This week, the focus was all on audio. We concentrated on this without the support of visuals, and for the practical task it was different to tell a story wholly without the use of video. it was insightful, as it challenged us to produce the audio as efficiently as possible and to its highest quality, as there was no visual to support or enhance it.
We were required to record the story ‘Big Billy Goat Gruff’ through narration and create sound effects to go with it.
Problems I Have Experienced with Audio in the Past
In previous projects I created, I had a little trouble with using the right microphone for the right task, getting the right polar pattern, eliminating background noise and other common problems that people experience. One that stood out however, was one that occurred during the editing process. I was trying to manipulate the sound of of of the character’s voices, to make it sound a little less realistic than how th raw recording turned out. As it was meant to be a voice the character was hearing inside her head, I wanted to add a deeper or an echo effect. However, within the Avid platform and with the limited time I had to experiment, I could not get the desired sound. A solution to this, is to do research on how to set specific sound effects on an audio clip in Avid or supporting programs, and practice it independently.
Problems experienced with Producing the Audio for the task
Trying to create an accurate sound. This was often tricky, as we wanted the sound effects to realistic, especially as there would be no visuals to support what it was meant to portray. Often times, when a picture is shown with together with an audio clip and is relevant to it, it is easier for the viewer to distinguish what the sound is meant to be. For example, if the sound effect of what is meant to be a meadow was shown with a picture of a meadow, the audience would automatically match the two together, rather than if the audio track was played by itself. Hence, we had to work to make sure our sound was as accurate to what it was meant to be as possible.
Background sound was a problem that is quite common, and my group and I faced it while trying record most of our effects, and particularly the narration. We tried to find a quiet corridor, but whenever a group of students entered, we had to stop the recording, find another quiet place or wait for them to leave, and then start it over.
Microphone levels too high / too close to narrators mouth – for one of the recordings, Katie, who was the voice of the troll, was speaking a little too close to the microphone, giving the recording a slightly muffled sound. It wasn’t too noticeable once the final edit was finished, with music and other sound effects added. However, it was recognizable in the raw file, and something I will be careful to avoid in the future. Also, getting the volume levels on the microphone to be just right was a bit tricky, and it took a few takes for us to be satisfied with how the recording turned out.
Knowledge about equipment being used. This may seem straight forward, but proper knowledge of the microphone that you intend to use, and which ones would best suit the task being done is essential. All microphones contain polar patterns, which describes exactly how and where the microphone picks up sound, and where it does not. In order to get the most out of ones microphone, understanding how polar patterns work is the first step. While performing the task, my group and I had to re- record all of our sounds because the mic we wanted to use (shotgun microphone), was not on the right setting. The one we were using to control the sound was the one recording the sound, but because it was not close enough to the persons mouth while we were recording the narration, it was muffled and unclear. We then had to make sure the shotgun mic was on the right setting, and then record all of our sounds again.
The best way to record the sounds that we required was with a dynamic microphone,with a cardioid polar pattern. This is because all of our sounds and the narration needed to have as little background noise as possible, as we solely needed the sound of what we were creating, and nothing else. If we were recording a scene where there were multiple people at different distances from the microphone saying their lines, then omnidirectional or figure 8 microphones would have been suitable. However, because our noise was only coming from one direction, the cardioid microphone was the best option.
Furthermore, the shotgun microphone was the best microphone to use for what we intended to record. This is because Shotgun type microphones start with a hypercardioid microphone at the tip, under which the interference tube is set. This long interference tube narrows the sound pick up frequency, thus helping unwanted noise to not be picked up at higher frequencies. .
How I obtained sounds for the task
My final audio clip for ‘Big Billy Goat Gruff’ contained a mixture of sounds that my group and I recorded ourselves and soundclips I downloaded from the internet. We recorded two sounds (excluding the narration) in total; the sound of running water, and the goat ‘trip trapping’ across a bridge. To record the first of the two sounds, we put a dynamic microphone with a cardiod polar pattern close to a tap dripping with water. This polar pattern allows the microphone to only pick up sound in the front area, so that background noise is eliminated. This made quite an effective sound for a stream. For the sound of a goat walking along a bridge, we took two plastic cups and tapped them on a table- one after the other- in a rhythm that mimicked that of a goat walking. We used the same polar pattern for this recording.
From the internet, I downloaded the background sound of a meadow, the sound of a big splash, for when the troll falls into the water, and a growl that the troll made when falling. My group and I did try to create the sound of a big splash ourselves, but we simply could not find the right resources in college to make an effective and believable sound. We contemplated dropping a heavy object into a sink of water or the toilet, but we opted not to. The sound of a troll falling into a river would be a fairly big one, and we did not think we would be able to achieve this by ourselves.
Final recording can be heard here: