ds106zone LoDown #31

I had a Skype conversation with Rocky Lou last week to do a reflection on my experience in the ds106zone, and I decided to add some more audio and make it a full LoDown episode.

I wish I could say that I was sitting outside in the nice warm sunshine while talking with Rocky Lou, but no. It’s been rainy and cold here in the Australian winter, and I just recorded some ambient sounds from outside and added them to our conversation—a little trick Rocky Lou taught me to help cover up any places where you’ve edited pieces of the audio out. I thought it might be useful for others to hear that piece of advice. It worked really well.

At first I recorded ambient noise outside on my back patio, but I didn’t like the sound very much. Lots of just boring old hum/city noises and not too many birds. So this morning I stopped at a local park after dropping my son off from school and recorded there. I managed to record an Australian magpie, the sound of which really reminds me of being here…so I’m quite happy about that.

Rocky Lou and I talked for about an hour, so I had a lot of editing to do to get this LoDown down to less than 15 minutes. I don’t even want to say how much time I spent on this. Let’s just say I have even more respect than I already had for Scottlo, doing it every day for so many weeks. Wow.

I had to upload this as an .aiff file because the mp3 sounded really weird for some reason—sort of distorted, and with a weird echo. I didn’t have time to figure out what was going on before I had to catch a plane to leave town for a week.

Update a month later: Just looked back at this post and realized I never wrote down what Talky Tina told me on Twitter as a way to help solve this bad-sounding MP3 problem. She said that when you export to MP3 you get a dialogue box and you should set the kbps to 192 for better quality MP3 sound. I haven’t tried that yet, but wanted to write it down for future reference for myself and others.

Amateur tip: don’t record your own voice when your sinuses are stuffed up.

Here’s the intro video I did for ds106zone, which I play a couple of clips from in this LoDown.

I got the music from the Vimeo Music Store. At first I tried to find things for free from http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/, but I couldn’t find anything I like. So instead I downloaded “Infinity Bitch” by Los Halos. Cost me $1.99 U.S., but I think the song works. Too bad the licenses on Vimeo Music only allow you to use the songs for one project. Grrrrr.

ds106 Commercial–AgainAgainAgain

For the radio play I helped to create, I also decided to make a commercial—we had two commercials in our play, both of which were made by one of the members of the group.

I decided to make a commercial for ds106 itself. I didn’t even look to see at the time if there was such an audio assignment; I just looked now and there is not, so I think it’s time to create one.

My first thought, and the one I went with, was to use various clips from what others have done or created in this summer 2013 version of the course, the ds106zone. So I started thinking about what I had heard during audio week, and what would fit an ad for ds106.

Then I just added in some narrative to suggest reasons why one might want to participate in ds106, including the ability to make gifs, make audio, and get smack-talked by Jim Groom. I also wanted to highlight that it’s something you can do anytime, not just during a specified time period.

The process

I used Audacity for this project, and downloaded the audio I wanted to use from other participants through Soundcloud (see credits, below).

I then used Soundflower and Audacity to record some audio from Jim Groom’s ds106zone LoDown #18, in which he talks a great deal of smack about some recent audio work. That part was really fun. I had a hard time picking and choosing what to include, as there was so much smack talk available. I decided not to pick on any one person and what he said about their audio, and just to combine a few of his reactions, such as “what?” “what is going on?” “I mean, come on!”—hoping thereby to capture the flavour of what he was saying without singling out any participant’s work.

Finally, I used Soundflower and Audacity to record some audio from Scottlo’s ds106 LoDown #15, which included a Scottlo Drive By Counting Lesson by Andrew Forgrave, which asks Scottlo to learn to count by twos to twenty in Hindi. I just took out the “can you dig it?” and “again, again, again” portions; the first seems to be a recurring theme in ds106 radio, and the second is something that fits, to me, ds106—one can keep doing it again, again, again.

During that counting lesson, Scottlo says at one point: “you can do it at home,” meaning his listeners could try to count along at home with him. But it fits perfectly as an ending for the ad, since, of course, one can and often does do ds106 at home.

I recorded my audio first with the mic that is on my Apple earbuds, but I didn’t like the sound quality. I didn’t think I had any other choice, so I went with it, and got version 1 of this commercial.

But when I sent out a tweet saying I needed to buy a decent mic, my partner showed me that he had already bought one last year. Cool! So I used that for this second version, and it sounds much better, I think.


Here are sources for the elements I used in this ad—thanks to all of them! I love building on work by others!

ds106 bumper mashup by Rochelle Lockridge soundcloud.com/rochelle-lockridge/ds106-bumper-mashup

“Moonglow” by Brian Short soundcloud.com/brian-short/moonglow

ds106zone LoDown #15 by Scottlo scottlo.com/?p=1614
— which included audio from “Scottlo Drive By Counting Lesson,” by Andrew Forgrave: soundcloud.com/aforgrave/scottlo-driveby-counting

ds106zone LoDown #18 by Jim Groom: scottlo.com/?p=1648

Parts of The Twilight Zone, “It’s a good life” episode.


This commercial is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA, since one of the elements used in it is licensed as such. This blog post is CC-BY, though.

Not just for life, but for existence

Here is a radio play written, recorded and edited by five open, online participants in the May/June edition of ds106—the ds106zone, entitled Not Just For Life, but For Existence. Or perhaps, Not Just #4life, but #4existence.


Hint: Listen with headphones so you can hear it in stereo, and see if you can hear what we did with the L/R channels during one of the scenes.


Brian Bennett (blog, twitter)

Paul Bond (blog, twitter)

Andrew Forgrave (blog, twitter)

Ben Rimes (blog, twitter)

Christina Hendricks (that’s me). (twitter, plus a different blog than this one)

Special thanks to Scottlo for his major part in the play!

The Story

Nope. I’m not going to give you the story here and give it all away! You need to listen to the play itself.

I will say that it may not make as much sense to those who are not participating in the ds106zone as to those who are or did. I’ll just say this:

  • All the UMW students in the course had to create a radio play in groups, and the open online students could choose to do so and form their own groups, which we did.
  • There is/was a daily podcast for the ds106zone course, called the #LoDown, done by Scottlo, who is living in Saudi Arabia. (Search for “LoDown” on Scottlo’s radio blog for the episodes). There has been a bit of discussion in the course when Scottlo said in one of these that it’s a fair bit of work to produce them each day, and he invited others to fill in as guests sometimes (which they have).
  • Scottlo came up with the idea of participants doing a radio play, and in the process he introduced us to the radio dramas of Arch Oboler. You can hear many of them on the internet archive, here. We included part of one of them in our play.
  • Jim Groom, the instructor for ds106zone, talks a lot of smack in ds106, including to Scottlo for whining about doing a LoDown every day and trying to get out if it by getting guest hosts. Groom himself did a LoDown episode, during which he talked a good deal of smack about certain assignments that had been done that week.
  • Talky Tina has been quite a presence in the ds106zone, on twitter and in her blog. She doesn’t like being called “creepy.” Ben has been calling her “creepy” on twitter (e.g., here) and creating pictures and poems about her (in response to her poem about him) that bug her and now she has taken the gloves off. If anyone knows who is “behind” Talky Tina, they’re not talking.
  • Hank Soda is a major player on ds106radio. I think he may be a character that someone else plays, but I honestly don’t know.


We came up with the idea and wrote the script collaboratively, using Google Docs and also a collaborative scriptwriting site called “Plotbot” (http://www.plotbot.com).The Plotbot site worked fine—it allowed you to use a script structure, with dialogue, actions, transitions, etc., and it allowed anyone in the group to make changes. It kept track of versions and comments, though I couldn’t get the links to previous versions to open for some reason.

At the moment, though, the plotbot website seems to be down. Good thing that didn’t happen while we were recording or editing! Let that be a lesson: be sure you have backup copies of your work in case the application you’re using goes down, or loses data, etc. I didn’t make a backup of our script, which was stupid. Lesson learned.

We recorded our parts together, in a Google Hangout—Brian recorded it, using the method he discusses here. Then Scottlo recorded his separately. We found sound effects on the web (see below for attributions) or recorded them ourselves. I found some music through this website, which provides soundtrack music for audio and video projects with a CC-BY license.

Then it was time to edit and put sounds and music together with dialogue. We distributed this work by scenes or sections, with one person trying to do a whole scene so the mp3 file could just be uploaded to a shared dropbox folder.

That didn’t work with the middle scene, though, which was quite long—I did a lot of that one, but had to stop at 2am one night and hand it off to Brian. But that caused some difficulties, though, because I had to give him the Audacity files (rather than an MP3, say), which are very, very big. My computer spent all night trying to upload them to dropbox, and failed. Brian then suggested zipping the files (duh!), which only took 3-4 hours to upload. But it worked, and he was able to finish the scene and put all the scenes together.

I don’t know how much time others spent editing, but let me say it was a very long process for me, much longer than I expected. I spent at least 10 hours doing the editing and mixing for the music & narration in scene 1, some of scene 2, and all of scene 3. I really, really enjoyed doing it, though. I spent time not only timing the sound effects with what was going on, picking the right parts of the sound effects, etc., but also adjusting levels during our group conversation in scene 3 so that the quieter voices came up in the mix more. I also played around with ways to distort Scottlo’s voice when he starts to fade out and fall asleep; I wanted it to get all choppy like it was breaking up, but I didn’t know how to do that and ran out of time to try to figure it out.

I found that I have a passion for this stuff, that I really, really liked doing the mixing and editing. I didn’t mind spending a lot of time, though I certainly haven’t gotten much sleep over the past few days.


A huge thanks to all the members of this group, who all contributed to the project in various ways, from helping to write the script, to finding/recording sounds, to making commercials, to editing. We all rock.

And special thanks, again, to Scottlo for agreeing to record some material for our play, even though he said he didn’t have time to participate in making the play in a deeper way. Your role was pivotal!


This radio play is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA, partly by agreement of the participants, and partly because one of the elements in it is licensed as such.


Many of the sound effects came from the freesound website, and many of those were licensed CC0 (more or less public domain; no attribution required). The ones that do require attribution are listed below, along with some other credits.

Sound effects:

1918 mantel clock ticking, by daveincamas:  http://www.freesound.org/people/daveincamas/sounds/27086/

Ship’s horn, by inchadney:  http://www.freesound.org/people/inchadney/sounds/157284/

Bird chirping (used for Twitter sound), by jppi_Stu: http://www.freesound.org/people/jppi_Stu/sounds/130233/

Water filling up glass from faucet, by Ch0cchi: http://www.freesound.org/people/Ch0cchi/sounds/15287/

Mouse clicks, by Eelke: http://freesound.org/people/Eelke/sounds/158056/

Computer gibberish, by lysander darkstar: http://freesound.org/people/lysander%20darkstar/sounds/60136/

Radio static, by digifish music (www.digifishmusic.com): http://freesound.org/people/digifishmusic/sounds/74929/

Chair squeaking (when sitting down), by MaxDemianAGL: http://freesound.org/people/MaxDemianAGL/sounds/120174/


Title music (beginning and ending): Phantasm, by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com)

In Scene 2, over parts of Scottlo’s dialogue: Darkest Child, by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com)


Scottlo LoDown ending from this episode (#19): http://scottlo.com/?p=1655 

Scottlo LoDown beginning from this episode (#15): http://scottlo.com/?p=1614

Beginning of Arch Oboler radio play, “Where are you?”: http://archive.org/details/otr_devilandmro

Talky Tina commercial by Paul Bond

Radio static plus the songs “Twilight” (by The Band) and “Twilight Zone” (by Golden Earring), by Paul Bond

DS106 commercial by Christina Hendricks

Bird Call for Martin Sloan

This assignment for ds106 asks for a “bird call” one might use to attract a particular character (such as someone from a film, tv episode, book, or other narrative). I made one for Martin Sloan, the lead character in the Twilight Zone episode entitled “Walking Distance.” 

I cheated a bit, b/c it’s only supposed to be 30 seconds long, but it’s nearly 1 minute. That’s b/c I added a bit onto the end that wouldn’t attract Sloan, but does indicate that “you can’t go back” (see below).

I chose this project because I wanted to practice getting sound effects, knowing that I’d be working on a radio play for ds106 (which I did, and it is just now finished…more on that later!). This was a great way to get to know the freesound.org site and learn to put sounds together to tell a story without any words.

The “Walking Distance” episode

(WARNING: Plot spoilers ahead! If you don’t want to see what happens in this episode, don’t read on!)

Martin Sloan is a 36-year-old ad exec (according to the Wikipedia site linked above…I can’t remember exactly what he said in the episode his profession/title is) who ends up walking from a service station to his hometown one afternoon while waiting for his car to be repaired. (It’s “walking distance” from the station.)

When he gets to the town (“Homewood”) he discovers that he has gone back in time to when he was a boy, 11 years old (if I remember his age correctly). He meets and talks with his boyhood self and with his parents. He is especially attracted by the good memories of summer as a boy in his hometown, as a contrast to his current hectic life in New York City.

In a pivotal scene, his boyhood self is riding on a carousel, eating popcorn, and Sloan is chasing after him, trying to tell him to enjoy that time of his life, because it is the best time. The young Sloan falls off the carousel and gets his leg caught in the machinery underneath. Turns out he is fine, except that he’ll walk with a limp for the rest of his life—and the adult Sloan does too, later in the episode.

The bird call for Martin Sloan

I created a bird call that would attract the adult Sloan, because it includes sounds from his childhood that he wants to relive: a carousel, popcorn popping, and someone eating popcorn.

However, I gave my bird call a twist: at the end I added the sound of a carousel squeaking as it goes around, without music. To me, this is a sombre sound, and one that reminds me of the idea that you can’t really go back to the past like Sloan wanted to. You can try, but the experience will be very different. It’s not that you can’t have new and interesting experiences, of course, but if you try to relive exactly the same thing it will ring hollow somehow.

So this bird call might attract Sloan, but would also be a reminder that any carnival he attends now will be a different experience from what he remembers as a child (and yet could still be a good one).

This could also almost count as a “5 sound story,” except it’s only 4 sounds. I tried to think of and find a 5th sound that would fit, but came up empty. I started with the “bird call” assignment idea, and decided to stick with that and keep it at 4 sounds.

The process

I used Audacity for this project, and four sound effects (see attributions below): a carousel with music, popcorn popping, someone eating popcorn, and the squeaking carousel without music.

I started with the carousel music to set the scene and mood, and then turned the volume down on it when the popcorn popping and eating came in. I adjusted the volume/amplification levels on those so they could be heard well, but not be too loud. I then faded both the popcorn eating and the carousel music sounds using the “envelope” tool, and brought in the carousel squeaking sound at the end.

Here’s a screenshot of the four tracks. I didn’t need four; I could have put the popcorn popping and eating on the same track, and the carousel music and carousel squeaking both on a second track. But it sounds the same, regardless!



I got all the sounds for this project from www.freesound.org

Most of them were licensed CC-BY; the carousel squeaking sound was CC0, but I list it here in case anyone else wants to use it!

Eating popcorn sound came from digifish music (www.digifishmusic.com): http://www.freesound.org/people/digifishmusic/sounds/59714/

Carousel music sound came from klankbeeld: http://www.freesound.org/people/klankbeeld/sounds/120368/

Popcorn popping sound came from digifish music (www.digifishmusic.com): http://www.freesound.org/people/digifishmusic/sounds/59712/

Carousel squeaking sound came from Felix.Blume: http://freesound.org/people/felix.blume/sounds/137720/

What was that? ds106 radio bumper

I was inspired to do this bumper by this one over at raptnrent.me. I loved how audio from a Twilight Zone episode was used in that bumper, and it gave me an immediate idea for how to use some audio from the Twilight Zone episode called “The Midnight Sun.”

I remembered that there was a scene in which Norma and Mrs. Bronson are talking in the hallway and they hear a noise from upstairs—the unnamed man who comes and threatens them to get water. I thought it would be cool to have a bumper with someone saying “what was that?” and it being just ds106 radio.

The process was quite simple, actually. I found out about Soundflower from the Scottlo #ds106zone daily podcast, the #LoDown, who got it from the raptnrent.me blog linked above—this is an application that lets you record audio playing on your computer, but unfortunately for some it is only for Macs (I have a Mac, so it works for me). Following the directions here, I used Soundflower and Audacity to record audio from the episode while it was playing on my computer.

The dialogue between Norma and Mrs. Bronson didn’t have any music behind it, which turned out to be a good thing because I wanted to cut some of that dialogue (and if there were music it would have skipped weirdly). I was able to easily cut some of the dialogue because there were just silent spaces between (or heavy breathing from Norma, from the heat). I  wanted it to start with Mrs. Bronson saying she hadn’t heard a thing, but then go straight into “what was that?” afterwards. I skipped a few other parts of the dialogue as well.

BUT, I wanted there to be music throughout the bumper, so I recorded a section of the episode that had mostly just music. It was some part in the middle where Norma is just in her apartment and there is that oppressive “sun” music. At one point she goes to her window and burns her hand on the ledge beneath it. That’s when she does the quick suck-in of her breath you hear right before I start talking in the bumper.

So what I did was just start the music I had recorded as a separate track beneath the dialogue, and used the “time shift” tool to move it so that Norma’s breath-suck came right after the door slam at the end of the dialogue. The music seemed to work well when time shifting it that way…it built up very nicely as the audio was going along.

Then came the somewhat (but not very) tricky part. After Normal sucks in her breath, I wanted to do the bit where I talk, and I wanted music with that too. So I recorded some of the soundtrack to the episode from here into Audacity using Soundflower, onto a separate track. I wanted some background music as well as something that would be good to end the bumper with, so I chose a couple of sections from what I had recorded and cut and pasted the two different parts together.

But of course, if you just put sections of music together that don’t belong together, they sound weird. So here’s what I did. I added some silence (by cutting and pasting from a silent part of one of the recordings) right after the breath-suck-in, and then started the first piece of music over which I would speak. The nature of the music worked with just silence before it. I then  used the “envelope tool” to fade that first piece of music down and transition to the last piece, the chord that ends the bumper.

Here’s a screenshot of what I’m talking about, with the top level being the dialogue between Norma and Mrs. Bronson, the middle being the music, and the bottom being my voiceover. You can see the “envelope” I created in the music.


The fourth level is an earlier version of my voiceover. I did several takes, and kept all the versions just in case.

I should also say that when I first began I used “duplicate” on the dialogue and music tracks, to make sure that when I started cutting and pasting, I’d still have the original version of each track in case I didn’t like what I had done. Yes, you can use “undo” to go back to earlier versions, but if you’ve done a lot you have to go back a lot. And this way it’s easy to just start from scratch.

So this Audacity file has a lot of tracks right now—the original dialogue/the edited dialogue; the original music that goes before my voiceover/the edited music before my voiceover; the original music I cut from to go during my voiceover/the edited version of music during my voiceover, plus all the takes of the voiceover!

This was really, really fun to do, and only took me about 3-4 hours total, over two nights. Looking forward to doing more audio assignments!

P.S. I used to do this sort of thing a lot when I worked in college radio as an undergrad, but (and this is dating me) we used (gasp!) physical tape. We had to cut and splice tape with scissors and, well, sticky tape. All my work from that time is sitting on a reel to reel tape in a box somewhere in my house, or recorded onto a cassette in some other box in my house. This way is MUCH easier.