Every treasure map needs to have rough edges; so here’s a brief intro to the “roughen edges” tool so you can make one!
First, go to effects > video effects > stylize > roughen edges (or just search for “roughen edges” in the effects search bar). Click and drag over to the clip that you want to place the effect on. Immediately, you the following change in you video:
There are a lot of ways to manipulate the edges in the “effect controls” panel.
1. Edge type
Edge type is a pull-down menu of the different kinds of edges you can apply. Below are pictures of each (with border set to maximum so the difference is clearer—border is discussed below).
On any of the types that include “color,” you can pick what color using “edge color” directly beneath edge type.
Border is fairly straightforward; the smaller the border, the more subtle the effect. If you set the border to 0, you’re essentially eliminating the effect altogether; setting the border to 32 (the highest) will make the effect larger and cut more into the picture.
3. Edge sharpness
Edge sharpness determines how blurred/sharp the roughened edges are. Below are screen shots of 0 (blurred) vs. 2 (sharp)
4. Fractal influence
Fractal influence determines how big the “rough” part is; the bumps, spikes, etc. If you set Fractal influence to 0, you completely smooth the border, but you also achieve a rounded edges effect (see below).
Scale determines how large the “rough” part is. At 20 (the smallest value), the edges are really small, like someone went through with a scissors and painstakingly made a million teeny tiny cuts along the edge.
When the scale is largest (300), there are fewer edges.
6. Stretch Width or Height
This effect basically determines whether the height or width is emphasized. At -5, the height is almost smooth and the width is rough, while at +5 the width is almost smooth and the height is rough.
As you probably guessed, complexity makes the design more or less complex. The larger the number, the more detail is present.
Evolution uses keyframes to animate the roughening. Essentially you can use key frames to make it more or less roughened over time. The dial will allow you to set “angles.” Moving clockwise will give you a positive angle an increase the roughening, while counterclockwise will give you a negative angle and decrease the roughening (unfortunately the way the video pauses I couldn’t get a good screen shot).
So, matees, ready to find some treasure? ARGHHHHH!
Wifi passwords? Thumbtacks? What impact do they have on Baldessari’s art (his art presumably the reason why there’ s a “brief history” video featuring him)? It’s the objects themselves, but the placement of them in the video, the randomness, quick comments about them that are why they are included: they speak to Baldessari’s dry sense of humor. After watching the video (particularly the moment where he films himself writing “I will not create any more boring art”), the one thing I knew for sure about Baldessari was that he must have a very dry sense of humor. Quick, fleeting comments that people either laugh at or look at you strangely for. What’s a better way to capture that in video than through quick cuts?
One of the first things that stood out to me when I watched the video was how quickly the viewer is bombarded with information. The main way the quickness is achieved is through quick cuts: an image will flash on the screen and barely stay there for two seconds before being replaced with another one. But what is particularly interesting is the use of graphic words on screen. Take, for example, the moment starting at about 50 seconds. We see the word “John” flash up on the screen with barely enough time for us to read it before it goes away and “Baldessari” replaces it. The words “is a towering figure” all appear in a similar manner: one at a time, flashing up just long enough for us (and the narrator) to read them. Visually, it helps to create the pace of the whole video; seeing a sentence one word at a time like that creates a hurried feeling that putting the whole sentence would not create.
As I mentioned before, I think that the quickness strategically speaks to Baldessari’s sense of humor. Dry humor is often just a quick line in the middle of a conversation (like your logic professor suddenly throwing in a line about flying robots in the middle of talking about proofs). As we absorb this stream of information flying at us in a hurried manner, the sudden moments of, “This is John Baldessari’s wifi password,” make us stop and go, “Wait, what just happened?” But the video’s already moved on. The story is, as titled, the history of John Baldessari. But it’s not just, “He was born here, he did this, he did that, he has these accomplishments.” It captures his personality, particularly his sense of humor.
Question for discussion: What else can quick cuts be used to capture about a person’s personality?
Audacity seems to be super self-explanatory; you click the effect you want, a dialog box prompts you to enter a few settings, and voila! But those settings aren’t always immediately obvious. So to save you the trouble of having to figure out the settings on the echo effect, here’s a brief tutorial.
For fun, I chose a gavel sound from freesound.org to work with. Below is a picture of what it looked like in audacity before I did any editing.
It was pretty quiet, so first thing I did was amplify it. In case you haven’t found that yet, highlight the area you want to amplify (click and drag using the selection tool), click “Effect” at the top, and then “Amplify.” The following dialog box should appear:
The number you want to watch is the “New Peak Amplitude.” If it’s at zero, then you’re not amplifying the sound at all. Positive numbers make the sound louder, negative sounds make the sound quieter. Also, make sure you check the “Allow clipping” box if you’re making it louder; otherwise you won’t be able to apply the amplification. Below is a screen shot of the settings I applied to the gavel noise, followed by the new audacity graph (I only amplified half the piece for comparison purposes as I was working with it).
Now for the echo! Keeping that section highlighted, go to “Effect” again, and click “Echo.” You’ll get the following dialog box:
Delay time is fairly self-explanatory. It’s just how long of a time you want between the original sound and the first echo, and then in between all the echoes (the effect applies multiple echoes). You’ll need to adjust this to fit the time span of the sound you’re echoing. The default time is one second—too long for the gavel noise which lasts less than half a second. I would say that most of the time you probably want the delay time to be less than the time it takes for the sound itself. So I dropped it down to 0.08 seconds.
Decay time is basically how loud the echoes are. The echo gets quieter and quieter as time goes on, as echoes should, but you can still adjust how loud it is to begin with. The higher the number you put in for the decay time, the louder the sound; the lower the number, the quieter the sound.
Below is an image of the new audacity graph. If you scroll up and compare it with the other graph, you’ll notice that there are more “peaks” now. Each one is an echo.
What I discovered that was really neat about the echo effect is that it can make a noise sound fuller rather than just giving it a straight echo. Every time there’s a noise, there’s an echo. We just don’t always realize it because it’s not often very distinct from the noise itself. But using the echo effect, you can give a sound much more depth.
Take the intense, suspenseful, ominous, scary music and sound effects from the climaxes of a bunch of movies. Put them as background to a 10 minute podcast. And there’s the Lament for Joe Hall.
If I had been reading the script instead of listening to the performative sound piece, I would have been effectively pulled in. The story itself is suspenseful and I’m sure would have stirred up most of the same emotions that the sound piece does. But the difference is that Matt Gray made terrific decisions about how to have the sound amplify the emotions. At the end, my heart is racing, I’m scared, and the weight in my stomach refuses to go away.
Let’s start with the very beginning. The listener hears an ominous screech. It says something went wrong. Something terrible happened. I don’t know why, but I’m personally reminded of a heart monitor beeping that the person’s heart has stopped. Then we hear the “voice” of Joe Hall. The choice to have a child read the lines was a great one; there’s something about a child’s voice that makes most people immediately sympathize with the child. But there’s another quality to it that made me feel sorry for Joe Hall: the echo. Everything “Joe” says has an echo-y sound to it. For me, it creates the feeling of a dark, dark room. There’s a sense of dark finality about it. It’s the echo of the past that will always be ringing into Joe Hall’s future.
Moving ahead a bit to about 57 seconds, we hear the music enter. It’s the type of music you would expect to hear during an intense movie scene. It’s ominous. It has a clear, steady beat in it that’s faster than your heart rate, but something about it makes your heart speed up to match it. The quickened pulse makes you on edge as you listen to the rest of the story. And the music recurs many times in the piece, often actually as a signal of the end of one “scene” and the beginning a new one. At 57 seconds, it’s the switch from talking about his mom to introducing his dad. Using such ominous music to bridge scenes builds the intensity of the story; you hear one horrific thing and then the music enters, making your heart beat faster, making you dread what you’re about to hear because you know it’ll be worse than what preceded it. But you can’t possibly stop listening. Just like the way you can’t tear your eyes away from the TV screen during a scary scene, even though you know you don’t want to see what’s coming.
I don’t think we always realize the impact sound has on our emotions. It’s been a few minutes now since I listened to the part of the podcast at 57 seconds so I could accurately describe the music above, but I still feel a weight in the pit of my stomach. But Matt Gray really utilized the affordances sound offers to its fullest extent. When I’m paying attention to specific authorial choices like the ones I described above, it normally distances me from the emotions the author is trying to invoke. I’m analyzing the emotions, not feeling them. But that’s not the case with this piece. The sounds echo in my ears, recreating and recreating the feelings. His choices flow seamlessly together. The screech at the beginning doesn’t immediately go away when “Joe” starts speaking. It stays there. It burns into us the association between that screech, that terrible, terrible screech, and the story of Joe Hall. Matt Gray is retelling a memory that will forever echo into the future of Joe Hall. The sound flows with the story and the emotions of the story perfectly.
My own sound project is actually also going to be about a shooting. My one uncle’s great-great-grandfather (or something like that, I have to nail down the exact relation) was the sheriff of a small town in Ohio in 1933 when he was shot and killed during a jailbreak. Three men were convicted for the murder, and one of them was my other uncle’s great-great-uncle. Small world moment, right? Well, I want to paint the story of the shooting in a light similar to the Lament for Joe Hall. I want it to be ominous and final, to create dread. And the sound effects he used like the screeching and echoes and the music are good examples for me to learn from.
Question: What other noises do you think Matt Gray could have used to create the affect in the Lament for Joe Hall?
There are a few places on my website where I’ve used the border on my containers to create lines between different sections. Right now, the lines are just plain black. So I thought I’d see if I could find a way to jazz them up a bit, and so I’ve found a way to make a multicolor line.
First, make sure you have a larger container for the line to live in:
One quick note, making this “big” container isn’t necessary if you’re adding the line at the end of something on your website already living in a larger container. Just make sure that you have a div in your HTML code that you can put sections in to add the lines.
Now, pick how many colors you want and create containers for each of those colors. Using the border-bottom (or border-top) function, you can add just a horizontal border to your container and specify type, size, and color.
You’ll notice that I made the height of each container pretty small; I did that on purpose so that the containers will be less likely to mess up the layout on a page.
The HTML is pretty simple. First, make sure you have some div for your “big” container. Second, create a section for each color that you have, specifying the classes in the order that you want the colors to appear. Make sure you close each section before making the next section. I only used two colors, but I alternated them so my HTML code looks like this:
The final product looks like this:
The lines I have there are pretty thick; on my actual website I’d probably tend to use a 1-2px border as opposed to 5px. You can adjust the length of each segment by simply adjusting the width of the respective container in the CSS. A word of caution though: if you make the border dashed or dotted, you’ll want to make sure you have margins on your color containers that will keep the space between the colors. Here’s what happens if you don’t have the margins:
Adding a “margin-left:5px;” line for each container makes it look much better: