Behind the scenes: “Soul of Athens: Our dreams are different”
If somebody asked me what should they do to prepare for the role of being a senior producer on the Soul of Athens project I would answer with “be prepared to not sleep for three months.”
If you havenâ€™t heard of the project before youâ€™re probably asking what exactly is this Soul of Athens? The Soul of Athens is a multimedia project that is created, maintained and built by Ohio University students from the ground up.
Itâ€™s a constant evolving animal that has had different themes and looks over the past years. For this year’s project, the senior producers decided to look at one theme for all of the stories. We decided to go with the changing American dream, how the dream has changed, how it persists as well as the myths and realities of its unending pursuit. In years past the project would have more than one theme and the producers saw this as a problem, perhaps as if Soul of Athens was going off in many different directions without a set path. Having just one theme helped shape and drive the stories the students were creating in a clear direction.
This was my first year on the project and I was happy to fill the role of being a senior producer. For this role I had to learn to become a team leader, storyboard creator and editor for my team. Along side fellow grad student Mitch Casey we led a team of five content creators and helped edit and push their stories to the next level. I believe this a great way for students to learn how a team environment works and how to help edit a photographers work. It also helped that some of our fellow senior producers were great photographers themselves like Victor Blue, Brad Vest and Andrea Morales. It was also a great experience in learning how far I can push myself without sleep and how to deal with the frustration of team problems.
On the design side of things we decided to try something new for Soul of Athens and the idea of creating an iPad app was introduced. It just recently launched in the iTunes store and weâ€™re very excited of all the attention and downloads it has been getting. The iPad app team was led by Tristan Wyatt who worked side by side with designers coming up with an interactive app that would help the user experience Soul of Athens in a whole new light with interactive info graphs, videos and stories.
The web team created a site that fixed some of the past problems that Soul of Athens had with user experience. In the past people would easily get confused with the site or wouldnâ€™t want to dig too deep into it, this year’s site has a simpler design and is very easy to navigate for the user. The stories stand out in front and the user can take their time and go through each one without feeling rushed or confused.
For this year’s Soul the senior producers came up with the idea that we should have a small number of strong stand out stories. For past Soul projects the number of stories was anywhere from 25-40. For this years project we decided to have 15 stories. This set the bar extremely high for the students to create multimedia projects that would stand out not only with strong visuals, but that told great stories as well.
We originally had over 30 stories that we needed to cut down to 15. This in my opinion was one of the hardest decisions to make for the site this year. It felt that every story that we looked at could live on the web site, but we knew that 50% of the stories were not going to make it. After hours of conversations, arguments and votes the 15 stories were selected for the site.
When the dust finally settled we were left with stories that ranged from veterans who honor their fallen brothers at funerals, a retired veterinarian who is trying to build his own tiger sanctuary in southeast Ohio and a father who dreams of being a great dad, but his drug addiction and problems with he law are getting in the way. These were just a few of the amazing stories that made up Soul of Athens: Our Dreams are Different.
Make sure to view all of these stories at www.soulofathens.com
Matt Adams just finished up his first year as a grad student studying Multimedia Production at Ohio University. He attended Point Park University for undergrad and received his B.A. in Photojournalism in 2007. Matt interned at Pittsburgh Magazine back in 2005 where he was able to work under Richard Kelly who was director of photography at the time.
Matt has been shooting freelance music photography since 2004 and he has been able to work with publications such as Alternative Press, Guitar World, Pittsburgh Magazine and Toronto Life Magazine.
Originally Matt is from Pittsburgh, PA, but now calls Athens, Ohio his home for the time being.
Other posts that might interest you:
Tags: Andrea Morales, behind the scenes, Brad Vest, Matt Adams, Mitch Casey, multimedia, Ohio University, Scripps College of Communication, Soul of Athens, storytelling, Tristan Wyatt, Victor Blue