Draft Audio Story

This project started about three times.  This is the final draft version of that.  Initially I had envisioned using an interview of a public official and other sound for this, but after visiting Pike Place Market and interviewing Leonard King, a homeless man selling newspapers, the focus of this piece shifted completely.

Walking around Pike Place with my Zoom H4N microphone, it was fun to be an audio tourist.  My microphone was almost like a different world, I could hear individual conversations and pick them out of the crowd kind of like a spy. When I ran across Leonard, it was just so easy and I transitioned right back into the world I know so well, and just started interviewing him on the spot after asking him for permission to record.

This however is not my first experience with audio. I’ve been doing this for 15 years as a photojournalist.  I am rigt at home assembling these types of pieces, but I rarely have gotten the chance to write these pieces, so I chose to focus more on the storytelling aspect for the rough draft.  Assembling this story, I logged all of the interviews in Microsoft Word, chose the sound bites, and then wrote a script that is just about 3 minutes in length.  In Audition, I was able to put together this very rough cut of the piece.  The last five or so days have been a complete whirlwind, with two job interviews, and trying to get my new house unpacked, installed and the family working again, I have had to reschedule quite a few other projects, this one included.  That being said, this piece is simply the foundation.  I will be adding other audio to the piece to add the ambiance, to adjust the transitions between the audio clips, and make the piece seem more natural and cohesive.  For the draft, I was more concerned with the story line and the continuity of the piece.  In the television world, I have laid down my “a-roll” track, and now I will add the “b-roll” audio to sweeten and connect the whole piece.

The best part of this whole project had been being able to get out and spend more time that I typically would be able to if I was doing this in a professional setting.  The nuances of the audio and freedom of exploration has been very liberating.

3 Comments on “Draft Audio Story

  1. Hi Marcus,

    Wow, the substance of your audio draft is really good. How much audio footage did it take to get those great quotes? You arranged them in a way that, with your narration, creates a “clear, nuanced, fully comprehensive communication of the topic” (from the rubric). I must say that I am lucky you did not have the time to polish this draft last week, because I don’t know that there would have been much left on which I could offer critical suggestions!

    Here are my critiques. At :27 it sounds like your sentence is broken, almost as if you ran out of breath. It’s not a huge, and I do understand strategically placed pauses, but this one just doesn’t sound quite right. 2:34 has something similar. I feel like Leonard’s introduction of himself is too short. He starts to introduce himself, and then he’s suddenly cut off. It just seems really abrupt. Some of your transitions are pretty rough. I love Leonard’s longer quotes. I’m sure you already have plans to do this, but I think the piece needs a conclusion. I’m really looking forward to your final draft. 🙂

    Mary

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  2. I think you did a great job with this piece. It’s very well put-together and professional, and already sounds like a news clip you would hear on the radio.

    You did a great job in your interview of getting the homeless man to open up, which will allow listeners to really feel for him. I also think the background information you give in between his segments of speech helps the listener understand what he’s going through. Additionally, I think the background noise behind the homeless man’s speech helps place him.

    The first suggestion I would offer is to cut some time out of the interview. The assignment says our tracks should be between 1-3 minutes, and you’re slightly over. It may be best to figure out which quotes are strongest and eliminate others.

    I also noticed that at the start of your piece your voice seemed to be a little bit rushed. If you cut some content, maybe you could re-record that piece or slow it down.

    Finally, in reading your blog post, I saw that you considered interviewing a public official. I think a second interview could add a valuable element that could take the story to the next level.

    Like I said, this is a very strong project overall. Great work!

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  3. A few of the comments that I have gotten have asked how I got the interview that I did…it was actually quite simple. I saw Leonard King on the corner, and had already been recording ambient sound while walking down the sidewalk when I walked up to him. He asked what I was recording…since I had a microphone and headphones on walking down the sidewalk. I asked if he would be willing to answer a few questions, and I just went into the interviewing mode that I’ve done for the past 15 years working as a photojournalist in the media. I only had to ask three questions…and he just gave me everything I needed. Sometimes it’s that easy. You just have to let them talk freely while being a sympathetic listener. You have to be patient, and willing to let them tell you their story, and not force them tell you the story you want. And sometimes it’s just magic. This was one of those times.

    The reason I didn’t include the public official that I had already interviewed was that the context between them just didn’t match up…they were just in opposite worlds, and I wouldn’t have been able to make it work without lengthening the piece. Listening to the audio again, I think I have found a few places that I can tighten up the interview, and I am planning on adding back in some ambient sound so that it doesn’t have the sharp contrast between the track and the interview. I am also trying to find out a way to add more of the non-verbal Seattle ambience (music, sounds of the market, etc.) into the interview without removing too much of the track or interview and without making the piece too long. This could have easily been a 6-7 minute audio piece, but c’est la vie. I’ll find a way to put it all together and make it into a professional quality piece.

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