This week we are focusing on Audio skills. We will be thinking about different types of audio, and the problems I have previously had when trying to record and create audio. I will also be completing a practical task by creating a scene using just audio and no visuals. I am really excited about taking on the practical task this week, as I am very interesting about finding out how I will create atmosphere and tension with just audio. Personally, audio is not something that I am used to creating, and so this week I am hoping will help me to improve and learn as a creator.
I will be focusing on and talking about the problems I have faced throughout my time so far when thinking about audio, and discussing different solutions relating to my audio problems.
What Audio problems have you encountered so far?
- Creating Foley Sound that is an accurate representation of the sound you wanted to create
In my first attempt at Foley Sound I found it hard to create and reproduce the original sound with a huge amount of accuracy. Since then, I do feel that I have improved with this, as I have been working on other projects of my own and repetitively practicing this. Here is the blog post where I first learned and tried to create my own Foley Sound:
- having trouble with different levels. Sometimes the music was too loud or too quiet compared to the overall production
I haven’t had this problem myself, but I do think it is relevant to think about different levels when filming and editing each piece of work. It would be extremely negative to have a certain clip too loud (making the audio sound unrealistic and pulling the audience out of your film ) or having clips too quiet that they are overpowered by other clips. This would again make the audio seem unrealistic or simply hard to hear.
- Microphone placement and type effecting the quality of sound
One of the many problems that I could face to do with audio is the mic placement effecting the quality of sound. If the microphone has a smaller polar pickup pattern, and the microphone is not facing towards the sound you are trying to capture, this sound may not be picked up at all. Another problem similar to this would be picking the wrong type of microphone to record you actor or thing with. For example, if you were at a concert and the singer was using a omnidirectional microphone you would constantly be able to hear the audience. This would ruin the entire concert, and would reduce the audiences experience. On the other hand, if a cardio microphone is used the diner will be picked up well, and most of the audiences cheers would not be picked up. This is why it is so important that the correct microphone is used and the the microphone itself is in the right place.
- picking up unwanted background noise
Like i mentioned previously, if the incorrect microphone or pickup pattern is used, then unwanted background noise could be picked up. This can severely reduce the quality of your overall sound. Also, having too much background noise can not only distract from the clip itself, but it can also distort and ruin the clip completely, meaning it would be completely unusable. Wasting time rerecording audio can waste time that you may not have when filming for your short film.
- Location audio is recorded:
Relating to the previous point, another problem that may be faced when thinking about recording audio is the location in which the audio is filmed. If the location that the audio is being filmed isn’t quiet enough then unwanted background noise may be picked up, not matter what microphone you are using. Also, if the location has too much echo, the clip could seem low quality, and not represent the type of sound you are looking to use in your final product.
Overall, there are a variety of different problems that you may face when thinking about Audio. I will make sure to think about these problems when doing my practice task for this week.
Example of how sound is being used off screen:
Before beginning on the practical task for this week I decided to watch, evaluate and discuss an example of how sound is being used off screen. I really enjoyed this short film. I found it really fascinating to think about how many different sound effects made up the final film itself.
Kingsley-Elton, H. (2016) ‘LIFTOFF – #4: Off-Screen Sounds – NYU Sight & Sound: Filmmaking.’
One of the things that I found most interesting when watching this short film was the amount of sound effects that were layered to create the final atmosphere:
- slamming door
- argument (possibly parents shouting)
- mouse click
- blasting music
- cooking and party
- finger click
- clock ticking
- diegetic sound of the music playing in his headphones
I think that all of these sounds put together help to create the overall atmosphere of the piece. I now understand how important it is to use a variety of different sounds to help to convey what is going on in the scene to an audience. You can tell what is going on behind the boy through just sound, which is really incredible. Before watching this clip I did not understand how much information can be conveyed by simple sounds. I was able to picture and visualise a whole scene, and I would like to be able to do this when completing my practical task.
How do they change each ‘scene’/ environment:
Another one of the more interesting elements of this short film is the way that the ‘scene changes’ or ‘the environment’ changes. After each conversation or ‘scene’ we here a ‘swoosh’ sound. This sound signifies to the audience the environment is changing. This is an interesting concept. Scenes are often changed visually, cutting to a new area or cutting to a new person, but here a sound is used:
- the sound used is predominantly ambient sound. This is how you differentiate between each scene. You are associating the ambient sound to the scene cutting and changing.
- using a sound effect for a ‘sound cut’.
- different people talking also help use to differentiate between each scenario.
Anne E.G. Nydam (2014) ‘My Billy Goats Gruff’
For this weeks practical task we were challenged to create a piece of audio to tell a section of the story ‘The 3 Billy Goats Gruff’. We were not allowed to use any visuals for this task, and we were challenged to create or source all of our own audio. I am really interested in this practical task, as I have never thought about using audio without visuals to create a story. I am hoping to create something that the listener can picture and visualise for themselves, creating their own story in their head as they listen to my piece.
What are the potential problems of the task?
- hard to create Foley Sound that is an accurate representation of the sound you wanted to create
- having trouble with different levels. Sometimes the music was too loud or too quiet compared to the overall production
- Mic placement effecting the quality of sound
- picking up unwanted background noise
- mic interference
Before going out to record my audio with my group, we decided to think about all of the different sounds we would need to make our scene. From here we discussed as a group we discussed how we would create or find the sounds that we wanted to create. Overall, here is what my group did to create each part of this audio project.
‘3 Billy Goats Gruff’ is, simply, a fairytale. We decided as a group that the best way to tackle this task was to have a narrator talk through the story while having other pieces of audio, such as the ‘trip trap’ or ‘the stream’ in the background to help to improve and sustain the audiences interest in the audio.
We tried to pic the person in the group who was most confident with reading aloud and annunciating each word clearly when speaking. We hoped that this would help to envelop the audience into the scene we were trying to create. We had our narrator read out each sentence and pause, and the read the next, and so on. We decided to do this just incase, when editing, we wanted to separate the narration, leave gaps, or add sound between. At first I was worried that this was going to interfere with the fluidity of the piece, but when you listen to the final product I think this worked out in an extremely positive way. The pauses allowed me to edit the amount of time I wanted between sentences, as well as control where the sound effects were being placed. Overall I just felt as if this small idea we had when recording helped to improve the overall quality of the piece.
The next sound that our group wanted to record was the ‘trip trapping’ of Big Billy Goat Gruff.
At first we struggled to come u with an idea of as to how we were going to create the ‘Trip Trap’ sound. At first we tried jogging up and down a staircase with boots on. This created a loud stomping sound that did not accurately represent the nose of Big Billy Goats’ hooves across the bridge. We struggled with this problem for a while, trying to think of an easy way to create the sounds that we were looking for. In the end, I think that the sound we created represented the sound we wanted to.
We used two plastic cups and tapped them gently onto the surface of a smooth, glossy table. This gave a lighter and softer sound, representing the goats hooves much more that stomping boots did. This sound was also very similar to that of hooves, because the round and hollow edges helped to create the sound extremely effectively.
We filmed the clip for around a minute. We decided to do this so we could pick out the part of the audio that worked best for us. As well as this, it worked well not to have a time limit of how long the audio clip was going to last. Of course we could have looped the audio track if there wasn’t enough of it, but this was we didn’t have to worry about that at all, reducing the overall editing time.
The next sound effect that we decided to think about was the sound of the Troll. By this I do not mean the voice of the troll, but the groaning and growling of the Troll. We thought that using a sound like this will help the listener to visualise the scene, and to improve the overall piece.
We decided to try and use a sound library online to collect this sound effect, and we thought it would be interesting to find out the variety of noises that are out there that you can download freely. As a creator it is important the research this sort of thing, and this may be something we need to consider for larger projects in the future.
The next recording we had to think about was the voices of the characters. The characters that had dialogue were the Troll and Big Billy Goat Gruff. We had two different individuals in our group play a character each. We decided to give Big Billy Goat Gruff a fairly normal voice. We noticed, when researching, that Big Billy Goat Gruff is often depicted as being a big, manly Goat. We wanted to contrast this, and make Big Billy Goat Gruff represent someone completely normal. I hope that this will help the Character, despite the fact that he is a goat, be relatable to a wider audience.
We wanted the troll to be played by a female. This is also quite different compared with the usual depiction of the Troll, as he is usually played by a male. Give the Troll to a female individual helps to combat stereotypes in the media, no matter how small.
We used a shotgun Mic to record this audio to try to reduce any ambient sound that may be picked up when recording the audio.
One of the last sound effects that my group discussed was ‘The Stream. This scene is taking place around a bridge and river, and therefore, to create an accurate atmosphere and to help the listener to visualise the scene, audio of a stream would definitely be involved.
We filmed the audio of The Stream A small room made for making Tea and Coffee. At first, the sound of the tap running into the sink was too loud, and didn’t represent the sound of the stream at all. We rectified this problem by putting plates below the tap so the noise of the running water wasn’t too loud, and recorded the audio using a shotgun microphone. We made sure that the microphone that we were using was not too close to the water, as this could break or affect the microphone negatively.
The final sound we wanted to use was bird chirping, or general ambient sound of an outside area. This would be to represent and show the peace and tranquillity after the terrible battle with the Troll.
We decided to use an online audio library for this sound. Here are the websites that I used to search for and to use sounds from:
What are the best tools of the task?
- internet: for example sound libraries
- your voice
- props to create sound effects
My Final Audio:
Here is a link to how my final audio edit turned out. Overall, I am really happy with the end result, but I will reflect on this in greater detail and talk about areas I need to improve on now.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff:
Problems and Solutions:
Here I have put together two different examples that show the problems that my group and I faced when filming these clips:
When recording and editing my practical task for this week, I found that a couple of problems did come up:
- Using the incorrect area to film:
As you can see in the document above, I have put together 2 clips that represent different problems that our group had when recording our audio for this task. We had a little trouble when decided the areas in which to film our audio. when filming the narration and the character voices, we wanted very little or no ambient sound. At first, the area we went to was too large, and so there was a larger echo than I would have hoped. The meant that the narrators voice was distorted slightly. In this project it was not our aim to distort the narrators voice in any way, in fact, we were aiming to keep the voiceover with no distortion at all. Billy Goats Gruff is a story made for a family audience, and therefore we want our narrator to a be as easily understood as possible. Another problem that we had in this area was the hand dryer going off. The area we originally picked to film in was near a disabled toilets. Every so often the hand dryer would go off, causing us to have to stop recording. This was slowing down and reducing the amount we could get done in the short period of time that we had.
- loud ambient sound when trying to record narration and characters:
Similar to the previous point, when trying to film the narration and characters voices there was a lot of loud ambient sound in the area we were filming in.
- Microphone too close to character:
Another problem that we had as a group was when recording the audio. Unfortunately, in the clip with the Troll, the microphone is slightly too close to the voice actor. This created a slightly muffled sound, meaning that the specific clip did not sound very affective.
Throughout my project, my group and I came up with a variety of solutions to any problems that we may have faced:
- Finding a new location to film in:
Once our group realised that our location was not suitable to film our Audio, we packed up our equipment safely and went to another area. To reduce the chance of this happening again, our group did a ‘test run’ of audio in the area to make sure that there wasn’t an echo, or anything else that would distract from the main recording.
- Holding the microphone further away:
As simple as it sounds, moving the microphone slightly further away from the subject really helped to improve the quality of the audio. It helps to reduce any muffling that may occur when the microphone is too close to the subject. I have to be careful to make sure that the microphone is not too far away from the subject either, as otherwise more unneeded ambient sound would be picked up, and the characters voice may not be picked up enough to create quality sound.
Final Evaluation and Reflection:
overall, I am really happy with how my audio work turned out. I think that you are able to listen to and easily visualise the scene. I am happy with the placement and levels of my sound effect. Some of the audio of the troll sounds slightly muffled. This is due to the fact that the microphone was to close to the subject. As I discussed in the solution section above, if I was to complete this task again, I would make sure to hold the microphone far enough away from said subject, that the sound is not muffled. I will be uploading this work onto our social media sites to gain feedback from my target audience. This will help me to reflect further on the work I have produced today.
Dubway Studios (no date) ‘audio post’ Last Accessed: http://www.dubway.com/audio-post/ (Last Accessed: 18th January 2017)
Kingsley-Elton, H. (2016) ‘LIFTOFF – #4: Off-Screen Sounds – NYU Sight & Sound: Filmmaking.’ Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdoM2v5Gsp8 (Last Accessed: 27th January 2017)
Anne E.G. Nydam (2014) ‘My Billy Goats Gruff’ Available at: http://nydamprintsblackandwhite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/my-billy-goats-gruff.html (Last Accessed: 28th January 2017
childrenaudiobooks (2013) ‘Children’s Stories – The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULheuFknphE (Last Accessed: 28th January 2017)
opendoorways (No Date) ‘why we wont trade our problems’ Available at: http://www.opendoorwayreflections.com/?p=755 (Last Accessed: 28th January 2017)
EFFICIENCIE (No Date) ‘who we are’ Available at: http://www.efficiencie.com/ (Last Accessed: 28th January 2017)
FreeSFX (No Date) ‘Outdoor Bird Ambience’ Available at: http://www.freesfx.co.uk (Last accessed: Wednesday 5th April 2017)
FreeSFX (No Date) ‘Slow Groan and Growl from Monster’ Available at: http://www.freesfx.co.uk (Last accessed: Wednesday 5th April 2017)