Module 2: Audio Design Assignment (Production and Post)

Feature Image is sourced from pitchfork.com

Summary:

This module shifted from planning out our audio assignment, to getting ready to record and edit the audio podcast. This was the first of what I’m sure will be many challenges in the class, as I am unfamiliar with working in this medium. The final result is a 3 minute audio project that includes not only my own audio, but the addition of music and sound effects. Something I walked away from this particular module with is that I never realized how much I appreciate the relationship between audio and visual until this module when I was asked to really think about the relationship between the two.

Reading and Writing:

Chapter 8 in The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video was all about sound. This chapter was covered in my blog post for module 1, and helped me understand the different types of microphones you could use to record audio. The first new reading from this week, 7 Secrets for Getting Pro Sounding Vocals on Home Recordings, helped me understand some tips and tricks that go into recording good audio beyond the equipment you have.

This blog post makes it clear that you can’t just sit down, record some audio, and expect it to sound professional. Setting up your space, if you’re not in a recording studio, is important not only for you to sound your best, but also to be able to perform your best. I was surprised to read that one of the best places to record could be in your bedroom. It was great to read this since I will be recording my own audio project in my bedroom. Of course, to get top quality audio the author suggests not just sitting at your desk, but creating a makeshift recording booth using blankets, mattresses, pillows and curtains. This image pulled from the website shows how you can make your own sound studio in the comfort of your bedroom.

Making sure everything is set up properly before you start recording, like the microphone, will help you get the product you desire sooner rather than later. But it is foolish to assume you will get the perfect audio in one take, or on the first try. Recording multiple times will allow you to become more comfortable with the content you’re recording. However, I know all too well that the repetition of recording and still not getting the desired results can be frustrating. So as the author of this reading suggests, it’s ok to walk away and come back later. It is probably best to not leave an audio or visual project until the last minute though in case you can’t get it right the first few tries (or worse, if something goes wrong with the equipment).

The second reading for this module was Sound Advice: Editing Audio for Visual. While we’re still only working with audio and not yet focused on accompanying visuals, the reading was still helpful.

Every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if there are no visuals that accompany the audio to movie the story along. The reading acknowledges that we may not record the whole story in one take so it is important to know how to edit the clips together, but not disrupt the illusion of the continuous story. A tip from the reading is to leave ½ an extra second at the beginning of the clip, and ½ an extra second at the end of the clip and then smooth out transitions from clip to clip with fade-ins and fade-outs. The author of this article also suggests listening to the audio with closed eyes, so that you’re not distracted by the visuals on the screen. Even though we’re only recording audio, I think this is still a good idea to close our eyes so we aren’t distracted by what we see on the screen in Audacity as our audio plays. Some of the qualities we should be listening for include clumsy transitions, audio glitches, and inconsistent volume. Additionally it was reassuring to read that there are tricks to use if you’re struggling with your audio, and that one of these tricks is music which will be included in my audio project. The article states that music allows you to smooth over rough edges with your audio, as well as help you to set the scene or the mood of your vision.

Research to Inform:

Here are some examples of audio that I thought were effectively complimented by a visual component.

1.Jeep Jurassic Park Commercial

With this particular commercial, I loved the element of the slight shaking of the camera/visual every time you hear the thumping of the dinosaur’s feet hitting the dirt. For me, this audio and visual duo actually gives me the slight illusion of feeling myself shaking every time the dinosaurs feet hit the ground.

2. Pixar’s Wall-E

This Pixar movie is loved by many, which is interesting since the title character has limited dialogue. I say interesting, because with no concrete dialogue it can be confusing how audiences form an attachment to the protagonist. Scenes involving Wall-E rely heavily on audio (usually the score) with it’s accompanying visual to move the story along. This scene specifically has alway been a favorite of mine due to beautiful combination of audio and visual, with the computer’s definition of dancing adding an extra special quality to the scene as viewers watch Wall-E and Eve fall in love.

3. Singing in the Rain

Growing up a dancer, I’ve always had an appreciation for Gene Kelly’s dancing abilities. It’s also a great film to relate back to this course since it deals with the time in Hollywood where the transition between silent films and talkies were being produced. However it wasn’t until this specific assignment that I began to wonder just how they produced the sound of tap dancing in the rain. I was able to find an article that reveals Gene Kelly’s tap dancing audio was recorded separately from the visual, and this was done as Gene Kelly watched the footage of himself and attempted to match it. Additionally, the article states that the movie’s sound engineer created the splashing noises in sound engineering. I think it’s impressive work considering the splashes beginning at the 3:35 mark could have fooled me as true water.

Here is the soundcloud link to my podcast

https://soundcloud.com/kelcey-connors/audio-podcast-on-climate-change

All of my audio is recorded using my laptop microphone.

I also had wanted to record my own ambient audio of nature, but whenever I tried to I realized I couldn’t control other sounds getting into my recording like people’s conversations, cars driving by or their doors being closed, and people’s conversations. Unfortunately, a trip deeper into nature to record the ambient sounds were not in the cards for me this week. So I went to an ambient nature recording I found online that I was able to use.

It definitely took longer than I anticipated it would to complete this project, maybe because this is my first time tackling an audio project. One of the most time consuming parts though was finding music and sounds I could use.

Here are the attributions for the music and sounds in my project:

Intro: “Frozen Bubble Intro” by Matthias Le Bidan licensed under GNU General Public License  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frozen_Bubble_Intro.ogg

 “Girl Scream in Soundstage” by cargio0003 licensed under the Creative Commons license  https://freesound.org/s/205902/

“Ambience, Day Wildlife” by Inspector J licensed under Attribution license https://freesound.org/s/398980/

“Crowd Yay” by mlteenie licensed under Attribution license https://freesound.org/s/169233/

“Overated”by Freeplay music licensing under student use for audio and visual design-audio homework https://freeplaymusic.com/#/music/17173

“Happy Sandbox” by Mativve licensed under the creative commons license https://freesound.org/s/416778/

“Record Scratch” by Luffy licensed under Attribution license https://freesound.org/people/luffy/sounds/3536/

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