Syllabus

CT 244 Multimedia Sound Production
3 crs., 2 hrs. lab, 2 hrs. lecture.
Tues. & Thurs. 10AM-11:50PM

Michael Branson Smith
Site: michaelbransonsmith.net
Twitter: @mbransons
Flickr, Youtube, Soundcloud
Email: michaelbransonsmith [at] gmail [dot] com
Office Hours: M 12-2PM, or by appointment
Phone: 718-262-2853

Course Description

Welcome back to the new and improved, introduction to the techniques of sound production for multimedia, covering the physics of sound, recording equipment techniques, multi-track mixing, and editing sound for picture. We will learn to use a non-linear digital audio workstation, and you will produce soundtracks for various multi-media projects using current audio software such as Pro Tools.

In this course you will improve your ability to articulate the physical properties of sound, develop a better understanding of sound’s impact on storytelling, create quality audio recordings, and quality audio mixes.

Text

We will employ a variety of online readings in this class, as well as use classroom copies of Stanley Alten’s Audio in Media. There are 5-6 copies of this book in the lab which can be checked out, as well with some basic internet sleuthing you might find a downloadable PDF.

Course Assignments

We’ve been collaborating for the past to classes on a variety of course assignments that you will be able to select and complete. There will be a number of options that follow but bear in mind there are three rules for all assignments:

  1. At least 50% of the total points possible for each individual assignment must be earned; otherwise no points will be awarded for the assignment.

  2. Once the due date for an assignment has passed, that assignment cannot be completed.

  3. All assignments with the exception of exams, must be blogged to the course site soundmap.dewlines.org.

Blogging

Blogging is an integral portion of the class as all the work you complete will be posted to the site soundmap.dewlines.org. There are three different types of posts that are possible for the site and used depending on the assignment completed. A blog post has it’s own evaluation criteria (refer to the makings of a good blog post) and is worth a certain amount of points in addition to the assignment detailed in the post. Each post must be properly categorized as level 1, 2, or 3 as well as to the particular assignment category. If the post is not properly categorized, then there is an automatic one point deduction.

There is a maximum of 18 posts required for the semester if one were to complete every assignment. You must do a minimum of 2 level two blog posts and a maximum of 2 level three blog posts. You are required to make at least one post per dated period and can create a maximum of five per time period.

  1. Level One Blog Post – this post type is used as a simple reporting-out blog post of an assignment completed. (6 points). Posts are graded using the following criteria:

    1. A thoughtful title.

    2. An embedded media artifact relevant to the assignment (image, video, audio).

    3. A clear statement of the post’s purpose.

    4. At least one contextual link related to the post’s purpose.

    5. A clear statement of reflection.

    6. Appropriate grammar and syntax.

  2. Level Two Blog Post – this post type is used to reflect more deeply and give additional context to the assignment you’ve completed. (12 points) Posts are graded using the following criteria:

    1. A thoughtful title.

    2. At least two embedded media artifacts relevant to the assignment (image, video, audio).

    3. A clear statement of the post’s purpose.

    4. At least two contextual links related to the post’s purpose. One of these links must be to a piece of research related to the completed assignment.

    5. A description of the piece of related research and how it influenced/impacted your completed assignment.

    6. A reflection on your process detailing how you completed the assignment.

    7. A final reflection on the assignment.

    8. Appropriate grammar and syntax.

  3. Level Three Blog Post – this post type is a more expansive look at a particular topic or assignment. There is a larger amount of research and examples required to frame the work presented. (25 points) Posts are graded using the following criteria:

    1. A thoughtful title.

    2. At least 4 embedded media artifacts relevant to the assignment/topic. Two artifacts must be references, not created by yourself.

    3. A clear statement of the post’s purpose, including an enumerated set of at least three goals (or illustrations) for the deeper investigation.

    4. For each goal or investigated illustration:

      1. At least two contextual links related to the goal/illustration. One of these links must be to a piece research.

      2. A description of the piece of research and how it influenced/impacted your understanding of the illustration/goal.

    5. A final reflection on the investigation.

    6. Appropriate grammar and syntax.

Audio Production Projects

You will be working principally from the ds106 audio assignment repository for audio project inspiration. There are many different types of assignments including original recording, remix, live radio, and more. Here are some possible examples: Sound Effects StoryMay I Take Your OrderDialogue MashupFamiliar SoundsText Impersonations, and Beat Craig’s List. There is the possibility of doing live radio broadcasts on ds106radio as well.

For each project completed you will need to post it as part of a level one or two blog post. If you choose to turn your assignment in with a level three blog post, consider it must contextualized with a broader research interest developed in the context of the pursuit of the project.

You are welcome to create your own project ideas and present them as well. If the project is an original assignment, you must post it as part of a level two blog post.

If you’ve worked with assignments in ds106 previously, you’ll recall that there was a difficulty rating scale of 1-5 stars. For the purposes of this class, we will not be using this scale as part of the evaluation as all assignments can be completed in a fashion that can be considered a storytelling and technical challenge.

You will need to complete a minimum of four projects and a maximum of ten. We will use the following criteria to evaluate your projects (15 points):

  1. Technical

    1. The quality of recorded voice, good signal to noise, good level, no peaks.

    2. Quality recorded sound effects, environments, foley. Clear identifiable actions and/or consistent sound bed.

    3. Quality samples selected are clear, clean, good signal to noise ratio.

    4. Audio edits are well crafted without obtrusive gaps, cuts, etc.

    5. Audio mix is clear, without competing dialogue, music, and sound-on-tape.

  2. Content

    1. The story of the project has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

    2. The recorded audio and/or samples are connected to the original assignment.

    3. The audio edits are varied and maintain the listener’s interest.

  3. Group (up to two optional group projects, can receive up to 5 additional points, requires a level two blog post)

    1. The scope of the project merited group collaboration.

    2. Each member of the group had a clear role that was evaluated by her/his peers.

Field Trips

Making a visit to a museum, show, studio and presenting your findings in a level one, two, or three blog post. You must create at least one original piece of documentation of your visit and provide it as evidence in your post. Documentation can include image, audio, and/or video. (20 points)

Service Learning

Work as a volunteer assistant with a crew on-campus (in the television studio, a remote production, and/or the Performing Arts Center) shadowing a production. This can include live or post production. You are also welcome to present volunteer production opportunities off-campus as well. Present your experience in a level one, two, or three blog post. You must also submit the short evaluation of your work completed by the on-site advisor/mentor. (20 points)

Presentation/Tutorial

Create a tutorial or presentation that explains a particular topic or teaches a particular skill in the field of audio production. Presentations can be done by an individual or a group and will be a maximum of 10 minutes for an individual and an additional 2-3 minutes per person in group presentation. Tutorials can be created as video presentations (3-5 minutes) or a text based instructions with images. A level one or two blog post is required to report out on a tutorial. Criteria for evaluating tutorials and presentations are as follows (20 points):

  1. The audience minimum skill level for the tutorial is clearly identified.

  2. A clear description of the skill to be taught or the topic to be explained is defined.

  3. A set of major steps is clearly defined and within each step there is adequate coverage.

  4. Ample and clear visual and aural examples are included for steps.

  5. A clear voice with simple, straightforward sentences in a video tutorial.

  6. Grammatically correct and simple straightforward sentences in a textual tutorial.

  7. The coverage of the topic was appropriate for the length of the tutorial.

  8. Both presentations have the option to be group presentations (5 additional points each)

Constructive Blog Comments

Provide constructive feedback on at least eight of your peer’s blog posts in the form of a comment to the post. You must include a positive piece and negative piece of feedback. For project posts, constructive feedback should be founded on technical and/or content criteria defined in the Audio Production Assignment for project posts. If someone else has already commented on the post, then you must provide additional insight to the project’s critique. And finally it is possible to construct a thoughtful question as part of your feedback. The original poster can reply thoughtfully to a question and this will count a piece of feedback for the original poster. You cannot receive any points unless you have provided at least eight constructive comments. (40 pts)

Critique Blog Post

You can chose to critique either a student presentation/tutorial or a student project. If you wish to critique a presentation you must be present for it! Use the criteria for evaluating a presentation/tutorial and give at least two positive and two negative constructive pieces of criticism in a level two blog post. If you wish to critique a student project, you must pick two and compare/contrast them in a level two blog post. You must both positive and negative constructive criticism for both projects on both a content level and a technical level. (20 pts)

Exams

There is an opportunity to take up to two exams, one per two  quarter in class. There a five topics to choose from, you must pick two to be incorporated into your exam. Also there is the opportunity to take the exam a second time as a group of up to three. If the group scores a better average than the individual scores, that added amount will be incorporated to your individual score. (30 points each):

  1. Golden Ears listening for the ten octaves.

  2. Microphone basics.

  3. Sound Waves and Sampling

  4. Signal Processors

  5. Mixing Board Basics

Bonus Points

  1. On several unannounced days, attendance will be taken at 10:05 AM. Those present will receive 5 bonus points. (up to a maximum of 25 points)

  2. You can earn 5 bonus points for each original assignment posted to the ds106 assignment repository. You must describe and link to this original assignment in your post in which you also complete the new assignment. (up to a maximum of 15 points)

  3. Additional bonus point options will be offered at the discretion of the instructor.

Planning your remaining schedule

In order to prevent a concentrated amount of work being completed in short period of time (either the beginning, middle, and/or end), the remaining semester has been divided into four periods:

  1. March 4 – March 24

  2. March 25 – April 10

  3. April 11 – May 5

  4. May 6 – May 20

For each time period you must complete a minimum of one assignment that requires a blog post and a maximum of five. There are only 18 possible blog posts, so that will give enough chances to complete work requiring posts. One exam can be taken during the first two periods, and the other during the second two periods. Comments are an all or nothing affair, half of which must be completed during the first two periods and the other half during the second two periods.

Below enumerates the total possible number of points if one were to complete every assignment for full credit.

  1. Blogging 242 pts.

  2. Projects 160 pts.

  3. Field Trips  40 pts.

  4. Service  40 pts.

  5. Presentations/Tutorial  50 pts.

  6. Comments  40 pts.

  7. Critique  40 pts.

  8. Exams  60 pts.

  9. Attendance  25 pts.

  10. DS106 Repository Contributions  15 pts.

  11. Bonus Points – planning post  10 pts.

  12. Total 722 pts.

Grading

  1. 485 and above = A

  2. 461–484 = A-

  3. 445–460 = B+

  4. 430–444 = B

  5. 414–429 = B-

  6. 381–413 = C+

  7. 349–380 = C

  8. 317–348 = C-

  9. 286–316 = D

  10. 270–285 = D-

  11. 269 and below = F

You will create a number of audio story based projects that will be inspired by media we encounter throughout the course, as well as the  we may also chose to do a larger project, for example an radio documentary similar to an episode of This American Life. We will figure this out together.

 


Decorum

Students are expected to treat the instructor and fellow students with the appropriate degree of respect, both in class (if applicable) and in online discussions. Communication, either in person or through electronic media, that is deemed abusive, threatening, or harassing in nature will not be tolerated.

Academic Integrity

York College’s Academic Integrity Policy & Procedures, developed to conform to the CUNY policy on Academic Integrity.

INC Grades

The following overview of the INC grade is condensed from York’s grading policy website

The student must be passing the course, and have work remaining to complete the course requirements. The student must request an INC grade. The instructor must approve whether the student has a valid reason for not completing course requirements and has reasonable expectation that the student can in fact successfully complete the requirements of the course within the allotted time.

Policy on Accommodations for Disable Students

CUNY York College is committed to providing access to programs and services for qualified students with disabilities. If you are a student with a disability and require accommodations to participate and complete requirements for this class, contact the STAR Program (Specialized Testing & Academic Resources), services for students with disabilities (Academic Core Building (AC), Room 1GO2, 718-262-2191/3732) for verification of eligibility and determination of specific accommodations.

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