Idea Poaching

Nawwwww, I’m not going to steal anyone’s work.  However, I hope that my perusal of other student’s work will help me to zero in on my final project idea.  We are an ambitious bunch! A lot of our ideas are over the top – tackling large, complex topics.  I suppose that’s a function of being a consultant and doing the work that we do on a day-to-day basis.  We deal with complex issues all the time – we really aren’t afraid to tackle anything.

I encouraged one classmate to take a certain angle on their project that focused on the story of one individual.  Another classmate was ready to take on something huge, so I tried to help them whittle their story down to one phase of a larger process. It seems like this is advice I need to take myself!  Especially after seeing everyone’s video submissions this week, I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with for their final projects.

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No Bellas (aka The Post I Forgot to Name)

This week I chose to do the video assignment called the Music-less Music video.  The goal: to remove the music in a music video and replace it with other sounds.  I’m totally obsessed with the movie Pitch Perfect so I decided to take the finale scene from the film as my music video.  Here’s the original clip:

This is where the Barden Bellas totally crush it to win the Aca-pella (sp?) finals.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s pretty awesome.  That’s besides the point.

I downloaded the clip to my machine and loaded it to iMovie.  I trimmed the clip to end at the part where Anna Kendrick’s character raises her arm in the air.  It was a nearly four minute clip so I thought I’d spare my audience a little time.  I then spent about 30 min. playing around with the sounds that are pre-loaded into iMovie.  They have a lot of sounds you can add to projects; songs, booms, foley sounds, digital ‘noises’ — all kinds of things. And, as I’ve mentioned before, iMovie is easy to use, just drag and drop and slide.  I found some sounds that match well with the video, and I found others that had more of a funny effect.  For example, at about 31 sec. I added some digital sounds to the part where one of the girls is beat boxing.  Another example is at about 1:21 I added footsteps to the section where the girls are all stepping in motion.  It was kind of funny here to add foley sounds where foley sounds shouldn’t be.  In the film you’re supposed to be focused on the singing, so any ordinary sounds are completely cancelled out.  Adding those sounds back in felt really wrong.  There are a few other places where I had some fun but I’ll leave it to you to figure out the rest! (Oh and sorry – I couldn’t help myself.  I had to add some music.)

Here’s a screen shot of my work:

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 10.16.42 PM

And here’s the finished product:

Before You Can Walk

You have to crawl.  My daughter is learning to crawl and her daddy is away on military leave so I’ve been trying my best to capture the moment when she really gets it.  I’ve got tons of film of her almost crawling so I decided to put a little bit of it to good use for my DS 106 visual assignment, Play by Play.

Relative to the Foley assignment, this was a snap. I used iMovie again.  I uploaded my video clip and removed the original audio (which included lots of “you can do it”s).  I then used the in-program recording option to record my commentary.  I tried to keep the commentary light, but with a jokingly serious tone so it would come across as silly.  After all, learning to crawl is just sorta silly.  Luckily my subject doesn’t move too fast so I was able to keep up with the footage and record the audio in one take.  Then I went to the web to find some background audio that was light and fun to add to the clip.  “Somewhere Sunny (ver 2)” fit the bill so I dragged it into my clip.  I added an intro credit and an end credit using the in-program options.  iMovie was really easy to use!  I’d give more tips if I had them but I really just did a lot of dragging and dropping! The one key was, of course, to remove the original audio.  I did that by separating, then deleting it.  Here’s a shot of my work in progress:

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 9.02.09 PM

So here you have it folks, never-before-seen footage of the 2014 Baby Crawl Championships.

 

It Was Only Just a Dream

So this week’s assignment was a doozey! Good thing I had a Saturday night free and a good glass of wine!  I won’t belabor the technical/computer issues I encountered because they are completely my own fault but I will give you the high-level overview of how this all went down and all the tools and media I used to complete the assignment.

First, I downloaded the Charlie Chaplin clip.

Next, I perused the foley samples of other DS106ers.  I have to say, my method was give a quick listen and practically choose at random.  My thought: Make the video/audio and decide what the story is when it’s done.

Here are the clips I chose:

Next – putting it all together.  Once my iMovie completed it’s 1hr. of updates (since I never use it) I was ready to go. Well, once I was able to swallow that small lump of panic in my throat that arose when I realized I had NO idea what I was doing.  Thank goodness for YouTube and  other tutorials!  Once I inserted the audio tracks I gave a listen from start to finish.  Not too shabby!  There’s a point in the clip where the Charlie Chaplin character says, ” uh, am I dreaming? ” so I decided to make this into a dream sequence.  Charlie starts out being chased by a pony but once he enters the lion’s cage we hear the dream-like music (I added a track found here) come in and we realize that he’s in some sort of surreal dream state.  He encounters the lion, the tiger, the annoying dog, and the strange girl that wants him to escape. It’s all very confusing.  Since Charlie is in a dream, he doesn’t feel the panic to get out of the cage that a lucid person would feel.  Finally, the lion roars loudly enough to wake him from his dream state and we watch him run off into the distance – supposedly to wake up.

Here’s a screen shot of my work:

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 11.14.00 PM

And, alas, the finished product:

 

Read Me A Movie

This week, my fellow DS 106er’s and I are delving into film.

Our assignment was to watch two clips from a set list and analyze them against Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie.”  About the article – I really wish I could have attended one of Ebert’s Cinema Interrupts sessions.  That would’ve been so cool.  It made me think back to the film classes I took in college where we’d get together and watch films we’d never heard of and we’d wind up in lengthy discussion about the techniques used in the film.  I think Ebert brings up a lot of interesting points about film techniques that enhance and advance the story of a film.  While I haven’t sat down to watch a film with his article in mind yet, I think I agree with him about how things like composition and camera angles can change your impression of a character or what’s going on in a scene.

The two clips I chose to watch were Kubrick: One-Point Perspective and Example of a Match Cut.

Here’s Kubrick: One-Point Perspective:

The Kubrick video runs through a montage of scenes where Kubrick shoots using a one-point perspective.  A perspective with just one point will contain only one vanishing point on the horizon line, like this:

Inside_Greenwich_Foot_Tunnel

Stanley Kubrick is known for his love of the one-point perspective.  He used it a lot, as evidenced in the video.  He also often placed his main character, or all the action, in the center of the screen.  Ebert would say that this would objectify the character, kind of like seeing them in a mug shot.  I think this applies somewhat to Kubrick’s works, at least in the static shots.  However, in the action shots that use a one-point perspective, it’s less about how we see the character and more about how we feel as an audience.  Viewing the scene straight on makes you feel more like you are there – like you’re in it with the characters.  From this perspective, when a character is running down a long hallway, the audience feels the walls on both sides of them too.  If the character is running from something scary, the audience will feel a little scared being in that hallway too.  I think Kubrick’s technique is less about the characters and more about making the audience feel uncomfortable, or involved, depending on the scene (let’s be honest, it’s Kubrick – it’s probably uncomfortable.)  Thinking about the one-point perspective has made me understand that film techniques can do more than enhance a story or a character, they can also make an audience feel a certain way.

The match-cut clip I watched was from 2001 A Space Odyssey:

In this scene, a human-like gorilla throws a large bone in the air.  The camera follows the bone upwards as it barrels through the sky. Once it begins it’s descent, the scene cuts to a space ship, of a similar shape and size on screen, also descending.  A match-cut is used to create continuity of action between two shots and to link them perhaps metaphorically (thanks wikipedia!)  Here’s where, I have to admit that I’ve never seen the film 2001 A Space Odyssey, so I don’t really know what this scene is about but I have to assume that the filmmaker (more Kubrick!) used the bone and the space ship to tie seamlessly tie together two very different worlds.  Following Ebert’s logic, I might also assume that the space ship, since it’s travelling downwards, might be heading towards some perilous fate.  I’m hoping now that one of my classmates will pipe up here and tell me what’s really going on in this scene.

Each of these clips were really helpful for me to learn to analyze different film techniques.  Maybe I’ll even use these techniques in some of my DS106 work!

“Big Mistake. Huge!”

Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) really sticks it to the shop girls that had previously snubbed her? After getting her makeover and shopping her tail off she walks into the mean-girl shop with her hands full of bags and says “Hey remember me? You wouldn’t wait one me the other day?? Big mistake. Huge!” and walks out leaving the women with their mouths gaping.  What a great scene.  In the previous scene, where Vivian gets her makeover, the song Pretty Woman plays in the background.

As part of this week’s DS106 assignment, I watched the below clip from Dumb and Dumber. In the clip, Lloyd (Jim Carey) gets a makeover with the help of his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels).  the makeover scene also uses Pretty Woman soundtrack – a clear, hilarious reference to the original film.

In order to analyze the combination of audio and visual techniques, we were asked to first watch the clip with no audio, then listen with out watching, then watch, listen, and analyze.  While watching the clip sans audio, I made notes by drawing little sketches of the scenes I saw instead of writing them down.  Here’s pic of my sketches:

Image

Rather than showing you all my sorry sketches, here’s a quick list of some of the scene set-ups and visual techniques that were used:

  1. Over-the-shoulder (of Harry) shot with Llyod in the back of the shot slightly left but close to center.
  2. Shot of Harry and Llyod in barber’s chairs, each with a barber to the left.
  3. Harry and Llyoyd in salon hair dryers with two stylists in between them.
  4. Pan from Llyod’s head down to his (gnarly) feet.
  5. Pan out from Llyod being shaven
  6. Shot looking up at Llyod as he laughs
  7. Straight on shot of Harry getting/giving a massage
  8. Same shot as beginning
  9. Pan up from floor to Lloyd and Harry getting nose trims
  10. Pan up from Llyod’s (still gnarly) pedicure
  11. Back to the same shot we started with, over Harry’s shoulder with Lloyd in the back, almost center.

Next, we were asked to simply listen to the audio, without watching the clip.  Here’s what I heard:

  1. “Pretty Woman” scoring the clip.
  2. Scissors
  3. Hair dryers
  4. Filing
  5. Shaving/squirting
  6. Laughing
  7. Body smacking sounds
  8. Walking
  9. Scissors
  10. Power tools
  11. Cheering and dancing

And now – the final piece, putting it all together.  Even though I knew all the gags of the scene from watching them one way and the other, they were definitely funnier once the visual and audio components were together.  For example, focusing on the visual, you only see the pan down from Lloyd’s face to his feet while he’s getting a pedicure.  You also see the pan back up later.  You see Llyod’s nasty toes and it kinda grosses you out.  Hearing the sound of filing, and later, power tools, along with Lloyd’s nasty toes totally makes you cringe.  I think the best way to sum up what I’m trying to explain here is that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  The visual and the audio and funny – but together, they’re laugh-out-loud funny.

Taking time to isolate a sense caused me to notice some things that I may not have noticed before.  For example, the cutting and trimming noises aren’t something I would have picked up on just watching the scene ordinarily.  However, once I noticed them, I continued to notice them, and they definitely enhanced the scene by giving it a realistic dimension over the soundtrack of Pretty Woman.  The scene incorporates some of the techniques that Roger Ebert discusses like using a shot from below Lloyd’s point of view while he was laughing at the barber after pulling his little ‘prank.’ The shot enhances him and makes him look bigger in the situation — which he is since he’s the one that is controlling the situation.  Ebert also talks about how symmetrical shots seem to be at rest.  This scene has several shots that are almost symmetrical but they defy Ebert’s theory by always incorporating some sort of motion. For example, when Harry and Lloyd are in the hair dryer chairs and the stylists are between them – the shot is perfectly symmetrical.  But, the two make a turn towards each other, keeping the scene in motion and more interesting.

I never was too crazy about the movie Dumb and Dumber, but breaking down the scene has definitely allowed me to give the film a little more credit.  It uses a lot of film and audio techniques to make this scene something that drive’s the films story forward and keeps the audience extremely entertained.

My Brief Career as Foley Artist

For :30 this week, I had the distinct privilege of being a Foley Artist. As part of my DS106 assignment, I had to create :30 worth of Foley audio to go along with this Charlie Chaplin clip:

I was responsible for creating accompanying audio for the time frame of 1:31 – 2:00.  During this time in the film, Mr. Chaplin is working on his escape plan to get out of the lion’s cage.  He’s trying to be very quiet so as not to disturb the lion, but he does a few things that would (or could) make noise;

  • A girl comes to talk to him
  • He shooshes her
  • “Ouvrez la porte, vite! flashes on screen to indicate he’s saying to her “Open the door, fast!”
  • The girl faints
  • Chaplin picks up the tray and splashes water on the girl
  • The lion yawns
  • Chaplin keeps splashing
  • The lion gets up halfway and Chaplin drops the tray, runs to the door and leans against it

The bold words show the sounds I focused on.  I used this to create a list of sounds I needed to try to create:

  • Girl talking
  • Shushing
  •  “Open the door, fast!”
  • Fainting/falling
  • Water splashing
  • An animal yawn
  • A tray dropping/running

I spent some time thinking about different things I have around the house that I could use to create appropriate (and possibly inappropriate sounds.)  I thought about things found in the kitchen, nosier fabrics I might be able to find, and what sorts of sounds some of my daughter’s toys make, and of course I needed a helper so I recruited my husband.

Once I decided on my sounds and how I was going to make them, I practiced a few times and then got to recording.  It only took a few takes to get a decent version!

My final result is below, as is the list of sounds and how I made them is also below.  Enjoy!

  • Girl talking (me!)
  • Shushing (Hubs)
  • “Open the door, fast!”  (Hubs)
  • Fainting/falling (Me! + banging on the counter)
  • Head scratching (Daughter’s crinkle book)
  • Water splashing (Hubs + a bowl of water in the sink)
  • An animal yawn (Daughter’s teething giraffe that squeaks. Aren’t I funny??”
  • A tray dropping/running (Me, banging on counter again)

Problem Solving Tool – Storified

Last week I was on a call about a tool that some colleagues and I are developing.  Basically, it’s something that we want everyone in our organization to be able to use to identify client problems and match them to solutions.  We’ve gone ’round and ’round with different ways that we can put this information together but it occurred to me that this would be a great place to use some storytelling.

We could create stories around client issues that would look a little bit like this:

Once upon a time there was a Federal organization.

Every day they operated as normal, in service of the American taxpayer.

One day, 30% of their workforce announced their retirement.  They would be leaving within the year.

Because of that, the organization had to scramble to address a multitude of problems that would arise when their workforce left and took their institutional knowledge with them.  They would need to:

  • Extract institutional knowledge from the retirees
  • Reorganize to do more with less
  • Hire replacements
  • On-board replacements
  • Train replacements
  • Plan better so this situation doesn’t happen again

And then HERE is where the tool comes in, the consultant would match the above list of problems to a set list of solutions.

Because of that, the sharp, young, consultants working for the organization recognized these problems and informed the client that they had answers!  The organization hired the consultants to help them solve their  problems.  And they all lived happily ever after…..

I’m hoping this idea goes over well with my team! I’ll keep you posted.

A Missed Connection

In one of my many first jobs out of college, I worked in a local jewelry store in a resort town. During the off-season, the days were painfully slow and I often kept myself entertained by checking out the missed connections section of Craigslist.  It’s a pretty interesting little corner of the internet, full of hopeful people wishing to connect with someone they only saw or barely met.  I found it best described as “an enormous anonymous echo chamber” by a writer for the New York Times.

Whilst perusing the missed connections section this week for a suitable piece for my DS106 audio assignment, I got curious about the whole concept of the site.  How many people are looking for others? Where are these connections being missed? Do any of these posts result in successful romances??  Obviously I had to google it.

I found this infographic about where missed connections are happening, nationally and who is posting about them.

Source: Psychology Today

Source: Psychology Today

As noted in the infographic, I found a lot of missed connections on the metro in the DC Metro area. (And for single friends that live in the South – Make fast to WALMART!!!)  I couldn’t find any evidence or statistics about the success of these missed connections but that’s not part of this assignment anyway.  I digress!

So I found a pretty great missed connection posting and I read it, enhanced it with some additional audio, and embedded it here for your enjoyment.  Since the missed connection takes place on the metro, I included audio of a train pulling into the station.  I also added a layer of skeevy background music for effect.  My microphone audio is less than ideal, but I unfortunately don’t have the tools   For the full text of the missed connection, see below.

 

I saw you this morning on the orange line metro (towards largo/new carrollton), you were beautiful. I got on at Dunn Loring and you were already on. You had red tinted hair and a tealish bag. You were short and fit. 

I never do this and I’m sure you’ll never see this but I wish I had said something.

Tell me what stop you got off at if you see this.

 

 

A Day on the Farm

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, we’re playing with sound this week in DS106.  For this assignment, I needed to come up with a story and tell it using just sounds.  I’m not sure exactly how I was inspired but I decided that farm noises would be a good base for a quaint little story.

I found some great farm sounds on Freesound.org.  The site made it really easy to search and find what I was looking for although I did have to sift through some recordings of humans making animal sounds to get to the good real animal noises.  That was weird.  I was tempted to use the recording of the random guy bleating like a goat but decided against it.  A couple of sounds and a few Audacity YouTube tutorials later and I was well on my way to creating my story about a day on the farm.  Using Audacity was easier than I thought it would be once I learned a few of the basics.  Below is a screen capture of my work in progress. This only shows a few of the tracks but gives you an idea of how I layered them and spaced them out over time.  I used copy/paste to repeat sounds that I thought were too short. I also used the fade in and fade out effects to give the effect of closeness as well as for the sake of blending.

Here’s a screen shot of my handiwork:Image

So this is a story of a day on the farm.  There’s a farm “chatter”, let’s call it, that runs throughout the track.  You’ll hear the chickens pipe up early on to start the day, then there’s the occasional cow and goat that make themselves known as they go about their business on the farm.  Then, the farmer goes by on his tractor.  After a long day’s work, you’ll hear the farmer relaxing in a rockin’ chair on the front porch, drinking his sweet tea.

And here’s the result ( I went over the 90 sec. time limit for this, but I got carried away…)