CUNY Weeks 6-7 – Time to Make Some Hideous Sounds

A remix of cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by WordRidden & cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Martin Lopatka.

For the next two weeks our class will be exploring the use of audio to create projects and tell stories.  In class yesterday we got off to a good start with a foley artist project blitz in class working together to perform live a soundtrack for Charlie Chaplin’s Lion’s Cage. This assignment was completed by students in Jim & Alan’s UMW sections of ds106.

We introduced the class to the art of foley by watching this great one minute video produced by the LA Times as well as legendary sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) describe the history of foley art in early Walt Disney animation. After that, the class was divided into four groups and given 20 minutes to explore ways to create sound, allocate roles for performance, and do some quick rehearsing. It was a lot of fun to see what kinds of tricks students pulled out of their pockets and from the hallways of York College to produce sound – newspapers, keys, nylon backpacks, a tray from a planter, a doorstop weight, and more…

Each group performed in sequence 50 seconds of the soundtrack while I walked around the room recording with a microphone attached to my iPhone. Below are the results of the two groups, which I think each had some great moments of creativity.

Assignments for the next two weeks:

1. The same group with which you explored foley will be your group with which you will create a 20 minute radio show of any variety, theme, topic, and/style you want. By Monday 03/12 10PM you will need to collaboratively create a 30 sec bumper/teaser for your show and post it to your blogs. Only one student need upload the file to Soundcloud, and each of you should embed it to your blog and describe your role in producing it.

Please have a look at the ds106 page for additional description and links to some examples of bumpers and shows created by previous students. The final 20 min show is due by Sunday 03/11 at 11:59PM, again only one student need post the file to Soundcloud, but everyone needs to blog about their experience creating the show and embed the file in the post. We will be broadcasting your shows Monday 03/12 on DS106Radio for a live show.

In a comment on this post, please let me know your group’s name, show topic, and the members of your group. If you don’t already have a group, use the comments on this page to find one to join by asking to get in on one, or by creating your own and inviting others.

2. You will also be exploring the audio assignments bank and doing 15 stars worth of assignments over the next two weeks. I would like everyone to do the three star sound effects story assignment during this time. Read the post I wrote last semester describing the main tools needed to do sound projects. It talks about recording, sample sources, editing, and publishing tools.

Also you can visit Alan Levine’s 106tricks site for additional resources about working with audio over the next two weeks. And here’s a lot more links to videos about foley if interested.

And the title of this post is inspired by Bob Dylan infamously dismissing the majority of modern music since his time saying, ‘the radio makes hideous sounds.’ Well I say in response, let’s turn these two weeks ‘up to eleven.’

Week 5 – DS106 What’s that I Hear? – Can You Dig It!

ds106 radio boom box

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This week starts our introduction to using sound for digital storytelling. We’re going to be learning some new tools, finding audio samples, recording our own sounds/voice, and use them to work on some projects from the ds106 audio assignment bank. And most awesomely we will consider broadcasting our projects and experiences on ds106 radio.

To kick things off, I was able to broadcast a conversation (archived here by @cogdog) with Alex Polaris, musician, sound engineer, and audio instructor at York College, on ds106 radio about storytelling with sound, particularly foley. Foley is the process of live recording sound effects for film and television. Here is an example of legendary sound designer Ben Burtt creating laser gun sounds by recording a slinky being struck with a stick. He continues to talk about the amazing tools foley artists created for sound effects in classic animations. Here’s a link to a google doc with number of sound design/foley video resources we used in the broadcast. Feel free to add anything you find interesting.

Recording Your Own Sounds


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Like all things ds106, it’s bring your own technology to the task. So you are welcome to record with whatever device you’d like. Use the built in mic on a laptop, smart phone, or digital camera in video mode. Just be sure you can get the audio file onto a computer on which you’ve installed an audio editing application like Audacity. If you used video to record audio, you can always use MPEG Streamclip to export the audio from the video.

Finding CC Licensed Audio Samples

Kitchen Tapes

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By far my favorite source to download sounds is All sounds in their archive are CC licensed. You can search for and find just about anything you can imagine. Create an account so you can download files, and while your at it, record something and upload it to their archive!

Editing and Publishing your Audio

waveforms, precious little waveforms

{link url=""}waveforms, precious little waveforms{/link} cc licensed in flickr by {link url=""}altemark{/link}

Often a lot of your time will be spent on sound design and editing in digital audio software. Audacity is free, open source software you can download and install on your personal computer – Mac, PC, or Linux. You can record directly from a microphone attached to your computer, or import a variety of samples and music files to use. Here are links to a couple of tutorials (setup & basic editing) I used to create my first sound project using Audacity. There is also an Audacity manual published as a wiki.

Finally you’ll want to find a way to publish and embed your audio projects to your blog. I’m using Sound Cloud, which is kind of a YouTube for audio. The coolest feature is that people can leave comments inline at any point in the audio track. There are also audio player plugins you can search for and use if you’d like to host the audio files on your own blog.

Week 5 Assignment

Get yourself setup to work on audio projects this week. Complete at least one assignment from the ds106 audio assignment bank (or makeup one of your own) and describe how you created it. Was it the first time you ever did a time based edit? Did you have any frustrations working with Audacity or anything else? What surprised/excited you about what you made?