Week 12: The Final Unit

Your assignment this week: Watch that documentary you’ve been meaning to see. Check out the viral videos you’ve been resisting. Binge on that TV show your friend recommended.

This week we begin Unit 4: Adobe Premiere and Video Storytelling with a brief break from COM210 assignments. There are readings to do, but no deadlines this week.

However, get a head start by paying close attention to the video content you encounter. What is the format? How does it catch your attention? What type of shots are used? And does it make use of both audio and visuals to present the story? Thinking critically about how videos are constructed will help as you begin your own video projects this unit.

Week 12 Checklist

❑ Go through the readings for Week 12
❑ Look into the extra credit opportunities if you haven’t already
❑ Check your grades in Blackboard and speak with your TA about any questions or concerns

That’s it!

Tips: Improving your audio quality

Would your Audio Story sound better with higher-quality recordings? Here are some tips. (Photo via Pixabay)

This post is by TA David, with advice for improving your Draft Audio Story.

Your draft is completed, but now you realize there are some issues with background noise in one (or several) of your audio clips. What can be done about that?

There are several tools in the software that you can try to use, but they are often difficult to use, can make the audio quality worse, and are time consuming.

As annoying as it may sound, your TAs think the best option is to just rerecord the clip. That means getting access to your interviewee, redoing your narration, or going back to wherever you found background audio and trying again. In most cases, this is actually the simpler, faster, and more effective option.

So, here’s how to make sure you get the audio you want.

1. Brush up on the readings.

Yes, this is a half-answer, but there really is some good stuff in those.

2. Pick a location.

Look for a spot where you know if is going to be quiet during the recording. The dorms, during the day, are often pretty quiet (not so much in the evening). Also try the WSU library. You can reserve a study room to work in or find an out of the way corner. One of those tables right by the entrance probably is not idea because there will be a lot of food traffic. One other good option is classrooms in the afternoon or evening. Once classes are over, the main buildings are mostly empty but still open. Some of the lobby areas would likely work well.

3. Scope out the spot.

Double check a day before the recording to make sure it is empty, open, and quiet. Is it busy during that time of day? Will you be able to have access? Does your subject know how to find the location? Consider all these to reduce disruptions and maximize your recording time.

4. Create a space.

Move chairs and tables so that your mic is an idea distance from the speakers. Are there noisy fans that can be turned off or lights that buzz? Can a door be closed to reduce noise from the hallway? Are there papers that can rustle or chairs that squeak constantly? Limit these before you start recording for the best audio.

5. Try a test recording.

Leave your mic recording for a minute and try some test sentences and silence. Then listen to the recording and see if there are any issues. This is probably the most important step because the mic will pick up things you might not realize. Knowing early will help you reduce the frustration in the editing process.

It may seem like a lot, but following these steps will make your life a lot easier.

Week 11: Listening and Revising

After you started your Audio Story last week, we’re now in another week of feedback and revisions to improve your project for the final version. Here are a few tips for making sure your story is as strong as possible:

Watch out for copyrighted material! Review the copyright materials from the beginning of the semester or the Creative Commons Audio chapter if you’re unsure about what you can legally use. Also use common sense — if you find a recent hit song labeled as free-to-use on SoundCloud or another website, this most likely means someone else uploaded it illegally, not that you can use the song.

Go beyond the tutorials. Your Audio Story should show that you can use and combine the Audition skills from the tutorials in new ways. It’s perfectly fine to include an interview or vox pop segment in your Audio Story, but make sure you are using those techniques in effective or creative ways that aren’t just a copy of the tutorials.

Use the strengths of audio. Think about the difference between talking on the phone vs. reading an email, or the difference between listening to a song vs. reading the lyrics — emotions and feelings come through more effectively when we hear voices and sounds. Think about how to use those strengths to make your Audio Story memorable and interesting.

Guide your listener. Compared to visual media, audio gives your audience very few clues about what to expect. Guide your listener through your content by using appropriate music, introductions and transitions.

Listen to your sound multiple ways. If you’re mostly editing with headphones, make sure to also listen out loud once or twice, and vice versa. Avoid editing with earbuds altogether, if possible. This is essential for making sure your audio sounds consistent and balanced.

Week 11 Checklist

❑ Complete the Audio Story Feedback assignment by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday
❑ Post and submit your Final Audio Story by 11:59 p.m. on Friday
❑ Complete your Unit 3 Participation Credit by Friday

Tip: Rent recording gear (no cost!)

Rent professional Zoom recorders and other gear from Academic Media Services! Photo courtesy Ruth Gregory
Rent professional Zoom recorders and other gear for free. Photos by Ruth Gregory/WSU

Not so impressed with the quality of audio recorded with your smartphone? On-campus students in Pullman can rent media equipment from Academic Media Services for free. The rental desk is located in Holland 150.

  • No cost if you’re using equipment for coursework, so make sure to mention COM210!
  • 24-hour checkouts, or all weekend (get it Friday and return on Monday)
  • Zoom audio recorders are professional quality, acquired for upper-division communication courses but available to anyone
  • Camcorders, smartphone tripods and other gear will be useful for Unit 4
  • They’re always getting new and cutting-edge gear, so it’s always worth it to see what’s available.

Week 10: Crafting your Audio Story

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 10 Checklist

❑ Read the Week 10 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