Idea and Inspiration
For this project, I needed to make a one to two minute audio story or interview with either narration and relevant ambient sounds and/or music, or my questions and someone else’s answers. I decided to do a brief “how to” that would explain my secret to doing excellent professional digital media. The secret is asking yourself critically, “What is my work ethic?”
This secret should help any budding digital media professional to see the importance of examining the motives one has for doing work and the sort of character one embodies when doing that work. I really believe that the way you think about this topic can totally change what quality of work you create.
I started out by asking myself, “What kind of story should I do that would help explain my purpose and qualifications for writing this blog?” It needed to be clearly applying to my topic and helpful to my audience. While I was interested in the reporting aspects of this week’s lessons, I really felt this project needed to be more of a brief, rhetorical monologue rather than a typical narrated story or interview. I felt that I needed to explain my personal paradigm concerning work and the benefits and consequences of it, almost as if it were a mini-radio commercial.
In the design process, it is important as much as possible to look at a variety of examples or ideas to come up with the right direction. In the case of this project, I researched by exploring a few audio stories on a few different sites, like This American Life, Northwest Public Radio, and Freakonomics. The result was listening to some stories that I don’t really identify with that much, which is why I’m not linking to them, except for the news update on the political battle for the Washington State Senate seat that is open (NWPR).
Sometimes, like in this case, we do research to find out what we don’t want to do, which can help to lead us more strongly towards doing an idea we already had and wanted to see if there was anything better to consider first. To complete this design, I implemented the two basic parts of an audio story mentioned in the reading, anecdotes and contemplative pauses. Anecdotes tend to be the sequences of action in an audio story, like consecutive events in a news report or different accounts in a witness’ testimony. Contemplative pauses are the moments when one asks a question, like after or in between anecdotes, which are meant to bring about some change in one’s thoughts.
Initially, when I recorded my raw audio story track, I wanted to do a really well organized rhetorical message about work ethic. However, once that was done, I realized I had to reconsider the idea due to the length of what I had previously written (five minutes or so). I felt it would really benefit the listener to have a very brief message consisting of a hook (a probing question) followed by alternating anecdotes and contemplative pauses regarding media content production, so I had to work to condense it till it was right. This meant that after I did the research, I recorded, edited and re-recorded a bit, then edited again.
So, as I mentioned above, my process was drastic. As we heard from This American Life’s Ira Glass this week in one of the required videos, it’s good to drastically reduce or “kill” some of your work in order to let something better come out. I started out with a five minute long speech and wound up with a two minute commercial. I also started out making some intro music by whistling, since I couldn’t find my harmonica, but that eventually got replaced by some electronic music I found online.
Since I have a small and relatively quiet office with carpet in the back of my house where I do most of my homework, I didn’t have too much trouble doing the recording. One thing I had to account for was making sure I set aside time in the evenings to record when my kids weren’t in the family room outside my office playing. I recorded my voice tracks (and re-recorded) using Adobe Audition, so the work went pretty smoothly. Even though I used Adobe software for this project, I’m pretty sure I could’ve used Audacity, which is a free, open source audio editing program. I didn’t have to do any advanced editing except to cut tracks and redo certain parts that I wanted to splice back in later.
I think the hardest thing for me with this project was making my voice sound consistent and compelling. When I first recorded the five minute raw audio, it sounded really choppy, awkward, and forced. With the rough draft, I had to re-record most of the talking and make sure my voice sounded natural, conversational, and pleasant to some degree. I’m glad I’m not trying to become a radio personality 😉
My only tips are to make sure you have a good environment to record in, make sure you try to speak consistently when possible and appropriate, and feel free to redo something you said wrong as soon as you notice that you messed up. Editing will be easier later!
Sources and Materials
I only used to tracks in this work. The first was simply me speaking. The second was a song called Santa Harmonica by Strong Suit. I found the song on Free Music Archive and downloaded it. It’s licensed under Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial, Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 US). FMA was one of the free audio resources given in the class readings for this unit, which was very helpful.
Hopefully, you’ve found this post helpful and enjoyed the lesson on having a good work ethic. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below so you can help me do even better in making digital media. Also, if you feel like talking with me more about this topic, feel free to head over to my contact page to start a new discussion. Thanks for reading and have a great day!