Narrative 1

Introduction

Welcome to the Narrative Page! This page shows what I did in the months from around November all the way to February, in English, Digital Media, and Film. I explored how good stories are told and structured, how to tell good stories myself, and how to create those stories in all different mediums, from written short stories to recorded audio to dialogue-less films. When you scroll to the Story page, you’ll learn about how we learned to write effective stories in English class, and how we used these stories in Digital Media to create diverse audio stories full of sounds and music and life. Scroll further to the illustrations page, where you can see all the artwork I created for this website and just for fun. And finally, head down to the Short Film page, where you can see the long process of learning about narrative storytelling through lessons and exercises, pitching an idea and going through pre-production, shooting, editing, and months later having a final product to show the world. Thanks for visiting, and have fun!

Story

What was the assignment in English? Was your inspiration for your story?
The assignment given in English required us to write a short story, simple as that. We had to come up with a protagonist and answer character questionnaires about them, as well as come up with a simple enough plot. Though in the past dialogue wasn’t allowed, this year we were allowed to use it. My story was actually inspired by Hawkeye, believe it or not. In the comics, Hawkeye is deaf or partially deaf. I’m not an avid comic reader, but I had seen posts and comments about it. I thought about how cool the audio effects would be for a deaf superhero, putting the audience in their shoes, the advantages and disadvantages. So I created my story around that, making Cyclone into my deaf superhero protagonist, and throwing her into a situation where her deafness would be both a weakness and a strength.
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Explain how you produced the audio version of your story.
Because of the content of my story, the audio was a lot more complex, but a lot more fun. I had to use sharp cuts in and out to create the effect of quickly losing and gaining the ability to hear, as well as the shifting volumes and tones. I had a lot of references to sound in my story, so I had to add in a lot of different sounds. On the bright side, this made it easier to figure out what sounds I needed, but it also required more sounds and more effects to make the sounds match the story description.
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What did you value from the writing to audio version of your short story?
I really valued the discovery of the differences between writing and audio. When writing, I barely thought about actually producing the sounds, so it was very strange to have to think and work harder to actually make the audio happen. It’s easy to make up whatever you want, but to bring it to life was much harder. I appreciated that lesson in script to screen, or audio in this case. I also really valued how much first person character added to the audio, it made it far spunkier and fun to read, taking away boring monotone.
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Deaf-initely Super
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I heard the bank alarm ringing just fine, but the screams seemed to echo, coming in and out of focus. I flew down to the scene of the crime, landing in a stance ready for a fight, but it was all quiet. Great. I had just heard alarms and now I couldn’t hear a pin drop. I would have thought it wasn’t just me losing hearing if I couldn’t see Pyromiss and her henchmen yelling at bank tellers and citizens alike. Something must have been wrong with my hearing –  I smacked my ear, still trying to register any sounds. I flinched as screaming and sirens filled my ears, only to disappear just as quickly. My eyes caught sight of Pyromiss laughing maniacally, hands on fire. Smacking my ear once again, I caught the tail end of her laugh, caught up in static. I couldn’t just stand there smacking myself in the face, though. I had to fight, despite my… technical difficulties.

I bust open the door (I assume with a bang, but I barely heard a creak) and stepped into the bank. The polished marble floor reflected my red hair and less-red-but-still-autumn colored costume which brightly stood out against white. Pyromiss turned to me, her hair in a blaze of blue-hot flames.

“So, Cyclone, we-” suddenly it was like someone hit mute. Her mouth was still moving, but no sound came out. No sound was anywhere. And just as quickly “-ish like a dog!?” Pyromiss screamed out. I grit my teeth at the sudden sound, my face scrunching up. This just wasn’t my day. Cyclone, queen of flight, enemy of the fiery Pyromiss and hero to all, had broken hearing aids. This was just my luck. Bad enough, I had become deaf in my teenage prime and had to build special hearing aids to keep my superhero gig, and then they just broke out of the blue against my arch nemesis. It could have at least been a mugger or something, not a crime lord. Crime lady? It didn’t matter. What did matter was the awful feedback loop I seemed to have triggered by repeatedly hitting myself in the head.

Pyromiss said something else, menacingly pointing a finger at me. I saw her two henchmen leer towards me, and I wanted to roll my eyes. The last thing I needed right now was a fight. But I was the one who busted down the door in fighting stance. I put up my fists and was about to punch when I flinched back. The alarm sound had invaded my ears again, twice as loud. I must have messed with the volume, and now it was biting me in the butt. Struggling against noises that seemed to barrage my ears at escalating volumes and fists being thrown at me, I managed to get in a few punches. But the on and off hearing made it way too hard to concentrate. Superheroes needed to hear! So they could hear footsteps and explosions and gun noises and, well, bank alarms! And here I was, stuck being able to hear everything and nothing at the same time.

I was getting pummeled. Absolutely destroyed. Like a pee-wee football kid playing in the NFL with none of the guys playing against him showing any mercy. I felt myself stumbling, and I saw in the reflection on the floor a face full of freckles. This girl had nice brown eyes. And they were getting closer. And closer. And closer – oh that’s just me about to fall onto my face, being reflected back in high definition for my enjoyment. I would love to say I heard a sickening crack on impact, but I missed that part. I only felt blood gushing from my nose. My hearing aids don’t like me very much, though, and they decided to miss the interesting crack of my nose but pick up the jeers and laughter of the henchmen and Pyromiss herself, who I’m sure was about to light the place on fire and hightail it out of there.

Am I really gonna go down like this? I thought to myself. The smell of blood was strong in my nostrils, like I was sniffing all the pennies in the bank. The pennies that were being stolen. The laughters and taunts stopped and started with all the other sounds, and felt like they were getting louder and louder every time my hearing aids decided to pick them up. I felt myself twitching.

Is Cyclone really gonna go down like this?

I shoved one hand underneath me and pushed my face off the ground. Blood dripped from my nose like a leaky faucet. I could no longer see my face in marble, and didn’t desire to see if blood was as polished and reflective. I turned my face, letting the feeling of the trails of blood rushing down my cheek stay with me. Reaching to my ear, I felt the cool metal of my hearing aid. It seemed to vibrate with sound. Bank alarms. Henchmen. Laughter. Bones breaking. Sirens screaming. I wasn’t about to take this anymore. I knew how to fight, and I sure as hell didn’t need a hearing aid to kick Pyromiss’ ass. I’ve heard all of her evil monologues. I didn’t need to hear another one.

I ripped out one hearing aid. Pushing myself to my feet, I reached up and ripped out the other. Bloodstained cheeks and deadly cold eyes, I stood up and faced Pyromiss.

I hope I look like I mean business. Because I sure as hell do now.

I didn’t even try to speak. She didn’t need to hear my valiant statements. She needed to hear the sickening crack of her nose breaking. I felt my knuckles pop under my hand, pressing them down. I think one henchman gulped. Good.

I flew full speed at Pyromiss, knocking her to the ground. She tried to throw fire, but I dodged it easily. Without the distraction of sound, my eyes were quick to spot even the tiniest glimpse of movement. She was predictable. I moved around her, ducking and dodging. She couldn’t lay a hand on me anymore. I knew what she was going to do before she did it. The only thing I regret was not being able to hear her screams of frustration.

And when I kicked her down from behind, I also regretted not hearing what I’m sure was a far more delightfully sickening crack of her nose breaking. I put a foot on her back. She wasn’t getting up anytime soon.

I looked up to see police with the henchmen in handcuffs, staring at me in awe. Sorry officers, I didn’t even hear you come in! I let them take it from there, not saying a word, merely looking at an officer and jerking my head down to Pyromiss. He got the message. I strut out of the bank, hearing aids still safe in my pocket. What? I wasn’t about to waste years of work and research in one fight! But I didn’t think I would need them as often anymore.

Below is a screenshot of the workspace I used to create the story.

A screenshot of an adobe audition workspace that was used to create my short story

Illustrations

In digital media, we stepped up the creativity on the websites using header images that stretch across the page. The best part was, we got to make them ourselves. I created the images in photoshop if I drew them, and edited them there if they were originally pictures. Let’s go through them, one by one.
Close up of the center of a guitar in the dark
My first image is one I took a while ago in a camera exercise. I really love how this image looks, and I wanted to use it again sometime. My narrative webpage seemed like the perfect place, especially seeing as how many of my elements have to do with sound and music. My narrative story is about someone who is deaf and dealing with sound, and my narrative film is about a guitarist. It tied in really well with everything, so it was the obvious choice for banner one.
A female superhero stands in front of fire. Below her, there is a frequency.
My second image reflects the story I wrote in English class. My story was about a deaf superhero who wears hearing aids in an attempt to fix her problem, but during a fight they break and she has to deal with haywire audio. This was one of the first times I used a Wacom tablet and did digital art, so I played around with brushstrokes and just tried to find a rhythm by creating shapeless crazy fire, which was created by the villain in the story. Because of the theme of sound, I also decided to include a sound wave at the bottom.
A witch with a purple hat and cape uses her wand to sent stars into the night sky.
My third image was an obvious step up from the previous one in terms of art skill. This little witch is a character I’ve drawn for a while. She’s simple to draw and a lot of fun, so I decided to transfer her to the screen in my first digital art attempt. I had a great time drawing her, and honestly this may have hooked me on digital art. She has nothing to do with anything story-wise, but she’s an important character to me and I wanted to create something special for my illustrations banner.
A girl looks through a window and admires a guitar for sale.
My final image is a screenshot from my short film. I didn’t want to draw anything because I had so many shots I really enjoyed from my film, and wanted to highlight them. This one is a favorite of mine. Shooting this was really fun, we had some laughs yelling at each other through doors and pressing our faces on the glass. The actress, Emory Olander, was awesome to work with and had great facial expressions. This one of pure joy and excitement as she looks at the shiny new guitar she’s dreaming of is one of the best, so I decided to make that the introduction into my short film.
Up next are my personal illustrations. I created these as part of an assignment for Digital Media. I like to sketch on sticky notes, so I decided to re-create some of the mini drawings I’ve done in digital format. I was able to add more colors and details and play around more in the digital medium, so I had a great time. Here are the 3 pieces I created.
A floating humanoid without arms has branching eyes all looking at it
In this piece, which I simply titled Eyes, I redrew a sketch from a while back. I really enjoyed this piece when I made it the first time, and translating it into digital was a fun challenge.
A witch with a purple hat and cloak uses her wand to water a yellow flower
This piece is titled Watering Flowers, and was one of my favorites to make. This little witch character is really important to me, and I finally found a good way to translate the scribbly way I draw into the digital medium. By using the lighter color on her cloak and hat, I made it look the way I wanted without having the background bleed into the hat and cloak. I’m super happy with how it turned out.
A wiggly red demon smiles evil.
This drawing was my fourth ever fully digital drawing. I had an amazing time creating digital art, and in this piece I pushed myself a little bit more to challenge the style I have in traditional. When I create traditional art, I have a very sketchy loose style, with messy lines. This was harder to put into digital art, especially with the demon. The eyes were particularly difficult, as I had to figure out where I wanted what colors to bleed through the sketchy lines. I had also never done real backgrounds before, so I got to try some new ideas with what the background would be.

Short Film

In Film, we do exactly what you expect. We make films. Our first film was experimental, but recently we were challenged to create a narrative film with no dialogue. Before we could get started though, we had to go through a few exercises to understand the film language used in narratives. We started with learning about Griffith and Griffith’s pattern, which establishes a scene using wide shots, medium shots, and close ups.

Then we learned the art of suspense by creating and editing our very own suspense scenes.

Finally, we created a chase scene on our own to put our knowledge of the 180 degree rule to the test. I failed that test, but my failure in the chase scene really helped me keep the 180 degree rule consistent in my narrative.

After those exercises, we were ready to create a movie. We didn’t go through the entire process required in making a movie, but we did pitch our ideas, write a synopsis, and created a storyboard for our film to help guide our story and show what shots we were going to have. The pre-production elements can be seen below, including the original synopsis and storyboards.
A teenage guitarist lives a fairly well-off life. Walking home from school one day holding an old guitar case, she notices a shiny new guitar in the window of a store. She wants that guitar. She rushes home and opens a paper, scanning through and ex-ing out job after job. All hope seems lost until she looks back at her guitar and something clicks. Running out of the house with her guitar, she plops down on a street corner. She puts down her guitar case and opens it, pulls out her guitar, writes something on a piece of cardboard, and places the cardboard in front of the empty guitar case, reading “please give money.” She strums the guitar, smiling. It’s the perfect plan. Then she looks up and across the street sees another girl setting up in a similar way, placing a cardboard sign in front of a hat and doing some warm up stretches, dancing a little bit. The dancer has far dirtier clothes and has tennis shoes with holes, not real dancing shoes. The dancer and the guitarist lock eyes, look each other up and down, and glare. This is now a contest. They each want money off the same street. They begin to perform, the dancer dancing, the guitarist playing, and times speeds up as they each get some money. The guitarist packs up and walks home, looking longingly at the new guitar as she passes the shop window on her way. This continues for several days, the set up, the performing, the guitarist going home, the two girls occasionally sharing glares. One particular day, the guitarist is especially popular and earns much more money, and shows it off slightly to the dancer, giving her rude looks. The guitarist counts the money and realizes that she might have enough for the guitar. As she’s counting the money, she gets a text from a contact labeled “mom” that says something along the lines of “come home soon, we’re going out to dinner.” The guitarist rolls her eyes and begins to pack up her stuff and goes home. We then see a whole family leaving the home, the guitarist trailing behind slightly. The family is walking down the street, and the guitarist notices what street it is: it’s the street that she and the dancer perform on, except she’s on the dancer’s side. As she walks, she notices as figure where the dancer usually performs, sleeping. As she walks by, everything seems to go in slow motion as the guitarist realizes it is the dancer, with bags behind her. This realization hits the guitarist hard, as she believed the dancer went home like she did. Her family pulls her along and the moment breaks, but the dancer still can’t get that out of her head. The next day, she walks to the guitar shop, looks at her money and the guitar, and guilt is spread across her face. Does she really need this? She looks back up at the store window and finally decides that no, she doesn’t. Someone needs it more. She leaves, and we see her enter a dance shop. Then we see the dancer, getting ready for another day trying to earn money, and the guitarist walks up to her. The dancer is wary of the guitarist, but then sees the guitarist pull out new dancing shoes and an envelope, giving them to her. Inside the envelope is all the extra money she had earned. The dancer looks at it, unbelieving but grateful. Then the guitarist sits down, strums her guitar, and gestures to the dancer, as if saying come on, dance! The dancer starts warily as the guitarist plays, but picks up soon, the two now smiling as they work together.
First 20 storyboard cards
next 20 cards of Act 1
Last 7 cards of Act 1
First 20 cards of Act 2
Next 20 cards of act 2
Another 20 cards of act 2
Final 20 cards of act 2
First 20 cards of act 3
Final 6 cards of Act 3
Pre-production was over, and finally we began actually shooting our film. It was difficult work to get all the shots we wanted and find the right location, as well as keep continuity over weeks of work. The shots changed and things went wrong, but that’s all part of the process. Editing was difficult with so much footage, and after showing a rough cut, we got back to work fixing mistakes and spending h0urs cleaning up the film. We learned about the strict rules for credits and how to color grade during the editing process, and eventually we finally came out with the final product. Afterwards, we also had fun creating a quick trailer for our movies for showcase.
The narrative film Strings and Shoes

This was quite the process. It’s crazy to look at the calendar and realize that I pitched my original idea in November, and finished the project in February. I’ve never really worked on a project for that long, especially one that requires so much dedication and time. This process taught me patience, how to adapt better to problems, how effective stories are told, and how to learn from the many, many mistakes made along the way. But looking back, I had a lot of fun and it’s crazy to watch my film and see that I made that, I had the idea and made it into a reality. It’s pretty amazing. As a little extra behind the scenes, below is a screenshot of my editing workspace.
A screenshot of a premier pro workspace for the film Shoes and Strings