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Category Archives: Audio

Combining Audio and Visual: Islam Awareness Week

For this post I worked with a partner to cover an event both with audio and visuals, putting both together in a single slideshow presentation using Soundslides. The goal was to prove that we could combine the two media effectively. The finished project can be viewed here. (Be aware that for some reason the slideshow only seems to play in Internet Explorer).

Poster for the Awareness week on the University of Wyoming Campus. Picture taken by Chris Anselmo.

Poster for the Awareness week on the University of Wyoming Campus. Picture taken by Chris Anselmo.


My partner and I chose to cover Islam Awareness Week at our University. In order to do so, he and I attended events for much of the week, snapping pictures and taking interviews. My partner did the first interview, and the second we conducted after a panel discussion on “Misconceptions of Islam” on April 2.

We spent a lot of time listening to people speak and taking pictures when we got the chance. We took photos at a tent that the Muslim Student Association (MSA) put up the pasture in the middle of campus as a cultural display, during their panel discussion, and at the Arab-American Night the MSA put together on Thursday, April 4.

My partner and I worked together on a lot of the project. I took most of the pictures because I had a better camera, but he recorded the interviews and in fact did one of the interviews on his own when I couldn’t make it. We both edited audio, spliced it together, and then collaborated on the creation of the slideshow, including where the audio went and in what order to put the pictures.

Once we started working with Soundslides things were a breeze. The most difficult part of the assignment was collecting audio and relevant pictures; the software itself was user friendly and largely intuitive. Attending so many events was both trying and helpful. We had plenty of audio and plenty of opportunities for pictures, but it made for a long week of gathering info.

The story we put together finally became about what the awareness week was meant to inform about. Our interviewees talked a lot about how Islam and Muslims had gotten a bad rap from Western and American media. The week was about inclusiveness and releasing ourselves from ignorance, and so that’s what we included in the audio of the slideshow.

For the photographs, we took pictures of people participating in the week, and of the diversity of the MSA and the University. This was definitely the most difficult part of the assignment. Much of what our subjects talked about was hard to put into a picture, and while our story was [i]about[/i] the awareness week, it really came to be about what the Awareness week could and was meant to do, which was a little hard to capture in photographs.

Had I more time, I would have liked to work with the Soundslides software more and polished our slideshow. I still think the slideshow is pretty good, but there were a few things that could have been smoother. I also realized I forgot to put a full identification in the “voice of” parts of the pictures. Instead all I included was a name, and if I could go back I’d make sure to fix that; it was a really lame thing to forget.

Most of the audio is pretty good, though it would have been nice if we had had more opportunities to get ambient noise. I am satisfied with ambient noise that we got, but more could have been used to improve the project.

I enjoyed doing this project. Especially, again, I enjoyed the audio editing process.

Signing off,

Joshua Geiger

 
 

An Edited Audio Portrait

For this assignment I was tasked with editing the rough audio portrait I completed for the last blog post. To do this, I used the free audio editing program Audacity. I edited out about three minutes of content, erased troublesome background noise, and rearranged some of the dialogue to give the story better cohesion. The edited interview can be heard below.

I had a lot of fun editing this interview. I had expected cutting and rearranging audio to be much more difficult than it proved to be. With the silences already in place, it wasn’t actually that difficult to cut out a phrase here or there and still leave the piece sounding natural. I’d even like to work more with it.

I was surprised at how much my recording device picked up. Even the silences are far from actually being silent – there is a constant kind of ground noise that just seems natural to the air. I had unplugged anything that was making noise, and at least to me the room sounded silent, but if I “generated” silence in Audacity it sounded unnaturally quiet.

I appreciate the work that goes into this kind of medium a lot more now. Even if I found editing to be easier than I thought it was going to be, it still took hours and it was disappointing that snaps or crackles from either me or my subject fidgeting ruined pieces of audio for the final piece. Some of that I could cut around, and I figured out that I could make almost all of it sound better, but other noises seemed buried with the voice and I couldn’t isolate them.

What I especially enjoyed was being able to create a sense of organization with the parts of the interview that I chose to include. Though the interview itself did not exactly flow perfectly from subject to subject as we spoke, once I was in Audacity I could move things around and transition from subject to subject more naturally. It helped that I needed to cut out so much anyway, so parts of the interview that didn’t fit could be cut without penalty.

If I could do it again I would attempt to fix the issues I ran into by getting a clearer interview and by working harder to avoid distracting noise while we were talking. You can do a lot with an editing program like Audacity, but you can’t fix everything. I grew comfortable with the program itself quickly though, and didn’t struggle – partially thanks to advice from past students and my instructor.

Thanks for reading,

Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 8:35 pm in Audio

 

Adriana Yankey: A Rough Audio Portrait

Continuing our work with audio journalism, this time I was assigned to interview a friend and record it. I decided to interview a trumpet-playing friend of mine. The rough audio recording can be heard below.

Despite knowing my subject and having questions prepared, I still felt nervous to begin the recording. Having the recorder set between us felt almost like putting up a wall. I mostly enjoyed the experience once we got started, however. I had to do the recording twice because on the first try I didn’t have enough questions prepared to reach five minutes.

One of the things I learned doing this assignment is that once you take on the role of interviewer, everything changes. The audio recorder sitting between us was impossible to ignore. I feel like I need to get a better feel for how long the response to a question is going to be before I ask it, and I also think it would have helped if I had more thoroughly prepared my questions. There are a few places where my questions feel a little disconnected, and I think that affected how she answered.

I enjoyed doing the actual recording, and I am excited to work on editing it. I don’t, however, particularly enjoy doing interviews. I also learned that the recording device is very sensitive, and even though I worked hard not to fidget there are still a few places where there is some interfering noise.

If I did it over I think I would spend more time working on how I was going to conduct the interview and thinking about what I wanted to get out of it. I would practice my questions so they don’t come off so confused. I think I have the hang of how sensitive the iPhone’s recording device is finally, so that, at least, shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

 

Thanks for reading,

Joshua C. Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 5:10 pm in Audio

 

Ambient Noise and Counting to Ten: Audio

Over the past week I was instructed to carry around an audio recording device (in my case, an iPhone 4) and record ambient noises. Below are six of the sounds I recorded.

The first ambient noise I recorded was traffic driving past me as I walked down Grand Avenue in Laramie. This kind of ambient noise might be used in audio journalism stories about car accidents or a stretch of highway. It might also be used as a transition where traveling in a car is involved.

The second ambient noise in this set is a shower turning on and running. I recorded this in Crane Hall, the dorm hall where I live. This sound might be used in an audio story about morning activities, hygiene, or anything to do with changes in water supply or the water system.

The third sound was taken while I was standing in line at a Walmart check out. Though this sound was recorded at a Walmart, the ambient noise could be used in almost any story that involves a large store, to set the scene or to introduce a story about holiday season shopping.

The next sound was taken in a classroom, a few minutes before class started. The sound mostly consists of mumbled voices, and only a few words can be picked out. This kind of sound might be used in a story about High School students and changing standards or problems with attendance or graduation rates.

Ambient noise number five is a recording of me brushing my teeth in the bathroom at Crane Hall. This is another sound that could be used in a story about morning hygiene, or more specifically in a story about dental health or the profile of a dentist.

The final ambient noise is the sound of my car starting. At the end of the recording the car is going into gear. I recorded this sound in a parking lot. This ambient noise might be used in an audio story about cars and the damage they do to the environment, or in a story about car trips during the summer.

Preparing myself for audio journalism, the second part of the assignment served as an introduction to audio editing. I was assigned to familiarize myself with the free audio editing program Audacity. For this assignment I recorded myself counting to ten completely out of order, and then used the program to reorder the recording so that it is in order. Both recordings are playable below.

This was my first experience with audio editing. While I have recorded brief things before, I have never used any kind of program to edit that recording. I did mess around a little with Apple’s GarageBand in high school.

That being said, I was certain I would be able to figure out the program with a little practice, and I am not the least bit afraid of editing or audio journalism in general. I like the idea of recording my own voice, and except for some small issues with the recording device I didn’t have any problems completing this assignment. When I recorded myself counting to ten, I did my best to leave space between each number and to include those realistic pauses in the edit. The biggest issue was that I let myself drop the pitch on the number nine (the last number I said out of order) which does not sound all that natural in the reordered recording.

Thanks for reading,

Josh Geiger

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 3:58 pm in Audio