DS106 Radio Bumper: Puns and Guitars

So, after learning the basic of audio editing from audacity, I started this assignment. I searched around on freesound after reading about its existence from a fellow ds106 participant on her radio bumper post. It was a fairly straight forward process after I watched the tutorial. I just found a guitar bit I liked to go behind it on freesound.org. Then, I wrote a short script, puns included. I took a few tries as recording it in a somewhat western accent. Then, I used a few methods I found for noise reduction and to take out a couple of pops and ssss sounds. After that, I stuck the pieces together, created an envelope for my voice over part so that the music would quiet down while I was speaking. I threw on a fade in and fade out, and exported it to mp3 format. Maybe I am just lazy, but I preferred the simplicity here that I employed. I added in a couple other sounds and such, but I don’t think they added anything to it so I took them out.


Week five: Sounds of the Old West, and some other places too.

This week, I really ventured outside my comfort zone. I am fairly tech savvy and for most of the work we have done so far, It didn’t require that I learn any totally new skills. I have never really done anything with audio, however, so this week was uncharted territory. I played with audacity on my own for a minute, and the tools and things were not as intuitive as I would have hoped. I knew basically what I wanted to do, but how to do it was something else. So, I searched around and found this tutorial video that covers the basics of audio editing with audacity. I used that simple crash course to create my first piece of work for the week, the radio bumper. I am pretty satisfied with my results in the end. To me it sounds like any bumper on an actual radio station.
After that crash course in audacity, I put my new skills to work and created my audio story, Bad Deal, for my first 3.5 star assignment. While doing that assignment, I had to continually seek out new sounds as my ear picked up on elements that were notable absent in the story. There are still a few places in it that I think need some fine tuning, the speed of some things and such, but overall I am pretty satisfied with how it turned out and pretty amazed at how intriguing it was to let my ear do the story telling for me.
As a part of that assignment, I also created and completed my own 1 star assignment to upload a sound effect. It was both useful for me and a good way for my to inspire people to contribute something to freesound.org instead of just employing resources from it.
Audacity being the wonderful tool that it is, I also used it for the audio recording for my song reflection assignment. It takes all the difficulty and anxiety of making audio recordings. I just record whatever comes out of my mouth, and fix it all in edits.
I applied those audio editing techniques and a few more for this assignment. I recorded myself reading a 2 minute long poem that I loved because I could not choose a single quote. I edited the whole quote, but in the end, being unsure of the copy right issues involved, decided not to post my result. In the process, however, I learned how to edit out breathing sounds, splice in new sections to replace pieces I did not like, eliminate unwanted verbal clutter and so on.
So, to complete my assignments and get all my stars, I did this 4 star assignment. It was interesting and gave me a chance to play around with several effects, even though I was not totally satisfied with my result.
For Daily Creates this week, which can be found here,I had more fun with gimp. I created the treasure map from scratch, the only elements I incorporated was the mountains that I laid over the top of my custom made aged paper texture. I also put a curious cowboy on mars looking down at a more curious rover. The frontier knows no bounds.
After the assignments, I composed this post to reflect on the power of story telling. In particular, I thought about the ability of sound to create apprehension and fear. Also, I have my radio show ideas posted here.


I also left comments… here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and at least a dozen other places before I started keeping track of them.


Lifetime of love, after a few misfortunes.


So, for this assignment, I had to locate a photo of a couple and provide a back story. I looked in this case for an older couple because I feel like they have more noteworthy love stories. When I selected the image, it was odd to see where it originated because the story it was from is not at all the story I had in mind when I saw it, so don’t click the link unless you want to spoil the fun. Other than being an older couple, that it was shot from behind makes the subjects someone nondescript, and to me, that means that their story is far more open ended than a photo where facial expressions and looks are included. Faces tell stories all their own, so I wanted different elements of this story to speak to me.
William, his friends call him Bill, and his wife Margaret, who refuses to allow her name to be shortened, have been married since their early twenties. They met at a gathering of Bill’s brother, and after a shot bit of conversation, realized that she was a nurse at an army medic camp in Vietnam where he had stayed for several weeks recovering from a military career ending injury, and that he had been there once prior for another injury that won him a purple heart but had recovered and gone back to his unity. She treated him on both occasions, but he was out when she had and he did not recall. They still joke that if he had just woke up and seen her the first time, he wouldn’t have had to lose the use of his left arm when God decided to play matchmaker a second time, and that if had woke up the second time, they wouldn’t have had to endure Bill’s Brother’s wife’s cooking at that party.
This assignment was useful because it caused me to think about the way in which images have lives and stories of their own. Like some more abstract poetry or music, they don’t necessarily have a concrete meaning to convey. Images can mean a million things to a million people, and accordingly, good photographs have their own merit outside of what they literally depict.


Most classes with the number of assignments that this one has are, to be blunt, overly repetitious. That the focus of the class is shifting from one media type to another each week, and that there is some amount of freedom in choosing which assignments I do is somewhat refreshing.
So, this week, the focus was on visual media forms.
The assignments all made me thing about different aspects of both the power of images and their ability to tell stories of their own. They also made my give more thought to what constitutes a photo and perhaps for a short while at least, they will inspire me to focus on taking better photos. Maybe I ought to practice more on taking them where the subject and my own informed context do not define the image, i.e. photos that are good for their own sake. When completing the Brady Bunch family photo assignment, which I think tells at least some version of my family story without the background provided in that post, I considered how static elements and cultural icons, especially when attached to new media, have a profound impact on the potential message of the photo. Another aspect of that assignment was that it reminded me of the power of the correct fonts. For that one and for the Oregon Trail daily create, I downloaded custom fonts for each.

The saddle bag assignment was another example of how images can convey elements of a story. It does not require events or any internal dialogue to reveal more about characters in the story. Their visual appearance reveals some important aspects of their character as well. This is something that occurred to me in some form when I created my character, as I included the deliberate idea that he does not dress the part and that his appearance is willfully deceiving.

The love at first sight assignment revealed that the stories that someone might be told from a photo is not necessarily the one intended by the photograph. Meaning, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and perceptions may well cause two people to decode visual information quite differently.

The next assignment I completed for 2 stars was to turn an image into a drawing. Photo manipulations depends heavily on the photos themselves, so it would be worth while to have a better understanding of what each tool and option in Gimp actually does so I can gain more control over my edits. The other lesson is that placing photos in blog posts is a fickle business, and it might be worth looking into some css code to more effectively text wrap the images.

For my final 4 star assignment, I decided to break out my brady font again and combine it with a Subway logo. The results were not as interesting as I had hoped.

Of the daily creates I did for the week, the Oregon trail ds106 combination was the most fun. I never need an excuse to go play and let a family member or two die from cholera. The versions I found online too play were all the newer, updated sort, so it wasn’t quite a recreation of the green and black screens of my youth, but close enough.

One last thing I did, in the interest of continuing to improve my website itself is to change the menu and headers on the main page to more accurately reflect the reorganization and category structure that I created as a part of last weeks assignment.

Fun with fonts

So, for this assignment, I decided to take my newly downloaded Brady Bunch font abroad. The assignment was to recreate a popular logo using a new font. I searched around for silly and crazy fonts for a bit before deciding to use the Brady font I downloaded for another assignment, but I just didn’t find anything that appealed to me. After completing it, I think it would have looked more interesting with a more outlandish font, however. What I did here was create the new text and get the correct size, outlined it using this method, then I shifted the baseline on the bottom text to match the original. I placed the original and my new one on top of one another to juxtapose them to see the contrast. Another observation that I had while competing this assignment was that a plurality of logos use incredible plain, san serif fonts. Very few logos I saw when I was picking one had done anything else.

Drawing Babies

For this 2 star assignment, I was supposed to take an image and turn it into a pencil drawing.
I made two attempts at it because I did not like the first one. I didn’t care much for the second one either. I chose this assignment because it involved manipulating images in ways that I have not before. I sometimes mod custom textures and appearances for games, and now I wonder how it would look if I turned those textures into drawings.  Anyhow, for the first image, I chose this tutorial on youtube. The results looked more like I had turned the image black and white rather than into a drawing.


The next image I created using this tutorial was for a soft color pencil drawing instead of  plain black and white. The result in this case looks more like a grainy photo than a drawing. I did notice some elements form each that I might be able to combine in the future if I want to perfect this technique. The interesting thing to note here is that in each of tutorials, they had spectacular results with the photos they chose. The takeaway here is that the editing process for this, and probably for other manipulations depends quite heavily on the characteristics of the photo being manipulated: no one size fits all. 

7 Shots

  • Power plugs are ubiquitous. Can you make a creative photo of such a common thing?
    • I like the way the luminescence fills the light fixture.
  • Take a photo that represents of destruction.
    • A decayed tree finally collapsed under the weight of the snow.
  • Make the subject is isolated against a very bright background.
    • The hard part is seeing the view finder without staring at the sun. I almost got a hold of it..
  • Gauges, meters, and turn signals are all indicators.
    • Brand new, ready to go into my smoker for perfect ribs on Super Bowl Sunday
  • Make a creative photo of paired opposites.
    • Healthy or Junk?
  • A perfect line. Make a photo of interesting vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines.
    • All of the above
  • Make a creative photo of some sort of boundary
    • Babies shall not pass

The Hiser Bunch

This assignment was to create a Brady Bunch image using family or friends. Picked people for this one was a breeze because my family is already sort of a Brady Bunch. I have one child from a previous marriage, in the bottom right, my wife has three, all on the left, and we have one child together. We also have two cats, Shadow and Flame. (know the reference?)
Putting the photo together was fairly simple. I chose  photos of each of us, it was at this time that I realized I have almost no good photos and that maybe it is time to actually invest in an SLR camera. Cell phone tech, at least in my phone, just isn’t cutting it yet. After choosing the photos, I just had to crop, remove the background, and place them into the image. I used the natural angles of the photos to make them look as proper as possible in the boxes and chose a family arrangement that made sense like the original Brady Bunch. The font, although not as good as my apple original I used for something yesterday, was a pretty good Brady imitation. There are thousands upon thousands of fonts out there and searching for something like Brady Bunch font is sure to return some results.
So, what I took from this is that I need to spend time getting better photos that can stand as photos for their own sake rather than just poorly shot visual representations of memories.Since I learned about the basics of photography a visual design class, I have always wanted to get more into it, but I still have not done so. Canon Rebel, here I come… maybe.


Tools of the Gambler Trade

Merrell, the savvy gambler that he is, has a few necessities that he carries with him on the trail. For this assignment, I created an image of the overturned contents of Merrell’s saddle bag.

The first step was, obviously, to give some thought to the sort of items he might carry, starting with a the saddle and bags that overturned in the first place. Obviously a gambler would carry around a deck of cards and a pair of dice, so those there easy. The next item I chose was an old western style pistol, being in the west without one is a dangerous prospect for any man, but especially so for one who makes his living by winning bets against other men. Everyone in a while a cheat, a sore loser, or a plain ol mangy varmint might want to test their mettle to get back what they lost or to take what they never had. A traveling man that he is, Merrell gets quite a bit of use out of his old compass and map as well, looking for new spots to travel and make his way. Obviously all the swanky saloons are marked, and there is a coded addition to help him locate his buried loot. Banks are none too useful out on the frontier. Last, but certainly not least, is his luck rabbits foot given to him by his father when he set out on the road. It is both a token of the hard work and sacrifice that his father underwent to raise him proper, and a trinket to bring him good luck when his outstanding wits and skills aren’t quite enough.
Afterward, I had to find images in the commons that I was allowed to manipulate to create the image. The challenge here was finding places to search images and using search terms that would lead me to the things I want.
Finally, I compiled it all into the image seen below. Each of the items was put on their own layer with an old wood grain table as the background image. Not that it looks entirely realistic, but putting the pieces together requires some rearranging and consideration to make it look like a coherent image rather than a bunch of scattered items posted on a background. I did not go so far as to add the shadows to make the image look more realistic, but looking at it now I wish I had. Maybe I will update it if there is some time.

Merrell’s Gear