Is it possible to tell an emotionally compelling story with dynamic and interesting characters using only sound and very limited visuals? Given the recent success of dramatic podcasts, the answer is yes. As a communications and film major, I never thought that I would be dealing that heavily with audio, but as I worked on different projects for school and my internship over the past few years, I realized it was something that I enjoyed and was also pretty good at (especially after the podcast project for Music Protest). Sound is often overlooked as a crucial component in media, yet it is one of the most important factors in the realism and emotion of any production.
I am not sure what field I specifically want to go into after graduation, my dream is to work in the film industry but obviously that’s a very hard field to break into. This project would allow me to work both my creative and technical muscles. I have written a few short film scripts before, but nothing as long as I would like for this project. The writing and development of the script would align with the filmmaking side of my career goals, and the audio and video work would align more with the communications side of my career goals (but it could definitely apply to film as well).
My project will take the form of an audio soundtrack (dialogue, sound effects, background noise/ambience, music etc.), adapted from an original short film script written by me, and played over short, cinematic clips that illustrate the setting of the scene. I am planning to have it be around 30-45 minutes (potentially split up into episodes of 15 minutes each), with each video clip lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a full minute (this would vary depending on the scene and the emotions of the characters).
I could not find anything already published online in the exact format of what I want to do with this project, so I have included two audio dramas and one YouTube video. I would combine these two examples for my project. The Cleansed podcast is more of a sci-fi, dystopian narrative, and the Wooden Overcoats podcast is more of a sitcom. I would probably not delve into either of those genres, and instead just write a drama, but that could always change.
Technology and Materials
I am going to be renting the video cameras and microphones from the COM gear department for my field and studio recordings. The editing software I am planning on using is Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Audition, and Celtx, which is a screenwriting website. I do not believe that I will need to purchase any materials, unless I find that the COM gear is not adequate, but I doubt that will be the case.
Audience and Impact
The primary audience for this project would probably be potential employers. I am planning on having a completely immersive soundtrack, and cinematically beautiful video clips. Hopefully by the end of the semester I will have mastered both, and this project will be a wonderful showcase of my skills in multimedia production.
However, the secondary audience would be people who are already interested in audio dramas/podcasts. The majority of audio dramas I have seen online are mostly genre work (either horror, thriller, sci-fi), and because my script will be more drama-based, I think that will open up a whole new experience for listeners. It could also potentially draw in people who normally wouldn’t listen to audio dramas/podcasts because they are not fans of horror, thriller, or sci-fi.
During my sophomore year, I took Digital Field Methods with Dr. Hammer and created an audio postcard for the class. It was very rudimentary and I have definitely learned a lot since then. I also wrote and directed a short film for one of my classes. However, during the editing stage, I only touched the audio. I spent hours upon hours pouring over milliseconds of audio, trying to clean it up and make it as clear as possible.
When I took Music Protest with Bill last semester, our final project was to create an 8-10 minute podcast episode about a song that addressed a relevant social issue. This was definitely my most intensive audio project to date, because it included pulling audio clips from outside sources as well.
I think that this project will challenge me in working with non-dialogue audio work, which can be extremely precarious and tedious at times. It will also challenge me to grow my skill set in video production outside of film narrative, which is what my experience so far has largely been. Because the video clips in this project will not include any people, and instead focus on the location of the scene, I am excited to work on more “B-roll” video shooting and editing.
I will be using my past educational experience in proper screenwriting technique, editing approaches and troubleshooting, and field recording. Incorporating what I’ve learned from my previous short film and podcast, I am aiming to create a unique multimedia experience that I have never really seen before, and hopefully will pave the way for different “film” formats.
Once I decide what my script is going to be about, I will need to do relevant background research to make sure the dialogue is as accurate and realistic as possible. Once my script is written, I will definitely need to do research on what locations I will be able to film/record audio at and if I need permission from any of those places. Additionally, I will need to find voice actors for each of the characters (not sure if that is considered research, but figured I’d throw it in). I am grateful to have had experience in both of these aspects from the short film and podcast specifically, and I am hoping this time around the process will be much smoother.
Obstacles and Resources
The only obstacle I foresee for this project would be if, for some reason, a location I wanted to use denied me access. It’s hard to say how much of an issue this could potentially be, since I have not written the script yet and do not know any of the nature of the locations I would be using. For example, if most of the locations are generic, such as a house or a park, then it won’t be an issue because if one location says no then I can just go somewhere else. However, if it’s more specific, then that could pose a problem.
Week 4: develop script concept
Week 5: background research/write script
Week 6: background research/write script
Week 7: finalize script/find actors
Week 8: find actors/locations
Week 9: record actor dialogue, logo
Week 10: record actor dialogue, logo
Week 11: film visuals and sound on location
Week 12: film visuals and sound on location
Week 13: edit audio & trailer
Week 14: edit video
Week 15: editing/final touches