Soul Talks

This is a story about a man named Tre Wright who is in charge of a group called Soul Talks. I picked this story because Tre is a remarkable case of a man who was going down the wrong path but managed to turn his life around and become a servant of God. He uses the Soul Talks to help others better understand themselves and not travel down the path that he once did. I encountered problems with having to connect the story in order to make it flow without talking over it, as this was supposed to be an invisible reporter story. I had to make the tough decision to cut out a lot of good footage in order to fit the story I wanted to tell, as the good footage didn’t fit without me explaining it. For my next video project I would try and get more angles for my shots, as I feel like I could’ve gotten better ones than the few shots that I did get. Finally, here are two links with similar themes of triumph and redemption.

This one is about a man that tried to live life for a full year by interpreting The Bible as literal as possible.

This one is about a man who tells the deeper meaning behind the David and Goliath story.

Basketball, Football, SEC, Sports

The SEC Network

I don’t know if a lot of people have been keeping in touch with television schedules regarding college sports or not, but next year there will be this new channel called the SEC Network. This program is dedicated toward the showing of SEC sports events such as football, basketball, baseball, track, and others. This is a great opportunity for fans to see their sports or teams that aren’t usually shown on national television, as well as for athletes to get some exposure that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

This new network is really exciting for me because in the fall I will be taking a class that involves me working with the SEC Network. So this channel is a chance for me to start my career off as well. This channel is long overdue too; the SEC is considered to be the best college football conference in the nation by a lot of people and yet it hadn’t had a network of its own like the Big Ten or Pac 12. That all changes next fall.

A short blog post I know, but I just wanted people to be aware of this new network so they can look out for it in the fall.


Google Fusion Tables: Heat mapping

This is a Heat map that I did in my Multimedia Journalism class. The data is the combined state and local sales tax percentages in the United States. When you buy something, it’s the amount that you have to pay after the retail price. The SEC states for the most part have a medium sales tax percentage, but Alabama and Texas have a medium to high percentage and Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana have a high percentage.

Football, Mapping, SEC, Sports

Top 5 SEC Football Stadiums

For this blog post I am writing about what I feel are the top five SEC Football Stadiums to go to as a spectator. They are: Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, LSU’s Tiger Stadium, Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. I have come up with these five because they all have something unique to offer, and include the best range of things that make going to the games so great. These things include: the size of the stadium, the volume of the crowd, and the in-game antics that happen while the game is played. I have created a map on Google to show where these stadiums are located, as well as offering additional information about the stadiums themselves.

Bryant-Denny Stadium is one of the most intimidating places to play for an opposing team, as Alabama holds an outstanding winning percentage there at 80% (212-50-3). Located on the southwestern edge of the University of Alabama campus, the stadium ranks among the nation’s top 5 on-campus football stadiums with a seating capacity of 101,821. This was after it’s latest expansion in the summer of 2010. It is also the SEC’s second largest stadium. The official site of Bryant-Denny Stadium can be seen here:

Nicknamed Death Valley, LSU’s Tiger Stadium is one of the most feared places to play for an opposing team. It’s considered to be the SEC’s most electric environment during night time, and it becomes the fifth largest state in Louisiana seven days a year when the Tigers play. Since 1960, LSU is 227-61-4  at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 26-26-3 record during the day. The crowd noise was so loud one time that the stadium registered on the Richter Scale against Auburn in 1988.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is notorious for having three names. The other two are Florida Field and The Swamp. It got the nickname “The Swamp” from then-coach Steve Spurrier in the mid-90’s, who noted that “. . . a swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous. Only Gators get out alive.”  Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the long-time home of Gator Growl, a student-produced show and pep rally held the Friday night before the annual homecoming football game.

Jordan-Hare Stadium has served as the Auburn Tigers home since 1939. The stadium is named for Ralph Jordan, Auburn’s all-time winningest football coach, and Clifford Hare, a longtime chairman of Auburn’s Faculty Athletic Committee. There are a bunch of neat traditions and pregame festivities, including Tiger Walk, where fans get to walk with the football players on their way to the stadium. An eagle is released before the game begins as well, making it’s way to the center of the field where it lands.

Kyle Field is the Home of the 12th Man. If you’ve ever wondered where that saying originated from, it originated from Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. It is the oldest stadium in the SEC, opening in 1904. Their student section doesn’t get tired, as they stand for the whole game! Kyle Field only became a part of the SEC two years ago and already it has established itself as a top five stadium in the conference.

The map itself is to show where these five stadiums are, and included in the descriptions are certain facts about the stadiums themselves. The map also recommends why a person should experience a game in these stadiums, as well as an interesting fact that they might not know about.

Here’s a link to the Google Map.


Five Shot Sequence Video

This is just a little minute and a half video I composed of Arthur Bruce and Tre Wright throwing a football around for my five shot sequence project. What I had to do was shoot the football throwing action from a five shot series. They included: close-up of hands, close-up of face, wide shot, over-the shoulder shot and a creative shot that I could come up with on my own. I got the idea of editing the shots to promote continuity from the Poynter online article “How Journalists Can Improve Video Stories With Shot Sequences” by Casey Frechette. As for getting a better understanding of the sequence shots themselves I looked up a site recommended in Mark Briggs’ book, Journalism Next. 

The hardest sequence shot to film was definitely the close-up of hands. Since football is an active sport with hands they are constantly moving, making it difficult to get a clear shot of a person’s hands. For the creative shot I chose two things. The first was a type of moving shot where the camera was fixated on the ball as it was being thrown in the air. The second creative shot was the shot at the end, where I had the camera fixed in one position and caught Tre moving into the area where the camera was filming. In a larger news video I can remember how to edit these types of shots to make the action seem continuous for a potential story.

Football, NCAA Basketball, SEC, Sports

Has the SEC’s dominance come to an end?

What an exciting finish to the NCAA tournament! UCONN held on to a slim margin of victory over Kentucky after the Wildcats bounced back from a 15 point deficit on Monday night. It was definitely a fitting end to an outstanding tournament, a tournament as good as any within the past 20 years. As has become custom for the major college sports in recent years an SEC team made it all the way to the championship game, and for basketball it was 8th seeded Kentucky.

What should be noted throughout the tournament: the continued dominance of the SEC in big games. SEC teams were 12-3 in the tournament, with all three making at least the Sweet Sixteen. However, although SEC teams dominated the playing field at times during the tournament, some startling statistics might show that the SEC isn’t as dominant as it once was.

First off, even though SEC teams had an overwhelming winning record in the tournament, all these wins were accumulated by three teams: Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. Also, of the three Florida was the only one with a high ranking as the #1 overall favorite. Kentucky’s run was magical yes, but the fact remains that they entered the tournament as an 8 seed. The lower you’re seeded means the less successful you were in the regular season, where teams would be playing other teams outside of their conference a lot more. Tennessee was even worse; as an 11 seed they had to play in the newly established “first round” play-in game, where they had to beat an opponent in order to even play in the Round of 64 tournament.

There’s also the fact that both Florida and Kentucky looked completely defeated at times against eventual champion Connecticut. UConn won against Florida in the regular season by a buzzer beater at home, but defeating Florida a second time by a wide margin proved that the first win was no fluke. Florida was supposed to be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament too. Kentucky got down by as much as 15 in the first half before making things interesting. Credit to Kentucky, but they were also favorites going into the title game. While the SEC did have a great record in the tournament their failures at the biggest stage cannot be ignored.

Maybe I’m being a little too hard on the SEC, and especially for basketball since the SEC’s always been a football conference. If you swing back over to football though their dominance in BCS title games came to an end in January, when Auburn lost to Florida State. That loss marked the first time that an SEC team has lost in the title game, while at the same time snapping a streak of seven consecutive SEC BCS champions. These trends have to beg the question: is the SEC still the dominant conference that it once was with just a few hiccups, or is the conference’s reign of dominance actually coming to an end?


Video Story Critique

What I’m going to be talking about today is three video sports stories that have caught my eye to be critiqued. While they don’t have to do with the SEC, my blog also has to do with sports in general so they are relevant. The first video is about a woman who is trying to make it back to the winter Olympics for the fourth time, although for the first time as a mother. The second video is similar in the aspect that it also has to deal with a mother that’s trying to make the Olympics, although this woman is trying to make the Olympics in weightlifting and has never made the team before due to injury. The last video details a small town in Alaska that hosts boxing and MMA matches every Thursday, and follows three people who step into the ring.

1. The hook for all three videos are pretty good. The Olympic skier video starts with a shot of the woman sliding down a slope full of obstacles, with her talking in the background but combining that with the natural sounds of the skis going through the snow. That visual and sound captures your attention. The second one is effective also because it starts of with a shot of the weightlifter letting go of the bar, sending the weights crashing to the ground with a loud thud. The site of a female weightlifter is an odd one to begin with, but then when you find out that this weightlifter is a mother of three and has sustained a back injury in the past, that really sucks you in. The last one’s hook wasn’t nearly as good as the other two. It just shows a sign that reads “Thursday Night at the Fights” and has a person talking over it. I would’ve liked to hear the sound of a bell or see punches being connected instead.

2. The heroes are the most compelling part of the stories if you ask me. While they are all doing tremendous physical and mental feats (Olympic skiing and weightlifting, stepping into a boxing ring) the people doing these feats are just ordinary people. For the first one the videographer made you care about Sarah (the skier) because shots were shown of her being a loving mother to her infant and a loving wife to her husband. They would show shots of her playing with her kid or hanging out with her husband to show that she was an ordinary person trying to achieve an extraordinary thing. The second video makes you care about Melanie (the weightlifter) by showing the difficulty that she has trying to calm her autistic son down when he’s having a tantrum or panic attack. The third video has three heroes, all with different backgrounds. The first guy was in and out of prison till he found boxing so that’s a feel good story, while the second guy was fighting his first pro fight. The third guy was actually a trainer that was fighting to show his students how it’s done. By knowing who these people were and their backgrounds the videographer created a connection between you and them when they step into the ring, so you want them to succeed.

3. The conflict for the first two videos was Sarah and Melanie trying to get to the Olympics. Some things were similar between the two, as they were both mothers and were trying to make it. There were some noticeable differences however. Sarah was trying to make it back to the Olympics for the fourth time, meaning that she had already been there. Melanie had never been to the Olympics because she hurt her back before the 2000 Olympic trials. Sarah is trying to make it for the first time as a mother, but her kid is perfectly healthy. One of Melanie’s kids has autism, and the videographer shows a scene where he’s having a tantrum or panic attack. Both videos show them working out for their respective sports (Sarah for skiing, Melanie for weightlifting). The last video deals with three boxers with three different stories. The first guy was in and out of prison until boxing, while the second guy was having his first pro fight and the third guy was a trainer fighting for his students. The videographer showed action in the ring for all three fights, and showed the results too. The first and third guys won, while the second guy got knocked out.

4. I’d hesitate to call any of these endings memorable, but they did the trick when it came to wrapping up the story. The first video ended with Sarah’s husband making a joke to her about her chances after she got done finishing a practice, while the third video ended with the last boxer having his hand raised in victory. The second story had probably the best ending, as Melanie can be heard talking in the background about how she’d trade her achievements for finding out a cure for autism, while the video shows the autistic child trying to say “I love you” to his mom. That was at least somewhat memorable, if only because it tugged on your emotional strings.

5. What the first videographer did that I plan to use in my own work is how he combined pictures with video. Some shots were just pictures while others were actual moving video. I thought that was pretty neat because sometimes a picture can capture someone’s attention more in certain situations than moving screen can. The second video showed me that I need to have compelling natural sound to go with my video. The sounds of the weights clanging against the floor and her grunts illustrated perfectly just how hard weightlifting is. The last video showed me that I might want to have people interviewed who aren’t just part of the main action. The videographer had the boxers themselves talking and explaining things, but they also had the people in charge of the event.

Florida Gators, NCAA Basketball, SEC

The Long Leash of the Student Athlete

March Madness is almost over, and with that we’re down to the final stretch of games for the college basketball season. Of the four teams remaining in the NCAA tournament only Florida and Kentucky are from the SEC, although Florida is the prohibitive favorite to win the title. A big part of the reason that Florida is still remaining in the tournament has been the leadership and heroics of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Wilbekin has been the driving force for the Gators throughout the tournament, delivering clutch shots when needed and rallying his team when they’re out of sorts. Florida is such an overwhelming favorite with Wilbekin at the helm that it’s astonishing to think about just how close he came to not even be on the team this year.

In July 2013 Wilbekin was suspended from the Gators for the second time in less than a year. The fact that head coach Billy Donovan refused to say what the suspension was for surrounded Wilbekin’s suspension in mystery, although it was clearly obvious he had done something that the Gators didn’t want to reveal. Forced to deal with the situation on his own and get his act together, Wilbekin eventually got under his head coach’s good graces once again and was reinstated to the team… for the second time in less than a year. While Wilbekin deserves credit for turning his career around and leading the Gators to the cusp of the national title one has to wonder how thing would’ve fared for him if he wasn’t a student athlete.

Scottie Wilbekin’s case isn’t a unique one. There are tons of student athletes that get suspended from their teams for doing something that usually isn’t revealed. This enables players to be taught a lesson while at the same time not adding a bad label to their name by being associated with something. A regular student would never get this luxury though, and the question can be raised as to if these suspensions are doing any good at all. Wilbekin had to be suspended and reinstated twice in one year before he got the message that he had to clean up his act, and that’s not even counting the amount of times he’d probably been involved in some other form of trouble. Fans don’t really care about these types of things anyways nowadays. Sure they might say “Oh he’s a bad person” but they will still cheer for these types of players as long as they provide wins for their team. And the schools will keep giving them chances as long as they can still make money for the school without severely damaging that schools reputation. The point is that these players know that they have some form of leverage since the school treats them as money makers and so their leash of doing things before they suffer severe consequences is a long one as a result.

NCAA Basketball, Recording, SEC, Student Athletes

Audio Slideshow: Auburn vs Alabama

The Audio Slideshow is titled Auburn vs Alabama, and it covers the Auburn vs Alabama women’s basketball game that took place on Feb. 27. It was senior night, with many of the players playing their last home game for the Tigers. Tyrese Tanner, the leading scorer and team captain, was one of those players. This slideshow takes you through the sights and sounds of a highly competitive game that Auburn pulled out in double ot.

Florida Gators, NCAA Basketball

“The More We Won, the Less I Went to Class”

March Madness is just around the corner, and heading into the most exciting time of the college basketball season is the University of Florida as the #1 overall seed in both the AP poll and the USA Today coaches poll. Florida has been on a tear for the past few months, going 27-2 on the year and has not suffered a loss since a narrow 65-64 loss to the University of Connecticut on December 2. Since then Florida has run off 22 straight victories and is the prohibitive favorite to win the tournament.

Florida’s return to success in the college basketball ranks reminds me of something that former Gator Joakim Noah said about the way he lived when Florida won back to back championships in 2006 and 2007. In this interview on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN show, Highly Questionable, the former Gator and current starting center of the Chicago Bulls admitted that the more Florida won basketball games the less he and his teammates went to class. The interview can be seen here below.

Noah states how instead of going to class and trying to get a degree he and his teammates became accustomed to the life of the party, whose only real purpose at Florida was to win basketball games. It was like the “student” aspect of “student-athlete” was taken out entirely.

This was alarming to me, and I know that it’s been a topic of debate among people for years. Just how are athletes viewed by the Universities that enroll them? It’s even more alarming when you take into account that Florida is only one of many colleges that allow athletes to slack on their studies because they are good at sports, and that this is almost becoming an accepted way of life for these so called student athletes. Should this be an accepted way of life though?