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Headless ds106 Weeks 7 & 8: Audio and the Big Radio Show

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The pace of ds106 is frantic we know, many of you have been going strong week by week. Moving into the mid term group project segment, we change up the pacing with a two-fer, two weeks to work on your audio storytelling skills and group projects.


Note the form of this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood’s story in a design mode of an 8-bit video game; and there is no narration!

Lock in to the Radio

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Welcome to Weeks Seven & Eight of ds106. Somewhere in here is an official half-way point for the class. Congratulations, you’re half-way to reclaiming your life again! We move into a segment where you have longer to work on your assignments and projects. It’s in your own and your groups interest to not let the work slide until the end (c.f. Recipe for Disaster)

Yes, audio is back. Some of you may be dreading it, but keep an open mind, and maybe audio will be your friend. The majority of your work during this time would be working on your radio show which should be completed by October 20 so we can run a premiere event on the 22nd.

Need some inspiration or ideas to get you started, or just want to listen and learn from some of the old-time radio masters at their finest? Arch Obolers’ series Lights Out syndicated in the The Devil and Mr. O broadcasts are highly recommended.

With its premiere on the nationwide NBC hookup in 1935, Lights Out was billed “the ultimate in horror.” Never had such sounds been heard on the air. Heads rolled, bones were crushed, people fell from great heights and splattered wetly on pavement. There were garrotings, choking, heads split by cleavers, and, to a critic at Radio Guide, “the most monstrous of all sounds, human flesh being eaten.” Few shows had ever combined the talents of actors and imaginative writers so well with the graphic art of the sound technician.

Scottlo’s ds106zone LoDown Episode 14 blog post and podcast is another recommended read and listen. (Note: The audio link in his original blog post is broken. So we’ve included one that works here.)

Lo Down Episode 14

Scottlo also recommended, on his Blue Phase radio show last week (see his website for archives of the Blue Phase), an article by Rob Watson called “What’s So Interesting About Audio Drama?”. Watson’s answers to this question are interesting and thought-provoking, and provide some suggestions that could be useful for creating your radio plays.

Radio Show Details

Continue working in your groups on your radio shows. By now, you’ve picked your show theme and format, and you should each have scoped out what your contribution to the show will be. Over the next two weeks, you need to produce this show into a single audio file. The total length of your show should be no more than 5 minutes times the number of people in your group. (i.e. 5 people try for a show no more than 25 minutes.) Be merciless in doing tight editing.

See more info on the radio show specs.

Like the ones we listened to in week four, all radio shows ought to include:

  • An introduction that announces/overviews the show.
  • Two bumpers (10-30 seconds long) in the middle of your show.
  • Two commercials within the show.

The shows are expected to make use of music, ambient sounds, and sound effects. For some guidance, you may want to review some of the radio shows previous student groups have done – and decide for yourself what works about them? What does not? Is it good radio? Is the story compelling?

Shows should be completed by Sunday October 20 at midnight. All shows must be uploaded to the ds106 radio DropBox (the password is “wejamecono”) as an mp3 file that is under 75Mb so we can put it in the rotation for that week.

Please name your audio files as follows: GroupName_S13_ds106radio.mp3. It really really helps if your file has complete metadata for the title and artist.

We will be putting them into the program schedule on Tuesday October 22 at a time to be announced. If you want to do a live premiere and discussion of your show on ds106radio that week, please do! Just indicate in the group radio document when that might be so we can post a schedule.

In your summary post for this two week segment, you might want to write a reflection on your blog about the entire radio show production process, particularly delineating your role in the production. Some have found it useful to keep an on-going blog post in draft mode for documenting your process and add to it as you go along instead of waiting till the end and trying to do it all at once.

Audio Storytelling Assignments

There are three suggested audio assignments plus 10 stars worth of additional ones of your choice from the assignment bank. Your audio work should be using multiple tracks to create a full sound, mixing in music / audio effects, and using sound editing effects where appropriate.

When you write up your assignments, make sure to include a listing and links to any sounds you used from other sources. You should provide some narrative of the editing process, and we are looking to see a screen shot of your editing screen to get an idea of how you are using your audio tools.

Create a 10-30 second Bumper for your radio show

Each team member should create a bumper for their show, it should be within the theme/style of your show, and include the name of the show and a ds106 radio station announcement, like “You’re listening to the Doggie Doo Show on ds106 radio, where it’s always a romp in the park”. A bumper is merely a reminder to the audience what they are listening to.

Upload your audio as an mp3 file to SoundCloud (make sure the option is set to download) and embed it in your blog post about this assignment. Tweet it so we know to grab a copy to put on the radio station.

Your group should pick the best 2 bumpers to include in the final show.

Create a Commercial for your Radio Show

Each team member should also create a commercial for their show, again it should be within the theme/style of your show, and should be 30-45 seconds long. A commercial should include something to draw the interest of a listener to the show, you are trying to convince them to tune in.

Upload your audio as an mp3 file to SoundCloud (make sure the option is set to download) and embed it in your blog post about this assignment.

Your group should pick the best 2 commercials to include in the final show.

Make Foley Sounds for a Silent Movie

Foley is a technique used in both radio and film to create impactful audio effects. Learn more about what a Foley Artist is and review some of these video clips that show how it is done:

See also “Ask a Foley Artist” – Interview with Dean Minnerly (hat tip to ds106 student Jennifer).

Your task will be to generate foley sounds using objects you assemble or ones you can create with your own body for a 30 second segment from this clip for a scene in the 1928 silent Charlie Chaplin film The Circus where The Tramp gets trapped in the lion cage. These are to be sounds you generate live, not ones from sound clips found elsewhere!

Here is how you know which segment is yours to work on:

  • If you were born in January or July, you are responsible for all sounds from 00:00 to 00:30 (tag chaplin-lion-01)
  • If you were born in February or August, you are responsible for all sounds from 00:31 to 01:00 (tag chaplin-lion-02)
  • If you were born in March or October, you are responsible for all sounds from 01:01 to 01:30 (tag chaplin-lion-03)
  • If you were born in April or September, you are responsible for all sounds from 01:31 to 02:00 (tag chaplin-lion-04)
  • If you were born in May or November, you are responsible for all sounds from 02:01 to 02:30 (tag chaplin-lion-05)
  • If you were born in June or December, you are responsible for all sounds from 02:31 to 02:55 (tag chaplin-lion-06)

It will help us track your work on the segments if you enter yourself in our shared Chaplin signup doc.

The first thing you should do is watch your clip and make a list of every action in that 30 seconds that could require a sound (in a few places there could be dialogue, make up a line for what the actors might say). Think of the subtle parts, like the sound of the wood latch falling, the rustling of the lion’s tale. Or be inventive as to what sounds would be effective (or funny).

Next, find objects or things you can use to generate the sounds. You should not use downloaded or recorded sound clips- all sounds are to be ones you create physically. Practice a few times generating the sounds in sync with the video.

When you are ready, record your segment. It should be done in a single take. Make sure it is exactly 30 seconds long! Upload it to Soundcloud, and include the tags “ds106”, “chaplin-foley” and the tag listed for your segment. There is a reason for all of this tagging, you will see!

More Audio Assignments

Over the span of this assignment stretch, we encourage you to challenge yourself to complete 10 points of audio assignments from the audio category in the Assignment Bank. Remember to share your work with the rest of us by writing up each assignment in its own post, properly tagging it, and including a narration of your creative process. All external source materials used in your projects should be referenced by URL. Audio should be embedded from your SoundCloud account into your blog.

Daily Creates

Over the next two weeks, you should try to do at least six Daily Create challenges.

Weekly Summary

A summary for these two weeks might include the following:

  • Links to your audio assignments- one for the radio show bumper, one for the radio show commercial, one for the Foley challenge, and one each for the ones you did for 10 stars from the Assignment Bank. Your assignments might include a screen shot of your audio editor to show your workspace.
  • Daily Create summary for the 6 you did over the 2 week period.
  • A reflection upon your contribution to the radio show and to your assessment of the group process:
    • How did your group go about choosing a theme and organizing itself?
    • What was the easiest/hardest part of working as a group?
    • How did you decide upon your own contribution to the show — did you pick something in your comfort zone or did you decide to push yourself in a new direction?
    • How do you feel your show holds together as a whole? Do you feel like you achieved your goals in terms of the story your group set out to tell? What do you think people will say about it?
  • You’ve worked pretty intensively with audio now for several weeks of ds106 — describe what that process has been like. Have you changed your feeling towards audio? When you started with this section of the class, what did you think it would be like and how did the experience measure up?


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