This week we dove in to the world of sound storytelling. We explored different audio storytelling tools like SoundCloud.com, Audacity.com, and various sound banks and conversions tools to make different sound stories work and flow seamlessly together.
I started off by connecting my love of Baseball by trying my hand at reenacting an entertaining and age-old Abbott and Costello skit about members of a baseball team and their current position on the diamond. This gave me a chance to get my feet wet with the SoundCloud sound record feature. It also allowed me to realize how much my theatrical voice skills need to improve before I become a stage or radio performer.
We moved on to get familiar with the FREE Audacity sound editing software by creating out own sound stories. I created a sound story that told the story of my trip to visit a happy 5 month old for Easter mass and a nature walk, only to leave a sad baby as I stepped towards the bus and back to DC. I was only supposed to use 4 sound bites of my own for this story, but ended up using about 80% of my own sound bites due to the fact that I was recording all along the way, and found little need for other sounds. This exercise helped me appreciate the time-consuming nature of audio editing as I tried to splice, fade-in/out, and de-amplify sound bites into a solid story line. The shape of the story was fairly sinusoidal, rising up with a happy baby along a complete story spine, only to come back to the origin, which was me boarding bus, leaving behind a less-than-happy baby.
Being born in December, I drew the six slot on creating my own sounds for demonstrating the Foley Technique to compliment segment of the Charlie Chaplin silent film, The Lion’s Cage. I found this exercise time consuming as well, more due to logistics as a struggled to toggle between the applications (YouTube & Audacity) and start them simultaneously. Mapping against the seconds of the clip and the sound bites I chose to create was pretty straightforward. I tried to take an extra step and get both the sound clip and the YouTube clip to start simultaneously for the viewer, but I couldn’t get YouTube to cooperate.
For my Audio Assignment, I chose to go with the Dialogue Mashup and to “Mashup” cute with crude, by combining Rory Breaker’s censored rant about killing Nick the Greek (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) with replies and reactions from a few Pokemon (Pokemon, the Movie). It was an interesting exercise and what helped the integration of the two, was that Rory’s script was mainly a monologue making it easier to insert cute, contrasting replies and reactions from the Pokemon.
Continuing along the lines of storified content, I stumbled across an NPR article, which itself was looking at a story being told by a broader McDonald’s campaign. The series of video ads from the 90s followed a complete arch, essentially showing a young man named Calvin getting off the streets, getting a job at McDonald’s, cleaning up his life, helping the community, and making it to Manager. Though the article focused more on the social and political significance of the ads, I looked at one in particular and identified the step-wise, positive direction of the story shape, with slight down steps of reality, overshadowed by a happily ever after type sense of optimism as Calvin shoots along the path of “Makin it,” the “moral of the story” theme to McDonald’s advertisements from the 70’s through the 90’s. The article points out how the modern version of these ads is now all about “Lovin’ it” which is an interesting signal of how the company has shifted its focus from individual accomplishment, to perhaps one of indulgence…but that’s another conversation well out of scope for this post.