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This past week, the paradox of choice became incredibly relevant, albeit indirectly, to our documentary class. The paradox of choice says that people want lots of choices, yet when offered such, the immense amount of decision-making required often leads to a poor choice. Insert HD cameras. We have these wonderful Panasonic HD cameras, one of the many HD cameras now available on the market. Yet the HD quality of these cameras, as I learned this week, is too much for the average computer. So yes, on Wednesday night I spent more than four hours editing our sound assignment simply because the computers (yes, I had to switch and use multiple) were just overwhelmed by the amount of data they were receiving. (Okay, fine, I admit, I was also figuring out Premiere Pro and its differences from Premiere Elements.) So indirectly, the multitude of possibilities of cameras resulted in a poor purchase that should have been thought over more in regards to our editing capabilities. I’m not criticizing whoever made the decision (because these HD cameras are definitely cool), just noting that you’ve been a victim of the paradox of choice.

Back to our assignment that was designed to help us learn how to perfect sound quality in our documentaries. I learned (as did my rather sore arm) just how difficult it was to boom when (at least one of) your subjects are a) taller than you (and I’m not short), b) walking at a rather fast speed and c) you’re walking down a narrow path with lots of huge rocks on the peripherals. I don’t foresee too much booming necessary for our documentary, but I did enjoy the learning experience.

As we’re preparing to present our treatments for our documentary ideas, we’ve hit a few obstacles. Our most interesting idea relates to students who have lost parents during college – we have a possible primary subject but have yet to hear back from him about whether or not he is willing to do it (crossing my fingers). For now and for our interview assignment, we’re doing an interview with a senior who is caught between life choices regarding his career and his long-time romantic relationship. The interview is set for tomorrow evening. (And of course, the perils of journalism – I just received an email from the interviewee. Timing may now change for the interview.) We’ll really have to work around our schedules to find times to shoot b-roll.

I really would like to do our documentary on something super interesting or different, but there seems to be so many limitations to that path. Many of the ideas I posted last Sunday are somewhat impossible given our time frame and logistical issues. However, I just had a light bulb go off in my head and incredibly excited about this.

I’ll have to see how my group members respond. It would be a historical film on Asian Americans in theatre, with input from actors, playwrights and scholars. It wouldn’t be just a bunch of facts though. There would be the personal choices, societal impositions, racial stereotyping and discrimination and such. I have a possible main subject in mind already. He’s charismatic, open, an average person with many surprises and local.

As week four is beginning, I have to admit I am filled with concerns and worries. On a personal level, I worry about my personal abilities to really master the technicalities of the camera, sound and lighting equipment. I’ve noted that often I can’t really tell when the focus is a little soft – it often looks fine to me. Obviously that doesn’t mean I’m clueless about focus, just my just noticeable difference level is a little larger than it should be. Sound I’m really just worried about not realizing there are issues until afterwards. It’s an issue of practice I suppose. And as for lighting, I’ll see how things go at the interview tomorrow. On a group level, I’m worried about work division. I don’t mind putting in lots of hours for this class and for our final documentary, but if it’s going to be a three-person project, I’d really like everyone to contribute equally. The social loafing (even in such a small group) is really ridiculous. On the whole, my worry is time. I can cancel almost everything if necessary (minus mandatory things) and work around my work schedule, but even then I feel like I’m living by the quarter-hour. It’s almost become how my schedule has worked. Get through one 15-minute block at a time. Hopefully by this time next week our plans will have become more solidified.

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