Athens Alive: New Media Capstone Project

Photo of the Athens-Clarke County City Hall. Taken moments before parking deck security (politely) asked me to leave.

I was incredibly lucky to be a part of the Athens Alive project this semester. Over the past few years, I have fallen in love with this city, and this was the perfect opportunity to get to know it better and share that with others. My team was great as well- we all feel the connection with Athens, so it made it just that much easier to work on the project.

The main objective of this project was to build a map of Downtown Athens that allows users to peer inside different locations to get a feel of the vibe. We wanted to “bring the city to life” so to speak.

Before we even had a map, I was collecting video and photo content that could be used for our site and the trailer. Whenever they were available, I borrowed DSLR cameras from the MLC technology lending desk, and ventured around town to some of my favorite places as well as those I had never set foot in before.

There was a lot of trial and error while I was first doing this. I had never had experience with DSLR cameras before, and as a result there was a learning curve. My first time out, I was taking photos and video for a few hours, and realized upon downloading them that the quality settings on the camera had been lowered significantly by the previous user. To keep it short- I never made that mistake again.

I also tried my hand at shooting time lapse photography. As seen in the trailer video, there is a scene of traffic on Broad Street during sunrise and one of the Wednesday farmer’s market at Creature Comforts. I watched countless YouTube videos on how to best shoot a time lapse and how to stitch them together into a video.

These tasks were also met with trial and error. The camera I was using would not shoot at the appropriate interval for moving people and cars, so to capture both of these time lapse segments, I had to sit in each location with my hand on the shutter release taking photos every three seconds for about ten minutes. I also learned MLC Digital Media Lab computers like to crash repeatedly when using Final Cut Pro, but not when editing video with Adobe’s Premiere Pro. (Once it was all said and done, I liked Premiere Pro better anyway…). And lastly, I also got to use the recording booth in the DML to capture the voice over for the trailer. Luckily, I did not run into any issues here.

Regardless of the trouble I ran into, it was a great learning experience, and I was happy with the final products both in the trailer and on the map.

Athens Alive Trailer- Shown at SLAM Fall 2016
Screenshot of the Athens Alive Map with video I captured at the Globe.

Much of the written content around the site is mine as well. Grace was having a difficult time going between coding languages and English, so I was glad to be able to help her out in that regard. I also created the handouts and stickers for our SLAM booth using the skills I gained in Photoshop and InDesign from my graphic communications course:

Handouts for SLAM- I’m pretty proud of that image of City Hall I made!

While this course focuses on new media, I was also glad to dabble in old media as well- paper, paint and glue. For our SLAM booth, I put together a miniature version of Broad Street to sit on our table. I was extremely glad to see how well it was received, and enjoyed all the compliments. Some said it was “pretty kick-ass” (@johnweatherford).

Grace and I awkwardly kneeling before the Athens Alive booth.

To wrap it up, New Media Capstone has been a fun experience to say the least. Stressful, but fun. I have learned from the failures and successes of trying new things, and have enjoyed putting forth effort in a project that I felt closely-related to. I was glad to show off our work at SLAM so that it could be enjoyed by many people, including our client. The real-world applications of this class have been invaluable, and it is nice to know that while I have grown and learned new skills during this class, I have also helped improve the NMI experience for students to come.