Behind the Scenes of Breaking Bond: Week 14

Daniel Hawkins (Agent Roderick Rush) and I worked for the last two weeks on the ds106 Ultimatum/final. The hardest part of this project by far was coming up with ideas for the final and then coming up with ideas for specific assignments to embed in our piece. We knew at the beginning that the amount of work had to be comparable to the radio show (about 30 stars worth of assignments), but we didn’t really know where to go beyond that. We knew we wanted our two characters to work together on a case of espionage with Professor Bond at the center.

We knew we wanted to make a fake passport and a map of Professor Bond’s travels as they had been tracked, to incorporate the spy theme with our premise. After a week or so we worked together and formed a plot to our story. Professor Bond is trafficking high grade maple syrup across the Canadian border. All of the Russia stuff was just to throw us off! Turns out, like a famous TV character, he’s a teacher by day and a chemist who produces an addictive substance illegally. But with enough intelligence, Agent Roderick Rush and Agent Annabella Smith were on the case!

Daniel did most of the writing, although we both agreed on what each journal entry would be about. He also made the interactive map with Google My Maps. I took the three photographs toward the bottom that were meant to look like they were taken in a lab. It took some editing and staging (we used an empty bottle of brandy and put our syrup in it for one of them), but they turned out great. I also made the passport, with the help of the experience I had in making the one for Annabella Smith early in the semester, but I wanted to make sure this one was a lot more authentic. Both Daniel and I worked together on the promotional Breaking Bond poster that you see at the beginning (which was a TON of work). In the end I think we both made something great.

Breaking Bond

Breaking Bond

If Professor Paul Bond has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is as it seems…

 

Journal of Agent Annabella Smith with Roderick Rush—Breaking Bond

 

Jan 20, 2017

Agent Roderick Rush, my partner in espionage, and myself have signed up for an online digital storytelling course at UMW taught by Professor Paul Bond. Our organization has told us to investigate Professor Bond as a potential High Value Target. The organization has been watching him the last couple of semesters and thinks he’s up to something. Here are my thoughts so far on the possibility of Professor Bond (if that is his real name) being an agent or criminal mastermind engaging in some kind of plot worthy of attention by our organization:

-What better way to hide one’s activities than through teaching an online class?

-Using video as instruction could possibly fool students into believing he teaches and works from the same location, when in reality he could be moving from place to place.

-The theme of the class would be perfect. He could be throwing us off the scent by making it “obvious” that he’s actually a spy.

-It’s always the quiet ones.

Professor Bond also used a tweet of mine as an example in a post about what this course will be about. Of course, being a spy, I’m wary of Twitter and other social media sites that emphasize one’s public persona and making what would otherwise be personal information open to the public for anyone to see. Was it a simple way to answer a student’s question, or was he really saying that he was on to us?

Beneath his endearing and intelligent façade there might just be the next Moriarty or Goldfinger. Agent Rush and I have our doubts as to if he is that nefarious, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled. In the meantime, all he needs to know is that we’re two average students, but we’ll be gathering intelligence from our sources, and we will find out what’s really going on.

 

February 3, 2017

Week three of Mission 106, and we already have our first piece of intelligence.

An agent in the field was able to locate and discreetly scan a passport belonging to Professor Bond.

Needless to say, something is up here. Three big questions arise from this piece of evidence.

1)Why does Professor Bond need a Canadian passport?

2)Why was the passport issued by the Russian government?

3)Why did he obtain the passport just at the beginning of the semester? Why is he travelling while teaching an online class?

Neither Agent Rush or myself has an answer just yet. For all we know, he might have more of these. Whether or not he would use the same name on those passports, we don’t know. Agent Rush has a suspicion that Professor Bond might be working with Russian intelligence, but for now, we just wait and see.

 

February 17, 2017

The organization found out Professor Bond possesses a private jet. So much for the humble librarian and teacher. Now we wait while the tracker collects data so we can find out where Professor Bond is going.

 

February 24, 2017

The last two weeks have been very difficult while creating our radio shows, but it has given Agent Rush and I enough time to collect data from the private jet. He’s definitely up to more than what the average professor should be. We’ve had plenty of results, but the data is less than helpful.

 

(Click the image to view the map)

It seems Professor Bond is quite the jet-setter. Unless the Society of American Librarians is meeting in Istanbul, Rome, Moscow, and Singapore, it seems Professor Bond has more on his plate than computer science and the Dewey decimal system. Agent Rush and I have looked at the map over and over, and there has to be a pattern, but we’re not seeing it. Maybe by next week we can come up with something

 

March 21, 2017

Bad news. Some of our contacts have informed us Professor Bond intercepted our tracking device and threw us off his trail. We do know, however, that he didn’t do so until after he had left the US. The other question is: why does ds106 keep receiving interference? Is there another party at play here? Or is it just Professor Bond purposefully trying to throw us off?

 

March 24, 2017

Agent Rush and I decided to split up and do what we can in the field. He’ll be heading to Russia, and I’ll be heading to Canada. We’ll be able to maintain our covers by continuing to submit homework and pretending the class is still going smoothly. Our contacts in both countries should be able to tell us something, given the right leverage. Professor Bond isn’t the only one who can take advantage of the online class format. He will be exposed.

 

April 7, 2017

A source close to the organization has found something that might explain our strange map data. Reports from the Canadian and American maple syrup authorities have been busting a couple of vendors for selling illegal maple syrup. The government, especially in Canada, does not play around with this. There are special regulations about maple syrup, including who can traffic it across the border. This stuff is popping up all around the Northeast and in New Brunswick, Canada (which just happens to be his first international stop in the tracking device log).

The organization we work for has heard of these syrup kingpins before. If this stuff is as good as the syrup junkies say it is, and if we can find hard evidence of a large-scale illegal syrup operation, we might have found the root of all this. It would explain the passport, the wild goose chase that came out of the jet tracking device, and a lot of other strange behavior.

 

April 14, 2017

Finally, the last break in the case. We’ve got him this time.

While searching the woods of New Brunswick, Canada, Agent Rush and I found a goldmine (or a syrup mine).

Our intelligence was correct. Professor Bond is actually running the largest clandestine maple syrup operation in history. He’s been flooding the markets in Maine and much of the Northeast US and parts of Canada with his syrup. It’s highly addictive and the purest product the authorities have ever come across. With our help, the authorities seized more than $5,000,000 in “amber gold.”

To make sure it we were on the right trail, we took some samples back to our organization’s lab.

(An unmarked bottle of the good stuff)

 

(Up close view of the product. Almost entirely pure)

 

This is 99.7% grade B maple syrup. Grade A is meant for eating and not cooking, but grade B is purer. This is the purest maple syrup ever found. No wonder it has thousands of syrup junkies hooked. The humble but mysterious Professor Bond has been making a killing.

(testing the evidence)

After a quick taste test (all things in moderation, of course), Agent Rush and I agree that, even though he is an evil genius and a syrup kingpin, Professor Bond really is onto something here!

Advice to Future Students

DS106 was a really hard class with a ridiculous amount of work (for my super lax senior year schedule). I did learn a lot of cool new things though and I’m really glad I toughed it out. The radio show is the worst part. It was hard to work with other classmates through an online class because our schedules never matched up well. It was also just a lot of work trying to perfect it. But if you can do that then you’ll be fine.

Don’t plan your schedule thinking this will not take much time just because it’s an online class. It took far more time and work than most of my classes (and I’m at art major so thats saying something). I planned out my semester knowing that these assignments would be due at 11:59 Friday night so I left Fridays completely open for me to work on DS. It still was not enough time and I was too burned out to be continuously working on the same subject all day long. Make it easier on yourselves and have at least two days a week to work on this class. Schedule a time just like any other lecture course to sit down and do it.

So. My advice to all you new DS106ers.

  1. Don’t think this is an easy A. His grading is pretty lenient, but you will need to do a lot of work to get that A.
  2. Plan to work on DS at least twice a week. Don’t forget about it because it’s an online course.
  3. Have fun. I have created so many cool new things throughout this course. I took ARTS104 so I already knew how to do some pretty advanced stuff in Photoshop, but you really don’t need to know anything before taking this class. Just be ready to get creative.
  4. Daily Creates are awesome.

Week 13

This week, I worked with Agent Roderick Rush in coming up with ideas for our final ds106 mission. For this project, we are using the prompt that Professor Bond has been working with the Russians, and in our mission we plan to find out why and what he’s doing. Each of us will be working on assignments from different categories to act as pieces of evidence to expose this secret plot. At least for now, we are planning on connecting the pieces of evidence with journal entries or similar pieces of writing that will tell the story of our mission. For the evidence, we will be creating audio assignments like “recorded conversations”, web assignments like Google Maps of Professor Bond’s “locations”, visual assignments like spy passports, and other types of assignments that will help us find out what Professor Bond has been doing with the Russians. We are still coming up with the plot of the story and some of the details, but those will come soon along with our assignments.

 

This Twitter poll might work as one of our pieces of evidence:

Week 12

Week 12 had a lot of assignments as part of it, but it was actually fairly easy when compared to the past few weeks. At first I thought coming up with mash ups and remixes was going to be hard, but the assignment descriptions this week were very helpful and coming up with ideas was not has hard as I thought it would be. Making some of the assignments spy-themed was a little difficult, but it was not as difficult as in past weeks, which surprised me. My favorite assignment this week was the Jack Bourne (Movie Poster Mashup). That was the one I also decided to make a tutorial on. Making the tutorial took a lot of time even though I chose a somewhat easy assignment, but this week was fun and different.

Build a Rainbow

Deep Nonsense

Jack Bourne

Movie Mashup Tutorial

Dream Vacation Remix

Spy Mash Up

Hugh Jackman on Ducklings

 

Movie Mashup Tutorial

The Movie Mashup is a fairly simple assignment, but how complicated you make is entirely up to you. You can go in whatever direction you want with this assignment. With mine, I went with the theme of our semester of ds106: spies. You’ll want to choose two movies that could fit together believably enough on one poster, but it could still be funny. The main example is Harry Potter and the Volturi (since Twilight and Harry Potter are somewhat similar). For mine, I made a mashup of The Bourne Identity and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This is the final mashup I made:

To me, spy movies like the Bourne movies and Jack Ryan all blend together and are kind of boring and bland, so I thought it would be funny and creative to mash them together, even the titles and tag lines. To start with, I looked at posters for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and The Bourne Identity that were similar enough that I could use them as a template. I started with this poster:

This isn’t the main poster for the film, but it’s one of them, and it was one of the easiest to make into a template. I knew I wanted to add other actors from the Bourne movies into some of the actors’ places on this poster to make the mashup, so I chose this one as the template. The next step for me was to look for another poster for the Bourne Identity that would give me a better feel for the tone of the movie that would carry into the poster design. I chose this one, because blue and gray are pretty dominant colors in the Bourne movie posters.

The next step was to find pictures of the actors in the movies that I wanted in the posters. I found red carpet pictures of Keira Knightly and Chris Pine (who are in Jack Ryan) and Matt Damon and Julia Stiles (who are in The Bourne Identity).

You can try other programs, but for assignments like this, Photoshop is the easiest, in my experience. It’s not cheap, but Adobe offers discounts for students, so their monthly price (at least as of when I’m writing this in 2017) for their Creative Cloud Photography package is around $10.00/month.

The first step for me was to start a new project in photoshop with a plain background.

After that, I started dragging in the pictures of the actors I meant to use into new layers and then dragging those selections into the plain background project.

The size of the pictures won’t be perfect at first. You’ll have plenty of time and room to keep adjusting.

After dragging in all 4 images, I adjusted the sizes so the pictures lined up and so each picture was roughly the same size.

Using the marquee rectangle tool, I colored the bottom part black. You can try using the fill paint bucket tool, but I had to use a black brush to avoid filling in parts that I didn’t want it to.

Using a soft brush with the opacity turned down a little, I dragged the brush across to kind of blend in the bottom black part where the text is going to go into the pictures so it doesn’t look quite so blocky.

Merge the layers/flatten the image so all the layers become one. Don’t do this until you’re sure you are done adjusting the sizes of pictures, and that goes for any Photoshop project. After that, choose the adjustment layer that says Black and White.

The next step for me was to give the image a blue tone. As well as matching the original posters, this makes it a lot easier to put the actors together on the same poster without the lighting or background of each picture becoming distracting. To do this, choose the adjustment layer that says Hue/Saturation. Make sure to check the box at the bottom of that window that says “colorize.” This means you can choose any tone, but I chose blue for mine.

After that, I adjusted the contrast and curves a little just to fine tune it.

Finally, I wanted to add the text to make it look like the original poster. I didn’t have the exact font from the Jack Ryan poster, but I found one close enough. The font I used for this is called Andale Mono.

The final step was to add the actors’ names at the top. To make things easier, I flattened the image again before this last step. Again, don’t do that unless you’re positive you don’t have anything left to adjust. The reason I flattened it was to avoid having 7 or so layers with different text in each one. And that’s it. You have your mash up movie poster. Your photoshop project will automatically want to save as a PSD (Photoshop Document), but you have to save it as another image type, like a JPEG, and it’s ready to upload.

Dream Vacation (With Some Help from Uncle Bob)

For the remix assignment, I remixed the Dream Vacation Pinterest assignment. The remix card I got said “Uncle Bob: Introduce an unexpected character into your assignment, someone as strange or unexpected as your Uncle Bob.” So, I added more pins to my board that were unexpected. My old board of my Dream Vacation had places where Annabella Smith/me would visit in the UK, like historical sites and landmarks. Whoever Uncle Bob is, I decided he would want to see bizarre roadside attractions, like the world’s largest ball of twine or the largest ketchup bottle. Maybe Uncle Bob is a secret agent who wants to throw any other spies of their trail? Or maybe Uncle Bob is just a dork who has a bucket list of all the weird roadside attractions in America? Even though adding the pins to my board wasn’t very hard, the harder part of the remix was coming up with a theme to add on to my vacation board and finding interesting enough pins to make it unexpected and weird.

Pinterest board

Where in the world is Annabella Smith?

Spy Mash Up

For this assignment, we were supposed to put two actors together that didn’t originally appear together in a background and blend it all in to make it look believable and natural. I knew I wanted this one to be spy-themed, so I used a picture of Jude Law from the movie Spy and Daniel Craig from James Bond. I knew it would be hard to do this perfectly, because I would have to worry too much about finding the perfect perspective to match the background to the actors and other details like that, so I went more with what looked good enough and what was silly.

To do this assignment, I used Photoshop and cut out a picture of Jude Law in Spy aiming a gun and looking offscreen and found a similar pose of Daniel Craig in James Bond. For the background, I wanted something spy-ish but that would fit in with the pictures and be believable enough. At first I wanted a photo of a fancy building like a casino on the riviera, but nothing I could find fit with the right perspective, so I chose this photo of a rooftop in a city. Jude law is aiming in front and offscreen while Daniel Craig is sneaking up in the back and aiming at Jude Law. Twist!