Romeo and Juliet: a PLP production

We just finished our latest project, which was all about Shakespeare. For this project we had to make podcast episodes, read about Shakespeare, and even make our own play on top of answering the driving question of “How can we present a live audio story that makes an audience appreciate the relevance of Shakespeare?”. Needless to say, this was no small feat, and going over everything we did would take ages, so I will go over the parts that stood out to me the most. Before we move forward, there were also some competencies for this project, which I will cover as we go.

We started off by discussing Shakespeare, basically who he was, and the different plays he wrote. We did a few different activities, mainly focusing on Romeo and Juliet. We started to get into different questions, like “How might I make this appealing to a modern audience?”, which we did a writing activity on. And then we started getting into bigger, more complicated questions, like “What makes a classic?”. Fortunately, we wouldn’t have to solve these questions alone. For the first time ever we were going to do a co-hosted podcast episode, and not just one, but two of these episodes, which you can listen to down below.

This next episode deals with the question of “What makes an adaptation?”, and it is a bit more streamlined since I got feedback on my first episode.

Overall, these episodes were pretty fun to make because you could just have a conversation, there wasn’t much of a script to write or anything. We did have to do some research beforehand, but it was more of an outline of what we were going to talk about. I think the ideas that came from these conversations ended up being very interesting and answered the questions as well. I actually think that these podcast episodes are a great example of me using the Analyzing Texts competency, because in our episodes lots of the discussion points came from us sharing what we had learned about literary devices, language, context, and how they affect the reader/viewer.

While these podcast episodes were going on, we continued our other research on Shakespeare, reading through the whole play of Romeo and Juliet, watching different versions, and other stuff like that. We finished by taking what we had learned and writing about it in Milestone 3, which was about historical perspective and what we had seen from these different interpretations. I think this milestone was another example of a competency being used, this time the Take Historical Perspective competency. I think this because the milestone was mainly about taking historical perspective when looking at the different interpretations that were made.

After we had done all this research and reading on Shakespeare, it was time to put it to use. Because we, as a class, now had to write and preform our own version of Romeo and Juliet. Also, since we had been doing a lot of podcasting, it had to be presented as a radio play. We were split into four different groups to start production, and I got to be a member of the creative team.

We were mainly responsible for casting roles and giving ideas to the script and music teams. At first, the main thing we had to do was help the script team come up with ideas and ways to make the play more entertaining. We also had to help iron out a lot of kinks in the script and with the music team. I did this enough that I think it became of a good example of the Innovative Designer competency, because there were a few times where I came up with particularly creative solutions to problems we had.

But once the script was tweaked a bit it was looking pretty good. It was basically a class preforming Romeo and Juliet, so just the normal play but with commentary from some students and a teacher. It was also shortened quite a bit. At this point the next job for the creative team was to do casting.

Despite the shortened play, nearly everyone in the class would have a role, so it was pretty tough at first. But once smaller roles started to get filled in it got a lot easier. I even got myself a role with a decent amount of lines as the teacher. Before we preformed, we had to rehearse a lot and make some last minute changes. Unfortunately, my character got cut down to size, and ended up becoming the narrator for the intro, but overall I think the revised script was a big improvement. When it finally came time to preform, it went just as planned, and was a big success.

So overall, I definitely learned a lot from this project. I learned more about Shakespeare than I think I will ever need, I picked up some new podcasting skills, and it was fun watching those Romeo and Juliet adaptations (No Gnomeo and Juliet though.). I also learned what it’s like to cast people for roles, because I have only really done acting before, not casting. So yeah, that’s about it for this blog post, but make sure to stay tuned for more.

Preforming a Play

Hello and welcome back to another weekly blog post. This week, we are in the final stages of our Romeo and Juliet radio play. As a member of the creative team, I’ve done a lot of interesting things, like casting, helping out the script team, and eventually being a part of the play. Casting is quite interesting, because although I’ve done acting before, casting is completely new to me. It’s actually pretty difficult because you have to see who is better at what and if they can even do the part or not. It was also kind of weird casting myself, because I got a role as the narrator, who doesn’t have very many lines, but then again not many of our roles do. Our play is supposed to be less than 20 minutes total, so apart from Romeo and Juliet, everyone has relatively few lines. We had to cut a lot of stuff to get it to 20 minutes, and I was curious to see if anyone was able to do it shorter. In fact, I looked all over the internet, but the shortest (serious) version I could find was 30 minutes long.

Will our PLP have the world record for shortest performance of Romeo and Juliet? Well, I guess we’ll all find out next week when we preform it. Until then, we have a lot more practice to do. And remember, I’m always making more blog posts, so stay tuned.

Is This a Good Adaptation?

Hello and welcome back to another weekly blog post. As you may know, we’ve been doing a project on Shakespeare, and last week I made a co-hosted podcast episode answering the question of “What makes a classic?”. Well, I ended up making another episode, this time answering the question “What makes a good adaptation?”. We talked about a lot of interesting stuff, which you can listen to right here in this post. Now, in the episode I mention an old 2010 animated Warhammer 40,000 film called Ultramarines. I was a bit critical of it in the episode, but I didn’t talk too much about it. Well, I rewatched it, and I’m going to give my full thoughts on if I think it is a good adaptation or not. Also, we are going to be venturing into spoiler territory, so if you want to see it for yourself first, the entire thing has been uploaded to YouTube.

Keep in mind that the uploader has shrunk the screen and the quality has been decreased a bit. Also, the audio is sped up and is a bit out of sync, which is why they talk like they have just inhaled a bunch of helium. I assume the poster had done all this to avoid being copyright striked, so that’s the price you have to pay for watching it free I guess. Whether you watched it or not, I am going to now be going into if I think it is a good adaptation or not. Now, it isn’t directly adapted from a book or game, it is an original story set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, so I am mainly going to be judging it on if it is a good adaptation of the setting.

First off, the characters. The main characters are a group of Space Marines from the Ultramarines chapter, and they actually weren’t as bad as I remembered. I remembered them doing a lot of stupid things, but I must have remembered a few bad moments and my memory made that the whole film. Granted, there are a few times when they do some uncharacteristic things, namely when they ignore the blazing banner and the marine who thinks he saw something. The Imperial Fists Marine (The yellow one) who is in charge of the sacred tomb was acting really weird about the blank pages. I could maybe understand him not trusting the Ultramarines, but he definitely would have told the Chaplain about it. The Chaplains are literally the people you are supposed to tell first when it comes to Chaos, and the marine even said he suspected Chaos.

For the antagonists, the Chaos Space Marines and their Daemonic friend, they were fine, except for one scene. The Daemon was okay, no problems there, but the Chaos marines go from their stature in universe to cannon fodder. In the beginning scenes, the Chaos marines are a real threat to the group, taking several Ultramarines with them before they die. This is just they are in universe, because they are pretty much equal to the Ultramarines, just evil. Unfortunately, the desert battle is the complete opposite. The Chaos marines get mowed down by the dozens, and around 15 of them die before any Ultramarines die. They also all get killed in one shot, even if it wasn’t to the head. In the first battle, their armour provided tangible protection, and helped them survive a few bolter rounds. Here, they get one shot each time, while one of the marines gets shot ten times before dying. The Chaos marines also decide to adopt stormtrooper aim, for the few that actually decide to us their guns. The Ultramarines are in the open and completely exposed, but only two get shot. It sucked that they were an actual threat in the first battle, but were reduced to mooks in the second one.

For the mood/setting of the theme, it was pretty good. It is dark and gloomy, and helps accomplish that grimdark Warhammer vibe. The planet is an appropriately dark and gloomy world, which definitely helps. I think that the mood was probably one of this movies strong suites.

For the story, it was okay, I guess. It’s a pretty generic story of “Contact lost, go find out what happened”, and then of course things go wrong. The end scene with the Daemon getting in the ship was quite unique though, and was a decent twist. I knew that one of the marines was possessed, but I actually thought it was the Imperial Fists marine due to his weird behaviour. The story overall was fine and was entertaining enough.

For random miscellaneous things, I don’t think that the rotting wooden boards would hold up a Marine who weighs as much as a tank. It also doesn’t make sense for only a squad of marines to be onboard a full on strike cruiser. Also, the Chaplain’s Crozius (His stick thing) shouldn’t actually have any powers, it’s just a glorified beating stick, and the Imperial Fists marine not reporting things to the Chaplain was dumb.

But after all that, I think my final verdict is, yes, Ultramarines is a good adaptation. Despite what I thought, the characters are mostly faithful to the source material, and the mood is great, with an entertaining story on top of that. I know this is a long post, so I’ll wrap it up here. I’m always making more posts, so remember to stay tuned.

Podcasting and Shakespeare

Hello and welcome back to another weekly blog post. We’ve been doing a project about Shakespeare recently, and I actually just finished my first co-hosted podcast episode. The topic of the episode was “What makes a classic?”, and my co-hosts Grace and Kaia helped me answer that question. But I won’t spend a lot of time talking about that, because you can listen to the episode yourself right here in this post. The main thing I’m going to talk about in this post is something that I thought was quite interesting while we were learning a bit about Shakespeare.

We talked a bit about how little is actually known about Shakespeare himself, and an interesting topic came up. How do we know if Shakespeare even wrote those plays? Or exist in the first place? This theory mainly comes from Shakespeare’s humble upbringing conflicting with his literacy skill and writing genius. But if he didn’t write them, who did? Well, these theories suggest that someone else wrote the plays, but used Shakespeare as a pen name or Shakespeare took credit for their work. There are lots of different people who are claimed to have been able to do this, but going over all of them would take forever. So instead, I will go over the most popular candidate, Sir Francis Bacon.

Sir Francis Bacon was the Lord Chancellor of England, as well as a philosopher and scientist. The theory that it was him stems from letters he sent expressing some of the ideas featured in Shakespeare plays. There were also some old papers mentioning Shakespeare and him together. So, had Shakespeare really been Sir Francis Bacon all along? Probably not. Actually, almost definitely not. The evidence presented is lacking and doesn’t have much going for it other than coincidence. Sir Francis was also busy being the Lord Chancellor, and probably didn’t have much time to write a bunch of plays.

So, it looks like Shakespeare was Shakespeare and wrote all those plays all along, what a surprise. So yeah, that’s about it for this blog post, make sure to stay tuned for more.

In Their Own Words Reflective Post

We just finished our latest project, which was the second episode of our podcasts. If you want to read more about the topic my podcast or previous episodes, you can read about them here. This episode was about WW2, with the driving question of “How might we use stories to understand the causes and consequences of WW2?”. There were also four competencies for this project, which I will go over as we move forward.

The first part of this project mainly involved learning about the causes and consequences of the war, and choosing what we would do our episode on. The first milestone was purely this, where we had to write research and write a paragraph on one of the main causes of the war, nationalism. In my paragraph, I wrote about how everyone is a bit nationalistic, and that is fine as long as you don’t take it to an extreme. If you feel like it, you can read it down below.

However, the main reason I chose to include this milestone in this post was because I think it is a good example of our Responding To Text competency.

I believe this because for we had to create a text that would show a connection to us and the world, which I believe I accomplished with my paragraph. Writing this paragraph also helped me understand why nationalism was one of the key causes of the war because of the extremes people went to.

By the time we did our next milestone, which was purely research, we had decided what we would do our episode on. My podcast is about Warhammer, which isn’t a very broad topic. However, Warhammer is a type of tabletop game called a wargame, and in my research I found that wargaming was actually used a lot historically, especially in WW2. After I had decided, I moved right on to milestone 2.

As I said before, Milestone 2 was purely a research milestone, so I went to see what I could find. I found out about historical military wargames, the start of Warhammer, but most importantly how the US Navy used wargaming extensively during WW2. We also had to find an interview for our podcasts, and I ended up looking through the archives of the National Museum of the Pacific War. However, I didn’t find anything related to my topic just yet.

This milestone covered another important competency, Using Evidence and Resources.

We had to find a variety of reliable sources, and use their information to help build the story of our episodes, which I would say is a good example of this competency in action.

The next major milestone was our episode script. This was pretty much going to be our finalized story, so we had to make sure it covered everything we wanted to talk about. I decided to start out with my introduction to wargaming with some earlier historical examples, and then move on to the main topic, wargaming in WW2, and concluding with wargames like Warhammer today. We were supposed to include our interview in our script, but I still hadn’t gotten one yet, so I left a blank slot to put it in once I found one. Something new we also learned was putting in text citations into our script, which we had practiced a bit in Milestone 1.

I also think the script was a good example of the Analyze Cause and Consequence competency, because we had to write our episodes which focused on some of the causes and consequences of WW2.

The final milestone I’m going to talk about today was our completed podcast episodes. While I was editing my recording together I finally got a reply for an interview. I had emailed the US Naval War College and they had replied, and directed me to Dr. Hal Friedman, who I promptly conducted an interview with. Now I had everything I needed to finish my episode, but as always GarageBand had some problems. I had a few issues with audio cutting off but those were just me accidentally cutting the clip, so it wasn’t too hard to solve. The main problem I had was that the interview audio was a bit too quiet, even when I increased the volume in GarageBand. After some trial and error I came up with long process that solved the problem. I had to take the original audio clip, put it in iMovie as a video and increase the audio, and then remove the audio from the video with a shortcut and increase the volume again in GarageBand. Then rinse and repeat until you have sound that you can hear. Other than those problems the editing process wasn’t too bad, as I had learned quite a few tips from my previous episode.

This milestone is also what I think is a good example of the Global Collaborator competency, at least in my case, because I did my interview a bit late.

I used technology to connect with someone in another country, interviewed them, and used the information I got to enhance and support the ideas I presented in my podcast episode.

That’s all the competencies covered, so now I’ll move on to the driving question, “How might we use stories to understand the causes and consequences of WW2?”. My answer to the driving question is that I think stories like these help us to better understand the causes and consequences of the war by looking at new aspects, or perspectives, that usually don’t think about too often.

So, in conclusion, I learned about wargaming, WW2, and podcasting in general. You can listen to my finished episode here, and there will be more coming, so stay tuned.

Post-Week Reflection

Welcome back to another weekly blog post, last week I talked about the new project we started, and this week I’m going to talk about what we’ve done since then. The first thing is something we did in class, which was looking at WW2 history and researching some terms. I already knew quite a bit about WW2, but the videos were really informative and I learned a lot, for example I didn’t know that there was a battle for Denmark. The terms also helped me learn about a few other events, like the Enabling Act which basically let Hitler do whatever he wanted with Germany.

The second thing we did was basically a bunch of research on our topic, and mine is wargaming. So I researched some earlier wargames and I found some pretty interesting stuff. Apparently the Prussian military used a wargame called Kriegsspiel to train officers, and H.G. Wells (Yes, that H.G. Wells) made a wargame called little wars. I even looked at the early days of Warhammer 40,000.

It was called Rogue Trader back then, and it was kind of weird. But it changed over 9 editions into the Warhammer 40,000 that people play today. That’s pretty much what I did this week, but the project is ongoing and I’ll make sure to keep you updated with these weekly posts, so stay tuned.

Blog Post of the Week

We just started another project for PLP, and as you may know from my previous post, that project was our first full podcast episode. We aren’t done with podcasting yet though, because we are making another episode for our latest project, which is all about WW2. This topic fits in better with the theme of my podcast, which is about Warhammer 40,000, which is a bit like WW2 in space.

However, there was another aspect of similarity that I decided to focus on instead. Wargaming is a type of game where models are used to like armies on a battlefield, which is pretty much what Warhammer is. However, it isn’t always just a game, and before computer simulations were a thing, lots of real world militaries used miniature wargames to simulate battles or military strategies.

In WW2 various countries used wargaming to try and predict the outcome of certain events or try out new strategies. This creates a great opportunity for me to cover Warhammer and WW2 at the same time by going over the history of Wargaming. Now that I have his solid baseline for what I’m going to do, I am ready for the whatever comes next in this project. I’ll keep you updated through these weekly posts, so stay tuned!

The Greatest Canadian Podcast Episode Post

After covering the progress of the project through my weekly posts, it’s finally over. We just finished the first episode of our podcasts, and as you may know from my previous posts, mine was about Warhammer. However, this project’s driving question was “Who is the greatest Canadian?”, and for this episode we had to talk about who we thought was the greatest Canadian. Before I get into what we did, I want to talk about the competencies. There were three competencies for this project:

I don’t want to spend too much time on them so I’ll cover them as I go, so let’s get into it.

With a driving question of “Who is the greatest Canadian?”, obviously we were going to have to answer it, which we started doing right away. There were some restrictions on who we could choose, for example they had to have been alive from 1982-today, but after some research I found someone who I thought was the greatest Canadian and also fit into my podcast. James Cameron is a Canadian director who directed famous films such as The Terminator, Titanic, Aliens, Avatar, and more. His work ended up inspiring lots of different sci-fi, Warhammer included. Here’s an example right here:

We couldn’t just pick someone and make our episode right away though. We had to learn about them and their history, and put it into a story spine covering their life. We also had to include our episode objective to show what we wanted to accomplish with our episode.

After our story spine we had to do additional research on them, and I ended up learning more about James Cameron than I thought I would. I knew he directed some famous movies, but I didn’t know about how he pioneered lots of special effects like CGI, or some of his smaller films that weren’t as famous. In fact, I think this was the perfect milestone show our use of the Establish Historical Significance competency, because we learned learned about our person’s achievements and why they were so significant.

After our research, we had a good understanding of our person, so now it was time to get into podcast production. The first thing we had to do was write a script. I had worked with scripts before but I had never personally written one, which made it an interesting experience. After writing it the first time, I realized my script would be a pain to read out, so I spaced it out and left room for where the interviews were going to be, as well as shortening it overall. I think this milestone was a good example of the comprehending text milestone, as we got to learn about and use different features in our own text.

After we made the script, we had to use it in the first draft of our podcasts. I started recording myself, but I also had to get some interviews for my podcast. I did one with my dad, who knows a lot about James Cameron’s films and has seen pretty much all of them, but I needed another. I decided to do one with my friend, who knows a lot about Warhammer and would be able to add to my podcast, but there was one problem. COVID exists, which means I couldn’t interview him in person. I’d never done an interview online before, but these were required, so I called him online and it was definitely a learning experience. I thought it worked out alright but I think I could have done a few things to improve the overall audio quality. I made some music for transitions and now it was time to mash it all together in GarageBand.

It was okay for a first draft, but it definitely wasn’t perfect. I got some feedback and found three major problems. The audio was bad, it was too long, and there wasn’t much music. I found out that the mic I got was faulty and got a new one. Unfortunately, this meant I had to re-record everything, but it didn’t take as long as I thought. I cut out a bunch of the beginning segment and parts of the interview that got repetitive, and shortened it from sixteen minutes to fourteen, a good improvement. Then I made some background music and thought I was good to go. I was wrong. Editing wasn’t too bad for the first draft, but this time all my audio clips were cut up, and I had more music to deal with. Some parts were too loud, some couldn’t be heard over the music, and there were little gaps everywhere. This was definitely the hardest part of the project for me, and it took a while, but eventually I put it together. While it was tedious, I did learn a few tricks that will definitely help me out the next time I deal with GarageBand, and I thought this version was ready to present.

It almost was, but it still needed a little tweaking. It was still too long, so I cut out a bit more interview and only used the most interesting clips. This brought it down to about ten minutes, which was pretty good. Now my podcast was ready to present to the world, and you can listen to it right here.

So overall, I learned a lot from this project. I now know the techniques and skills needed to make a full podcast episode, as well as learning about Canadian history and identity. I even think that our final podcast episodes were a great example of the Empowered Learner competency, because we used the technology we had to create something that would inform others and share our knowledge. I definitely think I’m going to have an easier time making my next episode in our next project (Spoilers: WW2).

That’s about it for this blog post, so make sure to stay tuned for more.

Le Weekly Reflection Post

Hello and welcome back to another weekly reflection post. In my last couple of posts I said I would be keeping you updated on our latest project, where we were making a podcast about the greatest Canadian. I had just finished writing the script in my last post, and now I got the chance to use it for the first draft of our podcast episode. For this draft, we were supposed to put together the full episode, complete with interviews, music, and transitions. We were also supposed to meet these standards:

However, this wasn’t going to be our final draft, so if we missed some of these we would have another chance in our final draft, which I’ll next week when I’m finished. I think I met most of these guidelines in my draft, but that’s not to say it was easy. I ran into a few issues, one of them being a weird hissing sound that kept coming when I was recording. I’m not sure why it kept happening, but after I unplugged the mic a few times it went away, so it didn’t take too much time to fix. Another problem I had that took some more time to fix was the quality of my recordings. When I put my recordings into GarageBand, the quality was significantly worse, even though I used a microphone. I’m not really sure why this happened either, but I found out that if I turned down the audio of the recording, and then increased the volume of the entire episode, the problem went away. The final issue I experienced was actually handing it in. For some reason I couldn’t export it into Showbie, so I had to export it into voice memos, and then put it into files, and then into Showbie. Despite these problems, I finished my draft and am ready for feedback to improve my podcast for the final draft, and now I know how to solve some of the problems I might encounter. To close off this post, here is my entire draft of my podcast episode:

Another Weekly Reflection Post

As I said in my last post, I’d be keeping you updated on what I’m doing in my podcast right now. If you haven’t read them, basically we had to do an episode on the greatest Canadian, in the context of our podcast. I ended up doing James Cameron, who directed The Terminator and lots of other films Warhammer take inspiration from. But all the research I did was from quite a while ago, and I want to talk about what I’m doing right now, which is the script. I have had some experience with scripts before, as I have been doing acting for a few years now, but our podcast scripts were a lot different from what I was used to.

For starters, it is only us talking, with the exception of interviews, so when we wrote it we were mostly thinking about ourselves. This made it interesting because we could either write exactly what we wanted to say, or just our main points and then improvise a little. I went with being specific, because I think it’s easier when you don’t have to remember certain things. Another new thing in the scripts were transitions and cues. Unlike acting scripts, there are no notes on physical motions, but instead we had to write where the transitions and cues are in our script. We also had to make spaces for our interviews, and mark out words we wanted to emphasize. It was definitely different, but I learned some new script writing techniques, and it was interesting to see how a podcast script is different from a film one. That’s about it for this blog post, but make sure to come back next week for more updates on the project.