Friday, September 28, 2007

Trek 01 and Help Sessions

I hope that your Trek 01 excursions are going well. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

You've seen and heard some examples of what you should be looking for on your walks. Basically, we want to hear something we've never heard before, or at least in ways we are not expecting. Even the most ordinary sounds can be extraordinary if captured and listened to in the right context.

Be careful out there. Watch your surroundings, look both ways before crossing streets (seriously!), and take extra care with your gear. And don't forget to make your maps. Remember you need to pick the best five sounds for your blog, so you should be documenting as many sites on your walk as you can. Don't just record five and hope that they are all strong.

Some things to remember while you are out recording:

Make sure you are in Advanced Mode:
* Press and hold Menu for 2 Seconds.
* Rotate jog wheel until "Option" appears.
* Press "Enter" (middle button).
* Rotate to "Menu Mode," Enter.
* Rotate to "Advanced," Enter.

Make sure your discs are in Hi-MD mode:
* Menu
* Option
* Disc Mode
* Hi-MD

Make sure your discs are in Hi-SP mode:
* Menu
* REC Set
* REC Mode
* Hi-SP

Make sure you check your Mic Sensitivity:
* Menu
* REC Set
* Mic Sens
* “High” for general ambience
* “Low” for loud situations or very close mic

Make sure you are in Manual Gain mode while recording:
* Hold down Pause (II) and press REC (+>) (“Record Pause”)
* Menu
* REC Set
* REC Volume
* Manual
* You have to do this each time you hit STOP or turn on your recorder.

For those students with PCs running Windows, I STRONGLY urge you to download and use SonicStage on your own computers at home, so that the four PCs in the labs can be used by those Mac users who can only do SonicStage in the labs. Follow the steps in the tutorial and you should be fine.

We will be having Help Sessions starting Monday, but in order to avoid a crush of students, it's important that you try to do this ahead of time on your own. For those with Macs, you have access to B-18, so come in this weekend or Monday morning to transfer your sounds. Remember that it can take quite a while for SonicStage to work its magic, so be patient.

The same goes for any of the other steps for Trek 01. The help sessions are for troubleshooting your tech issues, not for trying out your processes for the first time. Attempt to complete everything on your own and we'll take it from there. All of us are eager to see you succeed with these complex technical procedures, and we want you to make excellent work. But with so many students in the class, the logistics can be a bit daunting--we can help you more efficiently if you come to us after already giving it your best shot.

For the Help Sessions, bring your laptops, external hard drive, flash drive, CD-Rs, MD Recorder with AC Adaptor, recorded MiniDisc(s), drawing supplies, and any other materials you need to ask us questions about your work in progress. Go directly to the room for the specific help session in which you are interested. If we don't see you at these sessions, we expect that you are out on your Treks or busy at home transforming your material into fantastic works of art.

Here is the Help Session schedule for Monday:

* SonicStage Transfers: Steve Wetzel, MIT B-18
* Uploading Files to PantherFile: David Witzling, MIT 353
* Audacity Editing/Exporting: Alex Torinus and Julie Murray, MIT 353
* Blogger: Glenn Bach B-91
* Drawing Maps: Lilly Czarnecki, B-68
* Scanning Maps: Scott Foley, MIT B-18

The due date for the Trek 01 blog is Sunday, October 7, at 5PM. Your blog address must use this format: FirstLast0711601, because this is how we will look to see if your blog is online by the due date. If it's wrong, and we can't find your blog, you won't get credit for meeting the deadline.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Update for Wednesday, September 26

We meet tomorrow in the lab rooms before going out to practice field recording techniques (in case of rain, we'll explore indoor sites). Remember to bring your MD recorder, mic rig, freshly charged batteries, MiniDisc, and headphones.

After the practice session, please go out on your Trek 01 (you'll have the rest of the week and the weekend to do this, but don't wait until Sunday if you can avoid it). The completed blog for Trek 01 is due Sunday, October 7th at 6pm.

Here is the list of the labs and the rooms:

Lab 1, B-91, Lilly Czarnecki
Lab 2, B-65, Scott Foley
Lab 3, B-91, Julie Murray and Alex Torinus
Lab 4, B-68, Steve Wetzel
Lab 5, B-18, David Witzling

And here's the Course Directory again.

There have been more students requesting copies of AvidFreeDV than I anticipated. So, to be fair, if you received a CD-R on Monday, or if you've e-mailed me recently for a copy, please provide me with a blank CD-R to replace the discs I've already burned.

To date 38 students have not signed up for the Technical Forum. Please do that right away, since we are starting to get into some heavy technical issues with Trek 01.

I have been receiving quite a few e-mails with some formatting problems, like missing [07116] indicators in the subject line, or blank subject lines altogether. Please review the e-mail netiquette policy on the syllabus.

Next week we will have several help sessions dedicated to specific technical issues you may be having with your Trek 01 projects (I'll be sending a separate e-mail about that later this week). In the meantime, here are the links to the tutorials and PDFs that I summarized in my lecture on Monday:

Class Syllabus

Trek 01 Page

Audacity Tutorials

PantherFile Tutorial

Blogger Tutorial

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Update for Monday, September 24

On Monday, September 24, we will meet in MUS 180 for a lecture/demo on managing your sound files (transferring your recordings using SonicStage, editing in Audacity, uploading to PantherFile, and creating/posting your Trek 01 Blog).

(Don't worry about bringing your laptops--you wont need them.)

As of this evening, I'm still missing Start Points from 38 of you. Here is the URL for the master GoogleMap (if you don't see your name or Start Point, e-mail me ASAP):

I have also updated the course directory, so now there should be no further questions about your lab or instructor(s):

Alex Torinus will lead a pre-class mic troubleshooting workshop in B-18, starting from about 1:30 PM. She will shut down the workshop just before 3 PM so that participants can get back over to MUS 180 for the start of class. If you still need to finish your windscreens, if one of your soldered wires popped loose, or if you have any other issues, go to this workshop to finish your mics. This will be the last workshop before our practice recording session on Wednesday and before you officially go out on Trek 01, so finishing your mic rig on Monday is CRITICAL.

A reminder to send any technical questions about computer hardware or software to the Technical Forum:

This e-mail list is reserved for announcements and general discussion of course content, procedural issues, and media aesthetics. The list address is

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Filmmaker Panel Series

Panel Series
Midwest Filmmaker Competition

These in-depth panels offer insight into the regional film industry and significant networking opportunities with filmmakers and industry leaders for filmmakers and the public alike. All panels are free and open to the public, unless noted.

Sponsored by: Reinhart, Boerner & Van Deuren Attorneys at Law

Life after the Festival Run: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Short Film
Friday, Sept. 28, 5:30 p.m.. Von Trier, 2235 N. Farwell Ave.
Don’t let your short film collect dust on a bookshelf or become a mantelpiece. There are plenty of new avenues for marketing and screening your short film after the festival run. Join Oscar nominated short film producer Ericka Frederick and other film industry professionals and short filmmakers who can help you get the most out of your short film, advancing your filmmaking career and helping your pocketbook.

Getting Your Indie Film Made and Seen On Public TV
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10:30 a.m., Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr.
ITVS is the single largest funder of independent work (documentaries, narratives, and animated works) on public television. Come learn about all the various funding opportunities available for independent filmmakers. ITVS Program Manager Kathryn Washington and ITVS funded producer and Milwaukee filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein will walk you through the nuts and bolts of getting your project funded for broadcast on public television.

Speed Dating: Find the Perfect Filmmaking Advice
Saturday, Sept. 29, 4:30 p.m., Von Trier, 2235 N. Farwell Ave.
Sunday, Sept. 30, 11 a.m., Twisted Fork, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.
Fifteen minutes is all you’ll have to discuss your film ideas, as film executives, and filmmakers will critique and share their advice on what you have to offer. Similar to “speed dating,” you will have the opportunity to speak with different production executives, distributors and filmmakers, gaining valuable feedback from different sources. Pre-registration required by Sept. 24, 2007. Please with your name, phone number, and the date you would like to attend.

Visions of the Future
Saturday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m., Milwaukee Art Museum , 700 N. Art Museum Drive
Wisconsin’s own film industry production leaders will discuss their vision for the future filmmaking in Wisconsin . Film Wisconsin, the new non-profit film office, will lead this panel, addressing how the industry is building for Wisconsin ’s next chapter in television and film production with the aid of state tax incentives. Introduced by Dave Fantel and moderated by Scott Robbe, panel participants will include Randy Bobo, Steve Boettcher, Bob Donnelly, Daniel Kattman, Jerry Riedel, Janine Sijan Rozina and John Tanner.

Will Digital Cinema Mean the Re-birth of Regional Cinema?
Sunday, Sept. 30, Noon, Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Drive (Admission to the screening of The Whole Shootin’ Match required.)
The Whole Shootin’ Match (1978, Eagle Pennell) is one of the seminal regional films of the American independent film movement. Made in Texas on weekends for $25,000, it was praised on release and inspired Robert Redford to start the Sundance Institute. However, since the advent of Sundance, the appropriate term “regional” has been replaced by the more generic “independent.” This panel will explore the restoration and digital cinema distribution of The Whole Shootin’ Match, while asking the question, “What happened to the regional film movement in America?”

Friday, September 21, 2007

Problem with GoogleGroup

Hello all (or at least the few of you who have been able to add),

I'm having some nagging difficulties with Google in getting people subscribed to this list. When I originally tried to add everyone, Google flagged my request and changed it to Invite. Yet, when folks tried to accept the invite and add, they were told they weren't allowed to add and must be invited. A classic Catch-22. So, I dropped all the invitees and re-invited them, thinking that this might clear up the problem, but Google then flagged my request to invite for review (1-2 business days). So, it may be a while until I can get everyone on board.

Your continued patience is appreciated.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

GoogleGroup and Start Point

Please accept the GoogleGroups invite and add your name and profile. If you are prevented from adding, I will add you later (no need to e-mail me).

E-mail your Start Points to me and your section instructor no later than this Friday. That's tomorrow.

More on Audacity coming soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Follow Up for Week 3

The Discussion Group is on hold while Google reviews my request to add all of your names to the list. Hopefully it will be up and running in a day or two.

A reminder that we will be continuing our mic building sessions right after the Production Kits are distributed on Wednesday. For those whose mics are finished, you can spend some time with the MiniDisc recorder and start making some practice recordings. For those who are still working on their mics, we will have the stations set up ahead of time so you can jump right back in after getting your kits. We will also have a station or two set up before class, starting at 1:30 or 2, probably in B-18.

After you have your kits and your working mics, make some practice sound recordings with your digital sound recorder and your microphones. Check for excessive wind noise. (There should be a 1" gap of dead air around the capsules.)

If you are going to work at home, you should have already downloaded and installed SonicStage. If not, do this now. Follow the steps in the Hi-MD tutorial and practice transferring your sound recordings using SonicStage.
Note that there are four PC platforms for doing your SonicStage transfers at school: two in MIT 353 and two in MIT B-18 (apparently card-swipe access to B-18 was given to everyone in class, so hopefully we're done with that).

We'll have the Audacity lecture and demo on Monday the 24th, but it's a good idea to read up on Audacity beforehand. Check out this Audacity primer, especially the section about "Preferences: Setup, Audio Import and Playback."

For further practice in Audacity, check out a FAQ and more tutorials:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Update for Week 3

Thank you all for being patient with the mic building session last week. I'm sorry that we had such problems with the supplies (mics in particular) and a shortage of soldering equipment. But a shipment of extra soldering wands has arrived, and so we will be able to set up more stations and hopefully avoid some of the backlog we had last week. Our goal is to have everyone done with their mics and ready to go.

So, tomorrow let's meet in B-91 for some brief announcements before we split off into the various breakout rooms.

In order to accommodate more students, Lilly Czarnecki will be leading an early soldering session in B-53 (or one of the available labs) starting at 1:30. Please e-mail Lilly to confirm your attendance (

To date I've only received Trek 01 Start Points from ten students. Make sure to e-mail your Start Points to me and to your lab instructor(s) as soon as possible.

If you haven't already, download and install SonicStage if you are working from home on a PC. (If you are using Mac, you must use the PCs in MIT B-18 or 353.)

If you haven't already, download and install Audacity.

Both of these procedures are covered in the syllabus:

Remember to register for the class Discussion Forum, and use it for any technical questions you may have:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Supply Update

Just a quick note to update you on the supply situation. Several of you have e-mailed to tell me that Riverwest Film and Video is all out of supplies (or out of some but not others). All of the gear, except for the mic capsules, can be found elsewhere. If you can’t find rechargeable batteries, for example, just pick up standard batteries anywhere for now (rechargeable are cheaper in the long run, though). There is a stash of mic capsules here in the Film Department, so we will have some for sale this afternoon. If you could not purchase the other supplies, please show up anyway to observe the mic building sessions. If we can't get your mics finished today, we will wrap it all up on Monday.

Please let me know if you do not have access to your own computer and you plan to work in MIT B-18 after hours--I will need to arrange for you to get card-swipe access. You mentioned this information in your surveys, but it’s good to get confirmation here. Thanks for the surveys, by the way--they will definitely help us get to know all of you better.

It’s good to see some Trek 01 Start Points coming in. A draft of the GoogleMaps Tutorial is now online, for those who are interested:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Field Recording Practice Sessions

A reminder about the Field Recording Practice Sessions for Wednesday, September 26.

If you already own some of the supplies on the list (enclosed-ear headphones for example, or a battery charger), then by all means use your own gear. And feel free to shop elsewhere, particularly online, where you can find really good deals and have stuff shipped overnight or 2-3 day.

Riverwest Film and Video only carries 1GB Hi-MD MiniDiscs. One advantage is that you can hold quite a bit of sound on the 1GB disc. The downside (in addition to higher cost) is that all of your data is located on one disc, and if something bad were to happen to that one disc, you could be in trouble. Standard MiniDiscs should be available at our campus Bookstore, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s Electronics, and are definitely available online:

Whichever version of MiniDisc you end up purchasing, we will adjust accordingly.

Here is the link to the GoogleMap for Riverwest Film and Video (zoom out to see the campus):

I’m almost finished with the GoogleMaps Tutorial. I will post a link on the syllabus this afternoon or evening. Look for it here:

Take some time to review the soldering guide:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

FILM 116 Introduction, AvidFreeDV

Welcome, again, to Film 116. This is the first e-mail you will be
receiving from me and/or the other instructors regarding this course.

Before I go any further, I want to suggest that you follow this link to
download Avid Free DV as soon as possible:

(If you are using a Mac and don't have Stuffit Expander already
installed on your computer, download a copy before you go any further.)

Avid Free DV is a cross-platform (runs on both PC and Mac) video editing application with a substantial amount of troubleshooting wisdom collected over the years, as well as some thorough tutorials that have been developed. Unfortunately, the Avid company is no longer "officially" supporting this free version of its Avid software, but they
are apparently still allowing it to be downloaded.

Avid Free DV is one option (and a good one) for you to choose for your video editing application when we begin to work on Trek 02, beginning in early October. You aren't "required" to use Avid Free DV, but it's a good idea to get a copy of it anyway before it disappears forever.

(If you don't want to receive junk mail from Avid, un-click the three
boxes near the bottom of the registration form marked "news.")

(PC users: please note that Avid Free DV runs on Windows XP, not on Vista.)


Here are some things you need to do this weekend to get ready for this


1. Buy the required supplies for the class (must have by Wednesday, September 12).

2. Familiarize yourself with Firefox, the web browser we will use in this class. If you plan to work on a computer at home that is online, download and install the most recent version of Firefox.

3. If you are new to advanced computing, consider signing up for the Short Courses on Operating Systems and Internet Skills.

4. Spend some time with your PantherMail account. If you want to have your UWM e-mail forwarded to your existing e-mail application, visit PantherMail and click on the "Forward Mail" option.

5. Register to use the class Discussion Forum by following directions in the "How to Register" section. Set your User Profile settings in the Discussion Forum by following directions in the "User Profile Settings"

6. Complete the Survey form (both sides) and bring to class on Monday. Don't forget to attach a photocopy of your PantherID (or a
recent snapshot).


That's it for now. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday (in Music 180).


P.S. We will discuss this on Monday, but please review our policy on
e-mail netiquette:

You will be expected to learn how to use politeness when using e-mail:

1. Enable the receiver of your e-mail to use a "mailbox" to store e-mails from an ongoing discussion with you. In this class, accomplish this by ALWAYS INCLUDING THE STRING [07116] IN THE SUBJECT LINE** of all new e-mails you create pertaining to the class. This can greatly aid you and the instructor in getting to your important e-mail quickly without having to sort through numerous unlabled e-mail messages. You can set up mailboxes in most e-mail apps, including Panthermail.

2. Use "Reply" to reply to an e-mail, not "New Message."

3. Make sure your e-mail application is set to automatically "include (or quote) the original message" in the body of the e-mail when you reply. The "include the original message" may not be the "default setting" in your e-mail application, and may have to be changed in the applications Preferences. If you respond to an e-mail by creating a new e-mail, the prior correspondence will not be included--this practice should be avoided.

4. If you have good habits about using the Subject line in your e-mails, congratulations! If not, this class will probably improve them. Instructors go through many e-mails and need some sense of the content in order to work through them efficiently. The rules are simple: if you have changed the topic, change the subject line. If you emphasize a new aspect that was added to the discussion (as when a discussion splits into several discussions), change the subject line and include a "was" phrase like this:

You received:
Subject: Where Can I Find SonicStage v3.4?

You return:
Subject: SSv3.4 & XP Home edition (was Where Can I Find SonicStage v3.4?)

5. Do not forward or "cc" anyone's e-mail to anyone else without the original author's knowledge that you are doing so.

6. Read the whole e-mail before you start responding to any part.

7. If you are frustrated with the way a communication is going, consider writing a draft reply and sleep on it before sending it.

8. Without the clues of face-to-face communication, humor, irony, sarcasm, and wit can be easily misinterpreted, but don't let that stop you! (Seriously.) Try including a smiley icon, wink icon, or a brief conditional phrase like "ha-ha" in parentheses when you think there is a chance the receiver might not know that you are laughing, joking, etc.