Communicating Creatively in a Time of Isolation


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While typing up my resume and cover letter I was harboring a small cold and I thought ‘it must be around midterms’ since I always seem to stay up too late and develop some sort of mild malady. I was weeks from being constantly aware of every sneeze and cough. Soon, my interview took place over Zoom while I sat in my dorm room. The signs of the changing world were creeping in on me.

I was initially drawn to this project because of its focus on conducting interviews surrounding multilingual experiences and translations of confusing library terms. I was particularly interested in filming and editing these interviews so I could explore the role of video in aiding communication. I am majoring in Film and Television Media (FTVM) where I continue to explore the medium of video. One area of interest has been educational films.

As the news kept rolling in the date of the internship got pushed later in the summer. Soon the entire project moved remote. As the public health crisis ramped up, the idea of meeting in person became a distant reality.

The video was now animated. Part of me was nervous; my only real animation experience up to this point was with stop motion. I was also extremely excited. On top of my major in FTVM I plan to double major in Computer Science. Why you may ask? Animation.

My fellow intern, Sophie, and I went into the project with a fairly vague task. We needed to make an animated video about Access Services with a multilingual international component. The week following general introductions was spent figuring out what exactly Access Services did and what was most important to share with the community.

Our final idea was a “how to” about checking out a book in various ways and other basic services the library offers, such as study spaces and computers, to those with an MCard. This video was meant to showcase the services Access Services helps unlock. To help with accessibility and the international component, Sophie and I planned on working with subject specialists to translate the script into subtitles in different languages. After discussions and frequent use of Google Docs we were able to come up with a completed script. It felt good to have a script but this portion proved to be the least of our worries.

Neither Sophie nor I had ever touched Adobe Animate. I came in with the advantage of using other Adobe software in the past, but Animate proved to be different enough that I was thrown into the world of online tutorials on YouTube and LinkedIn Learning. In Animate it is possible to do one thing in many different ways. In the beginning, Sophie and I had both watched different videos and tutorials and we weren’t meeting frequently as a result of our spring term classes. All of this built up into Sophie and I moving on very different tracks and styles.

It was time to make a change. This was the first step towards learning how to communicate effectively in a remote environment; the biggest skill I will take from this internship. 

Communication became the most important facet of a project that existed in a time of isolation. I spent the summer at my childhood home with my one, always present co-worker, my cat. I spent a lot of time alone, on my computer, doing schoolwork, and working for this internship. I was exhausted from all the video chats that filled my days but it turned out that adding more video chats made all the difference. By meeting multiple times a week Sophie and I were able to set goals. We were able to talk about our creative ideas in real time. Video chat also allowed us to screen share. As previously mentioned our animation styles were different, this was a big problem until we realized we could teach each other how to animate in similar ways. This made editing easier in the future. Over time, as Sophie and I got to know each other better, we texted to discuss small ideas such as fonts. It was nice to have this with small everyday work conversations obliterated by the pandemic.

This internship also taught me about communication in a professional environment when talking to mentors and reaching out to members of the library staff through video chat and email. I was able to learn to communicate my ideas in a concise manner through email even when talking about an abstract video. With so much moving online I was thankful to have this opportunity to gain these lifelong skills.

Beyond communication, this project helped teach me a lot about problem solving and tenacity. One of the biggest technology issues Sophie and I faced was with the functionality of Adobe’s cloud service. A few weeks into the internship most of our animation was deleted from the cloud for still unknown reasons. During this time we were also unable to open most files. It was frustrating and we began to seriously consider working individually on our own videos to avoid the cloud. In the end, we avoided the cloud but not each other. We both wanted to work together on this video, we had both put our energy and ideas into it, we weren’t going to let Adobe get the best of us. We figured out we could upload our files to a Google drive and download them from there, bypassing the Adobe cloud. The week following the “great deletion” we worked hard to redo all the animation that had been lost. It was sometimes exhausting to redo something we had both already done but the final product was more than worth it and the animation looked even better than it did before.

As I go into the world, I will take with me the skills of communication I have gained. I will also know that even if something is completely lost, with problem solving and communication, hope is not lost.