Black Widow, Baby!

Since we are forming and expanding our Black Widow Agency this week, I feel that we definitely need a theme song to represent what we do. That is why I chose the  “Your Theme Song” assignment, which states:

If you had the opportunity to create your own theme music, what would it sound like? Get creative and create your own sounds or select an instrumental from Youtube or any other source that represents you well. If you are going the youtube route, remember to use VidtoMp3. Once you have selected your background music, find some sounds/effects to incorporate into it using Audacity or other editing software. You can find free sounds at SoundBible. Once completed, upload to Soundcloud and share it with us.

This assignment is worth 4 points.

Given the name of our agency, what song could represent us better than Iggy Azalea’s and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow”?!  The answer is…NONE! The chorus and second verse fit ideally with the seduction and danger that is BWA. In order to create our theme music,  I edited the song to include only these sections and added some of my own effects. For example, at the beginning, I added ambulance siren sounds and a quick voice-over intro, because we honestly do rescue women. In addition, I added a gun shot and more sirens at the end to contribute a sense of intensity, because if we are nothing else, we are definitely four intense women! All of the audio editing was completed in the program Audacity.

This theme song stands for what we believe in as a whole. It captures the mindset of BWA, as this agency will do whatever it takes to untangle the webs that certain men weave, just like a black widow, baby!

Jewel out.

NO-NV Does the Trick!

As a contribution to my group’s radio show and the five points of character assignments this week, I decided to complete the “DS106 Radio Commercial”. However, instead of inventing a product for a movie or TV show character, I fabricated one for my own character, “Jewel”. The prompt states:

Create a commercial featuring an item that you have invented that would be extremely useful to your favorite movie or TV Show character. Try to be as creative and abstract as possible. Must include sound effects or background music and be at least 20 seconds in length.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

With the idea of inventing a perfume that encourages other women to trust the woman wearing it, I went to work developing one. “Jewel’s” good looks, as noted in her character dossier, can be very intimidating to other women. However, she must be able to get these women to trust her, in order to get them out of their damaging relationships. At the same time, she must maintain her irresistibility towards men. My invention, NO-NV (Get it?…No Envy) perfume, does the job!

At first, I had created a type of bronzer that maintains Jewel’s natural look. However, I read the prompt again and focused on the instruction to make the product “as creative and abstract as possible”, so I changed my mind. There is nothing close to my NO-NV on the market today. It revolutionizes the perfume world, as it emits a trusting aroma targeted at women and an attracting aroma targeted at men, concurrently.

I wrote the message for the commercial first. I have listened to many commercials on DS106 Radio and they all start with their target audience, either addressing “Ladies” or “Gentlemen”. By beginning my commercial with the former, I am able to grab the attention of those who will benefit from the product. I also pose two questions, as a way to invite listeners in and get them to answer. After a short description of what the product does for consumers, I offer a free trial if they call the phone number announced or order online. The components of my commercial are typical of any commercial over the radio waves today: an opening, a message, and contact information. Once I constructed the message, I wanted to find background music appropriate for advertising and that would portray a happy vibe. I literally typed “happy instrumental music” into YouTube and after looking through a few videos, I found Jeff Kashiwa’s “Remember When”. It is upbeat, happy, and even has a hint of noir feeling, with the saxophone dominating the jazz track. Then, I imported it into Audacity with my message recording and placed the message about five seconds into the background music. While the message is played, the Amplify effect allowed me to lower the volume of the music, so that my voice can be clearly heard. At the end of the message, I played the music for a few seconds longer and then faded it out. I am very proud of the outcome, as I believe the commercial sounds professional and the product is something that “Jewel” would find extremely useful. Go get your NO-NV perfume today!

“Jewel’s” Calling…G.W.D. (Gym, Work, Drink)

When considering the five points to be dedicated to my character this week, the “Character Bird Calls” assignment grabbed my attention because “Jewel” is attracted to specific things in life, given her nature and profession. By completing this assignment, I am able to add a bit of depth to her character, as well. The prompt states:

Like some people use special whistles to attract birds, your task is to create an 30 second or less audio file that might be used to “call” a particular character from a movie, tv, or real life. It cannot feature voices, but sounds only (try freesounds). Write a description why this sound would be attractive to the character, why it would be effective (be inventive, write a story about it). My first example was calling Dr Oliver because he would not respond to me otherwise

This assignment is worth 2 points.

I began the process by searching for sounds on the FreeSound website. As soon as I read the prompt, I knew exactly which sounds would attract “Jewel”. Three activities that this Femme Fatale treasures are working out, going to work (even though she does not like being a secretary), and drinking. As a woman who uses her beauty and body to manipulate men who degrade their wives, she works out consistently to maintain her well-known figure. She also loves to workout because it clears her mind so she can focus on her second job and plan ways to free women of their authoritarian husbands. Therefore, the first sound that would be attractive to “Jewel” is the sound of running on a treadmill. Nothing lets her devious mind go wild more than running! The second sound represents her dream job as a lawyer. She was accepted into Harvard, but was unable to attend due to her parents’ divorce. “Jewel” longs to be a lawyer, fighting for verbally abused women in the courtroom…legally. Since this dream is likely to never be realized due to lack of funds, it will always be something she longs for and something that catches her attention. The gavel sound would attract this aspiring lawyer any day of the week! The final sound that I chose to attract “Jewel” ties in her favorite drink, a Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini. At the end of a long day working two jobs, one of which can be quite stressful (as removing a man from a woman’s life can take quite a bit of work), there is nothing more that “Jewel” enjoys than having a martini. Whether it is from a bar or she makes one herself, the sound of the liquid filling the class will grab her attention immediately. This combination is the perfect bird call for a hard-working, aspiring lawyer who deserves a drink at the end of the day.

 

A Sultry Bumper for a Sultry Show

In the midst of the first radio show week, I tried to focus my audio assignments on prompts that would contribute to our show idea. Therefore, the first assignment I decided to complete was the “Create a DS106 Radio Bumper”. This would be round two for me with this assignment, as I created one during audio week. However, this time I concentrated on the concept of the Femme Fatale, using sultry music and seductive language. The specific prompt states:

Now that we have a #ds106 radio up and running creating a 15 to 30 second bumper for the station. What is a bumper? It is a short recording that identifies the radio station with signature music or an expression that makes sure the listeners know what they are tuned into (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumper_(broadcasting)). So for ds106 it should certainly include “DS106 Radio” and some sort of message about the station with voice over music.

This assignment is worth 2.5 points.

Considering that our radio show will be set in modern times, with neo-noir Femme Fatales, I searched for more recent sounding background music than classic noir. This search took the most amount of time because I could not seem to find exactly what I wanted, in order to portray sexy and dark at the same time. However, I finally found a mix of instrumental blues music that had the perfect beginning for my thirty-second bumper. The next step was fabricating a message to tie in the seductive nature of the Femme Fatale with an announcement of “DS106 Radio”. I channeled Sandy from “Grease”, as she delivered her famous line, “tell me about it…stud”, when voicing the message, “Hey there ladies and gents, you’re listening to DS106 radio”.  I tried my hand at a raspy and sexy voice. Don’t judge too harshly! :) Although this bumper specifically applies to our show about the “maNOIRpulators”, it also applies in general to the DS106 noir style, as Femme Fatales are a typical noir trope. I utilized Audacity to put the clips together, importing the music track and cutting the section after 30 seconds elapsed, and then recorded a voice-over for the message. I placed the message in the middle of the bumper at about the 15-second mark and used the Amplify effect to lower the music volume in the background as it played. My final touch was fading out the music at the end to avoid an abrupt ending. I did not think I could like a bumper more than my first , but this one might take the cake! :)

Can You Feel It!?

After experimenting with the FreeSound website during audio week, I could not wait to get back at it! I found so many cool sounds when completing the assignments that just did not fit with what I was doing. I took advantage of them this week, however, with the “Emotions Through Sound” assignment. The prompt states:

Try to convey a certain emotion, such as fear, stress, sadness, etc. by combing sound effects. They can be human sounds, such as crying with laughter in the background, to maybe express someone’s fears or being embarrassed, or you can get really artsy and try to convey an emotion by sound effects– like loud noises to show intensity, thunder to show fear, or quick, chirpy noises to show happiness. Edit at least 4 sounds together to show an emotion, upload it to soundcloud and then tag it with the appropriate tags.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

The most difficult portion of this assignment was deciding which emotion to convey. I thought about going with fear, but I felt like it was a bit too easy, given that we had heard so many examples of that one through ds106 radio and other mediums. I began with “excited”, but I was unable to find the sounds effects to convey this emotion in the way I desired. I finalized my choice with the decision to portray “sadness”. I began the process with a search for violin music on the FreeSound website, because most people tend to associate sadness with the sound of this instrument when played slowly. I found the perfect track and laid it down twice in Audacity for the purpose of overall length. My next task was finding three more sounds to edit in with this background music. The first thing that came to mind was the sound of crying. Crying is the sole action that conveys sadness in any form. The three variations that I chose were a woman, a dog (more like howling), and a baby crying. I imported them into Audacity and used the time shift tool to put them one after another in the midst of the violin music. Just listening to it once made me a little depressed. I hope it makes you depressed, too (that did not come off very nice, but I really want my emotion to be conveyed through these sounds :) )!

The Queen BeyHive Jive

When searching for audio assignments to complete, “So and So’s Greatest Hits” grabbed my attention immediately. I have always wanted to create a mash-up of songs from one artist, because I frequently go on YouTube and listen to them based on which artist I am in the mood for that day. The assignment states:

There are some bands/musicians/artists out there who constantly make solid songs/albums. Using Audacity, pick a band/musician/artists and create a mash-up of what you consider to be some of their greatest hits. It needs to be at least 5 songs (if you can’t find 5, then they might not be as great of a band as your think they are) and at least 5 minutes, but feel free to go over if the music is groovin’. Upload to soundcloud and introduce us to your favorite band and their songs! Have fun!

This assignment is worth 3 points.

I knew exactly which artist to choose when tasked with finding one who “constantly makes solid songs/albums”. Since my early childhood, I have listened to all of Beyoncé’s songs and continue to do so. I finally narrowed down seven songs that represent her artistry throughout my lifetime. The songs, “Crazy in Love”, “Irreplaceable”, “Single Ladies”, “Halo”, “Love on Top”, “Drunk in Love” and “Listen”  do so and are also some of my favorites. It was more difficult than I thought, though, to choose only these seven because I kept finding other ones that I love! However, I did not want to make it a 20-minute video, because I do not think many would take the time to listen to it (despite how great it would be).

I used the program Audacity to create this mash-up, and considering it was only my second time, it took hours to accomplish. I began by uploading one song at a time and cutting the parts that I did not want to include. I tried to choose sections that were the most recognizable to listeners, which just so happen to be my favorite parts of the songs, as well. :) I repeated these actions for each of the seven songs in the order stated above. Utilizing the Time Shift Tool, the songs play one after the other, instead of simultaneously. The most difficult task was creating smooth transitions between the tracks. I took to Google to research methods of transitioning. The strategy that worked the best for me was using the Amplify effect. By using Amplify, I was able to select the portion of the songs, usually the very end, that I wanted to be quieter than the rest, so that the next song could begin to play on top of it. This method proved for almost seamless transitions between the tracks while maintaining the quality of each song. The upload to SoundCloud was unsuccessful, however, because of copyright issues. Therefore, upon instruction by Professor Groom, I uploaded it directly to this post.

I was really excited to complete this assignment because it connects to real life, as I will likely listen to this mash-up for some time to come. I enjoy doing noir-related assignments, but finding those that can relate to my life away from ds106 is refreshing, because it adds a whole new appreciation for the concepts learned in this class.

Check out Queen Bey at her finest throughout the years, and I dare you not to dance or at least bob your head to the beat!

She’s the Man…NOT

The “Line remix” audio assignment caught my eye immediately. Do you know why? It is simply because of the “Elf” SoundCloud cover on the example! “Elf” is one of my favorite movies! Although that is what drew me to the assignment, I read the description and knew it would be challenging and creative, so here I go! The prompt states:

Take a famous line from a movie and remix it. to create an entirely new story from just this one line. Get creative, but make sure to have a good balance between what you add and keep to make sure that the line is still regonizable, but tells the story completly differently.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

Despite being set on doing this assignment, I had no clue which movie to choose, let alone which line. It took me a couple days to decide on a movie, after reviewing several of my favorites and looking up their famous quotes. My initial review did not turn up any that, in my opinion, contain one line that would tell the story completely differently if remixed. I finally came across “She’s the Man” (I have no clue why I did not think of it first, because it is in my top 5 movies). I did not even have to look up quotes for this movie, because I have almost every line memorized and knew exactly which one to use. I was able to recite the line verbatim, but double-checked myself for accuracy anyway. The character named Duke states, “It’s just like what Coach says before every game: Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. I think our best chance to be great here today, is to have you play.” If this one line was altered, it would change the movie completely, and not for the better, I might add. In order to create a good balance between what I added and what I kept, the line was transformed into, ” “It’s just like what Coach says before every game: Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. I think our best chance to be great here today, is for you to leave. Get off the field!” As much as it broke my heart to change this line, I think it completed the assignment perfectly. Viola Hastings, the main character, poses as her brother to play on his soccer team after the girls’ soccer program at her school is cancelled. If she is not allowed to play, after the lie is discovered, then instead of her dream being realized, the plot heads in a completely different direction. Even more disappointing, is that she will not be able to date Duke! (played by Channing Tatum…BONUS!)

Click, Clack, Crash… the Many Sounds of “Jewel”

The one required audio assignment this week was “Sound Effects Story”, and it had to be completed in relation to our characters. The prompt states:

Tell a story using nothing but sound effects. There can be no verbal communication, only sound effects. Use at least five different sounds hat you find online. The story can be no longer than 90 seconds. Another example (by a UMW student): http://ds106.us/wp-content/audio/audio_story.mp3

This assignment is worth 3.5 points.

I struggled with beginning the thought-process for this assignment because I wasn’t sure which story about “Jewel” would further her character development and give listeners insight into her persona, without giving too much away, too soon. However, after exploring Free Sound and much deliberation, I picked some sound effects that I could combine to tell the story of “Jewel’s” trip to her first client’s home to talk with the woman about her degrading relationship with her husband. The visit does not go as planned.

“Jewel” enters the unlocked home, per the client’s instructions,  and thinks that Mrs. White may have forgotten the meeting, as she is not there to greet her and the house is silent. Suddenly, there is a crash of glass and the spooked “Jewel” runs in her high heels to hide from the apparent conflict in the other room. She tears out a piece of paper and takes notes on what she hears. Anything to help her client’s case is useful to include. The lights suddenly cut out, so “Jewel” clicks on her flashlight and tries to make her way out of the house. She slowly walks towards the door and, around the corner, she spots the husband with his back turned to her. She gasps! Trying to avoid being seen by the man, she takes off to the door and leaves the house. It is important that her client’s husband does not see her, because she has yet to schedule her separate meeting with him. “Jewel” continues running in the rain to her car and speeds away.

I wanted to tell this story because it conveys the essence of “Jewel’s” job away from her job as a legal secretary. She takes on cases to help women get out of degrading relationships, like the one her mother was in with her father. The husbands of these women have no clue about who “Jewel” truly is because she uses her sexuality to manipulate them. This is typical of a Femme Fatale.

Using Audacity for the first time for this assignment, it proved fairly time-consuming to put the sound effects in the order that I wanted them and to cut out parts that need not be included. I had to use the online Audacity manual to research how to use many of the tools. Overall, I am proud of the final product and really enjoyed using only sound effects to tell a story about “Jewel”. I think it adds a sense of eeriness, which is classic noir.

This Bumper is Bumpin’!

Granted, I have probably heard thousands of radio bumpers in my lifetime from many different radio stations, I was oblivious to their official name, as well as, the process involved with making one. When tasked with creating a bumper for DS106 radio, the prompt states:

Now that we have a #ds106 radio up and running creating a 15 to 30 second bumper for the station. What is a bumper? It is a short recording that identifies the radio station with signature music or an expression that makes sure the listeners know what they are tuned into (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumper_(broadcasting)). So for ds106 it should certainly include “DS106 Radio” and some sort of message about the station with voice over music.

This assignment is worth 2.5 points.

Upon further research of radio bumpers, I found that the two main things that one should focus on are the background music and the message. I searched for noir music and found the perfect track, because it begins with rain pelting in the background, a classic noir trope, and then continues to create a sense of suspicion and tension. It even has a brief section that almost mutes the music, which proved ideal for adding my voice-over message. Once I cut the track to about 28 seconds, it was time to fabricate what I was going to say. This thought process took longer than finding the music, because I wanted it to represent the noir theme in a catchy way, while also relaying the required “DS106 Radio” announcement. When listening to examples on other stations, as well as those made by my peers, I discovered that most say something along the lines of “stay right there, you are listening to so-and-so’s radio”. I kept thinking, “stay right there, stay right there, stay right there”, and then I thought,”freeze”, which is perfect! It is a catchy word that demands attention and is used often by classic hard-boiled detectives. “Freeze! You’re listening to DS106 Radio” is my bumpin’ bumper. I have yet to hear it play on the station, but am excited for my peers to do so, because I think it truly conveys the noir theme and delivers the appropriate message!