Archive for the ‘audacity’ Category

Insert, Delete, Reinsert, Keep: My Audio Slideshow Process

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I began seriously thinking about creating an audio slideshow for my project several weeks ago. In late October, I sent a series of tweets to Jim Groom about it. I did some research on the web to try and find a free tool that would allow me to create a quality slideshow, and just wasn’t finding anything. Before he could respond, I thought to try iMovie.

Today, after several hours of work, I completed a 1:19 second audio slideshow in iMovie that will go live on my project site in the next few days.

My process over the past month went something like this:

1. Insert photos in iMovie (November).

2. Record audio during interviews with Andy using GarageBand (Early and Mid November).

3. Transcribe audio (Mid November).

4. Think about what I wanted to quote in writing and what I wanted to save for an audio slideshow (or two). Take notes on the location of the quote in the audio file for quick reference later. (Late November).

5. Begin locating that audio in GarageBand, which is what I used to record the interviews. Curse myself for shuffling my paper a few times in the interview, making for points where a great audio quote will have to be used in print instead because the background noise was impossible to edit out. Lesson learned! Export audio as an mp3 to desktop and open with Audacity because I have more experience with Audacity (last week).

6. In Audacity, begin cutting audio into shorter clips, export them as mp3s, to insert them into iMovie (this week).

7. Insert audio into iMovie with just images. Study for other finals, realize I’d be happier still working on the slideshow. Go to sleep (last night.)

8. Wake up, play slideshow, realize I’m not happy with it. Spend four hours working on it. Add text. Return to audio interview. Delete the quotes I have in iMovie. Listen to portions of the interview again and insert a new quote, along with reinserting the quotes I just deleted (hmm, a lot like my writing process). Add text slides. Realize iPhoto 11 has slideshow options with themes. Use it to create a portion for my iMovie slideshow, export it as a .m4v file, and import it to iMovie. Play the audio slideshow; it feels complete (today).

It was time-consuming, but it didn’t feel like a chore. I like creating; it was fun to work on, and if I have time after completing the articles (goal: tonight or tomorrow night at the latest), I plan to create a second one. Edit: I’m going to alter that idea a bit. I was playing around with plugins on the site and came up with something I think will be more interesting, more interactive and fun for me to experiment with using images and audio.

Rapid prototyping Audio Digital Stories

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

This past week we talked about audio in my Digital Storytelling class. I spent Tuesdays class talking about This American Life, in particular the 400th episode wherein they take stories from their family members and try to make them interesting. I like the experimental parts of this example, and asked the students to have someone they know, friend or family member, tell them a story and then they try to make it interesting using the medium of audio to enhance the story, through sounds effects, music, multi-track talking over the story, etc. These stories aren’t due until this Tuesday (3/16), so last Thursday I proposed a workshop for Audacity, of which I am no expert, so that everyone could get their feet wet with some basic approaches to audio editing.

One of my own complaints about my approach to this class thus far is that I haven’t integrated workshops to explore the tools and their possibilities as much as I would have liked. So I committed the last class to a workshop, and while I was preparing it I came across a video on YouTube (which actually isn’t a video at all but an audio experiment by a student who tells a story strictly with sound effects):

After hearing that above “video” I got the idea of asking them to break up into groups of two or three and rapid prototype a digital story using only audio sound effects they found on the web. The would have 45 minutes to complete the assignments and the rules were as follows:

  • No verbal communication, only sound effects.
  • They had to use at least five different sounds they found online.
  • The stories should be no more than a minute and half long.
  • They had to complete it within 45 minutes

Those were the rules, and I gave them the following brief guidelines:

  • Spend the first 5-10 minutes coming up with the idea for a simple story.
  • The next 15 to 20 minutes finding the audio samples.
  • The final 20-25 minutes should be spent editing the audio.

It took me about 10 minutes to lay this all out, and for the rest of the class (save for about 15 minutes at the end when we listened to all the groups’ audio stories) they worked together creating the stories, figuring out audacity—which many of them knew, and showed their fellow group mates, and more generally laughing as they sampled through some crazy sounds. it was actually fun to be in the classroom hearing all these random, crazy sounds that I had no idea how they would make work. But for the most part they did, and I was pretty blown away by the results of a few groups.

I strongly recommend you check them out:

Damian Allen and Caitlin Murphy worked on this story about “harvesting the peasants” —the editing on this one is top notch. Hard to believe it’s not a movie sound track:
Download “Harvesting the Peasants”

“Relaxing after work” is a more comical approach to the audio story by Victoria Pacher, Olivia Newman, and Erik Zottnick. This one is hysterical, right up my alley and more than fit for the bava—I actually wouldn’t leave Victoria alone about posting it I was so excited– to both her great chagrin and annoyance :)
Download “Relaxing after work”

Try and guess what this one is. It’s a tight, action-packed story that pulls no punches created by Chris Anna, Laura Falcon, and Colin Klalo:

And then we have the old “man running from a rabid dog who is not hit by a train” story by Emily Roberts and Kayla Holcomb:
Download Title

We had one sex-inspired sound story by Kenny Cunningham and John Jolissaint, but the audio is no where to be found. It was pretty funny too, and played with your expectations in some very smart ways. When they post it correctly, I’ll link to it here.

We also had two Alien Attack stories:
Download Alien Attack Story by Mr. Charlie Rocket and the Whombag

And another one by Samantha Whay and Paul Longerbeam
Download “Demented Aliens Attack”

Matt Keaton and Dustin Lieske
went the Zombie route, an always welcome genre in my classroom :)
Download “More Brains”

And finally, Gail Larkin and Rachel Hirst went for a ride:


I learned two things from this exercise, my students are deeply disturbed and demented, but on the brighter side, they did some pretty amazing work quite quickly. The time I had been wasting talking about all these examples when dealing with digital photography and the first class on audio would probably have been much more usefully spent actively experimenting and prototyping around a specific challenge. I think this is how I am going to spend the next two to three weeks of class as we transition to video and then mashups—coming up with fun exercises and rapid prototyping for group directed stories. Fun, fun, fun!

Any good ideas for some ways to create a quick experiment with video or mashups? I had some idea about using the videos, but a little concerned about download time. Don’t be shy, I want to steal your ideas.