I’m continuing to work on a mocumentary type video for the DKC. My project hasn’t changed much since I first proposed it, simply solidified. I think at this point I will be able to have portions of my video with simple music and text, and other portions that contain dialogue. As far as accomplishments go, on November 6th and 7th I was able to secure a rode mic in addition to a camera, allowing me to capture some quality audio with my footage. It took some time to figure out how to adjust the settings, but I was eventually able to do so. My next step is to begin the editing process (and potentially do one more day of shooting since I’m missing one DKC tutor in my footage). I’ll probably use Adobe Premiere on the DKC editing computer, and spend some additional time using the software in the editing suite on the first floor of the HCC if need be. I may need some help/need to do some additional research regarding working with audio in Adobe Premiere.
I still really enjoy the language of my group’s minifesto, which stated, “Coding is a valuable skill utilizing a blank canvas, creating something tangible from the nearly intangible.” I might add that coding is a product of humans and culture, and these aspects may need to be considered when coding. For example, the structure of coding may unintentionally lend itself to excluding certain groups, or making limited binary categories with little room for context.
Currently, I have a pretty good understanding of the syntax of Python in addition to the logic and structure of basic coding, such as if/then statements. My previous exposure to coding involved HTML and a little bit of Java. My experience with java, which occurred in an intro to computer science class, had given me a lot of information that assisted with constructing things like methods, and organizing code. However, my specific understanding of Python, and how to accomplish tasks utilizing it, has definitely improved. I can no undertake basic computational functions, manipulate text, and perform some basic image editing. I’m not sure if it’s enough knowledge to place on a resume, but it’s at least a good start.
The book we used to learn Python was definitely a good resource. I will say that it was a bit frustrating to try bits of code that the author specifically designed to not work, but academically I understand that he was trying to illustrate certain points regarding how the code is structured and how it works its way through problems. A huge resource was my classmates. I learned a lot simply by teaching others and being taught by others. Some basic troubleshooting could be accomplished, in addition to the practical application of creating code during class to help solidify concepts. It was great to hear from peers, and it was great to teach. This helped hold me accountable to staying on top of the material, while also providing an avenue by which to improve. Often in the act of teaching we learn ourselves, and this was a great opportunity by which to do so.
I never did get to my reach goals regarding Text III or Statistics and Visualization. Perhaps if I have spare time during winter break I could explore some of those topics on my own as a way to further my programming knowledge.
This week began by discussing our final projects. It was interesting to hear everyone’s progress and/or struggles. It definitely sounds like the semester is ramping, and time management may be an issue for a lot of people as they juggle various end of semester assignments. Once again I was able to talk with someone who was very much into audio work, and was very excited as I discussed my project. I was able to bounce some ideas off of her, which was definitely of benefit. At this point I’ve collected most of my footage, and I look forward to beginning to string it together in editing.
During the rest of the week, we concluded our Python lessons. I had the opportunity to go over a bit more basic image-editing, and some more string work. I think overall, I’ve definitely grasped the mechanics, basic syntax, and thought process of coding, in addition to most of the intricacies of Python 2. Most of the practical creative potential I reached was in regards to strings. Basic image-editing was interesting, but was similar to work I’ve done in JAVA. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get through more complex data processing applications, but this is something I could pursue on my own in the future.
I’m working on creating a mocumentary video centered on the DKC made shooting my own footage. The project has not officially changed, but I’m thinking that audio recording will be at least a smaller aspect of my project (as opposed to a major component). In the past week I was able to record a fair amount of footage on two separate days made using an EOS rebel t5i camera from the HCC desk. Unfortunately at that time they did not have a USB rode mic, so I was unable to collect audio on those days. My hope is to use that footage with music and narration. Hopefully the HCC desk will have a rode mic next week, and I can collect some video in conjunction with audio as my next step. Then I can potentially blend the two styles (narration + proper audio/dialogue). If I am pressed for time and unable to utilize a rode mic, I’ll utilize my narration/music strategy throughout the entire video. In the event that I am able to collect audio, this will be the component I will need the most help with. I haven’t worked with a rode mic before, so I may need some guidance with this, in addition to potential post-production work (manipulating audio in Adobe Premiere, etc).
This week began with my own teaching on Monday, focused on iteration and recursion by examining palindromes. The teaching experience was fairly positive, and I hope that my participants felt feel the same way. On Wednesday I was part of a group had a very in-depth examination of strings. At this point I’ve been part of multiple string-centered groups, and I feel very confident in my ability to work within the topics covered in this section. Finally, my Friday group worked on the basics of image-editing. This was my first foray into this topic, and I feel it began fairly well. I’m hoping to continue to pursue this topic into next week.
Overall, I feel fairly good about my progress in Python. I believe I have a solid understanding of the foundational skills of this coding language, and hopefully have enough to potentially explore creative projects with Python after this class if I so desire.
Today I taught the first part of chapter 7, which focused on introducing iteration and recursion through evaluating palindromes. I essentially used the monitor to type my code for the three different methods on the screen. The python web browser we originally used appeared to be for python 3, so my code did not properly run, but I was still able to take my participants through the mechanics of creating the functions. I introduced the first method, which creates a copy of the word, reverses it, and compares it to the original. I introduced iteration, which compares the first letter to the last, second letter to second to last, etc. Finally I introduced recursion, in which the function calls itself to complete a task. I also went over some of the costs and benefits of each method. For example, the first method looks neat and clean, but could hog up memory by having to create a copy. In contrast, iteration creates a longer method, but resolves the memory issue. My main self-criticism is that I only have a more general understanding of recursion as a principle and I was not able to fully explain each individual component of the recursion method. But my hope is that my examples were able to provide my participants with a solid overview of iteration and recursion as problem-solving methods and coding tools. The following are screenshots of my version of the three functions, which I retyped and displayed during the lesson.
This week has really been about solidifying some Python coding basics. On the teaching days I’ve been a part of groups reviewing/reiterating material from chapters 5 and 6. My hope is that this helps us move forward with more creatively oriented concepts in chapter 7 and beyond. A lot of coding depends on syntax and correct structure, and it’s very easy to get an error from very simple mistakes. My hope is that after this week I’ll have obtained the tools I need in order to avoid some of these errors in the future.
On Monday we had time to discuss our projects. I had a really great conversation with Ahad. My project is video-oriented, and I’ll be filming original content. While I’m very familiar with video-editing, I’m not as familiar with audio-editing and audio recording, and I know that having quality audio is very important in creating a professional-grade video. Ahad was able to provide some advice about some tips/tricks I could use to improve audio quality, and reiterated some of the microphone/camera advice I had gotten earlier. I think he’ll be a resource I use in the future if I run into issues with my project.
For my big project I’m hoping to create a video filmed and edited entirely by myself, with post-production being conducted with more sophisticated video-editing software. My project has remained pretty consistent in my overall goal, though I’ve come up with a few different options as far as the type of content I may shoot as I’ve been looking into the practical aspects of completing my filming and subsequent editing. I contacted a friend of mine who works at the Digital Knowledge Center to get some advice for which equipment to use. I was already leaning towards using the EOS Rebel T5i cameras (as I have experience using them over the summer), but hadn’t really used them for recording audio in conjunction with video. She indicated that the audio capabilities of the camera are okay, but suggested looking into a usb mic to hook on top of it (specifically a rode mic which I should be able to check out from the HCC or potentially borrow from Jesse Stommel). She further suggested looking up online videos for the equipment (which I think would be especially helpful for the microphone). In the event that I am unable to successfully record audio simultaneously with the visuals, I could potentially record voiceovers and use music in post-production to create a mocumentary/documentary type feel (similar to BBC nature documentaries or the True Facts YouTube videos). This will be a good backup plan if I’m unable to find the right microphone or if I later determine the audio that I do gather is of subpar quality. This will mean that during filming I need to make sure I have a mixture of audio-centered footage and more visually-centered footage to ensure that I am prepared for either type of video end product. My next step will be to look into securing one of these rode mics and watching some tutorials on how to successfully couple them to a camera. As my project progresses, my guess is that it will be the audio component that I will need the most help with, so I will hopefully keep in contact with my more audio-experienced friend to help with trouble-shooting.
This week was a shorter week due to Fall Break, but we still went over some new information. On Wednesday I learned more about the conditional, and on Friday I learned more about creating functions, the cultural implications of coding, and examining and manipulating strings (which I taught on Friday, which is covered in this post). In some ways I’ve progressed faster and yet paradoxically more slowly than I thought I would. It seems like I’ve started to cover some more creative aspects of coding, such as moving into the text chapters. In this regard, I’m excited for the next few weeks, as I think I’m going to be exploring more complex and creative topics. At the same time, many of the chapters we’ve covered so far have almost been review for me (covering the conditional, creating functions, etc.). While this means I may not have learned as much new content as I was expecting, this is perhaps a testament to the coding skills I’ve already built over the past year or so. I didn’t realize how translatable they would be to other languages, so this has been a pleasant surprise. Overall, I look forward to continuing to progress in Python, and delving into the big project for the semester.
Today I chose to teach a chapter 5 text topic. This section essentially discussed how to navigate different strings and adjust outputs from them. During my teaching I went over the basic structure of creating different string outputs, which I outlined as ‘string’ [ _ _ _ ]
I described how the first blank essentially tells the program when to begin, the second blank tells the program where to stop, and the last blank tells where to skip (where applicable). In these spaces, you can have integers corresponding to the list number of each letter (0 for the first letter, ect). If you are starting from the very beginning or the very end, you can use a colon. And finally, if you wish to begin counting from the back, you can use a negative number (so -4 would tell the program to start 4 letters from the end).
After going over the basics of navigating strings, I was interested in further exploring skipping. The immediate application that I could envision was using the feature to create a sort of secret code. I encouraged my participants to create a function with what was essentially a nonsense list, where with a skip function, a message could be revealed.
The above is a copy of the example I did to demonstrate the task I had in mind. I used ls as my filler letters to make what I was doing easier to visualize. My group seemed pretty impressed, and I thought it was a rather neat way to apply a creative/functional task from the skip feature. Furthermore one of my participants said she now understands this section of the book, which really pleased me as a teacher.
Our table had 3 teachers today, and I was last, so I was a bit pressed for time. Furthermore, not everyone had immediate access to their Python programs, so I essentially had to provide the demonstration (as opposed to having all of my participants create their own personal secret code). However, my hope is that some of my participants might be interested in exploring this task or other applications of the topic on their own time, now that I’ve hopefully provided them with the tools to successfully do so.