Communication & Digital Studies Ad

We needed at least three commercials for our radio show, so I took on another for this week just before my group recorded and assembled our podcast. Since I graduate this semester, I’ve been thinking (and stressing) a lot about potential career opportunities, and reflecting on the different ways that being a UMW student has helped me develop skills an employer would find valuable.

The Comm & Digital Studies major encouraged me to test my creative limits, to become a better writer and public speaker, and to develop a strong sense of digital literacy. I figured I should verbalize these positives and encourage others to look into the major through an audio advertisement. I formed my thoughts into a script and found music on Free Music Archive to play in the background.

Grab a Box of SuperOats!

I decided to create a commercial as part of my contribution to our group project. I hoped to incorporate the superhero theme while also making something that you might actually hear on the radio. I’ve heard several radio commercials about cars and events. Yet where did my mind go? Food, of course.

I did some research on oats, wrote and recorded a script, then found audio clips to use in the background. I intended the commercial to address parents’ desire to make their kids healthy, while also addressing their children’s potential interest in being more like their favorite superheroes.

I found a few great audio clips on Freesound; children playing at a park, a record scratch, some vocal clips, and upbeat background music. Using Audacity, I placed each clip where I saw fit and arranged my narration in a way that helped it flow well. The result is an upbeat and fun advertisement for SuperOats, a treat any kid would love!

You’re Listening to Distress Signal

Each member of my group was tasked with creating a unique radio bumper for our show. We know that we’ll feature news, games, and callers, so we figured it’d be best to market these details & give potential listeners an idea of what to expect from us. I found a cool beat on Free Music Archive and wrote a quick script, then recorded and played with the volume & timing in Audacity. I’m liking the ultra hip electronic vibe!

Distress Signal Promo

Our group is using the Bat Signal as the foundation for our audio and visual advertisements. To create my first visual ad for the group, I searched for a bat signal photo, then covered the logo with the color of the spotlight in MS Paint. I used Photoshop to add & manipulate text, and later decided to throw a pair of headphones on the spotlight. I feel that this emphasizes the listening aspect of the radio show and makes it a little more interesting to look at!

Week Five: DJ in the Making

Before this week, I had a general understanding of the importance of sound, but I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to convey details without the support of any visual or verbal elements.

I started by listening to “Moon Graffiti” and reflected on how sounds affect tone, space and atmosphere in this blog post. By midweek, I was able to tune in to ds106 radio for an episode of  Jessica Jones and participate in a live tweet-along with others. I wrote about the experience here. This week’s daily creates featured a sketchy spa, aging cats, and office supplies.

I used Ceto’s written intro as a guide for my Sound Effects Story, and while I think it turned out well, it just didn’t result in as clear of a narrative as I’d hoped. Small details are hard with audio, and I knew it would be a challenge to attempt such a surreal scene. I especially enjoyed making Ceto’s Soundtrack because it allowed me to explore the more chaotic and thrilling aspects of her story.

I learned how to use some great Audacity features while making my ds106 radio bumper. I jazzed it up with a lot of effects and sounds, but I feel like my message may have become a little too persuasive. Looking back, I realize that a “thanks for tuning in” would have sufficed, and would have been closer to the assignment guidelines. My “free” assignment was a Dramatic Reading Remix (4.5 stars), where I read lyrics of a sad acoustic song over an electronic beat. This changed the style completely.

Audio editing is complex and time consuming. This week felt just as challenging as the writing week, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every moment. I’m really excited about Freesound and I’m glad I was able to add unique content to my SoundCloud account. I hope to use these newfound tools to continue creating and sharing sounds.

Radio Bumper

Most of the bumpers I remember hearing were quick, animated, and consisted of several vocal effects and fun sounds. I used the first 10 seconds of this video to help inspire the writing and speaking style I’d use. Then I recorded myself with my apple headphone mic.

Once I had a decent recording in Audacity, I added the echo effect in some places and searched through a couple of tutorials to figure out how to give my voice that ‘through-the-phone’ quality in other places. I found a solid hip-hop beat and some game show sounds  on Freesound which I clipped, arranged, and even reduplicated. I had to speed up most of the sounds to match my rushed speech. It kind of morphed into an advertisement.

Tweet Tweet

I tuned into the radio show on Wednesday evening for an episode of Jessica Jones and really enjoyed the experience. This was my first time live-tweeting and I hope to do it again. I loved the sense of community I felt just from everyone sharing their thoughts in real time. We didn’t need to physically be in each other’s presence to know that we were all experiencing something together.

I found that listening to a show on the radio can provide clear narrative details at some points, then little to none at others. There were times that I had trouble keeping up with all of the different characters during the episode, and it was hard to tell what was going on during periods of music. The end of the show had a very intense and chaotic scene which featured gunshots, screaming and crying. I knew someone’s mom died but I didn’t know whose mom and I didn’t know who the killer was. It wasn’t until I looked it up online that I realized exactly what had happened. I still really liked listening to the show in spite of the few confusing parts. I look forward to testing some of the sound effects they used in my own work.

Ceto’s Soundtrack

So, this was time consuming. The last few assignments that featured Ceto relied heavily on my intro scene. This one forced me to zoom out and picture her story as a whole.

Ceto is a primordial sea goddess who is banished to Earth and forced to inhabit a physical form. I still have not decided whether she hurts or helps mankind with her ability to manipulate water or summon an army of sea creatures, but I do know that her arrival eventually causes mayhem.

I used water-y and ambient clips for Ceto’s sound effect story, but I needed much more intense sounds to convey the commotion she’d cause. I decided to begin the soundtrack with the familiar ambient tone and completely shift it at the start of chaos. It took quite a bit of searching on Freesound, but I found a decent synth loop and paired it with drums. I changed the tempo of both clips to match each other and increased the bass to give it a more energetic sound. I didn’t mind the way the music portion turned out until my boyfriend called it a ‘cheesy sci-fi tune’…  but by that point, it was too late to turn back.

The narrator of The Powerpuff Girls soundtrack provided their backstory, so I felt like I needed to include some vocals for this assignment. I found a nice sound clip of a woman reciting a random poem and loved the wording, although it really doesn’t make much sense. I trimmed and rearranged it as I saw fit, then added water in the background. I was hoping it would sound like some sort of omen.

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of making Ceto’s soundtrack! And heck, maybe a cheesy sci-fi tune works best. She is an otherworldly character after all.

Ceto Rises

That’s right. Ceto’s back.

Since we had to incorporate our character (again), I decided that my Sound Effects Story should accompany Ceto’s introduction. Yes, my idea of this scene was so vivid that I felt compelled to add another layer to the madness.

Thankfully, I learned how to use Audacity this past summer while creating a mix for my belly dance troupe. But editing music is pretty different from composing a story with only sounds. All clips were retrieved from  freesound.org. Once I had the sounds I needed, I imported, trimmed & even duplicated some of the pieces, then arranged them in the order that corresponded with my idea of Ceto’s introduction. When I was sure of the order, I tried to level the volume and tempo in any spots that seemed off. I ended up using a total of 10 sound clips to create an 80 second-long story.

I knew this was going to be challenging, and you might not be able to tell what’s going on based on just the audio, but gosh darn I tried. And maybe I’m biased because I wrote the scene, but I like the way it turned out.

Audio Storytelling or Mind Control?

Audio effects are one of the most under-appreciated elements in film because it’s often used to support the visuals. Sound alone changes the tone of any setting and circumstance. When it comes to this topic, I can’t help but immediately think of jump scares in horror films; soft, low music plays while we anticipate something frightening, until we’re abruptly greeted with loud, high-pitched music to accompany whatever jars us onscreen. This jump scare from Insidious is a perfect example.

Without visuals to support the audio, we’re left to piece the narrative based on our experiences and imaginations. I thought this would be difficult before I listened to “Moon Graffiti“, and I was surprised to find that I easily understood the narrative based on audio alone. Muffled speech, static sounds and beeping implied radio usage, while loud, clear sound connected our presence to that specific space. The smallest details, like volume and background noise, told us where we were, who we were with,  and what we should be feeling.

Now that I have a better understanding of exactly how audio impacts the listener, I feel like this week’s assignments are going to be a bit of a challenge. We have room to create any situation we want our audience to imagine. Where do I even start?