Saturday, 19 January 2019

Exploring Audacity

Audio Editing

This week our main focus was to learn how to work with audio using the computer program Audacity.

Students learned how to:
  • download audio files from both the sd67 portal and from sound effects websites
  • import audio into Audacity
  • cut sections of audio
  • add a second audio track
  • move audio tracks
A screenshot showing audio tracks in Audacity.
Students chose one of the audio recordings of the 'When Suddenly...' stories we had made in earlier classes and then chose sounds effects to go with the stories.  The emphasis was on exploring and learning new skills and not trying to come up with a final polished product.  

We are using Audacity because the school district has it on its list of approved software, but it would be my first choice anyway since it has lots of great functions and it is free, open source software.  If any of the students really gets into working with audio, they can download a free copy for Mac, Linux or Windows.  See the Audacity tab on this website for more info as well as short some short video tutorials on how to do the basics in Audacity.

Microphone Skills and Storytelling

This week we tried a different storytelling activity called 'Once Upon A Time'.  Before starting the story each person was asked to think of a person, place or thing.  We then went around the class with each person contributing a sentence to the story, but they had to include their person place or thing in the story.  It was pretty fun and we got some interesting stories!  We recorded the stories again using the field recorder.  Students are getting quite good at holding the microphone the correct distance from their mouth and at a good angle so as to avoid getting popping sounds (plosives). 

Coming Up

Pretty soon students will be ready to do their own recordings and editing them.  That's when things will really get interesting!

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Ready, Set, Design!

This week was our first time together for over a month -- I think it is safe to say that we were all pretty excited to get back into the groove!  We also welcomed three new students to the program -- I'm optimistic that we didn't scare them off and that they will be with us next week too...   

When Suddenly...

We combined learning how to use the field recorder and practicing our storytelling skills.  "When suddenly..." is s storytelling activity where each person in the group adds a sentence to the story and ends their bit with the words "when suddenly..."  Students said their part of the story into the field recorder -- we are learning how far away to hold the recorder, at what angle to hold it and how to adjust if we are whispering or yelling.  In the weeks ahead students will learn how to edit audio, starting with editing these stories!

Design Challenge

All of the classes did the Ready, Set, Design Challenge.  It is based on an activity described here.  Each student (or pair) received a paper bag containing a slip of paper with the challenge “I need to keep my hands warm”, as well as 2 paper coffee filters, 3 thin plastic straws, and 3 large paper clips.  With the materials in the bag, students had 15 minutes to come up with a prototype that addressed the challenge.  And it was challenging!  They could use tools to work with the materials, but they couldn't add anything new to the structure (like tape).  The materials were a little difficult to work with, but all of the participants came up with interesting solutions. 

At the end of the 15 minutes students shared their designs with the class.  We had solutions that were similar to mittens or muffs, solutions that involved blowing warm air into the cavity where you placed your hands, a double ended lamp, and so many other possibilities.  There was lots of revising and rethinking during the design process.  The conversations between students were great!  I haven't tried this activity before, but I think it is a keeper!  Below are some photos of students working on their designs (link).

Structure of a Radio Show

In preparation for our big radio project, we listened to the first 8 - 10 minutes of Road Trip Radio Episode 1 (link).  The goal was to get a sense of what a variety style radio show sounds like.  We identified the following parts of the show:
  • introduction with theme music
  • what the show is about
  • fun facts
  • coming up later...
  • interviews
  • you're listening to...
Students are starting to generate ideas about what they'd like to include in our show.  Those who aren't keen to have their voice on radio, can be involved in scripting, recording, editing, sound effects, researching... well you get the picture -- there's a lot more to it then recording your voice!

Coming Up

Over the next few weeks students will be learning how to edit audio and they will be getting more experience with the field recorders.

Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to!