Our first assignment in Sound and Video was to develop a “sound walk” that would provide an audio track that augments or enhances a journey through a particular space. One of the restrictions was to limit it to places in the Tisch Building. Obviously, we chose to make it about where you can take a serious nap.
My partner, Anthony Bui, and I had a few ideas of where we wanted to take the assignment. There was the concept of having you arrive at a secret room that didn’t exist. We had another great idea of taking people to different locations and telling stories about each place in more of a documentary style showcasing the memory of space. We also wanted to have the listener engage with the physical space by finding an artifact or using an item. There were plenty of other ones as well. Before we started developing one of the concepts, we decided to just explore the space and see what came up. After passing a student in the animation studio taking a nap, Anthony had the brilliant idea of focusing on napping locations.
As someone who also shares a passion for naps, it felt natural to take the project in this direction and find some good nap spots. We had also expressed interest in interviewing people and using other voices in the piece, so we set out to find Tisch Building nap experts. While wandering through the halls of the building, most of which weren’t on the 4th floor (ITP), we definitely found napping locations. We also asked random students whose paths we crossed, what their favorite nap spots were. While most said they weren’t nappers or acted like they didn’t nap, we were told by numerous students in the film department to contact one alumnus who had quite the napping reputation. Her name was Taylor Schafer.
With time being limited, we decided to double down on our interview with Taylor, hoping to get some useful material. This was challenging because we were deciding the direction to take the story and interviewing our subject simultaneously. Ideally, we would have been able to give Taylor a bit more direction on how to phrase her answers and how to answer our questions. Ultimately, we were able to collect a few sound bites from her interview about a specific napping location that we sent our listeners to, but we weren’t able to go as in-depth as we were maybe hoping to. We also were limited by the length, which I think helped keep the project from sprawling out of control!
Anthony and I took turns looking through Taylor’s interview material and pulling out interesting clips and began weaving a narrative together. We also spent some time writing out supplementary ‘narrator’ audio that would guide the listeners through the space. Anthony started recording dummy tracks that helped us nail the timing down and fine tune any dialogue we needed for continuity. It acted as a kind of audio storyboarding. With his direction, I added the golden tones of my voice to the track as the narrator. Anthony is in it as well as a kind of cameo—he’s the ‘deep breath.’
The final version of the sound walk is a second person narrative that is listed as a series of directions and commands that help the listener reach a napping location in the Tisch Building where they engage in a kind of pseudo-nap/meditation. The narrator directs the listener to take a pillow, a prop that we planted, from a specific locker and go to a location on a different floor. This is one of the napping locations Taylor described, and in her words, the location is fleshed out by some of her accounts of napping there. Once the listener is in the space, the sound walk takes a turn to a more meditative mood with an abstract audio ‘napscape’ which was achieved with a bit of Adobe Audition magic.
The last step was to find some pillows and throw them into Anthony’s locker. Unfortunately, the pillows are no longer there. We did, however, donate them to the lobby area of ITP, so they may still be available to steal when listening to our sound walk. The final track can be found on Sound Cloud (and here). Please listen to it with headphones!