Gods Away Spray

Naturally I chose another television crossover assignment that could be doubled as an advertisement for the radio show.  I liked the idea of evaluating the difficulties in a protagonist’s life and seeing how those needs could be met.  My mind immediately went to Xena, a hero who often struggles against meddlesome Greek gods.  I decided to create what is essentially a repellent against these deities.  I then wrote out my script in the most cliche As-Seen-On-TV style possible (lots of set-up questions, describing/playing up the solution, etc.).  I recorded this piece in audacity, and added the Xena theme song as background music.  The result is below.

I have to say, I think the best part of the whole commercial is “simply spritz, spray, and watch the Greek god fade away!”  I don’t think I could have come up with a better line than that.

In a World… Without Highlighters

I’ve heard a great deal of Don LaFontaine’s work in older movie trailers, so I was curious as to how using that voice and style could make anything seem dramatic.  Looking around for inspiration, one of the first items I saw was a highlighter, which thus became my subject.  I decided to emphasize the contrast between the brightness of the highlighter and the drabness of studying in order to make the highlighter the protagonist of this fictional tale.  I recorded the piece dramatically in Audacity, and then played around with the pitch to deepen my voice.  This took a bit of work, as initially I sounded like a terrible beast, and then over-corrected so my voice resembled a chipmunk’s.  I eventually found a happy medium, and the result is below.

UMW Spam

I was initially attracted to this assignment due to the sheer amount of spam my UMW email account has become inundated with.  I liked the idea of reclaiming these annoying adds/tricks, so I found a poorly phrased piece of spam relegated to the junk section of my email.  In recording my reading of the email on Audacity, I was somewhat inspired by phonetic punctuation in that I tried to read the piece somewhat literally.  As such, I read the words in all caps with a great deal of emphasis, capitalized words with some emphasis, and words without spaces between them very quickly.  I essentially was trying to underscore the ridiculousness of the spam itself.  In this way the piece has a bit of a rhythm to it, with some sections that sound somewhat normal and some sections that seem quite odd.  This was a fun way to take control of these emails in a manner that allows me to poke fun at them.

Xena’s Voicemail

I know, I know… Xena again.  But I’m loving these ideas that integrate television characters with new creativity and media, and thus I tried my hand at this assignment.  I began by brainstorming the sort of messages that might be left for Xena (who is a rather stoic character).  I decided that the most likely voicemail would be a request for help or intelligence information.  I opted to report the movements of one of Xena’s chief adversary’s, Caesar (whose betrayal ultimately led to her initial slip to darkness).  I recorded my piece in audacity, making the tone somewhat jovial and familiar for comedy purposes.  I then searched for a voicemail intro on freesound.org to add to the beginning of the recording.  The result was a fairly authentic sounding and amusing piece.  I have a feeling that Xena would be annoyed with modern phones…

Werewolf Sound Effects

One of the must-do assignments was to create a story using only sound effects.  It took some pondering to figure out what I wanted to do.  I ultimately decided to create a werewolf attack.  You see, every Saturday my friends and I play a role-playing game called Werewolf (similar to Mafia or Town of Salem), whereby each of us is a citizen in a village that has a werewolf infestation.  This was essentially my inspiration.  So I went to freesound.org to search for suitable sounds.  I included wolf howling, some dark ambiance, heavy breathing, running through grass, door slamming, banging, a crash, dogs growling, and heartbeat sound effects.  One of the growling dog pieces I used was actually a dog hyperventilating, which created this really throaty effect that fit the piece well.  Honestly the hardest part was arranging all of the sound snippets in Audacity to create the atmosphere I wanted.  It was essentially a lot of tinkering.  The final product is below.

The story I was trying to convey is a man running from werewolves.  He reaches his home and bars the door, only to have the werewolves tear through and (presumably) attack him.  It concludes with the sound of a heartbeat that eventually ends…

Constructing Construction

I like how everyday sounds, when taken out of context, can turn into something completely different.  This led me to try the Familiar Sounds assignment.  I began by recording my bathroom fan in Audacity.  The sound itself is very rhythmic, and has a somewhat industrial feel to it.  This led me to the second half of the assignment: creating a story.  I decided to compliment this industrial sound with other construction noises.  Using the free sound effects library in YouTube, I found sounds for hammering, starting a baler, and air nailing.  By combining these in new tracks within Audacity, it created a plausible construction scene.  This reminded me somewhat of the Foley video, in that familiar items can be used to create the sound effects for an unusual scene.  I’ve mentioned this theme before, but I feel that it’s worth mentioning how this also strengthens the idea of maintaining a somewhat skeptical mind.  First impressions (in radio, the Internet, and other mediums) can be deceiving, especially with the editing technology we have at our disposal now.

Slow-Mo in 1812

I liked the idea of playing around with recognizable songs, altering their structure to create a totally new tone or atmosphere.  Sometimes the best way to understand a concept or medium is to simply work with it.  So I decided to try my hand at the Make it 800% Slower assignment.  I will say that the process was much more difficult than I anticipated.  I had previously used MPEG Streamclip to capture songs from YouTube videos, and originally thought I’d try to grab Mind Heist.  However, it appears that something has changed over the last few years… as almost all the files I tried to open were the “wrong file type”.  Google searching solutions yielded nothing.  I almost decided to give up the assignment completely, until I remembered that YouTube has a free video library where you can download MP3 files.  I then found a free copy of the very dramatic 1812 overture.  Perfect.  Mellowing this classic dramatic piece was definitely a fun exercise.  However, my first attempts at slowing the piece down were not particularly successful.  I attempted to slow it down (with an effect that altered audio speed) by 99%, but this merely resulted in Audacity crashing twice.  I then decided to simply slow it down 50%, and then adjust it again to 75%.  I attempted to play around with the pitch some, but I’m not sure I was entirely successful in creating a normal-sounding song.  However, the result is a somewhat eerie techno-sounding piece that is almost unrecognizable from the original (which was ultimately the goal).


ds106 Radio Bumper

This was a fun assignment that allowed us to try and creatively sell ds106 radio.  I actually began by creating the concluding fun tagline for the show, making my final decision by choosing a phrase that rhymed with “six”.  I then created the introduction with the station description, trying to keep the line short and sweet.  After writing out the two sections I recorded the statement on Audacity, keeping in mind the importance of trying to sound normal (rather than stretching to mimic some sort of fictitious “radio voice”).  Finally, I visited freesound.org to look for suitable background music, ultimately choosing a piece that was very close in length to my piece of verbal dialogue.  I then created a new stereo track and copied this music piece into Audacity to allow the piece to play concurrently with the dialogue.  I played around with the audio levels to make sure that the music did not drown out my narration.  Once I was satisfied, the final exported result was this lovely advertisement.

An Overly Dramatic Reading of Itsy-Bitsy Spider

I love the idea of playing with tone.  With video-editing, I’ve always enjoyed creating video mash-ups that significantly alter the tone of a movie (usually making something seem entirely more dramatic than it should be).  As such, the over-dramatic reading assignment naturally caught my eye.  Making anything over-dramatic generally entails looking for decidedly non-dramatic source material to create some nice contrast.  Thus, what better material to use than a classic children’s nursery rhyme?  I ultimately chose to use Itsy-Bitsy Spider, as when not sung, it becomes apparent that the spider’s story is somewhat epic.  I mean, being washed down a water spout is certainly life-threatening to a spider.  So I opted to read the rhyme (using Audacity to record the piece) in such a way as to emphasize this dangerous event and the subsequent triumph of the spider.  I essentially ignoring the song-like nature of the piece and down-play the built in rhyme, and emphasize certain dramatic words (washed, dried, again).  Overall this was a fun little exercise that outlined the importance of tone in any form of sound.