Audio Story: Final Draft

To me, foreign languages are not only one of my favorite subjects; they are a genuine interest that I spend my free time on. While many kids feel the same as I do, others find no interest or dislike studying foreign languages. Some go as far as to say they don’t think they can, or that it’s too difficult to learn. Here in Washington State, kids to take two years of a language as a requirement in high school. I thought this would be a new subject which I could make a vox populi style track for. As a bonus, I was able to interview a teacher of the Japanese language here at WSU.

The most significant design element is repetition, which helps add a sense of flow to the audio. All of the clips were recording on my smartphone, and then I made liberal use of the razor tool to get what I was looking for. The biggest technical difficulty I found was editing the people who spoke faster, using some fading effects and by leaving myself with some white noise before a response, I was able to get it to sound decent. One trick worth mentioning for outdoor interviews is noise prints. By capturing a noise print of white noise, you can remove some of it by using the sound print noise reduction under effects. This was helpful for a particular interview which had people talking and cheering in the background.

To me, this project is very important to my topic. Over 40% of all people interviewed said they felt bad or incapable of learning a language, and almost all of the students interviewed said their lack of ability ruined their enjoyment of learning a language. My goal for this blog is to help show the less intimidating side of languages, and this is a worry I hear so often when discussing languages. Of course it can be challenging, but it’s not that you’re incapable. Everyone can learn a language, if they want to and are willing to put in the effort to. And even then, once the majority of people started answering that way, I feel like people may be too hard on themselves with this topic. When I asked the students who were still learning a language why they continued it, all of them answered that being able to communicate with new people and the moment when the hard work pays off and something begins to make sense for you made the work worth it, even the ones who said they weren’t good at it. I hope that maybe this can help show someone who thinks they are unable to learn a language that it’s not about can or can’t, and that everyone struggles with the subject

Moving from my rough draft to the final draft was really difficult. For one, I wound up having a corruption error on my file, but luckily with some time spent on the Adobe forums I was able to eventually discover a fix. It would take too much space to explain here, but maybe I’ll make a separate post about it later. The major feedback I got was that some of the voices were hard to hear from the music, and that the story lacked a clear beginning and conclusion. It was hard making an introduction and conclusion that still fit within the 2 minute time limit, and as someone who stutters a lot the recording process was really difficult. My tip for similar people would be to record only a few sentences and leave a long pause so that it’s easier to edit them close together later. I did wind up having to cut the introductions, which is unfortunate because it’s something I received praise for during the peer feedback, but I simply had to cut it due to the time restraints. Additionally, I messed with some of the audio levels. There are definitely still a few really rough cuts, but they are usually caused by people stuttering really fast during a sentence which I tried but wasn’t able to effectively remove.

Only one non-original content was used, which was La ville aux ponts suspendus by Komiku. I love this track, it’s so soothing yet engaging. I feel it not only helped mask the noise but also displayed the laid back tone I tried to have in the interviews. The song is public domain, and can be found on FMA:

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Komiku/A_Monplaisir_Best-Of__Lets_hear_that_crap/Komiku_-_A_Monplaisir_Best-of__Lets_here_that_crap_-_14_La_ville_aux_ponts_suspendus

All interview clips were recorded and used with recorded permission of the people.

Rough Draft – Can I learn a Language?

To me, foreign languages are not only one of my favorite subjects; they are a genuine interest that I spend my free time on. While many kids feel the same as I do, others find no interest or dislike studying foreign languages. Some go as far as to say they don’t think they can, or that it’s too difficult to learn. Here in Washington State, kids to take two years of a language as a requirement in high school. I thought this would be a new subject which I could make a vox populi style track for. As a bonus, I was able to interview a teacher of the Japanese language here at WSU.
I wanted to make it seem like an opinion or more personal, so I decided to keep each of their names at the beginning. Additionally, this helped discern voices. The most significant design element is repetition, which helps add a sense of flow to the audio. All of the clips were recording on my smartphone, and then I made liberal use of the razor tool to get what I was looking for. The biggest technical difficulty I found was editing the people who spoke faster, using some fading effects and by leaving myself with some white noise before a response, I was able to get it to sound decent. One trick worth mentioning for outdoor interviews is noise prints. By capturing a noise print of white noise, you can remove some of it by using the sound print noise reduction under effects. This was helpful for a particular interview which had people talking and cheering in the background.
To me, this project is very important to my topic. 60% of all people interviewed said they felt bad or incapable of learning a language, and 40% of the students interviewed said their lack of ability ruined their enjoyment of learning a language. My goal for this blog is to help show the less intimidating side of languages, and this is a worry I hear so often when discussing languages. Of course it can be challenging, but it’s not that you’re incapable. Everyone can learn a language, if they want to and are willing to put in the effort to. And even then, once the majority of people started answering that way, I feel like people may be too hard on themselves with this topic. When I asked the students who were still learning a language why they continued it, all of them answered that being able to communicate with new people and the moment when the hard work pays off and something begins to make sense for you made the work worth it, even the ones who said they weren’t good at it. I hope that maybe this can help show someone who thinks they are unable to learn a language that it’s not about can or can’t, and that everyone struggles with the subject
Only one non-original content was used, which was La ville aux ponts suspendus by Komiku. I love this track, it’s so soothing yet engaging. I feel it not only helped mask the noise but also displayed the laid back tone I tried to have in the interviews. The song is public domain, and can be found on FMA:

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Komiku/A_Monplaisir_Best-Of__Lets_hear_that_crap/Komiku_-_A_Monplaisir_Best-of__Lets_here_that_crap_-_14_La_ville_aux_ponts_suspendus

All interview clips were recorded and used with recorded permission of the people.

Unit 2 Final Draft – The Thompson Scholarship

final-draft-jpg

Similarly to the Photoshop unit, when I designed my assignment I wanted to create something that could help a potential language student at WSU. When I thought of important aspects of language study at this school, I thought about studying abroad and the many excellent programs that it has to assist students in being able to immerse themselves in other countries and cultures. With that in mind, I chose the Thompson scholarship for study abroad. This scholarship is something almost every foreign language student will be told to at least consider if they are interested in studying abroad, and it makes the option much more viable to many students.
Starting from my design, I researched logos for various scholarships. Many of them simply used crest-like designs similar to their schools, but I knew that would not fit my topic, so I kept looking until I found scholarships which had logos more related to their purpose. Keeping what I had seen in mind, I thought of ways to would isolate the concepts I wanted to express, and decided to focus on travel as a focal point. I decided, in the end, to use a planet with a plane flying around it, as I felt that would directly communicate my purpose for the logo. While I could have tried and based the planet on the real world, I decided I would rather do it entirely from scratch without the need for a reference image. Finally, I decided I want Thompson to be overlapping on the planet a little bit, with the remaining text below. With all those points decided, I knew I was going to make most of the elements circular to keep a sense of harmony throughout the design. Most other design choices I made came from through trial and error, such as adding a path for the plane.
All the assets in the logo were made by me, excluding the default fonts. The planet was made by creating a circle, penciling in some shapes for land masses, and then using the pathfinder’s divide function. The plane was hand made using the pen tool, and the path of the plane was made by using the scissor tool on a circle. The Thompson typography used a similar technique to the tutorials. However, I never divided the white shape with the image it overlapped. The outline alone looked somewhat dull, so I decided to make it look more like a physical object on top of the picture of the world. To do this, I created a drop shadow with no blur just a pixel below This revealed an awkward problem about the white outlines, underneath letters with gaps like “h” or “n” were small bumps which made the drop shadow look awkward. In the end, I wound up smoothing them out by deleting the anchor points using the remove anchor tool. Another awkward problem was the gradient tool not cooperating as I added it from the transition from rough to the final draft. Using feedback I had received, I changed the font of the bottom text and tried to add more color. In the end, I wound up copying the gradient and slightly altering it for each of the green land masses. In addition to the gradual change in color, an inner glow was added to make it look more like a sphere.

Rough Draft: The Thompson Scholarship

rough-draft-cut

I realized after submitting my sketch design to the class that I don’t think I can make a logo based on my original concept because it may or may not go against Copyright. As such, I took the general shape of the design and reworked it into something that in the end came out more relevant than my original topic anyways. The subject for my assignment is the Thompson Education Abroad scholarship available here at WSU. This scholarship is available to students studying abroad, which is important because many people find study abroad appealing but feel it’d be too expensive, and immersing yourself in the culture is easily one of the best ways to pick up a language.
The scholarship is all about foreign travel, which is why I decided to focus on travel for my design. Using a plane flying across the world, I was able to keep the design’s geometry down to mostly circles, while invoking the message of global travel. Additionally, since I was using such a familiar image of a planet, the graphic can be scaled down, and even with the little room, the idea of the earth is recognizable.
While I wound up using globe imagery for two projects now, I feel like it was an appropriate image for what this scholarship is. I did all the elements of the design, so I didn’t have to invest any time into looking for materials. I wanted the design to remain focused on a few major circles, so I started my design process by making a few circles of varying sizes. For the earth’s landmasses, I used the pencil tools to make some general shapes and used the divide function to make them line up with the smallest circle. For the plane, I hand designed it via the pen tool, but I’m unhappy with that result and may go and create another one geometrically later. Finally, I used the Text along a Path tool to get the circular Thompson text. The text was then copied and turned into an outline, which I used the Offset Path effect to turn into a white outline to prevent the planet from making the text hard to read. Finally, using one more circle I creating the ring around which shows the plane’s path, and used the scissor tool to cut off the bottom near the beginning of the text.
Easily the most convoluted issue encountered was involving the curved text. Because the path was along a circle, the text kept coming upside down due to its position on the path. For anyone else encountering this problem, use the select tool and pay attention to the three lines coming from your circle’s path. Dragging those to the inside of the circle and altering it’s position slightly should fix the issue.

A world of Languages – Unit 1 Final Draft

final

When I started brainstorming ideas for this project, I wanted to ask myself why I had chosen foreign language as a topic. I knew that it was a topic I was interested in but wondered what goal I had in mind. What I hoped to achieve with the goal was creating some space where perhaps I could get more people interested in learning a second language. Once I had settled on that, the idea of a poster encouraging foreign language studies came rather naturally.

I wanted to create something eye-catching that would if nothing else get the thought running in their mind. I thought about what might encourage me if I was on the fence about learning a language. One of the things I hadn’t realized until I started studying them was that there are so many languages that each work differently and having different uses. Many friends I know took Spanish during their middle or high school years and believed that they didn’t like studying foreign languages. One, in particular, decided to pick up German, and wound up loving the language and studied it out of fun beyond his classes.

When I began the design, I searched for images that seemed like they might make a good base. Eventually, I found a picture of a world map and the idea for the countries with texts over them came into my head. With that in mind, my other two images were a classroom which ultimately didn’t make it into the final image and a picture of a dictionary page. Later on, in my final draft, I would collect a picture of a door, as well as a word cloud of words from various languages. The images collected during the original process were found on FreeImages.com while the pictures collected later were found on Pixabay.com

Starting from the creation of the image, I first had to find a way to get the picture of the countries one color so that overlaying the image would be easier. For that, I used a selection around the white background to remove the background, and then applied a color overlay from the blending options menu. Afterward, I selected the now pure-colored image and placed the dictionary image in a new layer above it. I inverted the selection of the countries and used the selection to delete everything on the dictionary page that was not covering the image below it. Inverting a selection is a useful tip when you have a complicated image that has a relatively simple background.

I had originally planned on using a pure blue background. However, I felt it made the image look flat. I used a gradient tool and took two similar colors and used that as the background instead. This proved to be a lot more effort down the road, as due to some technical difficulties I wound up losing the original .psd and had to work using my rough draft as a single layer. Not having the blue as a solid color made removing elements from the design laborious without just covering them up which is what I wound up doing for the original classroom image.

Knowing how critical the typography would be to the image, I made sure to incorporate several rules of unity in the typography. Using a circular design via the text tool’s arc setting in the largest text, it made my headline for the image the most eye-catching of the texts, giving it hierarchy in both shape and size. Additionally, the design is also appealing as it appears to form a complete shape. Then, using a smaller text with a similar layout, I managed to make the image flow downwards while making the smaller text still look like it belonged with the larger.

As I moved forward with my final draft, I tried to pay attention to as many details from my feedback as possible. When I talked to my TA, the biggest point of criticism was that the image I had used on the bottom half of the image seemed unrelated. With that in mind, I thought about various ways I could improve that area of my poster before deciding to scrap it entirely. Instead, I discussed with them for a while and decided to use an open door as a symbol while using words from various languages inside.

The door was another free image found that luckily already came with transparencies set. Unfortunately, the fact that I was revising my draft without the original .psd file meant that I had to go and fill some of those transparencies using a mixture of the shape and brush tool. I wound up looking for an image of the various languages that was colorful. Lack of eye-popping color was a recurring piece of negative feedback from my peer review, but colors have always been an incredibly difficult element for me to grasp. I most likely had I had my original .psd file changed the stroke around the main texts to add color, but instead I wound up using this as a way to introduce some colors.
The final design process for the image was the smaller text to the right of the door. In my rough draft, I used underlines to break the lines apart, but I was told this looked awkward, so I switched to bullet points. There isn’t a bullet point option in Photoshop, so I used a code on my keyboard which due to past experiences I have memorized. Holding down ALT on a Windows keyboard, I inputting 0149, which yielded me the • character. There are thousands of codes like this, which make using odd characters in Photoshop a lot easier.

The image creation process had a lot more obstacles than I had anticipated. A few tips I would recommend for avoiding the struggles I had can be applied to most projects. For one, always save a copy of your base layers before you change them. Second, always back up your project via email or the cloud or some other method. Three would be to use objects like drop shadows and stroke borders when an object has trouble fitting into your image. Finally, always play on the side of caution when dealing with white backgrounds. If you are selecting the white background to try and remove them, always select a couple of pixels more than you think you might need so that you don’t have a thin white outline on your image. Many images also have pixels that transition from the color to white, for example, a pink between a red and white background, which might not fit with your design.

Images Used:

World Map:
http://www.freeimages.com/photo/world-map-1451584

Dictionary Page:
http://images.freeimages.com/images/previews/df2/dictionary-words-2-1512107.jpg

Wooden Door:
https://pixabay.com/en/door-open-door-wooden-door-1202905

Language Cloud:
https://pixabay.com/en/welcome-words-greeting-language-905562