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Class Projects

General Information About the Projects

As described in the syllabus, each student is required to complete 3 basic exercises/projects during the coming semester. Projects will be turned in to the Instructor on a flash drive and/or a data CD/DVD. Flash drives will be returned to you the following week, if not sooner.

The Current Events podcast, Creepy Radio Promo, and Audio Book projects may be worked on as individuals or in teams of 2 (or 3, if the instructor approves). Projects are a large portion of your grade, so take them seriously.

Deadlines

Deadlines to turn in all projects will be announced during the semester, based on the progress of the course. Unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor, late projects will be penalized; and projects not turned in by the Final Deadline will be graded as failure.

Strive to turn in your projects early enough in the semester that you are not rushed against the deadlines. Projects submitted in a timely manner allow the Instructor a chance to evaluate what you have done and to give you constructive feedback. Then, the project can be improved and re-submitted for a higher grade. But if you wait until the end of the semester, you will lose the opportunity to fix things, and will have to settle for the grade you receive.

In all cases, the last Deadline for all projects is the week before Final Exams (the last official teaching day). Projects turned in after that date, are considered as having missed the Client's deadline and may be penalized. Missing an important deadline can be catastrophic in the real world.

Note that projects that were turned in at least one full week before the Last Day of Instruction and reviewed/returned by the Instructor may be re-submitted as late as Finals Day.

Equipment Rentals

Equipment availability is a problem that you are expected to learn to deal with. Do not wait until the last minute to make your equipment reservations! Do not seriously expect most equipment to be available over holiday weekends, when most student films are being shot.

When you do check out equipment, take some time and make sure that everything is present and that everything works! Do not leave the checkout room until you have gone through everything very carefully. Remember, not only will faulty or missing equipment jeopardize your project, but it is your signature on the rental contract and you can be held financially liable! Note that the Equipment Room personnel have been instructed to purposely include defective equipment in your package, in order to insure that you take the time to properly prep your gear!

There are solutions to the equipment shortage. Plan ahead, order early. Work in groups! Rent or borrow equipment from outside sources. (Remember, the money that you are not spending on textbooks can be pooled and used to rent gear.)

Don't Be Afraid to Ask!

Finally, don’t be afraid to call your instructor. My primary function is to help you learn, not to rule by terror.


REQUIREMENTS

The following are required for ALL projects!

Project Packages

Package all paperwork and materials from ALL team members in a neatly labeled manila envelope along with your project, so everything is together. In the real/reel world, neat packaging & professional presentation are important, so get used to it.

Always include your first and LAST names. I deal with a lot of students; not just from this class. Any names handwritten and added to a paper or project after it has been formatted & printed will not count.

Each project packet should include:

1) Your Project Media

The Current Events, Creepy promo, and AudioBook projects must be turned in as digital audio files, formatted in the preferred industry formats of WAV or BWF; along with a second copy in MP3. Always submit your work in either 16bit/48k or 24bit/48k.

Also include as a separate file from your project itself, a Header ID file that includes verbal information about your (WAV) files, such name of the project, your name, file format, track format, duration, timecode (if applicable), and reference tone level, followed by 30 seconds of tone. This insures that your project files would be played back correctly.

Digital audio files can be contained on a flash drive (with your name affixed or hang tagged) or a data CD/DVD (neatly labeled and in a protective sleeve or case).

There is no excuse for a CTVA major to not know how to create a standard data CD/DVD. Make sure that your disk plays correctly in a machine other than where you burned it.

2) Index / Log Sheet (aka Table of Contents)

All recorded projects MUST include a detailed index/log sheet identifying each file being submitted on the disk/flashdrive. At the top of the sheet should be general Header information (if applicable), including your name, project title/name, and recording specs (type of file such as WAV or MP3; format such as mono, dual mono, stereo; bit/sampling rate; timecode frame rate or statement that there is no timecode; what the reference tone level is).

Then, logically show the contents of the disk. Each index or log entry should show: folder, computer filename, corresponding scene/take number or project working name, verbal slate if different than scene/take, description, and general comments.

The index sheet should accurately reflect and describe what is on the submitted media only. It is neither a sound report nor a history of your shooting day (see below); but rather a table of contents for what is on the disk you are submitting to the client. Do NOT include on your disk any additional files that are not intended for client review. If you are containing files within folders, then include that path in your Index. (Project 3 Folder>Dragon AudioBook take 2)

Make sure that the file names, as read on the media, match what is on the log. Each index or log entry should show: folder, computer filename, corresponding scene/take number or project working name, verbal slate if different than scene/take, description, and general comments.

For more information about index / log sheets, read this article

3) Sound Report

For all three projects, include a copy of your Sound Report as well. This will include information about all the raw takes recorded during the entire live recording sessions (narration, dialog, interviews, sound FX, etc) that you conducted using microphones and portable recorder; not just the finished or selected version that you want the client to see. The Sound Report would have been for the Editor, to help sort out all of the takes (every recording start/stop) that were used as raw material for the finished products. Do NOT submit the raw take files with your project; only a copy of your paper sound report for the professor to see.

For more information about sound reports, read this article

4) Summary

In addition to the recording or project itself, each student is required to write a brief summary discussing the equipment/techniques, problems encountered, and general findings or conclusions for each project. Although some projects may be completed as groups, summary reports must be written on an individual basis. This report allows you to discuss not only what happened when you did the projects, but what you might have done differently if presented with the opportunity. Since groups rarely contribute equally, your paper is a chance to rise above the lowest common denominator, so to speak. The summary paper is not an essay nor a reiteration of lectures; instead, it is an informal opportunity to fill me in on how things went. Make it as short or long as you need to.

Header ID's

Whenever you are recording raw audio (or video) during a recording session, you always want to include a Header ID file along with each batch of takes. All recorded projects MUST include a header ID and reference tone file, separate from the project file itself. Video projects should include color bars along with audio tone.

First thing recorded onto any recording is the verbal Header I.D. Include your name, course, semester, and project title. Also include audio track format (mono track, two-track, etc.), type of recorder, the recording specs such as bit rate & sampling rate, the timecode frame rate (23.97, 24, 29.97 drop, 29.97 non-drop, 30 non-drop, or just “no timecode”), and what is the upcoming reference tone level (usually minus 20dB). Then go ahead and record 30 seconds of tone.

Special Note: you will be asked about header i.d.’s on a few written tests, so study the preceding paragraph!!

In ALL INSTANCES, remember to slate every scene/take. Each take should be accompanied by a verbal slate, indicating scene/take , along with a visual clapstick slate (if video).

Back up your Pro Tools sessions!

There are two extremely important work habits that you must adhere to while working on your projects in Pro Tools. The first is to SAVE as often as possible. If you are making significant editing changes, always save your project as a new version first— so that you always have a copy of your previous work to return to if the experiment fails.

At the end of each editing session, back up all of your work onto your large flash drive or external hard-drive. Remember to use the SAVE COPY IN command, and ITEMS TO COPY> AUDIO FILES. That allows you to re-open your project (with media) on another physical computer.

 


Project 1: CURRENT EVENTS with INTERVIEW (two versions)

Locate an interesting (current events or socially relevant) article, either from a printed publication or the internet, and edit the body of text for length. Read it aloud to yourself so that it will time out to between thirty seconds to one minute of spoken word.

Using either a computer interface or a portable digital audio recorder, plan to record this (30 seconds to one minute) informative background material.

In addition, think in terms of the final presentation. You need some sort of introductory show opening for your podcast that you would later mix over some theme music, including the name of your podcast “series” and a line or two announcing today’s topic. The intro will lead into your background story.

At the end of your podcast, provide us with a very brief closing segment, also mixed over your theme music: thanking the audience for listening and reminding them to tune in to your next podcast.

Recording format should be monaural (or dual mono) @ 16 bit/48k or 24 bit/48k WAV.

Remember, always record a Header ID at the beginning of every live recording session, or whenever you change media such as a new memory card or hard drive.

Now, you are ready to begin recording content.

When you need to stop & restart on account of flubbed lines, remember to always do a verbal slate at the beginning of each new take. Fill in a sound report during all of your recording sessions, keeping track of every take, to help you sort them later.

Now that you have recorded the background premise of your podcast, it is time to interview your subject in order to bring this topic “to life”.

Use a portable digital audio recorder (such as the Zoom) along with a handheld microphone to conduct an eight question interview with a person of your choosing. The interviewee may answer truthfully, or role play.

Time for some audio editing!

Your project format remains at 16bit/48k or 24 bit/48k mono.

Begin by cleaning up your introductory 30 second to one minute background piece. Use Pro Tools to edit out the vocal glitches, assemble the best takes, and make it all sound absolutely professional. (You are studying to be a professional, right?)

Remember that your initial background story should be between 30 seconds to one minute in duration.

Next, put together the interview. Use only three or four of the questions and responses to create an edited and finished podcast of not more than 3 minutes total running time (including your background article). Edit the content of the interview portion so that your audience will feel positive and sympathize with the interviewee.

Include your intro and closing, along with opening and closing theme music.

“Save As” your edit session, complete with all audio files, of course. Export (bounce) the podcast as a WAV file, and also an MP3 file.

Stir the pot and manipulate the outcome!

Create a second version of the same premise and interview, except that you will re-edit the content so as to leave the audience with a negative attitude towards the interviewee. You may draw material from any of your recorded takes, from any of the original eight questions, from any out-takes. Lift phrases out of context; maybe even edit or-record new questions (but you may NOT record new answers) — thus representing the epitome of exploitative journalism.

Present your work to the client!

Upload both versions to your flash drive, or burn them to a data CD/DVD.

Your paperwork should include a summary paper from each team member; the Sound Reports from your recording sessions; and an index/log sheet (aka table-of-contents) indicating the files on the media that you are turning in.


Project 2: Creepy Radio Promo

For this exercise, you will create a 45 or 60 second, Halloween, Horror, or Zombie themed radio promo/ commercial.

Running time must be exactly 45 or 60 seconds. If you are off by a few seconds, use your software’s capability to compress/expand TIME. (time shift). Work in either 16 bit/48k or 24 bit/48k.

Your client could be a Halloween retail store or amusement theme park; perhaps some sort of teaser for a Zombie movie, TV show, computer game, whatever. Come up with something!

Make it creepy and scary. Use Narration or Announce track to prime or maintain your audience’s focus. You can add some spoken dialogue from other characters; but also rely on musical cues and sound effects. Human grunts, groans, screams, heavy breathing, and mutilation are okay. Keep in mind that this is a commercial or promo; you are trying to motivate the listener into taking some sort of future action on behalf of your client.

Music must be obtained from a cleared, royalty free music library or original composition; you may NOT raid your iTunes collection of copyright protected and use restricted popular music!

Remember that you are ultimately trying to sell something or communicate something to the radio audience. Get their attention, creep them out, entertain them, but ultimately motivate them to take an action that will achieve the goal of your client.

Export your finished podcast in WAV as well as MP3 formats and submit them to the client on your flash drive or a data CD/DVD.

Your paperwork should include a summary paper from each team member; the Sound Reports from your recording sessions; and an index/log sheet (aka table-of-contents) indicating the files on the media that you are turning in.


Project 3: Audio Book Podcast

With a partner from class (or by yourself if you choose), your assignment is to record, edit, sound design, mix, and output the following audio book: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PDF materials provided)

Remember that the purpose of this audio project is to ENTERTAIN a young child. Your narration track should be enthusiastic and dramatic; not a boring droll. Music should provide emotion to the storyline. Do not just run one single selection monotonously under the whole narration. Choose and deploy musical sections CREATIVELY to make each story section have mood and come alive. Add sound effects to “illustrate” the story. When necessary, pause the narration so that the sound effects can stand out and not get buried under the spoken words.

The basic steps that you will follow to complete this final audio book lab assignment are:

  • Using Pro Tools audio editing software or a portable recorder, record any dialogue and voice-over narration that is required for your audio book. Don’t forget the “intro title page” at the beginning… before the story itself begins.
  • Work in Pro Tools to build, edit, and mix your project.
  • Add sound effects, plug-ins, and (cleared) music as required to illustrate the story and create mood and emotion to reinforce the narrative.
  • Sound mix the project
  • Export a final WAV file along with an MP3 file stereo mix of your audio book, and upload those files to your flashdrive to submit.
  • Burn a copy of both files to a DATA CD/DVD, as proof that you have mastered this skill, and submit that along with your flash drive.
  • Your paperwork should include a summary paper from each team member; the Sound Reports from your recording sessions; and an index/log sheet (aka table-of-contents) indicating the files on the media that you are turning in.

Resources: CTVA Sound Effects & Music Library Accounts

Sound Effects

You can also search for and download free sound effects at:

http://www.soundsnap.com

Username: CSUN-CTVA

Password: ctva2016

Music

For music, you can download free music at:

http://www.freeplaymusic.com

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Password: ctva2016

Note: Be sure to choose the Educational Classroom License type (No Cost) at checkout.

There are also some music and SFX CD’s in the Equipment Room.

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