Thursday, 16 August 2012

Project 10 Sound

Exercises: 12 Listening & 13 Create a new soundtrack
Objective: Because these two exercises are closely linked, I have written them up together. That said, there is a certain amount of confusion about exactly what needs to be done. The notes refer to a sequence in Project 2 which did not contain any sequences. I have used the Subjective POV Alcoholic from Project 3.
Exercise 13 refers to a list of sounds from Ex 12 but I’m not sure whether these are ones associated with Listening in my “silent” places or the sounds identified in my sequence. If I assume that these are sounds from my sequence then they are already part of that sequence because they were recorded with the video (the requirement not to include sound was not made clear)
My objective for these exercises will therefore be to think of the quality of these sounds in an objective way and write down my thoughts. I will then record an “atmos” track to overlay the existing track on my sequence.
Listening: I don’t have the facility to attach headphones to my video camera so I listened to the background sound in my house during the early afternoon. . My house is small so there is not much difference between rooms, depending on whether I have the windows open or closed.
For contrast I went out into the countryside where I know the sounds are different, possibly quieter.
Afternoon in the sitting room. After a rather noisy morning, the sitting room was relatively quiet with only the sound of passing traffic, the slam of a van door  followed by the sound of the van driving away. I detected the sound of power tools from an adjoining house and the creak of floorboards settling from upstairs. Had I left the doors and windows open, there would have been more sounds.
Upstairs in the afternoon: Normally I work upstairs in my study. I have the windows open and I can hear more of  the sounds from the road. The traffic density is quite high so there is a constant whoosh of cars passing and the rattle and hiss of lorries as they hit the brakes approaching the traffic lights. My PC hums constantly in the background. Occasionally the neighbours  children can be heard playing, either in the garden on on the green in front of the houses. I can also hear a power tool from the house across the road and a jet passing overhead on its way to Farnborough.
Mid afternoon on Shortheath Common
During an afternoon walk this week, I crossed nearby heathland, sat down for 15 minutes and made notes of what I could hear:
  • Helicopter passes overhead.
  • Birdsong
  • Wing beats of a passing bird
  • A jet passes overhead, high up
  • Wind in my ears
  • Cars on the road
  • Buzzing insects
  • Chirping grasshopper
  • Gunfire from the nearby Longmoor ranges
Sequence from Project 3  - recorded sounds: As mentioned above, I recorded the scene with diegetic sound. Here are the sounds as they are recorded and words that I associate with them:
  • The bottle cap unscrewing  - rasping metallic sound, cold and functional
  • The bottle placed on the table (twice) – solid, safe, firm,  dependable
  • The telephone ringing (two rings) – jarring, intrusive, sharp and dominant
  • The alcoholic breathing – whisper, alive, scary, disturbing (this was unintentionally included, a point to watch)
  • The wine being poured into the glass – sparkly, refreshing, anticipation, imminent satisfaction.

In addition to these, there was the background sound of  the fridge running in the kitchen which sounds comforting and alive. (I am strangely disturbed when these sounds are absent from the house, it usually means something is wrong and produces momentary anxiety). In the first shot, the radio playing, which wakes our sleeping alcoholic is a female voice, indistinct but mellifluous in tone, again comforting and warm.

Project 3 Files: I have identified the project files but as I have uninstalled Nero 11, I can no longer open them. I still have the resulting MP4 files which are read only. I changed my editing software from Nero 11 HD to Sony Vegas HD because of its inflexibility. i.e. Nero was saving my projects in some very strange locations and file formats on my PC and I didn’t have the flexibility I needed to manage my project files.
As an exercise in making a new soundtrack, I did re-record the sounds in the sequence but I don’t seem to be able to clear the basic background hum from my recordings. I need more work on this topic. Arising from a suggestion from Margaret Taylor, I have laid a new soundtrack on my “Rain” atmospheric sequence.


Ex13 new soundtrack from Richard Down on Vimeo.

Conclusion: I have learned a lot from these exercises, especially about the sounds that I don't really want in my audio track. I also need to be able to learn more about using the audio editing package that came with my software. I have had some good and constructive feedback from the student group. Thanks.

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