My website

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog post in here. Turns out it was so long, I actually forgot what my password was. Since I was on last, I’ve been delving even deeper into multimedia journalism. At present I am working on a few Flash projects and have created my own website. Feel free to check it out if you’d like, just bear in mind that it is a work in progress.

Hope y’all have a day.

Class critique

While looking at the class’s SoundSlides projects you can tell that each group put a lot of effort into getting their projects to look and sound like they do. Every group had their strengths and  those strengths really show through with the projects.

For this Blog I will be making constructive criticisms about my fellow classmates work. Maybe the critiques the class is doing will help the individuals with their final SoundSlides projects.

The first project I am going to critique is Jeff & Jahna, Gary & Vi by Faryn Babbitt, Bailey Gallo, and Alexandria Newman. 

The photographs worked really well for this story. I liked that there was a variety of photos and that not all of them were of the couples. It is nice to see the different things in the families lives that depict their lives together. I felt like the audio and the photographs worked really well together.

For the most part, the audio is really good. In the first part of the story, Jahna’s voice sounds a little tinny where Jeff’s doesn’t, I’m not sure whether they were interviewed at the same time or not but the difference in sound is the only thing that would lead to thinking that they were interviewed separately. If they were, the editing sounds really good with the switching from one person to the other. The only other critique I would have on the audio is that there is one point where it sounds like the recorder was bumped and I was temporarily distracted but not for long. I think my favorite part of the audio is where there’s about eight seconds left and Gary says something along the lines of “you should always listen to me and do what I tell ya” and Vi laughs in the background. I could hear one of the interviewers laugh but think Vi’s response was a great ending to the project.

The second project I am going to critique is International Night by Tiffany Le Gal and Anna Rader.

For the most part the audio and photographs work together really well. I like that the photos explain what the interviewees are talking about like the henna and trying on a sari.

The background noise in the audio is a little loud at times but I don’t think that it takes away from the interviews. Personally, I feel like it kind of adds to it. It makes you feel like through the audio and photographs that you are actually there. The only thing that I might change is where they have the drum circle intermission, I feel like it might have been a little more effective if it had been at the beginning or the end. I do like that it was included though. The only critique that I really have of the audio is that at times it feels a little choppy, maybe some space before or after the cut would have been helpful.

The third and final project that I am going to critique is The Effect of Weather in Laramie on Students by Jamie Crew and Egla Negussie.

I really like some of the photographs, they actually show what the winter weather looks like here in Laramie; or at least the more mild of the winter weather. The timing was really good with the photos and the audio recording.  The only thing I saw was that the first time there was a picture of Sheryl Stake, the second interviewee, there is no caption so I’m left wondering who the picture is of. I think maybe some captions would have been helpful.

For the audio, I like how there was the sound of wind before the second interview. For the most part, the transitions are pretty good, there may have been a time or two where it felt a little choppy but nothing too noticeable.

All in all, I really enjoyed listening to everybody’s projects and seeing how they all approached the same problem, I look forward to seeing all of the final projects.

Group Multimedia Project

About two weeks ago my class started a multimedia project where we combine photographs and audio journalism. I was actually really excited about this project as I had a pretty cool idea for a topic. My partner, Cameron, and I decided to do our project on a local art exhibition. When we started out, Cameron and I wanted to get three interviews and enough pictures to go with those interviews but alas, things don’t always turn out like you want them to.

As soon as we started the interviews there were problems. My forgetful self forgot to charge the battery pack to my camera before I went to the exhibition, and as it turns out my camera was dead and so was Cameron’s. My audio recorder was working as was Cameron’s video recorder but we really had no way to take photographs. So I drove home, charged my camera for fifteen minutes and drove back to the exhibition, bringing my charger with me. By the time I had gotten back to the exhibition, Cameron had conducted most of the first interview so I got a few pictures and we moved on to try to find somebody else to interview. Did I mention that the first artist was really worried about copyrights and wanted to make sure we credited everything to them? That artist actually made me really nervous when taking photographs of anything but them and the light coming in the window was really screwy; not ideal conditions for getting the best photographs. I should probably learn to be a little more aggressive or at least not quite as concerned with what the interviewee thinks.

The second interview went well; both Cameron and I asked questions and I got quite a few pictures. That artist wasn’t all that concerned about copyright and was actually really helpful, not to mention super nice. To be honest, if we were doing a personality profile this artist would have been a great person to talk to.

The third interview had its own problems, much like the first. We got a good interview, but by that time in the night, the light was really low and any pictures I took were either too dark or had awful glares from the fluorescent lights in the hotel room. I don’t think I had any useable pictures.

Suffice to say, Cameron and I had some great interviews without the pictures to back them up and only ended up using two of the interviews. But thankfully the device Cameron had to catch audio was a digital recorder, or maybe not. I guess I didn’t realize that this wasn’t allowed. Good thing for the final project all I have is an audio recorder and digital camera.

We didn’t work with SoundSlides either, so I suppose I can say I have no SoundSlides experience. Another faux pas on our part.

All in all it was a crazy and unpredictable experience that had fairly remedial results. BUT it was not a negative experience; I can’t say that I am not happy at having done this project. Like everything else, this was a learning experience and I most definitely learned quite a few things. I don’t really feel like I was as involved in the finished product as I probably should have been, but I rather do like the end result. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would. 

You can find the end result here

You can view the entire class’s projects here

I have a lot of advice for the future me, working on my individual project. First and foremost, ask a lot of questions and get more pictures that you will ever need. It doesn’t matter if the photos you are taking look really dumb, as long as they are in focus and pertain to the subject at hand, in a pinch they will suffice. Also, get my audio done really early so that if there are any glitches in software or I have other set backs, I will have the time to work with them and get them figured out. I never know what is going to happen. As it stands, I already have some of the material for my final project, but I know that I will have to re-do my interviews because there was much too much background noise to be considered good quality audio. 

Now I know what I am doing and I know what not to do therefore my final project should turn out fairly well. I’m excited to put that project together and see how well it turns out.

Ideas for Soundslides Project

I have to say, I’m really looking forward to the next two projects and working with Soundslides. I think that I’ve got some good ideas and if everything works out, I should have all the preliminary work like getting photographs, ambient sounds and interviews for the group project done by the beginning of next week.

My first brilliant idea is to go to the Touchstone Laramie 2010 artists exhibition and sale. This is a pretty cool event here in Laramie held by the Laramie Artists Project where a floor of one of the local hotels is sectioned off and local artists each get a room to decorate with their artwork. For the project I would get interviews from a couple different artists on either the event itself or ask the artists about their experiences creating art in Wyoming. I could get ambient noise of the crowd or I could get noise of paintbrushes on paper, or the sound a camera makes when taking a photo, there is an abundance of possibilities. I know of one specific person that I could interview, UW Art Museum‘s chief curator Susan Moldenhauer is displaying her work, and of the other 30 or so artists, I’m sure I could get an artist or two to talk to me. I could also try to talk to the specific people in charge of putting this event together or talk to the people in the background of the artists lives, I’m sure there would be some interesting stories in talking to friends and family of the artists. This is newsworthy because it’s about local artists and is a fairly big event, also it’s really interesting.

My second idea, the one I’ve been considering doing for my individual project, is getting photos and interviews at the Condom Couture Fashion Show here at the University of Wyoming.  It is being put on by three UW organizations: FACE AIDS, The International Students Association and Friday Night Fever. There are several different directions I could take with this event. I could talk to students and faculty in the organizations who are in charge of the event. I could also talk to students who have created pieces for the fashion show and I could talk to students who attend the event. This is a news worthy event because it is trying to create AIDS awareness throughout the campus and community and it is another really interesting event that can generate a really unique soundslide project that I think people would be willing to watch and listen to.

After my first two ideas, which I feel are really good ideas, I had a hard time coming up with anything quite as interesting or that I’m just as excited about doing. But I think that there could be an interesting story in the Full-Moon Snowshoe Trip to the Snowies, put on by Outdoor Programs at UW. For this I could interview the people in charge of the event (Outdoor Programs) and students and faculty that participate in the snowshoe trip. I could also interview the owners of Bear Tree Tavern, the place where participants will be meeting and eating before snowshoeing. This could be newsworthy because Outdoor Programs is a UW organization and it also seems like a really interesting event. I suppose that the only problem I would have with an event like this would be getting photographs, but I’m sure that I would come up with something, after all, I do love photography and photographic challenges.

Audio Profile Critique

Throughout the interview recording process I was able to get to know a little about my interviewee and she was able to get to know a little about me. It was an interesting process and knowing what it was like for me to record and edit my audio profile made it all the more interesting listening to my classmates audio profiles.

The first audio profile that I would like to talk about is Courtney Wilhelm’s interview of Adrienne Morency. The profile was edited excellently to where it seemed like the story Adrienne was telling was seamless and there really was no interviewer. While I liked the editing, I hate to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the topic. The part about the spider was memorable and I like knowing that I’m not the only one afraid of them, but I feel like maybe there could have been a little more emotion behind what was being said. I did however hear the humor which kept it fairly easy to listen to. 

The second profile that I would like to talk about is Alexandria Newman‘s interview of  Bailey Gallo. It was a good profile, I just felt that at times the editing was a little choppy. I feel like part of the introduction was cut out because it goes straight to Bailey saying her name. I don’t know if it would have sounded any better if it had started with a little pause or a fade in or not. Other than that it mostly went smoothly, the end is slightly abrupt and could have used a little extra silence or white noise but that was about it.

The third interview that I would like to talk about is Tom Hesse’s interview of his friend Max. This interview started out well, the voice of the interviewee seemed to echo a little bit but the cuts seemed pretty seamless. The ending turned out really well, it was good quote to end on and it didn’t feel like anything was cut out. I suppose the only thing that I would change would be to try to record somewhere a little less likely to echo next time but the editing was done really well.

Listening to other profiles enabled me to see how others handled the same assignment and how they tackled similar problems to the ones I had. It seems that some people are a little more experienced with audio recording and editing or are quick learners and some of us a little less so but I think that we all did well with the task we were handed. All in all, I enjoyed listening to other people’s profiles, much more so than listening to my own (now I hear all the flaws that I could have changed, like ending it a little sooner and a few little rough spots) or listening to myself speak (I am definitely not used to my own voice).

Audio Editing

Editing; A Complicated-yet-simple Task

After the interview process, I had to edit my interview down so that it sounded slightly more professional and fit into a two-minute time slot. I have to say, editing is an interesting process. In order to make the editing appear seamless, I had to zoom in to miniscule amounts of time that went by really quickly. It’s a process of hearing, seeing and remembering and if you don’t hear, see or remember right the first time you have to keep trying until you do. Personally, I think that scholars could use the practice of editing audio tracks to test hand-eye-memory coordination.  Although, when I got used zooming in to capture the time slot I needed and zooming back out to play the selection, or the entire thing without the selection, it became fairly simple. It just took a little getting used to.  I think that the task of editing sound files is reminiscent of editing photographs; you have to figure out what you want to do and get into a groove, which allows you to quickly and efficiently.

A Learning Process

Like everything else, being able to edit sound files is a learning process. This was my first attempt at editing audio tracks and I think that I did fairly well. I’m not sure that I learned a whole lot, other than how to actually get it to sound all right but I didn’t do anything complicated like merging the interview with ambient noises in the background. My editing project turned out to be probably one of the most basic, but I know how to do the basics now and can build on that knowledge in the future.

Editing as A Fairly Enjoyable Task

I am the type of person that likes to get into something and work on it until I think it looks or sounds good. I like the process of building and changing something to emphasize its full potential, all while not ruining the integrity of the piece. I think I was able to do that with my interview. I took the piece, edited myself out of it and fixed it up to where it sounded fairly seamless.  My edited interview may not be perfect, as few things in life are, but I think that I actually improved it a little (although in editing it down to two minutes, I feel like I may have cut some important and potentially personality revealing aspects of the interview).  I guess what I’m trying to say is that for me, the task of editing the audio track was an enjoyable one and I look forward to building on the new information I have learned and make or edit something a little more complicated next time.

Edited Interview by RachelMarie

Here is my audio interview, I hope that you agree it sounds at least a little better (a little more professional) than it did before.

My “first” audio interview

The Interview and My Findings

This semester I have had several opportunities to conduct interviews for various purposes; learning about research and getting interviews for other classes. This interview, however was for the sake of interviewing (and editing) and was wholly different. In this interview I was asking questions about and from a fellow classmate who knew all about the assignment and who even got to pick the topic she wanted. I found this interview easier to conduct as it didn’t really feel professional. There were times that both Anna and I started giggling and we had to start over. I also found that getting started seemed to be the hardest part of the interview. I think that this was because we both knew what we were supposed to do, but I wasn’t sure if I should ask her to state her name, major and other introductory facts or if I should just let her go ahead and do it herself. All in all, the interview was a little stilted, especially on my part with asking the questions or knowing what to talk about, but it turned out fairly well, that is for being my “first” interview.

Here is me interviewing Anna about her abundance of extra curricular activities, I don’t know how she does it and gets everything else done.

Original Interview with Anna by RachelMarie

As you can tell, I am a novice interviewer. I found that in trying to get Anna’s voice loud and clear and have her speak into the microphone on my audio recorder, that I ended up sounding really far away and tinny, which I don’t mind as the purpose of the project wasn’t to get me talking, but if I ever did have to get an interview where you needed to hear both me and the person I was interviewing, I would have to adjust how I was interviewing.

It’s a Learning Process

There are a few things I would change if I were to do it all over again. First of all, I would find the little muffler thing that I lost and just record on a louder level so that I’d cut down on the harshness of the sound. Also, I would choose a different room. The room we were in was slightly cavernous and had several hard surfaces for the sound to bounce off of, making me not want to record at the louder levels. If i had chosen a different room it might have turned out a little differently. One final thing that, looking back I could have changed, would have been being a prepared a little more, as I didn’t really prepare questions to ask Anna, I just kind of ‘flew by the seat of my pants’ and that didn’t necessarily turn out well.

My Experience as the Interviewee

I feel like I should talk about my experience with being interviewed. I was the first to be interviewed and I must say, it was odd! It is a different thing to get used to having someone record everything you are saying. It mad me slightly self conscious, trying to think of something to say while also trying to limit my uhs, and ums. I sounded so bad the first time I was interviewed with thinking about what I was saying, coming up short and the nervous giggling that  I do that Anna actually ended up interviewing me twice. The second time was a lot better, naturally. If you want to hear me and my awesome answers, you can visit Anna’s blog or you can just take my word for it that it actually turned out pretty well.

Audio Editing Practice

In an effort to become an all-encompassing multimedia journalist I recently tried my hand at audio editing. The first and only thing that I have edited thus far in my life is myself counting from one to ten in a random order and rearranging the numbers so that they are in order, that is the correct order.

It is important for me to know how to edit audio tracks as a journalist because some stories might call for more of the subject talking like in a profile where someone is talking about themself or their own life. I might also need to know how to edit interviews so that the questions have a more succinct flow than what I asked them in and on the off-chance that I or the person that I am talking to makes a mistake, instead of redoing the whole interview, I can simply keep going and later on cut out the mistake.

This is my counting to ten in a very unique order.

Counting original by RachelMarie
In an effort to make to make it truly random, I wrote all ten numbers on a piece of paper, ripped the paper into ten pieces and sort of shuffled them. I figure, if I’m going to try to make something random, I might as well make it as random as I can.

Then this is my edited version of the previous track.

Counting edited by RachelMarie
It sounds a little jumpy in parts and fairly forced but it’s in what society accepts as the rightful order of counting from one to ten. I suppose when I was reading off the numbers I should have tried a little bit harder to make them all sound the same, maybe then this track would seem to flow a little bit better.

This was my first attempt as audio editing, and while it wasn’t exactly hard, it’s going to take some getting used to. There has to be certain points and lengths of pauses that allow for better flow and while I have not quite mastered that, I am getting the hang of it. And hopefully I will continue to improve those skills, someday sounding fairly professional.

Ambient Sounds

This week our class was working on audio journalism. In an effort to learn how to use our audio recorders we were presented with the task of recording ambient sounds. For the these sounds we were supposed to get clips from inside a classroom, inside our living quarters and outside. Ambient sounds are used in audio journalism to provide background noise and soften transitions; here they’re sounds for the sake of sound. But cool none-the-less.

Ambient Noise by RachelMarie

My first audio track is that of me walking on crisp dry leaves on my way to class.

My second audio track is that of crows squawking in the trees outside of my neighbor’s house.

My third track is me walking to class. It is the sound of my flats on the cold concrete.

My fourth track is me putting silverware away and the creaky drawers in my apartment that house the silverware and other cooking utensils.

The fifth track is of applause at the University of Wyoming Honors Convocation on Friday October 15.

The sixth audio track is of a bunch of students and professors talking to one another in the Student Union before the Honors Convocation.

With this assignment I figured out that recording ambient sounds is more difficult than you might think, especially when you have an audio recorder that picks up every little noise. I had a hard time figuring out what all sounds to record but after a while realized that I could record just about anything and it would count as ambient noise. I just had to figure out a way to record all of my sounds without getting extra, distracting noises in the background.

Audio Journalism

New York Times – One in 8 Million – Patrick Harris: The Boat Dweller

In this 2.48 minute clip you get an insight into the world of Patrick Harris, a 58-year-old man, who lives on a boat. The focus of the story is the feeling of living on the water, the connection to nature that Harris has. He went to college, had a corporate job and was not happy so he bought a 1920’s sail boat and is content living in the waters that border Manhattan.

The story starts out with what you don’t get in Midtown New York that you do get in the harbor. The smell, waking to the waves etc. and ends with Harris taking people out on boat rides and the magic of when the sea breeze kicks in and everybody lets out an audible sigh. The entire story is basically one big piece of imagery.

“People who always look out windows are supposedly unhappy being indoors”  Patrick Harris

This quote by Harris absolutely struck me. I am that exact type of person; the one who, when stuck indoors looks out the window and gets an almost wistful feeling. Hearing Harris talk about how he wakes up in the morning and experiencing nature on a daily basis draws the listener in and captures them there. The imagery that is drawn keeps the reader wanting to hear even more of those glimpses of magic that nature offers. This story is so strong that I wouldn’t change anything about it.

NPR – Spending the Night With Sleepwalker Mike Birbiglia

This story is about comedian Mike Birbiglia and an incident where he was sleepwalking and dove through a closed window in a second story building because he was dreaming a bomb was coming straight at him. It then goes on to talk about various things in his life.

It’s an interesting story but I do have to say the length is a little long, after the first 10 of 38 minutes I started tuning out, although in the middle he does go into a little song that’s pretty funny. I liked this story but it didn’t particularly strike a chord with me, it was just there and while interesting, not particularly enthralling.

New York Times – One in 8 Million – Paul Bockwoldt: The Straight Brother

This story is about a brother telling about being on a predominately homosexual rugby team and how the sport has brought him and his brother together after having drifted apart over the years.

I liked this story as well, I think there’s something about having someone talk about their own experiences and telling about the things that they see that makes it relatable, even if you haven’t experienced anything like it in your life.

There was ambient noise in the background but I didn’t really pay any attention to it, I barely even noticed it. It may have just been background noise from where the interview was recorded too. But I don’t think it added to or took away from the  story in any way.

I guess that I feel this story was a little sort and ends rather abruptly. Maybe there could have been a final quote or some fading sounds to gradually signify the end of the story.

The photography for the One in 8 Million stories was really awesome. For all of them, at least the ones I looked at, Todd Heisler was the photographer and did an excellent job capturing moments in time pertinent to the stories I was listening to.

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