Project Three

Oral History

  • Unedited interview due for peer critique:  Tuesday, 11/27 (beginning of class)
  • Final files and blog post #7:  Thursday, 12/6 (beginning of class)


For your final project, you will record and edit an oral history that explores how someone from a different generation experienced or experiences a specific technology differently than you do. Focus on a specific kind of technology and a specific theme, such as finance, education, entertainment, communication, health, etc. For example, you might be interested in how the transition from radio to television affected news reporting if you are interviewing your grandfather who is a retired journalist, or how the use of ipads in elementary classrooms made your younger sister’s education experience different than yours. Your understanding and interpretation of oral history, the StoryCorps mission, and readings from “Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything” should help inspire your choice for an interview subject and a theme for your interview. Past work from this course—such as the consideration of print versus digital in our comics project, or our first blog post about Technological Artifacts—may also be helpful for you.

An oral history records an individual’s memories and observations about a specific topic or time period, which you draw out through thoughtful interview questions. You will record your own original in-depth audio interview using a hand-held audio recorder, a microphone hooked up to your computer, or an audio app on your phone. You should plan your questions carefully, make sure you have a quiet, calm, comfortable interview environment, and take your time: Your interview subject will probably open up more if you make sure these conditions are in place. The unedited interview should be at least 20 minutes. Next you will edit your recording into a 4-5 minute story using Adobe Audition (Adobe Creative Cloud for Mac or PC), GarageBand (Macs), or Audacity (free download to PC or Mac). Focus on featuring the most important parts of the interview as they relate to the assigned theme about technology and specific life experience, and on creating smooth transitions in your editing. Make sure your interview has an introduction and a conclusion that contextualizes the story for your listener.

You may supplement your interview using sound effects or music downloaded from online resources, as long as they are in the public domain or have an appropriate creative commons license. Make sure to provide links to these sounds in the written explanation you post on your blog when you turn in this assignment. You may also record your own original sound effects if you wish. Here is a good resource for finding public domain and cc-licensed sounds: Finding Audio Open for Access and/or Reuse

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How to Record Your Interview

  • Recording Devices. There are decent recording apps available for smartphones, so this may be your best option for recording your interview, but try to explore something better if at all possible: A phone will not make an uncompressed file and it will only record in mono. You can also record directly into your Audition/Audacity/Garageband software. Consider hooking up a better microphone to these devices in order to record. Portable audio recorders and microphones can be checked out from the DTC Creativity Suite (Avery 451) and WSU Academic Media Services, which is attached to the Holland Library.
  • Settings for Your Recorder. Read the basic recording instructions that come with your device. See if you can adjust the levels as you record, or at least make sure levels are set to auto. Use a lossless file format (WAV or AIFF) to save these recordings if possible: You can always convert to a compressed file later (MP3 or AAC). If you cannot record in a lossless format, at least make sure you are creating a high quality compressed file.
  • Recording Conditions. Remember to create recordings in a quiet setting without additional distracting noise. Avoid echo-y spaces (large rooms with no carpeting). Make sure your interview subject is comfortable and relaxed. Also, make sure your microphone is pointed in the direction of your subject. Make test recordings, listen back with headphones, and re-record for best results!
  • Additional Sounds. You may also use sounds and music recorded by other people as long as they have the appropriate creative commons license or are in the public domain. There are many resources listed here:

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Editing Software

You will edit your interview into a condensed 4-5 minute story using one of the following programs (Audition is available in our classroom lab, Audacity if free to download for Macs or PCs, GarageBand comes on all Macs). I recommend choosing one that is also available to you on a personal computer so you can work at home if you want. Note that it will be problematic to transfer your sound files between different versions of software, and the version of Audition in the computer labs may be different than what you have on your computer.

  • Adobe Audition CC is professional-level software and is available if you have a creative cloud subscription. It is also available in our class computer lab. Your file extension for your work file will be SESX and you will need to remember to include your individual sound files along with your SESX file if you are editing on multiple computers. If you are using Audition watch these tutorials: What is Audition? and How to Set up Multitrack Sessions and then supplement your knowledge with the Adobe Audition User Guide and Beginner Tutorials (tutorials from Record and Edit Music will be helpful, though you are editing an interview).
  • GarageBand comes with apple computers and can be used for basic sound editing in addition to recording/editing music. Your file extension for your work file will be BAND. Following tutorials that relate to producing a podcast may be most helpful, since you aren’t recording your own music: Try the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism GarageBand: Basic Editing tutorial (note: the interface for the latest version of GarageBand is a little different than the screenshots here, so ask your instructor if you have any questions about this tutorial as you get started.)
  • Audacity is open-source editing software for Macs or PCs (download Audacity). Your file extension for your work file will be AUP. Audacity comes with a manual that will help you get started. Links to tutorials, such as Editing an Existing Audio file, are included. You can also use How Record and Edit Audio Using Audacity and WikiEducator’s Using Audacity. Audacity is not available on the Avery Computer Lab computers.

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Technical Help:

You may go to the Creativity Suite (4th floor of Avery) if you have technical questions about recording or editing with Audition. They are open M, W, F from 10:00-6:00 and Tues/Thurs from 10:30-6:00. They are not open over Thanksgiving Break.

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What you will bring to Peer Critique:

Bring your unedited interview as a RAW (uncompressed) file or a high quality MP3 for peer critique on Tuesday, 11/27. You may also bring other recordings (an intro and/or conclusion you have recorded, music, other sounds) that you wish to edit together with your interview. Make sure to bring headphones as well.

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What you will hand in for Project Three:

Make sure these are ready before class starts on Thursday, 12/6:

  1. Turn in your final edited interview (4-5 minutes) to the dropbox folder as a high quality MP3 or WAV file. The file should be named “yourlastname-yourfirstname-project-03”. Due to the large size of your work files (SESX, BAND, or AUP), you will not turn these in to the dropbox folder. When you export your file from Audition, GarageBand, or Audacity, make sure you choose a high bit rate: 256kbps.
  2. Bring the peer critique sheet that your partner completed for you on November 27th.
  3. Post Blog #7: Oral History and make sure to include your MP3 or WAV file. Here is info about adding audio files to WordPress.
  4. Note: Your final reflection blog #8 is due during finals week.

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Other Resources Mentioned in Class:

About StoryCorps

Living Through the US Space Program

Veteran Finds Relief Through Fashion

Latah County Oral History