Short of the Week

Last winter, Short of the Week redesigned their site. I came across it this morning. Pretty cool. Here’s something that they posted about the new design: Welcome to the New Short of the Week!

I really like how it looks and functions, both on a laptop and the iPhone:

SOTW4-laptop-home SOTW4-iphone-channels

I especially like that when you pause the movie, a brief description of the film and a link to a longer description pops up. And I like the horizontal strips. Are these stripes better than a grid for videos? Not sure. They seem a bit trendy and are pretty big on the screen. I think I’ll show this site to STA and get his opinion.



I really enjoy the interactive stories from the National Film Board of Canada. I’ve analyzed many of them on this blog. Today I checked out Bread: A common story that connects us all. Here’s the description:

Artist and social innovator Mariette Sluyter’s Bread opens the oven door on the practice of baking bread and highlights the way it connects to our cultural emotional wellbeing. An experiment in human connectivity and interactive storytelling, Bread allows us to take a peek into the lives of six older women from very different backgrounds, all of whom share a passion for bread making.


Bread focuses on six different women who bake bread. You can watch a video of each of them baking bread and telling a brief (3-5 minute) story about their lives in voice-over. You can also read their bread recipes. So far, I’ve watched the videos and read the recipes for 3 out of the 6 women.

This project is very compelling. Both the theme and the structure of the project aren’t overly complicated. Full screen videos of six different women baking bread in their homes + voice-over narrations about their life. The main page is a grid of images of six kitchens. When you scroll over the kitchen, a picture of the woman who bakes in that kitchen appears. Click on her, and a full screen video of her baking starts playing. At the top of the video screen are links to the break recipe and “all stories.”

I like how the video combines silent footage of the women baking bread with background music and voice-over from a separate interview. As I write this last sentence I wonder, How does the choice to mute the kitchen scene, both the sounds of the baking and the women themselves, shape the story? How would we experience the story differently if we could hear those sounds? Does muting the actual noises of baking disconnect us from the physical process of making bread? Would it be possible to create a video project where you gave the audience the choice of hearing the kitchen noises…and maybe even some of the raw footage of the interview?

On Walking

Last week, I walked around Como Lake in St. Paul. This walk wasn’t about exercising or getting anywhere in particular. I walked because I happened to be at the lake, waiting for STA to finish a meeting.

Footage from my walk around Como Lake. Total distance around lake = 2.6 miles

These days, I rarely take walks like this. Walks where I slowly wander by myself, observing my surroundings and ruminating on life. I don’t take walks because I’m usually running. I love running, but it’s different than taking a walk.

When I run, I run quickly and intensely.  But when I take a walk, I walk slowly and leisurely. I amble along, breathing in the air, listening to the birds or, more often these days, the bugs, and being curious about the world and my place within in it. When I run, I don’t think too much. I just listen to my current playlist and try to let go…of stress, nagging doubts and critical thoughts. Shutting down my brain, and my penchant for thinking critically and creatively all of the time, is a good thing and I’m glad that running helps me do it. But I like taking walks. I like the space and time it gives me for thinking deeply and slowly. I get great ideas while I’m taking walks. Inspiration for new projects, revelations about my life, tentative solutions to problems I’m encountering.  I need to take more walks this fall.


Swimming to the dock

A few years ago, I embarked on a digital moments project. The goals of that project were to document my life, using small, often mundane, fragments of my day and to get in the habit of using and experimenting with digital video. It was such a fun and useful project. Even now, every couple of months, we (STA, FWA, RJP and me) sit down and watch different “moments.” I want to start creating these again this fall. Maybe something different this time? Instead of just creating stand alone moments, sometimes I’ll try to write about the footage. Here’s my first one: Swimming at the dock.

Just outside of the orange buoys at the little beach at Lake Nokomis, there is a small platform that you can swim to, sit on or dive off of. I call it “the dock.”  I can’t remember how long it has been there, but for the past three years, it has been one of my key landmarks (or watermarks?) at the lake.

This summer, the dock played a big part in two of my favorite swimming practices:

The dock at the 50th street beach. Video shot from lifeguard's chair.

one: While swimming across the lake during open swims (on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays), the dock served as the halfway point of my 1200 yard loop, from the big beach to the little beach and back again. The first year I swam across the lake in 2013, I would frequently stop as I swam from one beach to the next, to get my bearings and to take a rest. The second year, I successfully swam across the lake without stopping, but I always took a brief break at the little beach before heading back to the big beach. This year, I swam in loops, starting and ending at the big beach. It was fun to circle around the dock without stopping. Sometimes kids would be sitting on the dock watching the swimmers. I’d glance at them as I turned my head to breathe or lifted just my eyes, like an alligator gliding through the water, to see where I was going.

two: Occasionally, when she wasn’t in camp, my daughter RJP would come with me to the lake and we would swim out to the dock together. After making sure she made it up the ladder, I’d swim around the three white buoys that marked the lap swimming area. After I rounded the third buoy, RJP would jump off the dock and meet me. We’d chat for a few seconds, then she’d climb back up and I’d start another loop. After a few loops, we’d swim back closer to shore and do handstands in the water. Then we’d sit in the sun and read.