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“The teams with names always die first.”

You know, if all group projects came together this beautifully, I might not hate them so much.

Our radio group consisted of me, Daniel, Crystal, Paul, and Rob (who was thrown to the wolves into our group at the last minute), and from the moment that Daniel asked if I’d be interested in doing the show with him and Paul, I knew we had a winning team on our hands. I pulled Crystal into the mix as a fourth member, and while Rob was added to our group after we’d already decided on a theme and basic plot, he proved more than willing to commit to our crazy. And crazy we might have been, but holy crap was it the awesome kind. This is by far and away the best group project team I’ve ever worked with, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them. Tshirts, guys! It’s gonna happen. 😉

A bit late for a radio...

I think that’s what set our team apart from other project groups I’ve been part of: from the beginning, we were all incredibly enthusiastic about putting together an awesome show. Initially we’d all gotten to know each other through active participation on the ds106 Twitter hashtag, and when Prof. Levine said we could choose our own groups it took us less than 24 hours to figure out that we all wanted to work together.

From our first meeting it was clear that although each team member had different strengths, our group was able to let each person do whatever they were best at. As we progressed through writing, recording, and editing the show, that proved to be one of our greatest assets, right along with our willingness to fully invest in the project as a whole. As it turned out, I ended up writing most of the script, Daniel did the majority of the audio editing and everybody else contributed at least two finished bits of audio that were incorporated into the show in the form of fake commercials or radio bumpers. When it turned out that I was way better at commercials than bumpers, for example, Crystal was willing to create an extra bumper to fill my spot.

Getting down to recording the audio was a blast, though it did come with a few challenges. Because our show had a very off-the-cuff feel to it in terms of dialogue, much of what we recorded was initially unscripted. We spent much of our first recording session knocking around in the recording studio in Dupont to simulate the sound of a bunch of people exploring a new environment. However, in reviewing the audio we recorded during our first run-through, Daniel realized that although our recording was good, it wasn’t telling enough of a story. During our second meeting, which Paul and Daniel generously hosted in their basement, I re-wrote parts of the script and made the show more structured overall. We decided to try and reveal aspects of the world and especially of our characters slowly, and then gradually show the breakdown of the radio station and the team as the show progressed, which also alluded to the way the world outside was falling apart. Thanks to our recording location, we were also able to employ Daniel and Paul’s housemate Matt, who acted as our DJ, for a second cameo as the hysterical Hemp Guy. We ended up re-recording all of our audio that night and left at about 1 AM, which just goes to show how dedicated our entire team was to this project.

Even though much of the technical editing work fell to Daniel and the writing was my biggest contribution to the show, I got the sense that nobody felt singled out or overworked. The two of us fell into our roles naturally based on what we enjoy doing and what we’re good at, and at every turn the rest of the team was there to offer advice, suggestions and moral support. I wrote nearly all of the script during our group meetings, and would often ask a team member what they would say in a given situation, or if the room at large thought a scene was funny. In the same way, when Daniel was up till all hours editing our audio we’d all pile into a Google hangout together. Even though he was doing most of the editing we were all there to give him feedback and support, and I’ve never been part of a group project that was willing to just sit around while one member of the team worked on the final product. Sticking around to watch him edit, even remotely, was also a great learning experience; Daniel was by far the most skilled audio editor on our team, and seeing the way he worked taught me a lot about using Audacity effectively.

RADIO!

Everybody say ZOMBIES!

By the time we wrapped up the final edits at 1 AM this morning, the whole team wasn’t just elated to be finished, we were all psyched that we’d been part of such a great experience. You know a group project was successful when you’ve established in-jokes, plan t-shirts for the team and have spent the majority of your time laughing rather than feeling hassled. I feel like that’s an experience unique to a class like ds106, mainly because it was clear from the beginning that we were free to create, explore and experiment however we saw fit. Possessing that kind of freedom made it easy to take a project that could  have easily been bogged down by excessive requirements and turn it into something that nobody else could have produced.

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