Spring 2021 Digital Media Showcase

Dear Visitors,

Welcome to the Spring 2021 Digital Media Showcase page! Below, you'll find approximately 50 innovative digital projects created by students in English courses at the University of Pittsburgh. Please stay awhile, explore, and help us celebrate the outstanding digital work our students have produced over the past year.


Kathryn Waring

Interim Director (2020-2021), Digital Media Lab

Audio: "A Sudden Call. A Sudden Change."
Creator: Huda Elahi
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"A sudden call. A sudden change. A normal day can go by and just hours from ending can shatter to something unexpected. This is one of my first audio essays ever, but in all honesty, it was more of a healing experience for me instead of a learning experience. I usually look in the bright side of things, I am usually the mother hen of the group, the happy go lucky one, the one always willing to lend a shoulder for anyone. At least that is what friends and family always told me. But I have never been one to tell others how I feel. I usually hole myself up and try to get through it myself. It usually worked, but not this time. But this time I had a chance to use my experience as a way to express my creativity in a new medium I have never tried before, audio. I took small bullet point notes of my major points on what I wanted to talk about, I took a deep breath. Pressed record. And forgot all about my notes. It was a way to express my feelings in a raw unfiltered way. And I thought it was for the best. One take is the best way to show this kind of emotion, to tell this kind of story and it helped. When you can’t find it in yourself to talk to others, talking to yourself and watching the audio waves slowly move up and down is oddly therapeutic. It’s a new form of healing I never expected to find in this class but a welcomed one all the same." -Huda Elahi

Audio: "bufo alvarius"
Creator: Ashley Mannello
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: April Flynn

GitHub Link: https://github.com/abm105/CDM_SoundscapeFFN

"In toying with ideas of life and death and the ultimate comedy-tragedy spectrum of existence, I found the frog and its multiphasic life to be a perfect subject to represent such ideas. With this project, I wanted the listener to be immersed into the world of the frog and experience another life in just a few minutes. I drew inspiration from the surrounding environment, as well as the shapes and features of the different phases in their life cycle. The introduction and closing sound features give an explicit beginning and ending, which is intended to create a sense of closure and completion. The representations of each phase are as if the listener is the frog themselves and delve into an idea of what they might hear. The cartoonish and exaggerated transitions between phases, and their surrounding moments of silence, are slightly jarring and unexpected to produce a surrealist feel and play into the comedic side of life. The ultimate death of the frog in the last phase of the cycle is meant to put a peaceful and dreamlike twist to the tragedy of dying. The accelerated experience of the frog life cycle should produce a spectrum of emotions and leave an impact of the listener. This soundscape is an invitation to exist in another life, that of a frog."-Ashley Mannello

Audio: "Get Over It"
Creator: Nina Santucci
Class: Intro to Audio Storytelling
Instructor: Katie Waring

"This is a nonfiction story about my experience overcoming the hardships I faced having different disorders and diagnoses throughout my life and overcoming my own self-doubt. With Misophonia, I’m heavily influenced by sound, so I wanted my piece to resonate the same way. I didn’t want it to just be a story, I wanted it to be an experience that would allow the listener to live in my shoes even for a moment.

The phrase “get over it” has been both a suppressor and motivator in my life that’s caused me to push myself and get over my own hindrances. I made this story when I was diagnosed with migraines that neither I nor anyone else could expect me to get over, causing me to feel stuck. But obstacles never stopped me before, I just needed to find the motivation within myself again. Being told to “get over it” for so long caused me to remain silent on my issues and my story. So, I suppose part of the reason I made this piece was to release the experiences I felt were still holding me back so that I could face and overcome this new challenge." -Nina Santucci

Audio: "Good Morning"
Creator: James Brennan
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: April Flynn

GitHub Link: https://github.com/jtb117/SoundscapeNarrative/

"Many years from now, people will ask me what it was like to live through the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the extensive time at home, I have spent long hours thinking about this. I still do not know the answer I will give. Would it be more exciting if I tell the stories I had heard of others? Would they listen closer if I embellish on the weekend I had a high fever? Would they pity me more if I named who I’d lost? I think the most accurate way to tell the story would be the most mundane. The truth is, I simply stayed home. Nothing happened.

While thinking about a topic for my soundscape narrative, I found it impossible to consider anything but my surroundings. Maybe their consistency had just ingrained them in my mind over the 7 months prior. So, while reflecting on what I had done that day, I listed off: I listened to the news, I made food, I took a shower, I sat at my desk. And it was about all I could come up with each day. My plan was to lay out these sounds in way that the listener would hear them and reflect on their own days (likely deciding theirs were similar). I chose the accompanying song to echo the tone of these sounds; repetitive and somber." -James Brennan

Audio: "Pandemic Blues"
Creator: Jay Schemrich
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"My name is Jay Schemrich. I am a Junior here at the University of Pittsburgh and a media and professional communications major. I am also the creator of “Pandemic Blues.” I hope you enjoyed what you heard and I'm going to give a little more insight on how I created this piece. At this point in time the pandemic was at its worst for me, there was looking to be no hope for curing the virus and people were getting more and more anxious by the day. I decided to carry my emotions into my piece about where I was before the pandemic started. I believe that we all sometimes look back at where we were before the pandemic started and those last moments of “normalcy.” I kept a monotone voice for the whole piece to give a foreboding aura and show how the pandemic could have drained someone's energy over the months that have followed. “Pandemic Blues” while it does not sound like it is a piece about searching for positivity in dark times, looking back at the memories we had before the pandemic and looking toward the future with high hopes that we can all finish or continue what we may have had to stop. I thank you all for listening to my piece and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it or could recall a fond memory of pre pandemic times. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day!" -Jay Schemrich

Audio: "The Great Catsby"
Creator: Hitch Daugherty
Class: Intro to Audio Storytelling
Instructor: Katie Waring

"My favorite person in the whole world is my cat, Di. On the fictional serial podcast, 'The Great Catsby,' I explore Di's history, personality, and all the things that make her great. I interview her friends and roommates about how amazing she is, and I even get an exclusive interview with Di herself spilling all her secrets. This piece was really an excuse to gush about my cat (which I could do for hours, so it's amazing that this was only seven minutes)." -Hitch Daugherty

Audio: "Untitled"
Creator: Alexa Nguonly
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"I created this project with the intention of offering a little glimpse into my life as a college student. I wanted to tell the story of how I found love in this age of digital media. I am mainly a writer, and this is my first audio project. In creating it, I was able to experiment with how to weave sound effects into text in a way that writing on paper doesn't allow you to do." -Alexa Nguonly

Audio: "Grasping at Straws"
Creator: Sahil Ganatra
Class: Seminar in Composition: Diversity (Disability)
Instructor: Ellen Smith

"The idea for the Grasping at Straws project originally came to me after a conversation with my roommate about how fun it would be to start a podcast. I wanted to bring this idea to life by starting a discussion about some of the less-talked-about issues within the realm of disability studies. After conducting some research, I landed on an article written by disability rights activist Alice Wong, which explored the ableism behind plastic straw bans. I was immediately drawn in by the obscure nature of this topic, and wanted to learn more. Figuring out how to create a podcast episode from scratch was actually a really fun break from some of the more mundane work I was doing for my other classes. In fact, this project didn’t even really feel like schoolwork to me, which made it even easier to come up with quality writing for the script." -Sahil Ganatra

Audio: “Barbershop”
Creator: Brian Broome
Class: Listening to Narrative Audio
Instructor: Erin Anderson

"This piece is the result of my continuing fascination with the subject of Blackness and Masculinity. I have always fallen short when it comes to living up to the standards that I believed had been laid out before me. The Black barbershop is the hub of Black masculinity and I have shied away from going to them since I was a child believing (possibly correctly) that I didn't fit in. So, in this piece, I go back to a Black barbershop. I talk to some of the men inside and get results that are, surprising to me, and some that are unsurprising." -Brian Broome

Audio: “Notes on Cycling”
Creator: Boen Wang
Class: Listening to Narrative Audio
Instructor: Erin Anderson

"'Notes on Cycling' is an audio adaptation of an essay I wrote in undergrad, a narrative of summer break in a college town where nothing happens and everything feels hazy and purgatorial. I was twenty at the time: I bought a bike, painted a house, threw out a dead woman’s furniture, and broke up with my best friend. The piece ends abruptly, but even today, I can’t think of any other way it could end." -Boen Wang

Audio: “Physician Burnout”
Creator: Nick Tedesco
Class: Projects in Digital Composition
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

"This podcast explores the topic of physician burnout, with especial consideration given to the ways in which societal views of doctors can contribute to widespread burnout. From both my research of the medical profession and discussions with current doctors, I’ve found that burnout is an issue that plagues the field. Considering the dire consequences of the problem (such as professional exit, decreased engagement, and perhaps even suicide), burnout must be effectively addressed in order to maintain the well-being of our physicians and of our health care industry.

I began my podcast with the bright side of a physician’s life, describing the many positive impacts that doctors have on our society. Then, I created a stark transition into the more repressed struggles that many physicians face. I attempted to place the listener into the world of a depressed doctor who works 18-hour days. Finally, I dove into a more general discussion of the nightmare of physician burnout, which was followed by an analysis of how the medical field views and treats its doctors.

For my production, I used my recording software (Logic Pro X, Audacity) and equipment (microphone, pop filter, guitar) that I typically use for creating music. This was extremely beneficial in allowing me to insert creative sounds, especially in terms of bed music (I used a lot of synths from Logic Pro X). Overall, I am happy with the finished product and hope that you enjoy it!" -Nick Tedesco

Audio: “Sonic Conquest”
Creator: Jason Henriquez
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: April Flynn

GitHub Link: https://github.com/jth79/soundscape

"This science fiction narrative takes place in near-future Pittsburgh, the fourth autonomous zone under the auspices of the Black liberation movement. Two students are studying on the new soundproof floor of the Floyd (formerly Hillman) Library when sudden 'sonic disturbances' kill hundreds of thousands of Pittsburghers. Tom & Mandy call 911 in hopes of receiving aid from the U.S. government, but they soon learn that this was no accident.

I crafted the plot & setting only weeks after the George Floyd protests had subsided. The momentum did not just die; it was pepper-sprayed, teargassed, and tasered. I remembered the MEDUSA, a sonic weapon that the U.S. government has deployed to incapacitate individuals and induce extreme discomfort in crowds. My soundscape explores the toolbox of state violence, from sonic weapons to 911 calls." -Jason Henriquez

Audio: “That’s Just The Way The Ball Bounces”
Creator: Julianne Sato-Parker
Class: Listening to Narrative Audio
Instructor: Erin Anderson

Link: http://www.asianamericana.com/podcast/2020/8/10/013-thats-just-the-way-t...

"In this story, I explore the meaning of a phrase my grandmother always said to me growing up – words my grandmother began to repeat like a mantra when the pandemic began. As I seek to understand the phrase in this new light, I trace its origins to a Japanese phrase often used by Nikkei during their incarceration in WWII." -Julianne Sato-Parker

Audio: “The Deimos Prophecies”
Creator: Annie Martin
Class: Listening to Narrative Audio
Instructor: Erin Anderson

"Set in a far future universe after Earth is no longer able to support human life, this audio science fiction story involves a sentient space station who hears something unusual from across the galaxy. The story arose as a prelude of sorts for the novel manuscript I’m working on about the nature of family, love, and humanity, and came into being as we went into lockdown during the spring of 2020. In many ways, it was my response to and escape from an apartment (lovingly dubbed the “spaceship” for all of its strange noises) that I no longer ever really left." -Annie Martin

Graphic Essay: "Just Being Myself"
Creator: Wesley Ahart
Class: Words and Images
Instructor: Nozomi Saito

"'Just Being Myself' is the story I have never told anyone. It’s about love and the limits that were placed on it by the world I knew. It’s about how I grew up and the people that did not let me be myself.

When the idea first came into my mind for this project, I immediately shut it down, thinking that the story was much too personal for any school project. This was out of habit, as I was still in the mindset that had been keeping me a prisoner of discontentment for so long. I decided I needed to do it, so that I could look back and reflect on my life and how I am today because of what I went through. I don’t want to feel like I am hiding something anymore.

I was inspired to make this after seeing Laura Gao’s “The Wuhan I Know,” a textual/visual piece that told Laura’s story of growing up in America, being from Wuhan, and experiencing her home city being denigrated by people who had only heard of it on the news.

This piece is something I was incredibly uncomfortable making, but something I am glad I created. The experience alone in working on this was deeply rewarding and left me feeling a whirlwind of emotions. I hope that others who have/are going through similar experiences will keep pushing on through and recognize that they are perfect the way they were made and never alone." -Wesley Ahart

Graphic: "Some Dyes"
Creator: Payton Cianfarano
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: April Flynn

"This piece is made to showcase the harms and reality of over indulging in fast fashion. Collaged images of my own photography show a woman wearing a piece of fast-fashion clothing and edited the image. Despite her happy expression and the brightly filtered background (warm colors, bright, and a feeling of sun) the clothing itself competes with that as it is varying shades of deep blues. Not only is this creating contrast between the colors and hues, but also contrast between the woman’s expression and the splattered clothing. The images of her are split up into smaller segmented images and pieced back together to create a ‘sewn together’ pattern that would replicate the feel of textiles being haphazardly sewn together. Along with this, black and red splotches are seen throughout the images as I layered them atop one another. I placed them specifically on the clothing she is wearing to show that while the clothes themselves are beautiful or attractive, they do come at a cost that could result in the loss of lives. The subtle red is used to replicate blood in a way that was not too overtly graphic, but also not subtle enough that the intention would be missed." -Payton Cianfarano

Graphic: “The Mind of a Restrictive Eating Disorder”
Creator: Jin Jin Wu
Class: Projects in Digital Composition
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

"This collage incorporates magazine covers because they often have ‘click-bait’ worthy texts and titles about losing weight or dieting that are geared toward a specific crowd. Likewise, advertisements for diet products (ex: sugarine) persuade consumers with white promises regarding quick and effective weight loss. I included images of food to highlight both the obsessive thoughts and fear of it amongst restrictive eating disorders and used the nutrition label and scales as a reflection of their need to be in control.

The contrast of monochromatic (black-and-white) and colored parts in the remix reflects the mental side of restrictive eating disorders. The normal eye sees a nutrition label, but the eating disorder sees the numbers next to the calories, fats, and carbohydrates; it also sees and analyzes the list of ingredients on a food product.

There was originally a boy stepping on the scale, but I changed the gender to further emphasize the internal battle of the woman; the eating disorder manipulates how she views her own weight. People with eating disorders often have a second ‘voice’ that is more irrational, convincing them that they weigh too much or appear too heavy.

When people think of restrictive eating disorders, they are more likely to associate the condition with an image of a gaunt, skeletal body. I wanted to create an image that would inform readers that eating disorders do not have a particular look, and that they are equally mentally dangerous as they are physically." -Jin Jin Wu

Instagram Posts: "Firstleaf: Whimsical Wines"
Creator: Maddie Ury
Class: Professional Uses of Social Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"Tasked with reimagining a brand’s social media, I chose the successful wine delivery service Firstleaf. My first thought was that with a fresh approach to social media and an expanded target audience, the brand could only become more successful. Simply put, I was inspired by what I am drawn to in terms of social media aesthetics: bright colors, fun graphics, and feeling a connection to the brand. I achieved this through keeping the posts lighthearted, relatable—to myself and other people in their 20s, who I believe to be an excellent target audience for this brand—and easy to understand. It was also important to me to represent what it could look like for the brand to engage with the audience through giveaways and language that encourages interaction.

Using Adobe Photoshop and Canva, my main goal was to share the fun and success that is to be had by brands when developing their online persona, while also incorporating professional writing that clearly portrays the brand’s values. Creating an inviting and interactive space on any social media platform is only going to elevate a brand in terms of sales and a strong, trusting relationship with the target audience." -Maddie Ury

Instagram Posts: "Pitt's Green Scene”
Creator: Matthew Hess
Class: Professional Uses of Social Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"My project focused on highlighting the green spaces around Pittsburgh that I felt people should know about. There are so many great parks throughout the city that could benefit students at the university and residents of Pittsburgh alike. It seemed like people might be more interested in visiting these green spaces if they saw pictures and had some information of where they were and what they were like. I decided to go to some of my favorite parks in Pittsburgh and try to capture their beauty to get people out into nature." -Matthew Hess

Multimedia Essay: “Tiananmen: An Oral History”
Creator: Boen Wang
Class: Graduate Nonfiction Workshop
Instructor: Jeanne Marie Laskas

Link: https://69billwilliam420.wixsite.com/website-1/tiananmen-became-the-thre...

"'Tiananmen: An Oral History' tells the story of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing on June 4th, 1989, as told from the perspective of ordinary people: eyewitnesses in Beijing, activists outside Beijing, the generations born afterward, and members of the diaspora. The project focuses on the ripple effects of the massacre, in addition to the event itself—the way history is transmitted across time and space. This story is narrated by Belinda Kong, a Chinese-American professor from Hong Kong whose interest in Tiananmen stemmed from the literature it inspired. She is one of a polyphonic chorus of voices that, taken together, tell the story of what happens after the story is over." -Boen Wang

Twine: “Camp Game”
Creator: Rozie Fero
Class: Intro to Game Studies
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

Link: https://kaw219.github.io/Camp-Game/

“I originally conceptualized 'Camp Game' on a lazy Sunday afternoon over a cup of coffee. I wrote up a little Java code and set the idea aside for more brainstorming. When taking Intro to Game Studies, I realized Twine was the perfect medium to create the game. I’ve always had an appreciation for words and language as a form of art, so I was excited to create a game where the medium was words, not necessarily graphics. This game took hours of work, and I hope others find it as enjoyable to play as I did to create.

Special thanks to Becky Button, Jess FitzPatrick, Nancy Hart and Thomas Pope.“ -Rozie Fero

Twine: “Making Chicken Parmesan”
Creator: Anthony Pascarella
Class: Intro to Game Studies
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

Link: https://kaw219.github.io/Making-Chicken-Parmesan/

"I wanted to experiment with the capabilities of the Twine hypertext format when I was working on this mini game. I also wanted to try out a playful, sarcastic tone since most of my work in academics is more serious in nature. Lastly, and perhaps the most influential element, I was really hungry when I was brainstorming what I could do with this game. I love cooking, so it was nice to combine that with a sarcastic tone and some branching narratives. Once I started working on the Twine, the rest came pretty naturally." -Anthony Pascarella

Video: "Currently Live"
Creator: Kiera O'Brien
Class: Media Ecology
Instructor: Zach Horton

Currently Live_Kiera O'Brien_Media Ecology Final Project from Kiera O'Brien on Vimeo.

"I discovered 'nature cams' at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a plethora of articles recommended cueing up 'jellyfish cams' to combat stress and break up the tedium of hours spent inside. As the pandemic dragged on and I spent more and more time in front of my screen, I grew increasingly fascinated by 'nature cams' and the static quality of their unrelenting footage. Whether documenting the inside of a beehive in Germany or a sheep barn in Watkins Glen, New York, the interminable feed of these videos often becomes the visual equivalent of white noise.

In 'Currently Live,' I explore how such nature cams function as medial agents, stabilizing an interminable present within the boundaries of a digital screen, rendering distant and varied ecologies immediate, consumable, and interchangeable. Completed in Prof. Zachary Horton’s graduate seminar in Media Ecology, my video collage features found footage from an assortment of live 'nature cam' streams from around the world, accompanied by a soundscape of generic nature sounds (bird song, insect buzz) layered over the hum of computer monitors and the gurgling of a domestic aquarium. In an allusion to the artificial focal point of a traditional landscape painting, different framings of the same footage are layered over one another, creating perspectival depth, and disrupting temporal expectations: at times it is unclear if the videos are in fact recordings of different moments in the same stream or exact mirrors of one another." -Kiera O'Brien

Video: "Eda"
Creator: Mercedes Sanoja Suarez
Class: Introduction to Creative Writing
Instructor: Shannon Reed

"Eda started off as a poem. I crafted her with the raw pain and anguish that comes with an eating disorder. I had nicknamed my eating disorder Eda and it only made sense to immortalize her in a poem so others know they are not alone and they are understood. The poem then became alive through the digital narrative. I worked for days crafting each scene out of objects I bought at the dollar store. It was hard translating words into images and actions but after a few days of planning, creating, and filming I finished Eda. Eda is a statement of the clutch that eating disorders can have but I also want it to be a statement of hope. I made it out alive and so can you." -Mercedes Sanoja Suarez

Video: "Mister Dippy's Neighborhood"
Creator: Kelly Schanes
Class: Professional Uses of Social Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"This video was created to promote the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s brand identity through social media. By thinking about the type of content they typically post, I wanted to make something that embodied the idea of 'quirky yet professional.'

My goal with this project was to create something that would be engaging on social media for all audiences while still being informative about the museum’s current operational status during the time of COVID-19. I thought that there would be no better way to engage the people of Pittsburgh than to draw inspiration from Pittsburgh-favorite, Mr. Rogers." -Kelly Schanes

Video: "“Looking for the Light"
Creator: Alexandra Masel
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"My name is Alexandra Masel and I am a junior at the University of a Pittsburgh, presenting my project “Looking for the Light.” I decided to create this project in Fall of 2020, in hopes of turning the tables on how we talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. With everything that we have experienced in the last year, I aimed to create an experience that showed the light that came at the end of this dark tunnel and remind people to stay hopeful. I hope you all enjoy watching this video essay, and that it brings you just as much peace as I had making it. To quote the end of my project, 'with all of the unknowns and failed promises, we must remember the little moments that have made it all survivable.' Thank you." -Alexandra Masel

Video/Graphics: "Peacock Advertisements"
Creator: Alison Sivitz
Class: Professional Uses of Social Media
Instructor: Katie Waring

"For this project, I created a series of ads for NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. The graphics are targeted toward general audiences and can be displayed across a number of websites and social media platforms. The videos, however, are meant specifically for TikTok. Each ad aims to blend in with other videos on users’ “for-you” pages and generate engagement through the use of popular and/or trending audios." -Alison Sivitz

Video: "W4P! Pitt"
Creator: Caroline Morawski
Class: Writing for the Public
Instructor: Tim Maddocks

"I hope this piece of writing and video can reach an audience who thinks that this anti vape ad comes with a different perspective and appreciate it for just that - something different. A lot of times I learn something or donate to a cause and I think 'that was it'? This piece comes with a call to action. This call will inform the next generation and how we can help ourselves and society. I hope this piece can bring light to things on a deeper level. Peers truly have influence on one another. Whether it is vaping or not the actions and words we provide one another, at any age, alters thinking and feeling. Society must be more conscious of this." -Caroline Morawski

Video: “A Quarantine Journal”
Creator: Vivian Zauhar
Class: Notes from 2020 Essay Film Contest
Instructor: Sarah Joshi & Jess FitzPatrick

"The quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely been life-altering for everybody, and it will remain a significant moment in history, a time where people were stuck with themselves and their thoughts. I’ve always kept a journal as an escape, but during the first few months of quarantine, my journal became less of a catalog of thoughts but pushed introspection and self-growth. Most of the voiceover in my film comes from excerpts in my journal, and I just attempted to capture what the quarantine was for me and I hope that other students my age can relate to it, even if it’s not completely relevant anymore now that we’re practically a year into the pandemic." -Vivian Zauhar

Video: “A Sunday Morning Quarantine”
Creator: Elaina Giaudrone
Class: Notes from 2020 Essay Film Contest
Instructor: Sarah Joshi & Jess FitzPatrick

"This short film holds a special place in my heart. Every clip used for this project was 'found,' meaning it was all material that I had in my camera roll before starting. I used the clip of me singing Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 because I thought it described the feeling most of us experienced during quarantine pretty well--longing for something you don’t have anymore. While most of us miss what life was like before lockdown, this film is meant to remind us that brighter days are ahead, and to look for joy in the little things. It is a reminder to be vulnerable, to laugh, to reach out to loved ones, and to be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come. Thank you." -Elaina Giaudrone

Video: “Bullet Points—The Tradition”
Creator: Sabrina Helbig
Class: Intro to Poetry Writing
Instructor: Ellen Smith

"In response to a digital poetry project for class, which explored interpretation and digital adaptation of a poem we were studying, I drew from Jericho Brown’s poem 'Bullet Points,' from his collection The Tradition, to create an audio-visual rendition of the piece. 'Bullet Points' is a harrowing first-person poem addressing police brutality in the United States. As someone who is not directly affected by police brutality but who was building a video around this poem, I tried my best to empathize with, respect, and honor the Black struggle; be thoughtful about what media I was choosing to represent the poem and why; and balance the video between content that could be triggering or retraumatizing and content that I thought embodied the poem. In this video, 'Bullet Points' is read by Jericho Brown." -Sabrina Helbig

Video: “End of Winter”
Creator: Yanchen Ge
Class: Filmmaking 3 | Notes from 2020 Essay Film Contest
Instructor: John Cantine | Sarah Joshi & Jess FitzPatrick

"As an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, I devote myself to write and produce the stories I must tell. Every meaningful story is like a firework that illuminates our hope when we are in the darkness, and I want these moments to be memorized and shared. The moment of firework blooms in the sky is beautiful, so why don’t we make it more beautiful?

Illustrating international students’ traveling dilemma during the COVID-19 outbreak, I made the film 'End of Winter' to portrait the loneliness in the repetitive quarantine days, but I also wanted to encourage people who limit their travels and stay home for the safety of society to stay positive and stay strong. We quarantine, but we are together." -Yanchen Ge

Video: “Get Ready with Me”
Creator: Alison Jeon
Class: Seminar in Composition
Instructor: Jordan Hayes

"Often, we acknowledge the flaw in our culture but continue the flawed practice, whether it is unintentional or purposeful to fit in the culture. I wanted to focus on beauty from that point of view. Social media has established certain expectations on beauty practices and makeup; however, it simultaneously gives expectations to accept natural beauty. Although we want to believe that we are people accepting of natural beauty and the beauty of bare face, I realized that I only post pictures of myself with makeup on social media. Through this reflection, I wanted to highlight the discrepancy between our beliefs and actual actions. I also wanted to emphasize that beauty standards, lectures, and judgments should be strictly kept to ourselves." -Alison Jeon

Video: “Representation in the Music Industry.”
Creator: Lila Ost
Class: Seminar in Composition: Diversity (Disability)
Instructor: Ellen Smith

"Our world is deeply connected by music. It is something that is incredibly valuable to us as people, but we must be careful to make sure that we truly understand what and who we are listening to. I remember listening to the Basic Able podcast during my Seminar in Composition class and listening to guest Leroy Moore talk about issues with misrepresentation in the music industry. Though I was familiar with the ways the music industry has deep-rooted bias, I was inspired by his discussion of lyric choices that have ablest connotations. Oftentimes these occurrences go overlooked. I started to look closer at some of my favorite artists and the music they produced in hopes of obtaining a larger perspective of which voices I was listening to and the voices they may or may not be elevating through their music. I wanted to emphasize how crucial it is to be self-analytic so that we can truly understand where we are falling short. Music is beautiful, raw and expressive, and should be accessible and celebrated by all who choose to do so." - Lila Ost

Video: “The ‘Chinese’ Virus”
Creator: Abigail Lombardi
Class: Projects in Digital Composition
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

"This found-footage compilation video introduces the controversy surrounding former President Trump’s use of the term 'Chinese virus' and how this rhetoric has desensitized, caused, and justified racism and harm towards the Asian and Asian American community in the United States. Please note that this video was compiled in 2020, and hate crimes towards Asians in the U.S. have only increased since. Please see the end of the video for the footage credits and Fair Use Statement.

I aimed to highlight examples of these hate crimes through real-time footage and news reports. This way, viewers can get a sense of the harsh reality of what has been going on. Many found footage films include narration from the director or a narrator. However, I chose not to narrate the video myself because I wanted to place the focus on the voices of the people being affected by COVID-19-related racism themselves.

Many people are unaware of what is going on, or simply unaware of the severity of this problem. I encourage everyone to become more educated on the topic and to provide support to related groups such as Hate Is a Virus (https://hateisavirus.org/) and Stop AAPI Hate (https://stopaapihate.org/). Lastly, please report if you personally experience or see someone else experience a hate incident. I hope that this video inspires viewers to strive towards creating a more inclusive society in both our local community and country." - Abigail Lombardi

Video: “Timeline”
Creator: Nektarios Kasamias
Class: Notes from 2020 Essay Film Contest
Instructor: Sarah Joshi & Jess FitzPatrick

"Can we trust our memory of a person? Timeline is a visual lockdown love letter that seeks to remember people where they no longer exist. Nervous narration accompanies a stitching of images, until the film falls asleep. In the darkness, words become dreams, memorydreams. There’s comfort there, too." -Nektarios Kasamias

Video: “Unexpected”
Creator: Louisa Li
Class: Composing Digital Media
Instructor: Jordan Hayes

"Desperate, stranded, lost. A need to find the ones you love in a world filled with the unknown, only to meet a treacherous end.

While initially coming up with this concept, I wanted to use source material from my own writing but had no way of showing the true nature of the setting, characters, or plot progression in a serious manner. As a result, instead, I touched on aspects of suspense and drama while experimenting with the effect of stuffed animals being present in the film instead of real people. This stark juxtaposition between horror and children's toys creates a satirical yet intense atmosphere as it takes qualities from the horror genre and twists it in a way that brings out the pure stupidity and humor a home video would have." -Louisa Li

Video: “Unmasking 2020”
Creator: Hannah Burns
Class: Seminar in Composition: Film | Notes from 2020 Essay Film Contest
Instructor: Alison Patterson | Sarah Joshi & Jess FitzPatrick

"I was reflecting on what 2020 has meant to me, and I wanted to highlight the major events that happened throughout the year. I particularly wanted to focus on the ideas of climate change, the current political climate, the Black Lives Matter movement, and coronavirus, as they were the major events on many minds. I also wanted to showcase these ideas without being too explicit. This is where the idea of "unmasking" came into play. I wanted to reveal myself slowly, just like how I was revealing the ideas of 2020. At the end, I take a deep breath and shut my eyes. I feel like sometimes all we can do to center ourselves is to take a deep breath and let all that anxiety and worry out. I hope that you enjoy!" -Hannah Burns

Video: “VIP Only”
Creator: Kathryn Human
Class: Projects in Digital Composition
Instructor: Jess FitzPatrick

"VIP ONLY revolves around the cultural appropriation of black culture in the club scene. Nightlife would not be what it is without the artistry of black musicians, dancers, and style icons. However, due to racism against the black community the very culture that is so celebrated by all is used to vilify its creators. The visual art piece works at a rhythmic pace to urge viewers to dig deeper the next time they listen to techno or hip-hop. Audio from the video essay, 'Black to Techno,' by Jenn Nkiru served as my main inspiration. Her essay says, 'Anytime you listen to techno...or hip-hop...you better pay homage to Motown...the people who spawned this culture.' To this point, I chose to highlight how blackness and nightlife have been vilified through the media, for example the news clips titled 'Club Watch' describes nightlife shootings and violence in black neighborhoods with black suspects. Layering the 'Strictly Prohibited' sign with archive footage from the 1980s/90s (0:46s) creates a visual statement and juxtaposition. Viewers simultaneously see the black people and places that 'spawned the culture' with the signage that successfully stole it from them. I used animated clips from Disney’s Barnyard Dance and Betty Boop to symbolize the non-black people who participate in the nightlife sphere on the condition that black people be forcefully left out. While music, dancing, and nightlife are seen as ways to escape the harsh realities of life...we must not disregard or ignore the tools we use to 'let go.' Behind that addictive beat is a story of life and death; the reality of life as a black person in America being exploited for profit." -Kathryn Human

Website: "SevenFeed"
Creator: Kari Villanueva
Class: Writing for the Public
Instructor: Tim Maddocks

Link: https://kmvpitt54.wixsite.com/mysite

"This piece is a short newsletter inspired by the Portland based SixFeed Newsletter. My website aims to bring awareness for both national and Pittsburgh local nonprofits and shed light on the reality of nonprofits during the pandemic. I interviewed three different sources: Children's Miracle Network, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. I also included an edited Q&A of a full interview I conducted with the Vice President of Programming at Children's Miracle Network." -Kari Villanueva