Action!

This week was all about video.  I was able to manipulate and create my own video clips as well as learn about the techniques used in cinematography and video editing.

I really enjoyed learning about different ways to manipulate scenes to fit how you wanted the narrative of whatever story you are telling.

My favorite assignment was definitely when I was able to change the audio of National Treasure, partly because I really like playing with the audio aspect of media and partly because it turned out so funny.

Overall, this week has really opened up my eyes to how tedious video editing can be and how a project may seem simple but can end up having many aspects to it that are hard.

Look Listen and Analyze

This week, we took a scene from a classic movie and analyzed the visuals, audio, and overall work separately.  I decided to analyze one of the Joker’s most notorious scenes from the Batman movie, The Dark Night.  Directed by Chris Nolan, this is arguably one of the best films ever made.  This is due to Nolan’s dynamic and creative directing style.

At first, I watched the entire scene without any audio.  Something that stood out to me from the start was how active the camera was, specifically the use of the panning and cuts.  Panning is when the camera pans across a frame to follow a specific character or movement and a cut is when the camera moves to from one character to another with no transition.  Panning the camera is used in the scene to follow the characters movements and make the scene feel more active.  Even though the scene is set in one room, the use of wiping and a camera panning around the room evokes action from an otherwise boring (action-wise) scene.  The cuts being used are fast and are used to set pace in the scene.  There are a number of characters (three stand alone and one group) and by roughly and quickly focusing on each speed up the scene at points.

After watching the clip without the audio, I only listened to it.  The scene opens with the Joker’s very distinct laugh in the distance.  As the Joker interact with the room, you can sense the tension between every character.  The volume of the characters varies and there is no score behind the scene, which makes you listen.  The lack of score highlights the conversation as well as the the rest of the noises in the scene, you can hear the movement of chairs and the footsteps.  It also makes the scene more realistic, as unrealistic as it is.

I put the entire scene together and watched it one more time through, with the audio and the video.  After watching it altogether, the audio and the visuals come together in perfect harmony.  The hardness and scariness of the audio is intensified by the Jokers mannerisms and fast pace fo the video.

Down here I have embedded the clip, so you can analyze it for yourself!

Jinkies!

For my last video assignment, I chose to do a Supercut of one of my favorite cartoons, Scooby Doo.  A supercut is when a creator will take short clips of reoccurring themes, styles, or lines from different movies or television shows, and put them altogether with no transitions.  The idea is to showcase whatever theme or line you choose in a very quick way.  I decided to take multiple scenes from Scooby Doo where the villain is unmasked and out them altogether.

This process took a LOT of time.  First I had to find the clips of old Scooby Doo episodes.  I found a channel on YouTube that made this process very easy, since they had a playlist that contained shortened clips of the show that were labeled as a “reveal”.  After finding the clips I liked, I used the video downloading website SaveFrom.net to download them onto my computer.  Because the cartoon is so old, it made downloading them very fast due to the fact that the resolution is already so low.

Once I had all of the scenes I wanted to use, I put them into iMovie and began cutting them down.  This was the most tedious task out of the whole process.  I had to make sure that the clips were long enough to get the point of the scene but short enough to make sure my video was still considered a Supercut.  After I had all of my scenes cut down to size, I added a title and an ending and uploaded my video to my YouTube channel.

This process was fun, and I think I would enjoy making another supercut if I took a long time to do it.  When I say a long time, I mean months.  It would be a really fun project to pick a line in a movie or a camera technique just casually come by them and add them to a supercut.

Overall I am pretty happy with how the final product turned out, but I do wish it was a bit longer.

I’m gonna steal it

Today, I decided to give everyone yet another reason to laugh at Nicholas Cage by doing the Chipmunk Style assignment.  I took one of the most pivotal scenes in National Treasure, where Benjamin Gates is talking about stealing the Declaration of Independence, and I tweaked it a little by making Ben and Riley sound like chipmunks.  The process was significantly simpler than I thought it would be.

The first thing I did was download the scene from YouTube onto my computer using a free downloading website called SaveFromNet.  I then opened iMovie and imported the clip.  Once the clip was opened in iMovie, I exported the clip as a file and saved only the audio.  I took the audio from the scene and imported it into Audacity.

There, I was able to manipulate the pitch of the audio.  I chose to increase it by about 40%.  The scene’s score is quite loud and there is a good amount of background noise (others talking and walking) which meant that if I went any higher in the pitch, it would have sounded extremely distorted, and not in a fun, chipmunk kind of way.

Changing Pitch

When I was satisfied with how the audio turned out, I exported it as an MP3 and inserted it in my original clip in iMovie.  To ensure there was no overlap, I just turned the volume of the original clip all the way down.  Lastly, I added a title and uploaded the video to my YouTube channel.

I am really happy with the final product.  For some reason, having such a high pitch in the dialogue of the characters makes their mannerisms 10x funnier, especially Nick Cage.

Hope you enjoy!

Not So Successful Moon Landing

I absolutely love anything with an eery feel to it.  That is why I enjoyed listening to the Moon Graffiti so much.  The podcast took a joyous day in American history, the first moon landing, and acted out how Buzz Aldrin and Lance Armstrong would have reacted if they crashed and were stranded.  The producers took full advantage of their “spooky space sounds” setting in their sound boards.

Every element of the show was extremely realistic.  I loved the way they made sure every action that the voice actors were acting out had a sound to go along with it.  My favorite example would be the flag pole. When the flag pole was bending as the astronauts were attempting to put it in the ground, instead of them narrating what was happening, the listener heard a simple “whomp” noise (the best way I could describe it).  There is something to say about the way an audio only show is produced when it makes the listener actually see what they hear.

The way the show was produced was outstanding.  By using creepy sound effects and eery music, the audio producers created a story that made the listener uncomfortable and on edge.

Advice from Ira Glass

Sound design is something that I have always found very interesting and was very excited to see that this week’s assignments included learning more about radio and sound production.

In the interview I watched with Ira Glass, the well known NPR personality, he offered very specific and easy to take advice when it comes to setting up and creating radio shows and any other work that is heavily reliant on audio. The first thing he mentions is how difficult it is to find a story that is worthy of your time and effort. He mentioned that you, as the producer of whatever you are working on, have to be able to “kill” more ideas than you would like. Glass says that “anything you out on tape…is trying to be really bad”. I interpret this as meaning that nothing that you obtain in its totally raw form is going to be perfect. It takes an incredible amount of work at every step of the process t0 end up with an end product that is spectacular. The only reason products end up very good is because the creators are extremely harsh on their own projects.

Glass also mentions how every creator is a creator and strives to be a creator because they have great taste. This great taste could be in television, radio, movies, really anything. If a creator is taking the time to create the things they love, it is because they know what is good and what is bad. That being said, Glass also comments on the fact that the first good bit of your career creating things you love, you are going to be creating things that are not good, except the term he used was “total crap”. His suggested solution to get out of the funk of the badlands of your creative career is to simply keep making “crap”. I agree with Glass on this one. The more you create the things you want to create, the more you will find yourself slipping into an identity of sorts. This identity will, hopefully, be one that reflects who you strive to be as a creator.

I really enjoyed listening to Ira Glass give his advice.  After all, he is one of the most successful radio personalities and producers in the game.  His advice can apply to not field regarding audio work, but any entertainment field.

Dissecting TED Radio Hour

This week we were assigned to listen to the intro of a TED Radio Hour that was available to us through SoundCloud.

The intro to the TED Radio hour features a story about how technology is changing the way that humans interact with machines and technology both positively and negatively. The way in which the three minute intro is cut and layered together is a way that leaves you with questions wanting to be answered. It begins with the narrator, Guy Raz, talking by himself as he introduces the subject, Sherry Turkle, an MIT Professor. This starts the story with the feeling of having a casual conversation with somebody you know. About fifteen seconds later, the Sherry’s voice is cut in, and the listeners are now introduced to the main character of the story. Instead of having the interview being played between the Raz and Turkle, the main character’s portion of the interview is being played meanwhile the narrator explains to the listener what the story is about. About 45 seconds into the introduction, a soft and bright melody begins to play behind the narrator and as he goes on to talk about the main topic of the story.

The way the TED Radio hour introduction is one that has become increasingly popular throughout the evolution of radio and podcast production.  The introduction does an effective job at immersing the listener into the conversation.  Instead of evoking a feeling of being an outsider listening in, the conversation is cut in a way to make the listener feel like they are a part of the conversation.  Personally, I really enjoy this production style.  It makes listening to radio shows and podcast much more immersive.

Sounds of the Streets

The point of this assignment was to create a place using only sound effects.  For this process, I went to FreeSounds which is a free-use platform with thousands of user generated sounds.  My goal was to make the listener feel as if they were sitting on a bench by a busy street. I searched for different types of sounds to emulate the feeling of being outside.  I found sound bytes that sounded like cars passing, birds chirping, and even a bike bell.

To create the scene, I uploaded the sounds into Audacity. In order for the sounds to seem more organic, I cut them up and scattered them throughout.

When I was happy with the finished product, I uploaded it to SoundCloud.

http://

The end result turned out to be the sounds of a busy street.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Burgers?

For one of my Audio Assignments this week, I decided to record and upload my own sound to Freesound, a free sound sharing platform.  The assignment said to pick a sound that I thought was lacking from the website.  I was inspired by my dad making us dinner.  I heard him frying up some burgers on the stove and decided to record it.

I opened up the sound recording APP VoiceRecorder on my iPhone, recorded the sound of the burgers, then saved it to my phone as an MP3.  I then sent the MP3 file to my computer.

After I received the MP3, I uploaded it to my Freesound account.

https://freesound.org/people/estewar2/sounds/474351/

Then end result is kind of fuzzy sounding.  The burgers frying up could easily be mistaken for radio static, or even rain.

Mystery Music

I absolutely love music, so this assignment was right up my alley.  The idea of simplifying your favorite song to just the instrumental version is such a cool concept.  By taking away the vocals of the song, I heard different parts in the instrumental version that I never caught in the original.  It was very cool to be able to pay attention to the music that makes up the song.  It makes you realize how the vocals to a song are just one component of the finished product, and honestly a pretty minor one at that.

I found a royalty free version of the song on the internet, and then processed it in Audacity to strip away the lyrics.  I then exported the file as an MP3 and uploaded it onto my SoundCloud account.  The end result sounds really cool.

http://

Can you guess my favorite song?