Hierarchies of Sound

The Sound of the Sun by George Bradley

The Brief

Using the technology and skills you have studied so far on the module; you are now going to produce a more in-depth audio piece as part of a team.
1 – Choose one of the supplied poems to work with
2 – Record a dialogue using the poem as a script
3 – Add additional spot and environmental sounds to enhance the work
You should begin the task by reading though the poem multiple times and draw together a list of potential sounds you can record related to the subject matter. Consider the piece as a complete audio experience where the listener is taken on a journey with a beginning, middle and end. Think about who you want to read the material and how their voice relates to the message you are seeking to convey (you may enlist a contributor to assist with this)
Specification:
Must use at least 10 sources of audio (including voice, spot and environmental)
Must use at least 10 ‘layers’ of sound in Audition’s multitrack
No use of music
Deliverables:
1. Screenshot image of your audition timeline
2. WAV audio file of your final composition
3. Folder containing components of your mix

Some of the sounds included in this project were taken from the mobile sound recording exercise, while others were created with specific effects in mind. The project documents may be found here:
https://myntuac-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/n0888053_my_ntu_ac_uk/EsOplMUGpMpDkZLd9Ly5lnIBCNUQHm_3DlbQDUoOwxNWFg?email=richard.hunter%40ntu.ac.uk&e=9Lrirc

In preparation for this task, I began listening to a number of dramatic podcasts, although listening to them specifically for their approach to sound design takes a particular kind of attention as the first thing I learned was that great sound design creates an immersive experience without calling attention to itself. A common trait among shows such as Super Ordinary (Marissa Tandon, Tandon Productions, 2019-) and We Fix Space Junk (Beth Hadley, Battlebird Productions, 2018-) there is a focus on atmospheric sound interspersed with the physical sounds only when they are important for supporting the important actions that one should focus on.

From this work in progress screenshot you can already see how some sounds are used to pick out certain points while others are layered up for more complex effects.

Reflections

Although this process is somewhat familiar to me through my experience in music production, creating complex hierarchies for dramatic effects was a new challenge, as was the software we were using to accomplish it. I was glad of the creative impetus created by working with a partner to bring this poem to life.

Our approach to the process began by highlighting all the obvious audio sensory words, researching Foley techniques and discussing what kinds of sounds we might be able to create. This conversation also helped us to settle on the abstract sci-fi tone that you hear in the piece. One might think that we just wanted to set things on fire, which we did (naturally) but the effects we used were of course all illusion. The sound of a fireball tearing across the sky is a close-mic’d piece of paper tearing, with careful use of panning and feedback delay that built up a rewarding cascade of sound. The fires that you hear burning in the background are all complex sounds created from a variety of innocuous sounds, from rustling foil to suitcase wheels. The layering of these sounds was particularly enlightening as it is not often one considers the constituent sounds of fire – the depth of the roar, the mid range murmur and shrill crackles all rising and falling indeterminately; they are the elements we focused on with our new found perception.

Moving forward, I am finding that as my sound library grows so does the acuity of my hearing. With my ears tuning into the nuances of sound design I can see this growing into a passion that I intend to continue exploring and experimenting with. Some of the sounds in this piece, while I am pleased with the overall result, came through a combination of Foley & post production trial and error eventually yielding satisfactory results despite not always matching the sound that my mind perceived, which I believe I will be able to accomplish in the future when I have a wider ‘vocabulary’ of sound effect creation.

THE SLIDES

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