ASSIGNMENT # 1:
A) Blog Post - Old Time Radio
B) Writing Prompt - Own your dragons! Describe a dragon (or a vampire). It must be recognizable as such (decide on two essential elements; for a dragon this might be size and fire-breathing, for a vampire this might be bloodlust and say, fangs), but it should also feel totally new (and, thus, amazing or dreadful, not stock; stock descriptions are boring and a dragon, or a vampire, or, indeed, anything we choose to describe, must NEVER be boring). Again, I might begin with an associated animal and a type of terrain, then let those choices lead me towards certain descriptors. Consider specific details as opposed to explicit description i.e. don't feel compelled to portray the thing, whatever it is, from head to heel or horn to tail, focus on a couple telling details from which the reader can grow the rest. Responses will be shared verbally in class (not turned in) and should run between a paragraph and a page.
A) 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.
B) Bring in your response to the "Box of Wonder" (that is, the box that contained some fifty unusual objects: shark tooth, arrowhead, Qing dynasty coin, etc.). Be prepared to share it with your group. Responses should run a page (roughly).
A) Adapt a scene from a movie, television show, comic book, or video game into a formatted FIVE page podcast script. Your script should be 5 pages, double-spaced, New Courier font.
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!"
See below for sample format. There are three things a listener hears in a radio drama: dialogue, music, and sound effects. Each of these audio components is called a "cue"—because they come at a specific time in the script and the director may have to physically point to someone ("cue them") to produce it. An instance of dialogue, no matter how many lines, is considered one cue. All cues are numbered and music/sound effects are additionally underlined.
1. MACBETH: That will never be. Who can impress the forest? Yet my heart throbs to know
one thing. Tell me, if your art can tell so much, - shall Banquo’s issue ever reign in this
2. SOUND: THUNDER (2X).
3. MUSIC : WEIRD MUSIC-UP. DUCK FOR VOICES.
4. ALL WITCHES: Seek to know no more.
5. MACBETH: I will be satisfied. Deny me this, and an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know!
6. SOUND: INTENSE BUBBLING-SLOWS-STOPS. THUNDER (1X).
7. MACBETH: Why sinks that cauldron? And what noise is this?
8. FIRST WITCH: Show!
9. SECOND WITCH: Show!
10. THIRD WITCH: Show!
11. SOUND: THUNDER (3X).
For more formatted examples, including entire scripts, click HERE.
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).
B) Blog Post - Radio Free Death Star
C) Bring in a "sacred artifact," that is, an object to which you have an emotional connection. Humans are mean-making machines. We have a tendency to tokenize, to heap value onto something that, from an outside perspective, is worthless. Come prepared to articulate the memory, the emotion, the person your artifact evokes/contains.
A) Curse or enchant your "sacred artifact." Retain the emotional truth of the object, the memories and people it contains, even as you give it paranormal power. Again, a sacred artifact is an item to which you have a deep connection. Humans are mean-making machines. We have a tendency to tokenize, to imbue outwardly worthless items with significance, with love and loss, hope and desperation. Come to class prepared to share your response (responses should run around a page).
B) Pick one of your in-class responses to the three sound effect bundles and enrich it. Again, you had roughly five minutes to link a series of randomly selected sonic events (ranging from dog growls and dragon calls to robot footsteps and whip cracks) into a narrative chain. Your responses were likely plot heavy, more a "treatment" than a story. Pick a line or two and dig in, go deep, add texture and color (that is, turn a line into a paragraph or a page). Come to class prepared to share your response.
C) Sense of Place - Think of places that you interact with on a deep emotional level. Pick a place that makes you feel a certain way. A place that comforts OR tests you. A place that contains a memory and an emotion. Think, too, of a telling detail. Something that belongs to this place and this place alone. (The telling detail of your, say, bedroom, would unlikely be your bed.) Come to class prepared to talk about it.
A) Set a "ghost story" in your sacred place (that is, a place you interact with on a deep emotional level, a place that comforts OR tests you). "Ghost story" may be interpreted as anything inexplicable (ghost,UFO, talking wolves, etc). The truth is out there.
Pick a popular ghost story or urban legend: Sewer Gators, Bloody Mary, The Hook. Consider how it changes when you set it in the place where your grandmother (or grandfather or greatgrandfather) was born.
Response should be 1 - 2 pages. You need not print your response out as you'll be sharing it in class (not turning it in)
B) Blog post - The Story So Far
C) Bring in a "family" photo that evokes a memory or meaning beyond what the image alone conveys. A photo that jogs a memory of a larger story or event. Maybe something that happened right before or after the moment frozen in the photograph.
Write (and bring to class) a 3 - 5 pg story (12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced) with a distinct narrative voice (first, third, or, indeed, second); this will be the basis for your "sound" story. It can be anything, (fiction or nonfiction; as long as there's an emphasis on narrative voice and storytelling). Naturally, feel free to grow the story from any of the in-class prompts. Bring five copies, as we'll be workshopping them in small groups.
Review the comments of your workshop group and, in the light of their critique, revise your sound story into a formatted, cue-to-cue podcast script (see above MacBeth script for proper format). Formatted, your script should be roughly 5 pages (double-spaced, New Courier font). Bring ONE hard copy 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 MP3s under the appropriate heading on the home page of this site.
Post MP3s of your original sound story under the appropriate heading on the home page. Again, a sound story is a narrated story (first or third) "dynamized" with sound effects and music. The sound effects illustrate the narrative (versus the "ear movie," in which the sound effects propel the narrative). Recordings should be 5 - 10 min.
Blog post - TBA
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.
Ear movie. 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 on home page (along with a photo or illustration that best represents it) under the appropriate heading.
Blog Post - TBA
ASSIGNMENT # 11:
Turn your sound story or ear movie into a video in which the audio is accompanied by a slideshow of still photos or art (original or found online) that illustrate or enrich the work without undermining its integrity as an audio narrative. Consider visual pans, zooms, and transitions. Post your movie on the home page under the appropriate heading.
Blog Post - TBA