Week 5 Summary

A little late to the summary party this week but here it is!

This week’s GMU DS106 class dove into the use of audio in storytelling and allowed us to get our hands dirty with some practical experience editing our own audio.  This week’s multimedia and assignments really reminded me how important audio is in telling a story.  This made me think back (again!) to the film classes I took in college (which I’ve mentioned before) and the time we spent discussing how audio can make or break a story.

My first assignment was to do a quick audio test to get familiar with SoundCloud.  SoundCloud was really easy to use and I kept my post pretty short and sweet.  If you check out my post you’ll see how proud of myself I was for starting on my assignments early in the week….that momentum was short lived!

Next up, a challenge to tell a story with audio only – and only five different tracks at that.  I used the free download for Audacity and it didn’t take me too long to get up to speed.  I used Freesound.org to pull a few sounds that helped me tell the story of a day on the farm.

For my audio assignment, I chose to read a Craigslist missed connection.  Half the fun of that assignment was looking for the perfect missed connection.  The real challenge of the assignment was deciding what the story was behind the guy (or girl?) who wrote the post and what were they feeling?  I made some decisions about it and layered in audio accordingly.

Also this week I tried on the hat of a Foley artist.  It’s way harder than it looks.  Once again, I’m operating with a new found appreciation for the fine, fine, skill of audio editing.

Lastly, I’ve got another idea for something that would benefit from a storified approach. I’ve got to get my team on board – maybe I should link them all to our class materials?  Now there’s a thought.  I’ll be sure to report back on what they say.

This week was a lot of work but well worth it to have experience with these tools.  I definitely learned a lot and I know that these skills will not only come in handy in the coming weeks but they will also serve me well on future project engagements.  The last three courses I worked on required us to record our own audio.  I stayed away from that work as much as possible but next time I won’t be so afraid!


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 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…)


DS106 has kicked off some adventures in audio this week.  I don’t have a lot of experience with audio editing so this should be interesting.  I’ve got my SoundCloud account set-up  and I’m starting my first assignment on Tuesday evening so I’m already feeling like I can’t lose.  I’ve never heard of SoundCloud before but I’m always game to try something new.

Here’s a sample of my first audio endeavor on SoundCloud.  I chose to give a little weather report since it’s on my mind given how drastically it’s changed in the last 36 hours.

I found SoundCould easy to use and easy to embed into this post.  I shouldn’t be surprised at how intuitive some of these tools are but I always am. Perhaps I’m just grateful! Tomorrow’s mission – figure out the audacity software so I can continue to tackle this week’s DS106 work one day at a time.