Archive for the ‘audio’ Category

Site Link

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

My digital storytelling project is now live. I’ll have a more in-depth blog about it and my process soon.

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.

Digital Storytelling Tools Breakdown

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

With Aisle 2 Bin 36 in the works, here’s a current breakdown of how I plan to share the Swope family’s story digitally:


Because this is a web-based project, I want to tailor my article length for an online audience. That means briefer stories, so I’ll likely have multiple articles, each on its own page, rather than one long piece on a single page.

Before I begin writing, I want to meet with Andy a few more times, so while I haven’t started writing any articles yet, I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit based on our two get-togethers in October.

I’ve also been considering my writing process. Unless it’s a very foreign topic to me, I’m not the type of writer who outlines an article or paper. Typically, when I sit down with my computer, I find the detail or part of an anecdote in my notes that interests me the most and start from that point, adding the remaining facts above and below it until the story feels complete. I’ll probably stick with this technique for this project, as everything usually “falls into place” with this method for me.


I’ve referenced The New York Time’s “One in 8 Million” series before. It’s a collection that profiles several New York City characters, from the “rookie detective”  and “uncertain gang member” to the “adoptive mother” and “type A teenager.” As an example, here’s the “grandfather.” The series has shown me how powerful coupling images with an audio narrative can be. Many stories included in “One and 8 Million” are very simple, but told in this method are quite engaging.

I want to use an audio slideshow as part of my project. At first I thought of doing just one. Then I discovered this digital story. In this section, the stories of 9 people are shared, each with it’s own image(s), text description and audio (for a single example, click here). My intent is a little different…and I’m still fleshing this out and may go with it, alter this plan, or completely kill it…but I’m thinking about doing something similar with a set of images on the site. After viewing the above mentioned story, I asked myself “Why limit myself to just one audio slideshow?” Now, I’m thinking I can have one overarching audio story showcased on the site. With other photos, I can caption them with text but also have brief audio snippets of Andy. I like this idea because it gives the audience something a newspaper can’t, the opportunity to literally hear the voice of the subject being profiled.

Map and/or Timeline

I’m interested in using Google Maps (or a similar map tool) as a way to share the family’s story, highlighting the different places they’ve lived and served. I’m not very familiar with the tool and need to do a bit more research, but from some of the better examples I’ve seen, I’m thinking I could incorporate photos and text captions for each point on the map, personalizing it to the story. As an alternative (or additional storytelling method), I’m also toying with the idea of a timeline. I’m not sold on any of the free tools I’ve found on the web to create one, so I need to look into this more.


These are the main digital storytelling methods on my mind right now. I’m continuing to research and ask myself the best ways to creatively share this story digitally, so I hope to think of more techniques as the project grows.

We Are The Champions, My Friends

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The Mighty Ducks Video Commentary

In 1992, Walt Disney Pictures released The Mighty Ducks, the first film in a trilogy that my sister, cousin and I spent many hours of our childhood watching. 18 years later, the film is my response to Assignment 8.

Originally, I used VLC and Handbrake for this assignment. However, after transferring my clips into iMovie, the shots shook so badly the material was unusable. The audio didn’t match up, either. With help from Jim Groom and Lindsay’s Video Tips, I redid the assignment using Mac The Ripper and MPEG Streamclip.

Early Mechanics of a Digital Story

Monday, October 18th, 2010

After Jim Groom briefly mentioned our multi-week digital storytelling assignment during the first night of class, I spent my 20 minute drive home brainstorming a very rough plan for my project. We’d each just shared 30 second stories about how we spent our summer, and although I can’t remember the exact quote, a comment Groom made in response to my brief story inspired my large idea. I told the class I spent my summer as an intern with a nonprofit that provides support and entertainment services to U.S. military personnel. Groom made a remark regarding the stories people choose to share and withhold concerning their experiences with war, and his observation got me thinking about the angles from which I saw the media covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon arriving at my house, I grabbed the first sheets of paper I could find and sat at my table to transfer my thoughts from my head to a notepad-who would I talk with? What was my goal? How would we (the reporter and the source) tell these stories? These points became much more coherent when I wrote my project proposal. I also sketched a quick outline, at right, of how I envisioned the appearance of the story on the web: a magazine theme, with subject headings at the top of the page and a featured posts slideshow linking to different content: a text story, an audio slideshow, perhaps a video.

In the weeks leading up to our proposal due date, I began amassing all off my resources in one corner of my desk, at left. My background research about the wars-news articles, maps, images-went into a binder. I posted my original project notes, penned on the obnoxious celebratory stationary, on a bulletin board with other related memos. The lime post it note, “Subdomain” includes five points I’ve been considering for the website: Name, Theme, Stories, Audio and Images. While I’m still brainstorming names and browsing through magazine style themes (I’ll be blogging separately about these topics), I have been thinking about the story’s presentation.

Text, audio and images are three methods of storytelling I am certain I want to use, tools I think will have a significant impact in different ways on the audience of readers, listeners and viewers. My source, (I know that term is rather impersonal; I’ll be doing an introductory post about her soon) is not only willing to share anecdotes about her experiences with a family member deployed to Afghanistan, she’s also a very engaging, open, storyteller.

I’m a fan of “slice of life” feature articles, stories that depict exactly that: “slices,” or moments, of a person’s life, often in relation to a larger trend or idea. I’ll also be writing reconstruction pieces, documenting her family’s previous experiences with military life and deployments through writing. These are moments I didn’t observe, but can learn about by asking questions and looking at pictures, among other methods.

After being introduced to Audacity this semester, I’d like to incorporate audio into this project, most likely as one or two audio slideshows. The New York Times has some of my favorite examples of audio slideshows in their “One in 8 Million-New York Characters in Sound and Images” collection. As I mentioned before, I’m discovering how a story has the potential to become much more powerful and interesting when the element of the subject’s voice is part of the presentation. It creates a relationship between the subject and the audience that reading words on a page might not necessarily do to the same extent.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be blogging about the initial stages of my subdomain (name and theme) and introducing my source in a post later this week and into early next week.

One Story, Two Versions

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

I’ve been experimenting with Audacity since we were introduced to it in class. My grandpa has been my partner in my test runs, willingly sharing stories about his past. I like Audacity because I’m used to writing; audio is a new experience for me. I’ve recorded and transcribed interviews for newspaper articles before, but I’ve never used audio as an element that accompanies the story online or as the single story itself.

So, while the first stages of my actual project are in the works, I’ve been asking my grandpa to tell me a true story. Like Ira Glass discussed, it has been at times difficult to find a decent story. My grandpa and I spoke with each other for twenty minutes yesterday; I’ve probably omitted about a third of that already, and assignment 7 is still in the works as well.

In my audio posts featuring my grandpa, I haven’t done a lot of personal reflection from my end on what Glass describes as one of the two basic elements of storytelling: “here’s why you’re listening to the story, here’s the bigger something:”

In my first audio post, I mentioned my grandpa has Alzheimer’s disease. His memory has been deteriorating for the past several years; a lot of his past is gone, and sometimes what he does remember can’t be trusted. I’ve heard some of the stories he’s shared before; I know them. He’s beginning to tell them differently than he told them in the past, even when the same story is told within minutes of the original telling:

I asked him how he met my grandmother, and he had some trouble remembering. I asked several questions during this first clip (edited out), which jarred his memory:

Effie Story 1

A few minutes later, without any prompting from me about the subject, he launched into another version of the story. We’d moved on to a completely different subject (cars), so I was quite surprised when he suddenly began talking about how he met my grandma again, with more details, no questions asked by me, and at a much faster pace:

Effie Story 2

So, an element of this class-having people/yourself narrate through audio, has opened a new way of capturing stories, one I’m certain I’ll be using throughout my career. I could only write what my grandpa says down, could quote the words, but the story becomes so much more personal and interesting when it is also the storyteller’s voice coming through the computer speakers, in this case, especially when it’s the same story told twice. My grandpa told the same story twice with different details, and I think these audio stories are powerful because they don’t just communicate how he met his wife, they also reflect his personality and the side effects of Alzheimer’s disease in a way that reading his words printed on a page likely wouldn’t.

Driving Through the Past

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I wanted to experiment more with audacity before venturing into assignment 7, so I asked my grandpa if I could record him talking with me about a topic of his choice. The result: cars.

Here he is talking about the family’s first car, a Model T Ford.

Jay on the First Family Car

My grandpa’s first car was a 1931 Chevy Coupe.

Jay’s First Car

The more I play with Audacity, the more I like it. I’ve never attempted to use audio before, so I’m really excited about working on assignment 7 and producing an audio story.

At the end of our conversation, after I played back what my grandpa said, he had one question:

“You mean you recorded all of that? In that little box? Somebody was pretty smart.”

The Giant Pool of Money

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

This American Life tells the story of the 2008 subprime housing crisis, and the resulting fallout. Here is the transcript, and below is the audio.

Ira Glass tips on Storytelling

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The two basic elements of storytelling:

A good story is hard to find…

On good taste…

On two common pitfalls…

Videos via Presentation Zen