Weekly Summeries

Sardic Investigations – You Don’t Know Jack

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.

Jack Board

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.

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Week 10 – many more videos

This week I may have gone a little overboard on the amount of time I sank into some of my video assignments.  I got way too into it, and I even went to my home town to film one of the assignments with a friend.  For this weeks assignments, I had to do 15 stars worth of video work.  I decided to focus on three big boys, and did three 5-star assignments.

One is a trailer for Interstellar that I made.  I did a trailer for the show, Lost, last week, and thought it would be fun to do one for a film, since the content would be more concentrated.  Plus I just picked up the movie and was nerding out over it anyway.

Another is a music video.  I decided to make fun of that dumb Black Eyed Peas song, Imma Be, and make a music video of my friend running around in a bee suit.  I was crazy fun to make, though it took an insane amount of time to edit.

The third is a censoring of a tv show or movie.  I went for Black Mirror, a great british anthology show.  I chose a scene that was full of cursing, taking the traditional track of censoring a video by cutting out all the curse words.

This is my tantalizing interview with Groom, Bond, Black, and Burtis.  They asked me some tough questions, but I had the experience to make it through.

For the daily creates, I did the following:

Tree art. I thought this was a really cool prompt.

 

Tree

Least favorite color in the neighborhood.  It’s always a bummer when its all gray outside.

Gray Sky

Talk to a stranger.  It’s not very often I see a writing based daily create.  So that was a pleasant surprise.

Here is my post on the final unit choice.  I decided to work on my own for this agency.  It’s really for the best considering my schedule this semester.

And as always, comments.

Well that’s it for this week.  See you all tomorrow!

__________________________________________________________________________________________ End of Radio week summary

Well it was the last week of radio, and I’m going to miss it.  I think video will be fun too though; I sometimes edit videos for fun, so it should be interesting to see what I can do with the prompts I get from this class.  Right now I have decent skills in editing.  I can take shots from shows or movies and make videos with the resources I pull.  I’ve gotten pretty good at audio layering and little editing tricks to make for better pacing and quality of movies I think.  So it will be fun to see what new kinds of challenges I get from the assignments; hopefully I’ll learn more tricks and improve my form as I go.

For the week’s assignments, I chose to do the eight stars worth of activities.  I just don’t have the time these next few weeks to coordinate a big project with a team, so I didn’t want to risk taking the project and being to busy all the time to meet up.  Also, I just really enjoy creating and editing videos, so I knew I would enjoy the stuff from the video assignment bank.  I focused on two rather different assignments for the visual bank.  Each were worth 4 so I got to spend a lot of time working on them.  One was a trailer for a tv show that’s already out.  I chose Lost for two reasons.  One was because it’s my favorite show and it’d be fun as hell to make a trailer for it, and the other was because I already have every episode, so I wouldn’t have to search around for material online.  I could use any shot I wanted since I wasn’t hindered by any lack of supply.

The trailer I really wanted to make would have been like 20 minutes long, so I forced myself to keep it light on plot, and just focus on the more emotional side of the show.  It got me thinking of what I’d like to do for a bigger trailer though, one that covered themes from every season.  I may just do it for fun; if I do, I’ll make sure to post it to this site for any Lost fans who might be in the class.  Here is the assignment submission page on the video.

The other video assignment I did was a Character Description.  The idea was to tell the story and personality of a fictional character.  I chose to do my noir character, Jim Sardic.  It was direct way to bring all the stuff I’ve made up for Sardic and his world together.  In one cohesive video, many of the different stories and aspects of Sardic and his New York were able to be put together.

Unfortunately, I put things off for this class too long against the work for my comp sci classes and didn’t find the time to make a video in analyzing a film.  I’m bummed it was this particular assignment that fell through the cracks.  I love analyzing film, and have taken some classes here in film study.  It’s an incredibly fun thing to do.  Hopefully there will be another assignment where look at films, so I can make up for it then.

For the daily creates, I did the two that actually matched, which I felt was a bit of a twist at the time.  The first one was to write a poem about a rainy day.  So I wrote a little haiku and put it on a thematically appropriate picture.

Rainy Day

The second part was to record a reading of my poem the next day.  I thought it would make for an amusing two-part daily create so I did the reading for my second one.

I had a lot of thoughts for the radio weeks, and enjoyed pretty much every part of it.  Radio turned out to be a great medium for having fun and telling a story.  And I’m sure the rest of my impromptu D&D party enjoyed it just was much.  Also, for my listen-in, I chose Dinner Party at Six, a murder mystery themed show.  I’m a sucker for murder mystery; I actually do them once every couple of months with my friends here at school.  It’s always a big event, so I was excited to see another group who was into writing the murder mystery story.  I talk all about it here in my big, end of radio post.  Well hopefully the video weeks will be just as good as the radio weeks were!

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Collaboration Week

This was a somewhat challenging week as far as the assignments went.  Collaborating my own noir character, Jim Sardic, with those of my fellow students was an interesting endeavor.  What it really made me do was go through everyone’s chain of posts regarding their characters, and how they’ve built them up over time.  It’s a pretty cool thing to see, the gradual progression of each character as new assignment prompts push our creativity in different directions.  For my submissions, I did the “create a panorama“, in which we are supposed to essentially fabricate one of those messed up panoramas you see smart phones make sometimes.  Working with my character’s world though, I got to really play with the idea of melding spaces in the image.  Another fun one was to “Make a business card“.  It’s pretty self explanatory, though the card I made was for Sardic.  I had actually thought of this idea during my groups radio show, when Sardic gave Mrs. Bridgewater his business card when she hired him to find her husbands murderer.  Luckily it turned out there was already a post in the design category for making a card.  My favorite assignment though was the “Letters from the Past” writing assignment.  I had my character interact with Kim’s person, Sasha Kellogg.  She, as a little girl, saw her parents be killed.  So there was a lot to work with there.

For my daily creates, I did the “what makes you laugh” one.

I got a kick out of the new show on Netflix, Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt.  It’s classic Tina Fey humor, so if you like 30 Rock, you’d find this hilarious.

And I did the instructional daily create.

computer building

 

For the radio shows, I listened into NOIR Not the Father.  It was a show about a public, game show-esk investigation of the murder Jackie Steel.  The two suspects were her husband and her secret lover.

Here are the inspires I had for this week.  They turned out to be quite some fun, I got to see some really cool creative stuff that my classmates have made.  There’s a lot of talent in our section, which is a lot of fun to see.

Cody’s Heel

Meet  Sacha Kellogg

Emily’s Designblitz

George’s Bag

And here are my comments for the week.

Comments!

See you guys next week.

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Radio Week 2

This week was absolutely busy as hell.  It was worth it since spring break is coming around.  Also working on the radio show was so much fun.  My group and I recorded the first episode of our D&D noir show, edited it, and just posted it today.  Here it is!  We want to finish the campaign, so we’re going to play through the rest and record it.  We’ll post the rest of the episodes on soundcloud for anyone who is interested, so we can all see how the story of our intrepid investigators eventually ends.  Hopefully everyone else had just as much fun making their radio shows as we did!

Comments for this week:

http://www.phoenixtakesflight.com/daily-create/are-you-pumped-up-yet/#comment-6341

http://www.phoenixtakesflight.com/daily-create/riley-gives-me-support/#comment-6342

http://www.philipdorch.com/radio-show/noir-not-the-father-2/#comment-59

http://landonepp.com/daily-create/blue-jack/#comment-167

http://ds106.christineloehr.org/daily-create/horror-trailer/#comment-199

http://new-ingenue.com/uncategorized/noir-downpour-pt-7/#comment-171

http://www.dsnoir106.kassiarivera.com/blog/the-daily-create/daily-create-towel-heel/#comment-171

http://www.dsnoir106.kassiarivera.com/blog/the-daily-create/daily-create-blue-and-orange/#comment-172

http://sgrubbs2.com/radio-show/inside-talking-radio-show/#comment-291′

http://slhendo.com/daily-creates/what-really-scares-you/#comment-250

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Radio Week 1 Summery

This week was very focused on the radio show and what we would do for it.  I’ve already seen each group trying to come up with their own unique twist on the show fitting the noir theme.  Some people are using their characters for the show, some people are coming up with entirely new ideas, and some are riffing off classic radio show tropes.  My group is the D&D noir adventure group.  We adapted our characters to fit the world of D&D and rolled in-game characters to role play in the story.  Here’s the details on our plans for the show.  I also have made up a poster promo image that represents the game we will play during the radio show.  It is a poster that shows core elements of both D&D and noir.  It consists of several noir thematic images overlaying a classic D&D dungeon map with the title superimposed over everything.

The audio assignments for the week were somewhat more abstract than past assignments I’ve done for the class.  I did a music mashup, where I took very different sounding songs and combined them to create a new song.  I did a horror ambient sound collaboration, where I combined several creepy or generally unsettling sounds to make a scary ambient noise.  And I did an assignment where I combined several sounds to create an emotional sound.  This one was particularly interesting in that it was the most open ended.  I decided to make a very ambiguous collective sound by combining noises that each had a distinctive rolling sound to it.  This way I was able to put them together so they sounded like one long, morphing sound.

Here are links to all the comments I made to other people’s posts this week.

http://jcpdigitalstorytelling.com/thoughts-and-ideas/theres-a-new-radio-show-in-town/

I linked the comments themselves, so it should take you right to them under each post.  Though I’m not certain they all have been approved by their respective hosts yet.
Tonight my radio group gets together to record our D&D adventure.  I’m very excited to play as my character.  By this point I have a good idea of how his personality has developed, and it will be fun to turn him loose in the limitless world of D&D.
__________________________________________________________________________________________ Design Week

This week focused on much more conceptual aspects of noir and creative design than the previous ones.  In the past, we’ve worked on specific elements of storytelling in the context of noir, but this week I feel was more concerned with raw creative process, which was interesting.

In my reflection for the Vignelli reading, I noticed that his instructions on good graphic design were more rooted in specific structural setup than I had expected.  He has the process of graphic design down to a science, and from that he distilled what exactly makes for good work when creating graphics.  This is good because it allows his readers to actually move upward in their skill when applying his teachings to their work.

I was very excited to see that the movies we were assigned to watch this week included Double Indemnity and Blade Runner, two movies I love.  Observing these films in the context space and timeless elements of noir was an interesting perspective.  It helped me recognize how noir can take place anywhere and any time; it just relies on other elements based around the characters.  Here’s my reflection on the films.

The design blitz was interesting as well.  Moving away from noir specifically, I feel the project was a comprehensive take on design overall.

The Design Elements assignments were quite different this week as well.  I suppose this is because design is a relatively open-ended category of creativity.  I did the Create Your Own Wallpaper, the One Story/Four Icons, Create Your Own Magic Card, and Website Design.

For my Daily Creates I did the Food Jewelry.  I made myself a nice pasta bracelet.

20150215_203052

 

For the second one I did the video of myself playing an arcade game.  I wanted to try a new one so I found Dead Angle.

 

Unfortunately, I missed the third daily create this week.

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Week 4: Noir and Sound

This was an interesting week in terms of content involving sound in noir.  I’ve always known that sound is important in cultivating the theme of noir, especially in film.  However, I didn’t know of the depth of which it pervaded all aspects of the style.

Here’s my bumper for the radio show.  It’s just a quick voice over of me describing the radio station’s id with a quick referential joke.

For the audio assignments, I did an audio clip where you slow down a song by like 800 percent.  I also did one where you play a song backwards and give hints as to what the original song was.  For the story created only by sound effects, I made a sound story about the “Puncture”, the central plot device to my character’s universe.

I found the video clip aspects of the readings particularly interesting.  I liked how music specifically is utilized in noir as a style.

Here’s my radio show ideas.  My favorite idea that would be fun to do would be for a group to bring their noir characters together for one radio show story.

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Week in review – Photography and Cinematography

This week was heavy with concepts surrounding images and the way noir can be projected through fundamentals of images.  Cinematography and lighting are essential components to creating the atmosphere of noir, and practicing their elements in photography really helped me to pay attention to the mechanics of creating the tone that fills film noir.

My photo reflection focused on framing, and how it affects how the content in an image and how it changes as you change the frame.

For the daily creates, I chose to do the 2048 alternate image.  I thought it was a cool idea to find a new take on a simple, image based system.  I changed the numbers to images in space; instead of growing number values, my version has celestial bodies that grow in size.  I suppose the actual sizes are somewhat arbitrary.  For example, a black hole can be considered to be smaller than any of these other images.  And the last image is supposed to be the universe, though its not entirely obvious what it is.  Still, I enjoyed the concept.

Space 2048

I also did the daily create for showing the use of silence in a movie.  I chose a scene from Rear Window in which we are looking at people in their homes through a camera lens.  Though the scene itself is not silent, we cannot hear the focus of the shots.  The people we are watching are somewhat secluded from us, and we are looking at a relative snapshot of their lives.

And lastly, another daily create I did was drawing a picture without picking up the pencil.

20150201_191712

Yeah I know, I’m not exactly an artist.

I spent the week taking the different pictures for my photo safari.  A few I was able to organically find and capture with my phone’s camera.  Others, the ones that were more technical in their requests, I had to set up the conditions and lighting for.

The image based assignments were more diverse than I thought they would be.  The required one, where we take a picture of the contents of a bag, was a fun one to do from the perspective of my noir character, Jim Sardic.  I had him examine the things in my backpack as though he was looking through the belongings of a missing person, trying to find clues as to where he may have gone.  Another assignment I did was to make a warning sign for something of my choosing.  I took a somewhat goofy approach and made a sign to warn people that they were approaching the end of the universe.  The last one I did was perhaps the most interesting one.  The assignment was to make a timeline of a trip on a program that combines your descriptions, pictures, and locations on a map.  The program compiles this information and makes a presentation of your trip based on all your input.  It was a very cool idea.

I organized my site so it reflects the blog categories.  I added several pages titled the blog types that we’ve used so far, and added some code snippets that display all the posts that correspond to that category.  The formatting between posts looks a little clustered (more WordPress formatting restrictions) but it’s nice having a page for each type of post.  I’ll keep upgrading the site as time goes on.

__________________________________________________________________________________________ Week Two – Writing Noir

There was a whole lot of writing for this week, intercut with the daily creates.  The ones I ended up doing were the Spacecat, which was some goofy photoshop work, the yodel, and the picture of my eye.  I like how the daily creates are rather random; they’re just little quick ways to do something creative when you’re feeling it throughout the week.

spacecat

It took forever to find a synthesizer image that was at the angle I wanted.

eye

Lacking a webcam, I quickly learned to just download the mobile apps for Flickr and SoundCloud to streamline the process of uploading their respective daily creates.

Out of the writing assignments, my favorite was definitely the character dossier.  I made a character, named Jim Sardic, who is a private investigator in New York, but with something of a twist on the formula.  I thought up a world around him that would be a lot of fun to work with and write about, so hopefully we’ll get to do more work regarding the characters we made this week.  For the “Change An Ending” assignment, I went with Hemingway’s The Killers because it was the most open-ended story on the list.  I like how it was all very ambiguous as to what Ole Anderson did to get two hitmen after him, and the story that led to the end-game we drop in on.  Here’s my alternate ending, which I suppose is more of an extension to the story.  Writing the story was a bit frustrating once I realized WordPress did not want to cooperate with my formatting.  I wanted to match the format of The Killers, indenting each speech shift and new paragraph.  Unfortunately, WordPress messed up the formatting and deleted all my indentations.  It’s still readable, but I was disappointed in the restriction of format.  As for the other writing prompt assignments, I did what was essentially converting a real news article into one you would see on The Onion, and a Haiku version of a recipe, describing Sardic’s favorite meal for when he takes a new case.

I already did a bit to customize my site last week, picking out a theme to run with, but I added to it this week.  I changed the default background image to something I put together for Sardic’s story, and changed the site’s title and front page to something less generic than “Digital Storytelling Blog”.  There are still minor things about the theme’s setup I would like to change, but I’ll have to look into it’s php code to make the changes I want.  That may take some time to look through, but hopefully it shouldn’t be to difficult to change to my liking.

Well that’s all for now.  Here’s hoping we will be working more with these character dossiers.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

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