The Mission of Semester 106

a digital storytelling adventure

Tag: AudioAssignments

Read along to Facebook convos

The Text Impression assignment (worth 2  1/2 stars) was all about reading aloud text from Facebook or other social media site’s comments and trying to impersonate the people in the text. I decided to look through my own Facebook for inspiration. Originally I thought “oh easy i’ll just pick one of those times someone elses older relatives randomly comment on my pictures.” (Who hasn’t had that happen to them.) But as I went through I found those comments were only two max in a thread so it did not make enough sense to use them for the assignment. Instead I tried to find where I had gotten the most comments on a post that were interesting and not just short blurbs. I decided to pick a post I made way back when I got my first internship. I posted this photograph with a caption about my first day at work.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/135407162@N08/33061579872/in/dateposted-public/

I decided to start my audio with reading my own statement with the photograph to make sure it stayed in context. I recorded each audio separately so I could go back and fix select parts as needed and rerecord what sounded off. The conversation was between me and two other people. I tried to sound distinct in my voices from them but it was kinda hard I am not one for impressions usually. Regardless it was fun to try it out and see how to best convey their comments and how I knew they meant it based on their personalities so the subtext beyond the straight all caps text.

Put the Gun Down Song Reading

So I tried out the Dramatic Song Reading Remix for 4 1/2 stars. I decided to read out the song put the gun down by ZZ Ward. So there were a couple of reasons I decided to use this song. One was that the song lends itself to being dramatically read because it’s talking about a woman who has been cheating with the singers man holding a gun up to the singer. So the whole basics is about trying to convince her to put her gun down and steal anything other than the man. Plus while ZZ Ward is becoming a better known artist (shes one of my favorites I have seen her live 5 times) she is not so big that I figured I could still do the spoken version and hopefully it will stay up on sound cloud without a problem.

I ran through reading the song several times to practice and decide where would be best to sound certain ways. Originally I thought about only recording repeating verses one time and just copying them and using them again. However when I went through and listened to it this way it just felt kinda stale. So I went through and did the whole thing so that none of the clips were repeated and I really like the way that turned out much better.

Now the second part of this assignment was to add instrumental audio to it that has a different context. I thought about going all out classical and shaking things up but it sounded way to jarring. Since ZZ Ward’s original sound has a grittier aspect to it, particular her earlier work such as this song, I decided to try and find something that sorta matched a sound I liked but that was more opposite of her sound. I went to Free Music Archive and looked up instrumental pieces. The first most recent uploads were all hip hop and had beats that reminded me of some of her sounds so I decided it was too similar. Instead at the very bottom of the page was a song by Kathleen Martin called I Disown You it had a sound I liked and a CC license so I decided to go with it! It also had a good pace that I liked for the reading match up.

I played around with the levels to try and get it so the music was heard and a part but not over controlling. I think I got a nice balance in the end though I might not have been dramatic enough but I tried!

Extraction Agencies

I did the the DS 106 Radio Show Commercial assignment which was worth 3 1/2 stars. Now this particular assignment specified that the goal was to make a item that would be useful to a tv show or movie character. It wanted it to be at least 20 seconds long and include background music or sound effects. Now I’d like to think that I stuck to the character of the assignment but I also bended it to better suit an idea I felt would be awesome.

So when I was trying to come up with ideas I was sitting in my room which has a loud dripping sound of running water. I thought about how it reminded me of a cave and how in lots of secret agent or adventure movies people very frequently run through caves or sewers or dark spaces with dripping water. So I thought what would agents in those situations want most? To get back home. So I thought up an idea that sprouted from a commercial I already made for the course on real estate. What if you had relocation specialists who would help agents in dire situations when their agencies were not giving the proper assistance.  So in my loose connection to a tv show I thought of the show Burn Notice where the premise revolves around an agent who has been burned from the agency meaning they cut all ties and he has to restart on his own. I decided to take that concept but amplify it for the needed product. While Burn Notice takes place in Miami surely other agents are left abandoned in far worse and more dangerous places so I decided to frame the commercial around that context. So the item I was selling was extraction service and what spy can’t use that?

 

Next I had to go through what exactly that service would entail I decided to try and keep it vague but focus more on the flexibility of the fake company. I also wanted it to be a little goofy in context but delivered very seriously. The name of the fake company was Cuevita Limited. Originally I was going to make it cueva which is literally just cave in Spanish but then I added ita as a diminutive which is usually used for affection or to denote smallness. I decided to do it to abstract the word some more. I also ended up not correctly pronouncing cuevita in the ad and went with the new pronunciation to add another level to the name. I personally like the idea of picking names for things that have a symbolic meaning or reference but then changing them slightly so the meaning is not overtly outright.

I wrote up a script and started practicing it then I went to free sound to help find some background sounds to make the clip sound fuller, plus that was in the assignment. I decided to make the audio sound like it was in a cave since the gimmick of Cuevita Limited was that their agents could be found in exactly the same awful circumstances agents found themselves in. I found a nice audio of running cave water by system_fm and decided to layer that with my audio speaking. Since I was also using water as a sound I recorded it while still in the room with the dripping water sound so that it was muffled in the background and added a different water sound that went with my voice. I messed around with the levels for the background cave water so that it was noticeable but did not over power my voice. After a few takes and messing around I got something I think turned out pretty well.

I think what I liked most about this was the concept. I am not sure if I hit the right tone of it with my voice or not. I did several versions with different tonal inflections to try and decide but I went with serious for the final cut.

Aqua Living Ad

I took on the Make Your Own Commercial! assignment worth 3 1/2 stars. I was flipping through at random and found this one and since I had just completed the radio bumper assignment I thought it would be fun to stay on a trend.

For my radio commercial I decided to advertise for a fictional company that sold underwater real estate. You know homes underwater. I got the idea because I was in my room and my fish tank was bubbling super loudly and so I put the two together. At first I was going to record in my room with the background fish tank sound thinking that would add to the underwater housing effect. However it ultimately just made the audio difficult to hear and not very pleasing to listen to so I scrapped that idea. Next I had to figure out what I was going to say I based most of the language off of what I could remember of housing commercials. I also included a part where I gave a bunch of information quickly because doesn’t every radio commercial have that towards the end? It took my quite a few takes to not trip over the words when I spoke them. (I tried just speeding up the audio but I felt it sounded too distorted and unnatural.) I used Audacity to both record the clips and to play around with the timing to make them all go together as best as I possibly could. The room I recorded in had a small air system noise in the background that I mostly got rid of but what was left gave a hollow feeling. Which I actually felt was kinda cool creepy though it was super faint.

I wanted to add more to it then just my voice though and so I went and found some background music that I added behind my voice. I made sure it was Public Domain before using it and turned it down so it wouldn’t over power my words. Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

Free Sounds Breathe

The Sound Effects assignment worth 3 stars said to find a sound lacking on Free Sound. Now in my previous post where I created the Sound Story project I mentioned how I was looking for breathing sounds and they all sounded too deep for what I was trying to do. So I figured this assignment was a perfect opportunity to fix that issue.

As I later realized when I tried to start it though breathing into a microphone was not that easy. Which sounds silly right? Wrong. I ended up recording with a headset because I got onto it a little late and all the HCC microphones where out or broken. (Even the vocal booth mic was checked out which sucked cause I booked that room out but a faculty member had the mic and they can rent it for days on end.) So it took quite a few tries to get some kind of sound at all that was not just static background noise. On a related note I tried to reduce background noise in Audacity but forgot to hold my breath the first few times so my breathing got labeled background. Finally I got it going. I was not 100 % thrilled with the results but I believe they were the best I could get at.

When I went to embed my sound from Free Sound I found it would not do it properly in WordPress. So I also uploaded it to Sound Cloud. Here is the original Free Sound upload and then the Sound Cloud below so it is easy to listen in post.

Radio Bumper

After listening to the DS106 radio for the first two live broadcasts I figured I needed to take a swing at working on my own already. My approach was to go for a standard radio add, but minus the loudness that I usually associate with radio bumpers. Usually the examples I could think of from radio channels I listen to in the car and tuned into a few to listen to how they promote their channel. I wanted to stray away from loud and brashness that I tend to think of for those ads but still stay on topic. I heard the other ads and liked the approach of including information of some kinda about the DS 106 radio not just its name on its own.

I went ahead and booked out time in the HCC’s audio booth to go record this clip and work on another vocal assignment. I know the vocal booth gets better sound than anywhere else I could record it, plus I have a fish tank in my room so I can’t record any audio in there because it would have an obnoxious and distorting sound going on in the background the whole time. Though I bet there is a way to use the fish tank sound in an assignment at some point which could maybe be a cool look into background noise but I digress.

To give my bumper some more depth I used a radio static sound from Free Sound at the start of the clip. But then I decided to have the static faintly carry through the whole clip because it sounded too empty without it.

Voicemail?

When I was flipping through the Assignment bank and came across Movie Voice Machines I got pretty excited. It was 3 stars. It immediately reminded me of a scene in the tv show Futurama. The basic premise was that one character Bender left his roommate Fry on another planet but did not want to get in trouble for it so he used an overly long Voicemail that Fry had recorded and kept remixing it to make it sound like Fry was saying different phrases from behind doors or corners so that everyone is fooled into thinking he is nearby. It is a fun word gag and I’ve always found it interesting. I always thought that was goofy but then again many times voicemails are goofy or super professional. (I still remember the time I was playing around on my family’s voice mail for the house and accidentally made the message the sound of me imitating Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. It took several days of people laughing when they left messages for us to figure out I accidentally did that.)

Heres a clip from that episode to get an idea of what I’m rambling about.

So I already had ideas about figuring out voice mails and answering machines in my head. Although most machines are not as interesting or long winded as the above example. I think of other tv characters who have notably short messages like the NCIS: Los Angeles character Marty Deeks whose voicemail often appears as the short cheery “Gone Surfing.” For my assignment I wanted to create something in between not overly complicated but not so brief either. I wanted a chance to play around with audio outside of my recorded so I decided to go with a character other than my own for the course.

My first idea I started with was creating a voicemail recording for Cassandra Cillian a character on the tv show The Librarians. Only using clips of audio from the show to make her say her own voicemail. This proved even more difficult then I expected it to be. Since it can be hard to use audio from copyrighted shows I worked from the youtube clips mostly released by the network for the shows promotion. (With a few variances to other youtube sources.) Issue two was that it turns out Cassandra speaks the least frequent in all of the clips they provided of the show. She’s in a lot of the show clips but is either silent or using a math term. So I tried to listen closely to each clip to see if any word or piece of a word could be useful at all. Currently now I have a pile of files on my computer named things like “now” or “what’s happening” as I tried to pick up words to string a sentence. I was really not prepared for how long just find her speaking would take and considered switching to another character who would speak more in the clips I was pulling from but I was determined to finish what I started. I went on word hunts through larger clips I could find and got some more words but then I had to issue of what kind of phrase to string together. It was frustrating because at times I could remember she had used a certain word or phrase but I could not find a clip of it to use the audio. In the end I was left with a bunch of audio I had selected out for but that ended up not being useful for what I was doing. Ultimately then I pulled all the clips into Audacity and played around and muddled with them till I got something close to what I wanted. It’s a quick voicemail but it is to the point and the tone I feel matches up with it.

Sound Effect Story

Sound Effect Story this 3 1/2 star assignment was our mandatory one for the set of assignments for the week. Honestly though that was cool with me because it was pretty awesome. I decided to make mine within the secret agent theme and along with my character.

I decided to play into strong tropes of running and stealing things, you know classic spy concepts. So for my story I used Audacity and 7 different sounds from Free Sound. I layered the breathing sounds with the paper sounds because I felt like the paper alone sounded to unrealistic and removed.

I am happy with how it turned out but when I was searching for breathing sounds I found most of them were for men not women which with breathing sounds like a silly distinction. However there would have been too much of a shift in vocal ranges from the breathing to the gasp so I had to really hunt for some clear ones.