Remix #4: Video

Hamlet / Puddle of Mudd Pop-Up Video

For my final remix project, I used a music video to a song I use when I teach Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  In the past I have brought in the songs “Lithium” by Nirvana and “Psycho” by Puddle of Mudd to use as possible connections to Hamlet’s precarious mental state.  Both of these song lyrics have been useful in helping students grasp the complex mental processes, and possible mental illness, of this complex character.  In addition, I allow students to cite song lyrics along with critical articles and movie scenes from a number of different versions of the play to achieve a thorough synthesis of secondary sources for the research paper they write at the conclusion of the unit.  Starting with the songs is a fun and low stress way to introduce the skill of multi-textual synthesis used when writing a literary analysis research paper.

The reason I opted for the Puddle of Mudd song is because I like the video better and it is more recent and therefore more identifiable for the students.  Also, I am a horror movie buff, and I love how the director integrates the classic horror movie allusions with a tongue-in-cheek tone.  Once I decided on the video, I simply copied it over to Google Popcorn Maker, and then poked around with it a bit.  Here are the steps I followed in creating my remix:

  1. I located the video on YouTube doing a simple search for the song title.
  2. After reading up on several possible video editing programs, I decided I liked Google Popcorn Maker ( best after watching a TED video demonstrating the program.  I cut and pasted the URL for the YouTube video onto the site and created a project.
  3. Using the “pop-up” function, I dropped in leading questions, prompts, facts about the play, and other Hamlet-related content at appropriate points in the video, following vocal cues from the lyrics whenever possible.  By double-clicking on the proper “event” tag, I was able to enter any text I wanted in the pop-up bubble and then by hitting the “enter” button, the text was dropped into the video file.
  4. In addition to occasional pop-ups, I also entered several images (also retrieved from Google Images) by saving the image to my desktop and then dragging it into the image box provided under the “image” event tab.  Once the image was imported, I experimented with the size and placement of the image over the video.  Again, I attempted to choose images that reflected either the lyric content or the pop-up messages I had inserted.
  5.  Next, I experimented with the Wikipedia event tab by inserting links to definitions of terms used in the song that relate to Hamlet’s mental state at various stages throughout the play.  By inserting the link, the Wikipedia entry is displayed as a layer on top of the video.  Once again, I did some strategic movement, resizing, and placement of the display.
  6. Finally, I inserted a text box over the fade out of the video at the very end, quoting Hamlet’s last words on earth.  After one final posing of the ultimate question of the play – Is Hamlet insane? – I liked the idea of ending with “The rest is silence” because it implies that no answer is forthcoming in this lifetime.

I really enjoyed creating this video project and I will be using it in the next week as I start Hamlet with my AP Literature class.  Although I have used the song lyrics alone in the past, I look forward to incorporating a multi-modal approach to make the text-to-text connection.  Students will be more engaged through the combination of visual and aural mediums, and the depth of analysis will be greater as students grapple with the questions pertaining to the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia prior to the death of King Hamlet.  I anticipate a great deal of discussion to be generated by the video.

As much as I enjoyed making the video, I did struggle with making the images overlay cleanly on the video.  The edges bothered me because they made the images seem to contrived and detached.  Looking back, I could have taken the extra steps of importing the images into and rounding the edges of the images to make them blend more cleanly into the video.  This is something I will definitely experiment with in the future.  Also, I am not a very visually creative person, so it is difficult for me to make artistic decisions about where the overlay images should be placed over the video.  This is not something I anticipate mastering over the course of a semester, but I will continue experimenting with all of the video editing programs I have learned about.

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Remix #3 Reflection: Truthful Movie Posters

For this remix project, I was inspired by both the Halloween season and the emergence of advertisements promoting the next, and thankfully last, installment of the Twilight films.  Being a huge fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I have watched the evolution of his character and story through television, serialized novels, films, and even graphic novels over the years, and I believe that Stoker’s original vision has been clouded to say the least.  I have always been fascinated with the metaphorical value of the vampire – blood as life, immortality, and the intimacy of his methods.  All of these themes hold immense creative potential and room for development, but I have been disappointed with the direction the most popular treatment of the vampire myth has taken with Stephanie Myers’ Twilight Saga.  As a result, I wanted to comment on the superficial commercialism and overall teeny-bopper appeal that Myers has created in her books and that has translated to the big screen as the most recent pop culture blockbuster.  So, I had a go at the movie poster.

My remix project, Truthful Movie Poster,was relatively simple to achieve once I decided on the idea.  I located a Google Image of one of the Breaking Dawn movie posters and cut and pasted the image into (advanced level).  Once I had the image uploaded, I made some minor tweaks on the image to make it appear a bit moodier.  I adjusted the tint and cranked up the gray images a bit to enhance the spooky factor of the poster in hopes of making some connection back to the gothic roots of the original text.  Once I had played around with the image itself, I went to work on changing the text on the poster.  My plan was to take out the tag line in the center of the poster which read, “Will the truth alone be enough to protect them?” and replace it with the line, “Bram Stoker will spin in his grave one more time.”  This line is my subtle commentary on how Stoker’s novel and character has been so drastically commercialized and sensationalized for profit, original vision be damned.  I thought the “grave” image was a nice touch as well, considering the subject matter.  At the top of the poster, I made the timing of the release relevant by overlaying, “This Halloween…” in a spooky “chiller’ font.  I initially made the font orange in reference to the holiday, but the color splash detracted from the mood of the poster, so I reverted back to a flat off-white color similar to that of the original text color.  I also tried to simulate the original font type and color with the internal blurb as well.  My intention here was to make the poster as close to the original version as possible while making the subtle change in the text.  Sometimes less is more.

In replacing the original text on the poster, I had to rasterize the image.  This enabled me to “paint” over the text to hide it so that I could replace it with my own text.  It took me a good deal of time to figure out how to do this.  The “help” menu on the Pixlr site directed me on this process.  There is most certainly a better way to eliminate the text from the image, but once I made this work, I stopped looking for solutions.  It turned out fairly well, anyway.  The only thing that I really wanted to do that I was not able to figure out how to do was to rewrite the title in the same font it was written in on the original poster.  I wanted to change the title from Breaking Dawn to Breaking Wind to further denigrate the film, albeit in a childish way.  Although I did search through a large number of fonts to find something similar to that used on the poster, I was not able to find anything close enough.  Again, there is likely a way to simulate, or outright copy existing fonts, but I could not find a way to do that.  I imagine there are some copyright restrictions protecting original artistic fonts, anyway.

Overall, I am relatively pleased with the way the poster turned out, although I did not think this particular assignment provided many creative applications not offered by the Remix #1 assignment.  I did enjoy being able to manipulate existing images to create a new perspective.  This is the part of the assignment that I will definitely take into the classroom with me.  I plan on using this remix design idea to create an assignment for students in which they rework existing book covers or movie posters for works we read in class.  One idea I had was to reimagine a book cover or movie poster from the perspective of the antagonist rather than the protagonist.  How would the different perspective impact the aspects of the story chosen to promote the work? What types of images or text may be used to represent the text if the “other side” had a voice in the promotion of the text?  This assignment was helpful to me in that it challenged me to consider the decision-making processes at work when PR departments create promotional materials for various texts.  This is the aspect of the assignment that I plan on using when teaching this project to my students.

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Remix #2: Ocean Guitar Ringtone (audio)

Combining my love for the ocean and guitar music, I created a soothing ringtone featuring peaceful ocean wave sound and some laid back minor key guitar riffing of my own composition and performance.  I used Audacity to record the guitar part and then added a slight echo effect to make it sound like I was doing more than I really was.  Then I added a  tasty ocean waves sound clip from a free audio sample website at  I then copied the ocean track to play twice to sync it with the roughly 20 second guitar track.  Looking back, I feel as though I should have looped it to repeat as a ringtone, but I can always go back and do that later, I guess.  Finally, I uploaded the whole deal to my account, which converted the file to an accessible format for the masses, including this blog.

Being a musician, I am obviously intrigued with the possibilities out there for PC sound recording and mixing, so I had fun with this.  I will most certainly be exploring other options for recording, particularly in regard to sound quality, which is likely to be dependent on the quality of an external microphone and controlled external recording conditions.  In the meantime, enjoy the soothing sounds of my beach guitar!

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Remix #1 – Picturing Prufrock In a Fog

Picturing Prufrock

So many images, so little time!  Prufrock is a regular image-palooza, so deciding on one to depict was the tough part.  Once I locked on to the lines describing the yellow fog and the yellow smoke, I decided to blend these images with the person of Eliot himself, who, let’s face it, can be a bit foggy.  Utilizing all of the Google image search skills at my disposal, I located photos of yellow fog, yellow smoke (which looks surprisingly different), the dark corners of a city, and of course the window panes, which served as the object of the “licking” fog and smoke.  I created the collage at, and then transferred the image to the advanced editing portion of  Using the tools there, I inserted the text and colored the print to match the mood of the piece.  From there, I layered in a hazy effect and dialed down the hues and brilliance to dull the tint.  I need to spend considerably more time with the layering capabilities on pixlr, because I am sure I barely scratched the surface.  Not too bad for a first timer, I guess.

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Wiki and Me, Part 1

After consulting the 1999 Encyclopedia Americana (book),, and for information on the elusive chokecherry, I have made many interesting discoveries.  For starters, the Encyclopedia Americana offered a roughly 150-word entry that describes in dry academic language the chokecherry.  It is accompanied by a small black and white picture that denies me the opportunity of enjoying the resplendent colors of the berry.  This would be a good place to start, but definitely not the be-all and end-all for chokecherry enthusiasts. 

So I moved on to to continue my search.  This site gave me 100 words of a 158 word article on the chokecherry.  To access the complete article, I would have been required to sign up for a free trial, leading to a paid subscription in my future.  No, thanks.  In addition, there was a thumbnail of a color picture of the chokecherry.  All in all, this site provided me a bit less than the Encyclopedia Americana offered. 

Finally, I visited and my search was complete.  Not only did this site provide considerably more information on my topic, but it also provided a history, geographical information on where the chokecherry can be found, and more.  Also, a number of colorful illustrations were provided on the chokecherry in various stages of bloom, helping to complete my appreciation for this underappreciated fruit. 

In conclusion, Wikipedia offered considerably more information in a more accessible format than the other two sources combined.  In addition, there were links to source material that I could easily follow to even more information on my topic.

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My Pixlr Photo

For my pixlr-photo assignment, I worked from a photograph of my daughter sitting in a “dreamy” attitude in the lunchroom at Lassiter.  This photo struck me for a couple of reasons.  One, as a teacher with a daughter the same age as many of my students, I can not help but think of my own children when I see my students, hence the connection between a photo of my daughter at school and my profession.  Second, Delaney’s posture and demeanor in this picture impressed me as being reflective and hopeful.  It did not take me long to decide on this photograph as a starting point for my message.

My intention was to relay a message of hope and wonderment about the future that I imagine a number of our students have from time to time.  Our students depend on us to help prepare them for whatever opportunities and/or challenges they will face in their futures, and when I get discouraged at work, I try to remember that.  So I began thinking, what if I tried to picture the kids in my classroom ten years in the future?  What will they have learned in school about dealing with life and the challenges they will face in their careers and relationships?  Will anything I am teaching them still matter?  By personalizing this idea with the picture of my daughter, I attempted to relay this message of preparing kids for the future through the choices I made with the tools on Pixlr.

My first step was to crop the picture because there was too much dead space behind Delaney.  Then, I started by choosing a soft, kind of smoky overlay to create a dream-like atmosphere around the photo.  The only problem with that choice was that the lighter tint made the text boxes a bit harder to read.  Darker fonts for text would be a nice feature.  Maybe I just couldn’t find them.  Then I added the thought bubble with the “Where?” comment.  Nothing particularly creative about that.  I meant for the question to be in response to the banner text, “Ten years from now…?” which implies that the subject of the photo is pondering where she will be once she has completed her formal education.  The addition of the scrapbook border was to show that this moment in time, when Delaney is thinking about her future, will one day be a memory in and of itself.  This is the first time I have really worked with Pixlr, but it was a good exercise, and hopefully I will get better with practice.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!  Enjoy.

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