All posts by Cooper Funk

Has Tiktok changed the way we watch videos?

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Most people today have a small attention span, so I will try to keep this short. With TikTok still going strong, companies have realized that it’s a real competitor in the video and entertainment market. Companies like YouTube and Instagram have had the most notable change on their platforms with the introduction of YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels after TikTok blew up in popularity. These new additions have come with their pros and cons, and people, even the content creators themselves, have noticed a difference in viewership.

Youtube shorts

YouTube Shorts were introduced to content creators earlier this year. It didn’t matter how many subscribers or watch time you had on your channel; anyone was able to create YouTube Shorts if you had an account. It started slowly but gradually took over the platform and now has its own subsection on the YouTube page. Content creators like myself have noticed that since YouTube Shorts’ introduction, views and video retention have changed drastically depending on the type of videos you post.  

The YouTube videos you know of, landscaped quality, usually 5-10 minutes long, with ads, have been seeing a decline in viewership. People nowadays want fast-paced videos. Long-time YouTube fans are still loyal to the service, but a new era of viewers have come online. For example, let’s look at some of the analytics on my recent videos and Shorts.

Just below on the left, you can see the viewer retention span on a recently uploaded video that I posted on my own channel. You can see the first bit of the video has the most viewers watching, but as the video continues, people start to lose interest.

On the right, you can see the retention span of people watching a YouTube Shorts video. The retention span is much higher and more constant than in normal-length videos. There’s a higher percentage of people watching at the end of YouTube Shorts than in the middle of most YouTube videos.

The community welcomed YouTube shorts which are a great way to grow a channel. However, content on YouTube is becoming less and less of what it was originally meant to be. 

Instagram reels

YouTube isn’t the only platform that’s been directly affected by TikTok. Instagram has implemented a new way to show off your life with Instagram reels. This feature, however, might have gone a little overboard. Reels are basically TikToks on Instagram. Most of the filters and video options on TikTok have made their way to Reels. Not only has this TikTok variant been created, but it has also seemingly taken over Instagram.

Since the release of reels, options for videos and the way you view posts have been limited. The style of posts has been changed to look more prominent, and you can only view one post at a time. With this new layout, it’s harder for people to see posts from friends and family members, where before they could easily see them multiple times. Reels are recommended to you even on your home page, which takes up much of the room that is somewhat still available.

Besides the posts, videos on Instagram have been heavily impacted. If you’ve posted a video or have seen the InstaGaelNews page, you might notice that normal-looking videos automatically convert into Reels. You can upload a landscape or square video, but once you upload it, Instagram will show a pop-up explaining that videos are now converted into Reels.

With all these new features, people over the past few months have started to speak out and tell Instagram that they want the old Instagram back. Instagram seems to be holding strong regarding the changes they have implemented, despite the backlash.

The Future

Some of these changes might be news to you, while others are a thing of the past…year and a half. YouTube has embraced the new way of video even if it might be a bold departure from what was intended initially; Instagram has been getting backlash for turning their app into what is basically TikTok 2.0; and TikTok is still running strong with over 15 million active monthly viewers.

Legacy apps like YouTube and Instagram have lasted years and have grown monumentally, but will TikTok still have its place on the internet in 5-10 years? While it might be an “editors choice” app, once trends die down, new competitors could come into the business and take over the internet, just as TikTok did years ago.

Cooper Funk is a Senior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Benefits beyond gaming exist for virtual reality

Virtual Reality, or commonly known as VR, was created around the 1960s, believe it or not, but not in the way you might expect it. VR has evolved into something that many people could only imagine would be a product of the future. However, here we are in the twenty-first century where VR is used to help train military personnel by putting them into real-world situations. VR can be used to design skyscrapers and create medicines, but how is a gaming console used to help the world? Here are four examples of how VR can be used outside of gaming:

  1. Construction
  2. Healthcare
  3. Virtual Meetings
  4. Military Training

Construction

More construction companies today are starting to use VR as a way to help make the process of creating buildings and machines easier, safer, more efficient. What most construction workers have done and still do today is to go out to the site that they plan on building at and prepare the area for the actual construction to take place. Once that is done and all the blueprints are finished they will then start building. With the help of VR, they are able to actually recreate the entire finished structure and be able to walk around and see it. They would be able to have a 3d blueprint of every step that they need to take on building the structure. It is also a great way to see if there are things that they need to fix in case of any structural problems that occur in the headset due to the physics like gravity or strong winds blowing structures down. When this happens the creators would be able to change the materials that were used and switch them out for stronger materials. 

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Healthcare

Medical school might be challenging, but why go to school and learn about healthcare when you can just play Surgeon Simulator on Steam VR? (Don’t just play that to get your degree, please). Students that plan on going into the medical field have recently started incorporating VR as a way to help practice certain surgeries. They would still go to operations and see how professionals do it but they are also able to use the same tools, equipment, and a virtual human body to practice on. This will enable students to get a better feeling on how surgeries will operate and will also give them a test with their timing. The game Surgeon Simulator allows anyone to become a surgeon. The game will have the right tools, the right body parts or medicines needed, and it also has realistic blood physics. Okay… the blood isn’t realistic but if the patient loses a certain amount of blood, they die and you get fired. Surgeon Simulator might not be the most  tech advanced game, but it’s purpose is executed perfectly. From there on, programmers would take the main mechanics of the game and actually put real-life situations in them. It’s not only students that use  either. Actually, doctors use this to perfect operations that are really challenging. They could practice a heart transplant on a virtual person to get better at the operation. Once it comes to the real deal they’ll know the steps on how to perform the surgery. Only this time with a living human being.

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Virtual Meetings

If we have learned anything from the last year or two, sitting in your room on Zoom is not the best way to learn or interact with people. This is why businesses, and some students, have started using headsets like the Oculus Quest in order to have a more in-depth and interactive meeting. Meta, formally known as Facebook, has created an app called Horizon Workrooms where people with an Oculus headset are able to join a meeting room from their houses and are able to see everyone’s avatars. You’re able to put a computer at the desk and actually see a virtually created version of it inside of the headset. There are whiteboards and markers to create designs for products that everyone can see. Besides Horizon Workrooms and Meta, an indie game company has created another way for meetings to work called MeetinVR. This virtual app allows you to add friends into a meeting, change the scenery, and also has rooms for students and teachers. Those that have any kind of headset will have their own little booth where they can see everyone else in the class and can also see the teacher in the front.

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Military Training

Ever since VR technology was created, it has been used in all branches of the military for training. The air force can use headsets to show what flying certain plains can be like. They’ll have the same controls as they would in the actual plane but because it is only in the headset, it is a safer way for them to train and is also another way for them to get a hold of all the buttons/controls. The Navy also uses VR headsets in a similar fashion. They will strap on headsets and work in a submarine simulator. In it, they are able to perform tasks like launching torpedoes, pilot the submarine, and have an underwater-like experience inside of the headset.  And if we’re talking about the Marines, they could play Population One on the Oculus. With the technology growing every day, VR in the military will continue to grow and will have lasting effects on how soldiers train.

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A screenshot of Beat Saber on Oculus Quest

There are hundreds of more ways Virtual Reality can be used to help us outside of the world of gaming, and these were just a few examples of it. You have any sort of VR headset at home like the Oculus Quest or HTC Vive, I encourage you to look up videos and walkthroughs of some of these processes. If not that, go into games like VR chat and open up a world where you can fly a jet and land on an aircraft carrier in the ocean. Or you could go back to playing the BTS music pack on Beat Saber.

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

How Super Smash Bros changed video games

While some video games lack story, characters, plot, or overall game mechanics, one gaming series that does all of those well is Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros franchise. Over the five games in the series, Super Smash Bros is able to capture the eyes and hearts of millions of people around the world, both because of its unique concept of fighting mechanics and the vast roster of iconic gaming characters to choose from. But how will this game franchise change the gaming industry?

If you don’t know what Super Smash Bros is, the creator of the game, Masahiro Sakurai, explained the concept of it as “an action game about smashing beloved game characters off the screen.” Going into more detail, Super Smash Bros is a competitive crossover fighting game. Players select characters from other games like Super Mario, Pokemon, Legend of Zelda, and many more to fight each other to see who will be the last character standing. This franchise has been around since 1999, starting on the Nintendo 64 with only 12 characters from about nine different videogame franchises. Super Smash Bros Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch’s latest game in the series has 89 characters from over 190 different franchises. The more characters added will have a massive effect on how gaming companies create crossover games in the future.  

With the variety of characters in the roster to choose from, you know at least one character. Do you like sword-fighting characters? There is an abundance of characters ranging from Ike, Marth, Cloud, and the latest released character Sora from Kingdom Hearts, where they all have sword attacks. Want to go old school and represent the retro characters? Choose between characters like Mario, Link, Pickachu, Banjo Kazooie, Pacman, Sonic, and so much more! Then some characters give you the challenge to master their abilities, like Steve from Minecraft, Pyra/Mythra from Xenoblade, and Kazuya from Tekken. There’s something for everyone, and that’s what’s so important about this game!

With each generation of the game, more and more game companies got involved with the project, which would mean big things in the future for video games. Over the past two years, Nintendo has released DLC characters for people to get and play as, and let’s just say some of the announcements broke the internet.

In the first DLC pack that was released, the character Banjo Kazooie from the popular Banjo Kazooie games back in 1998 was a huge step forward in crossovers. Microsoft, the parent company to Xbox, which owns the Banjo Kazooie character, agreed with Nintendo to add the character to the game. This announcement of Banjo made the whole community go insane because this really meant anyone could join Smash that was owned by Microsoft, and could possibly hint towards other collaborations with different companies. 

Masahiro Sakurai explained to everyone that they don’t just pick names randomly out of a hat, but instead go through research on popular game characters that everyone should know and that would be happy that they added. This tactic is what they used for the DLC character, Steve from Minecraft. Minecraft at the time had recently passed Tetris as the #1 most bought video game in the world, so Sakurai wanted to get one of the best-known games and characters to join Smash. On the announcement day of Steve as a fighter, no one was expecting it. People all over the world wanted to express their thoughts and went to Twitter. Because of the massive spike in online users, Twitter servers crashed for about half an hour all due to an announcement in a video game. 

The release of Steve not only broke Twitter, but it also broke the boundaries again on how game companies collaborate. This was the second character that was owned by Microsoft to get into Smash Bros, but this wasn’t the final time collaboration of this size occurred.

October 5th, 2021, after 3 years of Super Smash Bros Ultimate being released on the Switch, the last and final DLC character was announced. Sakurai introduced the trailer by thanking the community and for everything that has happened throughout the franchise. The trailer begins, with a million viewers at the time, and so many predictions, but only one will come true. Mario walks up to a spark on the ground. Grabs it and throws a flame into the air. The flame takes the shape of a sword in the air, and the first thing we see is a Mickey Mouse charm. The flame turns into a key blade and opens up a lock for the new character to arrive. The last, and final character for Super Smash Bros ultimate was Sora, from Disney’s Kingdom Hearts franchise. This was the most requested character for years and most people thought it couldn’t be done – because it’s Disney – but Sakurai and Nintendo were able to pull it off. 

But in the end, do these collaborations and introductions to new characters really impact gaming?

With the introduction of Microsoft characters and Disney characters, Super Smash Bros shows us what the future of video games will look like. Companies will be more open to collaborating on ideas and stories after the success of Smash Bros. In fact, just this past week, leaks have come out saying that Warner Bros Entertainment is making their own version of Super Smash Bros with the characters and properties they own. a roster image has been circling the internet containing the following characters:

  • Steven Universe
  • Batman/Harley Quinn
  • Finn/Jake
  • Superman/Wonder Women
  • Gandalf
  • Rick and Morty
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Bugs Bunny

People who have posted the image of the roster and have included them in videos, their posts have been taken down, which is all the more reason to believe that a crossover game with Warner Bros franchises could be coming.

Besides the supposed leak, I still think Super Smash Bros has done something incredible with the resources and skills to pull off something of this scale. This gaming franchise will have lasting effects in the gaming industry, and it is exciting to see what types of collaborative games will come in the future.

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Leaving then returning – The path for many Mount teachers

Most high school students would usually go through their four years of school, go to college, and then move on from their school life, but what about those who come back? Ever since MSJ was established back in 1876, they have taught thousands of young men to prepare them to become the men God intends them to be. Unbeknownst to them, many students would come back to MSJ to teach the next generations of students. What is it that makes the former students come back though? What, or who gave, them the idea to come back? Is it some sort of calling?

Theology teacher Mr. Stromberg is the perfect person to talk to about your calling, as well as Mr. Felts. Both were students at MSJ, where they participated in class and extracurricular activities and then came back to the Mount to teach. Their way back to MSJ might not have been the path they were expecting, but it was a welcomed one at the least. 

Mr. Stromberg’s Theology class

Mr. Stromberg’s journey at MSJ started in 2013 when he was a freshman. After four years, he graduated in 2017, but his time at MSJ was not over. When Covid-19 struck, he got contacted by MSJ. “Because of Covid kind of, I was able to do a guest lecture with Mrs. Abdo and Mrs. Hubbard,” said Mr. Stromberg. “I loved it so much, and then they brought up, ‘We’re doing junior retreat this year still, you should come back as an alumni,’ and I was like ‘Yeah, that’d be absolutely amazing.’” His way back to MSJ was just beginning. 

Mr. Stromberg went on junior retreat as an alumn, which was one of the callings trying to bring him back to MSJ. “I know I love Saint Joe, but moments like that help me remember why I love Saint Joe so much.” Not only was he able to go on junior retreat once when he was a student, but now twice as an alumn. 

“I was sitting down doing homework, and I get a text from Mr. Bonham, ‘Mrs. Hubbard is leaving, would you like to come back and teach?’” He knew what his answer was but needed a second opinion. “Short answer, yes. I would love to come back to Saint Joe, but could I have some time to reflect and pray on this.” After some time of thinking, he reached out to Mr. Shearer and asked for advice. “He gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life, and he said, ‘Take the next two days and pretend like you said yes to them. After those two days, if it feels good that you said yes to that decision, it’s probably a good sign.’” He realized that this was the right decision and the one that he wanted to pursue. “I really felt like this is what I’m being called back to be with.”

“Take the next two days and pretend like you said yes to them. After those two days if it feels good that you said yes to that decision, it’s probably a good sign.”

Mr. Stromberg

Mr. Felts’ also came back to teach at St. Joe, where he had his own calling. He started his journey at MSJ in 2003 and graduated in 2007. “I loved my time here as a student,” said Mr. Felts. After he left high school, he went to college, where he majored in English and minored in Theology. Throughout his time in college, he kept in touch with Brother James, who had been one of his teachers. “He let me know about an opening for theology,” Mr. Felts said, so he then applied for that role. “I always wanted to be a teacher, wanted to be back here teaching, and so I took that opportunity.” Brother James was the reason why Mr. Felts knew about the opening, and because of him, he was able to return to MSJ and follow that calling of coming back. 

Both Mr. Stromberg and Mr. Felts had a calling to come back to MSJ to teach, and be a part of the Mount’s legacy. Everyone has, or will have, their own calling which will grab them to do something they want to do. Maybe you’ve played a sport all your life and many people say that you should pursue that – that would be a calling to practice more at that sport. Maybe you like art, and you keep on getting inspired to make something. That’s a calling. It might not be as easy to hear that call, but if you take moments to reflect on it and say yes to an opportunity, it’s the right decision if that yes feels good. 

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

The importance of animation

The like button has many different variations even though it means the same action. Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social media site, there will most likely be some sort of button to show your appreciation for a post. However, what’s that one thing separating the like button across all platforms and their version of the like button? The animation. It’s one small detail that is hard to notice at first, but it’s there to give that app a sense of identity. If it were to disappear suddenly, it would lose that sense of identity and would feel bland. 

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Animation is seen daily, but people might not know where to look or what it would look like. So what is animation? In simple terms, animation is a type of illusion to trick your brain into seeing movement from drawings, pictures, and CG models. What are some examples that use those types of animations? Shows on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon use frame-by-frame animation to make 2d drawings of characters move. Movies from Disney, Pixar, and Marvel. Avengers Endgame where they had to animate the movement of Thanos or even in video games where almost everything is animated to tell the story. 

Now that we have a good reference as to what animations can be let’s talk about another place where you can find animations, Snapchat filters. Everyone who has used or knows of Snapchat has probably heard of filters. The primary term for filters is to add or remove images and backgrounds to a video or picture. Take for example, the dog filter where it adds big, floppy dog ears and a tongue. The filter’s code tracks the person’s face so the ears and tongue move along with the head, which actually follows one of the 12 principles of animation. Follow through or overlapping action. Follow-through is a crucial part of the animation process where the secondary features of the character or object, like the dog ears and tongue, follow through with the motion. An example of follow-through is a superhero flying with a cape super fast, and then stops suddenly. The superhero stops in the sky but the cape caves in around the body because of its forward motion. When you go on Snapchat, take a look at that dog filter and move your head to get a good idea of how the follow-through works.

There have been a lot of examples of animation in social media, but where else could you find it that most people would never think about? How about sports? Next time you’re watching a Football game, try and spot how many overlays there are on the screen, the transitions that cut to another camera position, and then compare them to other teams. Most teams will have their own branded transition or overlay for TV to make it more unique and personalized. It’s one detail that you might have never noticed but can make a massive impact on the game’s feeling. 

Animation is seen by everyone in today’s society even if you don’t look for it. It can be in many different forms like huge CG or 2d characters in movies and shows, overlays on sports stations, filters on Snapchat or Instagram, and the small things just like a like button.

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.