My agency was a one-man organization for my private investigator, Jim Sardic. Sardic Investigations, located in the basement of the Javits Center in West Manhattan. The case I received was You Don’t Know Jack; it was about a mysterious figure who would call people over the phone and make demands, confuse them with nonsense speech, and otherwise scared them with his ominous nature. In my investigation, I found that he was harassing the people of New York with his calls. But not only was Jack intimidating, he was unnatural. He spread to new people’s phones like a virus. An “infected” line would spread Jack to other lines through which people called. Jack was a malevolent force whatever he was. Sure enough he turned out to be an Outsider, some strange being from beyond the Puncture.
Luckily this is Sardic’s specialty, but it was his biggest case yet. No case had spread through New York like this one had. At first he took on a few clients who reported Jack’s calls and behaviors, and tried to find the connection between these people. But as Jack spread to more and more phones, Sardic had to hurry to find the source. He had to go up the tree of people that Jack spread through and find his initial victims, so he could eventually find Jack himself. I won’t spoil the whole thing here though.
My primary media type for this project was audio. The core story was driven through audio recordings of tapped phone lines that Jack called through. When Sardic realized how big this case really was, he put it in the public domain, posting updates and information on Jack to the blog section of the Sardic Investigations website. The first audio segment is a recording to one of Jack’s phone tapped victims.
And the second is a recording of the final confrontation between Jack and Sardic.
My secondary sources of media were web, design, and video. Respectively, these took the form of an information page on Jack and how to deal with him should your phone be infected, a link board for Jack and his first few waves of victims as he spread outward, and a video detailing a big discovery in the case regarding what Jack is and how he started calling people.
Keep in mind that all these forms of media are out of order. If you want to properly see how the investigation played out, go to the bottom of the blog page on the Sardic Investigations site and read upward through the posts.
It was quite the interesting case, and it even has seemed to kick-start Sardic’s career. Dealing with Jack has gotten Sardic some serious notoriety in New York, and he has already gotten several new calls for strange new cases.
The audio assignments were fun to make. I played around in Audacity a lot to make all the different sound effects for Jack’s voice. I recorded myself talking for the base speech, then overlayed the speech with heavily distorted versions of more speech along with sound effects I found on freesounds.com. I alternated heavily between denser clusters of sounds and lighter ones. While the dense clusters sounded the coolest, it was also important that you could actually understand what Jack was saying. So alternating within that spectrum let me get the balance I was looking for. For Sardic’s voice, I just used an unaltered recording of my own voice. I had to do some heavy distorting of Jack’s voice to make the two characters sound distinct, but for what Jack was it worked out that he was so strange sounding. That was actually the initial reason I distorted Jack, and when I realized how much you can do with the different effects in Audacity, it was fun changing things around more and more to make a unique sound. I went with a creepy feel for Jack, and think I got a very creepy character out of the audio editing.
I made the images in Gimp. Some were new, and some were taken from old images I made for Sardic and his world that worked out for the story. The video was surprisingly tricky. It took quite a bit of tinkering to get my voice over to line up with each segment of the video and the camera’s movement across the images in it. But in the end, I really like how it came out. The website itself for Sardic Investigations also came out well. That’s mostly thanks to how much content I already had for Sardic from all the previous assignments I had done for him. Since I had so much to work with, it was as easy as picking out a theme on WordPress, and applying all the world-building content that I made for Sardic.
It was a huge week for both me and Sardic.__________________________________________________________________________________________ Post-its
This is for the “post-it notes and grocery lists” visual assignment. Sardic’s day can get pretty hectic, so he has to leave himself all kinds of post-it notes so he doesn’t forget some small but crucial things. It was a pretty simple assignment in terms of design overhead went. It was nice because it allowed me to focus on just the writing within the format, very creative focused.
This is for the “Character Resume” web assignment. Sardic has a rather specific set of skills and experience, and it shows in his resume. Needless to say, he’s a bit of an HR nightmare. His experience makes him look like a thug, his skills could only be used for investigation or less scrupulous lines of work, and half his contacts are aren’t even from this dimension. I had fun with his resume, between the noir theme and the multiverse setting, I pretty much got to have free reign on what I wanted to put on there. Below is a link to the .docx file containing Sardic’s Resume. Please consider his employment.
This is for the “storytelling within the web” web assignment. This was a really cool prompt for a web assignment; it lets you do pretty much anything you want to any site. Of course I wanted to relate this to Jim Sardic and his version of New York, so I went to a trip adviser page for attractions in New York. I used x-ray goggles, the extension for firefox, to edit the html on the page. It was cool changing around things on the site, the extension was extremely intuitive. You can just click on any portion of the page, and the highlighted code block will come up to let you change anything you want. I didn’t go too crazy with it, changing links to other pages. I mostly changed the text on the page to make sense with Sardic’s universe. Here’s a link to the new version of the site I made.
Here’s an image of my updated version.
And here’s the original trip advisor page
Sardic stood in the middle aged woman’s living room. She was rummaging around in her attic, looking for a box of her daughter’s old things. Another disappearance. He was here to interview her and see what he could find about the daughter. He noticed the tv was on. It was on some american channel that was porting that british show, Black Mirror. A man was giving an impassioned speech about people being too absorbed in their technologies and fabricated realities. It was all commentary, and Sardic couldn’t help but agree with a lot of it. The shame of it was the speech was being censored for profanities. It felt wrong to him, but that’s just classic american tv for you. The woman came down the stairs, struggling with an oversized box. Jim turned away from the tv to help her. There was work to do.__________________________________________________________________________________________ An interview with Jim Sardic
Well they asked me to come out for an interview. Sure, why not? It can’t hurt business to get a little publicity. I’ll have to have them keep it light though. People really don’t want to know the details of my work. I hear I’m going to have a bunch of interviewers, this should be good.__________________________________________________________________________________________ I’m a Bee
This is for the “Create a Music Video” video assignment. For whatever reason, when I saw this assignment post, I thought of that terrible Black Eyed Peas song, Imma Be. Whenever I heard that song when it was popular, all I could think of was that it sounded like the guy was saying “I’m a Bee”. So I decided to make a parody music video with my spaz of a friend back home. We mostly just goofed around with the camera and a bee suit, finding ways to play on the song’s lyrics. It took quite a while to make, but it was fun as hell to do. When I got back up to Fredericksburg, I put all the footage on my desktop and started editing through the hours of footage we took. Here’s the result of our labors.
Jim Sardic turned off the video half-way through. People still connected to the internet do the weirdest stuff, he thought. He sat in his secondary office, a rundown closet behind a salon in Queens. Technology still works here, and even though Sardic preferred the old school ways that Manhattan had readopted since the Puncture, his job required him to contact the outside world every once in a while. The people who made this parody video had been missing for some time now, and their friends are convinced outsiders had something to do with it. Sardic hoped not; outsiders don’t usually leave the vicinity of the Puncture. But it happens. Brooding all the while, he jotted down info on the victims from social media sites. Their habits, interests, and whereabouts all went into Sardic’s little brown notebook. He smirked as he turned the off the computer and got up to leave. “And people wonder why we New Yorkers like our privacy,” he muttered as he walked out the door.__________________________________________________________________________________________ Interstellar Trailer
This is for the Mash-Up Trailer video assignment. I made a trailer for Lost last week, so I thought I would try my hand at making one for a movie. I just picked up Interstellar on DVD so I thought that would be a really fun film for which I can make a trailer. Just so you know, it has a Massive number of spoilers, so you really shouldn’t watch it if you haven’t yet seen the movie. Nor should you read any further. I took shots from all over the movie, but focused the on scenes surrounding the planets they visit. Each scene had a quick rising tension, so I set up shots from each of them in parallel as they progressed. The music in the background is from the movie’s soundtrack, at the docking scene. I tried to line up the shots’ progression and cuts with the song’s progression, and I think it came out really well.
I chose Interstellar in relation to my noir character, Sardic, because the spacial anomalies in the film reminded me of how Sardic’s universe works. Enjoy!__________________________________________________________________________________________ Sardic Documentary
This video is for the Character Description assignment. It said to make a video of any character, using pictures for them and narrating his or her personality and story. It was a fun one to do for Jim Sardic, my character. It allowed a very direct approach to expand on the character’s traits themselves and really define him. For the images, I used the one’s I had made for older assignments. This was especially cool; it allowed me to bring together all the things I had written for Sardic, and have them all relate in one video. It feels like his universe is being tied together by all its different parts. In the narration, I talk about his history, where he came from, and his relationship to the Puncture.__________________________________________________________________________________________ Sardic’s Business Card
This is for the Create Your Own Business Card design assignment. The assignment itself was very straight forward, and left a lot of room to play around with. It was the perfect thing to do for my noir character though, since he’s a practicing private detective. So I designed the business card that he hands out to potential clients. This is the very same card that Sardic gave to Ellen’s noir character, Alicia Bridgewater, in our DunNoirgeons and Dragons radio show. I kept the design relatively simple. The colors are black and white, a fitting pallet for the noir theme.