb harp as a softening addition to the background, to add some flavor to the story. I also used brief percussion effects to punctuate a thought. I went back and forth several times between different track segments, arranging and then rearranging them to achieve the best possible transition and flow.  I’m not quite sure I achieved the opening gambit in a multi-part series, but hopefully it will work for you, dear listener.

Those A-Ha Moments . . .

Logo Project

A-ha! indeed! Success! I wanted to try my hand at designing a logo that would grab attention, be hopeful and celebratory, and feel inviting. I also wanted something that could work as a header for a website or a magazine logo.

As I put on the finishing touches, my first test reviewer wandered in (a successful businessperson who has designed one or two logos himself) and took a look. He thought I met my goal, and made a chuckling comment about mixing Japanese anime and philosophy with hippie-esque dreams. He did feel the cloud behind the word needed to be tweaked for a bit more coverage. So, I will add that to my list of comments to ponder in the days to come.

But, back to the success! I knew what I was going for and sketched my idea out ahead of time. I was frankly quite nervous about re-creating my sketch in Adobe Illustrator. So, I set up my new file and then opened up one of last week’s tutorials to guide me along. My confidence improved as I navigated each step, applying the effects and the color scheme I wanted to the logo. At last, some small measure of comfort with Ai. I even braved the land of Google tutorials to learn how to create the cloud shape portion of the logo, and successfully navigated the fact that the screen shots were in German, not English.

In terms of design characteristics, I wanted to create a logo that presented a sense of completion, unity, and connectedness. I wanted a logo that brought a lift to the spirits, that offered a boost of confidence. The tagline “wisdom worth sharing”  (and which I think could be positioned further to the right and lower — I’ll have to play with that) should wake some curiosity. Whose wisdom? Yours? Mine? Ours? The questions would hopefully lead the viewer to linger and explore the website or the magazine.

I think in the end analysis, I really like this draft logo because it does what Michael Tuck said in his article Gestalt Principles Applied in Design: “Gestalt principles aren’t artificial constructs that people have concocted to apply to design; they are attempts to describe and verbalize how we naturally perceive things.” Isn’t it nice to discover one’s internal optimism?

The Autonomous Parent

The Autonomous Parent

The Autonomous Parent

My first Adobe Photo Shop creation! Storytelling through collage. I’m both excited and feel the sharp nips of doubt entering this realm of creative expression. If I thought working my way through the first set of tutorials was challenging, this assignment taxed my persistence and patience.

Thankfully, I have a lovely community who offered encouragement and vitally important links to very basic Adobe PS tutorials. As well as an occasional glass of wine and the all important suggestion to get a good night’s sleep and start again in the morning. I’m not sure what was most helpful:  the wine, the sleep, or the tutorials. Probably a combination. In the end, I developed a bit more familiarity with the “free transform” button, playing with shapes and palettes, creating layers, and adding text to personal photographs to start telling an incredibly important story.

And what is the story, you ask? Excellent question!

Parenting is a rewarding, challenging, heartfelt expression of humanity. And it happens in an odd, confusing environment of autonomy and community oversight. This is part one in exploring the internal journey of parenting. The second part will take a look at the external complexity surrounding parenting. The final segment will delve into the resolution of the inner and outer forces shaping parenting.

In some ways, this first draft poses more questions than answers. What do people hope for, what do they see in the distance as they start on the journey of parenting? What are the barriers to the vision? What are the guideposts along the way? Where do they find their strength and courage?

We live in a society that values self-sufficiency and autonomy. On the other hand, we live in a society that rarely passes up a chance to share an opinion or make a buck. We are drowning in theories, tools, and opinions on how to best raise a child. How do parents navigate the changing tides? How do they trust their inner being when the outer world says not to?

Let the journey begin.

Parenting Paradigms

From the day I first announced my pregnancy, I was provided with scads of advice, directives, and opinions. No topic was untouched.

  • When was the right time to start wearing maternity clothes?
  • Should we opt for co-sleeping or use a crib?
  • How many onesies does a newborn need?
  • Cloth diapers or disposables?
  • Breast or bottle?

Labor and delivery decisions were just as fraught with nuance and complexity, with no easy answer to who would coach, who would cheer, and who should catch. And once the baby was born? Goodness! Nothing — and I mean nothing — ever passed muster, depending on who was evaluating the parent-child relationship that day.

So, in 21 years of parenting, I have learned that the world is chock full of opinion. Freely expressed opinion, whether it’s wanted or not. Opinion that cares little for the ideas or interests of the other person. Especially when it comes to parenting and child-rearing. What I thought was important was generally discounted due to my being a “new” parent. My friends who had children at the same time experienced a similar disenfranchisement.

It’s a tricky thing . . . on one hand, children are a joy. They re-ignite an adult’s delight in life. On the other hand, they can elevate functional panic to new levels.  Parents caught between the joy and the panic seem to be an easy target for the well-meaning advice givers and the advertisers.

Kids don’t come with manuals. Or at least they didn’t. But once Dr. Spock cornered the market dispensing child-rearing advice, the market ballooned with tools, advice columns and other guides for perplexed parents. Sadly, the sheer number of products and opinions do little more than further increase a parent’s anxiety level. At least they did mine. I hear from other parents that they feel pretty overwhelmed, too.

So, I wonder . . . what would it look like to learn from parents about what would best support them in all the different ways they nurture and raise children? Just what are parents interested in, what do they want or need? What have they learned? What could we learn if we took the time to actually listen instead of lecture?

So, for my COM561 Professional Multimedia Content Creation topic, I will focus on what I see as the paradigm of parenting: the tug and pull between the village and the parent. Let’s see what we learn!