Everyday Media

An everyday blog about media by everyday blogger Louise Alice Wilson.

Tag: Sound

Sound on Sound

For all you music geeks out there I hope you picked up on my Sound on Sound reference, for everyone else Sound on Sound is also the name of a great music recording magazine, that I quite love.

Synopsis:

“Sound on Sound is a creative portrait that explores one Melbourne musicians lifelong obsession with sound. From past to present this documentary touches on themes of obsession, dedication and a love for ethnomusicology that extends to exploring sounds very roots.”

Reflection:

The successful aspects of my piece were the creation of various visual montages that add rhythm and pace to the piece as well as the utilisation of interesting stock footage to visually display audio topics that keep the audience engaged. I think the piece was also successful in overall pacing and flow that provide attention grabbing interest at the start, mellow reflection in the middle and an inspirational ending that leave audiences on a high note at the end of the piece. The section in the middle of the piece (focusing on the instruments Chris plays and his recording space) features a simplistic piece of music; him strumming on his bass. This quiet, emotional piece, performed in his studio, underscores the fact that we have been let in to his life to see these private moments. I believe this creates has a strong emotional resonance with the audience as they get to see Chris as most people don’t get to see him. It’s also quite an informative piece that has the potential introduce topics like Jazz and Ethio-Jazz to audiences that would otherwise never engage with such a topic.

The problematic aspects of my piece are potentially that there’s too much going on visually, which could disrupt audiences from ‘truly bonding’ or understanding the central character, but I think we see enough of Chris to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Another problematic aspect is the poor quality of the stock footage that often appears grainy, but I think in a way this can add to overall charm as well as evident the fact that it is indeed vintage footage.

Key learning discoveries I made about creative portraits are that they are one of those mediums where you must define your through line, in order to know what questions to ask, shots to get, stock footage to find, music to add and edits to make. Creative portraits challenge you to be creative, if you don’t, they often end up dry and boring, however if you are creative you can create a truly beautiful and highly engaging piece. Creative portraits allow you to use abstract footage to illustrate aspects of a persons character or story that create a stronger representation of the idea than any real footage could, thus they have an ability to stir resonances within people that other forms of objective documentary making can’t. Creative portraits also allow you to focus in on a particular aspect of a person or their life, that they may not consider defining or that they may hide from most people they know. You can present this aspect in any way you see fit which adds interesting new layers to that persons define character.

More broadly I brushed up on my filming, editing, interviewing, typography and sourcing skills. I also learnt how to find the needle in the haystack and how to focus my ideas into one whole and complete image in order to make the best possible media that I can.

Project Brief 3 – Sound on Sound from Louise Alice Wilson on Vimeo.

Catch you later,

Louise Alice Wilson

Hear Me Out

Being a musician, i’m pretty stoked toread about sound, I’d happily read through a hundred pages with various diagrams on sound, because I think sound is totally awesome. But since I’m sure that not everyone is as interested in sound as I am, I decided to keep it brief (like as brief as I could). I’ve decided to cover a topic that I think is the most relevant to media students being,

How to record clean sound:

      1.   Use a recording studio:

  • Recoding studios are designed to minimise unwanted noise and reverb.
  • If you can’t then use a space with good acoustics.

  2.   Scope out the acoustics of your space prior to deciding to record there and most certainly prior to      recording:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Check for background sound like cars, people talking, dogs, humming lights, air conditioners etc.
  • Does this sound remain consistent? Is the space noisier/quieter at different times of day/week/month?

  3.   Check the acoustics of your space:

  • Clap in the space, and listen out for obvious reverberations, distortions and ringing.
  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Does the room have highly audio reflective walls and floors? Or is the audio dampened by carpets and ceiling mouldings?
  • How is this effecting the overall audio?

** Clapping often helps to pinpoint sources of distortion: I once left a music stand in my recording studio whilst recording some vocals. I noticed upon listening back that there was high pitched ringing in the background, so I clapped in the space. I immediately heard the clap hit the metal of the music stand then bounce of it and ping around the room. It’s safe to say I no longer use music stands in recording spaces.

4.   Check the room tone of your space:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Does the room tone suit the visual footage? Does it add to it or is it jarring? Are you recording audio in a large echoic church, but you want an intimate, clean audio track?
  • If it doesn’t work, think about changing locations.

5.   Check for interference in your space:

  • Record a sample piece of audio and listen to it back.
  • Is there interference from electronic devices, mic cables and/or radio signals?
  • Make sure mic leeds aren’t running parallel to electronic cables to minimise distortion.

6.   Use the most suitable microphone:

  • Are you recording audio from a single person talking?                                                 Uni-directional, shotgun or lavaliere
  • Or are multiple people talking at once?                                                                                 Omni-directional or bi-directional
  • Are these people sitting next to each other?                                                                       Uni-directional
  • Or are they opposite each other?                                                                                                   Bi-directional
  • Do you want the room sound to be obvious?                                                                 Omni-directional
  • Or would you prefer it to be clean vocals only?                                                            Shotgun, handheld or lavaliere

7.   Dampen the audio:

  • Use acoustic panelling, vocal booths or vocal shields to dampen and trap the sound coming from the sound source.
  • You can even use blankets, mattresses or plants to dampen audio signals if you lack other options.
  • If your also filming visuals think about where you can position acoustic panelling or vocal shields so they are not in the frame.

8.   Mic Technique:

  • Make sure the sound source, or person talking is as close to the microphone as possible, with singers or people talking sometimes you legitimately need to be close enough to kiss the microphone, to get optimal quality audio.
  • If someone is about to radically increase their volume (yelling, making a point etc.), make sure they know to pull back from the microphone to avoid distortion.
  • This of course differs with microphone type, such as shotguns that usually need to be a feet away, so make sure you know what distance works best with your particular mic.
  • You can also use pop shields to minimise vocal pops and sibilance (’s’ sounds).

9.    Monitor dB levels:

  • Make sure that your decibels are sitting within the optimum range.
  • There are various handheld sound meters that can monitor dB levels or some microphones and cameras have inbuilt sound meters.
  • Always leave a small amount of headroom before distortion, to allow for increases in audio volume.

10.   Continually monitor sound while recording:

  • Use good quality headphones, closed back headphones are advisable so that the sound won’t bleed from your headphones back into the audio you are recording.
  • When shooting you often focus on the subject, automatically filtering out background noise, mic’s can’t do this, they will pick up everything.
  • Constant monitoring is important, so that if another sound source appears on your audio track, it is noticed immediately and you can re-record. Rather then realising that at the editing stage.

Hope this helps! I said I was gonna keep it brief, my version of brief seems to be 777 words? Haha.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

 

References

Roberts-Breslin, 2003.  ‘Sound’ in Making media : foundations of sound and image production, Focal Press, Amsterdam ; London, pp. 115-144.

Earlids

“There are no earlids.”, when I first read this I was like “eww, gross” but then I was like “ohh, that’s actually quite interesting”.

Having no earlids, means that us humans and most species of animals (except crocodiles, meerkats, platypus and some other exceptions) are continually absorbing sound from our environments. Even though we might not be aware of all the sounds within our environment (due to an elaborate filtering process) we still do process all of it. It’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get the RAW audio files, but I guess the JPEG’s are more conservative, in regards to the required attention, perception and memory it would take to process that much RAW information.

Our brains aren’t just conservative in the way they choose to filter information, but they also conservative in the way that they perceive and attend to information, this can be highlighted in the difference between hearing vs. listening. Hearing is the automatic process of perceiving sound whereas listening is the active process of attending to the sounds that we hear.

Deep listening is the act of taking listening one step further, it is the process of being fully present to what we are hearing. It requires the listener to avoid assumptions, judgements, manipulations and controlling the minds perspective of the information being attended to. Deep listening allows us to witness our thoughts and emotions as they arise, to acknowledge them, to understand them, then allow them to pass, in order to  understand our minds from an objective viewpoint. By doing this we can rethink our relationships with ourselves, our friends and our community as well as relationships to power, authority and vanity, rethinking the significance, nature and meaning of our social and relational experiences.

So even though we can’t shut off what we are listening to, via some advance earlid, we can shut off the chatter within our minds that alters our perceptions and understanding of the sounds around us. Thus providing a purer experience of sound and of the world around us, without all the bull.

*Note: I am aware that earlid is not actually word, ‘folds of skin covering the ears’ is a much more apt description, but earlids sound gross and weird, so I’m gonna stick with earlid.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

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