Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drift 1 Help Session

Hello, all.

Tomorrow, October 1, is dedicated to an open Help Session for any and
all technical, procedural, and aesthetic issues arising from your Drift
1 experiences. We will be available in B18 to help you troubleshoot
SonicStage, Audacity, PantherFile, Blogger, and map scanning. We can
also review your materials and give you feedback on how to make the best
decisions in editing your work.

Please note that this is a Help Session dedicated to troubleshooting,
and we are happy to help in whatever ways we can, but we ask that you
come prepared: we will assume that you've already attempted to transfer
your recordings via SonicStage, completed some editing in Audacity, and
had some experience with PantherFile and Blogger after posting your
Research Blogs.

We hope to see you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Drift 1 Practice Crit

Hello, all.

I hope you had a good and productive weekend, and that your Drift walks
were successful.

I've seen Reading Responses from a little less than half the class, so I
hope that I'll see more trickle in tonight and tomorrow.

Tomorrow we meet in B91 for a Drift 1 practice critique session, where
we will look at Drift 1 blogs from previous semesters and listen to some
field recordings.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Drift 1 this weekend!

Hello all,

Thanks again for your attendance and patience today. We have a lot of
material to cover in this class, and I know that it's a lot to absorb,
but the hard part (building mics) is over, and now the fun part can begin.

I strongly suggest you complete your Drift 1 walk this weekend so that
you will have plenty of time to transfer and begin editing your

The first step in editing is to listen. Listen, listen, listen, and
then listen some more. Drop the raw recordings into your iPod and have
them playing in the background when you're working on something else.
Get to know the sounds you've recorded so you can make smart decisions
when you really get deep into Audacity (or whatever audio app you are

I will say it again: please go out on your Drift walk this weekend. We
all underestimate how much time things will take, and even after you get
your recordings off your recorder, convert them to WAVs, edit them in
Audacity, and export them as clean MP3s, you still have to upload them
to PantherFile, post them in your Drift 1 blog, add visual elements, and
write eloquent descriptions of what you've done. This is not something
you can do the night before. Trust me.

So, go out, be safe, be creative, and have fun. I've included the Drift
1 Walking Points found on the Drift 1 page:

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all on Monday.




Drift 1 "Walking Points"

Wear appropriate clothing. Bring your Hi-MD digital sound recorder and
DIY mic rig, a MiniDisc (pre-formatted), headphones, at least four
fully-charged AA batteries, pens, note pad, watch, water, snacks,
sunscreen, and cell phone.

Travel to your designated starting point and go, on foot, for a
four-hour long investigative walk. Use the Drift strategy you selected
for this Drift. If the weather gets too hot or cold or wet, consider
interesting indoor places to continue recording while you recover
(indoor locations are acceptable for this project--to an extent).

Pay attention to your surroundings, be safe, and watch for cars
(especially those inconsiderate drivers who fail to yield to
pedestrians). If you are taking a digital camera with you (or your
cameraphone), try to do only one activity at a time. Don't take
snapshots while you're trying to hold your recorder and mics and
headphones at the same time. This is not the time to multi-task!

Turn on your sound recorder and place it into Record-Pause (blinking
numbers) and then into Manual Gain mode. Listen very attentively (either
through the headphones or with your naked ears).

Whenever you detect that you have entered into a different soundscape,
record the following information and examples:

(a) On your pad of paper take notes describing where you are. Give the
location a name. In addition to drawing prominent features in the
location, write down street names, exact addresses of nearby buildings,
and names of nearby interesting streets. When no address is available,
make note of distances like "100 yards north of green #4 at Lincoln Park
Golf Course." Make sketches, diagrams, and/or snapshots. You will use
this information to make your maps.

(b) Start your sound recorder and verbally speak the name you have given
this location, the date, and the time.

(c) Make at least three "ambience" recordings from three different
stationary positions in the location. See if you can find "sweet spots"
where the stereo image is interesting. Study the space for surfaces and
partial enclosures that could be reflecting and shaping the sounds. For
stereo, try "balancing" two aspects of varied interest between the two
mics. Ambience changes over time, so be sure to let each of these
recordings continue for at least three or four minutes, preferably
longer. Do not move the mics when recording stereo ambience because it
blurs subtle clues about the space and its acoustics.

(d) In the same location walk around and listen for as many distinct
local sounds as you can find and isolate with extreme close micing. In
urban setttings, these sounds can possess high and/or low pitches,
textured rhythms, phasing drones, and blends of tones in harmonic
chords. In natural habitats, local sound effects can include different
animals and a large variety of natural events. In both cases, sound
effects should be mic'd close. Experiment with different mic positions
to affect balance and stereo image. These recordings should also run for
several minutes each, preferably longer. Remember, storage space is
cheap. Better to record more often than you think you need, and for
longer than you think you need.

Continue on your Drift. Stop to create both ambient and close-up
recordings whenever you enter a new sound environment. Don't forget to
make a map of each new location. You should try to to document at least
8-12 sites during your four-hour walk. If you don't come across a
location that sounds different after 15 minutes of walking, stop and
record anyway. You may be surprised to discover that something that
seemed boring in the field turns out very interesting upon playback.
Your goal is to have well over an hour of stereo sound recorded by the
end of your Drift (remember that your Hi-MD discs can hold up to 7 hours
of CD-quality uncompressed audio). You can continue for longer than four
hours if you wish.

Technical Precautions: Remember to press "Stop" and let the "Saving to
Disc" routine continue to completion with the recorder perfectly still.
Have fresh batteries on hand . . . you don't want your recorder to go
dark just when you're about to save your recordings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SonicStage Overview, Audacity Demo

Hello, all.

Tomorrow, September 24, we meet in B91 for a SonicStage overview and
Audacity demo. I also hope to give a brief demo on GoogleMaps, if we
have time.

Speaking of maps, remember that your Drift 1 blog must contain (or link
to) a Drift Map of some sort that includes:

* the outermost boundaries of your walk (including an overall
reference to City and State)
* the line(s) of your walk as determined by your Drift strategy
* key soundmarks / landmarks pinpointed with markers or symbols
* descriptions of these soundmarks / landmarks
* date/time you explored this site

The Drift Map may be a drawing, painting, collage, comic, manipulated
photo, or GoogleMap, and will be the first post on your Drift 1 Blog
(followed by your Drift Strategy). Each of the five field recordings
you post on your Blog must be accompanied by some visual element: a
detail from your Drift Map, a photo of the site, a sketch, or whatever.
Be creative, and have fun.

If you haven't gone on your Drift walk yet, you should this weekend.
Drift 1 is not due until October 13, but it's important that you gather
your raw recordings now (and a lot of them!) so that you will have
plenty of time to listen, edit, post, and troubleshoot. Record more
than you think you need, and for longer than you think you need. You'll
be glad you did.

All of this information can be found on the Drift 1 page:

Remember to keep up with your readings. The first Reflective Response
must be posted to your Research blog by Sunday, September 28, 5 PM.
Pick one of the following articles for your Response: Cresswell, Cross,
Debord, Ferrington, Hart, Lippard, Russolo, This American Life, Toop,
Westerkamp. The questions, and links to the readings, can be found on
the Research page:

We'll see you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Field Recording Practice Session, Monday, September 22

Hello, all.

Thanks, again, for your patience with the microphone building sessions.
I hope that most of you are ready to go, and that the rest of you will
be on Monday.

We will meet tomorrow, Monday, September 22, at 3 in the Lab rooms for
the Field Recording Practice Session. I will be in B-18 for the
duration of class with the soldering gear for any last-minute adjustments.

Remember to bring your production kits, headphones, and some fresh
batteries. And, of course, your dazzling new microphones.

Check the Directory for your lab rooms:

Remember to keep up on your readings (Toop, Russolo):

I hope that you had a great weekend, and we'll see you tomorrow.



P.S. Here are the Minidisc menu shortcuts we will be going over tomorrow:

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 (this will be set automatically
if you are using a 1 GB Hi-MD disc):
* 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 power up your recorder.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Microphone Building, Production Kits

Hello, all.

Thanks for your patience with the microphone building sessions. We're
trying to make the best of the equipment that we have, and our goal is
to get as many of you finished with your microphones by the end of the week.

We will meet Wednesday as a class in B91. At 3 PM sharp, Brooke
Swelstad from the Equipment Room will give a short presentation, and
then you will receive the Production Kit you will be using this
semester. After that is done, then the labs will reconvene and the
microphone building will continue.

On Monday, September 22, the lab instructors will lead their sections on
a Field Recording Practice Session, while I will remain in B18 with the
soldering gear for any last-minute adjustments. Of course, you are
welcome to go out on your Drift 1 walk(s) this weekend if you feel
ready, but if you want to wait until we go over the use of the Minidisc
recorder on Monday, then that is fine as well.

Thanks, also, for the Soundwalk responses on your Research Blogs. I
checked them all, and even though I haven't yet been able to read
through each one carefully, I was impressed with what I saw so far.

Also, remember to keep up with your readings (please note that I've
corrected the bad links to some of the articles). The reading schedule
is posted on the Course Schedule:

And the list of readings is covered on the Research page:

That's it for now. I'll be out of town the rest of the week, but I will
be keeping up with my e-mail, so drop a line if you have any questions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Soundwalk Response

Hello, all.

Just a reminder that your Soundwalk Responses are due today at 5 PM, and
are to be posted to your new Research Blog, and NOT as a comment to a
post on the course blog.

Here is the Research page with the Soundwalk questions:

And the Course Directory:

Tomorrow (Monday, September 15) we begin our microphone building, so
plan on going directly to your specific lab room so that we can make the
best use of our time. Check the Course Directory if you still don't
know which lab you are in. There is a copy of the directory posted on
my office door (MIT B-60). (Remember to bring all of your supplies!)

See you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Soundwalk Follow-up

Hello, all.

Thanks for your participation in what I'm hearing (pun intended) was a
successful series of soundwalks.

The next step is to get your Research Blog up and running so that you
can document your soundwalk experience and upload your maps, sketches,
and notes while the experience is still relatively fresh.

The Blogger tutorial is here:

And the updated PantherFile tutorial is here:

Answer the Soundwalk Response questions in a post on your Research Blog.
The questions are here:

I will be checking that your Research Blog is live and that you've
answered the questions by this Sunday, September 14, 5 PM.

I'd also like to see your notes and maps, but, since I won't be grading
your finished Research Blog until the end of the semester, don't worry
if you're having problems scanning or uploading imagery at this point.
We will have help sessions on this issue and other topics associated
with Drift 1 on October 1 and October 8, although we can certainly help
you individually if you visit us during office hours. You can then
upload your soundwalk images when we finish troubleshooting the problem.

Okay, that's it for now. I'll probably send another note this weekend
to remind you about the Research Blog deadline.

Have a great rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soundwalk tomorrow

Hello, all.

Just a reminder that we will be meeting in B-91 at 3 PM before breaking
out into our lab sections for the soundwalks. Remember to wear
comfortable shoes and clothing, and don't forget your notepad and pen.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Associate Producer / Researcher Job on WHAT WE GOT: DJ SPOOKY'S QUEST FOR THE COMMONS

Please pass this along. 371 Productions is hiring an associate producer/researcher for my new film, What We Got: DJ Spooky's Quest for the Commons. The film is a documentary/fiction hybrid that features DJ Spooky on an invented journey to discover "the commons"; or all the stuff that belongs to all of us but it threatened by overzealous privatization, from the sky, to water, to public space to the internet and art&culture. The film will follow Spooky's journey in many forms: documentary, live-action scripted scenes, Zelig-like appearances with historic footage, and animation. Our goal is to not only create awareness of the notion of the commons, but to provide audiences with the experience of the commons. To this end, we'll share our media as we make it and offer audiences the opportunity to remix and repurpose our media while we work on our version of the film. The centerpiece of our outreach strategy is a set of 125 screenings of 125 different versions of the film hosted in commons(es) by groups aligned with our concerns for the enclose of commons. This will kick off a theatrical run and broadcast on PBS.

The job is based in Milwaukee, though the personnel are based in Milwaukee, San Francisco and New York. The job is roughly 6 months during a writing and pre-production phase, with the possibility of extension into production.

Core Creative/Production Team:
- Brad Lichtenstein (producer/directork, MKE)
- Vernon Reid (music supervisor / co-director, NYC)
- Brian Glazer (producer, NYC)
- Civic Actions, internet strategy firm based in San Francisco.

Job Description:

- Conduct research to support the soon-to-be-hired writer and the core creative/production team
- Conduct research to support the internet strategy team
- Conduct research to support the production team
- Support all teams with technical and administrative work
- Supervise interns
- Work in conjunction with office coordinator for all support funcitions

Some travel will be required.

Resumes should be emailed to Brad Lichtenstein at iblich@uwm.edu. Please use the subject line "AP Job". Application period is open, though we will make a hire very quickly so the sooner you submit the better.



I blog about What We Got: DJ Spooky's Quest for the Commons
The old blog is here:
http://blog.myspace.com/iblich for WHAT WE GOT (the DJ Spooky Commons film)
Check out POETRY EVERYWHERE animated short films
http://almosthomedoc.org for ALMOST HOME DVDs and more
Brad Lichtenstein
371 Productions and docUWM
Peck School of the Arts
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Department of Film
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201.0413
414.229.2890 w
414.229.5901 f
917.721.3131 m

Blogger Demo, Rain Delay, Class Still Meets!

Hello, all.

Yes, it's raining. Yes, we will postpone the soundwalk until Wednesday.
Yes, you still need to attend class this afternoon.

I will demo Blogger and how to get your Research Blog up and running,
and I will also go over the new and improved PantherFile and how to post
images to your blog. [We meet at 3 PM in B91.]

We will also screen some examples of previous student work, as well as
listen to some field recordings.

Because the soundwalk has been moved to Wednesday, that pushes the first
soldering session to Monday, September 15. I heard from Xav at
Riverwest Film and Video, and the audio cables should be back in stock
within the next day or two. So we should be good to go for Monday.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Audio Cables and Soundwalk Prep

Hello, all.

I've had a report that Riverwest Film & Video ran out of audio cables,
and I'm waiting to hear back when they might be in stock again. You can
get them elsewhere, but you have to be careful to buy the right kind.
They are 6 ft, stereo mini plug to RCA, and they should look like this:

If the RCA ends are not red and white, don't buy it. If the cable is
being marketed as a high-end professional audio cable, don't buy it.

These should be stocked by our UWM bookstore, and are also available at
Best Buy, Fry's, Circuit City, Sears, etc. Be careful shopping at Radio
Shack, since they tend to carry higher priced cables that may or may not
be appropriate for this project.

We will meet in B-91 at 3 PM for a Blogger Demo before we break out into
our lab sections for our soundwalks. Remember that the lab sections are
listed on the Course Directory:

Don't forget to wear good shoes and comfortable clothing for the
soundwalk, preferably clothes that don't make a lot of noise (avoid high
heels or hard-soled shoes, nylon sweat pants, windbreakers, anything
with big zippers, etc.). Also, remember to bring a notepad and pen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Supplies, Survey, and Readings

Hello all.

Welcome, again, to FILM 116. It's going to be a busy semester, but I
hope that we can make it interesting and fun.

Here is the list of supplies you'll need to get by Tuesday, September 9:

You can get all the supplies from Riverwest Film and Video, 824 East
Center St., Milwaukee, WI 53212, Hours: 3-11pm daily, 414-265-8433):

If you haven't filled out and posted the Survey, do so by Sunday,
September 7 at 5 PM. This requires a Google account:

So far I've received one request for 24/7 access to B18. I actually
need to submit this list earlier than I thought, so please e-mail me by
Monday, September 8, 3 PM, if you will be using B18 for this class.

Remember to keep up with your reading. There are three articles you
should read before we go out on our soundwalks on Monday:
Hart: http://tinyurl.com/6mr8cj
Westerkamp: http://tinyurl.com/6hoffh
Ferrington: http://tinyurl.com/5c49ge

We will meet Monday at 3 PM in B91 to watch some examples of student
work from previous semesters. I'll also give a brief demo on Blogger so
you can start work on your Research blogs. We will then break out into
the lab sections for the guided soundwalks. Wear comfortable clothes
and shoes, and bring a notebook and pen/pencil for taking notes and

Remember that the lab assignments are posted on the Course Directory:

Okay, have a great weekend, and try to stay dry. We'll see you next week.