Reframing Mexico: The Importance of B-roll

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Sound for September 11

How can sound other than the human voice be used to tell a story?

Few people can demonstrate as well as the Kitchen Sisters how to use sound to transport listeners into a different time, space, and culture milieu.

We’ll listen to Walking on High Steel, one of the stories in the Sonic Memorial Project, which remembers 9/11 through the sounds and memories of Mohawk Indian ironworkers.

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The Comfort of College Student Things

An audio blog by Digital Storytelling alum Ricardo Hernandez. It’s based on Daniel Miller’s The Comfort of Things, about people and their treasured objects.

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Jogger John

An amazing video about a man in my hometown who finally found a home:

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I’m not sure how to teach this.

But it’s a mind boggling bit of digital storytelling:

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Two very different examples of plot! In class, we’ll talk how each uses a narrative arc, with exposition, rising action, a climax, falling action and a resolution.

Morgan Sperlock’s Supersize Me (in Seven Seconds)

Take Care by Gillian Laub

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B roll possibilities

Your Extracurricular New Paltz projects have obvious possibilities for b roll: the extracurricular activity itself. But the key to a strong video is visual variety. So once you’ve captured footage of the activity, using a variety of shot types and perspectives, what other b roll possibilities do you have?

This video from the Reframing Mexico series, produced by students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Monterrey Tech University, profiles a young woman, about your age, who loves to dance. But that’s not the only activity depicted in the b roll. We’ll discuss what else the video used as b roll and why — and then think about possibilities for our own projects.

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Short clips, labels and subclips: Tips for organizing your media

Avid is a slow moving beast. Import and export times can be long. So it’s helpful to avoid importing long files whenever possible.

How to do this? When filming, pause and restart the video recording each time you change angles, ask a new question, change settings, change subject matter, and/or switch from primary footage to B roll. This approach helps in a number of ways. You can “review and select,” as “Grammar of the Edit” puts it, with greater ease. I like to label every clip with a word or two indicating content. I also like to use abbreviations indicating what type of footage it is. As you’ll see in the import demo, I use “A” for primary footage and “B” for b roll. You can also label shot types (CU for close up, VCU for very close up).

IF YOU DO HAVE A LONG STRETCH OF FOOTAGE: Never fear. You will have to cope with the longer import times, but then you can divide your clips into subclips. Load the clip into the source monitor, mark an “IN” and an “OUT,” then click drag from the source monitor into a bin. Viola a subclip, which you can then treat just like any other clip.

Here’s a tutorial on subclips if you need to review the process:

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Exploring stories from the past with images from the present

One of the main challenges of producing audio slideshows for narrative-based stories is that so much of the story takes place in the past. Here’s a slideshow about Mark Mocha, who is moving on from a past full of mistakes.

And, I promised you we’d talk about the use of ambient, or “nat,” sound in audio slideshows. Meet The Man Behind the Band (LA Times) and The Dairy King, produced by Brandon Ball while he was a student at the University of Tennessee. Note how these slideshows use sound to enrich the slideshow.

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How to Set Up Your Blog and Embed a Soundcloud File in the Post

We’ll be using WordPress blogs (just like this one) to display our digital storytelling finery. For class on Thursday 2/16, please set up your blog and post your audio story on it. There are a lot of steps, but the process is not that complicated.

1. Sign up for a WordPress blog here. Please give your blog a good name. Generic names (lphillips123blog, for example) look, well, generic. I also recommend that you pick the same theme that I’m using, called Twenty Eleven. It has a level of flexibility that works well for this class.

2. Create your first post introducing your audio story. Think of the intro as a few lines of copy that will nab passers-by browsing through cyberspace and get them intrigued enough to listen to your story. Be brief and specific and inviting without being overtly promotional (as in, “Listen to my awesome story!”). Keep the “Add New Post” screen up in your browser and don’t press “publish” yet.

3. In a new tab or browser window, sign up for soundcloud account.

4. If you haven’t done so already, give the .wav file of your audio story a non-generic name. Upload the .wav file of your audio story to your soundcloud account.

5. Use the “share” button to get the shortcode for a wordpress embed (the last option) and copy the code. Then go back to your WordPress post and paste the shortcode below your intro. Click publish.

6. Go to your blog and look at what you’ve done. The post should look something like this (an intro with a soundfile beneath it). Take a listen to make sure everything works properly.

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Test post for class

Here’s a little bit of sound from the Metronorth Train to Grand Central Station:

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Best Ever Audacity Tutorial

This tutorial from The Knight Digital Media Center will guide you through the ins and outs of editing with Audacity.

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For Droid users

Try one of these apps and let me listen to the sound quality:

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Turn your iphone or itouch into a recording device.

We have a shortage of our portable recorders this semester. I want to encourage anyone who has an iphone or an itouch to download the italk app. There is a free version and an inexpensive premium version. The sound quality of the recordings is surprisingly good.

Some guidelines:

Always use the “best” recording quality setting. Please clear up about 1 GB of space on your iphone. That will give you 200 minutes of record time, which is more than enough.

You’ll need to hold the iphone close to the source, just like with the Zoom recorders.

You’ll need to get the sound files (.aiff files) off the device and onto your portable drive or flash drive. You can do that by going to the “apps” page on itunes, scrolling down to file sharing and using the “save to” command to get the files onto your drive. Very easy. If you are doing this on the lab computers, you’ll have to download itunes, a quick process.

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An Explanation of Diagetic and Non-Diagetic Sound

In case you were wondering.

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Classic Story Form, and How It Applies to the “My Test” Assignment

A graphic of classic plot form:

Exposition is where the storyteller sets the stage for the drama to follow. Who is this story about? What is his/her challenge — in your case, test? What’s at stake in meeting the challenge — or, why does it matter?

Rising action: a chain of events, each raising questions about what will happen next.

Climax: a central turning point — in your case, the moment when you either pass or fail your test. There can be other, more minor turning points before this.

Falling action: What do you do once you’ve passed or failed?

Resolution: You show or tell (or both) how you’ve changed.

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Supersize Me

Perhaps the most famous example of the “My Test” approach to filmmaking is Morgan Sperlock’s “Supersize Me.” He spends a month living on nothing but McDonald’s. Let’s watch this excerpt to see what it can teach us about narrative and digital storytelling.

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The Seltzer Man Returns!

…in a video from MediaStorm.

We’ll also watch this video from 60 Minutes on a symphony orchestra in the Congo.

These two videos show the importance of mixing video AND audio on multiple tracks.

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Video file formats

Everything you ever wanted to know about video file formats:


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Trim Mode Tutorial

Trim mode can be tricky to get used to. You’ll get an intro to it in Chapter 3, but if you need a more visual demo of trim mode, go to the tutorial on it (#4) and viola:

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