cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Brian Utesch (shutterBRI)

Finally, a good slice, after a really good class.

Slice 13: A Good Slice

This was recorded after class on Monday February 20, after having returned from a weekend trip to Canada, in which I came back bearing a cough.

Tonight’s class was really good in terms of energy, both mine and the students, as we started our two week section on audio (see notes for this class).

I began with some intros to examples where audio was important, e.g. War of Worlds, some videos that showed the work of Foley artists, and the sound team that does live effects for Praire Home Companion (the amazing Fred Newman).

After seeing Jim’s section, I noticed that I tend to cut off the videos a little quick, I should let them see the whole thing, or more than I have been showing.

I then told the class they would make noise in class. They seemed intrigued, especially bby the arrangement of junk on the front table- foil, a phone book, plastic bags, newspapers, pliers, a stapler, some old dell mous pads — all things I showed could be used to make sound effects.

I was demoing these, like how hitting a phone book could sound like a punch, or making that horse galloping sound by clapping and hitting your thighs– one student said, “you are really having fun with this” — and that is true, and key maybe to why this class went better (?)

I reminded them how subtle but important sound is (Jim had a great line quote about how not scary horror movies would be w/o sound effects).

The gem was my devised in class activity, based on an idea I had from Skyping the night before with Scott Lockman, to have them make sounds using every day objects — before even going to software. My idea was to have them form teams of 3-4 people, and assigned each group a different 30 second clip from the Charlie Chaplin silent film “In the Lions Cage”. The would have to devise sound effects to play live when we regrouped (playing the video w/o the music track).

This was like magic- the groups got really into it, and it was a joy to see them get inventive on how to make sound effects. I recorded their audio effects on my iPhone, and added it as a sound track- here is the new version:

I next played bits from an episode of RadioLab I had listened to on the drive down to Fredericksburg this morning. I had brought it into Audacity, and put markers at locations I wanted to show them things like bumpers, quick edits, overlaying of audio, sound effects, etc.

After this was a quick demo in audacity, recording, checking levels, basic copy paste, effects — to show them what they would be doing wednesday in class. Their homework is to come in wednesday with sounds they could use to make a sound effect story in class.

I am worried now that I am coming down with cold (and this turned out to last a week), but found myself reflecting back to the ds106 radio conversation I caught last night between Dr Garcia and Scott about bringing the “whole self” to teaching, and to me, that is the reason why tonight’s class seemed to go better to me, in that I made it my own, had some fun, and just tried to be as natural as I could.

This was a good slice, a very good slice. I’ll have another please.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. It was a good slice. I listened to 13 tonight and 11 & 12 yesterday.

    Hats off to you for soldiering on with the recordings. And thank you for sharing them.

    It made me smile to hear you tell about when the student observed that you seem to enjoy what you’re doing. That’s the sort of thing one wants to put on a bottle to display on a shelf.

    I’m so happy the foley group activity with the film clip went well.

    It was fun brainstorming the day before and I hope for the chance to do it again someday.

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