jboyl5av on Oct 29th 2008

For one of the first times this semester, I watched the film before the lecture on historical content. My impression? Matewan, as far as historical films go, was pretty acuarte to the events surrounding West Virginian coal miners unionizing in the 1920s, as well as to the Matewan Massacre. BUT….I haven’t been so bored by a movie in a long time. Even if a movie is historically acurate, it does nothing to alter public perception if it can’t even capture my attention – someone who enjoys historical films. I kept checking the time every 5 minutes, hoping it would be over soon, but alas, it continued to drone on. One thing that did not help the film’s case in my mind is that the actors seemed to mumble a lot. Maybe this was an unfortunate product of their attempts to acheive Appalachain accents, but it made the diaologue difficult to understand, and the dvd lacked subtitles.
Apparently this film was low budget. Even so, jewels have been known to emerge out of little money…well I would not call Matewan a jewel. I did enjoy the performance by the young preacher boy who I am not sure even existed historically. I always love watching James Earl Jones in movies, but even he could not save this one for me…his portrayal as Few Clothes Johnson was that of a noble Black man, but more like a follower of the union, rather than a leader – especially towards the end when he was picked to execute Joe. He seemed rather feable and naive when holding that gun.
Overall, even though this movie took less historical liberties than a lot of films we have seen this semester, its impact on me was not significant.

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The valiant effort that is Glory

jboyl5av on Oct 9th 2008

After watching Glory, my first impression was that this was one of the first films I have seen for this class that actually takes into account primary source documents – the personal correspondence of Colonel Shaw. Not only does the film cite the letters as its source for the depiction of historical events, but goes further to provide narration from the letters to further the plot. I have to give props to the filmmakers of Glory for a valiant effort, for their depiction of history actually comes from a man who lived it. Although Gone with the Wind will always have a special place in my heart, with its sweeping epic nature and the romantic saga between Rhett and Scarlet, Glory is many steps above the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s romance novel of the Old South, in terms of historical accuracy, for sure. Not only was the history major part of me appeased by the filmmakers’s efforts to make the movie as accurately as possible, but the obsessive movie goer side of me was also quite entertained. The story of the 54th was a moving, one that tugged at my heartstrings till the very end when Matthew Broderick was thrown in a pit with 45 of his men, face down in the sand. I appreciated the performances by all the famous black actors of the 1990s, including Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, as well those by Matthew Broderick and Carey Ellwis, who will always be Westley(Princess Bride) or Robin(Robin Hood: Men in Tights) in my heart. I am glad that Hollywood chose not to make the heroic story of the men of the Massachusetts 54th into a sappy love story with a happy, dramatic ending. In all the respects mentioned in the above rant, Glory was glorious.

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A test and Pocahontas

jboyl5av on Sep 3rd 2008

After watching Pocahontas, I feel the need to discuss, but first this test to see if it works.

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Final Post

jboyl5av on Apr 24th 2008

DONE!!! The project is done, the website is done, and I have finished my reflection. Digital History has certainly been an experience this semester, one that I learned a lot from. But I am certainly glad to be finished. I am really happy with our final product, but if I had to do the semester over again, I would do a lot of things differently, such as starting everything earlier and making more realistic deadlines. I would have also liked to be more helpful in other aspects of the project that my technological proficiency prevented me from participating in, such as the website creation. I probably would have modeled the structure of our group differently as well. I really like how the James Farmer group structured their project, assigning each person as a manager, rather than arbitrary responsibilities. One thing I did like about this group was the ability to multi-task while in class, which enabled us to get more things done. But all in all, because of this class I have been a Google convert and versed in many technological tools I probably would never have even known about.

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Coming to a Close

jboyl5av on Apr 19th 2008

So with the project due date only a few days away now, everything is certainly coming to a close. The common theme in all of the work I have done for this project is the countless hours spent waiting for files to upload via UMW’s unbearably slow network. But now almost everything is uploaded and placed into the proper exhibits, minus a few articles that Matt had to separate for me that got scanned to a batch, or rather one giant file. The tedious nature of scanning files, editing files, transcribing interviews and uploading everything into the website has been extremely frustrating at times, but certainly has forced me to be patient, as well as taught me the fine art of squeezing time out of an incredibly hectic schedule to get everything done. For the past 3 weeks especially, I have been living at the library, as well as Panera’s stealing their free high speed wi-fi to upload files. In fact I have frequented Panera’s so much lately I believe I have tried every soup, sandwich and salad they offer. Everyone in the group has worked extremely hard to get to our final product, especially over the past few days. We wanted to get everything polished for Friday’s presentation, which I think went extremely well. It was so nice to see our website in its current form, timeline problems fixed and all. It was very satisfying as well to see the individual elements that each group member has worked on, fit together so nicely. I am just proud of our group. The experience of working with UMW’s history, through research and oral history has been a wonderful experience, and has given me such pride as a student. But I have to say, I am glad that this project will be over come Tuesday, because it has been a very long and arduous semester.

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The never ending project…

jboyl5av on Apr 9th 2008

So after spending nearly every evening in the library for the past two weeks, searching through 10 years worth of Bullet issues, I have finally completed scanning my portion of the archives, 1971-1980. Now the next step: uploading everything into the artifact section of Omeka. I also need to isolate important events out of the Bullet articles I scanned and write a description for each so Kellye can input them into the timeline. There are also still interviews to be edited and transcripted, which should keep me very busy for the next two weeks. At times it seems as if this project is never ending…of course it must.

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One project down, two more to go

jboyl5av on Apr 1st 2008

DONE!!!….At least with uploading videos to youtube, after the painful process of waiting for 20 min for my computer to save the windows movie maker files into movie files…and then another 20 min for youtube to upload the video, everything is up on the internet…now we just need to embed the files into our website and timeline. I am currently in the process of extracting important articles out of the Bullet issues from 1971-1980, as well as creating a written transcript for the interview….hopefully these things will also be up on the internet by Thursday/Friday.

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wrapping it up

jboyl5av on Mar 29th 2008

So this project certainly has taken a lot longer than our group originally thought, but we seem to be seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. After I finish uploading all the edited video clips onto youtube that I have been working on, Kelley will then embed into our timeline. This weekend I am heading off to the library to finish searching through the Bullet archives of the 1970s, to add more articles to our artifact section in our website. After I finish that tiny project, I need to finish writing the transcript for the interview, which is long overdue. I put the transcript on the backburner for the sake of finishing the editing of the video footage. We have a projected completion date for our project – April 3rd, which is this Friday. On Thursday, our group will meet to try to put everything together and get things wrapped up. Here’s to hoping we can get everything done….

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Getting out the word

jboyl5av on Mar 20th 2008

So with the Centennial celebration this past weekend, our group thought it would be a good idea to try to get the word out about our project, with so many alumni on campus. Matt and Kellye made some great fliers and for the better part of Friday afternoon before the convocation, I attempted to find strategic places to put these fliers. I was encouraged when I later returned on Friday evening for my Centennial Concert dress rehearsal, to find some of the tear-away tags on the fliers I had put up with our e-mail and website information torn away. Even if we only get 2 or 3 alumni out of campaign effort this past weekend, it would be wonderful. I know Roxanne also stood outside the convocation handing out fliers personally to some alumni. We will just have to see. On another note, I hope to have the transcription and edited video I have been tirelessly working on up and running in a few days. The next project I am going to start on after once I finish my adventures in editing will be a journey to the UMW archives to find some interesting articles in the Bullet that can help fill up our archive section on the website.

P.S. I sort of forgot to press the publish tab on my last blog which is actually dated back to last week – Thursday, March 13

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My adventures in video editing

jboyl5av on Mar 20th 2008

So after several hours spent editing raw footage on windows movie maker, I have gained great appreciation for the fellows that actually do this kind of a thing for a living. I have learned that the process takes much patience, but I certainly am getting very familiar with the software. One thing I have decided to change to make this process a little easier in the future is to put a stricter time limit on the interviews – it is much more difficult to cut down an hour of raw footage into a 20 minute edited video than it would be to turn a 30 minute interview into a 20 minute segment. Another challenge in the process is deciding exactly what is important in the interview, and what should be cut. While editing the footage, I have to keep the question of “how is this relevant to the purpose of our project?” in the back of my mind. I never heard back from my interviewee about artifacts, so I am going to attempt to contact him again. I should be done editing the video very soon, and then we can get it up on Utube and on our website. The next step in further progress for our group will be to gather a few more alumni to interview, which is something our group needs to discuss.

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