A-Day Eats

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Football fans, rejoice! A-Day is once again upon us.

This Saturday, thousands of Auburn students, alumni, families and fans will converge on Jordan-Hare Stadium for the team’s spring scrimmage.

Where will those thousands of people eat? For many, lunch and dinner will consist of a quick walk to a local eatery. Good thing we’ve got plenty of walking-distance options.

Many will likely stroll across South College Street to Taziki’s, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, or the old standby, Price’s Barbecue House.

For those who head to the downtown strip, the range of options is huge. Here’s an overview:

Toomer’s Drugs, Bizilia’s Cafe, Big Blue Bagel & Deli, Tacorita, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, Moe’s Original Barbecue, Zazu Gastropub, Hamilton’s, Little Italy Pizzeria, Halftime, Pita Pit, Arigato Sushi Boutique, Jimmy John’s, Quixotes.

If you’re willing to walk a little farther to Glenn Avenue, you can drop by Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Island Wing Company, Waffle House, or Wild Bill’s Kitchen.

So for anyone in need of dining plans on A-Day, hope this helps. War Eagle, y’all!

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A Taste of Something…Different

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I saw something on Buzzfeed today that really caught my eye.

If the thought of the words “food” and “tattoo” in one sentence fascinate you, click here to check out my fun little Storify on it.

After reading it, tell me your Auburn-themed food tattoo idea in the comments section. (No I will NOT be actually getting one. Sorry, y’all.)

Chicken Salad Chick

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Sometimes I wonder if getting addicted to certain foods is a southern thing. I mean, think about it.

Milo’s Sweet Tea.

Chick-fil-a.

And, in Auburn at least, Chicken Salad Chick.

Now, this one I’ve never understood. Probably because I detest mayonnaise. (I’m also an oddball because this rules out pimento cheese and potato salad, other southern staples.)

But I feel it’s worth mentioning because EVERYONE I know in Auburn seems to love it.

And because it’s coming to Auburn’s campus next school year.

And the reaction has been impressive.

 

And that’s just a taste of the reaction.

While I may not understand the appeal, the owner, Stacy Brown, has a cool story. (Read it here.)

From a divorced mother of three to successful franchise founder, Brown has done extremely well. There are now more than 60 franchises over the southeast.

So maybe, just MAYBE, I’ll give it a chance when it comes to campus.

How about you? Chicken Salad Chick yay or nay?

 

Five-Shot Sequence

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After working with video in Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting, I thought I had it down.

But trying to use video to tell a story in a way that I won’t be manipulating with my own narration in editing is tough.

Yet tackling it will only help me in the future.

Like Mark Briggs writes in chapter eight of “Journalism Next:” “Those who go on to journalism school will graduate with a broader array of skills than most of the experienced journalists working today.”

When I graduate from Auburn, I will know how to shoot, edit and tell visual stories both for news and for more documentary-style stories. As someone hoping to go into magazines, which are going through their own digital evolution, this is going to make me a marketable job applicant.

Writing is wonderful and I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in. But skills in writing aren’t enough anymore.

So though it stresses me out sometimes, being able to produce video work that my teachers are asking me to this semester will truly help me as I apply for jobs. I won’t be floundering in the digital world.

As I began to tackle this 5-shot sequence, I knew I wanted to do a food how-to. So I thought of something simple–if I have to focus on shots being in order I didn’t want to worry about capturing a billion steps.

It seemed tedious to me at first, but then I read chapter five of Kenneth Kobre’s “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling.” In the section on shooting sequences he writes, “Just as goods in the pantry don’t make a meal until the proper ingredients are mixed in a recipe, all those shots seem unrelated only until it’s time for the final edit.”

Wow, how true that is.

As I shot, I started to think about flow and how things would work together in the final product. That’s when the sequence started coming together.

In the video below, my friend Sarah Crawford shows us how to make a popular party snack–Golden Grahams Candy.

Take a look:

Coming up with the sequence turned out to be easier than I thought. The difficulties came when I realized that I had taken seven-second shots and not all of them were sturdy.

Due to nowhere to fit the tripod, I practiced bracing as I filmed. I am apparently not quite as balanced as I once thought. I found a few places that shook during editing that I hadn’t noticed in the field.

So lesson one: take way longer footage of each shot so I can ensure stable video.

The other problem I encountered was that my friend spoke a little too quickly in her video. I had to separate sentences in editing.

Lesson two: ask the interviewing to speak slowly and clearly.

These were the two issues that jumped out at me. So now if I were to tackle a larger news video, I would know to cover my butt with tons more B-roll and exert a little more direction/control in the interview.

Overall, I like this piece. I think I could produce similar videos for how-to features at the magazine I’ll be interning at over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be one of the first interns to take the challenge to work in multimedia at Alabama Magazine!

Video Story Critiques

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As a student who has been dipping her toes in the video-editing world in classes over the past couple of semesters, I have serious respect for the art.

It is not easy. At all.

So as I searched for food-or-restaurant related videos to critique for a class assignment, I could only imagine the effort these video creators put forth.

One website, Food.Curated., really impressed me. Liza de Guia is the founder and chief storyteller of the site. Her motto is, “All good food has a story. I tell it. On video.”

That sounded right up my alley, so I clicked on a few and watched. Wow. Here’s my take on a few of de Guia’s pieces:

The story “Grazin’s Grassfed Burgers: A Small Diner Aims to Make the Cleanest Burger You’ll Ever Eat” managed to do the impossible. It got me to actually watch a nine-minute video all the way through.

Yep. That was a miracle. I sometimes have the attention span of a squirrel.

The visuals are amazing. The opening shot is of hands–belonging to the main character, Andrew “Chip” Chiappinelli–molding a raw burger patty. It may be a little out of the ordinary to open with raw meat, but the quality of the colors in the shot are jarringly good, especially for in a kitchen. The music that plays over that part of the video helps catch the attention of the viewer.

The videographer has Chiappinelli tell about his passion of animal welfare and good food, then open up into the larger operation of the farm and some of the difficulties they face.

Chiappinelli is shown to be a very likable character. He’s portrayed as passionate about his craft and good-natured. He has an easy way of talking and seems comfortable, which adds to this representation of

Essentially, the main character is doing something entirely different from other diners. He and his father-in-law are borderline obsessed with the quality of the food they serve and the way in which it was sourced. He talks about how this turns some people off, but he’s OK with that.

He has a goal in life to prepare the “cleanest” possible food that he can. And he sticks to it.

The videographer uses Chiappinelli’s voice to tell the story along with an abundance of video of the diner, the farm, the animals and Chiappinelli himself working. The music the videographer chose to add helped transition between pieces of the story from introduction to background to what Grazin’s goal is and so on.

The natural sound could have been more prominent. There were many farm scenes where I just thought that adding in the mooing of a cow or amping up the sound of chickens would have helped the video.

To end the story, the videographer showed Chiappinelli telling a funny anecdote about a vegetarian in need of iron coming by and appreciating the way he prepares his meat. Then it cuts out as he mentions he wants everyone to enjoy the food experience he supplies.

As I look forward to my work, I will keep in mind the use of music to move the story along. Also, I like how the video work was done–great quality, dynamic angles, lots of variety. However, I think more natural sound is definitely necessary to have a fully-rounded piece.

The next story you should check out is also by de Guia on Food.Curated.

La Vara Churris: The Standard Which to Measure Every Churro” pulled me in with the opening shot of churros bubbling in a deep fryer as the main character, Alex Raij, saying she thinks that her restaurant, La Vara, makes the best churros.

To someone who loves food and cooking (read: me), that catches my attention. She said it’s the best and it looks pretty good, so I’m going to stay and watch what makes them the best. It reeled me in.

Raij is portrayed as a cute Argentine woman who just finds happiness in perfecting her churros. She mentions that she does “personal” versions of dishes. She values nostalgia in her food. She’s like a Latin Betty Crocker.

Raij’s quest is to make the best churros. She is specific in how she does it (a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Argentine traditions) and how it should be eaten (warm, with dulce de leche and maybe some hot chocolate). The videographer uses the excellent interview to both establish the character’s passion and to tell the story by playing it over delicious-looking video of Raij preparing churros.

Showing step-by-step how Raij makes the sweet confections also adds to the story arc.

The videographer wraps up the story by playing a sound byte of Raij talking about not finding any good churros in New York, but having found some good ones in North Carolin followed by a laugh. Though it was a bit of an abrupt way to end, the sound byte added to the character’s personality.

Once again, de Guia had excellent video, variety and use of music and sound bytes. I hope I can be this consistent in that area of my video storytelling.

But she also lacked good natural sound once again. I could just catch a little of the background noise under the music, but I think really cranking up the natural sound on the sound of the sizzling fryer or the mixer would have transported me to the kitchen.

For my third and final video story, I mixed it up a little. I wandered on over to Vimeo and stumbled upon a great member called Cool Video Hunting. The team that makes this page’s videos claims to shoot for innovation.

In their video story  “John Daley of New York Sushi Ko,” they certainly found it.

The video opens with a scene-setting shot of a busy sidewalk and music, then pulls the viewer into the sushi shop. This technique really pulled me in.

John Daley, a sushi chef, is the main character of this story. The videographer portrays him as a sushi purist who is dedicated to putting out the best and most authentic sushi. By playing Daley’s interview over a wide variety of shots, we both hear and see about his trade.

The details that Daley gives let the viewer know that he is serious about sushi. He studied under a master, then under his master’s master. Through this technique of allowing Daley to tell his own story, the videographer also portrays him as a little cocky rather than just confident.

It may not be the best character trait, but allowing that to come through was a really cool layer in the story.

As far as Daley’s quest goes, we see that he wants to serve the finest and freshest sushi.

Visually, we see this in the careful and precise way he cuts each fish and in the odd-looking techniques he utilizes (repeatedly slapping a wrapped-up fish?). Through his interview, we hear how he makes the extra effort by importing Japanese fish daily and how extensive he trained for this life.

The ending added to Daley’s respect of the art of sushi preparation and consumption. He comments that, if you come and enjoy one of the rolls, then, he says, “We’ve all grown today.”

I much preferred the natural sound in this piece to that in the previous two. I love how the videographer used the sounds of each stage of sushi preparation–from hitting the fish to wrapping it–to add to the experience.

After looking at these, I definitely know I want to focus on video quality and natural sound. In each of them, I think the music should be less prominent. That’s an issue I plan to avoid.

Any good food/restaurant video stories to recommend?

 

 

 

 

The Sights and Sounds of Wake Up Coffee Company

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My audio slideshow, entitled “Wake Up Coffee Company” (link below if the hyperlink fails), gives you the chance to hear from the very busy owner of the popular coffee shop, Wade Preston. He describes his inspiration, his coffee philosophy and a little bit about how his shop supports fair trade practices and artisan crafters. I hope you enjoy!

Full link:  https://googledrive.com/host/0B06vquViR27jWUhOU0tZTWhoUlE/index.html.

(Note: To get the full experience, click “captions” under the slideshow frame to enable picture captions)

Impressive Audio Slideshows

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an audio slideshow must be worth at least five thousand.

In an audio slideshow, readers get to not only see the images and read the captions, but hear a narrator add life to the story. This could be a reporter narrating or even the subject.

Peter Frank Edwards’ “The Whole Hog” slideshow for the New York Times is a good example of the subject telling the story of the photos. The slideshow depicts Scott’s Bar-B-Q in South Carolina and is narrated by the owner, Rodney Scott, along with raw audio from the restaurant.

Scott tells his story of growing up in this family business, the history of the business and comments on its uniqueness of being out in the country. He describes the difference between how his business cooks its meat–and the skins–compared to other barbecue joints. He sets himself apart.

This slideshow is an excellent example of community journalism, to which I am very partial. It gives people a look at a small, family-owned business that is thriving out in the country. This benefits both the owner who is getting exposure and the barbecue-loving viewer who watches and then thinks, “I’ve got to try that place.”

It really inspires me because this is basically what I’d like to do for a magazine someday. Getting to seek out and featuring small-town gems like this for, say, Southern Living Magazine would be my dream.

You’ll notice that the captions on the pictures are more factual rather than adding to the narration. They simply identify the people in the pictures and clarify what is happening if it is not completely obvious. A few of the photos don’t have captions at all, but those images don’t need further explanation because a viewer can tell what is pictured.

The restaurant featured in this gallery brings to mind many local barbecue joints here in Auburn. Moe’s Bar B Que, Country’s Barbecue, Barbecue House, Byron’s Smokehouse, Mike & Ed’s bar-B-Q…we really love our barbecue around here.

Which one do you think would give Scott’s Bar-B-Q a run for its money?

Alright, alright, back to the topic. So, audio slideshows.

While using a subject to narrate the slideshow adds a little more of a personal aspect to a story, a reporter-narrated slideshow can still add life.

For example, Eric Asimov’s “Dining in Napa Valley” slideshow, also for the New York Times, adds pizazz to the traditional dining review.

In the slideshow, Asimov gives an overview of dining in Napa, California. (Good thing he’s a wine critic!)

He discusses the restaurants he went to and describes both the atmosphere and the food. After looking at the accompanying article (a tad long for my taste), I appreciated the option to look at pictures and listen rather than read.

Hey, even journalists get tired of reading.

As Asimov narrates the pictures, captions clarify what the viewer is looking at. When he shows dishes, the captions tell you what’s on the plate. The audio and the pictures are loosely joined. By this I mean that the pictures he shows all come from the place he is talking about, rather than being described in the audio.

This is a good example of when the captions are definitely necessary.

This type of journalism is more on the consumer side. Asimov has basically made a go-to restaurant list for anyone wanting to enjoy some great food when they visit Napa.

What I love is that Asimov has paid a lot of attention to detail. He describes not only the dishes, but the ingredients and the atmosphere of each restaurant as well. He specifically sought out the newer restaurants that may not be well-known yet.

He also looked at a variety of restaurants. From upscale to diner-like, he gives an example of a small variety of options for travelers.

I can picture making something like this for great restaurants of Auburn and Opelika. For the upscale I’d probably talk about Maestro 2300 over on Moores Mill Road.

I’d definitely rave over their lobster risotto.

Rather than a diner, I think I’d go with a popular game day option: Niffer’s. Every student should eat there at least once during their time in Auburn. It’s borderline tradition.

Which Auburn or Opelika restaurants do you think deserve a shout-out?