Everything is due June 17, 2019 by 11:59.

Some of you have gotten a lot of things up and running and fixed by using the Digital Knowledge Center.  The University of Mary Washington’s Digital Knowledge Center provides peer tutoring to all University students on digital projects and assignments. Students can schedule 50 minute, one-one-one tutorials with a trained peer tutor on any DS106 related projects.  Click Here to set up an appointment.

Here is the topic most students find both the most challenging and/or rewarding portion of ds106: video. It presents challenges with file formats, creating more complex narratives, and working with more complicated software.

But it is also one of the most engaging forms of media — hence the current statistic that in the span of one minute, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.

Before jumping into video editing, you will spend some time first looking critically at some cinema techniques. Read the rest of this post for details about the work for this unit as we learn to “read” movies. Then you will be completing your own video stories, from start to YouTube– this unit is two weeks long, so plan your time accordingly.

Before jumping into video editing, you will spend some time first looking critically at some cinema techniques. Read the rest of this post for details about the work for this unit as we learn to “read” movies. Then you will be completing your own video stories, from start to YouTube– this unit is two weeks long, so plan your time accordingly.

 Video Ready Your Tools

For the work in the next week, you will need to be using software that allows you to combine, edit, augment, re-sequence video, as well as being able to add or even replace the soundtrack within a video.

Reference the Tools for the Trade for links to software you might want to use as well as our new Video Guide for video resources and tutorials.

We most strongly recommend for the future assignment that you use the applications that come with your computer either Windows Movie Maker Live or Apple’s iMovie, these are generally the easiest to get started with and should be available on your computer.

We recommend using video editing software that allows you to cut and re-arrange clips on a timeline, and to add, and layer audio tracks. Most typically this is the software that came with your operating system- iMovie on Macs and MovieMaker on Windows PCs.

Many of the assignments will require downloading of clips from web sites such as YouTube and vimeo. You will need to use a tool that can download videos to a file format you can use on your computer (usually MP4). Our tool of choice is but we review a few other techniques as well.

Windows users may have challenges in importing the downloaded mp4 video files into Movie Maker (We have been told that the Windows Movie Maker Live can import MP4)- you may have to use a converter to change mp4 into AVI or WMV file formats. See the ds106 Handbook for some video converter options.

Other resources that may help you include:

Focus on the storytelling aspect of your video making- -do not get caught up in the technical points or making the video just for the assignment points…  Be very sure that your videos tell a story, that it surprises us, that it perhaps jars us, and that when you write-up your blog post you are providing full details and context for your videos

Learn How to Read a Movie

You have likely watched plenty of movies, but when we say “reading” movies, we mean looking at them with a keener eye for the cinematic elements that make them successful (or not). This is not about reviews of “good” or “bad” movies, but how well they convey the story to all our senses, how well they suspend our disbelief to make the plot real, to draw us in– how well they tell a story.

For your work in this week, you are expected to look for details in movies, many of which are found in Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” which you must read this week.

In addition, to get a deeper appreciation for the power of cinematic techniques, watch at least 3 of the following videos about filmmaking.

Look, Listen, Analyze

Now apply some of the criteria you reviewed above to a classic movie scene. From the YouTube playlists below, pick one scene from a classic movie you will analyze — do not watch it yet! — just choose one that might interest you. If you want to use another clip, it should be a complete scene, not a movie trailer.

You will now analyze the clip by watching it three times, in different ways.

  1. Analyze the camera work. Before watching the first time, turn the volume on the clip (or on your computer) all the way down. Take notes on the visual aspects of the clip. Look for camera angles, cuts, how many times the camera switches view, the quality of light, the cuts or transitions. Look for the ways the camera tells, guides the story.
  2. Analyze the audio track. Now turn the volume up, but play it without looking at the screen (or turn off the screen); just listen to the audio. Take notes on the pacing of the dialogue, the spaces in the audio, the use of music or sound effects (think back to our work earlier on listening to audio).
  3. Put it all together. Finally, watch the scene as normal. Pay attention to something you may have missed the first time or how the elements you saw in the first two steps work together.

Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?

Also use what you have read in Ebert’s column or anything else you observed in the cinematic technique videos to identify key elements of this scene. Include specific reference to Ebert’s ideas of left/right character placement, what the camera angle suggests, how the way the scene is shot builds the story element. We are looking for the video aspects that makes this work well (or not) – not just “this is a great scene” or “this is my favorite movie”.

Video Assignment Bank

For this week you should complete two ds106 video assignments of at least eight stars, each should be posted to your blog, appropriately tagged and categorized. All videos should have an opening and closing title/credits sequence.

I have to reiterate because many people are not doing this.  Each assignment blog post should include:

  • Write about thinking behind the assignment, the inspiration, what it means to you. What is it’s story? Does it make a story spine?
  • The video you produced for the assignment is embedded into your blog post. Your videos should have an opening title sequence and a closing credits sequence. Check your video software for it’s title creation features.
  • Share your process. What tools did you use? What techniques? Think of this as information that would help someone else doing the same assignment. Include a screenshot of your video editing screen. You must provide URLs/sources for all media you included that were not ones you created yourself.
  • To have your work connected back to the assignment, your blog post must include the two tags for the assignment, one will be VideoAssignments and the other will have a name like VideoAssignments447. Look for the tags entry box on the right side of the WordPress editor, below the Categories.

Weekly Summary Checklist

Your summary blog post for this week should include and link to the following requirements. Remember, I am also looking for more that a list of what you did; take some time to reflect on what you learned or discovered this week. Include in your weekly summary again a sense of what kind of feedback you are getting on your blog and how you are giving feedback to others.

  • Reading Movies Write a blog post that includes your response to the methods suggested by Ebert- why might they work (or not)? Summarize what you learned from the two videos you watched about cinema techniques.
  • Look. Listen. Analyze. Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip for the scene you reviewed, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?
  • Assignments: You should link to and discuss the posts for the two ds106 video assignments completed. Each post should be put in categories that you made for your site, and should also include the tags specific to each assignment. Be sure that your assignment blog posts contain the elements out line in the ds106 Handbook.
  • Comment on other blog post: Make sure that you do different people for each comment.  Make sure you comment on at least 4 blog post and that you take a screenshot and put it in your summary.
  • Daily Creates: Do four daily creates.

Summer Week 3

Everything is due June 9th by 11:59 on Canvas.

Some of you have gotten a lot of things up and running and fixed by using the Digital Knowledge Center.  The University of Mary Washington’s Digital Knowledge Center provides peer tutoring to all University students on digital projects and assignments. Students can schedule 50 minute, one-one-one tutorials with a trained peer tutor on any DS106 related projects.  Click Here to set up an appointment.

Introduction to Audio

This week in ds106 we’re going to be diving into our first storytelling genre: audio. Working with sound can be a bit daunting and unfamiliar, so we’ll be easing you into it this week. Nearly all previous ds106 students start here dreading this media, and in a few weeks they totally change their mind.

We’ll ask you to do some listening exercises as well as do some audio story editing.

PART I:  About Audio Storytelling

Look, Listen and Watch below.  Pay attention and keep track of the “nuggest” that grabs your attention- and write a blog post summarizing what you learned about how these experts describe their craft. Come back to these later when you review some audio shows I recommend listening to.

For many of you radio may seem like old technology, but there is a lot of current powerful creativity done in a single media. Audio is most effective when sounds generate stories in the minds of listeners.  You might be familiar with the panic caused in the late 1930s when Orson Wells produced the radio show of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds– it was so effective, people thought it was real. If you think we are much more savvy in the modern age, read about what happened when producers of an Italian movie tried to play out a promotional video as something like looked like a real news broadcast.

I’d like you to listen to some experts on audio storytelling describe a bit of how this is effective, probably no one has their game on for this than Ira Glass, host of This American Life, a weekly radio storytelling show on National Public Radio.

Listen to least two parts of Ira Glass’ Series on storytelling (all together they’re about 20 minutes)

Find Part TwoPart ThreePart Four.

For another point of view, listen to a short interview with Radiolab‘s Jad Abumrad on “How Radio Creates Empathy”:

or listen to his longer talk where he shares how he and his colleagues go about the process of creating radio shows.

Jad Abumrad: Why “Gut Churn” Is an Essential Part of the Creative Process from 99Uon Vimeo.

PART II: Introduction to Audio Techniques

Some things to notice when listening to audio are the pacing (think of the equivalent of paragraphs in sound), the use of music, sound effects, ambient/environmental sounds, the introduction of radio “bumpers” to remind us of the show, introduction and exits. Of key importance is trying to hear the layering of sounds, of how audio can create a sense of place by being more than just a recording, but a deliberate stacking of audio.

For a great reference reference, you might listen to an episode of Howsound, the radio show that takes you behind the scenes to understand how these shows are produced- Dissecting Joanne Rosser, Papermaker.

As another example, we took out elements of an hour long episode of RadioLab, a 2007 show called Detective Stories, and uploaded a shorter version to Soundcloud, where the comments indicate how some of these are used in the show. See if you can pick these out in this example and then in other audio you listen to this unit.

Another technique that is counter-intuitive, is when sound is left out. Listen to this annotated clip, an intro to an episode of the TED Radio Hour, for what happens near the 3 minute mark when the background music suddenly stops

Here are some references for audio techniques:

And, if that is not enough, among the open participants of ds106 is Scottlo, a guru of audio and radio technique.

Also useful from Scottlo are archives from his daily series from the Summer ds106 Zone class of 2013, below are some selected episodes where he reviews audio and shares Audacity tips:

Lo Down Episode 1
Lo Down Episode 8
Lo Down Episode 9
Lo Down Episode 10
Lo Down Episode 11
Lo Down Episode 12
Lo Down Episode 13
Lo Down Episode 14


Part III: Listening to Stories

listeningOne of the best ways to understand how audio can be used to create stories is to listen to some great examples. We’ve assembled a list of audio stories for you.

Overall, how effective do you think audio was for telling the story(ies)? What types of audio techniques did the producers use — sound effects, layering of sounds, music, etc. — to convey their story? While we are interested in reading what you thought of the story being told — but we’re just as interested in your reflection about HOW the story was told. Try and step back from the story itself, and reflect upon the technique that the storytelling/producers used. What choices did they make that impacted your understanding of and feelings about the story? What are the techniques from the references above that you may not have noticed before?

Pay very close attention to not only the stories told but how they are constructed in audio format. Take the time to focus on listening, not just in the background of being on your computer. Put the phone down, turn off the TV, tell the family to leave you alone. Just listen.

Listen to “Moon Graffiti” This is an excellent example of audio storytelling. Think about how the sounds, both the sound effects and the changes in sound, tell you what is going on, how they create a sense of place, a sense of space and a sense of atmosphere. We hear these same techniques used in film and video, where they are vitally important but often unnoticed. Consider what we watched, read and listened to this week and in the previous weeks. How does sound drive stories? How does it impact mood and create atmosphere? Write a blog post on your thoughts on audio storytelling. Use specific examples and embed them in your post. Tag the post audioreflection.

Part IV: Your First Audio Stories

Start your work on these assignments by reviewing this list of audio resources and/or the Audio Section of the ds106 Handbook section on Tools. You will find information here about software you can use to produce your own audio, as well as links to sites where you can download free clips, music, and sound effects.

  • We strongly recommend Audacity, a free and open source audio-editing program, further details below. If you have access to and experience with a different audio editing system, you are free to use it instead. Along with Audacity, you will need to download and install the LAME mp3 Encoder in order to save audio as .mp3 files.Download and Experiment with Audacity: Unless you have a lot of previous experience with audio editing, you should plan on spending some time this week getting comfortable with Audacity. It is recommended that you do this right away, because you will find that audio editing can be quite time-consuming. If you have another audio editing platform that you’re familiar with, you can skip this step. But everyone needs to get their hands dirty with audio editing. If you’re overwhelmed by Audacity, make an appointment with at the Digital Knowledge Center for help:

Complete 12 Stars of Audio Assignments: This week you must complete at least 12 stars of assignments from the Audio category in the Assignment Bank.

 Involve the character you created in at least one of the assignments in some way. One assignment everyone must do is the sound effects story (3 ½ stars): This is a challenge to tell a short story (no longer than 90 seconds) using nothing but sound effects! And make it something more interesting than waking up, taking a shower and eating breakfast. We highly recommend using to find free sound effects for this project.

Make sure all your completed assignments are uploaded to SoundCloud, and write up a post for each assignment in which you embed that audio from SoundCloud. Note: If you use copyrighted content in your audio projects, the SoundCloud content police may block them. You can use CC Search to find content that you can safely use.

Share each of these contributions in separate posts on your blog, and tag them according to the instructions on their assignment page.

Part V: Weekly Summary

Your weekly summary is due by Sunday, June 11, 2017 at midnight. As always, link to or embed all of your work from the week. Use this as an opportunity to reflect upon your initial foray into audio. What did you struggle with? What ideas/exercises were most challenging or interesting?

Now we are moving into the main part of the course where the bulk of your work is writing up assignments, you are going to be expected to follow the criteria  – just posting “here is my assignment” is not going to be enough to earn credit. There needs to be writing with your media, a story about the story.

This week’s checklist includes:

  • Summarize the key points you learned about audio storytelling from the Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad videos.
  • Summarize TED Radio Hour and ScottLo.
  • Summary of the “Moon Graffiti” you listened to, making special notes of the techniques used. Be sure to link to the show you listened to.
  • Summarize/link the Audio assignments
  • Summarize/link At least 4 Daily Creates
  • Summary of your feedback from your Comments and what you gained by looking at other people’s blogs.  You must make at least 5 comments on other people’s blog, they must be different people.  It must be construct feedback not this is great.
  • At least a paragraph on what you learned this week, what questions/complaints you have.
  • Weekly Summary Every week, you will be required to submit a summary post by the weekly deadline (generally due on Sundays at midnight). These posts should include links to or embedded media from all the work you have done for the week: storytelling assignments, daily creates, reflections etc. In addition, you should use this post to reflect upon your activity of the week:
    • How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?
    • What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
    • What would you do differently? What questions to you have?
    • What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work? Cultural/Societal implications?

These weekly summaries are what we will use to find all of your weekly work as we determine your grade for that week. In addition, they are an opportunity for you tell us how you feel you are doing and what’s giving you trouble, overall, in the course. If you forget to include something in a weekly post, I may not realize you’ve completed it. If you fail to submit a weekly summary, you will get no grade for that week! By the way proper English and good writing are required!

These posts are REALLY important. I use them to grade you every week, so you need to link to other posts you’ve written, embed media you’ve created, and narrate the process of learning that you went through this week. What did you learn? What was harder than you thought it would be? What was easier? What drove you crazy? Why? What did you really enjoy? Why?Final Note: you MUST submit the link to this weekly post in Canvas by midnight on Sunday.  NO EXCEPTIONS. NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED.