Tech Rave

I’m thankful for presentation software, in particular, Keynote, with which I can integrate images and music — or narration — and then POP! project it on a television screen, turn it into a video, send it to Youtube.

For most of my life, such a thing was impossible. With my long ago speech (1969/70) about protecting the environment I had a carousel of slides and me standing there speaking. In another presentation, for which I wanted a soundtrack, I had to buy a bunch of LPS to get ONE song from each and record each one on a tape — reel-to-reel. Truth.

Even in 2004 it wasn’t easy. I was slated to give a “paper” at a conference. The topic was “The Image of the Hero,” and I wrote a paper on the heroes in Fellini films. The paper was titled “Old Half Head.” There was no way I could see to give a “paper” about films without SHOWING clips from films. They are equivalent to quotations in a paper about poetry. And, if you’e ever been to an academic conference you KNOW how often presenters just read from the pile of paper they published in the proceedings. B-O-R-I-N-G. I didn’t want to do that. Beyond that, I like a creative challenge.

The ability to translate from Keynote (a Mac program) to Powerpoint did not yet exist, and since one never knew what platform they’d be using in a distant place, Powerpoint was safer. I was also able to get MS Office for free back in the day when I was teaching. I made the Powerpoint and attempted to integrate film clips from my DVDs of Fellini’s films. Some of the films were pretty obscure, and none of the evidentiary scenes was very long.

There was no way. I tried everything I knew, every bit of technology at my disposal at the time. I mentioned this to my class — upper division Business Communication students. I know when most people think about business communication, they think of letters, memos and all that stuff, but in these days it involves a wider range of media, AND some of my students were in the computer division of the College of Business. A couple of them volunteered to do this for me. They had the wherewithal, machines (!!!) that could extract video clips and embed them in PowerPoint.

“Wow,” I thought, and said, “I wish I could do that.” They were so jazzed that they could help the professor, and the class wanted to see the show when it was finished. I said, “It’s going to bore the shit out of you guys. It’s really not up your alley,” but they insisted and it DID bore the shit out of them. It also revealed a side of me that made them a little uncomfortable. “If she likes this arty-farty Italian stuff, how can she teach BUSINESS???”

Academia revels in artificial dichotomies.

It’s still not easy to capture clips from a DVD, but there are ways in which I can do it. Very often someone somewhere has put 2 minutes of perfection on Youtube. Youtube didn’t exist in 2004. By the time I left teaching, I could create a narrated slideshow — which I did many times for my students in online classes. These lectures are still there and have a fanbase of 133 people. Sometimes I get a thank you message from a student who’s benefited.

Putting together promotional media for As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder has been so much fun, almost like painting. I was able to create a slideshow, upload it directly to Youtube and add a soundtrack of free music.

For the book launch, I put 100 of my slides into 10 minute slide show that plays with THE song that evokes my year in China, Jean Michel Jarre’s “Fishing Junks at Sunset.” Jarre performed in China in 1981, a year before I was there. I found it in a record shop in Hong Kong and bought a cassette tape we could play in our apartment in Guangzhou. CDs had just come onto the market and I think the Concerts in China might have been the first CD I bought, though I had no way to play it.

“Fishing Junks at Sunset” combines traditional Chinese instruments — the erhu, pipa and guzheng — along with Jarre’s synthesizer and musicians. It’s melancholy and exciting in turns. It fits the experience, so I tailored the slide show to fit the length of the song.

In addition to the technological ease, the show is beautiful and exactly what I want it to be. Extra points for anyone who finds the “half-head” in the video clip below. ❤

9 thoughts on “Tech Rave

  1. Well done in wrestling successfully with the media tech, Martha. That’s way better than I could do! 🙂

    • I had to learn it for my job, and when I got away from those abysmal training sessions led by tech-heads who didn’t understand how people actually USE stuff, it began to be fun. 🙂

  2. Congratulations. it must be a good feeling when you have success with the labyrinth of technical paths. I have a Macbook and naturally keynote, but have never used it Perhaps I might take a chance one day, although I am not doing any presentations, but you have awoken my interest.

  3. The joys and challenges of technology. I watched the clip. I took a film class, where I had to watch frame by frame to find what the professor was looking for. It looks like I might have to do that to find the half-head.

    You’re on YouTube. When I get a chance, I’ll have to take a look.

    Imagine that a professor of Business Communications is a multi-dimensional person!

      • Maybe luckily for you. On the other hand, your students were fortunate to have you.

        You are a very prolific writer. I have scrolled down and there are so many interesting posts to read. But, as it is approaching 12:30, I have to move on to other things. I’m coming back!

        And I just realized that you are on FB. I don’t use it much, but I have an account. How you have the time and energy to accomplish so much is truly inspiring!

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