Category Archives: Assignments

There goes the last DJ

I agreed to give a mini-workshop on podcasting on Wednesday, to force myself to learn more about Audacity. Creating a bumper for DS106 Radio seemed like a good way to get started, and it’s a manageable amount of work for a 20-minute demonstration.

Here’s the thing, followed by how I made it:

First, I wanted to know what I’d be saying. The old Outer Limits opening came to mind – “we control the horizontal, we control the vertical.” That speaks a little to the “own your tools” ethos of DS106.

But if “we” control it, that suggests that “you” (the listener) doesn’t. And that doesn’t sound very DS106 at all.  So I rewrote it, for a participatory audio culture, to be “Radio DS106 – You control the gain; you control the Auto-Tune.”

Then I went hunting for an audio track to mix in. A search for “sci-fi” on CCMixter turned up a track called “Space Station Melody” by a member called Gurdonark. (For a 15-second bump on a non-profit radio station, you could probably make a fair use argument for whatever you wanted to sample… but it’s also a chance for me to model searching for Creative Commons-licensed material for my faculty.)

It’s kind of funny, come to think of it… the futuristic pinging of Space Station Melody is more reminiscent of the pizzicato opening of The Twilight Zone than the dramatic strings and horns of The Outer Limits.

Anyway, I recorded into Audacity, imported the Space Station Melody MP3, and arranged the voice track to the point in the music where I wanted it to start. I brought the volume of the music down a hair while I was talking with the Envelope tool, and used the Fade Out filter to get out. (And then trimmed off the end of the music.)

I owe a link of thanks to Nicky Memita for her post on this assignment, which was quite useful as I navigated Audacity’s imposing list of filters and effects.

Troll Quotes

There Are Four Lights

The Troll Quotes assignment is another reason I signed up for DS106. We see plenty of motivational posters, demotivational posters, and LOLCATS, but I was just tickled by the idea of a three-way culture hack.

The gloss on this one is a little tortured (heh), but –

  1. The screengrab is from The Muppet Movie. I was watching it with my family, and when this shot comes on at the end, I said the quote…
  2. Which is from one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A Cardassian torturer attempts to break Captain Picard’s will by forcing him to say that there are 5 lights in the room, when in fact there are only 4.
    (It’s an amusing coincidence that both the TNG episode and the scene in The Muppet Movie have a lot to do with memories, but it wasn’t intentional.)
  3. So why Mal Reynolds from Firefly? Eh, why not. He’s a captain, like Picard, and he’s kind of Muppety.

As far as the technology, this one is pretty straightforward. I tried doing the screengrab straight from the DVD, but some kind of copy protection got in the way – so I ripped it. I learned that Quicktime will advance roughly a frame at a time with the right and left arrow keys (which iTunes won’t), which helped me sync things up. I used Adobe Photoshop Express to do the video edit; it was a little wonky compared to what I’d expect from local image editing software, but it got the job done, and probably with fewer opportunities to get lost.