Pushing Forward

Our JJIE Virtual World thirteenth group meeting  was similar to last week’s meeting. We all arrived at the Center for Sustainable Journalism at 9AM and then split up into our specific groups. The main incentive for today’s small group meetings was simple: push forward to complete the remaining tasks to create the most effective presentation for Christopher’s story.

Last Friday at 6PM, all the journalists submitted the draft of their individual segment to Professor Witt. After reading through each segment, Professor Witt replied with comments on what they could add to or revise in their stories. Facts. That was the initial step to drafting the story. Now, emotion must be added, along with even more facts to present an in-depth story about the life of Christopher Thomas. The journalists will be reading and exploring how other similar news stories are structured to gather ideas for our own story. After discussing writing strategies and additional people to contact for context, the group decided upon a deadline for the final drafts so that Kevin Enners can begin merging the story segments together. The deadline for the next long story draft of each segment is November 14. Until then, the journalists will be drifting back into the unstable world of a boy who was incarcerated at age 14, and remains in jails still at age 30 serving his 40 year sentence.   They will explore deeply enough to tell the true story of his young, troubled life and explore the question of why his legal quest to reduce his sentence has not been successful.

Meanwhile, in the virtual world, the machinima team continues to build the avatars for the machinima story and build sets. Although the team has already created some avatars for the Pawn Shop scene, they continue to work on them, adjusting wardrobes, skin tones and body shapes to create realistic avatars that visually work well together and with the set. The machinima team had planned on filming today, but experienced problems due to a conflict between a recent firewall update and the virtual world Firestorm viewer, so filming was postponed until later this week.  The team did successfully record more soundtrack voices, mainly  characters re-reading some lines for sound and accuracy. Cristina Guerra continued to work on the inworld scenario textual graphics and credits for the machinima. At the end of the day, the machinima group realized there is still much work to be done as they continue to press on towards completing this compelling machinima story.

Realizing the potential for the continuation of this entire virtual world journalism project, Professor Witt has urged the public relations team to both promote our project’s machinimas and written stories, and concurrently look for possible grants for future funding. At today’s PR meeting, the group focused on finding more contacts in both areas. Public relations contact spreadsheets are being completed for the top-ranked schools and programs in Journalism, Film, Digital Media, and Gaming. The group is also researching foundations and corporations with established relationship to digital media schools and virtual reality, to discover possible sources for grants to fund the expansion of our virtual world project. The project press release deadlines for the Public Relations group are coming quickly, so the completed contact spreadsheet is due on November 20. Grant source research needs to wrap up by the end of November, with query letters to possible funding organizations going out in early December.

Thus, together or apart, the “divided” groups continue to work as one. This project is nothing without the journalists who have tracked down contacts to gather the information and find photos to ultimately report on and write the full story. The project is not complete without the machinima team having the knowledge of how to utilize this information gathered by the journalists to bring Christopher’s story to life in a virtual world machinima and where people can live out the story themselves. And finally, this project would never come into the public eye or have an opportunity to expand without the public relations team’s research, widespread media campaign, and grants that could support and maintain it past this semester.

Pushing forward, each group plays a major role in the successful completion of this project.  All of our creative work together is bringing us closer and closer every day to completing our project goals.