Americans in Chinese Kitchens

Americans in Chinese Kitchens

After 4-month work, I finally completed my Master Degree’s capstone project, a web video series on authentic Chinese cuisine and Chinese eating culture called Americans in Chinese Kitchens. I am not going to talk much about the web videos or the website in this blog because they turn out to be quite nice from not only my point of view but also those of professionals. Instead, I want to do a summary of my failure in social media efforts so that people doing similar projects can avoid mistakes I made.

My original plan was to release one episode of the videos each week and use Facebook and Twitter to promote the videos simultaneously. However, the schedule turned out to be very tight. Before my defense date when all the videos should be released, there were only less than two weeks left after I polished all of my videos and prepared to release them. That means I had to release all of my five videos and recipes within about 10 days and trying to get as much attention as possible through social media. It was hardly a surprise that it was not very successful.

Don’t Devalue Social Media Efforts

Firstly, I have to admit I did not make a good-faith efforts in this social media campaign within that limited time. My focus was mostly on video production and website content. To some extent, I ignored the necessity of social media efforts to increase the visibility of my project. The quality of videos is perfect. The layout of the website looks neat. However, what is the significance of the work if not many people even know its existence? Don’t just suppose your work will reach thousands of people if it is of decent quality. Get serious about developing a social media strategy and marketing your work.

Extend the Time Span of Social Media Campaigns

It is almost a common sense that the longer something is present on social media, the more people it is likely to reach. It now seems really unwise of me to use only 10 days to actively promote a project requiring 4 months of work. A better option could be starting to promote what I was doing and draw people’s attention when I started to shoot my first video about four months ago. For example, I could have posted some appealing photos on Facebook or Twitter of food cooked by my subjects in the videos or a 30-second footage to get people interested in what I was doing. I could even have written some blog posts about Chinese eating culture and promoted them on social media. The lesson here is that I should not have wasted the four months and waited to start the social media presence until all the videos and the website were finished.

Consider Collaboration On Social Media

A big problem for me in my social media efforts is my failure to reach the group of people who are interested in the topic featured in my project. My target audience in this project, for instance, are those interested in cooking, Asian food and Chinese culture. Although I did use hashtags accurately, that was not very effective. A good strategy could be trying to collaborate with influential social media accounts posting similar topics. Those accounts already own thousands of followers who are interested in a specific topic. If my posts get retweeted or shared by those accounts, my project will directly reach potential target audience.

 

I want to show the importance of combining A-Roll and B-Roll in the following three 15-second videos. The three videos look quite different from each other. However, they are actually telling the same story.

As we can see, the first video only uses A-Roll footages, where there is nothing else except a talking head. Basically, we can get what the story is from this interviewee. However, there is no other detail supporting what he says. That makes the whole video look like a lecture, and thus it looks a little boring. Another problem is that there are  lots of obvious jump cuts, which renders the video influent and unprofessional.

The second video only uses B-Roll. There seems to be lots of things happening in the video but we don’t know what the video is about exactly. The video moves from one scene to another very different scene very quickly. There is no transition connecting different scenes, which doesn’t make the video a coherent and fluent-flowing story.

This video combines A-Roll and B-Roll. The interviewee is telling his story and at the same time, B-Roll provides lots of supporting details, which makes the video more appealing to audience. Besides, B-Roll helps avoid jump cuts and A-Roll helps different scenes in B-Roll footages transit. As a result, a combination of A-Roll and B-Roll makes the video an interesting and coherent story.

 

Before I made a map using Google Fusion Table, I had to change the data in the spreadsheet into an appropriate format, which was the most time-consuming part for me this time. I  hadn’t use Excel much before, so I had to learn lots of very basic functions. It took lots of effort but it was amazing that I realized how much Excel can do. Then I imported the csv file into Google Fusion Table. Changing the style in info window and styles of markers completely happened in Google Fusion Table. Within only a few steps, I successfully personalized the map. I think it is really a good tool to use when we make maps in the future, because it is free and simple.

 

excel

Firstly, I use Python and Beautiful soup to gather the high temperatures through the year of 2010 in Nashville, TN. At first, I tried the airport EWR. However, there is always an error message when I use Python to load the data. Then I tried the airport BNA and it works well. I get the high temperatures in Nashville in 365 days and import them into Excel. Then I made a line chart, as appeared on this page. I identify the high and low temperatures with Sort and attached labels. However, another difficulty I encountered is that I cannot format the months in the x-axis as the right format. Later I found out that I did not make right selections in the Scale part. This is my first try of using programming to gather data and visualize them. I think it is amazing. I encountered some difficulties during this process but the result makes me excited. I think we need to be really careful and patient when we do every step in Terminal or Excel and finally it will work just well. On the contrary, a little error or omission may make things go totally wrong.

camera photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my Canon 550D. I bought it when I was taking photojournalism class during my sophomore year. This is my first and my only professional camera so far.

This camera actually orientates me towards regarding taking photos as something requiring effort and skills instead of something random and merely for fun. I remember the first thing I do with my camera is to learn how to focus and how to  have the right exposure. Since then I have practiced some basics of taking photographs with it.

Generally speaking, I grasp the basic functions of that camera and have a sense of how to use it to take photos. I know how to change shutter speed, aperture and how to zoom out or in to get the effect I want. However, I find I have more frustrations using this camera than satisfactions.

The first problem is that I find the colors I get in my photos are not so bright. I don’t know whether it is the problem of the camera itself or I just didn’t get the right mode. Sometimes when my friends and I are taking the same picture, I find my friends get more beautiful colors with their Nikon even if when we have the same mode on the camera. I don’t know whether it is a factor.

The second thing annoying me is that when I take pictures indoor with this camera, my picture is sometimes blurred even though I use the largest aperture. I don’t have a tripod right now so it can be hard for me if there is not enough light in a room.

Since I bought this camera, I have taken it everytime I travel to somewhere beautiful. I tried to take some nice photos of the beautiful scene in front of me. However, I always feel the quality of my picture is average. I rarely got pictures I am satisfied with. I think sometimes it is really hard to get an unusual frame. I want to get pictures showing a different angle, but I need to take pictures from an unusual angle at first. The fact is that it is not so easy to find such an angle and find some really unusual  frames.

Although I have such frustrations and concerns, such things actually incite me to practice more to get better photos. I think the only solution is learning more about my camera through practice. I should also watch more great photos. Those great photos with special angles or frames can give me some inspiration.