Tag Archives: video

Jam of the Week: “Twilight of the Thunder God,” by Slaughter of the Bluegrass

Slaughter of the Bluegrass is a Swedish folk band that does bluegrass covers of death metal songs. In this case, they’re covering Amon Amarth’s “Twilight of the Thunder God.” The video above is the original Amon Amarth music video, with the sound cut and replaced with the SotB version of the song.

I chose this song, and this cover in particular, to talk about mood. I don’t have room here to discuss death metal in depth (although I could, and it would take a while), which is why I linked the original version above. You should go and listen to it, but suffice to say, death metal is pretty different from bluegrass. Although the lyrics are the same, these are basically two different songs. The original is much darker, much heavier, and much growlier than the cover.

This makes for a very different presentation coupled with the video, because the two versions offer very different moods, to use a literary term. Mood is used in writing to evoke certain feelings or emotions in the audience, and the same can be said of music. Bluegrass, despite sometimes having pretty dark lyrics, usually comes off as bright and cheerful because of the way it’s performed. Death metal tends to come off as aggressive, angry, or gloomy, even though the lyrics may not be any of these things.

The mood you present to your audience can seriously impact the way they interpret your writing. Think carefully about what you want your audience to feel, not just what you want to tell them, and construct a mood that works with your writing. Or give them a mood that doesn’t quite mesh with the content of your story, like Slaughter of the Bluegrass did it with “Twilight of the Thunder God.” You can pull it off too.

Jam of the Week: “Take on Me”, by a-ha

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already seen the video for a-ha’s “Take on Me.” I mean, you’re on the Internet right now, and I’m guessing it’s not for the first time. It’s a pretty famous video, and won a bunch of awards, for good reason. It’s creative, original, and it really illustrated what the then relatively new medium of music videos (or is it a genre?) was capable of.

It’s also a really catchy song, which is why I decided to write a Jam of the Week about it, because one of my co-workers got it stuck in my head.

But I’ve been trying to write this post for like a week, wracking my brain to figure out how to connect this song to writing. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I might have something.

Watch the video, but pay attention to the lyrics. They have nothing to do with each other, do they? Music videos, near as I can tell, come in pretty much two flavors: with a story, and without. The latter is usually just the band performing or the artist dancing or something (take a look at Solange’s “Losing You”). Videos with a story try and tell a story. Sometimes the story is kind of thin, just an excuse to show somebody dancing (most of Michael Jackson’s videos, amazing as they were, fall into this category). Sometimes the story is more coherent, it has a narrative flow, characters,  etc. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which is more a short film than a video, and is absolutely amazing, is a great example of this.

So “Take on Me” has a story, but unlike, say, “War,” from the first installment of this column, that story has, well, very little to do with the lyrics. But that’s not really important, because the story has characters, it has a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion (or rising action, a conclusion, and a denouement, if you prefer). Try watching the video with the sound off, and the story still makes sense. It’s a simple story: girl meets boy, boy pulls her into comic book, boy gets in a fight with random bikers (?), girl flees comic book, boy is transported into real world, they live happily ever after.

Maybe there’s something deeper going on here. Maybe the guys in a-ha really love comics, and this is a statement about the depth of the medium, and its ability to draw readers in. Maybe its about the dangers of relying too heavily on escapist literature and the potential for fracturing your grasp on reality. Maybe it’s just a really cool idea.

I think what I’m getting at here, is that stories can, and will be, interpreted in different ways by different audiences. I mean, this is essentially why people study literature. But more than this, it’s possible, with a little thought, to reinterpret your own work for a different medium, or a different audience. If a-ha hadn’t rethought their song as a music video it probably never would have been as popular as it is. Keep your medium in mind, and adjust your story to fit within it.

And as a final note, I give you this, the original “literal version” or a-ha’s “Take on Me,” created by youtuber DustoMcNeato. If you haven’t seen this, you don’t spend enough time on the Internet.

Jam of the Week: “Losing You”, by Solange

This week I want to share “Losing You,” by Solange. If you’re not familiar with Solange, I’m so very, very sorry. She’s Beyoncé’s little sister, so you can probably expect she’s pretty talented. You’d be right!

The song is catchy, but the lyrics have a somewhat somber feeling. It’s a song about facing loss. If the uptempo nature of the song and all the dancing in the video are anything to go by, it’s also about facing that loss with courage, and refusing to let it break you.

Can we talk about this video? It’s amazing, there’s just so much energy in it, and it looks like Solange just absolutely loved filming it. As far as inspiration goes, I don’t really know what to tell you. I don’t own this album yet, so I only get to hear the song if I’ve got the video playing, and then it’s pretty hard to get anything done, because I’m watching the video. I can say this though: this song usually puts me in a good mood. It doesn’t get me pumped up, but it does give me a sort of contented feeling, something that makes me feel like I can face down deadlines or edit difficult term papers or whatever other task awaits me.

Jam of the Week: “War”, by Poets of the Fall

If you’re like me, then you have a hard time functioning without music. I especially find that I pretty much can’t write without it, whether I’m looking (listening?) for inspiration, or just want something playing in the background. I find different artists and different genres useful for different reasons. Sometimes songs just make me think about writing in a different light.

Finnish rock band Poets of the Fall aree pretty inspirational, especially this Jam of the Week. “War” is from their fourth album, Twilight Theater, which the band has described as “cinematic rock.” I don’t exactly know what that means, but it seems like a pretty good description. The song is epic; it’s moody, and spooky, and kind of uplifting. It feels like watching a film.

The video is dark, both literally and figuratively, and the narrative is focused on loss and confusion, but there’s a sense of longing and desire too. It puts me in the mood for shows like Twin Peaks, or games like Alan Wake (in which the song is featured, and is where I first heard it), stories with dreamlike, and often nightmarish, qualities.

For all of that though, I still find it uplifting (especially the beginning of the chorus); like the story might still have a happy ending, it’s just going to take a lot of work on the part of the protagonist. Not a bad metaphor, especially for the writing process. Sometimes writing is an uphill battle, but it will still come out okay in the end. And just like the narrator in the song, sometimes you have to remember that you’re not always in it alone, and there are people who can help you with that process, like us here at The Writing Center.

The Consultant Diaries

pic of Corrine V.So I just recently gave a Digital Video workshop and failed miserably with correctly displaying the videos on our Smartboard.  This only goes to show that consultants are not good at everything.  But hey, we try!  And working with the class instructor, we were able to come up with an effective solution to share everyone’s videos on the small screens.

I feel like a constant part of the consulting job is to find alternate solutions to problems.  Even when a client comes in with a paper that has already been reviewed by their instructor, we work to try and find alternate ways to improve a sentence or the content.  If an appointment is going well, we must alter our strategies to best fit the client.  Every person that comes into The Writing Center is different.  They have different work, needs, wants, plans, etc., so when working with different clients we have to constantly alter consulting strategies to best fit the situations.  Similar to having to alter a workshop to make sure people are able to share their videos with their classmates.

“I am CAL” Video Contest

Attention all College of Arts and Letters Students!  The Creativity Exploratory has a video contest where you could win a Kindle e-reader, and all you have to do is share your CAL story. Create a video that demonstrates what makes you College of Arts and Letters, whether it is classes, your extracurricular activities, your job, or anything, go ahead and make it into video format in the most fun and creative way possible. 

Once you have made a draft of your video, bring it to us at The Writing Center! We can help you with more than just writing, we can look over your video and offer our feedback and advice on what you can do to win that e-reader. Plus, we are always here to help brainstorm. So even if you are having trouble coming up with an awesome idea that will demonstrate what makes you CAL, come on in and talk through your ideas with us. We’re happy to help.

And then after you have finished your final product, upload your video to Youtube and email the link to iamcalcontest@gmail.com by December 3.  Your video will then be posted on the I Am CAL Facebook page and if your video receives the most likes by December 7, YOU WIN!!

Featured Resource: TED Talks

This week we will be introducing a new bi-weekly article to our website users. The featured resource entry will cover different resources to help our clients more effectively construct and execute their writing.

As a consultant one of the most frequent questions I receive is: “What are good resources to help me write my paper?” The purpose of this reoccurring article is to provide our users with different resources that may help in many different aspects of your writing. Some of the resources will be websites that provide credible information that can then be cited within your document, while others will be resources that answer formatting questions.

This week we will be covering TED Talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and is nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED Talks is a resource that features videos of different types of presentations. Some of these presentations are scholarly conference presentations, comedy routines, motivational speakers, and music videos.

All of these videos are credible resources to use in your writing assignments, and many are downright interesting. In preparation for this article I watched some of the videos to observe and analyze so I could better understand the usefulness of this resource.

One of the videos I watched, titled “Cesar Harada: A Novel Idea of Cleaning Up Oil Spills,”  covers a revolutionary concept which multiplies the effectiveness of “oil absorbents” connected to fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico.

This one example showed me many ways these talks can be useful. The first and primary way is the fact that these talks cover current issues in a way that is interactive and understandable across audiences. I didn’t need to know what the chemical properties of oil were or how the current method that is used is ineffective because Cesar Harada used visual elements to illustrate both of these properties. Harada was not talking about the Exxon Valdez, an oil spill that happened twenty years ago, but he spoke about an issue that was currently effecting the way people live in the Gulf today.

As a student, it can be difficult to find up-to-date resources that tackle “current events”, but TED Talks provides a large database of videos doing just that.

The second way that I found TED Talks to be useful was that all of these sources are credible. As a student at any level in the college process, credible resources can be difficult to locate, but more importantly, knowing what sources are credible and which are not becomes difficult at times due to the prevalence of websites like Wikipedia.

Websites like Wikipedia provide massive amounts of information and are always a good place to start, but rarely can we use Wikipedia itself as a credible source. TED Talks remedies this problem in a few ways: first, through a brief search through oil spills on Wikipedia, I found the previously mentioned video as a primary source for oil spill technology; second, TED Talks is its own massive database that has easy to locate tags, with nearly all of the academic videos being presented by professors, students still in college, or professionals who write scholarly articles and establish their credibility by presenting the different processes in which their video presentations are created and the topics they discuss are researched.

The third and last way covered in this article that I found TED Talks useful is: that it is a great resource when you are looking for ideas to start your paper. The amount of different topics on TED Talks is truly mind blowing. There is a little bit for every academic field, and quite a bit for pop culture.  These conversations cover all of the bases. Nearly any topic that may interest you can be easily found.

TED Talks is a great resource that provides credible sources that can be relied upon. Whether you are stuck trying to figure out a topic that you want to write about or you want to find a current approach to age old problem, chances are  TED Talks will have something to help you.