Archive for April 2011

Month-Off-May   Leave a comment

I’m DONE WITH THE SEMESTER! My first year of grad school as a public relations master’s student is officially OVER! It was a great semester, I learned a lot, and I’m already looking forward to the summer classes I’ll be taking in June – crisis communication and PR campaigns. But even more than my upcoming summer classes, I am TOTALLY PUMPED ABOUT MONTH-OFF-MAY!

Here is a list of things I’ll be doing today:

1. sleeping in (done)

2. Getting a massage (in 25 minutes)

3. Coming home and cozying up on the couch with my dog to watch the Royal Wedding (I love my DVR)

4. Reading my Real Simple magazine that just showed up last week, but I’ve not had the time to crack open

5. Gardening in my front yard. The hail and storms devastated by veggie patch and Aloe Vera plants. Is it bad that I care about these plants more than the hail dents and fractured windshield on my car? Priorities – you gotta have ’em

6. Dinner and drinks tonight with my friends.

Tomorrow, Ijams Nature Center is having it’s Spring Plant Festival! It’s from 8:30am – 1:30pm. Check out this link for more details and directions. I’m definitely going to go, so I can replenish the plants in my yard, and maybe see what else I can find to add to my garden. So excited!


Posted April 29, 2011 by Elfawin in Random

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Tornado Watch   2 comments

On Monday we had some pretty gnarly weather rip through Knoxville. 60mph winds, apocalyptic-style thunder and lightning, and definitely a lot of rain. Power lines around Knoxville were tangled up in fallen tree branches, cutting off power for over 24 hours in some areas (my neighborhood included). I was on UT campus when the storm hit. From the windows of my office it looked like I was standing in a car wash, except the cleaning brushes were scraping tree branches, and the water was coming from the sky. My visibility to the outside was about three feet. Crazy!

The next day, evidence of the storm was littered about campus in the form of tree branches and janky street signs. Huge trees were down everywhere, and UT maintenance guys were chainsawing up piles of wood and carting off the remains. It was a very interesting sight. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced natural chaos like this in person.

One of many slayed trees on UT campus after the storm on Monday night. Taken Tuesday April 26, 2011. Click image for a closer look.

Now that it’s Wednesday, the second round of storms from the southwest is on its way to East Tennessee. I’ve been checking the radar and it’s not easy to determine how much rain or lightning Knoxville might get. More importantly, will a tornado come through the city?


A tornado watch means that it’s possible a tornado might eventuate.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been spotted.

During a heavy storm, tornado warning, or actual tornado, the best thing you can do is stay prepared and pay attention to local weather reports. Have a conversation with your fellow house mates to determine a plan of action in the event that a tornado actually hits. Give your property an ocular patdown: Secure any large items you have outside (deck chairs and tables, flamingo statues). Prepare a “disaster kit” (You should really have this prepared well in advance). The Red Cross has a handy list of items to include in such a kit (click here for the extended Red Cross kit list):

  • A first aid kit with essential medication in addition to the usual items.
  • A battery powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Canned and other non-perishable food and a hand operated can opener.
  • Bottled water.
  • Sturdy shoes and work gloves.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off your homes utilities.

And finally, if you’re inside a house, get in the basement as far away from the outside walls as possible. Optional steps to take during a tornado warning are included in the following photographs*.

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*Steps not entirely applicable to all situations. Please refer to for a better list of instructions

And Now You Know: Green Screens Revealed   Leave a comment

In between finalizing three different final projects for my UT classes this weekend, I took a much needed break and ventured out to the edge of my favorite Internet black hole o’ procrastination – reddit. Within seconds, I found this fantastic YouTube video (below) that will blow your mind.

Before you watch it, take a second to reflect on the television shows or movies that you watch. Got a mental list going? Okay, now you’re ready to watch the video…

Some of the above editing effects are pretty easy to spot, like the cruise ship from Grey’s Anatomy at 1:05, or the window-dangling action scene at 2:53 (extra points if you can figure out what show/movie it’s from), but would you necessarily have noticed the other scenes? I’m going to bet that you wouldn’t have. I worked in cable television production for six years, and I can’t figure out half of these shots.

Green screens are a funny little invention, and they make the movie and television worlds we know and love come to life in exceptional detail. After watching the above video, do you feel cheated by the production industry?

So how does it work?

The quick and dirty explanation: Once a green screen is in place, a scene is shot like it normally would be. Attention to lighting detail is really important. Shooting outside on a sunny day is perfect, because the sun distributes light evenly and naturally over all objects. High quality lighting kits are wicked expensive, so shooting outdoors is a cheaper, albeit highly weather-dependent alternative.

Once the footage magically appears* in the edit bay, the editor applies a Chroma Key color transition to each green screen shot. A Chroma Key is an editing software feature that basically allows two images to be sandwiched together. The color of one image is removed (the lime green around the subject), and is replaced by the desired image (the action or location surrounding the subject). The lime green of a green screen makes it a perfect color to use as a backdrop, because very few things in this world are naturally lime green. Editors don’t have to worry about the Chroma Key removing objects other than the green screen. Does that make sense? If not, think of what you would look like if you were wearing a lime green top infront of a green screen. In the edit bay, once the Chroma Key is implemented, all that would be left of you is your head and arms.

Good editing results in seamless scenes that make it essentially impossible for viewers to discern where a green screen is located. If you pay close attention the next time you watch a documentary or reality show, you might notice a weird glow around a person’s hair, fingers, or oddly shaped accessories (I’m thinking Carmen Miranda, who are you thinking?). Rest assured, you’re not seeing their natural aura. Items such as hair, fingers, and accessories can be unusually shaped and are difficult to key out perfectly, especially when a subject moves their hands fast, or runs their fingers through their hair.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the above video. The next time you notice a poorly edited or obvious green screen scene while watching TV or a movie, award yourself the Badge for Chroma Key Awareness!** You deserve it.

*Thousands of editors and media workflow specialists around the world just cringed simultaneously.

**Chroma Key Awareness badge is not a real badge and can only be unlocked/obtained by your imagination.

Semester In Review   3 comments

Today is the last day I have to post to my blog for my Social Media class at UT. It’s kinda sad. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog, and I’ll be brutally honest, I’m not sure if I will have the will power to keep it up after the semester is over. I’d like to think that I will keep blogging, and I will definitely try. But without the grading attachment, I wonder where or what my incentive will stem from? Philosoraptor asks the hard hitting questions when I cannot…

I’ve really enjoyed writing about random topics each week especially the Aussie stuff. I’d like to think that my readers enjoy my posts too. The best part about this blogging is that it gives me an excuse to explore topics I normally would never have ventured into. Take QR codes for example. I’ve always been curious about them and I have wanted to figure out how to use them for a while. So I did some QR code research and blogged about it! Because of that, I now understand how to use QR codes, and it’s been one of my most popular posts to date, so I think other people are also getting some use from it, which is fantastic. By the way, QR codes are here to stay, folks. They’re EVERYWHERE. Get in it. Understand it. Immerse yourself in social media! Speaking of social media, I’ve seen this video from Socialnomics a few times, but it’s such a powerful video, I want you guys to watch it. It’s a nice button to the end of a productive, informative social media class.

When I started this blog, I thought I was just going to blog about public relations and the environment. Well, that didn’t happen so much. I have a lot of house DIY projects going on, like, ALL the time, so I figured I would blog about those too. Turns out, it’s really hard to remember to take photos of myself for my blog when I’m mid-project. At least I’ve been able to share my garden with the world! Which, by the way, is doing wonderfully will all the rain we’ve had here in East TN over the past few weeks. Mad props to my mum for helping me plant everything! The peas and tomatoes are looking very green. No Marigolds or Johnny Jump Ups yet, but they’ll sprout eventually.

For the short term (aka: This week), I’m going to focus on preparing for the three huge presentations I have next week. After next Thursday I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. The semester will officially be over for me by 7:45pm on April 28th. Less than 12 hours later I have a massage booked, and then I think I have some estate sales I’m going to check out. I might even finish reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which has been sitting on my bedside table for months now. True story. It sounds like I have planned out the perfect start to Month-Off-May! Yes, that’s right, I get all of May off before summer school classes begin. W00t!


Posted April 23, 2011 by Elfawin in Social Media

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Aussie Slang Word of the Day   1 comment


Pronunciation: tuck-a (rhymes with…nothing for you Americans. Just…well, instead of pronouncing the “er” at the end, say “a” instead.

Meaning: Lunch. Or food you bring with you on a day trip when you’re not at home or at a restaurant to make or order something. A tucker box is the lunch box or bag you carry your food in.

Usage example: “Do you have your tucker with you? It’s gonna be a long drive to Oodnadatta if you don’t!” Incidentally, one of my most beloved places in the world is Oodna-bloody-datta. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s ok, you’re in the majority. If you want to learn more about it, check out the Pink Road House website. The road house is a major tourist attraction and central hub for Oodnadatta. The population hovers around 150, so it doesn’t have much competition. I had a mate in high school – Alice – whose family ran the road house and still does. Lovely people. I was luck enough to go up there for about a week with her for a high school spring break one year. She tried to teach me how to ride a dirtbike, but I sucked at it. That’s ok though, I still had fun.

Protip: You haven’t experienced Australia until you’ve been out under the stars during a cloudless night sky in the outback. True story.

The Pink Roadhouse. Everything is pink. Even the tractor.


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