Buzzfeed ds106 character quiz 2.0

For this assignment, I went back to the which ds106 character are you quiz I made for buzzfeed a few weeks ago and incorporated vastly more characters and questions. I created a spread sheet with all the characters, their descriptions for the outcomes, and their answers to the various questions. I hit a hiccup when buzzfeed told me that I can only add one person to each answer so they all have to be unique. I still have a few that have variants of the same answer because I designed the quiz without that in mind. I tried to include all the ds 106 characters, but there were a few that didn’t make the cut. The primary reason was that there was too little info in that persons description for me to not have to totally invent their character for the quiz ( I tried to stay to what the creators would have wanted from their characters), or the character was so unique that it would have vastly different and obvious answers. I have one character that meets that criteria because it is humorous, and I did not want to detract from that.  I tried to add a few imaged to the quiz this time to spice it up as well, I think I will keep revising it over the next few days to get it more to my liking.

Here is the final version which I have yet to figure out how to embed.


Updating Merrill’s Ride

For this assignment, I decided to base the story on Merrill Shale having sold his wagon and upgraded after he started raking in poker winnings. I originally tried with both Autotrader and Ebay motors, but the code was seemingly too sophisticated for X-ray googles, so I went to craigslist instead, which turned out to be pretty far from perfect as well. I could not get access to the other images on the scroll, so I found a vehicle posted that only had one photo. Then, I started remixing the elements so they would make more sense for the story I was telling. I was moderately pleased with how it looked in X-ray goggles, but when I published it, the code was apparently somewhat jumbled. I attempted to ascertain why or see if I  could, perhaps, resolve the issue with my albeit limited html knowledge, but x ray would not let me click on the actual page because it has too many elements.    This is the link to the page,  and here is a screenshot of what it looked like in xray.


Quality Cards

For this assignment, I decided to make use of the fact that since I need a commercial for the radio show, I might as well get some stars for the week making one. I have mixed feelings about the final product. Probably some of that is due to the lack of copyright free music that I can use. Maybe I need to acquire some musical talent and make my own…  Also, I tried to make it sound like the spoke person and the commercial announcer were different people, but I don’t know that I modified my own voice to really sell that. It was difficult to do without making my voice sound unnatural. To create the project, I found a song on, looped it in audacity, they set about recording a few takes of the script I had written. I used a tutorial on youtube about how to improve the quality of my recording, the success of which I am still up in the air about. Then I cut, edited, refined, and re positioned tracks until it was all in order, and I uploaded it to soundcloud.

Merrell’s original adventure.

So, for this assignment, I am supposed to tell ann important life story in under two minutes. I decided to put a little twist on it, however, and do it from the perspective of my character, Merrell Shale. This story is his account of the story I included in his background that accounts for how he got to the life he is leading now. Completing the assignment was rather easy now that I am becoming proficient with audacity. I recorded the track, leaving useful spaces between sections to make edits easier. Any time I made a mistake, I just paused, they read that section of script over so I could edit out the bad section.  I used some effects, normalizer, noise reduction, compressor and equalizer, to improve the overall quality of the recording.

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.

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

Meet Merrell Shale

Merrell Shale is a mean looking but warm spirited man in his late thirties. At present, he is a gambler, but his outward appearance deliberately reflects his more humble beginnings. He is the son of a miner, his mother died from cholera at a young age. His father worked very hard to provide for his children, and Merrell, the oldest of three, sought very early to assist his father in that endeavor.

His younger siblings were both educated, a lawyer and a banker’s wife, respectively, but he was always the sharpest of the bunch. He was never afraid of hard work, and, as soon as his father consented, he went to work with him in the mines. The long years of hard work took a brutal toll on his father, however, and he is very ill, near death. Merrell, resolving to accomplish more with himself was always looking for a better way, and when his younger siblings were off living their own lives, he starting looking for one.
He had always been able to read people well, there was little more concerning than going into a hole in the ground on the word of a man who told you that the mine was safe. And even outside that, it was a natural talent of his. As a youth, he was fond of finding ways to ruffle the feathers of his teachers and such, and maybe it was that as much as it was anything else that prevented him from following the path his sisters chose. While he was considering his alternatives, he used to play quite a bit of cards at the local saloon. He was always reluctant to take his coworkers’ money, however, so he brought home very little.

One particular evening, a sharp dressed man was in the saloon and had gathered quite a crowd taking the money of men who had come for a game of poker. Having noticed the solemn look on the faces of the men with him he worked, he bought his way onto the table to play a game. Unchained from the moral conviction that usually restrained him, he played the man, and won quite handsomely. The anxiety that one might experience from spending so much of his life in a death trap had given him meant that no game of cards would ever shake him so that his face might reveal whatever lay concealed there.

The winnings, after returning some to his friends who had squandered their pay, were enough to get his father out of the mine for a time, and get him started in becoming a gambler himself. He would never dress like the man whom he had beat, lest he make a target of himself or tip his hand. There was no money at home gambling though, unless he wanted to take it from his friends. So, he set out on the road. He would take any bet he knew he could win, although he lost a few in places he could have never seen it, but playing cards always held a special place for the man.