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Research Guides@Tufts

SPN22X: Viajar Comer y Bailar Experiential Assignment

Scope

For this assignment you will need to record before, during and after your experience.  You can record using your phone, equipment available for checkout at Tisch Library or in the Recording Room located inside the Digital Design Studio, room 303 Tisch Library.

To help with understanding the scope of recording, at minimum you'll need to record the following audio:

  • Introduction to event (date, location, time of day, description of your thoughts prior to the experience)

  • Sounds from the experience 

  • Your thoughts recorded at some point during the experience 

  • Reflection after the experience 

Recording Settings

If possible, select WAV as this is an uncompressed file format. If you do not have this option know that the higher your bitrate setting, the bigger the file and the higher the quality of your audio recording. Ensure every time you record that your settings are the same.

Set your recording quality to "high" and change your settings to record in 4800Hz, 24-bit. Your application may only offer 4100Hz or only 16-bit or another distinct combination of settings. Choose the highest quality of these settings. Ensure every time you record that your settings are the same.

Some applications may allow you to select Stereo or Mono for recording channels. Set your settings to record Mono if only recording one voice.  If you are recording two voices, ideally each individual would be mic'ed and have their own dedicated mono channel.

If you are using an application that captures high quality audio, make sure you have enough space available for your recordings. If not, either clear space or record to a new location. 

When recording with a smartphone, turn on Airplane Mode to avoid audio interruptions like texts and notifications.

Recording Techniques

Levels. More than likely you'll be able to monitor the levels (input audio volume) prior to recording in the software you are using to record.  If the visual display of the recorded waveform is flat on the top, this means your recording is too loud. Audio that is lower than the recommendations above may be too soft to hear. That said, if you are recording ambience in a quiet space, having lower levels makes sense. Context matters. 

  • Color coded meters. Most audio meters are color coded, some are labeled in decibels. The ideal level for a voice recording on a color coded meter would be at the higher end of the green meter with occasional spikes in the yellow.
  • Numerical meters. If measuring levels numerically, aim for the sound to be between -6db and -12db.
  • Waveforms. If your application does not include a live audio meter you can do test recordings and monitor the waveforms. Waveforms that are strong and pronounced without going flat on the top usually indicate good levels. 
  • Know where your mic is. Test where the microphone is located by speaking into the microphone and watching the levels.
  • Make sure the microphone is pointing at your subject.  When you see your levels get stronger, this means you are near the microphone. 
  • Make sure your hands are not covering the microphone.
  • To prevent handling noise and rustling sounds, place your mic down on a stable surface, e.g. use a tripod or make a makeshift support for your phone from paperclips or books. 

Prior to recording listen to the space. Is the heat on? Are you near a window with heavy traffic? Find a space with minimal background noise to minimize undesired background noise.  If you are having a hard time finding a quiet space to record, try recording under a blanket or in a closet.  You may also want to book time in our recording room.  While not sound proof it is does have sound treatment and is relatively quite compared to most other spaces.

At the beginning of every recording, state what you are recording, e.g., Intro Narration take 3, slower pace. Having this at the beginning of each audio file will help with organizing your files later. 

What is the subject of your story and how can you make sure it's represented sonically in your piece? Consider all the individual sounds that you are hearing in the space and place the microphone closer to the sounds that describes the main action(s) in your piece.  This may mean getting low to the ground or recording in the same space multiple times with your microphone in different positions.  

For example, if you are at a dance class recording the sound of shoes on the dance floor, music, clothes rustling, heavy breathing. murmurs of participants talking and direction from the instructor will all require different microphone placement to ensure they are sonically represented in your piece.  Make sure if you are getting distinct people speaking that you ask for their consent to be recorded!

Getting Started with Garageband

Creating a New Project

  • Open Garage Band and choose Empty Project. 
  • Make sure the Output Device is set to Built-in Output or headphones.  This will determine where the sound will playback from.
  • Select Choose
  • The next window assigns the microphone to a specific track.  Choose the Microphone under Audio and select Create.

New Tracks, Adding & Duplicating Files

  • Create a new track: Track > New Track or Opt+Command+N
  • Add new files: Simply drag and drop your files from the Finder into the Workspace
  • You can copy, cut and paste by navigating to the Edit menu.
  • Duplicate files already on your timeline: Hold Option while dragging the clip to a new location in the Workspace

Splitting a Clip

  • Split a clip: Select the clip in the timeline, place the timeline indicator where you want your edit.  Select Edit>Split Regions at Playhead or Command+T

  • Enable Automation: Select Mix>Show Automation or A on your keyboard
  • Double-click the track to place the Volume overlay on the track
  • Click the yellow Volume line to create a key frame
  • Create two points to make a transition. Moving the line down lowers the Volume while raising it increases the Volume.  
  • Disable Automation by hitting A on your keyboard.
  • To reset: Select Mix>Delete All Automation on Selected Track

Getting started in Audacity

Understanding the difference between the various files needed to create a podcast will help ensure your project runs smoothly during editing.

    • Project File - Project files are usually a small (kb or mb in size) file that saves information about how your organizing your audio in a timeline, transitions, effects, project settings and other editing parameters.  Audacity project files end with the extension ".aup3"
    • Media File - Media files are the raw materials you are creating your audio project with, e.g., field recordings, interviews, voice overs.  

When you add your media files into Audacity, your media files are linked to the project file.  The project files knows where your media files are saved and references them every time you open the project.  If you move your media files midway through the editing process you will likely open your project to find that all your media is offline.  

To successfully share your editing project with a teammate, they must have access to all the media files on their computer as well as the project file.  It will also require they manually show the application where these files are located on their machine.  

 

Applications like Garageband will your duplicate media and wrap it inside the project file.  This takes up more space on your computer but when sharing your edit with a team member, you can simply share the project file and it will contain all the media files as well.  

Images Directions
Open Audacity
Navigate to Audio Setup > Audio Settings and set your Project Sample rate to 48000Hz

Save your project by navigating to File > Save Project As.

Make sure to save your project file in a location you can easily locate.

Drag your media files into Audacity.  

 

Image Instruction
Selection tool - allows you to select and move the audio file
Envelope tool - allows you to adjust the volume of the audio in a specific location
Zoom in and zoom out help you see waveforms or the project more clearly
Zoom in to selection and zoom to fit project help more quickly move you to specific views
Loop allows you to enable playing a selected section of audio on repeat

Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts
Shortcut Command
p Pause/play
Space bar Start from beginning
[ ]  Make a selection
Cmd + Z Undo

Types of tracks

Mono track - Mono tracks have only one signal sent to all speakers and are usually recorded with one microphone.

Stereo track - Stereo tracks have two signals with one signal sent to the left speaker and the other signal sent to the right speaker.  Usually stereo tracks are used with environmental recordings and music where having different sounds coming from the speakers enhances the experience of listening.

Label track - A label track allows you to add notes on specific sections of your audio file within Audacity, e.g. you could mark when someone starts talking about a particular theme or when there is audio that was recorded poorly.

Creating new tracks

Image Instruction
Navigate to Tracks > Add new.  Select the track you want to add.

 

Adding labels to a Label Track

Image Instruction
Using the Selection Tool, highlight the region of the track you wish to label.
Navigate to Edit>Labels>Add Label at Selection

 

Image Instructions
  Using the Selection Tool mark the place you want to make an edit or split 

Navigate to Edit > Audio Clips > Split.  This will separate the file into two distinct clips.

If you want to extend or shorten the clip, hover your mouse over the beginning or

end of the clip and wait for the cursor to turn into two arrows.

Then click and drag to extend or shorten.

 

Audacity Interface Overview

  1. Navigation tools: Pause, play, stop, skip to start, skip to end

  2. Tools

  3. Zoom tools

  4. Meters for measuring audio

  5. Track header: Mute, Solo, track volume, delete track

Basic Editing Techniques

For this assignment consider structure your audio using the following template:

  • Introduction to event (date, location, time of day) and your feelings prior to the experience ~1 minute

  • Excerpt of recording(s) from your experience ~ 45 seconds

  • Your thoughts during the experience, statements such as "I feel..." or "Right now..." ~2 minutes

  • Clip(s) from field recording that compliments what you are saying such as close up sounds ~ 30 seconds

  • Reflection on having participated in the event, statements such as "I learned..." and "I chose this because…"  ~ 2 minutes

You are welcome to add additional sonic elements that add to your story but remember the primary goal is to attend, document and reflect on your experience.  

The times suggested above are merely guides.  Use the time you need to tell your story about your experience.

Transitions: Fades and cross dissolves are a great way to smoothly transition your listener from one clip to another.  For example, if you are cutting between two interviews recorded in different locations, adding a fade at the end and beginning of each clip can help blend disparate background room tone.

Layering: Sound effects or field recordings can help give your piece specificity and can orient your audience to their location in a particular space.  Adding audio with a range of textures and perspectives can help create depth, e.g. recording of a bee vs recording of the ambience of a field that includes distant birds, wind, leaves.

Three audio files layered one on top of the other

Saving and sharing your project

Saving your project

Depending on the application you are using saving your project file will be different.  Garageband, for example, automatically saves your project file for applications like Audacity you will manually need to navigate to File > Save. 

If your application has an auto-save feature (usually found in the properties menus of an application), it is recommended to turn it on to auto-save every 15 - 25 minutes. 

Saving your project file will allow you to continue editing your project at a later date.

Sharing your project

Every platform will have a different way to share, also sometimes referred to as exporting, your audio project.  Two common formats are:

wav files: To save an uncompressed, high quality version of your project export to a .wav file type. 

mp3 files: If you need to save space, export as an mp3 file type. Mp3 will compress your audio and potentially add unwanted artifacts.  

Uploading to Canvas

Once you have exported your podcast, you will need to upload your file to the Canvas course site.  Below are two guides for uploading the file first to your individual media gallery and then sharing that uploaded video with the course.