After learning basic techniques for audio editing in the tutorials, it’s now time to start the third unit project in this course: your Audio Story. Students often find the editing tools for audio easier than the first two units, but this means it’s all the more important to plan your project carefully and gather high-quality audio to work with.
Here are answers to some questions that commonly come up about the Audio Story:
What counts as a “story,” and what formats are recommended? There’s a lot of freedom over the format of your audio story, but whatever format you choose should sound planned and deliberate. To count as a story, it should have a clear beginning, middle and end. This doesn’t mean it needs to be a “once upon a time” sort of story, but that you should guide your listener through the content and consider using narrative elements like anecdotes and a concluding moment of reflection (as described in the audio chapters).
Does it need to include an interview? There’s no requirement about interviewing someone for your Audio Story, but you should record and use a variety of voices and sounds to construct your story. If you narrate most of it yourself, think about what other sounds — ambient sound, sound effects, music, etc. — will help tell your story effectively.
What if I can’t get all my interviews/material this week? As long as you submit a draft that shows reasonable progress, you can continue adding material until the final version is due. However, mention any incomplete aspects in your blog post so you can still get helpful feedback.
How much should the story relate to my course topic? Like all portfolio projects, the audio story should have a clear connection to your course topic. However, it does not need to encapsulate everything about your topic. Specific stories are often more successful than broad ones that try to cover too much.
Week 8 Checklist
❑ Read the Week 8 materials listed on the Course Schedule
❑ Post and submit the Raw Audio Footage assignment by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday
❑ Post and submit your Draft Audio Story by 11:59 p.m. on Friday
❑ Take the Unit 3 Quiz in Blackboard by 11:59 p.m. on Friday
After finishing up Unit 2 last week, we’re now halfway through the course and ready to begin Unit 3: Audio Editing and Adobe Audition. This is a big shift from the visual design we focused on during the first half of the semester — many students find audio storytelling to be more fun, but if you’re a visual learner be prepared for a challenge.
Compared to the previous two units, there are fewer tools and techniques to learn in Audition. But that means it’s that much more important to collect high-quality audio and think about how to structure a story, and this week’s chapters provide important concepts, tips and examples. Take time this week to listen through some of the podcasts and radio segments recommended in the Introduction to Audio Storytelling chapter, and you’ll have much stronger ideas for your own audio project.
For this week’s assignment, note that for the third tutorial you’ll need to record several very brief interviews. I’d recommend reading the instructions right away so you can plan ahead for that part even if you don’t start the tutorials until later.
Week 7 Checklist
❑ Complete the Audition Tutorials assignment by Friday
❑ Read the Week 7 materials listed on the Course Schedule
This week we finish up Unit 2 with peer feedback and the final version of your Logo Project. It’s been great to see your ideas so far! However, there are also some common issues with the logo draft — see if these apply to you:
Not fully scalable. It’s a key characteristic of logos that they can be used very large (think billboards and T-shirts) or very small (think business cards and social media icons). Small text, narrow outlines and borders, and too much complexity all hurt scalability because those details will disappear at small sizes.
Too colorful. Color choice can add meaning to your logo, but too much can look unprofessional and distract from your message. The most iconic logos can be rendered in black-and-white, and this is a good test: Does your logo still make sense without color?
Too timid. Simplicity is a virtue. But stay too safe, and a logo can never be very distinctive. There should still be strength and energy, and make sure to choose elements that uniquely represent you and your topic.
Understanding the Rubric
Final projects in this course are graded to a very high standard, which is balanced by all the other assignments graded for completion. You can find the rubric goals at the end of the assignment, and the full rubric is available in Blackboard. Back in Unit 1 there was an FAQ video explaining the rubric categories, and that still applies now if you want to review.
If you completed all the Illustrator tutorials, great work! This week you’ll be applying those skills creatively to make your Draft Logo after first sketching your idea. Before you begin, make sure to go through this week’s chapters and read about the characteristics of successful logos so you can stay focused on the final goal.
Week 5 Checklist
❑ Read the course materials listed for Week 5
❑ Complete the Logo Sketch assignment by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday
❑ Submit your blog post for your Draft Logo by 11:59 p.m. on Friday
❑ Take the Unit 2 Quiz in Blackboard by 11:59 p.m. on Friday
After finishing up Unit 1 last week, we’re now moving on to Unit 2: Vector Graphics and Adobe Illustrator. The pattern of each unit should start to seem familiar — we’ll start with tutorials to explore the software, then apply those skills and principles from the course readings to create a multimedia project that relates to your course topic. In this unit, you’ll be making a logo.
Illustrator is a bit of a divisive unit: for some, this is their favorite unit! That includes Lisa Waananen-Jones, the instructor who originally designed this course, who used Illustrator when she worked for The New York Times. However, this is frequently students’ least favorite unit in COM 210, because Illustrator is less familiar than Photoshop and less intuitive than audio and video editing.
If you have not yet submitted your Final Graphic Design Project, make sure to do this! The final projects for each unit of this course are worth a lot of points. It can be submitted for partial credit through this Wednesday.