For our first project for Comm Lab: Video & Sound, we formed small groups to create a soundwalk. My group consisted of three AWESOME fellow teammates (Katie, Stacy, and Schuyler) as well as an honorary member of the team, Nick Grant, and an invisible cat, who was our muse, Bo. The result was a wonderful experience, not only in our final product, the soundwalk “Where the Cat”, but also in the process of collaboration with my teammates.
When we started, we had a lot of different ideas swirling around for our soundwalk. At first we were thinking of doing some sort of secret mission-esque thing, but that kind of fell through. One of the big debates we had was whether we wanted a more abstract soundwalk (like Soundwalk 9:09) or something like the Passing Strangers soundwalk, where someone says “go and do this thing.”
Eventually, we latched onto an idea suggested to me by Nick Grant, who had originally been in our class, about a “cat cafe.” In addition to being a more playful idea with many possibilities to include in a soundwalk, we were excited about the idea because Katie and Stacy love cats and because, as is generally the case, it’s best to make art that’s related to what you love. After some discussion, the idea transformed into a search for a legendary cat who roams the 4th floor of ITP.
After we had the idea decided, the next part was building the story. As we had a shared Google Doc, we were able to work on ideas between meetings. The development process evolved in tandem with figuring out where in the physical ITP space we wanted to explore — one good piece of advice we discovered in a comprehensive blog post on soundwalk suggestions was to not use elevators, so we decided we could just start in the elevator lobby on the 4th floor. From there, we searched through some of the sounds we’d collected and used these clips to help determine, as well as enhance, the stops in our soundwalk: the wooden mirror, the ping-pong table, the shop and finally to the kitchen.
With a general plan in place, we plotted out the rest of the soundwalk. we wrote up the narration, where we would tell people where to go and what to pay attention to. We recorded all the narration and sounds that were needed for the new script (which we didn’t already have), and then edited them together in Adobe Audition.
After this, we had a rough draft, and we spent the next day testing it out. From our first go through, we discovered some of the timings were off and we needed to adjust how long the time between some of the narration was. We were also a bit worried that people wouldn’t be able to figure out where to go, so we tweaked a little bit of the narration.
As there were four members of our group, each of us played a different role, though the final product was definitely a collaboration. In addition to preparing the props used in the soundwalk, I contributed many of the storyline ideas, including having it contain an interactive aspect, as well as the ending; though I wish there had been more opportunity for me to be involved in the tech aspect of the project. Schuyler did the narration and worked on the details of the script, and served as recording technician when we recorded sound effects as a group. Stacy helped record and collect many of the sound effects used to enhance our soundwalk. And, in addition to having her cat, Loafy, contribute to our sound effects library, Katie mixed the soundwalk in Audition, and, after several trials, produced the final version.
In the process of fine-tuning it, we all field tested the different demos of the soundwalk to get it just purrr-fect; but, before we finalized “Where the Cat”, we had Nick Grant, the man behind the initial idea, give it a run through. We’re happy to report he gave it a glowing review!