S&V / Weeks 5-7 / Looking for 語言

Looking for 語言 (Language): Video Portrait by Paula Leonvendagar, Sejo Vega-Cebrián, Anne-Michelle Gallero

From the very moment that we started talking about what we were going to do for this 4-week video project, Paula, Sejo and I were all in agreement that we wanted to do a documentary style portrait. That following Sunday after we formed our group, we went to the PBS POV Digital Lab NYC to get some inspiration. It was eye-opening to see how people were adding interactivity to their video projects and documentaries, like using VR, 360-degree cameras or just having the viewers choose storylines to follow.

Our next step was to choose a subject that everyone in the group would be excited about. We all brought some ideas of possible portraits ranging from a NYC waitress/actress/writer, reporter/editor, a homeless person to Ken Perlin, an NYU professor for Computer Science who created a computer graphic’s texture used in the movie, Tron. Sejo didn’t get a response from Perlin in time before the storyboard deadline, so we sadly didn’t pursue that route. Paula did have a really interesting conversation with a classmate which lead to the subject of our video, an anonymous portrait in Chinatown. ITP has a large population of foreign students, living in NYC and even the United States for the first time. It was something that we wanted to explore and that some of us (as international students) can relate to. Our storyboards were made up of all these different places that were visual and colorful pockets of New York’s Chinatown. Our subject had only been living there for a month or so, and the area was fairly new to her.


During filming, we decided to use two Canon 5D cameras for handheld use with a 50mm lens and another for a tripod with a 24-105mm lens. We were moving around the city pretty fast at night and using a handheld was really helpful in capturing the spontaneous moments. We were following our subject around Chinatown after her long day of classes and went where she wanted to go. Because of this, our storyboards went a little off script but it was her walk around town.

We had so much video that we shot and I commend Sejo and Paula for editing the piece down to shape and clarify the story. After getting feedback from the rough cut without sound, it was good to hear everyone’s opinions on the pacing and creating some quieter moments in this busy piece.


With all the material that we collected that night, we could work on this video forever, but this really was a 4-week crash course in video and Adobe Premiere editing. I do plan on watching the watching the 10-hour Premiere tutorial on lynda.com at a more leisurely pace. And Marina’s slides are awesome and quick sources to use cause I do plan on pursuing these mediums of storytelling. When I was an undergrad, I majored in Visual Arts concentrating on filmmaking and photography, but didn’t end up doing that as a career after college. It was good to get behind the cameras again cause it was something that I loved to do, but haven’t had the opportunity to do. Although the footage that I shot from my first shoot was a little shaky and sometimes out of focus, I was definitely more conscientious about learning from my mistake. When I shot additional footage on a second outing, I figured out how to move the camera steadier and had my fingers constantly adjusting the lens for better focus. I also worked with a curious and talented group that gave lots of encouragement during the process to be creative and to learn while having some celebratory moments over Tsingtao and soup dumplings.

S&V / Week 4 / Storyboards and Synopsis

I partnered up with Paula Leonvendagar and Sejo Vega-Cebrián to work on our video portrait of an international student from China living in New York for the first time. One of the creative challenges of this project is that it will be an anonymous portrait where we will not reveal her face but concentrate on her words and the images of Chinatown. Below is our synopsis and storyboards for her story.




Looking for 我最喜欢的洗发水
It’s her first time in Chinatown, she just arrived from China to New York as an international student studying in the United States. In this colorful and fascinating neighborhood, we walk with her. Listening to her thoughts and first impressions about the city, and this city inside the city.

Chinatown. Is it like mainland China for her? Or is it different? Does she like the food, the places, the people? Can she find a little bit of home here? How does this international student from China feel in a tight-knit community of Chinese-Americans?

Through this anonymous portrait with a subjective sight, we follow a fresh perspective on the Chinese community in New York City and take a glimpse into the mysterious culture of China.


This small 3-5 minutes piece will be a point of view of our character and her experiences around the town, though we will work mostly with a handheld camera as her P.O.V. Despite this we will use some wide shots to settle our character in the context of the big city and it ́s visual richness. We will never see her face, just her silhouette, shadow and her tiny body lost in the multitude of the town. We want to keep this anonymous voice that will help to maintain a poetic mystery through the piece and also to get deeper into her intimate perceptions. We want to capture both, her fresh and sharp sight and all the intensity and beauty of Chinatown.

The sound will be composed through the narrative of her voice, the sounds of the city and some music. In the music we will mix new compositions and traditional music from China, to create the feeling of contrast in between different generations from China.