Update:「Week 10」

Hello! Hope y’all are doing well. This is Sterling, back with another update.

As you can tell, I couldn’t break out of my habit of procrastination. Being at home is like moving through molasses. I’d stopped associating being at home with doing homework: even during my final years of high school, most of my homework was done by traveling there in the early morning. Before then, I did homework at daycare. For work that is supposed to be done at home, it isn’t very easy. Not to mention that I don’t have all of the pressure that comes from having physical classes. It is nice to be able to take my time – I am a slow worker – though that lack of face-to-face interaction is slightly demotivating.

Regardless, it was fun to take a break from all of the classes that have changed and to face DS106: my creative constant.

Video Essay

At first, I sat there terribly confused. I didn’t understand that I had just watched a video about editing a video essay. Isn’t this what is already done in films? I thought. I applaud Every Frame a Painting (Tony Zhou) for making what could be so thoroughly boring into something engaging that mimics the style of story-driven filmography. It is important to keep works interesting by avoiding repetition and transferring between storylines. I would argue that Contagion (2011) misses the latter by trying to fully accommodate its convoluted storyline. For those who have not seen the film, . I truly enjoyed the concept of the spiderweb of characters that are all affected by the pandemic in different ways. The contamination scenes send chills down one’s spine as an infected character touches something as mundane as a stair rail. The editing did a superb job lingering on these items just long enough to build suspense without it being too obvious.

Regardless, I was left missing out on the characters’ potential. The film had several A-Listers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne, though nearly every plot was snubbed. Details are skipped over, and we miss characters for at least half an hour. Several events are not filled in. I’m a firm believer in including ambiguities, but there were too many here. And if I’m being completely honest, I couldn’t tell the three lead Caucasian female doctors apart for the longest time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the casting: they were just looked at so briefly that I didn’t have enough time to register their physical appearances and personalities. Despite these couple of points I wanted to discuss, Contagion is certainly worth watching. Its narrative is very unique, and others might have an easier time navigating it than I. The editing, which is actually what I am here to talk about (I am no authority on any of these subjects despite pursuing a film career), perfectly encapsulated the full range of distress that is exhibited in this film. We see their vulnerability, courage, grief, and exhaustion. As I noted before, it can be hard to connect them, though the showcasing of these qualities and how it is translated into the landscape shots of the scene I analyzed gives Contagion a solid portion of its merit.

The scene I analyzed.

After watching Tony Zhou’s How Does an Editor Think and Feel? video, I found myself focusing on the characters’ eyes. As an actor, I also gained a newfound appreciation for facial expessions. In theatre, one relies heavily on dialogue and exaggerated movements. However, film has more minute emotions that come most strongly through the eyes. That, including the Roger Ebert article, discussed instinct. One knows when to end a shot instinctually. Ebert mentioned the concept of “intrinsic weighing,” or the idea that “certain areas of the available visual space have tendencies to stir emotional or aesthetic reactions.” Although there are few people focused on in this clip, the spaces shown throughout aesthetically betray the emptiness of this new world.

A Walk Through a Different World

Howdy! This is Sterling, back with another week of content. This assignment began as one and kind of turned into another. My original intent was to do a modified form of “Exercise And Socialize” by Jeremy Hillberry, which has the following description: “Neighborhood walks used to be a good form of exercise and a good way to meet your neighbors. Nowadays, exercise is at the gym and socializing is online. Record a video of yourself taking a neighborhood walk and play a song in the backgorund of the video that your neighbors would enjoy. Get out there, exercise and socialize!” It is rated 2.5 stars.

I’m pretty camera shy as you will find out from the video, though I needed to get out of the house for a bit and figured I would record it. This lead to me doing a bit of narration, which made it morph a bit into “VLOG ONE DAY” by Eric, rated 3 stars. “For one day, attempt to vlog your day! What did you today? What was your favorit part about today? Who did you encounter? Let’s hear all about it!” Of course, this is quite abridged since it only centers on one walk. It also deviates from the ‘socialize’ part of the first assignment because, well, I’m practicing social distancing. And I don’t know my neighbors well enough to play music for them.

In brainstorming this assignment, I had some clear, cinematic ideas as you can tell by the clips of me getting ready to leave and opening doors. It took a lot of revisions because half of my in-house clips I had recorded in portrait mode rather than landscape. Eventually, though, I made it out the door and I found myself stumped. Vloggers don’t seem to have it as easy as I thought. I consider myself a pretty decent conversationalist, and I knew I had a lot to talk about regarding COVID-19 and my feelings on social distancing. However, as soon as I pressed the record button, I was lost for words. I was suddenly hyper-aware of the people around me even though they were several feet away.

I didn’t want to make it obvious I was recording, so I recorded my feet as I walked. I got to greet a neighbor as well. I had to delete and speed up a lot of clips of my shoes since I imagine they get quite boring after a while. Finally, I arrived at the plaza that has the grocery store. It was alarming to see so many store closures: they weren’t like that last time I was out. Marty’s (a restaurant) is only doing takeout. The beer shop is leaving. The nail salon has clearly closed. It isn’t shown, but the Great Clips that is always open has closed its doors. That is why my family and I are doing our best to support local restaurants when we can. I hadn’t considered the impact on cosmetology businesses: those involve close contact and tools used multiple times.

Then, I went into Kroger. There was a surprising number of people there. I found that the best solution was to make it into a montage of sorts so as to avoid filming people directly. The toilet paper carnage was interesting to witness for myself. Practicing social distancing was difficult: it was quite packed, and as I remark in my video, I couldn’t maintain six feet between myself and others. I also saw quite a few people I knew, and it would’ve been impossible to talk more then 4 feet apart. The end of the video tends more towards this “vlog” format as I attempt to gauge in conversation (but keep looking in the distance anyways). Definitely turned into word vomit at the end, but I hope you could garner something from it.

While I enjoyed my massage, I worked on editing the video with my phone. My first step was to delete all of the clips I messed up on (I’ve locked the door more times than I have unlocked it). After that, I still had about 60 clips to combine, crop, and edit. The app I used was YouCut: a free phone app that one can use to edit videos. It features all of the basic editing functions one might need to put together a decent video. I separated my clips into 5 sections: getting ready, walking to the store, inside the store, heading home from the store, and final words. Each section was between 1 and 2 minutes.

As you can see, YouCut offers quite a few editing options. My first step was to trim the cut down to omit the parts where I am turning the camera on or off. Then, I muted the audio if it was a montage clip and sped it up (walking was 1.6x). In clips like the one where I say goodbye to my big gray cat, it was all in that one recording. Therefore, I had to split the walking part from the cat part in order to speed it up as I wished. Finally, I combined all of my parts and put a brightening filter over all of the footage. Overall, it took around two hours to edit. It probably would’ve been easier if I used something like Windows Movie Maker or Adobe Premiere, but I wanted to curl up and make a day out of this.

My next step was to edit the audio. I uploaded the video to my computer and then used a MP4 to MP3 converter to allow me to edit it in Audacity. I did a quick little clean-up where I took out some wind and unnecessary background noise. I did not edit my voice much since it was difficult to eliminate some of the background sounds. After that, I layered Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi on top (from a YouTube to MP3 converter) since it matched my video length exactly. I made sure to de-amplify the sound a little bit whenever I spoke. Then, I returned to YouCut and muted the sound from the original video, replacing it with my new mix. This part took another couple of hours since everything took so long to download

There you have it! Overall, the exercise portion of this assignment was certainly beneficial given our current circumstances. It allowed me to think of ways I should take care of myself physically, mentally, and socially. I feel like it would be a very fun assignment otherwise if someone is more familiar and comfortable with their neighbors. The vlog part was certainly a new experience. I completely recommend it; we watch YouTubers daily, but do we ever put thought into what work goes into their process? I have a newfound appreciation for them after completing this assignment. Can I advocate that this project is worth at least 5 stars?

Oh, and my message at the end of the video isn’t very clear: I mostly wanted to say that it is hard to socialize with others, so we should use this time to socialize with ourselves. Please note that I do intend to privatize this video at the end of the semester since it advertises my location.

86,400 Seconds In A Day

‘Ello folk! This is Sterling. Hope you’re doing well. I’m sure you’ve heard of an app called 1SE, or ‘One Second Everyday’ where you record one second everyday. My friends have been doing it and they hooked me in November 2019. I’ve been doing my best to keep up with it, though there are certainly notable gaps. Some of it comes from me transferring to a new phone, and I still have clips to recover from it. Regardless, here is 107 days’ worth of seconds:

The first assignment I chose to combine was “A Day in the Life…” by Chloe Morton, and is worth three stars. “‘A Second A Day’ has become popular in videos recently. A moderation for this class would be taking 3-5 seconds of video at the beginning of each hour or every half hour throughout the day. The time can be adjusted as long as distance between videos is consistent. The point is to experience ‘A Day in the Life’ of YOU and everyone and everything you encounter! To make it easier set an alarm on you phone to remind you at each time interval!” Of course, I already had several videos and felt like it would be interesting to do “Four Months in the Life…” instead. In all of its ups and downs.

The other one was “Favorite Moments in College” by Kendall Resnick, and is worth two stars. The description is as follows: “Create a video using some of your favorite pictures/videos that you have taken while in school this year! Add a wide variety of pictures from throughout the year. Make sure to add some music to the video before you post it!” Since a very large portion of my seconds involve my time at UMW over the past year, I thought I would include this one. I always try to record one of my favorite moments of the day. I do keep some to myself and purposefully forget to record certain moments (lest they be ruined).

1SE is a very easy app to use. Sometimes I wish I could include multiple clips in a day, but the beauty lies in its simplistic limitations (unless you pay for premium, which also has several editing functions). One simply takes a video and then clicks on the day they wish to add it to. They can record it within the app or on their camera app. I had to go into my Google Photos to locate some of the clips that had backed up from my previous phone. It was slightly tedious to comb through it all, and to know that there were still more clips to be dealt with. However, once I downloaded them, it was easy to upload to 1SE. It was also interesting to find clips to fill in some of the ‘holes’.

The “Mash” button puts your clips together: you can select which ones it combines, too.

One thing I would consider changing as I continue to add and recover clips is music. I was initially resistant against the idea because I think it is fun to listen to some of the snippets, but they pass in a second. People would not be able to make out the context except for those involved and likely become disengaged. I would consider using music without lyrics so that people could hear the clips that are loud enough. I would also consider muting the clips that have songs playing through.

Overall, I think this assignment encompasses my life quite decently. It features some mindless clips that come from the down time in a busy day. Gaps in February come from always being on the go for theatre. TV clips represent my favorite movies and shows. It features immense highs like getting my black belt to cat videos to make me feel better. I was in VA, DC, and MD. It was very reflective to witness those moments all together. There is certainly merit to be gained from this assignment because one can learn basic video editing skills. There is no layering required other than audio. The power of mobile devices can certainly make this happen if one is seeking an easier format. To have clips only limited to a few seconds makes it flow together seamlessly.

I would definitely recommend doing this assignment: whether it be a variation or not. The end product can be re-watched for years to come.

Out of 86,400 seconds in a day, there must be something special about the ones I’ve chosen.

Update:「Week 9」+ Revisions

Featured image is a gif I took, sitting in a gazebo during my walk.

Wow. What an absolute roller coaster of the week this has been. I started off quite productive, though as one can tell, ended up getting crunched for time yet again. Old habits die hard, though this has honestly been a big adjustment period for us all. I’ve had to catch up on the work I missed from being sick for the entirety of last week, and on top of that work on moving back home. I love being home, but when I’m here I’ve always had things to do like visit friends or practice Tae Kwon Do but now I’m stuck. I’ve felt gross being stuck in one place all day and my acne has broken out. Movement is probably what I was known for at UMW, always on the go doing everything, and now that I’m doing nothing other than homework it has been a challenge.

Today, in a one-hour span, I learned that the play I have invested hours into is cancelled, as well as my study abroad and internship trip in France this summer. It isn’t surprising. But it still hurts to know that my acting debut, in a role that was very deep and created some of the most growth for me as an actor will not be happening (we were originally going to perform tonight). The trip that I have been planning for over a year and have invested thousands of dollars into is being refunded. All of my scholarships and letters of recommendation are nullified. I have to announce it and freeze my GoFundMe, which had also accumulated upwards of $1000. My big plans for the summer after are now unlikely to happen since that will be the summer of France. Though I know it could be far worse. I am extremely grateful to be happy once again and to live in a harmonious household.

Today, I was able to take a walk. Apart from the walks I took when I was sick (which didn’t feel great), I can’t remember the last time I walked just for the purpose of walking. To not be zeroed in on a destination or stressed about an assignment. The sun felt better than ever and the breeze was powerful. That, in addition to the nice 6 ft bubble people have been giving, was a refreshing experience. I hope to have more moments like that to inspire creativity for video week. Filming locations will be optimal! Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

On the other hand, I have been able to work on a couple of small revisions. Also, quick note that my Daily Creates will not be linked in this post since they have been discussed here.

The first assignment I chose to revise was my Infocom Commercial, which was also used in my radio show. Like in the newer version, I decided to eliminate the 8-bit music and use the Tears For Fears “Shout” instrumental for the entirety of it so that it was more unified. Sound effect had to be slightly re-worked and re-considered. I also balanced the music and the voices better, and had to specifically amplify certain parts of the track to get the effect I wanted such as the beat change from the ‘game’ part to the ‘advertisement’ part. I worked on this one because it displays one of my passions, and I knew that I could do better. However, I doubt I will be truly satisfied until I can get new voice acting for the intro part: my dad seems to be a pretty good candidate.

The other assignment I decided to revise was my radio show sticker. The fact that I layered pre-made images over each other meant that some had different textures and designs that crept in unnoticed. I chose to erase all of the extraneous gray lines off of the design. I also sought to unify the level of sharpness the clipart possessed: some are more “sharp,” and defined pixels could be made out whereas others were far softer with smooth edges. Now it is something I wouldn’t mind having as a sticker on my laptop.

Let’s get through this.


Update:「Week 7」

Howdy, and welcome to a full reflection! (Woohoo!) Here is some angsty mood music to enjoy as you read… since my summary might be a bit uncomfortable (sincerely sorry):

Let’s cut right to the chase.

I found myself feeling deeply-unsatisfied by this week’s assignments. As you can tell from the audio week posts, I truly enjoy audio editing but my works this week did not reach the mental standard I was projecting on them. I believe a large portion of it is because I used my voice in them. No one forced me to pick assignments that would involve me using my voice, though I had visions and inspirations I wanted to fulfill. I like to think that I am confident in my body and my behavior, but my voice is what causes me the most insecurity. Even after pitching my vocals down, my voice sounds rather fake in my own ears because I know. I wonder if it would have been better to just go with my natural voice – someone told me it sounded deep this past week and it made my day – but many of these voices were ones I had imagined being voiced by someone with a lower range than I.

(Short break from the edginess.)

The rest comes from the fact that they feel incomplete. Upon reflecting, I think I would like to eliminate the 8-bit dungeon music (no matter how much I love it) and only use the “Shout” instrumental for my Infocom Commercial. I think I would like to transition the music in my reading of “Mnemonic” better, as well as completely redo “Beautiful Dreamer” with just humming. My radio show sticker should have the font altered and the extra lines edited out. I probably wouldn’t submit any of these things to a class if I had to see my instructor and peers in person. Presenting them would be even worse.

Now that I had time to finish everything, I was dismayed that none of it possessed any kind of “wow” factor. (Is super-rushed work better for me?) Not that I think all of my works are the best, but I like to think that they reach a certain standard. I continually find myself becoming less humble about these works as I shift into seeing them more as grades than creative outlets. I’ve been told that I am gentle and relaxed in person, though I feel like I come off with a certain attitude on my blogs. I’m always paranoid about my social etiquette. Text is so easy to misconstrue, yet it is my favorite method of communication. Writing my feelings here is therapeutic, though it may turn on me later.

This made me miss reading and writing (for fun).

On a more positive note, though, I did have fun coming up with the ideas for all of my projects! I felt like the commercial was unique and targeted my passions, and as I noted in that post, was my favorite assignment. I love “Beautiful Dreamer” and would love to re-visit it when I’m not wrapped up in what could be classified as ‘dysphoria’. I’m even more motivated to write: reading lots of 80s poems to find ‘the one’ was a really fun part to my week and I’m in the process of making an account on the NaNoWriMo website (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge was just trying to make all of my ideas cohesive at once and just trying to accept how I sound. If I don’t do those things, then I’m in for some trouble with the radio show. My harshest critic is myself.

I’d like to end with a haiku I made some time ago:

Happier than I
Is the one who lived a life
Just short of dreaming.

Senior Year Sterling (High School Edition)

I’ll have to take this break week to update my older blog posts, comment, and evaluate my motivations. And, perhaps live just short of dreaming. What better way to do that than by reading?


My Father’s Sweater

Image from Mike + The Mechanics’ “The Living Years” (1988) music video.

This time, I chose to do the assignment “Old Poem Same Feeling” submitted by Lauren Wootten. The description is as follows: “For this assignment [sic] you must first pick a poem. Once you find this poem you mash it up (or sing it if you choose.) with the instrumental [sic] of a song. For my version I mashed up a beautiful instrumental of Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again with my attempt to sing Shakespeare’s [sic] sonnet 104 about an old friend. ” Which I wish I could find! It sounds very neat. For my assignment, I read Li-Young Lee’s 1986 poem “Mnemonic” to Mike + the Mechanics’ 1988 song “The Living Years”.

Above is a draft since I had a lot of difficulty with this one, and I want to show my process. First, however, I will explain my poetry and song choices. The poem I selected was called “Mnemonic,” though I could not quite figure out why. I do not see any mnemonic devices, though perhaps it is symbolic that smaller things can represent things larger and more complex. It is about a person who inherited a sweater that their father gave to them as a child, their feelings about their father, and how life has changed since their childhood. Please read it here.

The song I chose fits in very well with the poem: it is about someone who wishes that they could have told their father how they felt about him in “The Living Years.” In both works, the father is dead. Lee begins with fond memories, then bittersweet, and ends with the repeated line: “Once I was cold. So my father took off his blue sweater.” The Mechanics similarly ends with ambiguity, saying that “it’s too late when we die / to admit we don’t see eye to eye.” I am fortunate to have a great relationship with my father, but there was something that resonated with me regarding both works.

I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Mike + The Mechanics, “The Living Years” (1988)

Next, I found the instrumental version: which of course, does not carry the same meaning as the song with lyrics. I recorded the poem in the HCC Vocal Booth and cleaned up the vocals before pitching them down slightly. I found that different parts of the song carried different verses of the poem. “It won’t last. Memory is sweet. / Even when it’s painful, memory is sweet” goes well with the more ‘hopeful’ and sentimental chorus. My favorite part is the introduction, for it sounds like one is entering a dream. The corresponding verse is as follows:

I was tired. So I lay down.
My lids grew heavy. So I slept.
Slender memory, stay with me.

Li-Young Lee, “Mnemonic” (1986)

When I spaced out the verses throughout the song, I found the poem difficult to follow and it read awkwardly. I tried to cut parts of the song so that I could bring the words closer together, but something about it was still off. I decided to edit it again. This time, I put most of it in the beginning of the song and just cropped out another part of the music that I knew I could match up with the previous section. I decided to keep what I did with the ending, which was cut off at a drumbeat. I added an echo with a delay time of 0.2 seconds and a decay factor of 0.5. The final version is below:

Ultimately, this was a good assignment that can be interpreted in many ways. I would be interested to see what other people try to do with it, and perhaps even write my own poem to be integrated into a specific song.

You Are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue.

Hello again! I’m back with a commercial that I intend to use in my radio show. For my product, I decided to highlight the Zork games: a series of text adventure games developed by Infocom, a part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’ve expressed my interest in interactive fiction here and here, and I thought this was the perfect place to display it. The assignment is called 80’S Product Radio Commercial and was submitted by Kollin Carter. The description is as follows: “Create a 30-45 second radio commercial for a product from the 80’s. Add in some background music and/or sound effects to make it sound like a real radio commercial.”

You can see that I broke the time limit, though I felt as if the amount of time I took was best to carry my message. We can sit through back-to-back ads on YouTube, so I’m sure a somewhat-interesting minute-long advertisement is survivable. About the product: Zork I was released in 1980, and the final piece of the trilogy was released in 1982. One can type in commands such as ‘examine ___,’ ‘west,’ or ‘open ___’. Instead of choosing from a list of options, the player has to think of what to do next. There is a help option, but I find it neat how autonomous and ‘free’ one can be with their adventure. I like playing it in text, for it leaves a lot to the imagination. (Want to check it out? Play it here.)

About the company: Infocom and its interactive fiction stories were truly a part of the 80s, for it was started in 1979 and then was bought out by Activision in 1989. I couldn’t find a slogan or a jingle of theirs, so I ended up making a little tagline: “Come and embark on your own epic adventure and together, we’ll write your story.” I did a little bit more research and found that “all ten of its games were on the Softsel top 40 list of best-selling computer games for the week of December 12, 1983, with Zork in first place and two others in the top ten” (Wikipedia). I felt that was a perfect point to use in my script. The introduction of my script is a snippet of the game itself, and I found it through this really neat embroidery of Zork by Glenda Adams:

I recorded my vocals at the HCC Vocal Booth. Then, I cleaned them up before pitching them down. The narrative part was pitched down by around 15% and response voices by about 10%. I did my best to use a slightly-nasal voice for the advertisement part so that it sounded a little more normal when pitched as opposed to my usual inflections. I’m aware that I’m no Morgan Freeman, but the morning rasp served me well (when my voice didn’t crack). I made sure to amplify the bass as well as add echo and reverb to the narration to make it sound like a Dungeon Master (DnD anyone?).

Next, came the music. I wanted to make it sound like one was playing an 80s dungeon crawler, so I chose a 8-bit composition by Erang Dungeon Synth. This channel is totally worth the listen, check out the original work below. Doesn’t it give you a sense of dread and curiosity?

The other song I chose was the instrumental version of Tears for Fears’ song “Shout” (1985). Without the words, it completely gives me ‘dungeon’ and adventure vibes. Do you agree with me? It’s almost uncanny.

I couldn’t decide between the two, so I ended up using both. The only modifications I did to the songs was amplify the ‘click’ you hear in Erang’s music to emphasize the change in the narrative. It goes well with the idea of being trapped and in imminent danger. I also faded “Shout” in and out so that I could highlight this aforementioned ‘click’ (coupled with a bass drop that sounds like a video game dying noise). I made sure to time it so that the original melody comes in when the narrative ends, also removing the 8-bit music from the upbeat advertisement part. Other effects I used included a hall door closing to show the trapdoor slamming and the player being barred in. I also used a clip from the 2015 hit-indie video game Undertale by Toby Fox for the laughing sound effect. A little bit like Zork, one can end up on a different path from what they intended. The retro-themed music and art resembled my mental image of text adventure games.

Overall, I had a great time with this assignment: it was probably my favorite one this week. It could be cleaned up and transitioned into a bit better, though I’m certainly not upset with how this turned out. If I do end up editing it, I will likely focus on making the “Shout” and “The Dark Dungeon” instrumentals flow together better. Currently, they clash a little bit though I can’t bring myself to nix either. I’m adamant about the long crescendo of “Shout,” though perhaps that will change after a day. I hope this piqued your curiosity! (Play Zork!)

Around the World: 80’s Style

Howdy folk! Just thought I’d hype up my radio show and combine the logo design post with my week update. Since my description of my logo is kind of long, I thought I would start with the Week 1 update of my radio show – “Around the World: 80’s Style”.

Title likely inspired by Daft Punk’s 1997 hit “Around the World”.

I am in a group with Allison, Maeve, and Kaitlin (check them out!). It was a little difficult to decide on a topic at first because all of us were very ‘flexible,’ but we finally chose the theme I suggested: our show is based around a glimpse into the 80s around the world. We are examining South Africa, Japan, Australia, and Germany and how they were prevalent in culture and history. First, we started by completing bullet points suggested by Allison (for each of our countries, mine being South Africa): fashion, history, music, technology, film/television, and sports. South Africa was largely influenced by Apartheid at the time, so it has been hard to locate any kind of separation between politics and art. I managed to come up with things for all of my categories, though I feel like I have the least content. I was considering doing Peru instead, but I could still find more on South Africa. Morocco likely would’ve been a better option.

However, history is still important and part of what influences art. I intend to embrace that. Professor Bond commented that we need to find and establish our narrative to connect our content, which we are currently working on. It would be nice to finish our script sometime over the next week if possible. We have linked our commercials, bumpers, and radio show designs to the document. We are planning to reserve the HCC Vocal Booth to record collaborative parts early the week following Spring Break so that the only thing we have to do is splice our audio together and add effects!

Next, onto the design! As you saw from the featured image, I created a more modern and minimalistic design. I was inspired to use the colors from a concert t-shirt I have (which still remains to be one of my favorite shirts). I hope the colors are still reminiscent of 80s design choices, but it’s hard to tell. It will likely be a sticker design rather than one for a logo.

Definitely going to edit out those extra lines!

This design is not completely original, for what I did was edit the following two images together:

I used Pixlr E – a newer version of Pixlr Editor (which I miss dearly… I’m also still on Windows 7 if that means anything) – to layer the logos over each other. Then, I chose my palette of blue, purple, and yellow and used a ‘fill’ tool to color in each piece. Since the top of the radio tower and the big star on the left of the Earth are connected to the bigger pieces of the design, I had to make a duplicated, separate layer and erase the Earth around the star. I then used a paintbrush tool to replace the circle at the top of the radio tower.

I wonder if the lines indicate that I’m not supposed to use these…

Next, I used an online tool to generate text in a circular shape since I knew that I wanted to encompass the oddly-shaped logo neatly. The cite I used was TroyGram, which took me a few minutes to figure out but was easy to use. I’d like to try it again with a different, larger font. It was also hard to position it around the logo, though it worked out in the end. Similar to the other parts of the logo, I used the fill tool for each letter.

The text is here, though you can’t see it because Imgur likes to put pictures over black backgrounds.

After that, it was a matter of using the shape tool to create the background. If it weren’t for the fact that the fill tool doesn’t completely fill in the entirety of each piece of the logo, then I would consider overlaying it on top of a white background instead.

What do you think? Is it worth re-working it in white?

Overall, this assignment wasn’t too difficult since I had a clear idea in mind. Oftentimes I get carried away finding new ideas to incorporate into my editing while I am in the process of editing it like my Macbeth poster or my Alice project. This time, though, there was no lightning that struck me and I think that’s why I feel unfulfilled. I think that is also why I’m actually getting worried about copyright issues. Of course, intellectual and creative property matters but since this is being released to a small, non-monetary audience I figured I should just give credit where possible. I did some research on this in my Digital Studies course, and it is something I need to incorporate increasingly if I’m hoping to ever reach a wider audience.

Beautiful Dreamer, Awake Unto Me

Hello! Hope you’re well. This week, I decided to do an assignment I’d been eyeing for a while: Humming Away. Started by Elizabeth Byrd, the description is as follows: “I always have songs stuck in my head at the worst times and giving the song a little hum is always a good way to get it out of your head (or sometimes make it even more stuck!) For this assignment record yourself humming a song that is stuck in your head and upload it! For example I did FloRida’s Apple Bottom Jeans song because its been stuck in my head all week!” Do I have this song stuck in my head? Absolutely.

The song I chose to hum was “Beautiful Dreamer,” a parlor song created by Stephen Foster. Far from the 80s, it was released posthumously in 1864 (eighteen hundreds… still the ‘eighties’?). Since then, it has become a lullaby for children and has been covered by many popular artists like Sheryl Crowe. I was watching SyFy’s The Magicians – based on the book series by Lev Grossman – and the cast sang this song. I tend to get calmer songs stuck in my head since I’m often trying to reduce stress.

The cover that really drew me into this song, though, was Marty Robbins’ cover (which was also released posthumously in 1984). I ultimately modeled my ‘cover’ after his version. His is very somnolent and classic. I tried to replicate the timeless quality of his voice since I ended up singing part of the song. For me, when I idly voice a melody, I often shift between song and humming. It is done subconsciously because I’m not that good at remembering lyrics even though I hear them in my head. (Anyone else?) This song also sounds a lot like the covers by my grandfather in the Philippines. We have CDs of him that we put on the radio; I believe he still sings in airports.

Rest in peace, Marty Robbins

This assignment was originally supposed to be B-flat, where one pitches the vocals a half-step down so that they are slightly off-key. I wanted to transpose Robbins’ version into a minor key and add creepy sound effects instead, but transposing seems very time-consuming, and would require that I use a program I am less familiar with (it has been a while since I tuned things on Melodyne). To record the Humming Away assignment, I reserved the HCC Vocal Booth. To be honest, I had originally planned on either singing or humming it: not both. No matter how much I tried, however, I found myself being unable to hit certain notes or my voice cracked.

It didn’t have to be perfect, so I just took the better parts of both and found it reflective as I had mentioned before. I used a part of my range that isn’t as comfortable physically, but works better mentally with my identity. One might be able to tell that after I cleaned up my vocals in Audacity with my Noise Reduction > Equalize (+ Bass Boost) > Compress > Normalize process, I changed the pitch of my vocals to make them lower. I find lower voices to often be slightly more soothing. To do this while staying in-tune with Fingerstyle Ukulele Uke Channel’s instrumental, I pitched it up by about 10%, therefore going up by one key. I recorded it that way before pitching my vocals and the track back down 10%. Lastly, I added a slight echo and reverb to amplify the quality.

I was also an inch away from adding ocean wave sounds to this track, though that might have defeated the simplistic purpose of this assignment. Regardless, this was a fulfilling experience. I certainly deviated from the original assignment – which was likely less stressful – though I wanted to show the subconscious processes that go into humming. When we sing, we hear music, and when we start to hum it’s like we’re still singing. Nothing has changed other than the fact that we’ve materialized the melodies in our minds. Humming is often a sign of contentment, and I believe that “Beautiful Dreamer” and my intentionally-imperfect recording displays what it means to make sound.

Beautiful dreamer,
Wake unto me
Starlight and dewdrops
Are awaiting thee.
Sounds of the rude world
Heard in the day
Led by the moonlight
Have all passed away.
Beautiful dreamer,
Queen of my song
List’ while I woo thee
With soft melody.
Gone are the cares of
Life’s busy throng
Beautiful dreamer
Awake unto me
Beautiful dreamer,
Awake unto me.

Stephen Foster