Spring Break “Woes”

This past Spring Break I was reminded (time and time again) just how much weight I’ve gained.

Comments were made and tears were shed (not really).

“Tian, you got a little bit big.”

“Tian, did you ever go to the gym?”

“Tian, you should give the cafeteria a rest.”

Now, when you try to explain to your family what stress eating is or how hard it is to resist the buffet-style dining halls, they counter-back with:

“I know, I’m just saying this out of love.”

Well, here’s what I say to that… “I love you, too.”

It’s true that it can be of not help to your self-confidence (none, whatsoever) when you are being constantly reminded of how “big” you’ve gotten, BUT there’s a way to escape this battle field with few battle scars.

  1. Say “I love you”: Yes, it’s true that family can be the #1 cause of our headaches (next to finals week), but you can’t choose them. Regardless, of their blunt, rude, and downright hurtful comments, they’re still family.
  2. Stop “Sipping Tea”: Don’t restrain from telling your family how much their comments do hurt you. Sure, they might counter back and say it’s because they care, but let them know that this doesn’t change the fact that you felt hurt.
  3. Listen to your Body: Now magazine covers may communicate to you that a healthy body image, is one that comes without stretch marks, sagging belly, or a chubby face. But, the reality is, a healthy body is one where you take care of the bodily systems, which work 24/7 to keep you alive and well.

With that being said, let’s all start taking interest in our physical health and well-being by checking our cholesterol, making sure our blood pressure is right, giving Mary Walker Health Center a visit, and inviting your family and friends to engage in a healthy lifestyle, as well (because you love them, too!).




SUNY Oswego’s Gospel Choir sings with Pastor Smokie Norful!

On Friday, January 29, SUNY Oswego held its 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, inviting  two exceptional people to be a part of the event: Dr. Bernice King and Pastor Smokie Norful. Dr. Bernice King is the youngest daughter of the famous and influential Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pastor Smokie Norful is a Grammy Award-winning Gospel artist.

12604846_10203908992003490_2384169435312937115_o  As a part of SUNY Oswego’s Gospel Choir, the choir and I got to join Pastor Norful and his three talented back-up singers on stage to sing his new song, “Mighty God” from his album Forever Yours.

We were more than excited to hear that we weren’t going to do a cover of Pastor Norful’s song, but, instead we were going to sing it with him. Over the winter break, each choir member had to practice on his/her own, since there would only be a week  left to practice once we returned back to the university. Gospel Choir’s vice  president, Kristen “K-Ray” Ray, took the liberty of making a recording that comprised of each note pertaining to what the altos, sopranos, and tenors would have to sing.

While on stage with Pastor Norful, the choir and I joined the back-up singers in dance and song. We were alive, while singing live (not really a pun, but eh…). Along with the live band and Pastor Norful’s encouraging presence, the choir made a joyful noise!

When Dr. King appeared on stage after her introduction, I was excited and curious to get to listen to her speech. Excited because she was the daughter of Dr. King Jr., the man who I read about in textbooks; the man whose name would be printed on my quiz papers; the man who made a famous speech about having a dream, a speech that took to its audience in 1963 and, still, does so today.  I was curious to know who Dr. Bernice King is. During her speech, Dr. King inspired me to think about how my actions could affect others. I was able to grasp the understanding that making a change would not be easy, unless you were willing to be self-less and passionate towards your peers. Dr. King’s wise words ignited something in me, that raised the question, “What changes do I need to make internally?”

To hear from both Dr. King and Pastor Norful was a great experience, an experience that I will hold dear to me.

Below is a video of Dr. King speaking at SUNY Oswego:


Mama’s Remedy for Stress: “Quit Complaining!”

As this semester is drawing to a close, you probably find yourself beginning to think:

Will my GPA be above a 2.0?

Will my life be the same without Derek (a random name for a potential boyfriend) living just a hall away from me?

Will my roommate and I still say “Hi” to each other even if we no longer room together?

Will professors ever understand that the reason they were a student before they were a professor was so they could advocate for
us when our grades get low?

If you weren’t thinking any of these things, then that’s okay. I was just guessing.

As the semester draws to a close, the truth is worrying and stress are two problems of many that you want to avoid. I know, I know…duh.

Still, here’s a practice that you can practice. Should practice. Must practice. I’m saying this because a friend of mine actually put this into practice and it was a success, which therefore makes it a legitimate practice.

PRACTICE: Not complaining.

Seriously, go through your day without complaining. Let me be more specific for ya.

DO NOT complain about your 10-15 or 20-40 page paper

DO NOT complain about getting fired from your job

DO NOT complain about the dining halls not serving Eggnog (I don’t care if Thanksgiving hasn’t started yet?)

DO NOT complain about your professors, advisers or bosses

DO NOT complain about this blog

DO NOT complain anything

Mama always told me, “Tian, you can waste your God-given time whining about how much you don’t want to do your homework or get up out of bed for work, but in the end the homework will still be there, as will your job [for now]. Hang up the phone and get to it.”

I love you, mama!



Student Athlete Guide: Team Bonding

What are the key components of having a successful team? Well it’s obvious to think of things such as talent, passion, work ethic, flexibility, and skill; however I believe that the one component that is often overlooked is developing chemistry.

I don’t mean that you and your team should go rent out a lab and mix chemicals together and hope not to blow anything up, but rather find ways to connect with each other both inside and outside the sport. I get that when you play a sport at an elite level you have to do your job despite whether if you like who you are working with. I am just trying to imagine the 1980 Soviet Union Men’s National Hockey Team being all kumbaya around a campfire and I just can’t. So maybe they weren’t such a team bonding bunch maybe that worked for them. However during the 1980 Olympics they were beaten by Team USA who under Herb Brooks was known for developing team building exercises, no matter how nontraditional they may be…. AGAIN!

So when asked what makes a successful team I believe that there is a formula (sticking with this whole chemistry theme). That formula is team bonding = trust, trust translates into chemistry, and chemistry = success. Mind blowing stuff I know.

When it comes to picking out the right team bonding activity, you should take into account the types of personalities that are on your team. You also want an activity that is going to push people out of their comfort zone and have to rely on others to get the job done, all while working on a college budget.

Taking in all these factors of what makes a great team bonding experience, this year myself and the rest of the captains on our team came up with the idea to go Paintballing. We (the captains) knew that our team wanted to be active when it came to a team bonding exercise.  We also knew that paintball would be a great stress reliever… I’ll admit it felt kinda good to shoot some of your teammates endlessly. However most importantly we knew that we would have to work together in a high stress/anxiety situation.

So when the day came to go to Team Paintball, things got real. Girls showed up decked out camouflage and war paint, trash talking was spewing, and nobody blinked an eye when it came to firing away at a teammate. The staff over at AAA Paintball ran our team through 3 different courses throughout the forest. The first course was a tank field, second course was capture the flag, and third was defend the castle.

At the end of the day everyone was covered in blood, bruises, paint, welts, sweat, and mud. We came together as a team and when it was all over we were laughing, comparing battle scars and explaining our heroic stories of how we shot up a teammate. We all than went to an early dinner together and the conversation turned to hockey and how we were all so excited for it to finally begin. Hearing that talk about hockey just reinforced the idea that this team bonding experience was a success. After a long preseason where people were starting to lose focus, we were able to provide an activity to reignite the passion of why we play hockey. That’s because team bonding activities bring out for the competitiveness, the friendship, the family, the strategy, the excitement but most importantly for the love of the game.


The Oswego State 2015-2016 Hockey Team at AAA Paintball


The Three Needs of Every College Student

Social life. Good grades. Plenty of sleep.

These are the three things that every college student painstakingly strives to achieve and to the chagrin of most, are usually only able to pick two. It’s a philosophy that has been mocked in Internet memes for years, but for many college students it’s unfortunately true.

Granted, this isn’t to say it’s always as straightforward as this “formula.” Getting plenty of sleep doesn’t necessarily always mean you’ll get good grades; having a social life doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get plenty of sleep; etc.

As a grad student, I find myself balancing a lot of responsibilities and honestly, classes often get pushed to the bottom of that priority list, unfortunately. This isn’t ideal for me, nor is it probably ideal for my professor. I came back to school for an advanced degree and often find myself focusing more on other things aside from those classes.

As a Resident Assistant in Cayuga Hall and managing editor of the Oswegonian, it’s often hard to balance all of these things. I don’t even know if I fall into the three aforementioned “needs;” I have a social life, but if you ask anybody who knows me, I don’t sleep during the week because I’m at the Oswegonian office until all hours of the night, nor am I particularly getting the best grades (at least not as well as I’d hope).

If I had to pick two “goals” at this stage of the semester, they would be: social life, resume building. Good grades and plenty of sleep aren’t even on the table, at least not in the way I’d prefer. Yes, I think I’ll be okay as far as grades go, but I’m not focusing as much on my classes as I should. On the positive side, I’m doing things that can build my resume and help me get a better job, which is why I came back to Oswego in the first place.

With the semester winding down (I can’t believe it’s already Halloween), many students probably find themselves evaluating the semester up to this point. They’re asking themselves what did they do wrong, what they did right, where do they go from here. If you were able to balance all three of those goals at the top of this page, then props to you. If you weren’t, you’re not alone. I couldn’t even balance two of them.

But I’ll be okay.

The Color Purple

Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic Violence Awareness

Did you know that Domestic Violence Awareness was represented by the color Purple?

Did you know that October was the national Domestic Violence Awareness month?


It was the Tuesday of this week, and as I walked past Cooper Dining Hall, BAM! I saw them…purple flags stuck in the ground on either side of this bright red, wooden statue of a female. At first, I thought SUNY Oswego had an archery club, and that the female statue would act as a target for flying arrows (THIS WASN’T EVEN CLOSE).

There was a purple sign, stuck in the grass on the far right of the flags, that said , “OCTOBER IS…Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” This is why you should read signs, unless you want to find yourself ducking for arrows that were never there.

So here’s the sitch…

I learned that people do not care about world issues if they do not know of them and aren’t affected by them. This doesn’t make them a bad person, however, it does make me wonder is Ignorance blissful?

I believe the answer is up to one’s self. Only I can define, for myself, what is blissful, from what is not. Therefore, my answer is No. Ignorance, in this case, is not blissful, it’s hurtful. It is hurtful to those who are victims of Domestic Violence. In fact, another thing that was said on the purple sign was, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THERE IS HELP!” Whether that help is to make people aware of Domestic Violence or to assist a victim of Domestic Violence, it is still help. Just knowing that there is still a large scale of Domestic Violence is enough to change a situation, however, to live in “bliss” doesn’t change a thing. There was a note posted on the female statue, which stated in the beginning that “[n]early 1 in 3 college women have been in an abusive relationship…according to a 2011 study from Break the Cycle.”

I’m almost positive that everyone on campus has seen these purple flags, but if you haven’t read the information posted on the female statue or on the purple signs, I would make a note to. They inform you on how Domestic Violence has affected women in college, and gives you a better scope on the issue of Domestic Violence.

Check it out!

Studios vs. Locations

As you know by now my internship is with a freelance production company called Showbizz productions. In earlier posts about my internship I discussed the differences between the three different types of settings where shoots can occur. The three types are studios, sets, and locations. In my internship I have experienced two of these settings which was studios and locations. I am going to discuss the differences of producing content at the these two different types of settings.

Filming at studios is probably where I have had the most experience during the course of my internship. The good thing about shooting at a studio is that it is very easy for my crew and I. For my experience every time over the course of my internship when we shoot in a studio it has always been using a green screen. Shooting with a green screen backdrop is the reason why my studio shoots have been fairly easy and not to stressful (depending on the amount of time allotted for set-up.) You typically arrive at the studio, carry all the gear to the studio then set up, wait while they film, then break down and load up. It is really that simple. Now there is a lot of specific techniques that goes into where to set up everything, which I have discussed in earlier posts. Other than the set up and making sure the picture quality, lighting and audio are perfect everything else is simple.

The one disadvantage of studio shoots in my eyes is that they may be a bit boring. They are boring because after you set up the studio and get all the equipment in the right places and configured to the producers desire you have to sit and wait while they film the content. Most of the time I am just watching and trying to learn from my boss who is the director of photography, and see how he adjusts the camera and runs the show. But there has been times where they have asked me to step in and operate the B or secondary camera and keep the content in frame and adjust it if needed, which adds a little more excitement. The main thing is that there is little to no outside variables when shooting in a studio because you are indoors and do not need to change the set up because they can digitally change the location in post production, because of the green screen.

When it comes to location shoots on the other hand these can be a bit challenging. They are challenging because there are so many different variables and elements you have to take into consideration. First of all you are outside which is a whole different ball game. The weather is always changing during the day and this forces you to adjust. For instance during one take there will be to much sunlight in the shot, so the director of photography has to adjust to that. Then during the next shot the sun could be covered by a cloud making it to dark for that take. Sound is also a crucial factor when filming outside. Many times the audio operator will have to interrupt a take and signal the producer that the take is unusable due to noise in the background. So knowing when and finding the perfect time to shoot it a big part of it.

Location shoots for me personally are much more different because usually we go to many different locations in one day. For example we shot in Central Park last week and within Central Park we shot at about 6 different locations and that is not including b-roll. So every time we change to a different location I have to forget about the last one and focus on the details of this specific location. It is harder for me especially in the beginning of the day because I do not have a routine done yet and I am still trying to figure out the pace and how that specific producer likes to operate. Once the day starts to get underway I usually have a better sense of what the producer and my boss is looking for from me. One trick I have started to get the hang of is anticipating what the producers or the DP needs ahead of time. For example if the producer has been doing 5-6 takes for every location around the fourth take I will be ready to breakdown the equipment and move to the next location, or I will already be breaking down other equipment they decided not to use for that take.

Another big factor for locations is the speed and pace that you work at. Typically these types of shoots are longer than studio shoots because they want to utilize every aspect and element of the location within the time given for the day. So for the shoot at Central Park we had 10 hours to shoot at 6 locations and each location had two different scripts they wanted performed plus the b-roll. When you have a time limit like this producers will almost always work fast because it is better to be done early and shoot extra takes or b-roll than to be rushing at the end and possibly not even shoot everything on the shot list. So at that shoot at Central Park we were working pretty fast because that is a ambitious shot list for that amount of time. One thing my boss stresses is never let the talent and/or producers wait on the production crew. Meaning that we should always, and I mean always, be set up before the producer is ready to roll or the talent is ready to perform. This makes our company look professional and helps keep the producer on schedule. If we are slow and holding them up all day I am almost sure we would not get a call back from that company or network.

So in my opinion studio shoots are easier but boring, and location shoots are hectic but more exciting. I am very comfortable in a studio setting and can say that I have almost mastered the process, but still could use a few more times to perfect it. When it comes to the location shoots I am still trying to get the pace and process down in general even though it differs from location. Looking back on my internship I am happy my first five shoots were studio and not location. Overall though I have noticed that I have learned so much for both of these types of shoots and have seen drastic improvement.

Internship Trip to St. Louis

One of the best parts about my career path is being able to do new stuff everyday and go to different places. My internship this summer has taken me all over NYC. I have shot in numerous studios including Viacom and A&E studios, other locations such as the American Museum of Natural History, and many outdoor locations. I have had many experiences within NYC but recently I got to travel to St. Louis for a shoot.

Two of my coworkers and I traveled to St. Louis to help film some interviews for a documentary about the musical group Kool and the Gang. The reason why we traveled out there was they had a concert that weekend. It was easy for the producer to just have us come out and film some members of the group while they were together.

The shoot was a basic two camera set up. One camera had an over-the-shoulder shot of the interviewer and focused on the group member. The second camera was a close-up shot that was at an angle to get the profile of the band member. As far as the lights went it was three point lighting, but we had a different element that I had not done before. The producer wanted to keep continuity in all the interviews and in the past interviews they had used a black back drop, so we had to use one as well. It was a bit different then just using a green screen.

One problem we encountered was some of the felt on the back drop had been ruined or burned, so there was a white spot directly in the middle. This problem forced us to move all the props around so that the angles of the cameras, were shooting the band member so it would be blocking the white spot. Luckily it was not a huge white spot so it wasn’t to difficult to hide it. It was still a little frustrating after we had already set up the props perfectly to just move them again, then since the props were moved we had to then re-adjust the cameras to the appropriate focus and aperture.

Setting up was probably the most difficult part of the shoot, once we set-up we sat and listened. I was on camera B which was filming the profile of the band members. My job was to just adjust the camera and keep them in frame if they moved or adjusted themselves throughout the shoot. It was very interesting hearing the band’s story and how each of them got introduced to music and hearing stories about their childhoods. I only thought of them as a funky disco type group but after hearing the interviews I learned they had done a lot of jazz and even pop just to name some of the genres.

Aside from the shoot the most difficult thing was lugging all the equipment around the airport and through security. The ironic thing I realized was leaving New York we had no problems with the equipment and everything went fine. Once we finished the shoot and were heading back to New York that’s when we encountered some minor problems. They had confiscated some pliers that had some knives like a pocket knife would, and some problems with our carry on bags. It was like they didn’t care what was leaving New York, only what was coming in.

This was a very cool experience and even though we didn’t really get to explore St. Louis that much because we were working, I still had fun being in another city. We got to experience the penthouse suite at the Ritz Carlton, and hang out in the most expensive room in the hotel because that’s where we shot the interviews. We received all the perks of being in the penthouse suite which was awesome to say the least. Also on the flight back to New York I got bumped to first class, so it was safe to say I was living the high life during this trip. I am looking forward to going on more business trips to different places and seeing where this internship and career will take me.


Filming Music Festivals

In my posts from earlier this summer I have explained the three different settings where shoots take place. They can either be in a studio, on a set, or at a location. Most recently I have been lucky enough to travel to some pretty cool locations and events to film. These two events I went to happened to be music festivals. These were long days and pretty tiresome but the experiences were well worth it.

The first music festival I went to film was the Governor’s Ball on Randall’s Island in NYC. We were filming and interviewing a artist by the name of Charli XCX for the MTV show called “The Road.” If you are not familiar with her work one of her songs is called “Boom Clap” it was featured on the radio for a lengthy period in 2014.

We met Charli XCX at her hotel room before the festival and had a pretty brief sit down with her. The producer asked her some questions and did a quick interview. Then we filmed her as she picked out her clothes for the festival and also showed us other clothes she had brought to New York. Once we filmed her in her hotel room we then set up downstairs in the lobby and waited for her to come down.

The producer wanted to film her as she was exiting and asked if I would operate the secondary camera. This was pretty cool because I was just suppose to assist our head camera operator and did not think I would have the responsibility of actually operating the camera myself. This was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I was excited to have been trusted with this responsibility but on the other hand wanted to do a good job. Also I was filming the talent in a real environment, it wasn’t set up or planned. If i messed up I didn’t have the luxury of doing it again on the next take because there was no second take, the producer wanted a real feeling to the show. So i just remembered the techniques I was taught in BRC 235 and 465 about framing and lighting etc. I am pretty confident that my shot came out pretty good.

The other music festival I went to was the Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware. This was the longest day I have had during my internship by far. We worked a total of 20 and a half hours that day and its safe to say I was extremely exhausted by the end of the day.

The day started by the crew meeting at VH1 Studios in NYC where the bus was waiting to take us to Firefly. My job at the festival was to be a utility man for the day. I had to supply my crew with everything they needed to keep the shoot running smoothly. During this shoot there was a script but we also shot a ton of b-roll, so I needed to be attentive to my crew and make sure they had free space in their memory cards, battery life, correct lighting, and I also handled all the equipment and kept everything organized. It was pretty exhausting because I had three people and their equipment to account for. Since it was such a long day we were given two meals instead of just the normal one. The VH1 staff was very accommodating to us and took care of us, more so than MTV. They understood we were in the heat all day and needed breaks. Towards the end of the day we were rewarded with a nice meal and some drinks to relax in the air conditioned tent. We had some time to relax and enjoy the festival as well, where I got to see some performances and hang out. After shooting more b-roll we accounted for all the equipment and headed home.

These experiences I had shooting the two music festivals are one of the main reasons why I decided to go into this business. Every day is different and that’s what I love about it. To top it all off we also had fun during them. After the VH1 shoot at Firefly I made some connections with the VH1 staff and have been on a couple of more shoots with them. All in all they were great experiences, we got the job done and the client was happy, we had some fun, and I made some business connections, I would say they were a success.