Week 3 Summary

  • How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?

This week I feel that I have created some of my best work so far. I really  tried to push the assignments beyond the literal interpretation by experimenting with the multiple tools that are available to enhance audio effects and even to include advanced audio features in a video production. In doing so, I tried to focus on the story itself and to have the audio effects extend the story that I was telling. For example, in the audio assignment reversing the timeline of a song, I focused on the idea of time itself and used various metaphors (ticking clocks of various types) and cultural metaphors (Back to the Future “twinkle effect” and sports imagery) to pull the reader more deeply into the oddity of time itself. As a Mary Washington student, I am a math major, a competitive swimmer, a technophile, and a “Back to the Future” fan. In this assignment, I drew on each of these aspects of my personality. The Michael Phelps swim, in which he miraculously won his most difficult of eight gold medals, I tried to capture the extreme tension of the event, the excitement of the announcers (Rowdy Gaines) and the highly appropriate reference to Phelps winning by “one one-hundredth of a second”! This winter, I missed a CAC Conference Record in the 500 Free by seven one-hundredths of a second so I could really appreciate that particular sports moment.  I think certain members of my audience will recognize and appreciate the subtle references to Back to the Future referenced above. As a mathematician I referenced some of Einstein’s theories and complex formulae to challenge the blog reader to think more deeply about the nature of time. In math, additional dimensions, such as time, are just variables in complex equations. I certainly spend a lot of time living with complex equations these days! I had limitations in the first two weeks with the visual and design assignments pushing my productions beyond the simple interpretation, but in this week’s posts I  experimented with new features. This week I believe I have accomplished my goal of adding additional creative content, digital features, and story-telling concepts to the productions.

  • What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?

This week, like the last two weeks, it really stretched my brain to create something that extended each assignment with respect to creative content and ideas, enhanced by digital audio effects, some video effects, and non-traditional presentation that would be entertaining. For example, I learned some new features in Imovie, such as how to use chroma key effects well and I learned how to produce music on Garageband in a creative way that was entertaining not an “ear sore”. I tried to milk my creative juices by creating a unique (and obnoxious) character for my Play DJ and Create a Song assignment. I have always found DJ’s and music celebrities to be at least annoying and often vile. It is easy to think of examples such as Kanye West and others. This being an election year and the summer of 2016, I was naturally drawn to the most extraverted personality in the news – Donald Trump.  So my personality was a bit of a mash-up of Trump and a generic, obnoxious music celebrity. In creating the assignment, I decided to integrate the audio assignment into an interesting video project. The audio was created entirely in Garageband using the standard techniques. I created a “bad song”, from my competitors and a “good song” from my own production team! The movie is embedded with some basic “visualizer effects” from ITunes so as not to distract from the actual audio. Then I used greens screen of my “obnoxious character” together with photographs from my trip to Spain to create a visually interesting scene that enhances my character.  Even though this “Play a DJ and Make a Song” assignment was the hardest, I actually enjoyed it the most. It was fun to be able to pretend to be someone else and work on the types of impressions I could do, especially the very funny Donald Trumpian character in that assignment. This week I learned a lot of new features in the latest Imovie (every year seems to be a new version with both enhancements and limitations) and Garageband. I also learned a lot of audio techniques used by Ira Glass and others to captivate and intrigue an audience. In particular, I tried to focus on a story and its characters and not just on the digital effects.

  • What would you do differently? What questions to you have?

This week if I had to do something differently, I would change my production methods and order of content creation.  I probably would have created outlines for each of the two audio assignments before diving into them. This week, as was the case in the first two weeks as well, I was eager to get started on the assignments so I dove into them without first creating an outline as to what exactly I would be producing. This resulted in having to repeat and re-do assignments as I discovered newer production methods and ideas. Have I created more than just a literal interpretation of the audio assignments? Are the techniques I used effective in those two assignments?What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work? Cultural/Societal implications?

  • What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work? Cultural/Societal implications?

This week we learned that audio is not a “dying” art form. It is actually utilized by many and radio productions actually have a certain charm to them that make them irreplaceable by television or movies. There are many “talking head” shows on television especially on sports networks that could be entirely replaced by radio. Many of them are on tv but the visual aspect of the show really does not add any value. Take this clip from Mike and Mike in the morning, there is really no reason it needs to be on television as there is nothing interesting on the screen. The real value is in the audio.

Ira Glass ReflectionIn this piece I reflect on the expertise given to us by American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life, Ira Glass. One of the major aspects I took away from hearing Glass speak was the triviality of video. In my Reverse Audio Quiz production I had originally made a video. After reviewing the video I realized the visuals did not actually add much to the overall story. I also wanted to push myself in creating an audio piece that does not need any images to support it. I then went into the movie I created and extracted all the audio. I placed the audio in garageband and tweaked it slightly before producing the final product. I think the audio I produced is actually more effective than the original video was because it makes the viewer really focus on the sound and not be distracted by the superfluous video that was originally present. I also attempted to recreate that soothing radio voice that Ira Glass has.

Audio Reflection: The audio reflection is a piece on a ghost story from Season 10 Episode 9 of RadioLab entitled Ghost Stories. One of the main things I took away from this was the role of sound effects. Sound effects make audio stories much more interesting and can even add character to the stories. They can set the mood whether it be happy, scary, or sad. After hearing the sound effects in the ghost story I decided to incorporate some sound effects in my reverse audio quiz talk.

Play DJ & Make a Song: Audio Assignment 4 Stars: In this blog post, I start by exploring how far music has developed from the simple primitive music of ancient times to the modern world of synthesizers and laptop production. In fact, my title extends the idea that concert performances have grown from the excitement of seeing a live performance to an interest in just seeing a computer create and play music! That is quite an irony. In this progression of music production, the musicians have also changed dramatically. Ancient music was created by nameless personalities working for their own pleasure. The modern world creates personalities that are often more the focal point than the music itself. It is all in the marketing aspects. In this blog post and video production,  I explore the evolution of music and how vast of a field music really is. From biblical pieces played on the lyre to classical symphonies to Skrillex’s dubstep, music is an enormous field. In the assignment itself I play a modern, arrogant and obnoxious DJ who thinks he is the best DJ in the world. It is my take on how I imagine some of the DJ’s out there really act. It is a sad commentary on our modern world to think that music has evolved from a fundamental aspect of human nature to a “commoditized product” pushed by an arrogant, obnoxious, and financially driven “music-industrial complex.” I tried to emphasize this idea in the “Epic Battles of History” YouTube video comparing Mozart to Skrillex. In order to make this assignment be much more than just the literal interpretation of the assignment, I combined audio and video in a single digital format. The video is focused on my character. The audio is Garageband music played under the “visualizer effects” available in ITunes. I chose this format to be sure that the audio aspects of the music were emphasized and highlighted.

Reverse Audio Quiz: Audio Assignment 3.5 Stars: In this page I try to explore not only music being played backwards, but the construct of time itself. Through a Slaughterhouse-Five type of writing I try to make it as interesting and offbeat as possible. I especially wanted this assignment to be much more than just the literal interpretation of the assignment. In an interesting way, this assignment reflects many of my personal passions, interests, and skills. For this reason, I put my name in the title, “Tyler Gimple has Come Unstuck in Time”. For those fans of Kurt Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse-Five, the reference will be seen as humorous. In the book, time is completely unhinged as it is in the audio production of music being played backwards. The rational mind, in trying to identify our most common song – the National Anthem sung by Whitney Houston – struggles with the backwards arrow of time. These ideas immediately led me to other active interests of mine. I love math, the more complex the variables become the more they fascinate me. In Einstein’s theories, time is “simply” one variable among many which is vastly different from a person’s perception of time. I tried to emphasize that in my blog post. Ever since I was a child, I have loved the movie, Back to the Future. I love the story, the characters, and the “disruption of the space-time continuum”. I have added subtle references to the movie in the audio “twinkle” special effect and also in the use of the “ticking clocks” as in the opening scene of the first Back to the Future movie. My viewers who love this movie also will immediately recognize these audio references. Finally, I spend an unbelievable amount of time (literally) in the pool training for competitive swimming. It is a labor of love and passion. Of course, the Michael Phelps 100 Butterfly event, while barely known to most listeners, is one of the most dramatic events in my sport. This was the one event that Phelps had to win in Beijing to accomplish an unprecedented EIGHT gold medals in only Olympic Games. He was heavily favored in the longer events and in the relays, but this short sprint event was by no means a certainty. The excitement is clearly reflected in the announcers’ voices – especially the very knowledgeable Rowdy Gaines who clearly understood everything about the magnitude of the challenge and the accomplishment. My very favorite line is his breathless “One One Hundredth of a Second” – the amount of time separating Phelps from not winning the event. Presenting this in a purely audio format (without the visual benefit of seeing the race) reminded me of Ira’s Glass’s admonition to “tell a great story”.  In this case, the assignment to play music backwards reminded me of the importance of time in life, sport, and science and the mysterious nature of time itself.

Week 3’s Daily Creates: I had a lot of fun producing this week’s Daily Creates. This weeks were all interesting and I could really use content that was dear to me to fulfill the assignments.