Video Project Proposal

Our video footage will be of an everyday male college student. We will get three different types of footage. One will be of the student studying and in class, doing academic type activities. Another series of footage will be social activities, and we will shoot the same character hanging out with friends and going to bars. Another set of footage will be the character sleeping, eating, working out, and any other everyday activities that are outside school and social life. With these videos, one team will attempt to create a video depicting a very healthy college lifestyle, while the other team will try to make a video of a college student struggling to survive college due to bad lifestyle choices of going to bars.

 

Other team members:

Michael – http://music1to1my1beers.wordpress.com/

Kevin – http://roche10.wordpress.com/

Cary – http://rolbiec1info303.wordpress.com/

Jun Ho – http://jangjunho1.wordpress.com/

 

An Accomplishment

 

After much consideration, I decided to tell an anecdote that happened to me not so long ago. I decided to tell the story of interaction I had with a friend last year that has really bothered me at the time. Through this story, I wanted the audience to know that it is important to speak against prejudices and discrimination even if the offending party may be ‘joking’ about these important social issues.

The overall mood of the podcast is very dry and sarcastic, with a sense of humour. I wanted to establish this mood with my voice, which is very flat and dry while telling the story. I wanted this dryness to illustrate my emotions regarding the events that happen through the podcast – I was tired of dealing with that kind of situations back when it happened, and I am still now, and I wanted to show my tiredness of telling people off on offensive jokes through how flat and bored I sounded. I also change my voice a bit when I’m speaking the lines of other characters to add more diversity to the story, and I raise my voice a bit when I speak as me when I was angry.

I also wanted to enhance this mood with the music, as “the music we listen to shape our perception” (McKee). I wanted the audience to listen to the music on an expressive plane and feel how the music works into the story. The music I decided to use has jazz and hip-hop elements and the vibrancy of the music contrasts my dry narration and adds a nice balance to the podcast. I also considered the context of the music that I used; jazz and hip-hop are both genres of music deeply rooted in African traditions that white people have picked up as mainstream form of entertainment along the history of America. Also the songs sampled in the podcast are by Korean artists, to reflect back on my own cultural background. These contextual elements of the music is relevant to the story of the podcast as in the podcast I talk about a white male individual who has disregarded minorities, when his own life and interests have been so immensely been affected by the groups of people he offended.

I used sound effects of an automated voice reading the definition of ‘accomplishment’ and saying the word ‘accomplishment’ to add onto the sarcastic dark humour of the piece. Moreover, I tried to use silence effectively during moments of reflection. The first moment of reflection comes when the male character says something incredibly offensive, so the audience can reflect on the terrible thing he has just said. I also utilize silence in one other occasion for much shorter than I explicitly mention that there was a moment of silence, to add some tension to the story. I also think the music fading in and out in the end of the podcast also provides a moment of reflection for the audience to think about the themes of the podcast.

Recording and editing a podcast was certainly a very different experience from which I learned a lot. I had no idea how to use sound editing programs and it was nice to get to learn how to use them. I also did not anticipate how hard it was going to be to time everything and pick the correct music samples to use to complete the podcast. If I could do this again, I think I’ll try to improve the recording quality of my narration as there were moments where one could hear extraneous noises that could be distracting.

Sound engineering

An activity-based multimodal theory provides an individual with a variety of open-ended tasks that challenge them to think about how a simple communication objective can be told through various means, using a plethora of resources depending on how they frame or coordinate their response to the communication objective. The individual will be responsible for products they formulate in response to given task (a printed text, film, website, performance), the operations (process of creating the multimodal project), and the resources that will be used to create the project, and the conditions under which the audience will experience the final project. This is a very out-of-the-box approach to the typical communication people may choose. So instead of writing a paper on the objective, one may choose to write it in a series of emails, which might be more effective in getting their message across.

Creating an imaginary space. The story of the student who thought of an American museum of greed was fascinating. As she didn’t have the means to create the space, it remained an imaginary space – but she created other supporting materials to support this imaginary space she could not build in Beverly Hills. She created an audio guide through the museum and a transcript of the tour of the museum. This helped make this project very multi-dimensional – it was no longer just a museum plan on paper. It made the space more imaginative.

De-contextualizing and re-contextualizing your work. The students in the reading were asked to re-think their works, as they were both not completely satisfied with their initial project. This is a very interesting assignment – having gone through the objective once, one may have a better understanding of the message they want to convey. Also, understanding the multi-modal nature of the project better, one may now have even more creative ideas to express their objectives.

sound in multimodal texts

The two multimodal texts I examined were Jason Nelson’s “Conversation: Injury Analysis” and Yoon-Hae Chang’s “The Last Day of Betty Nkomo”.

These two texts both utilize sound very differently from each other. Jason Nelson’s “Conversation” is a multi-layered piece in terms of sound, as it lets you layer different narratives on top of each other. It even lets you control the volume and whether you want to control left and right volumes. You have the control to listen to any of these narratives, as you can turn them off. If you wanted to, you can listen to one story at a time, or you can play all of them together. The usage of sound is definitely more complicated in this piece, with the added control over left and right stereo.

Yoon-Hae Chang’s “The Last Day of Betty Nkomo” is fully controlled by the artist, as once you click to play it you have no control on how the story is told. Most interesting thing about this particular piece is the rhythm of the piece: the words flick in and out in tune with the background music, creating an odd rhythm that makes it easier for you to immerse yourself in the words and the story. The story almost follows the music in this piece, and the words almost seem like they are complementary to the music.

The two pieces differ in how much control we get as the audience, and also in the usage of music. “Conversation” doesn’t use music at all, and relies only on voices and technicalities. On the other hand, we don’t get much control in “The Last Day of Betty Nkomo” and the piece relies very much on the music to help carry the story.

Sounds in This American Life

Sound is used in different ways on NPR’s This American Life to add dynamic to the stories being told. I decided to listen to the October 4, 2013 broadcast of This American Life: Secret identities that talked about secret identities in different circumstances. Ir Glass is the main narrator of the show but for each story, the narrator changes. In this episode, different music and sound samples are used depending on the mood of the story.

The opening of the episode tells the story of the talking Paul Bunyan. As Ira Glass is introducing the story, sound samples from the location is played in the background, taking the audience’s imagination to the location as Ira Glass is telling the story. Eventually the background sound gets louder, and an interaction between the talking statue and other people carry on the story, providing examples of what it is actually like in the situation. Music is used throughout the story to add onto the comical mood of the story. The narration of the story jumps around, starting from the in-studio, to Ira Glass interviewing people about the statue, to the voices of the people being interviewed. There is also usage of silence right after the identity of the talking statue is revealed. Although we do not see the actions visually, through the vivid sound effects (of Ira Glass and co. going up the stairs in the statue), the audience is taken into the experience with them. Ending the story, mysterious magic music is used, and classical music is used to transition into the next story. Music is used very well and it really helps set the mood for the piece. The moment of reflection for this piece is how sometimes it’s better if you don’t know the secret behind the show. This idea carries on throughout the episode, applying to each story in a different way.

The second act of the show tells the story of a shy high school girl who changes 180 degrees when she is dressed up as her school’s mascot. The most interesting usage of sound for this story is how the story is told through different people. At first, Elna Baker starts telling the story. Then it smoothly transitions to Navey who tells the story from her perspective, but still staying with the same narrative. After that, it is Navey’s dad who takes the baton to tell the same story from his perspective. This switches in point of view works very well and it keeps the audience more interested in the story. The story utilizes multiple voices throughout, which keeps things more interesting. The moment of reflection in this piece is when Navey fails to do the cart wheel she could do in the mascot costume. It really is striking how we feel more confident when we are hiding behind a mask and disguise ourselves as someone else.

The third act of the show is bit more grim and serious, as it tells the story of a vigilante who shoots bus drivers in a crime-filled city in Mexico near the border. The music that is used in this story invokes a sense of mystery and suspense at some instances and a sense of tragedy in others and it is used very effectively. Different from the previous light-hearted stories, this story does not use any other voices except the main narrator Yuri Herrera’s voice. Even when he is speaking in the perspective of another woman, it is not voiced by a female voice actor or the person herself, but by Herrera. This consistency makes the story sound more like it is part of a novel that is being read by the author, as opposed to the previous lighter stories that sounded more like an oral documentary or a radio play. The moment of reflection comes at the very end, when Herrera, speaking as the bus driver, says that he is afraid of this Diana figure. He speaks extra low and dramatically when he says this, which adds a nice rhetorical effect to end the story.

The podcast is extremely well-paced as I was never bored of the stories being told, and it was really easy to follow the aural stories. I also liked how the podcast had the cohesiveness around the theme of secret identities, and how diverse the stories were.

Sound matters

  • Voice. Vocal deliveries not only include the words being said, but how they are spoken as well. The tone, accent and emphasis of the vocal delivery can affect the meaning of the story. In a sense, the delivery itself holds meaning in the storytelling. There are several qualities that can carry meaning supporting the main story, such as tension, roughness, loudness, and pitch. The voice has a very intimate relationship with the words as they support each other in order to tell the story. Recently, technology advancement has given us with more possibilities to manipulate voice in order to effectively get the message across.
  • Music. Music is largely used to establish the mood and atmosphere, as the music we listen to shape our perception. McKee talks about how we can listen to music on three planes of music: sensuous, expressive and sheerly musical. When we are listening to music on the sensuous plane, we focus on the medium of the music produced, the quality, and the dynamics or intensity of the sound. While listening to music on the expressive plane, we relate to the music and determine the feelings the music evokes in us. While listening to music on sheerly musical plane, we look at the technicality of the music, focusing on details like rhythm and melody. These planes are helpful in choosing what music to use for your storytelling.
  • Sound effects. Sound effects can do many things, such as provide background for the story, serve as a transition, help in inducing a mood, and act as emotional stimulus. Acting as emotional stimulus was something I have never thought about but sound effects used as emotional stimulus can be very effective.