Posted on February 18, 2018
Pick Up I’m Calling
Hello everybody! This week I explored Frequency 2156. Frequency 2156 is a community based Internet radio from the post-apocalyptic future. Essentially, you can go around the world and listen to radio messages that people have published.
Thinking critically about Frequency 2156, I believe that the creators chose audio for their medium as it is simple. Audio is a simple medium to convey messages, stories or feelings. I also think that we associate audio/radio with the past and the idea of lower tech. This lends to the post-apocalyptic narrative the creators are facilitating. As I referred to in my last post, radio also harkens back to ancient storytelling. There is something about plain audio that pulls us back to times around the campfire. Also, in terms of server space, audio would also be a smaller file size compared to a video. So they were probably thinking about that as well.
Furthermore, I really like the crowd-sourced radio feel to tell the post-apocalyptic story. I really like it because every message is unique as we all bring different ideas to the genre. I think that these different perspectives also add to the story because it would reflect what really happens in the apocalypse. I mean the world is so large that we would all *have to have* different post-apocalyptic experiences. Thus, I think that the crowd-sourced audio works very well in terms of telling the story.
If I had created the story, I would have given users options to insert images or videos. Obviously, it is currently audio week. However, I think that giving users the option to add image or video would have elevated the story. I also think a visual stimuli would really help immerse the viewer into the post-apocalyptic world.
I know someone is out there.
I heard the radio click today.
Were you trying to send a code?
I heard you doing some clicking, but I was outside so I didn’t catch all of it.
I mean, you’ve got to be close, right?
We can work together.
I promise, I’m not scary.
I mean unless you wake me up without coffee.
Oh god I’ll do whatever you say.
I promise. I promise…
Behind the Process
To start this assignment, I wrote down a quick script. The premise of my story is that a loner is in the woods. They were working outside on something and heard their radio click. They assume that someone is trying to make contact with them. So later that night, after a waiting awhile for the other person to try and make contact again, the main character releases a radio message. While they are on their radio, a person comes and interrupts them. Let’s just say, the main character is no longer with us.
I would have to say that the most difficult part of this assignment was trying to incorporate a story into my radio message. I wanted it to feel like a normal radio message in the beginning, but somewhat tense and jolting in the end. I really struggled with trying to achieve this feel without using visuals. Thus, when I wanted there to be almost like dead air after the scream I had to really think about how to do this with audio. This is why I finally chose to have the forest, fire and wind sounds continue on even though there was no dialogue. These continued sounds really helped conclude the story and give the listener a palate cleanser from the scream. Because I really thought about creating a story thorough audio, I think that it is something I did well.
After nailing down the script, I went into Audacity and recorded me speaking it. I found recording myself quite easy as I knew how I wanted my script to sound. I then went online and found the various sounds I needed including TV static, forest noises, a scream, fire crackling and a wind breeze. An interesting noise I decided to add was the Shepard Tone. The Shepard Tone is an interesting little sound that adds stress and tension to an audio clip. Vox made a really interesting video about it that you can watch here. In Audacity, I adjusted the volume and reverb. I also add some fade in/out to make the audio flow. Something I learned was how to layer the sounds so that the listener would be able to imagine the environment of the story. Using this layering effect really gave the listener a lot of sound to analyze and absorb.
Something I want to improve was my use of audio effects. I tried to make my speaking audio a little muffled, but could not really find the effects to get the sound I wanted. If I could go back, I would try out more effects and play around with those that got close to what I wanted.
All in all, I liked this assignment as I was able to do storytelling through audio. I also found it fun to find sound clips to incorporate into my radio message. If I had a choice, I would do this again. Being me, I would probably make an accompanying video that is a little Blair Witch project-y if I did it again.
Well, that is it for now. I’ll catch you on the flipside.