Design Blitz

So, this week I was more house prone than normal due to life circumstances and did not have an opportunity to photograph and designs. The one time I did go out, I left with my phone too dead to get a photo of the flyers in Monroe that displayed dominance, or the typography on a Mary Washington Healthcare billboard, although I actually found a similar picture later. So, instead I googled the following phrases “advertisement,” “billboard,” “flyers handout,” and “magazine spread” and grabbed some exampled that caught my attention. Afterward, I went back through the list of principles and found those that the photos best exhibited. As a side note, I did not pay attention to copyright in these photos because my critiques fall under fair use.
The first of these elements is color. In this photo, they use color in a couple of interesting ways. First of all, most of the photo is all different shades of the same hue in a monochromatic color scheme. Given the common association with cold and ice, and that it is the coldness of the Slurpee they are emphasizing, that color scheme makes sense. The only break from the monochromatic color scheme is the 7 11 logo on the cup, which calls enough attention to the cup after seeing the ad to let people know what exactly is being advertised, but not so much attention that a viewer is apt to look there first.


This photo illustrates an interesting use of typography.  I liked what they have done here with the what appears to be 4 different fonts. I was taught that the maximum different fonts that should be used in a design is generally no more than three, one serif, one sans-serif, and in rare cases, one special font. In this photo, they used the different fonts to group and prioritize information. The special font is their slogan which calls special attention to itself. The first sans-serif is in the Hospital name, which also stands alone. The last two fonts are the message and website, which are written in the same serif font to group them, and then the name and details about the woman in the photo which is written in a san-serif that is actually pretty similar to the serif font of the website, which also contains the name of the cancer survivor. In this way, it seems they have created a miniature network of fonts despite having gone over the traditionally acceptable number.


The next photo, I think, made an interesting use of space. Most of the visual elements contained are all inside of the nike logo, and considering the branding and recognizability of that logo, I think it is a good design choice. Inside the logo, however, it is quite busy and varied, a message that the verbiage on the sign seems to want to reinforce. “Nike has something for everyone so you can be unique, but you are all united in the fact that you chose Nike” is the message I get from the design. In that way, it seems that they are using the design to express what, in words, might have been conflicting messages, but because of this choice, has allowed the sign to maximize appeal.


The final example I have is one of unity. Given the simplicity of the large H on the left, there were a limited number of ways to connect that H with the text on the subsequent page. I am unsure why they chose the H in the first place, and overall do not like the spread, but I do thing that they did a good job of unifying the elements.

Not quite a mirror…

So, for this assignment, I decided that I would add a couple layers and do it slightly different than the two people before me. They both used xbox avatars to complete the assignment, but it didn’t expressly say to do so. I started to make an avatar of myself elsewhere, but I figured that it would be better to pull one from something I actually use. So, I loaded up the old game that I have been playing recently, Dragon Age Origins, and made the best copy of myself that I could. I had to use a photo for some it it, though, because I don’t know that i have ever tried to imitate my face so closely. The limited options in the engine prohibited a perfect match, but I think I got fairly close, anyhow. I made the angle of the photo and the angle of the character screen shot the same to illustrate that they are intended to be the same. And for the background, I chose a similar dark gray that the people previously had, except I used layers and transparency to make overlapping boxes behind the avatar and my to demonstrate how the digital me and the real me overlap one another.

Elements of Western Design

The movie posters almost exclusively do not feature “western typography.” Many of the fonts are unlike those featured in the stills of western typography.  The fonts in the posters are, however, strikingly similar, and I am curious as to whether if I was shown just the typography from one of those posters if I would know it to be a western. In retrospect, and although my memory may be faulty here, It seems that the type faces they have used were also similar to many western novels that I have seen.
There are several western staples and stereotypes associated in the designs, however. Guns, especially old revolvers, are featured in a number of the photos. Cowboy hats are also iconic representations of the western Genre.
I wonder, however, what someone like Vignelli would have though of some of the posters. I am probably missing some contest for some of them, but quite a few of the designs seem to simply be trying to do and to convey too much. There were a few that in my precursory glance, I could not have even stated the title, which does little good if you are trying to inspire someone to see a movie. Looking at the posters and seeing what works and doesn’t work is a lesson in appreciating simplicity and purposefulness of design.

Movies? What do I know about Movies?

So, when I saw this assignment, I knew exactly what movie I would pick and I knew for sure the first icon. I will leave it at that so that I don’t ruin the fun of guessing. Probably anyone who has seen the movie will recognize it, but I will provide a few additional clues… First of all, the boxer should have bare knuckles. Second, the gun should say the name of a very specific highly recognizable gun manufacturer and a rather large caliber on the side. It is not an old movie really, unless you are really young… then you might consider it old.  This assignment was really fun; it was interesting to boil down the entire movie to 4 icons. I chose the simplistic comic strip style to help show that the icons are intended to tell a whole story, but not break away from the simplicity of the icons themselves.  There were a couple others I thought about for a minute, but I think these isolated the essence of the movie. To anyone that happens by to actually guess, Good Luck! If you show up and absolutely cannot figure it out, the answer is here.



Radio Show Ideas.

So, these are the ideas I have for a radio show thus far.

  • Campfire stories. Cowboys spend a lot of time around campfires so this seems appropriate. It can either be an exchange of stories with some nifty sound effects to go along with them, or, instead, a show about how to compose and create a good camp fire story, the necessary elements and such.
  • With whatever the show included, I think it ought to include some old western songs, or at least clips of it such that copyright will allow. If we analyze some of them, it qualifies under fair use.  Not just country music, but stuff like ol’ Roy Rogers singing Get Along Little Doggies.

What’s that sound?

So, if it one thing that all this audio exploration and experimentation has demonstrated this week, it is the ability of audio to contribute to stories, or even to tell stories all on its own. The stories we told with just audio helped my appreciate this, but I spent some time this week thinking about audio in contexts outside of this class as well. Anyone looking for the power of audio in horror ought to watch some tornado survivor videos where the video, because of conditions, is totally blacked out. Just hearing the howl of the tornado and the shrieking of the wind as structures are torn apart around people is terrifying, no imagery necessary.  The people screaming and freaking out only contributes to those terrible sounds.
The moon landing story incorporated some of those awesome powers of audio story telling as well. The sounds as they explored the distant, desolate, rocky moon were horrifying, but the creators of that story added some creepy sounds effects and such as well that helped along the way. During the speech at the end, there is an eerie hum behind the speech that contributed to both the feeling of desperation that astronauts would have felt had they been trapped on the moon as well as the sadness conveyed by the text of the speech commemorating them.
It is no wonder then, that H.G. Wells was able to frighten so many people with his radio broadcast of war of the world. It a world that seems to be dominated by visual everything, stories, videos, advertisements, and so on, it is interesting to consider the power that audio and sounds still hold.


This assignment was to slow down a song using audio editing software. I used the Paulstretch effect in audacity for the slowing part. The song I chose was Poor Millionaire by August Burns Red. It is pretty heavy metal-core, I thought the rapid shifts in pitch and tone would make the result interesting. The idea is to make it sound like ambient music, but I don’t know that my final result reflects that very well. I tried a number of effects, pitch shifting, compression, reverb, so on and so forth and found very little that moved it in the direction that I liked. What I did do, in the final product, was cut out non vocal sections, split the audio tracks, added different echos to each track, and reversed the left track so they sounded different from one another. The result has some of the qualities that I wanted, but there is too much hum in each track; that is the best way I can describe it. I tried noise reduction to remove some of it, its effect was moderate at best. Perhaps metal-core was not a good genre of music for this assignment. Anyhow, this is the final product, for better or worse.

Daddy Daughter Dancing

For this assignment, I thought for a second about a song with really strong, attached memories. The song I chose isn’t a song I really listen to on my own, so when I thought of it, it was perfect for the assignment.


As far as the assignment portion, it was rather straight forward. I just recorded myself reflecting on the song. I let a black spot to get a noise reduction profile. I made sure to put long paused after mistakes and I let the recording stream. I realized after my take that I did not name the song, so I made a second recording where I said the name of the song and spliced it into the original. Audacity takes quite a bit of the trial and error out of recording a voice audio file. Mistakes are easily removed or corrected, so I did not have to start over every time I messed up. I have rarely, if ever, recorded myself for any reason, but if and when I do in the future, I will remember that audacity is an indispensable tool for doing so. Anyhow, here is my recording.

One final realization I had while making this assignment was that embedding files is easier than I though. For both soundcloud and youtube, all I had to do was make sure that in the ext editor, they were on a line entirely their own. No more adding the
embed and /embed markup to get things to appear.

Effect sound effects

I created this assignment because I was impressed with what a wonderful utility freesound is, and felt like inspiring people to not only utilize the sounds there, but also to contribute wherever they could. I was actually inspired to do this assignment originally because a particular sound that I needed for another assignment was just not available. I just set my mic in a decent place, hit record on audacity, and recorded several takes of myself throwing a handful of cards down onto a table. I edited out the bad ones and kept the best few, then uploaded them all to for other people to use if they ever find it useful or necessary.

As a side note, as of the time of this posting, my sound effect still had not been moderated, and I think it is causing the embeded post above to fail to load properly. My sound effect is also posted here.

Bad Deal

A man playing against the infamous Merrell Shale decides that it will be better to try his luck with a pistol after seeing his hand. I don’t think he knew what sort of place he was in, though, and the barkeep made short time of him.

This assignment was quite a bit of fun actually. I used all of my newly acquired audacity skills, and a few I acquired just for this, and put together a western audio story. First things first, I needed looped background and ambient sounds. I found some crickets chirping and country sounds that I had to cut down to remove traffic sounds. I collapsed the track into mono and found spots at the beginning and end where the wave crossed the zero line to clip the audio. Then, I fused several sections of it together over and over to make sure it was long enough for my whole story.
I repeated that process basically with my bar sounds, but I had to keep it in stereo and find places where both tracks crossed the zero line at the same time to splice those. It didn’t sounds the same in mono, it lost the feeling that you were surrounded by the sound. Then, I imported the following sounds which I had edited, amplification and cutting mostly, to suit my purposes: shuffling cards, cards being dealt, a chair sliding, a revolver cocking, a glass dropping, a punch, a body thudding on the ground, a body being drug from the bar, and saloon doors opening. I also created an assignment and made my own sound effect for the cards being throw on the table. I put them all together in that order and created an envelope for the bar sounds so that you could hear the crickets chirp and glass fall when the man who was angry about his hand pulled out his gun. After he is thrown out of the bar, people resume chatting and the shuffling starts over again. The interesting part of this assignment was that as I was putting it together, my ears were constantly telling me what was missing… what seemed out of place, what needed to be louder or quieter. It was as though, without my knowledge, they had become accustomed to listening to audio stories all along. I think it really highlighted the importance of audio in stories that employ it.

Update: I think every time I listen to it, I notice something that I need to fix. My latest update was to turn down the crickets a bit so they don’t sound like foreground music during the part where the man is being dragged out of the bar.