Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco

Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco
Information Source for the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Week with Lina Hoshino

In Week 5 of the internship, a filmmaker named Lina Hoshino came to the NJAHS office buildng to work with us interns on making a mini movie. The previous week we were told to write a rough draft of our script and collect photos that we may want to use. Since I didn't read the instructions carefully enough, I just went on the Internet and looked for photos. Then at about 9:00 p.m. on the day before we were supposed to begin the movie workshop, I realized that I wasn't allowed to use Internet photos unless they were uncopyrighted...which they weren't. This resulted in a mad scramble to find and take as many pictures as I could the night before, but there weren't many photos to be found. On the first day of the workshop, we shared our scripts out loud, which was not something I wanted to do. My script had no central theme, it wasn't worded that well, and I thought it was too personal. Just as I expected, the advice the other interns and Lina gave me included establishing a main idea for my script. Lina gave us time right after to edit our writing, and during that time I shifted the theme of my story. I discussed my script with her in private and made more changes, and then I brought it back to her. She approved it. The next day I had more pictures, except most of them were all photos of nature. I learned to scan them and then I transferred them into my computer. I went upstairs and recorded my script about twenty-five times. During that hour I kept tampering with the script, which was one of the reasons why it took so long. Then I listened to the recordings on the laptop and picked out the best versions of my voice, since I had recorded the whole thing in paragraphs. I started working in Final Cut Express, a movie-making app, where Lina showed us how to insert our voiceovers and add pictures. I edited the voiceover by cutting out a lot of parts and making sure everything transitioned smoothly. The hardest part of this movie project was the pictures. Finding them, transferring them, adding them, and editing them. In the beginning, when I was inserting pictures for the first time, most of them were logos or objects or nature views. I didn't have enough photos of myself or other people. When Lina saw the rough draft of the movie, she said I needed more pictures of people and that I should include less photos overall so the audience could focus on what I was saying. I took her advice, and I ended up making the movie a whole lot better. I emailed my mother asking for any kinds of family photos or pictures of friends and she sent a boatload within the next ten minutes. The second most difficult stage was the transitions and special effects. Adding the transitions was a pain because 1) I didn't know what they were, and 2) Every time I added a transition between two clips I had to "render" everything, which was time-consuming. Also, creating the photo effects was very confusing at first. Lina explained to me how to do them but I was still baffled. However, the next day, I figured it all out using my common sense. The results, though they took forever to get, made the screen look like it was shifting during each photo. The final step was the inclusion of the title and credits, which I had put off because I wasn't sure if they were mandatory. Both were pretty easy to create, and I had fun with the title especially. I'm actually really happy with how my project turned out, because it expresses an important part of me without making it too personal and awkward. There were some minor issues with my voiceover and the transitions could have been smoother, but it is a story that I wouldn't mind sharing with my friends and family. Instead of a few days, the making of the movie actually stretched to almost a week, but that extra time made the movie that much better.

Movie Week with Lina Hoshino

This week of making my own short film with film maker, Lina Hoshino really taught me a lot in the process of filming. After Lina arrived at NJAHS, she asked me to read a rough draft of my narrative and her feedback was really helpful to help me write a better narrative. Since she had gone over some steps which I was familiar with making a film, such as writing a script and having photos being already online available to use; I thought that editing the film would be a no brainer, but I thought wrong. Learning how to make and edit a film on a software that was entirely new to me was different. If it had not been for Lina, my film would of been a wreck. Not only did I learn how to cut, shorten, and lengthen clips, but I learned volume control over voices, where transitions go and how to add them, how to make an image appear bigger on the screen, and how to add background music. Too many complexities came along with making a perfect film and looking back to my childhood, I never did think that much of the process of film making when I was little. I used to think that they would record the video and then just add in captions with transitions. But now I have a new perspective to think about for the filming industry and I would not have of gained this if someone hadn't bothered to help me along the way. A couple hours until I was finished with my narrative and I was excited towards finishing it first. Never did it occur to me that a 3 minute film could take 2 days to make and edit, and a couple of hours to publish on the Internet. I am extremely glad that Lina had helped me make such a short film in such a quick amount of time. Thank you Lina Hoshino for helping me create a film for my narrative and I never would have never been able to do it without you! I will surely use this as an advantage during the upcoming school years, especially if I ever have a project involved with Final Cut, I will now know how to use it!

$20 a day in Japantown

I thought spending $20 in Japantown for one day for the 5 of us ninterns could not be enough. But I was wrong. If you did not know, $20 a day is a project where we NJAHS Interns go to Japantown with only $20 to spend for one day and we film the whole day. After we had finished going to all the stores we needed to go to, I was tired and thinking that the day had been fun without spending the full $20. We had bought mochi, chopsticks, tokens to play in Playland Japan, washi paper, a cat sauce bowl, a black notebook, and a red bean taiyaki. Re-watching all the footage we shot really did make the editing of this project take forever. I have never been in a situation where I tried to adjust the volume of our voices so many times to fit it with the background music, not be able to add in any transitions, have a hard time with speeding up or slowing down videos, and adding captions. In all, I think the 5 of us did a pretty good job shopping in Japantown with only $20; we didn't even spend it all!

$20 a Day in Japantown

For the project called $20 a Day, we interns were given $20 altogether to spend however we wanted in Japantown. We could go to any stores and select anything we wanted to buy, just as long as the total cost added up to $20 or less. Later we would go back to the "chosen" stores and film ourselves to make a mini movie, which would be posted on Youtube. The video would advise people who have never been to Japantown on what they could do with just $20. We started out by just walking around Japantown. We visited various stores and shops like Ichiban Kan, Daiso, Playland Japan, etc. In each store we picked one item out that we would like to buy and wrote it down on a list. We made sure the total cost added up to around $20, or at least close to that amount. Afterwards, we used the list to write a script for the movie. Stores were assigned to different people, and the people assigned certain stores wrote his/her own parts. The order of the stores were switched up so that the stores closest to each other were in succession. Each section of the script was only a few sentences long. We included general information for each store, what we were planning to buy, and the cost. When the script was almost finished, I was taught how to use a big, complex video recorder. I had to film two of the interns and their sections because they were not coming back to the internship after that week. Before we filmed inside every store, we had to ask permission, which could take a while. I filmed Ichiban Kan, Playland Japan, May's Coffee Shop, and the "goodbye" scene in Buchanan Mall. I liked holding the video recorder because it made me feel like a professional. When I was filming, though, it got very heavy and my arm started to ache. After the script was completely done, I showed one of the interns how to use the video recorder because she would be filming me. Then we went outside and shot Daiso, Soko Hardware, Sanko, Paper Tree, and Benkyodo. Originally we were going to do Nijiya Market instead of Soko Hardware, but the manager saw our machine and didn't let us film. He probably thought it was going to be on TV or something, even though we said it was just for a project. In the end, we ended up buying a black notebook, cat sauce bowl, chopsticks, washi paper, and mochi that day. I kept the notebook because it was cool, and it certainly didn't look like it cost only $1.50. An intern and I started working on the movie in Final Cut Express, which took about two days. We trimmed the clips and added transitions, music, titles and credits. For the clips in which people moved too slow, we sped them up. Sometimes the program didn't cooperate with us on the transitions and speeding up of the clips, and I got frustrated. However, in the end the movie turned out good. I especially like the music that plays throughout the seven minutes of the movie, because it gives it an upbeat tone that the movie was lacking before. In conclusion, I think the point of this project was to show that $20 can take you all across Japantown, as long as you know where and how to use it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer 2012

My name is Paul and I am a summer intern for NJAHS in 2012. I graduated from Castro Valley High School in June, and plan on attending college in mid August. When I first got to NJAHS, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was to my surprise that I would get to meet some great guys. I was able to put on a multicultural youth concert, give walking tours of Japan Town, and even spend less than $20 in a whole day at Japan Town. I've been able to have fun exploring around Japan Town, and learn about Japanese American history as well. I certainly hope more students continue to participate in this program in the future because it's very rewarding.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Critique on Viewing of Secrets Revealed: The Presidio Project - Ken Kaji, 6/1/2012

A  Critique on Viewing of   Secrets Revealed: The Presidio Project
An interactive kiosk a the Visitors Center, Presidio of San Francisco
By Ken Kaji, 6/1/2012

The Exhibit Experience  The kiosk with the secrets visual monitor display was physically adjacent to a connecting space showing a separate video (continuously running) on the various visitor’s attractions located in the Presidio Trust. The story of the First Class of the MIS as part of this history of secrets was deliberately ‘tagged’ as part of the kiosk display.
The Viewing Audience   We ( early attendees) who approached the secrets kiosk were few in number. It is assumed that under normal conditions, the number of viewers may come in small groups or attend as part of a larger visiting group , i.e. a class or workshop.  At any rate, the kiosk is designed to handle at most several individuals at a time. Our viewing experience evoked the following critique, that were put down on paper when our experience in viewing had time to sink in.  Here are some of our thoughts:
Kiosk Design  The kiosk itself, the large family photo, taken by Dorthea Lange, is stunningly beautiful.  The photo mural, roughly 7ft. x 7 ft. captures the mood of the pensive and emotional feelings surrounding the whole aspect of the Japanese evacuation from the West Coast. The background color highlights the prevailing mood by its Corten red steel hue which emphasizes
the feel of forced imprisonment.
Construction  The photomural panel is supported by a frame that is held upright and anchored onto a heavy concrete base that also supports a shelf rack with its electrical connections to the magnetic chips embedded into ‘cards’ that simulate the rectangular prisoner I.D. name tags that were placed around each and every internee during their evacuation.
Neckpiece as coder  By placing the collection of oral histories into a chip inside the I.D. plates and covering it on the back side with an identifying photo and other information, the interview recording, audio and visual, can be transmitted on the monitor screen that is placed in the photo mural.  The viewer selects one of six plates, and places it flat on a blank space that will trigger the transmission.  Furthermore, the sound is deployed in a manner in which the voice seems to be coming from the screen image toward the viewer which contributes to its realism.
Interactive Viewer Experience   The concept is that by having the individual viewer go through this ‘hands-on’ selection process by taking the I.D. neckpiece and making it ‘come alive’ – so to speak – and through that process, that it makes past history more meaningful and more personal.
Issues of Controls/Experience
  1. Densho, (the education-based, computer interactive program on JA oral histories) keeps its selection totally  electronic.  Selection through sorting through a list of names, or a photo data base, simplifies the viewer interactive process.
  1. The kiosk concept could eventually be  transferred to the internet format for selection.
But the idea is  that a ‘hands-on’ experience of interactive viewing can be done this way is questionable.   It is a trade-off.  Today’s and future class room children may prefer ‘physically’ turning dials and personally monitoring outcomes of what they want to hear and view.
  1. If the kiosk is used, it probably will used effectively only when site specific.  It will not be easily transportable  either on-site from on position to another as well as to other sites.  
  1. Pre-load the rack if wooden name tags are used,  and have someone monitor kiosk usage to prevent loss of the expensive tags. If future name tags can be created, then they can be made inexpensively so the loss of such chips is no longer an issue. But cheaper paper electronic tags also move away for the reality of the original wooden neck I.D. tags.  
  1. In the future MIS Historic Learning Center, the Secrets Revealed kiosk will be separate from the MIS story that will proceed it in the viewing sequence of the permanent exhibit, so the MIS story will not have to be part of the  ‘secrets revaled’ kiosk display.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scanning Isago Tanaka's Photo's - My Last Day - Terry Wong

I have finally completed my primary internship task, which is to scan photos artifacts by Isago Tanaka. I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. Some of the photos I scanned today have American Indians in them, appearing to protest against cheap land sales. Land was made a commodity since the arrival of Europeans to America. Asian American studies often mention about the Alien land law and various issues related to the ownership of land in America for minority groups. Indeed, similar to American Indians, Asian Americans' land ownership rights were limited and deprecated. I feel that these pictures are evidence that the ongoing struggles for justice and equity in Law for Asian Americans are imperative for us and our children. Because we have to fight for equality for us to have proper consolidated ownership of land and properties in order to raise our offspring and make sure their future is bright and fair.

                                                                                                                   - Terry Wong