From Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia
I started writing UnNews releases in February 2010 and recording audio versions later in the same month. I recorded all 11 audio releases on UnNews in that month, which made me a lock for the Goldstein award. There is no better way to earn a Manny than for no one else to qualify.
I've done about 15 audios per month since then, while the rest of the Uncyclopedia community has obligingly left the field entirely. In June, Dexter, who had revived the lost art of narrating articles, suggested I could be Narrator of the Month if I'd crank out three of them, and that was habit-forming too.
In September, 2010, the Reverend Zim ulator abdicated as the Chief of UnNews over a call for a vote on his typographical affectations and a technical rewrite of the Front Page. Drama and dickery ensued and he is now a larger fish in a smaller pond. I laid out the Front Page in his absence until the same duo caught up with me as well. That began my sabbatical from Uncyclopedia, during which the awards I used to win were discontinued.
This page lists all my UnNews contributions, and is the place to discuss the text and audio versions. New topics at the end, please.
- Back to my general talk page
- Back to my user page
- Archive 1--Feb-10 through Jun-10
- Archive 2--Jul-10 through Dec-10
- Archive 3--2011
- Archive 4--2012-13
- Archive 5--2014
- Vote for me for another Manny award--avoid the last-minute rush! Wait, you can't, it's gone.
Almost all my UnNews releases key off an actual piece of news, typically taking an item from the Associated Press and either misinterpreting it or carrying it to its logical conclusion.
My UnNews audio features use a mix of the British UnNews theme jingle that I fade into a TeleType sound effect. They end by repeating the British theme, truncated and with a faster fade-out. My sports features start with a custom mix of "Pennant Fever," composed by James Newton Howard for the movie Major League.
- Signature lines
My features begin by reading the headline and then adding, "Stay tuned--for UnNews!" which is a nod to the late radio commentator Paul Harvey. They end with the catch-line, "This has been UnNews, a service of Uncyclopedia. Straight talk from straight faces." These are not "official" UnNews Audio tag lines and no one is required to use them, nor to follow any rules except to be funny. The finale, "My name is Spike. No, seriously" is not adaptable to other news readers, unless your Uncyclopedia handle is also what people call you in real life, in which case I pity some of you.
- Running jokes
My UnNews features have repeated the following jokes:
- The Republican Party is "the minority party, whose name could not be determined," or something similar; likewise the names of its leaders, to mock them for not standing up to Barack Obama during all of 2009, when he had Godlike popularity.
- In audio features, "Washington D.C." becomes an adoring "Washington, the capital," recalling Jackson Browne's Lawyers in Love.
In early features, the audio anchor (perhaps like Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show) was inexplicably unable to pronounce "Massachusetts." I ditched this because it is always ambiguous whether a bad performance is funny, or just bad.
- Audio setup
I record the audio features using the freeware Audacity package. I listen through earphones to the theme and sound effects, playing on one Audacity track, while recording through a Blue "Snowball" USB microphone onto a different track, digitally record this last track to remove stuttering, pauses, and flubs. Audacity then merges the tracks and appends the finale (a repeat of the British UnNews theme with a voiceover). The TeleType effect hides any background noise and gasps of breath.
edit Technical details
- WAV files
A wave file (the filename ends in
.WAV) samples sound a certain number of times per second and stores the energy level at each sample as a 16-bit number (between plus and minus 32,767). Like graphics on an old printer, where curves turn into jagged lines, the copy isn't exact, but only concert violinists have any problems with CD-quality WAV files (44100 samples per second). Any audio editor program will show you your voice as a wave, like an oscilloscope.
Wave files are huge, but there is no need to send them between computers, and any computer made in the last ten years will handle them easily. Don't use 8-bit recording. These files are half as big, but store each sample as an 8-bit number (between plus and minus 127). You can make out voice and music, but fade-outs get very hissy.
Experiment with volume levels. Too loud, and your recorder will try to record values beyond 32,767. The wave will get an artificial flat top (the sound will be "clipped") and it will sound bad. Too soft, and the listener will have to crank up his set--but this means you aren't using the full range, and your voice will be recorded with less accuracy. Ideally, you should record a test, look at it with a sound editor, and ensure that the loudest point of your feature just touches the top and bottom of the graph area. If the sound only gets halfway to those edges, you are recording 10 decibels softer than you could, and using only half the available accuracy.
You don't need a recording studio, but plaster, tile, and hardwood surfaces may produce noticeable echo. If you care, you can reduce this with wall-hangings, which may be towels. Plug a real microphone into the PC's microphone jack instead of using a built-in microphone. Background noises won't interfere with your voice but may be detectable during moments of silence. Record a test and play it back at full volume, or look at it in an audio editor, to see what background noise you are recording.
- MP3 files
Sounds are waves, and you can make a smaller file by describing the shape of the wave than by specifying every point on the curve. That's what MP3 files do. Playing MP3 files is an exact science, but translating a wave file into MP3 is an art that is done with differing quality. You specify how big, per unit of time, you want the MP3 file to be, and the encoder (or compressor) fills the space with as detailed a description of the wave as will fit.
The human mind doesn't hear sound so much as it senses things happening; you cannot hear a bell tinkling at the same time as an explosion; you cannot hear a soft C-sharp at the same time as a loud C. Your mind filters these sounds out as distractions. A good MP3 encoder omits from the file many sounds you are unlikely to be able to hear, freeing more space in the file to represent sounds of more relevance. Different minds perceive differently, and opinions differ about the quality of sound produced by various encoders. I have no preference.
- Recommended settings
I don't select 44100 Hz (CD-quality) 16-bit stereo, but 22050 Hz 16-bit mono, which is adequate for voice. This produces WAV files 1/4 of the size of CD-quality files (2.646 Mb/min rather than 10.584 Mb/min). The common 128 Kbit/sec (kbps) MP3 setting reserves 0.96 Mb/min, but I select 96 kbps, producing files of 0.72 Mb per minute without noticeable drop-off in sound quality. (A Mb is about one thousandth of a gigabyte.)
MP3 files can contain descriptions as well as music. Much MP3-playing software lets you type or edit these descriptions. My audio clips don't use ID3. For your information--
- ID3v1 lets you add a few, fixed-length fields to the end of an MP3 file, such as artist, album name, song name, and comments.
- ID3v2 is at the start of the MP3 file, so software can display it without searching to the end of the file. There are more fields, and they can be much longer, including multi-line comments.
Neither MP3 files nor WAV files contain computer code or any way for a virus to infect your computer. Even a file that claims to be an MP3 but isn't can't damage your computer, if you deal with it through an audio player. (MP3 files with ID3v2 can contain a web link, and if your player gives you a button to click, and if you click it, this could take you to a web site that doesn't play by the rules.)