Audio & Video Design

Audio & Video Design Module 2: Audio Design II

Intro:

This week I continued my audio design project to create an 8 minute podcast. This podcast is based on my own experience adopting a dog, Huck, without truly understanding the specific characteristics of his breed. 3.3 Million dogs end up in rescue each year, many of whom could have avoided that fate if the owner was more prepared for what was to come.

Read:

The article 7 Secrets for Getting Pro-Sounding Vocals on Home Recordings is geared specifically toward musicians/vocalists but much of the advice carries through for voice over recording as well. This article included great and easy ideas for creating the best possible recording space in your own home with things you already own. Setting up a recording space in your bedroom works well because of the mattress, blankets, clothing, rugs, and curtains that are normally already in that space. The author also suggesting singing the song through several times completely before going back to re-record any more complex portions. This advice also can be carried over for voice over easily.

Sound Advice: Editing Audio for Video discusses the importance of putting audio first when creating and editing a video project. The author suggests that while humans are willing to forgive visual transitions and the use of b-roll, audio that doesn’t flow correctly will leave a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth. This article got into the specifics of editing audio tracks using terminology that was a little more advanced than I am, so it might not be the best article for beginners, but the advice was clear enough. I have used the “Ear Candy” trick of adding music behind your audio to help smooth the rough edges and create a mood.

Research:

For this portion of our research, we were tasked with finding a few examples of video that use audio to elevate the content. I worked in a professional theatre for many years, so I am familiar with the importance of sound design in creating a fuller experience for the audience. That said, I often find myself drawn more to the use of music rather than ambience or sound effects in movies and television. This exercise helped me think of some of my favorite movies in a new way – through their soundscape.

The Royal Tenenbaums

I am drawn to Wes Anderson’s films because they are visually beautiful, have absolutely spot on sound tracks, and tell stories of difficult, imperfect characters trying to live their best lives. The Royal Tenenbaums is a perfect example of this. Looking more closely at this film, and especially at the selection “By Way of the Green Line Bus,” I realized the film not only uses music in a stunning way, but also voice acting/narration (I would not stoop so low as to call Alec Baldwin’s beautiful performance as the narrator “voice over”) and ambient sound. I’ll never take those things for granted again.

You can go ahead and imagine me crying at 1:04 when the ambient sound fades to Nico singing “These Days.”

The Shining

I have to admit, I didn’t watch The Shining until I was an adult. I’m not really into horror movies, but I do try to watch the classics. I read an article about how sound designers use nearly imperceptible sounds, such as a swarm of bees in The Shining, to elicit fear and anxiety in the viewer. So, we had a watch of the film with special attention paid to the sound design. We had to watch THREE comedy specials afterward to get me calm again. And I don’t even like comedy specials… I just needed the palette cleanser that badly.

Jurassic Park

A life-long favorite, Jurassic Park is a gold standard for sound design. Reading about how the dinosaur sounds were conceived was one of the first times I really thought about how the sounds in movies are created – something I had definitely taken for granted before then. Growing up in an age of digital sound and CGI, I just figured everything in Hollywood was created on a computer. But this Dilophosaurus is a mix of a swan, a rattlesnake, and a hawk.

Create:

I spent this week recording and editing my own podcast episode on the importance of doing breed research before adopting or buying a puppy. My 18-month old Australian Cattle Dog, Huck, was both my inspiration for the topic, and my co-host. While the main portion of my podcast is voice over, I also used ambient sounds, sound effects, music, and even a guest spot by my husband.

Taken seconds after he literally climbed on my head and then started barking. For no reason.

I recorded the podcast using the built-in mic on my MacBook Pro. I tried recording with my Røde VideoMic Go, but I was running into a lot of issues with clicks and crackling. I’m sure my set-up could have been improved, but as this was my first real audio project, I got pretty frustrated and scrapped the external mic. I definitely intend to try it again and figure out what the issue was for the next project.

My recording space was also probably less than optimal. I sat at my desk in my office which has a lot of hard surfaces. I will likely take the advice from the 7 Secrets article discussed above and try recording in my bedroom, or fashioning some noise dampening hanging blankets or drapes for my next go-round. I do think that I was able to achieve a decent sound, even if my set-up wasn’t perfect.

All-in-all I think this was a good piece for my first try at audio recording and editing! My major issues were less about my hardware or editing skills, but about my confidence. Listening to my own voice for hours during the editing process was exhausting. I also found that after listening to my script a few times through, I began to feel some imposter syndrome creeping in. I’m no expert. Why would anyone want to listen to what I have to say? This is something I always have to fight when creating my own content, and I’m glad that my first podcast episode was part of an assignment so that I couldn’t throw in the towel!

The photo above shows Huck in all his glory and I think it sums up why I felt compelled to talk about this topic, even if I am not an expert in animal behavior. I am an expert in adopting a very challenging breed without fully understanding what I was getting into!

Hope you enjoy the episode!

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