Lions, and Wizards, and Sounds, O My!

It was a beautiful week in DC which ended with a beautiful Easter weekend.

In completing this week’s assignments, I began by revisiting my SoundCloud account that I had previously only used to listen to other people’s audio posts. I read a quote from Victor Hugo that a friend had shared earlier this week.

I then had some fun channeling an almost daily occurrence using Audacity to layer sounds and create a story.

This week I also put my husband to work to help me adding sound effects to a Charlie Chaplin classic using the Foley technique.

For my second audio assignment, I chose to  interview the Washington Wizards coach in anticipation of the first NBA playoff game. His responses were a bit, unusual to say the least. 🙂

Finally, I built out an earlier storified idea I had by starting to think of the shape of the story, and how I could incorporate the techniques we’ve been using into the final project.

It’s really encouraging to read my classmates posts and to know that they are having the same struggles as I am having in completing assignments. I think that they, like I, are learning with every post. The great thing about blogging is that we can learn from each other and pick up good ideas. For example, I didn’t realize that individual pictures assigned to SoundCloud files will appear when the file is embedding to WordPress.

Overall I am really enjoying the assignments. These are great techniques and tools that I can use in many aspects of  life. I’m looking forward to spending more time on my final project.

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Dig Deeper

Back in March, I wrote a post about a potential final project idea I had on a video about recent baptisms at my church. The baptisms happened back in early April. It was a beautiful day, and we were able to capture the whole thing on camera, but the recording was just one thirty minute block of the service itself. After talking to the new members, I don’t think that the recording captures the journey that these individuals took along the way.

In building out this idea, I think I’d like to capture the whole story of these new members. I could interview them all with the same set of questions (similar to the One Question assignment) to intertwine video and audio of the answers with the recording of the baptism service. I am thinking of other ways I can build this out to tell a story across the recording of the service.

Playoff Sound Off

Since basketball has infiltrated our house once more this spring in the realm of the NBA playoffs, I decided to dedicate my second audio assignment of the week to the Washington Wizards who, though by a thread, are a part of the playoffs this year.

I interviewed Randy Wittman about the Wizards’ chances in the playoffs and his plans once the season is over. I gathered some intelligence from this Washington Post article to prepare for the interview.

I recorded this directly into SoundCloud and uploaded the file to embed into this blog. I compiled the songs from Youtube clips. I cued up the part of the songs I wanted to use and had them ready to go as I recorded. There is a bit of a delay as I was moving between screens, so I might perhaps have printed out the questions so I wouldn’t have to go back and forth. Here is a list of the questions and songs I chose.

Q. The Wizards are playing the Chicago Bulls tomorrow at 7pm. Are you excited for this match up?

A. I’m so excited!

Q. How do you think Nene will address Joakim Noah’s powerful moves?

A. We’ve not yet lost all our graces.

Q. How would you describe the Chicago Bulls?

A. Physical, physical.  

Q. What is your biggest motivation in winning this match up?

A. All I’m asking, is for a little respect.

Q. Do you think the Wizards can make it all the way?

A. You may say I’m a dreamer.

Q. What are your plans for after the playoffs?

A. Everybody knows, a little place called Kokomo. 

This assignment was a great way to work on pulling audio together. These songs really have no connection to each other, but as part of a story really work quite well together!

 

 

Saturday in the Park with a Lion

This assignment was to add a soundtrack to a 30 second clip of the Charlie Chaplin film The Circus using the Foley technique. Since I was born in April, my segment was 01:31-01:30.

To begin, I took the assignment description advice and made a list of every action item that would require a sound. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Dog growling
  • Shhhh sound
  • “Open the door, quick!” (My translation)
  • Gasp as woman faints
  • Scratch of the head
  • Sound of food falling on the ground
  • Lion yawning
  • Sound of food falling
  • Food crate falling
  • Bang as Charlie hits the back of the cage
  • Heavy breathing as the lion comes close

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to incorporate all of these sound elements, so I walked through it a couple times in my head to see which made sense. I then gathered my sound creation elements and experimented with how the sounds interacted and practiced switching between them quickly.

My husband thought I was going crazy for a second, and walked over to see what was going on. I took that as an opportunity to get him involved as my Foley partner.

Here’s the final product.

Now that you’ve heard the track, I can give away my secrets. This is my makeshift Foley studio.

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Let’s walk through the sound elements once more.

  • Dog growling (dragging the glass canister across the burlap table cloth)
  • Shhhh sound (my husband)
  • “Open the door, quick!” (my husband)
  • Gasp as woman faints (myself)
  • Scratch of the head (scratching the burlap table cloth)
  • Sound of food falling on the ground (throwing the grains into the stainless steel mixing bowl)
  • Lion yawning (my husband)
  • Sound of food falling (throwing the grains into the stainless steel mixing bowl)
  • Food crate falling (dropping the mixing bowl on the table)
  • Bang as Charlie hits the back of the cage (me banging on the table)
  • Heavy breathing as the lion comes close (my husband)

I recorded the sounds directly into SoundCloud and then embedded the sound clip into this blog. I was surprised at how simple the sounds were to create without fancy equipment or a “studio,” although I did realize why this is usually a multiple person job, it’s hard to move that quickly between sounds!

Hear Sally Run

To complete this first assignment for the week, I decided to start with the story before exploring the sounds. I thought about a story that I wanted to convey through sound, and wanted to incorporate something that everyone could relate to. I thought about how I am often running from work to meet friends for dinner and the obstacles I often face along the way. I then built a story spine around that concept.

Once upon a time, Sally worked as a administrative assistant in Washington, DC. 

Every Tuesday she met her friends for dinner across town. 

But one day Sally realized that she was running late and had to rush to make it on time for dinner. 

Because of that, she quickly closed her computer and grabbed her keys to go, but the phone rang one last time. 

Because of that, she had to run to catch her train. 

Until finally, she made it onto the train and was able to relax on her way to dinner.

And ever since then, she set an alarm to remind herself to start getting packed up on time on Tuesdays.

Once I decided on the story, I began exploring sounds that might fit in this story.

I began my audio story with the sound of a busy office, then overlapped the sound of a gasp as Sally realized the time. I then added in the sound of Sally grabbing her keys to go, but then the phone ringing and her answering. I then included the sound of Sally running down the hall to catch the metro.  I layered the sound of a metro station with the sound of a metro announcement (I could only find the old WMATA announcement in audio file). Finally I added in a sigh of relief from Sally as she sat back and listened to some music in her headphones.

I saved the files as I downloaded them to a folder on my computer and was able to drag the files right into Audacity for editing. I renamed the files once they were in Audacity so I could better track them. After that, it was pretty easy to cut and paste the pieces of audio I wanted across the one minute clip. Many of the sound files were longer than I needed for this project, so I simply cut the length I did not need. I added in a face out effect to the longer sounds for a smoother transition. I then exported the project into an MP3 for uploading onto SoundCloud and embedding into this post.

Hear Sally Run

This was my first time using Audacity and I found it relatively easy to pick up. I would like to continue to learn more about the sound effects available through the program and find unique ways to use them to add depth to my tracks.

More of a Consumer

I actually already had a SoundCloud account before this assignment, but have never uploaded anything to my account. I had created it a while ago to listen to some of my friend’s music, but never really felt like I had much to contribute to that world.

I changed my avatar to match that which is on my blog and started to think about what my first post should be. I recalled a beautiful quote a friend of mine recently posted to Facebook and decided to do share it via spoken word on SoundCloud.

Here’s how it turned out.

“Love has no middle term; either it destroys, or it saves. All human destiny is this dilemma. This dilemma, destruction or salvation, no fate proposes more inexorably than love. Love is life, if it is not death. Cradle; coffin, too. The same sentiment says yes and no in the human heart. Of all the things God has made, the human heart is the one that sheds most light, and alas! most night.”

–Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

I look forward to experimenting further with the site and incorporating other Audio editing tools!

Stories Have Taken Over

As I’ve mentioned, stories have taken over my life, in a good way. I think as a consultant I always want to look for new approaches or streamlined ways of doing things, and storifying has officially been added to my tool belt!

This week I went hunting for designs that caught my eye. I found three very different examples of design that illustrated very different elements of design and were created for very different purposes. This opened my eyes to how much design is a part of our lives. In looking around my house for the Design Safari, I realized that I have designed much of what is around me, down to the organization of my cups and plates in the cupboard.

I then turned my attention to two design assignments. The first was a four icon summary of a movie. I decided to stick with a classic movie and experimented with the use of icons and color.

I also completed the Word assignment and put a word to life by communicating its essence without color or symbols but rather the text of the word itself. I created a lightning bolt, two words but one item, by breaking the word into shapes and re-sizing text. It took some trial and error, but I’m happy with the word I settled on.

This week I added to my final project options with an idea centered around the complicated process of college applications. At the start of the class I thought coming up with new ideas for our final project would get harder as the weeks went on, but as I learn more about various elements of storification, I am seeing more opportunities pop up.

Viewing and commenting on other blogs and assignment posts has been very interesting. As we are introduced to new design principles, I think we try to incorporate the new with something we’re familiar with (our house, past vacations, pets, etc.) to tie it all together. The incorporation of personal interests into the class assignments provide entertaining posts that are fun to read! I’ve had some very encouraging comments on my posts that have helped me open up to taking more risks in my commentary and designs.

One area I’d like to focus more on in the second half of the class is the sense of disruptive wonder. Not only observing design elements in every day life, but reinventing the design of things that have been the same for ages. I am excited to learn more as we dive into audio and video medias!

Remember Back When?

Due to this reoccurring assignment, I find myself thinking about stories all the time now and in every interaction I have. Perhaps that’s the point? 🙂 There is no doubt that there are needs for stories all around us. This week my inspiration comes from a friend of mine who is a college counselor at a school in the area. She often comments on the difficulty of the college application process. One large struggle is the fact that it involves not only the student, but also the parents of the student. I think it would be great to storify this process in two ways, one from the viewpoint of the student, and one from the viewpoint of the parent. Perhaps seeing the whole process outline in front of them, with the end goal of accepting admittance into a great college, will help relieve some of the stress put on these students and parents during this time. Looking back at when I was applying to colleges, I think this would have been a great help. It could also be a great recruiting tool for universities!

In a Flash

For my second Design Assignment of the week, I decided to tackle Word. I love using color and images as symbols, so I knew this would be a challenge for me. I tried creating something around the word “Sunshine” in the spring time theme of my blog, but discovered very quickly why most of the previous examples of this assignment were created around longer words. Longer words, or phrases, make for a larger canvas, as you have more letters to work with. I finally decided on “Lightning Bolt” keeping in the weather motif.

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After I decided on my word, I did a quick Google search for Lightning Bolt for some shape inspiration. I then used PowerPoint for my design. I created three shapes without any borders or fill color and typed “light” in one of the shapes, “ning” in the second shape, and “bolt” in the third. I wanted to use a sans serif font with a wider look and settled on Verdana When looking at examples of a lightning bolt, I noticed that the two ends of the bolt taper off, so I created this effect by re-sizing each of the letters to gradually grow larger and smaller at each end. Because these were shapes, I was able to adjust the angle of the images to fit into on another and create the final shape. Once I achieved the look I was going for by moving the pieces around one another, I grouped the shapes and saved as a JPEG to embed in this blog.

While it made for a great subject of this assignment, I hope we don’t see any of these any time soon!

Fourth Time’s the Charm

For my first Design Assignment I decided to do the One Story / Four Icons challenge. I think the hardest part of this assignment was deciding which movie to use! I love movies and love the idea of taking a new approach to classics in society, so I knew I wanted to choose an old classic movie (hint #1) in order to modernize it through the use of solid color icons. Once I decided on the movie, I went back and forth on how to represent it. Did I want my icons to demonstrate various plot sections of the movie? Did I want them to represent characters in the movie? I ultimately decided that the point of the assignment was to represent the essence of the movie, so I decided to go with themes and elements of the movie that have stood the test of time (hint #2), in other words, what you would draw when trying to represent the movie in a game of Pictionary.

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I used Flat Icon for all of my images and chose the Mask, CatTypewriter, and Present icons for the assignment. I downloaded these images for free, and inserted them into a PowerPoint slide for editing. I re-sized the images so that they were all the same height and width for symmetry, and aligned them so they fell on the same line. I spaced them out using the “distribute horizontally” tool so that they were evenly spread. I then put a border around them, added in elements of color (hint #3) by layering shapes behind the images, and grouped the images all together. I then selected the grouping and saved as an jpeg image for embedding into this post. I may have been a little too obvious in my design, but I was having way too much fun with colors and themes.

Happy guessing!