Alyzee, Author at Ahimsa Media

Meet Ahimsa’s New Summer Interns!

It’s summertime again, that glorious moment when Ahimsa Media gets to pull new talent onto our team. Two new talents, actually, fresh out of the school year and willing to lend us their creative energies for the summer. Meet Ahimsa’s summer interns for 2011, Kelly Lui and Kino Zhao!

Kino and her cat, “Mister”

Kino Zhao is a 3rd-year double major in philosophy and psychology at UBC, with strong interests in social psychology, storytelling and travel. She is an avid blogger and has lived in five cities so far, beginning with Beijing and currently resides – for now – in Vancouver. Restless for new experiences and full of wanderlust, Kino enjoys hopping on the bus in new cities and going where the wind blows her. She tries – without much success, she says – to convince others how important and interesting philosophy really is. Kino’s new companion is her recently acquired car, whom she affectionately calls May.

Kelly Lui

Kelly Lui

Kelly Lui is an English Literature major at UBC considering a minor in Sociology or Creative Writing. She had her appetite  for poetry whetted this year by Milton and Marvell. She loves getting into the psychology of fairy tale characters and superheroes, and re-telling the stories with a psychological twist. She is currently working on a story about superheroes, which she hopes to turn into a graphic novel with a friend. She is a big fan of the Canucks, and anything made with potatoes. She lived in Hong Kong until she was fifteen, has been living in Vancouver since grade 10, and, like Kino, is very well-traveled.

AhimsaMedia is fortunate to have these two creatives on board for the summer. We look forward to featuring their voices on our upcoming projects. A warm welcome to Kino and Kelly!

http://www.ubc.caKelly Lui is an English Literature major considering a minor in Sociology or Creative Writing. She had her appetite for poetry whetted this year by Milton and Marvell. She loves getting into the psychology of fairy tale characters and superheroes, and re-telling the stories with a psychological twist. She is currently working on a story about superheroes, which she hopes to turn into a graphic novel with a friend. She is a big fan of the Canucks, and anything made with potatoes (thus the futile marshmallow trail). She lived in Hong Kong till she was fifteen, has been living in Vancouver since grade 10, and is very well-traveled./Kelly Lui is an English Literature major considering a minor in Sociology or Creative Writing. She had her appetite for poetry whetted this year by Milton and Marvell. She loves getting into the psychology of fairy tale characters and superheroes, and re-telling the stories with a psychological twist. She is currently working on a story about superheroes, which she hopes to turn into a graphic novel with a friend. She is a big fan of the Canucks, and anything made with potatoes (thus the futile marshmallow trail). She lived in Hong Kong till she was fifteen, has been living in Vancouver since grade 10, and is very well-traveled.

Tips for Creating a Personalized YouTube Channel

In July my knowledge of personalizing YouTube Channel pages went up by about 100 percent. Erica assigned Liz and I the task of creating and personalizing YT Channels for Ahimsa characters Shawnee and Shawn Rockett (of the Shaw Rocket Fund), and for Shea, Ahimsa’s teenage character online.

I’d never tried my hand with personalizing YT Channels before and thought it should be easy, just like personalizing one’s desktop background. To my surprise, I found that just learning the ropes of YT Channel personalization takes a significant amount of time and experimentation. After spending many an ungainly hour on the project I thought I must just be YouTube-challenged, and so sought Liz’s help to speed things along. I was relieved to find that Liz – talented as she is with manipulating digital photos – uttered as many expletives as I did while we worked on getting the YT background image just right. Erica calmed us both by assuring us that personalizing the web page takes much longer than you’d think it would, and that after it’s completed, things move much more smoothly. (They do. And it’s such a pleasure to admire the finished product in the end).

I always admire the colours on Shawnee Rockett’s YouTube channel

So to save all of you some time when personalizing your own YT Channels, here are some good-to-know tips:

1.There is no real ideal size for a YT background image, so don’t bother Googling it to see what size picture other YT users are using. This is because as you add more material to the Channel, the page will grow longer but your image will not. You can cope with this setback by choosing a background colour that will soften the line where the text exceeds the picture. The width that Liz and I found worked best for her photos was 1300 pixels.

We chose a deep grey background to blend in with Shawn Rockett’s teal and deep blue channel colours.

2. Depending on the size of the computer screen being used, the sides of the image displayed may be cut off. So while the edges of the image may show up on your screen, they may be lost on smaller monitors. For this reason, don’t pick images that have a lot of the subject on the extreme edges of the screen as they might become invisible to other viewers.

3. This restriction poses the problem of having a very small margin in which to display your subject on the Channel page. Pushing the subject too far towards the centre of the page will make the image disappear behind the wrapper, and moving it too far towards the edges is risky as well (see tip 2). You can increase how much of the background image is visible by making the wrapper totally or partially transparent.  Do this by clicking “advanced options” under the Themes and Colours tab and adjusting the “Wrapper Transparency” option with the drop-down menu given.

We made the outer wrapper 100% transparent and the inner wrapper 40% transparent so that more of the background picture would appear.

4. When you’re picking the colours to go in the fields in “advanced options”, you need not be limited to the 56 colours offered in the YT grid. There are 216 html colour codes you can find online. Enter the codes for the colours you like in the grids to give yourself more  freedom when designing your page. Name and save the combination of colours you decide on in the top left field of “advanced options” so that you can apply this palette with a single click on other YT Channels you might personalize.

5. Now comes the easy part. When you’re done with setting up the background and visuals, you can start favouriting videos, creating playlists and putting in a channel description. To display your playlists, you need to click the “Videos and Playlists” tab and select which playlists you want displayed. You have to do this every time you create a new playlist and want it on your channel page.

Under the “Videos and Playlists” tab, click on “Playlists” and then “Arrange Playlists” to decide  what order you want your playlists shown in.

You can click “Arrange Playlists” to edit the order of your YT playlists

You can also edit your playlists and arrange the order of individual videos by clicking on one of the playlist icons and then clicking “edit my playlist” (this last one took me a while to figure out).

I hope these nitty gritties are useful to any enterprising YT users out there. Good luck creating your personalized YouTube Channel page!

Things I’ve Learned Creating a Character for an Online Narrative

Erica presented Bronwyn, Liz and I with the project of creating a character for a blog for readers in their mid-teens. Being way out of my mid-teens, I found the task a bit daunting and wasn’t really sure I could create a narrative voice that sounded authentic and entertaining. Thankfully, I found that actually getting down to imagining and writing a character is loads of fun and not at all as hard as I expected it to be. Aside from being a creative delight, it taught (and continues to teach) me to appreciate the multi-platform possibilities of cyberspace narratives and the tools with which to manage them. These tools are invaluable to me as they teach me how to use the web space and control my own online presence.

Brainstorming about our character is rather enjoyable.            Photographer: Liz Kearsley

The first thing that really blew my mind about online writing was that I could bring in many different media into my story, making it a more interactive and immediate experience for readers. I’ve often been frustrated while telling a story to my friends that I just can’t describe that hilarious expression I saw so-and-so make, or an incredible stunt my cat performed, or why some songs send chills down my spine (“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” – who said that?). Writing in cyberspace means that I don”t have to settle for only my description to convey the experience I am trying to share, but can bring my listener right into the moment of my cat’s star-jump with back flip with a picture, video or drawing (a talented cat must be appreciated, after all).

Also, using different media brings the reader into the process of my story, so that I can document the many stages of building an enormous Lego castle, making my own toga, or what have you. In the web space, I can choose how intimately I want my reader to know the details of an experience, real or imagined, sharpen my tech skills by weaving other media into the page, and also learn the importance of using social media effectively. Having this ongoing story-space also keeps me alert to funny stories during the everyday so that I can appreciate the happenings around me as I would not otherwise. I have to say that I really enjoy this shift in perspective.

I’m really excited about sharing the product of our joint creative efforts at the Narratives in Cyberspace workshop AhimsaMedia is hosting next week at Capilano University, designed specifically for youth. Through trial and error, we discovered many tweaking tips that would save fellow storytellers a lot of time (and I admit, frustration); I’m also really pleased to have the opportunity to tell others the tools and tricks we learned navigating various social media platforms and our experiences creating our character and her story.  If you’d like to register for the week-long Narratives and Cyberspace workshop, click here. We’d love to see you there!