DIGI 270 - F18N01 - Digital Audio I

Course Description & Information

An introduction to digital audio concepts, practices, and technologies including software and production techniques, elements of field recording, interviewing, microphone use, and editing. Students will complete projects based on topics of their own choosing that build technical proficiencies and creative expression. Students from all disciplines are welcome.


DIGI 270 will focus on recording and producing audio for a variety of situations, and becoming comfortable with necessary gear and software. We will focus on doing as much as possible, as that's the best way to move forward with production skills.



See the Assignments page for more details.


There is no required text for this course, though the following sources are recommended:

Additional online sources will be made available.


Please bring your laptop with you, as most classes will have a practical component.

A decent pair of headphones is required; I'd like to avoid the cacophony of two dozen laptops! Personally I use the Sennheiser HD 280 PROs for most of my work, but we can discuss options in class.

A portable audio recorder is strongly recommended. Again, we will discuss some options in class.

The MRL has machines running Pro Tools, if you are wanting to log some hours with that software.

You may also borrow Zoom recorders and other microphones via the department booking system. The Media Studies technician, Chris Alemany, is the person to speak with about borrowing gear. If you plan to use the Zoom audio recorders, you may need your own SD card and batteries.

The Library also has microphones and recorders available.

I strongly suggest you obtain a large USB stick or a portable/external HD for storing large amounts of audio. Our lab machines and your laptop will quickly get full.

Course Policies:

As well as conforming to all policies of the Digital Media Studies department and Vancouver Island University, this course includes the following instructor specific policies:

In-Class Participation

This course is discussion and participation oriented. If you are not in class you will miss out on a great deal of course content. I will generally not go over any in-class material with students who simply did not attend. Students with legitimate reasons for missing classes are expected to discuss this with me before any absences occur if possible.

Online Participation

This is a class in the theory and practice of media. As such, we will make extensive use of the online forum to support each other with technical and course questions. In general, I will not answer questions that have been discussed in the online forum.


I take plagiarism very seriously and hold all my students to a very high standard. If you are found to have represented the work or ideas of others as your own, intentionally or unintentionally, you will face serious consequences. Any student found to have plagiarized on any assignment - digital or otherwise - will receive a mark of zero for that assignment. Any student caught plagiarizing on multiple assignments will receive a grade of F for the course. All incidents of plagiarism will be reported to the Dean and may result in further University sanctions. Please note that, for digital assignments, industry-standard credits must be in place for all work, otherwise it will be considered that you are representing all elements of the work as your own. If it is discovered that any of the elements of the work are not your own, I will consider these elements plagiarized. Check with me if you are at all unsure about using third party material as a component of your work.


All digital work submitted will follow current Canadian copyright laws. This means that students may not simply use the materials of others. If students are unsure about copyright status, they are strongly advised to consult with the instructor.

Course Website

This course is a live entity, and as such is subject to change at any time to reflect evolving opportunities and challenges. Therefore, you are expected to check the course website before each class and lab for any updated information. Do not assume that what you read a month ago is still the plan.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will lose 10% per school day. Final assignments may not be submitted late without prior approval from me. No Late Labs will be accepted.

Assignment & Course Extensions

Generally I will not give extensions for assignments or the course without a serious circumstance supported by appropriate documentation. However, please be aware that I never give extensions after the due date of an assignment or the end date of the course. If you believe you are going to need an extension, you must speak to me before the date the assignment is due.


If you have any questions about the course, my expectations, or what you should do in this class, please don't hesitate to contact me via email, before or after class, or during my office hours.

Grading Criteria

Here are the main criteria that I use to make judgments about digital projects. I pay particular attention to:


Is the content of the project thoughtful and sufficient?


Is the project substantial? Has the student stretched their capabilities to complete this work?


Has care been taken in the construction of the project? Have writing and scripts been carefully proofread? Does the creator demonstrate a sense of pride in their work through its quality?


I will be evaluating audio projects with the following characteristics in mind. This list makes reference to Alten, Chapter 24.

If voice: is it possible to understand what is being said? With sound in general, are the sounds effective in terms of communicating meaning?
Tonal Balance
Is the full range of frequencies considered, both for aural variety and effectiveness across sound systems?
Spatial Balance
Has appropriate use been made of the stereo space, and is the acoustic space (real or simulated) appropriate for the content?
Do the different elements of the mix have their own space, in terms of frequency, volume, panning, and Murch's Encoded to Embodied spectrum?
Dynamic Range
Does the piece have an appropriate range of loud and quiet components, according to the content and intended usage? Any work should avoid clipping. Any work, on its own, should be normalized.