Individual Soundslides project

After my group project with Brad Estes using Soundslides, I took a stab at doing it all on my own.

My own project focused on the Bim Kendall House, the new facility that the Environment and Natural Resources department just moved into. I talked to Courtney Carlson, the Assistant Director of the ENR department and Nicole Korfanta, the Associate Director of the ENR department, to see what was unique about the Kendall House.

In contrast to working with Brad, this project was easier to organize but not as easy to package. With Brad, as with all group work, there were difficulties organizing schedules. While that problem proved to be insignificant it is not as easy as just being able to work around your own schedule.

However, it was definitely nice to spread out the editing work. Brad is better-experienced with photo editing and it took some of the weight off of the project.

The only creative issue I ran into was finding pictures. Apparently the variable frequency engines can be heard but not accessed so I couldn’t gather any pictures to play with the ambient noise. Though, I imagine that variable frequency engines have a very low ceiling when it comes to visual potential.

As far as technical problems go, the process was much easier. I blew through the Soundslides software. Magically, every issue I had the first time vanished this time around. At least the troubles from last time produced a learning experience; one that I actually retained no less!

Audio was much clearer. There wasn’t as much background noise as in the wrestling project. The acoustics were still not great (green doesn’t equal good sound quality) but much better than wrestling. The buzzing of the lights can be heard from time to time.

The photography was so much easier this time. There weren’t as many opportunities for diversity, but the lighting was easier and I actually obtained an SLR camera capable of legitimate photography. I know that it’s the photographer, not the equipment but there are ways to make this easier on yourself.

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Soundslides critique

I looked at three soundslides projects from my classmates and learned a lot about how my classmates took on the project.

Brooke Eades and Dyann Diercks

The photography in this project was probably the best I saw in any project. I know it can be pretty difficult to shoot decent photos in the Arena Auditorium so I was really impressed by the quality of the photos. I also liked the mix of the voices and the amibient noise selection was very cool.

The only thing I would have done differently would have been to edit some of the audio differently. I thought there were parts that weren’t necessary but that’s hardly a big deal and overall I thought the project was excellent.

Adrienne Morency and Courtney Wilhelm

I liked this one a lot too. I think the photo selection was very good and the sound quality was good for the most part.

There are two things I would have changed about this. I would have used more ambient noise to separate the speakers. It works well as a buffer between speakers and I would have tried to focus the interview a little more on one instance. I think a single story would have been pretty interesting.

Tiffany Le Gal and Anna Rader

The pictures were really cool on this and I liked the ambient noise a lot. The music was an obvious but excellent choice for the international angle on the project. I think the subject matter was pretty fun too. I think they did a good job selecting people for anecdotes and the ambient noise was a great way to separate the speakers in the story.

The only complaint that I have is that the editing was a little choppy at points. It’s a difficult problem to avoid but I think allowing more space would have made it sound a little more natural.

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Soundslides project

Brad Estes and I spent the last few weeks compiling audio tracks and photos of the wrestling team for a first work with soundslides software.

Our project was a look at the UW wrestling team.

I thought soundslides was pretty intuitive and fun to work with. The only problem I had with it was that it takes about a day and a half for the photos to load. The rest of the work was pretty fun.

This was a difficult project to do as a group. After all, only one person at a time can edit an audio track. However, I think Brad and I did it pretty well. I thought the process went very well and our project moved as smoothly as I could have hoped.

The biggest problem that we ran into was with the photography. I was unaware that the single most difficult location for photography was the University of Wyoming’s wrestling room. I exaggerate but it was a huge challenge. The field house lighting was much better and it made it possible to get a few usable shots but the practice room was a challenge to say the least. Perhaps I’ll look to borrow a more capable camera for my next en devour.

The only other problem was with the background noise. It can be difficult to schedule interviews with coaches and athletes in areas that are conducive to good audio quality though I think it turned out pretty well given the circumstances.

There were a few things I would adjust for the next project. I am going to try to track down a camera that’s easier to use. Which is a nice way of saying that I plan on mooching my friends camera because it would be easier than using mine. Other than that, I think I’ll just try to allot more time for uploading my images onto soundslides.

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Sound Slide Ideas

Junction Tobacco Owner:

I have a friend who smokes pipe tobacco. He buys all his tobacco from this sweet old lady at Junction Tobacco on Grand Avenue. She’s very interesting. She is great to talk to and she has a tobacco that she named after a former customer because he allegedly smoked 80 pounds of it in his life. The prospect of smoking 80 pounds of dry tobacco is mind-boggling. Could also be why he’s not alive anymore.

This story is strictly feature based. I find her fascinating. It’s kind of cool little shop and it’s been in town as long as I can remember. I would imagine that the pipe tobacco crowd is fairly loyal considering there can’t be more than 10 people left who do it. I imagine her roots in the community run fairly deep.

For sources I would obviously talk to her. Then likely I’d just talk to a few of her customers. They could be just as interesting as she is.Also I could speak with the Chamber of Commerce. Find out how long the shop has been there etc.

The Williams Conservatory

The Williams Conservatory is the green house located west of Old Main. It’s a neat little building. They do all the botany work in there and there are some pretty interesting and exotic plants in there. I think it would be a good spot for interviews and pictures.

This would also be a feature based story. Though there are opportunities for harder news. There may be projects going on that would add a little timeliness to the story.

Botany professors would make a good source for this piece. It would also be cool to talk to the students working in the green house as well as whomever is charged with caring for the facility.

Nordic Ski Club

The Nordic club team at UW is actually fairly competitive. They got invited to a national event this year and they’ve done pretty well since I’ve been in Laramie. They’ve been club national champions on more than one occasion and I think it would be a good story.

The feature content for this story would be pretty good and it could also work as something as a season preview for the season.

The coach would be a good source for this piece. Also the club organizer and the skiers themselves would make the process fairly easy.

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Audio editing critique

After producing my own edited audio interview, I looked at those of my peers to see how they handled the audio editing process.

Brad Estes

I liked the passing of this interview. It didn’t seem like the author was trying to cram too much into the short two-minute frame. This was a problem I struggled with personally but this interview did not seem rushed in any way.

The two primary issues I have with this piece is that it seems to lack a little focus. I think the piece would be better if the author had selected one point to expand upon. That may have given the interview a little more intrigue and seem less like a straight question-answer and more like a story. As well, there was some obvious ambient noise going on in the background that was a little distracting. A better venue would have eliminated that.

Courtney Wilhelm

This was a pretty interesting story. The subject matter was cool and I liked the way that the author edited herself out of the piece. Editing out the questions can work well if the piece works better as a story than an interview and for this piece I think it most certainly flowed well as a story.

The only complaint that I have with the interview is that the sound quality dips in and out at two spots during the interview. It’s hard to say what caused this. One thing that I try to do to avoid this is to set the recorder down so it’s always reading at the same level. However, this really only works best if the subject and the interviewer are stationary. Other than that, this piece was fairly flawless.

Dyann Diercks

Like Courtney’s piece, this story works really well for just cutting out the questions and letting the story be told. The information was really good and the flow of the work was really solid. The piece was fun and interesting to listen to and I thought the flow was very coherent and not at all rushed.

This piece was well-edited but, again, the sound quality was less than ideal. There was a static prevailing over the piece that hindered it slightly. I can’t speak as to the problem but I could speculate that the settings were incorrectly used on the recorder. Speaking from personal experience I know that it is common practice to put the recorder on its highest setting because you get the best quality through ambient noise but this proves less effective when you’re in a quiet setting in a one-on-one situation. The higher frequency focuses on the lone voice and it gets distorted. That, however, is just a shot in the dark. I can’t accurately say what caused the problem. I could just be going deaf.

For me personally, I thought this process was not only educational but encouraging. Having done it, I’m interested in doing more work editing the interviews that I already conduct. Since I’m doing interviews all the time for The Branding Iron, it would be logical for me to try to use those pieces for my own advancement in the field of audio editing.

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Audio recording excercise edited

After a lot of intimate time with Audacity and having to listen to the same raw audio file more times than I cared to, I finally finished hacking through my interview with Max D’Onofrio, a political science major at the University of Wyoming.

Max D’Onofrio Edited
Max interview Edited by Tom Hesse

This was quite the endeavor but I actually really enjoyed it. Editing down the file to post on Sound Cloud was somewhat like a reverse puzzle. I spent far too much time on one section trying to edit out a verbal stutter that he had just to see if I could do it. For curiosity’s sake, the point in question is at the 1:23 mark of the track. On the phrase, “the high school trip” D’Onofrio double-tapped on the word “the” and I tried to clean it up. If you really listen for it you can catch it but I had fun trying to cut it out. It was like surgery without all the grossness and risk of malpractice.

One of the things I picked up on from the editing process is that you have check and re-check every single transition. You can’t eliminate every fraction of dead space because it makes the piece sound unnatural. Also, when you cut out a stutter, for instance when a subject will say “and…which..” as they think about their next point, You have to be wary as to that transition otherwise you may edit it into a phrase that changes the meaning or just out-and-out doesn’t sound right.

I was surprised to see how easy it can be to detect transitions when you put them in. I had never noticed audio cuts to the point of fault until I started working on them myself. It could be quite maddening for a perfectionist, I’m sure. Though that did add to the fun of it. Half-way through I realized it was important to document where I was in the editing process by writing down the points in the track that I was working on. That way when I went back and listened to it, I could move things around faster by referencing those breaks in my notes.

In general I found audio editing to be exhaustively fun. It was certainly difficult but when you get into the rhythm of it, it becomes very challenging and fun.

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Audio interview

I took a stab at producing my first audio interview. I’ve done well over a hundred interviews with a voice recorder in my work for The Branding Iron but this is the first time I’ve tried to put that interview online and edit it.

This is my raw, unedited interview with Max D’Onofrio, a junior in the political science department. It’s posted via Sound Cloud and I’m editing it using Audacity.

Max interview by Tom Hesse

The first thing I noticed is an increased emphasis on sound quality. When I’m just doing an interview for a print story then I don’t concern myself with the sound quality as much because I just need it as a source of information. In this case, I spent a lot of time looking for multiple ways to increase my sound quality.

One of the things I learned from this is to take a minute before the interview to evaluate the area. I had the luxury of picking nearly any location I wanted but what I didn’t consider was recorder placement. After I started the interview I noticed that there existed better places to put the recorder. This would be especially difficult if the recording site is not ideal. Sometimes you can help mitigate the effects of bad acoustics if you place your recorder effectively.

I enjoyed working with this audio. The editing process is actually entertaining. I hope to have the edited sound file up quickly. I enjoyed doing this practice interview because even though I’ve done it before, it was nice to get a chance to do it with someone who I could be flexible with. I realized that it’s important to be very clear with my questions and directions before starting the interview.

I think everything went fairly well with my interview. I thought it was great and valuable practice towards being effective with audio recording.

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Counting Exercise

Ambient noise was an interesting exercise but to actually use the data I had to learn to edit sound. With the help of software from audacity, I edited a recording of random numbers into an ordered counting from one to ten.

Counting original

Counting Original by Tom Hesse

Counting edited

Counting Edited by Tom Hesse

I enjoyed this project. Audacity is not as daunting as it first seems. In fact it’s fairly intuitive and anything else can be handled with patience. This is the first time I’ve edited music using audacity. I have only once before edited music with the use Sibelius, which is a music composition software that also can function in a limited capacity of audio editing.

I thought audacity was very user-friendly and the composition of the piece was easier than I would have anticipated it to be. I generally feel that practice is necessary with this sort of thing. Counting is pretty straightforward but if I want to edit a conversation or something larger than I would definitely want more practice in handling transitions and making a smooth piece. It is generally easy to tell when a piece has been edited but It is certainly distracting when a piece becomes choppy and broken.

The visual representation of the track is the biggest help with audacity. It is so much more convenient to cut and paste when you can visibly detect where the pauses and dead space occur. The thing I want to experiment with the most is how to transition pieces so that you can edit out unnecessary parts of an answer to a question. For instance if a piece is interrupted by outside noise or if someone were to walk in the room I’d like to figure out how to seamlessly remove that portion of the recording.

In general I’m very pleased with my work on sound editing. For what was, for the most part, my first real experience editing, I was happy with it and I am excited to do more with it.

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Ambient Noise

After exploring the world of audio reporting and recognizing how other reporters use ambient noise to add color and life to their pieces, I set out to collect my own ambient noise samples.

Water Draining
Water Draining by Tom Hesse

I came up with the water draining sound shortly after the water dripping sound (funny how that works out). I liked the way it sounded and I think it can be used in many places. The sound makes for a great comedic slant on an audio story. For instance, a story about a dismal economy or disappearing funds for ASUW would be well accented with the sound.


Water by Tom Hesse

Water dripping is an obvious choice but it is a methodical pleasing sound if you stop to appreciate it. Found this piece in the always-inspiring confines of my own bathroom.

I like this piece. It could be used for a variety of things. If for instance you were doing a piece on tourism at Niagara Falls, you could use it as a humorous metaphor by using the sound of lightly flowing water to symbolize a decrease in traffic. Or, for a more local flow it could simply be used in a transition between points when talking about something like a water line break.


Typing by Tom Hesse

Typing is cliché but that’s not to say it isn’t a useful sound. I recorded this at a computer lab in the Library computer lab. The trick is to find one of those people who types with purpose.

This is a great sound for a piece on someone like an author. It’s a great one for any story that is kinda hard to pin down. Some stories don’t lend themselves to great ambient noise so you have to be creative and sounds like this can help to liven up a piece.

Tree branch tapping window

Tree branch hitting window by Tom Hesse

Wind storms are great for ambient noise. I listened to this tree branch hitting my window for a while till I broke from my trance to actually record it. The strangest thing is how rhythmic it is. It hits at a pretty consistent pace. I would like this piece in a story about weather. Maybe a follow-up on a hurricane or tornado.

Walking on leafs

Leafs Crunching by Tom Hesse

Sometimes the campus lawn crew is slow to clean up the leafs, which is great for ambient noise and leaf lovers everywhere. This sound would work well in a story about fall. Maybe city cut backs have led to less frequent leaf clearing at parks. There’s a few places where this would add character to a story. At least during the month of October.

Clock ticking

Clock ticking by Tom Hesse

I have an old wind-up alarm clock. I like the ticking of it. I’ll put it on just listen to it so naturally I decided to add it to my collection. Outside of a rip off of 60 Minutes, this could be used for a story about the approach of April 15 or any story where time is more of the story than anything else.

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Audio Journalism Exploration

I recently looked through a few sources of audio journalism online. The New York Times and National Public Radio had some outstanding material and I broke down a few of their pieces.

Lynn True: The Sports Fan

This is the story of Lynn True told by Lynn True. It details True’s experience as a New York Giants fan and how it contrasts with her life. I really enjoyed the way the piece was edited. It wasn’t choppy and I think it highlighted some interesting pieces. I was very interested to hear what it’s like to be a fan with a lifestyle which seems so incredibly hectic. It was a great piece to listen to.

I thought the piece did a good job of highlighting certain features. For instance, the story needed to include a reaction to the Super Bowl win. It just had to. But the other parts were equally strong. I thought it moved well through the piece. I thought it was balanced well and I liked the issues that the reporter chose to highlight and how the reporter chose to order them. Of course, the ingredient that pushed this work over the top was the slide show. I loved the pictures. Some were unimportant or irrelevant but the piece as a whole looked gorgeous and made the story so much more fun.

My primary issue with this interview and in fact all of the pieces in this series that I listened to, was that they were too short. I wish I could have heard so much more. I felt as though there was a lot to be desired. I understand however, that part of the exercise is to leave something to be desired proving that everyone’s story is fascinating. I also understand the difficulties of assembling a lengthy audio recording piece that can flow coherently.

In Hollywood, Big Ambitions Move to the Small Screen

This piece is a swift run down of the changing culture in Hollywood regarding television content. It was portrayed as a soft news piece and I think the reporter did an outstanding job.

Listening to it, I got a great sense of the subject and the information. I could quickly understand the purpose of and direction of the piece. I thought the reporter asked great questions and did a wonderful job a leading the interview. The questions moved logically and the interaction between the host and the subject seemed very natural.

I wish the interview had been a little more focused. I liked the way it peered into HBO but I do wish the reporter would have asked specific questions regarding history or say the attitude regarding specific shows like The Wire and how that’s changed future outlooks on programming.

Richard Valvo: The Spokesman

This piece tells the story of Valvo’s work as a PR guy and his anecdotes are brilliant.

I really got a sense for the idea that Valvo has built a career simply out of being an extrovert. I loved how the piece ended with the quote “I will talk to anybody and everybody who will listen to me.” I thought that was a great way to encompass the person.

The reporter did a great job on this piece. The Bin Laden anecdote was superb. It was an incredible story. I really enjoyed the way the reporter supplemented the sounds of Valvo entering a restaurant and greeting people. It added great qualities to the story. I have nothing to complain about with this piece.




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