Dial Comes To Town Comes to J-Stream

Live, from the Internet: Proof that I've actually done work for school!

Every time J-Stream publishes some of my work, I give them a plug over here at HOTW. J-Stream is a streaming media network at Johns Hopkins that showcases anything and everything about JHU that has been captured on video. If you'd like to help out, they have meetings "weekly at 9:30."

This time the plug is due to Vi's (yeah, another crazy Hopkins name) generous act of staying at school for Spring Break so she could put "Dial Comes to Town" on J-Stream, giving the rest of the world a chance to experience my prank-calling hilarity. Give her film, "How Not To Use Phones," a look too. As of this writing, Isaac's film isn't up yet, but when you go to J-Stream check for one called "This is Tommy Nakanishi."

Here's a little behind the scenes information for my flick, which I also like to call "Phonotone Fonetage" or "Phonotonous Fontage." For this "Lost and Found Film" assignment, we had to create a film using footage consisting entirely of phone conversations.

Instead of piecing together existing audio from the footage I downloaded from the Prelinger Archives, I decided to create a unique soundtrack by recording my own telephone conversations. The only equipment I had capable of doing this was a 12 year old answering machine, which contained an equally old tape that had been subjected to harsh temperature changes for a period of five years in storage. This actually turned out to be a good thing, because the low-fidelity recordings mix well with the audio I grabbed from some of the old films. Another funny effect is that the tape retains "ghost" recordings of previously erased messages, so it sometimes sounds like there is someone else talking in the background.

Because the answering machine had to be connected to a landline, and my cell phone gets unreliable service in my apartment anyway, I had to make all of the calls from my apartment phone. Since the line is really only in place for emergencies and DSL service, I don't have a long-distance provider, and can't make long-distance calls. Because I didn't think it wise to harass owners of the local numbers, all of my calls were to toll-free numbers. Oh, and the hold music you hear towards the beginning of my film is actually from one of the videos on the Prelinger Archives. Can you find it?

I called:
My Yahoo!
Pepsi-iTunes promo line
M&M's (no, they still don't make M&M's plaid)
Vermont (The representative was very nice, but had to look up what was on their license plate. When I asked how long they had been using the "Green Mountain State" slogan, she knew personally that it had been "over 20 years." Who lives in a state for 20 years and doesn't know what's on the license plate?)
KitchCo (I had to find out who I was advertising in my film.)
Fandango (Renée claims that she has never heard of this service.)
Enterprise Rent-A-Car ($10 a day extra for being an "underage driver." No thanks.)
An adult line (Completely by accident, I promise. I really thought I was calling Enterprise.)
1-800-FLOWERS (Apparently a cheapskate like me can order 11 roses and bank on the fact that she probably won't count them.)

And after all that, Sarah Griffith was nice enough to call me and read a page of physics notes. Thanks, nerd.

Posted: Monday - March 14, 2005 at 04:20 PM