Week 3: I Haven’t Seen the Sun in Days…

What week is this again…week 3? Man time flies! It seems like it was only the first week of Bootcamp! This week was a mouthful, literally (see 5-picture story), and we all got a chance to learn new things about the endless aspects of Digital Storytelling. First of all, I had to figure out a way to put into words what Digital Storytelling was. This is actually more complicated than it sounds because it’s hard to define what we see and take for granted every day. (It’s like trying to describe what “sweet” tastes like. Impossible!) However, I feel that I came up with a successful definition that even gained cogdog’s seal of approval!

The Shape of Stories Assignment

The 2nd thing we learned was how basic stories are commonly structured. Using the brilliant mind of Kurt Vonnegut and his “Shape of Stories” method, I constructed a story arc using an episode of My Little Pony entitled “Sonic Rainboom.”After creating one of these, I started to realize that A LOT of movies and books use these same mechanics to structure their plots. I don’t know whether it is a good thing that I realized this or a bad thing, since I’ll never be surprised at how a story ends anymore…

Previous DS106 Students’ Projects

Tuesday was a time to pay tribute to our DS106 Ancestors by looking back at their final projects. This group was incredibly talented and motivated to provide their viewpoints on digital story telling! I skimmed through each of their final projects and admired how eager they were to display their visions. My favorite in particular was Kiersten’s Toy Story Mashup which sent me on a major nostalgia trip.

Daily Creates

And now the fun stuff! THE DAILY CREATES! I seriously love doing these every week because they give me a chance to take a break from boring 6 page papers to do something that I love to do; be creative. This week I did 4: The 5 Star Breakfast, The Rude Blue Screen of Death, My New Invention, and  My Biggest Fear. The 5 Star Breakfast consisted of my usual breakfast, burnt toast with a Poptart and water. When you have a class at 9am on the other side of campus, you don’t really have time to eat a fancy, gourmet, bacon and egg filled, continental breakfast. This is college; where healthy meals are scarce and homework is plenty! My version of the Blue Screen of Death is a  error message that clearly hates the computer it’s running on…and the user running it. My New Invention was inspired by an episode of Jimmy Neutron where Jimmy used this pocket sized storage cube to store everything. This would be a nifty device because it would never run out of space, so one could shove a convertible into it and still have room for a Hummer. Finally, my biggest fear is a bit unusual. Since I was younger, I’ve always been afraid of these harmless floating objects, to the point where when we had to work with them in elementary school, I would pretend to be sick to leave class. Even in college, these objects scare me more than spiders. I cant even look at this video without cringing a bit…. Oh no! I was busy having so much fun with these Daily Creates that I forgot my paper is due on Canvas soon! Ugh!

Picture 3

The next assignment was to compile 5 photos and create a story with them. Since I uploaded my own photo set, I had to tell my story only with pictures and no text. This is a key part of digital storytelling because it is using photos on an electronic medium to convey a message rather than reading a linear explanation. It allows the reader to mentally create their own stories using only the information given to them. I’m not going to explain what my photo set means, I’ll leave you to figure it out, or you can create your own story using them! I’ll just tell you that it is based on a true story of deep regret and anguish.

Comment Groups

Finally, all of us were placed into comment groups to analyze and provide feedback on each others blogs. I enjoy this system because it gives us a chance to have our material reviewed by fellow students who are learning about the topics at the same pace. I found some of the comments I received on my posts to be extremely helpful since some of them inspired me to change a few things on my layout. Likewise, I was able to offer some advice on ways to improve one’s design, such as making it easily navegatable so potential employers wont have to waste time figuring out who’s blog they’re reading and what their website’s theme is. I feel so honored to be in a class with so many creative people!

In the end there was a good amount of tasks to perform this week, so much so that if it weren’t for the “Weekly Summary Checklist” on the course blog, I’d be a lost puppy right now. But once you know the list of things you must complete, and if you can get them done early, you’ll get some downtime to add extra things to your blog and even make a few more Daily Creates for fun! I learned some new functions on Twitter that I can now use to my advantage, and I started dusting off my Skype. Speaking of Skype, next week is the week where I co-host on the DS106 Show . I’m excited and terrified at the same time since I’ve never discussed anything live before, and I cant edit out anything if I mess up. The most I can do is give it my all and attempt to feel confident about the topic. Week 4 is around the corner with a baseball bat, but I’ll be ready with an Ak-47!

Sonic Rainboom! The Story Structure

In the video we reviewed, Kurt Vonnegut discusses the common ways that stories are structured. I used his ideas and applied them to an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (don’t laugh! these aren’t your average ponies!) entitled “Sonic Rainboom.”

In this episode, Rainbow Dash, a blue Pegasus, practices for a contest called “The Best Young Flyers Competition.” The winner of this contest gets the chance to spend the day with the Wonderbolts, the greatest team of flyers in all of Equestria (also Rainbow’s idols) The central problem of the episode arises when Dash figures out that she can’t perform the legendary Sonic Rainboom, and she believes that she’s going to blow it at the competition. In the end, after a major minor inconvenience, she does eventually perform the technique and meet her childhood heroes.

I chose to start off Rainbow Dash’s story arch a little above the “average protagonist line” because Dash is a gifted pegasus who’s speed is nearly incomparably to any other flyer, which gives her character a small advantage. When she discovers that she cant do the Sonic Rainboom her position on the timeline goes down and continues to decrease until her friends arrive to cheer her on, which causes it to go back up slightly. Now here’s where the 2nd conflict arises; Rainbow’s friend, Rarity (a preppy fashionista,) is so busy admiring her newly acquired wings, that she completely forgets about Rainbow Dash’s nervousness. This new conflict reduces Rainbow Dash’s confidence once again, and even more as the episode progresses and Rarity gains more of the other ponies’ attention. Finally, Dash hits her lowest point when Rarity decides to enter the competition herself  to show off. (Some friend she is!) Miraculously, Rainbow’s luck changes when Rarity’s wings melt in the sunlight and she begins to fall to her doom! How does this boost Rainbow up on the timeline? Well this is the exact catastrophic incident that Dash needed to give her the wing-power to perform the Sonic Rainboom. After this incident, she wins the competition AND gets to meet the Wonderbolts, which propels her story to OFF SCALE HAPPINESS!

This episode is one of my favorites of the series and I encourage others to watch it! Sure, in most of the episodes there’s usually a happy ending for the mane main cast, but it’s not about the ending. It’s about the journey traveled to get there!

Side Note: This series is not just for girls anymore. There is a huge group consisting of millions of fans called Bronies, men ages 15-30 who enjoy the series. Not kidding! There’s even a Brony Club at UMW!