AUS220 – Location sound wk3

Location! location! location!  …recording.

Today I had my first experience working with the film students, recording location sound for documentary footage.

I was looking forward to this, but ultimately was a little disappointed with the recordings.

The film students had to go out and get shots for a poetic style documentary. This entailed a lot of varied shots of the juxtaposition of man-made and natural environments. The group I was with decided to film a lot of trees and grass in the parks around the campus. The job for me was just to capture some ambient sounds. I was looking forward to recording some dialogue in the wild but it wasn’t necessary for the project.

Instead; I have about 5 minutes of the traffic noise around campus.

 

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We tried doing some spot recordings of leaves rustling etc, but ultimately this was unsuccessful as there was just waaaaaay too much background noise of the Normanby Rd traffic, nearby tram line and helicopters flying overhead.

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I brought a variety of equipment with me, as I was unsure what would need to be recorded. This included the Zoom H4N recorder, Rode NTG-2 mic with shotgun grip and a boom handle.

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I tested the NTG2 with some mono spot recordings and discovered there was way too much noise to be effective, so instead oped to record in stereo with the Zoom X/Y mics at 120°. As the kit I was using did not include a wind filter, my first efforts were completely unusable, and I had to run back to campus and swap recorders.

We tried a few shots of different trees and grass etc. so the director could get the footage he was after. These looked great on camera; in my headphones was a different story. Yet more traffic noise.

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One of the last shots was of an industrial excavator in action. This was slightly more interesting and I managed to get some good sounds of the machinery… with a whole bunch of traffic noise.

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After they finished shooting, I realised what I had recorded wasn’t necessarily all that useful in its current state, so I volunteered to take the clips home and try to edit them into something usable. I wasn’t sure where to even start – aside from removing obvious background talking and artifacts – so, I check in the Matt Bangerter for some advice – he suggested some basic EQ so it’s not so washy and not to bother compressing. I plan to do this over the weekend and deliver the files for the director via my website.

 

 

CIU111 Week 3 – Your income & your art.

Gettin’ paid:

This week we took a look at the different kinds of income streams for the self-directed practitioner. What I took away most from this class has been a common theme throughout this stage of the course: to not limit oneself to preconceived, fixed ideas, and to keep yourself open to as many different opportunities as possible. You never know where things may lead.

The same thing can be said for how you get paid as a self-directed practitioner. A diverse skill set is vital, because creative project work traditionally does not pay regularly, and at times it is necessary to have supplementary income streams coming from as many sources as possible. This also means diversifying your skill set and learning supplementary skills which have seemingly nothing to do with your chosen technical or creative area.

Skills such as public speaking are important in a number of areas which can potentially translate to greater income. Confidence when speaking in front of people is essential when delivering pitches, doing any presentations, communicating in group project environments, or begging people for money applying for government grants or crowdfunding.

One of the single most important aspects of developing a diverse income stream and ongoing work is via networking. Creative jobs are rarely advertised via traditional mediums (seek.com, newspapers, employment agencies etc) and almost always rely on word of mouth. It’s not necessarily what you know, rather than who you know. It is important to maintain a high personal and professional standard in different industry as well as social environments. It is also important to try to be someone who is easy to get along with as you’ll generally be known by your reputation long before anyone will have an opportunity to sit down and read your resume or CV. Even if you have a lot of experience and a stellar CV, nobody is going to want to work with you if you’re a difficult person.

 

AUS220 Post Production – Week 3

This week in post production we looked at bringing together the different team’s assets into a single file, so we can start to look at mixing our replacement sound for ‘The Terminator”.

I volunteered to do the score as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

I found an interview with Brad Fiedel, who composed the original score. In this, he mentioned that a lot of the hardware synths he used were pre-MIDI, so there was a lot of CV fun and syncing by hand.

I opted for a simple sound-alike replacement because the original soundtrack is so iconic and relies heavily on fairly analogue synths and sounds, which I enjoy playing with immensely. Because of this, I chose to record the parts live rather than sequencing, but recorded the MIDI at the same time as a fail-safe.

That is a Prophet 10 synth used in the iconic ‘Terminator’ soundtrack.

I was contemplating using Reason 7 for a lot of the sounds, but remembered the nightmare I had the last time I tried to use Reason and ProTools together using REWIRE. They technically do work, but there is an incompatibility issue when trying to use Reason 7 -64bit with Pro Tools  x86, which requires installation of the x86 version of Reason, which wouldn’t be an issue if I have more than 2gb left on my 128gb SSD main system drive.

Instead, I opted to record both audio and MIDI directly into Pro Tools using my Novation X-Station synth/controller.

The score was relatively simple:

  • a low synth drone when the Terminator appears on screen;
  • dark, brooding taiko drums (the famous ‘dundund dun du dun’);
  • another short synth pulse when a car crashes through the police station
  • faster and more intense taiko after the crash while The Terminator gets locked and loaded
  • synth horn pulse in unison with the taiko

The drone and the synth pulse were recorded with custom patches from the X-Station. I think I started with a basic 303 kind of sound and played around till I got it sounding right. I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing and it seems to have produced a decent result. The X-Station is great for modern synth sounds but doesn’t really have much by the way of percussive sounds.

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Novation X-Station. I like it because all the buttons and knobs do stuff.

 

For the taiko, I ended up creating an instrument track and loading up a VST called Nexus by reFX; which is a Rompler soft synth with some amazing sounds.

I managed to find a patch called “Terminator 90bpm” which was a drum loop, but somehow amazingly had the exact kind of drum sound I was looking for. 😉

Because this was a loop and you can’t edit the ROM sample, I had to pay attention to the performance and get the velocity and length of the taiko hits just right while paying attention to the rhythm.

The patch was fairly velocity responsive and quite dynamic, so I couldn’t press too hard. Also the loop start triggering the 90bpm pattern if it was too legato, so that was a lot of fun to perform and took a couple of takes no not get double hits/start rushing/get too loud etc.

The synth horn was also a Nexus patch with some basic filter and amp modifier tweaking.

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The music was imported into the master Pro Tools session without incident, which was also great!

Gratuitous stock SAE action shot

Gratuitous stock SAE action shot

At the end of the session, we normalized the imported audio and had a look at loudness metering. We set dialogue to around -20dB and foley/atmos/sfx to -30dB

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CIU111 – Week 2

This week we took a look at ‘entrepreneurism’ and how it relates to self directed practitioners in creative industries. We also discussed the instability of project based work.

Creative industry work appeals to me greatly.I spent the better part of 10 years working various grey 9-5 office jobs, wondering why I was so miserable all the time. Part of that reason was that in non-creative industries you invariably end up having to work FOR people, rather than WITH people.

This is particularly soul-crushing if you happen to be a creative person who find themselves working for non-creative people who seem physically incapable of understanding why you get no satisfaction from stability; doing the exact same thing every single day is actually incredibly damaging to one’s health and well-being.

possibly NSFW

So, the creative industry offers much greater flexibility and potential, the reality is that there isn’t much stability in project based work.

It is also a challenge in that it relies almost exclusively on self promotion and word of mouth to get ongoing work.This requires a lot of self motivation, but most importantly is passion.

Do what you love. Love what you do. The reality of location recording as a career is arguably nothing more than holding a stick and pointing it at things.

Only a crazy person would do that unless they loved it.

AUS220 Studio 2 – Week 2

ADR, Foley and SFX, Oh my!

This week we take a look replacing sound for a clip from ‘The Terminator’, using the Avid D-Command

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Before we could start with anything, we had a spotting session to identify the elements that needed attention, such as deciding what sounds the characters were making and also atmospheric effects

The first thing we looked at was ADR – Automated Dialogue Replacement. This is a bit of a misnomer, as there is absolutely nothing Automated about it. It actually means going in and manually re-recording and replacing production dialogue in the studio.

That said, as with holding a stick, ADR is more difficult than it seems and relies heavily on a good performance, although there are a lot of tools, such as Elastic Audio,  available in Pro Tools to help with dialogue editing and sync.

Next we recorded some Foley – these are sounds based on character actions, such as footsteps or clothes rustling, as opposed to SFX, which usually involve explosions etc. We had to record footsteps for two different characters: The off-duty psychiatrist and The Terminator – these characters are quite contrasting so their foley had to reflect that. We recorded footsteps for the shrink using soft shoes on a piece of MDF which was muted using the rug in the studio – this character was walking indoors on what appeared to be linoleum. IMG_2162.JPG

For The Terminator, I was chosen to perform the footsteps as I was wearing the heaviest shoes. We moved the MDF up on to the raised area with the couches so the floor created a deeper sound. This was recorded with an Electrovoice RE20 for a duller sound than the C414 and pencil condensers we tried. This was more challenging than I anticipated as I had to really think about the performance and try to get my footsteps as ‘robotic’ as possible, whilst trying to focus on synchronizing with the action on screen.

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Next, we had to record the sound of the Terminator in the carpark. We ended up blending different recordings of stepping in sand, along with stepping on gravel which was muted with a heavy jacket.

IMG_2169.JPGWe spent well over an hour discussing and recording these elements, only to realise that the music fades in at that point, so our masterpiece of sound design would barely be heard.

 

This class was a lot of fun and definitely something I want to do more of in the future. For next week’s class, my job is to recreate the music for the scene, which will then be mixed with the other assets, currently being recorded by the rest of the group.

 

AUS220 Studio 2 – Week 1

Hello World!

This week it’s full steam ahead as we take a look at what’s coming up for AUS220: Studio 2.

Studio Production.

In weeks 7-9 we will be working in the Neve studio for the first time. Our task is to take a demo recorded by Trinski and flesh it out into a full production. I grabbed a copy of the demo and imported it into ProTools for some basic editing. I did a simple mix, adding EQ, compression and some reverb to start getting some ideas of how to produce it. I added some markers and noticed that the arrangement is somewhat peculiar and unconventional, with multiple half-choruses and instrumental sections. These will be dealt with later. For now, I have been musing on some ideas for reference tracks and instrumentation:

 

Reference tracks:

Instrumentation:

  • Vocals
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Drums (brush kit)
  • Bass
  • Hammond B3
  • Banjo

Instrumental section options:

  • Horns
  • Flute
  • Strings
  • Banjo
  • Whistle

 

Post Production

This week we took at location recording (aka: holding a stick is harder than you’d think!). We started with a basic camera and interview setup, which became more complex with every iteration until we were running a boom with full blimp setup, with a Rode NTG-2 and Senheiser lapel mics into a Zoom H4n using the preamps from a Sound Devices 302 field mixer.

The group took turns at the various roles (recordist, boom operator, etc) and we re-set in the Neve recording room for a sitcom/drama setup which involved recording actors moving around a sound stage. This was a lot of fun, although the boom is frustrating and uncomfortable to operate. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more location recording and post production in the future!