This week, we highlight Metamorphosis, a group multimedia project created by WKU students, as part of our ongoing series entitled Focus On, which showcases some of the extraordinary talent coming out of the photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University.
As the group’s mission statement reads, “gender is a complex topic that, in some ways, many are unfamiliar with. There are no black and white answers for sexuality and gender identification. This project is a collection of work documenting people that are not afraid to share their true selves with the world.”
To visit the website and view their stories, click here. Continue reading below for an interview with a few members of the team as they recount their experience working on the project.
NPPA: How did this all start, and how did the team come together?
Adam Wolffbrandt (Producer): One of our professors approached me about the idea to organize a group project centered around gender issues. After doing a project on a transgender man, I had strong connections with stories surrounding gender identity. Within about a week, we were able to gather content from other students with similar stories and built a team of designers, developers and writers to put it all together.
I’ve worked with groups before, but with this project the team was so much more connected. We all depended on each other for the role they played. My coding knowledge and writing skills were limited, so counting on those people we recruited was crucial. Sometimes a group dynamic can be rough, but the whole process went so smooth. We had the same goal in mind and put it together more seamlessly than I could’ve imagined.
NPPA: How were you able to write the code for the website?
Rae Emary (Design & Development): The website for Metamorphosis is an all-encompassing collection of the skills Brandon and I learned in our separate Interactive Media classes, literally. We utilized many of the codes we had completed, and used them as a basis for the site. Without the codes we had previously wrote, the project would have been much more time-consuming. Personally, completing the coding class has allowed me the freedom as a creative spirit to create and be a part of things I can be proud of. Before the class, I wasn’t sure about design, and had little to no grasp on how to properly present media. Now, however, I feel confident in my ability as a visual journalist to not only create stories but present them on a clean, visually appealing platform.
NPPA: How do you think editing all of the content that was being considered helped shape the project?
Justin Gilliland (Editing): We had an awesome collage of photos but there wasn’t uniformity. I think those quotes we added brought them together to be an essay and to have a greater impact. Before, they were beautiful photographs, and putting all the content together, the words, photos, videos, everything, it became what it was supposed to be, a team project, but more importantly, a statement. Focusing all this great content and helping it come together to speak common ground within itself and to its viewers brought it to the next level and that’s what I was brought on to do. The quotes I got and connection I made with our characters work with the photos that captivate the audience. Those quotes and those photos turn viewers into readers, and vice-versa, so when you look at it you can’t help but feel an impact. That takes content and makes it into real emotion and that’s what it’s all about.
NPPA: What were some of the problems you all faced along the way?
Brandon Carter (Design & Development): Rae and I each brought different things to the table, which helped a lot in the wee hours of the morning in the lab. Two of our biggest problems – the navigation bar and how to handle the photo essay – were both fixed after hours of pounding away at their respective codes. We spent a long time tweaking those things to make them work absolutely perfectly, and also making them work on multiple devices.
The biggest antidote to our late nights in the lab was Adam and Justin being right there with us, banging out edits on the photos, videos, captions, and story. They were timely, and always seemed to have stuff finished before Rae and I could even fathom putting it into the working code. The all-nighters were awesome, both for the sake of productivity and for bonding. By the end of it, we became a well-oiled machine, and I think that’s one of the reasons the project turned out so beautifully.