#storyf17 lookings audio assignment

Lookings Audio Overview

The inspiration for this part of the semester-long investigation is Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking, in which she writes:

Part of seeing what is on an ordinary block is seeing that everything visible has a history. It arrived at the spot where you found it at some time, was crafted or whittled or forged at some time, filled a certain role or existed for a particular function. It was touched by someone (or no one), and touches someone (or no one) now. It is evidence. The other part of seeing what is on the block is appreciated how limited our own view is.

Horowitz’s writings made students wonder

And so, in this assignment we are going to engage those questions by making that “conscious effort to see” what we have not seen, or have missed, or just didn’t really even know that we should see in the first place. And through that process, we’ll (hopefully) learn something unexpected about our investigation subject.

The assignment is informed by the following course objectives:

Objective 1: Storytelling
Students will understand the principles and practices of effective storytelling and be able to create media objects which effectively apply storytelling principles and techniques for desired rhetorical and communication goals.

Objective 2: Research
Students will understand the critical role of research in storytelling, including but not limited to texts and techniques associated with interviewing, observing, and photographing.

Objective 3: Communication Design
Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate audience, purpose, and context and will understand and apply human centered design approaches to communicating through digital media.

Objective 4: Risk-taking
Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and understanding of investigation, design, and digital storytelling.

Objective 5: Reflection
Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and communication process.

Lookings Audio Specifics

Each student is required to conduct at least 1 looking during the course of the project by re-seeing a space or object with an expert in a field relating to your subject matter. From your looking experience, create an audio story, such as those on This American Life and RadioLab, that combines your expert’s descriptions with your own narrative interpretations.

These stories must adhere to the following criteria:

  • run 2-3 minutes long
  • include clips from your looking experience, your own original narration, and additional background audio (all additional audio must be free to use, in the public domain, and/or Creative Commons licensed)
  • extend your transmedia story in interesting ways

Like Horowitz, you have the option of moving through through a particular space (such as a museum or a market or a pier) with an expert with the goal of seeing that space anew. Or, you can have the expert take you through looking at an object (such as an entree or a newspaper archive or a video game) or an event (such as a farmer’s market). Whichever you choose, the key is to have that person describe what they are seeing with their own eyes as a way to open yours (and your listeners) to a new understanding of what is being seen.

The idea of an expert is flexible here: they don’t need to be as expert as those in Horowitz’ book. An experienced video gamer or muralist or fashion designer can be considered an expert. A person who frequents a location so often it feels like their home can be an expert. Anyone who has in-depth familiarity with the space or activity associated with your investigation and can describe what they are seeing in a new way.

Your audio can be recorded using your phone, though I strongly recommend using one of the nine Zoom H4N recorders with external microphone that can be rented from the Com Gear room (we will experiment with these). Audio can be edited using software of your choice, though if you are new to audio editing, I recommend the free audio editor, Audacity. Creative Commons licensed music for the purposes of background audio or soundtracks can be found on Jamendo. Rough drafts and final drafts will be uploaded to SoundCloud and embedded in your transmediated digital story.

Audio Draft Specifics

Rough Draft

Please complete the first half of your audio story (that is, 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds), which is to be created after you compose a transcript that contains your introduction, your narration, clips from the looking, and music selections. The transcript should be formatted as depicted on page 18 of Radio: An Illustrated Guide (see the Readings page):

still from Radio: An Illustrated Guide

All music selections must come from Archive.org, Freesound, Jamendo, or MusOpen. The music must be in the public domain or hold a Creative Commons License. If you are unsure if you can use a music selection, tweet Bill a link to the music and he’ll let you know.

You may use whatever audio editing software you wish. Export the file as .mp3 or .wav (16 bit) file. Upload the file to SoundCloud and embed it in your Transmedia Story page. Email to Bill and bring to class a printed version of your transcript.

Specifics for Rough Draft 2 and Final Draft

Your video final draft must:

  • be 2 – 3 minutes long (plus credits)
  • be composed as if it were a mini This American Life episode, having an introductory narrative and a concluding one in which you reflect on what was just heard, such as
  • contain statements seamlessly worked into your introductory and concluding narratives that the audio is part of a larger project; in the concluding statement mention the URL of the full story and that more info can be found in the description

Specifics when Uploading Rough Draft 2 and the Final Audio to Soundcloud

  • Upload the audio to SoundCloud
  • Place a complete meaningful title of your audio in the form field when uploading.
  • In the Description form field, add the following (copy and paste from a Word doc so that you have spell-checked it):
    • start with a clearly written and well-edited one-two sentence description of the audio and the larger story the audio is a part of
    • a link to the full transmedia story, including the title
    • include a complete list of credits and sources (if any)
    • please use paragraphs and complete sentences
    • do not mention the audio was created for a class
  • Add at least five meaningful tags.
  • Make the audio public and allow embedding and comments

Assignment Due Dates

The due dates are:

  • 10/11: Must know the person you will be doing the looking with and have the looking scheduled
  • 10/13 – 10/27: Lookings must be conducted during this window; do not complete them before
  • 11/17 11/29: Audio rough draft 1 due online
  • 12/4: Audio rough draft 2 due as part of completed transmediated story draft

To Go Significantly Beyond the Required Coursework

As part of the Grading Criteria, to obtain an A in the course, you must “demonstrate activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course objectives.”

Here are a few ways you might be able to demonstrate going beyond the required coursework through the use of video work in addition to the main video assignment:

  • create one or more short audio bursts (no more than 15 seconds) clipped from your looking that can be used at certain parts to enhance your transmedia story
  • create a sound essay that  showcases the sounds associated with your space (silence, cheers, crickets, crackles, rippling water, etc.)
  • something else you come up with :-)

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