Film 4 Christmas Advert

I apologise for this being a late blog and 2 months after Christmas but you can blame my lack of blog organisation during Masters’ deadlines, but I couldn’t not mention this advert.

If your face is not smiling from ear to ear then, well you’re clearly a bit of a Scrooge and I am not sure what will make you happy. Now in my honest opinion I like this far more than the John Lewis Monty the Penguin advert. This is simple and clever and heart warming, which is what we want at Christmas time. Part of why I love this is related to its sound. Now after doing some ADR recently, I can fully appreciate just how long it took to make this perfect with all those films singing White Christmas. Truly magical and some brilliant work from the post editors.

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Sound Labs

Since beginning my new Audio studies in Manchester I have been introduced to many new things, whether it’s theory, technology or new ways of thinking. Among these are the possibilities of using different rooms for different work styles; for experiments, recording or even using the room to play a piece. Here is a little more about the Sound Labs at the University of Salford.

Semi-anechoic room

hemi-anechoic02

This room basically has the walls covered in soft material and a solid floor. This is done so the sound reflections only come from the floor, rather than the walls. Experiments can be done with putting material on the floor to reduce the sound reflections.

Reverberation Chambers

Well it’s in the title, Reverb, and this room allows the perfect amount of reverberation which is something that is required in places such as concert halls, allowing the singing, or someone speaking and music to be able to travel well. This room has been used for many different sound tests.

reverberationroom

 The point is that rooms themselves can effect the way we hear, for instance, a recording studio has to be made so that no outside noise can enter. All the sounds in the room need to travel well which allows a natural reverb. This is why it’s brilliant that the University provides these different sorts of rooms, not just for students but for other companies. It’s important as an Audio Production student to have an understanding of these rooms. I personally am looking forward to learning more and using them more.

Another point to make is what exactly these rooms are testing. Well actually a lot of companies are testing sound. For example car manufactures and oven manufactures spend a lot of time developing and testing the sound of their doors. I realise this must sound strange, but hear me out.  Think about the first thing you would do when you go and look for a oven or car.  You would open the door, so not so silly really. Which is why the existence of rooms like these at Salford University is so essential.

For some interesting tests going on at the moment check out these links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications/sbsbrir

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications/whitepaper276

Reference

University of Salford (2014) Studios and Labs for Acoustic Engineering, Audio and Video Engineering. Retrieved 12th December, 2014 from http://www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk/facilities/

Audio Post

As I have mentioned previously, I am currently working on recreating the sound design for a piece of animation. At the moment I am at the editing stage, as everything needed has been recorded . Next the Audio will be recorded. I am from a radio background and this is something I haven’t done before, but like all good students I have read, researched and practiced the process and what I am going to discuss today is the process so far.

 Starting point

The question I first asked myself is what is the meaning behind the animation. Personally when I make a piece I like to know the message or meaning behind it and I find this helps me to focus on the piece. Once understood, I began thinking about the sounds I wanted and how they could be recreated. I found tutorials and documentaries helpful with this aspect, seeing others doing it themselves you can have more of an understanding.

Now that sound effects were planned, the next step was changing and adding parts to the script. Having the meaning and message behind the piece made it easier to adapt the script which had to be done by focusing on the mouth movements of the animated characters in order to achieve a match.

 Recording

This was done by recording objects in the studio – these were specific sounds for particular parts. The next method for recording was by using a zoom to record background sounds and other objects. These were sounds that could be used in most areas and could be edited and changed for different parts.

Recording actors for an animation was a challenge. The most efficient way to get the ADR process done is for the actors to be able to sync themselves. This is achieved by having the animation playing whilst recording them, and one of the problems is when an actor finds this difficult. What I found easiest was to get them to deliver the lines without the animation. They could focus on their character rather than syncing. This meant that during the editing process the focus could be on syncing it properly.

 Editing

Now to the current stage, editing, which I personally find the most enjoyable part. All the sound effects recorded are currently being edited using pro tools so they sound effective and match the animation. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work or sound how you want it to, however, this part of the process is about experimenting.

I will update you all on the next stage and the rest of the editing process.

This is the animation.

Taken from moviemaniacsDE on Yotube

Sound Language

So this may seem an unusual type of blog post compared to my recent ones, but in a recent lecture from a tutor on Audio Application module he briefly discussed how we can really define the way in which we discuss sound, mentioning words such as deep and full, and asking what these words really mean. When he first said this I completely agreed, and it wasn’t until on my long walk home I began to question it. For my undergraduate course last year I wrote a Dissertation about the Sound in Doctor Who and I used such phrases to discuss the sound. So I do agree with my tutor that it is perhaps not the best way to describe sound, but it does have some relevance and can be used on occasions. I have set myself the challenge of taking the words “Clear, Full and Grating.” I am going to describe them and find examples, whether it is music or a film scene.

Clear

In general I would describe clear to be more about a musical note rather than a piece of music, although it could be used to describe a piece of music too. I believe it to be something that is very clear, easy to hear and easy to notice whilst being very simple.

This example is from the film adaptation of Les Miserables and it’s the music which I would describe as being clear, especially from 1:04 to 1:46.

Taken from ildivo95 on Youtube.

Full

To describe music as being full it should sound big and dramatic. It should stand out and be distinctive. If I was using the word full in a description it would be for music rather than a sound effect.

This example is from the 2005 Doctor Who theme tune. It uses an orchestra rather than electronic music, and the brass instruments especially are what I would describe as full.

Taken from moonraker79 on Youtube.

Grating

Now for grating I automatically want to use the word sharp. I think they are both describing something similar. It is a sound effect or music that should almost make the ear tingle and ring and make you feel uncomfortable.

The example I have found is music from Hitchcock’s Psycho, and I believe it really does have the ‘ringing in the ear’ effect.

Taken from BetOOoOoo FluoRescente! on Youtube.

So yes I believe I have managed to describe these words and find examples. These are how I view these words and you may think differently, but isn’t that the point. We all see, hear and think differently.

Reference

Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Clear Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/clear?topic=describing-qualities-of-sound [Accessed 25th November 2014]

Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Full Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/clear?topic=describing-qualities-of-sound [Accessed 25th November 2014]

Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Grating Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/clear?topic=describing-qualities-of-sound [Accessed 25th November 2014]

 

BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

I have made it pretty obvious that I have an addiction to the television show that was born during the 60’s, Doctor Who. A ground-breaking show and something most people hadn’t experienced before. Now a great deal of this was due to its completely original sound design, and the creators of this sound were the people at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Now it would be unfair to write about them and just talk about their work on Doctor Who so here I give you a post about BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was born in 1958 and was a sound effects department for the BBC.   They originally worked on radio, later on taking their skill into television sound. They have had some of the most talented people in the industry work for them. People such as Delia Derbyshire who worked on Doctor Who, Paddy Kingsland who worked on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dick Mills who worked on Doctor Who and stayed working there until 1993. Some of the other work they have done:

 The Goon Show, a radio comedy show from 1951 to 1960. For this they worked on the music and the sound effects.

This is from khent712 on Youtube.

 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a radio series first broadcast in 1978. For this effects were created by Paddy Kingsland with Dick Mills. They worked on the music excluding the show’s theme tune.

http://www.radionouspace.net/archives-hitchhiker.html

On this site original content can be found.

 Quatermass and the Pit, a sci-fi television show in December 1958 and January 1959. This would be the first television they worked on. For this Desmond Briscoe and Dicks Mills worked on the effects.

This is from zardoz80 on Youtube.

This is a very short list of some of the content that they created from 1958 until 1998. In recent years they have reunited for concerts. I have learnt a lot from researching about them. I do see creating sound effects in a different way. For example for a current project, I am working on, we found a metal door, shutting and moving the door in different ways and editing in different frequencies, has created a selection of sound effects. Radiophonic has taught me sound doesn’t need to be logical, it can be anything. But I will leave you with my favourite sound of theirs.

This is from BBCClassicDoctorWho on Youtube

Reference

BBC – Music (2014) The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. BBC. Retrieved 19th November, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/39f0d457-37ba-43b9-b0a9-05214bae5d97

Wikipedia (2014) BBC Radiophonic WorkshopWikipedia. Retrieved 19th November 2014  from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Radiophonic_Workshop

 

 

 

Does sound need more respect?

I have just read an article on Filmsound.org about designing for sound by Randy Thom, and something he covered in this article is how some people within the industry aren’t giving the amount of focus they should be on sound, and that the expectation is that sound can simply be saved in the post production process with little thought to what went on before. “Many directors who like to think they appreciate sounds still have a pretty narrow idea of the potential for sound in storytelling” (Film sound.org, Thom, 1999) The main question appears to be, are people within the same industry regarding one of the most important aspects as a last minute resort.

During my time studying sound at University I have had moments where people questioned my wanting to specialise in Radio. The amount of times I heard “But what are you going to do with a degree in Radio?” or the “Oh so you want to do sound so you’ll just get a job at a radio station” NO!!!!! I don’t think people quite understand the amount of opportunities and the many ways you can experiment with sound. Just look at BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a whole department dedicated to experimental sound. So instead of a long angry post moaning about the lack of respect regarding my choice of working in sound, I am going to show you two scenes that will prove to you how important and essential sound is when telling a story.

Blackadder

Taken from BBCWorldwide on Youtube

So our first scene which would seem like an odd choice is from Blackadder, where they are going over the top. Yes this is a comedy programme, but let’s focus on the exact moment where they do go over the top. As far as visuals go it’s simple and to the point, and what makes this scene emotional is the sound behind it. The theme music for this show is iconic. The music is dramatically slowed down and it uses a higher pitch, in contrast to the bellowing lower pitched bomb sound. The brief use of the men screaming is enough, making the sound of the scene very simple and to the point. This scene gradually becomes a field of poppies, with a gentle calming countryside ambience. The sound very much makes the point that this is now a place of peace. Not half bad for a comedy programme.

Doctor Who

This taken from Doctor Who on Youtube.

So yes, I couldn’t write something like this and not use Doctor Who. It’s my favourite scene in all of Doctor Who, the scene where Rose and the Doctor say goodbye. Even at 14 and not being into sound at the time, even I could say back then it was the sound of the scene that makes and tells the story. Well, with a greater ability to analyse sound I can tell you exactly why. First of all we have the very simple atmosphere of a cold beach. It rises in volume to match when music lowers in volume. Now the music has been created and edited in such a way that changes of melody match the change of conversation between the characters. Part of the importance of this scene is the way in which the lines are delivered. Another thing worthy of mention is the attention to detail. This is a sci fi programme and everything must have a standout sound effect to it, even including the vanishing of the Doctor. As far as scenes and sound details go this will always be my favourite.

So I think I have proved my point. Two different scenes, with varied ways of using sound to convey a message and to tell a story. Now come on film makers, let’s make sound just as important as the visual.

Reference

Filmsound.org (1999). Designing A Movie For Sound. Retrieved 27th October, 2014, from http://filmsound.org/articles/designing_for_sound.htm