Saturday, February 28, 2009

Drift 1 Help Session


I hope you all are making good progress on Drift 1. We will meet again
Monday (March 2) in B18 for another round of Open Lab/Help Session.
Bring your laptop and work in class, get your recordings transferred on
SonicStage, scan your maps, or get help on any aspect of the Drift 1

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Drift 1 Help Session


We meet tomorrow in B18 for the first of a series of Open Lab Help
Sessions for Drift 1. If you have ANY questions or technical issues, or
need assistance in scanning or using SonicStage, please drop in and we
will be glad to help out. You are also welcome to bring your laptop and
work during class, or use one of the computers in B18. Or you can work
from home.

If you have yet to go out on your Drift 1 walk, you can use class time
tomorrow to get out and explore your Drift 1 area.

In any case, please use your time wisely.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Audacity Demo


We meet tomorrow in B91 for a demo of Audacity and an overview of
SonicStage. I'll also go over some Blogger and PantherFile issues.
This is a key lecture, and is not to be missed.

We'll see everyone tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading Response #1 due Sunday, February 22, 5 PM

Hello, again.

The first Reading Response is due this Sunday, February 22, at 5 PM.
You will post your response as a comment to the post linked HERE.

Reading Response #1 will consist of a three-paragraph statement on one
of the readings from the list below, answering the following three
questions (one paragraph per question):

1. Identify the article you have selected and why you chose it.

2. What are the main points of the essay?

3. How are the ideas or arguments in this article relevant to your
own practice as a media artist?

Choose one of these readings: Cosgrove, Cresswell, Cross, Debord,
Ferrington, Hall, Hart, Hiss, Peterson, Sant, Westerkamp.

Check the Research page for direct links to these readings:

Again, the deadline is Sunday, February 22, 5 PM.

Drift 1 walk this weekend!

Hello, all.

I strongly suggest you complete your Drift 1 walk this weekend so that
you will have plenty of time to complete this assignment. Drift 1 is
due the Monday after Spring Break. While that may seem a long way away,
you will be surprised at how much time you will need for this assignment.

We all are guilty of underestimating how much time things will take, and
even after you transfer your field recordings off your MD recorder, copy
the WAV files to a CD-R or flash drive, import and edit the recordings
in Audacity, and export them as clean MP3s, you still have to upload
them to PantherFile, link to them on your Drift 1 blog, add your site
maps, document everything on the Drift Map, and write eloquent
descriptions of what you've done. This is not something you can do the
night before. Trust me.

I will say it again: please go out on your Drift walk this weekend. Be
safe, be creative, be warm, and have fun.

I am including 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 six
fully-charged AA batteries, pens, note pad, watch, water, snacks, and
cell phone. Use the buddy system if it will make you feel safer.

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 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. Dial the number to 9 or 10.
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 walk for longer than four
hours if you wish.


Here are the basic settings for preparing for MD Recorder. Copy or print
out and carry them with you.

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.

Make sure you keep the Manual Gain setting at 9 or 10 for most
situations. You can scroll up to 11 or 12 for quieter situations, but
anything above 13 or 14 stands a good chance of overmodulating and

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Field Recording Practice Sessions


Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 18) we meet in the Lab Rooms for the Field
Recording Practice Sessions. Attendance is mandatory. Remember to
bring your recorder and mics, along with your headphones, blank
minidisc, and fresh batteries.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Final Mic Building Session


Tomorrow (Monday, February 16) we will have our final mic-building
session. We should be able to consolidate all of the activity in B18,
and we should have everything set up by 2 PM, if not sooner.

If you have finished building your microphones and windscreens, and
everything works fine, then you do not have to attend class tomorrow.

The Labs will then meet Wednesday in the Lab rooms for the mandatory
Field Practice sessions.

Reading Response #1

Reading Response #1 will consist of a three-paragraph statement on one of the readings from the list below, answering the following three questions (one paragraph per question):

1. Identify the article you have selected and why you chose it.

2. What are the main points of the essay?

3. How are the ideas or arguments in this article relevant to your own practice as a media artist?

Post your Reading Response #1 to one of the following readings as a comment to this post: Cosgrove, Cresswell, Cross, Debord, Ferrington, Hall, Hart, Hiss, Peterson, Sant, Westerkamp.

Check the Research page for direct links to these readings.

The deadline is Sunday, February 22, 5 PM.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Upcoming Deadlines

Hello, all.

We have a deadline today, Friday, February 13. By 9 PM you should have
published your Drift 1 Blog, with a title, a Drift Strategy, and a Start
Point (possibly included in an early version of your Drift 1 Map).

Remember to check the Course Directory to copy the exact URL you will be
using for your Drift 1 Blog:

Review the Drift 1 page for instructions, requirements, and suggestions
for your Drift Strategy:

You can also review the Drift 1 PowerPoint lecture:


The other deadline is Sunday, February 15, 5 PM: post your Drift Atlas
Blog, which at this point will contain your Soundwalk Response. This
includes the answers to the Soundwalk questions, your overall Soundwalk
area map, your Sound/Body map, and your original notes/log.

Just like the Drift 1 Blog, the URL for your Drift Atlas can be found on
the Course Directory. Remember that the Course Directory is the
mechanism by which we review and audition your work for grading and
class critiques, so it's critical that the locations of your blogs are
correctly linked on the Course Directory.

Review the Drift Atlas page:

You can also review the Drift Atlas PowerPoint lecture:

Okay, have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Peter Liechti's "Kick That Habit"

Hello, all.

Sean Kafer suggested a short film that may be of interest to you as you
begin your exploration of sound and image. Peter Liechti's film "Kick
That Habit" is playing for one week only at Pitchforktv:

Production Kits, Mic Building, Drift 1

Hello, all.

Thank you for your patience yesterday with the microphone building. I
wish we had an unlimited supply of soldering wands and other equipment,
but we have to do our best with what we have. Remember that we will
have most of Wednesday and all of next Monday to finish your microphone

We meet Wednesday, February 11, at 3 PM sharp in B91. Brooke Swelstad,
Equipment Room Manager, will visit our class to distribute the FILM 116
production kits. Bring new or freshly charged batteries so you can test
out the MD recorder and camera. After the kits are distributed and all
of the contracts are signed, we will return to the Lab rooms to continue
building microphones.

Between now and Friday, you will need to make some decisions about your
Drift 1 walk. Pick a starting point and a Drift Strategy and post to
your Drift 1 blog. The deadline for this is Friday, February 13, 9 PM.
Check the Drift 1 page for more information:

Check the Course Directory to make sure you have the correct URL for
your Drift 1 blog:

Okay, we'll see you all on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Microphone Building begins tomorrow!

Hello, all.

Tomorrow (Monday, February 9) we meet in the Lab Rooms for the first
round of the Microphone Building sessions. Please note that Lab 4 with
Heidi Spencer has moved to B-68:

Lab 1, B-91, Emir Cakaroz
Lab 2, B-18, Sean Kafer
Lab 3, B-75, Joe Sacco
Lab 4, B-68, Heidi Spencer

You can confirm your Lab by checking the Course Directory:

Remember to bring these supplies you purchased at Riverwest Film and Video:

* two Rapid 35-0190 Mic Capsules
* one stereo mic cable with 1/8" stereo plug
* two alligator clips for attaching windscreens
* one pair of enclosed headphones for testing mics
* Optional: swatches of faux fur for a fancier windscreen
* Optional: soldering wand

You can review the mic building demo, if you'd like:

Also, if you are interested in constructing a fancier windscreen, watch
this instructional video from a former 116 student:

Remember that I have extended the deadline for posting your Soundwalk
responses (including your answers to the 11 questions, overall Soundwalk
map, sound/body map, and sound log/notes) to next Sunday, February 15.

But, you should probably get started now on creating your Drift Atlas
and posting your materials. Remember to use the Drift Atlas URL that is
linked beside your name on the Course Directory. You will be copying
just this portion of the URL: flast116 (first initial, last name, 116)
and pasting it into the URL box on Blogger.

Please review the Blogger Tutorial for assistance:

And the link to the Drift Atlas page:

I've added links to the Course Directories from previous semesters to
the Tutorials page, so you can review the work of past students:

Also, here are specific examples of Drift 1 blogs:

And here is a nice treatment of Drift 1, even though his map thumbnails
link to MP3s rather than to larger versions of the maps (remember, each
field recording must be linked through a separate line of text, not by
clicking on the image thumbnail):

Okay, we will see all of you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cast Your Vote! Shape the Film Department at UWM!

Hello, all.

Here is a message from the Film Department, with a link to the
Differential Tuition survey. Please take a few minutes, if you haven't
done so already, to complete this survey. Your participation is
critical to the Department's efforts to effectively distribute
Differential Tuition funds.


Cast your Differential Tuition vote!

Help to shape the Film Department at UWM!

Differential tuition, $20 per credit, is applied to most undergraduate courses in the Peck School of the Arts.

The fees collected in Film are used to benefit students by providing resources to support curriculum, programming, equipment and facilities improvements.
Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think should be done with next year's funding to support a creative environment and educational experience in the Film Department.

You only need to complete this survey once - if you have filled one out in class or online there is no need to do it again.

It's short and online:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mapping Lecture

Hello all.

We meet tomorrow (Wednesday, February 4) in B91 for a lecture on
mapping. I will talk about artistic and experimental cartography, and
show examples of maps and images I hope will inspire you when you are
creating and editing your Soundwalk and Drift maps. I'll also go over
the structure of your Drift Atlas blogs.

I also hope to give you a preview of what to expect next week when we
start building our microphones. Needless to say, by now you should have
paid a visit to Riverwest Film and Video to pick up your supplies. If
not, go there soon!

See you all tomorrow.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Soundwalk preparation

Hello, all.

We meet tomorrow, (Monday, February 2) in the Lab Rooms for the
Soundwalk. Remember that you can find your lab by checking the Course

Note that the lab rosters have shifted a bit, so please double-check the
Directory to make sure you have the right lab.

Lab 1: Mitchell Hall B-91, Emir Cakaroz
Lab 2: Mitchell Hall B-18, Sean Kafer
Lab 3: Mitchell Hall B-75, Joe Sacco
Lab 4: Mitchell Hall B-65, Heidi Spencer

To prepare for the Soundwalk, make sure to dress warm and wear good
walking shoes. The Soundwalks will probably take place mostly indoors,
but you will spend some time outside walking from one site to another,
and possibly completing one of the Soundwalk exercises.

You will need to bring a notepad or sketchbook and a pencil/pen. You
will be taking notes and drawing maps during the Soundwalk. You
can/should clean up these drawings later, but during the Soundwalk you
will need to be actively sketching and taking notes. You may want to
keep your notebook no larger than 8.5" x 11" so that you can easily scan
your notes and maps on a standard flatbed scanner (available in B18 or
in the campus labs if you don't have your own).

Here are the visual elements that you will need to complete for this

* Soundwalk Area Map: a map of the overall area of the Soundwalk,
including start and end points, the route walked, and stops along the way;

* Sound Body Map: a map of the sounds you heard, visually depicted as a
swarm or cluster of events surrounding you (your presence will be
depicted as a dot or symbol or figure situated in the middle of the map);

* Sound Log: your original notes listing the names of the sounds you heard.

I have included some examples of these maps and notes on the Drift Atlas

Also on the Drift Atlas page is the list of questions that you will need
to answer as part of your Soundwalk Response (your maps, notes, and
responses must be posted to your Drift Atlas blog). Here is the list of

1. Were you able to find places and spaces where you could really
2. Was it possible to move without making a sound?
3. What happened when you plugged your ears, and then unplugged them?
4. What types of sounds were you able to hear? List them.
5. Were you able to differentiate between sounds that had a
recognizable source and those sounds you could not place?
6. Were you able to differentiate human, mechanical, and natural sounds?
7. Were you able to detect subtleties, changes, or variations in the
everpresent drone?
8. Extremely close sounds? Sounds coming from very far away?
9. Were you able to intervene in the urban landscape and create your
own sounds by knocking on a resonant piece of metal, activating wind
chimes, etc.?
10. Do you feel you have a new understanding or appreciation of the
sounds of our contemporary landscape/cityscape?
11. How do you think your soundwalk experience will affect your
practice as a media artist, if at all?

Remember that your responses to the Survey are due at 5 PM today. You
also must register on the Technical Forum by 5 PM as well.

We'll see you tomorrow.