Saturday, November 18, 2017

EAR MOVIE (due Thurs. Nov 30)

 5 - 10 minutes. The story unfolds via dialogue and sound effects (w. very little narration). Again, in the previous podcast the sound effects simply illustrated the narrated story; here, the sound effects are meant to propel the story. You must use opening music, closing music, one sting, one bridge, one sound effect bed, one musical bed, and at least five discrete sound effects (of those five, you have to record three yourself from real life). Post MP3 below (along with a photo or illustration that best represents it) or submit as attachment to

Thursday, November 9, 2017

HEAR ME ROAR! (Due Thurs. Nov 16; to be posted prior to class.)

King Kong's bellow was supposedly a mix of tiger growl and lion roar played backwards at half speed, the Rancor in Return of the Jedi was a slowed-down chihuahua, and Chewbacca was a stew of badger, bear, and walrus. Mix together at least three sounds (animal or otherwise) to create the shriek/roar/yawp or indecipherable language of a made-up monster/species. Consider slowing the sounds down or playing them backwards. Post MP3 below.

 You’ll Never Guess How the Dinosaur Sounds in Jurassic Park Were Made! Click link to find out!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Post MP3s of your original sound story below. Again, a sound story is a narrated story (first, second, or third) "dynamized" with  sound effects and music. Think audio book. The sound effects illustrate the narrative (versus the "ear movie," in which the sound effects propel the narrative). Recordings should be 5 - 10 min. Try to include as many of the following effects as possible: opening and closing music, bridge, sting, wallah, diegetic bed, nondiegetic bed, four discrete sounds, a sound not announced by the text, filtered sound.

Monday, October 23, 2017

MULTIPLE SOUND EFFECTS; ONLY ONE WORD (due Thurs. Oct 26, prior to class)

Produce a :30 - 2:00 audio story using only sound effects and one word. How many sound effects do you need to paint the picture properly? Post/link MP3s below.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

THE STORY SO FAR (due Thurs. Oct 5)

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the READING/LISTENING linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

1) The Story So Far: Fiction Podcasts take their next step by Amanda Hess: "On one long August day, Eli Horowitz camped out in a cramped studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, a microphone and a solitary Betta fish named Young Hollywood swimming laps around its little bowl.

Mr. Horowitz was there to direct Ms. Keener and Mr. Isaac as they acted out the story of a strange and intimate relationship between a therapist and an army veteran who come together as part of a secretive — maybe even sinister — government program. Mr. Isaac played the vet, Ms. Keener the therapist.

Young Hollywood served as scenery. The catch: They had to convey all of this exclusively through sound — including the fish. Also, Mr. Horowitz had never directed an actor in his life." Click heading to read the rest of the article. 

2) 11 Fiction Podcasts Worth a Listen by Amanda Hess: "The fiction podcast is having a moment. But modern audio dramatists have been turning out intriguing scripted podcasts for several years, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Take a guided tour through the past, present and future of audio drama with these fictional standouts." Click heading to review recommended list, then pick one and listen to an episode. Don't pick one you have to subscribe to (the majority are free).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

MY HAND! MY HAND! (due Thurs. Sept 28)

A) Adapt a scene from a movie, television show, comic book, or video game into a FIVE page podcast script. If you want to use correct audio script format, feel free (and see #3 on Assignment Page), but proper format is NOT required.

Pick a scene that presents some narrative challenges (after the visual information is eliminated), and/or offers a variety of acoustic opportunities (i.e. don't just pick a scene in which two characters are talking in a empty room). In a fictional podcast, narration is often considered a crutch (though it's much more acceptable here than in film); unless it's something that already contains lots of narration/voice over, shoot for as little narration as possible.

Feel free to massage/revise the dialogue to include/articulate information that is removed with the visuals. For instance, in the light saber fight at the end of NPR's audio version of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke additionally yells, "My hand! My hand!" and Vader responds, "Yes, your sword hand, you can't fight without it!"

Choose something you're semi-obsessed with, as you're next assignment will be to write a fan fic podcast script from your source material.

NOTE: Sometimes something that is indelibly visual, Jaws, for instance, or, as I suggested in class, Empire Strikes Back, will surprise you with it's audial vitality. Jaws is all about sounds. The famous Duh Nuh that signals the shark’s arrival is easily as effective, maybe even more so, than the mechanical maw itself. Williams’ two note signature is, of course, hugely important, but so is the light lapping of water against a clanging buoy.

In the opening scene, ALL the noises—musical and atmospheric—create a sense of isolation well before the low pulse of strings creep in. And even prior to Chrissie Watkins' fateful flailing, she’s sitting around a bonfire with friends, enveloped by the sound of aimless conversation, acoustic guitar, and crackling firewood. Jaws was made to be a radio drama. Empire, too. Empire is highly visual of course, but think of the all the distinct sounds: from the Imperial March and Vader's labored breathing to R2D2's chirping and Chewie's incredible range of grunts and growls, which, at various times, were one of three different bears, a badger, a lion, a seal, and a walrus from Long Beach (or some combination of all five).

Post script below as a google.doc (or e-mail it to me at

RADIO FREE DEATH STAR (due Thurs. Sept 28)

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

A Brief History of NPR’s Star Wars: In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC, based at George Lucas’ alma mater, the University of Southern California, hatched a bold plan to adapt Lucas’ Star Wars for radio.

Easily the most visual film of the past decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold NPR and KUSC the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: the Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music, including selections that had yet to appear on an album.The somewhat unenviable task of translating a visual-effects-heavy blockbuster to the spoken word was given to writer Brian Daley.

Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Click HERE to listen to the first 30 minute episode (featuring the ice planet Hoth and the Wampa attack) or HERE for the final 30 minute episode (featuring the final saber battle between Skywalker & Vader) of The Empire Strikes Back from KUSC's STAR WARS: The Original Radio Drama. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Children's books are full of  sounds. The "terrible" roars in Where the Wild Things Are, the Super-Axe-Hacker thwacking the Truffalu Trees in The Lorax, the mud, the river, the snowstorm in We're Going On a Bear Hunt. Adapt a children's book into a 2 - 3 pg podcast SCRIPT.

Don't worry about correct format.

Include the text (imagine it being read aloud), and the sounds indicated by the text, but also do your best to convey the mood/content of the illustrations with ambient (ex: rain) and musical beds (a loop or track of sound that plays underneath voices during spoken elements) and discrete, discontinous sound effects (ex: a dog bark or a gun shot).

Search the illustrations for sounds NOT announced by the text. Be as specific as possible i.e. don't just say "opening music," name a particular song, and if a "monster" is roaring, as in Sendak's Wild Things, precisely indicate what sound you'd use to evoke it (don't just say "roar.") Be creative. For instance King Kong was famously a mix of a tiger growl played backwards and a lion roar played forward; the Rancor in Empire Strikes Back was a slowed-down chiwawa, and the velociraptors in Jurassic Park were, at various points, a horse breathing, a goose hissing, and a tortoise having sex.

Post below as a comment (if it fits) or as google doc link.


Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

The old-time radio era, sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Radio, refers to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until the 1950s, when television superseded radio as the medium of choice for scripted programming and radio shifted to news, sports and playing popular music. During this period, when radio was dominant and filled with a variety of formats and genres, people regularly tuned into their favorite radio programs. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. (Wikipedia)

Click HERE and scroll down to browse the Old Time Radio archive; then select/listen to two eps from two different serials (eps are roughly 20 min). One of my favorites is Inner Sanctum.