This semester I am taking a Sound module in which we learn how to capture sound (with microphones and recorders) and how to edit it (with protools).
We had a project briefing that consisted on making a Vox Pop. A Vox Pop is a short audio exercise used by a lot of radios all over the world. There is an interviewer asking the same questions to a lot of different people and at the end he mounts them together!
First of all, we had to find a theme in order to come up with the question we wanted to ask. Then we learned how to work with professional recorders.
My main question was “what is your main goal in life? what is your role in the world?”. After I got my recorder from uni I spent the whole day asking people those questions and came up with about 30 or 40 answers. It wasn’t easy due to the windy weather but I tried to always put my back against the wind and the recorder in front of me. It was a good exercise because I had to deal with a lot of people and some are shy or don’t have the time or simply don’t want to answer. At home, after listening to all my answers. I chose the ones that were usable. I also thought about the soundFx that I wanted to include and got them at freesound.com
After this stage, the next step was to record my questions and my radio opening on a studio. At uni we have access to the studios and with Francisco Dias, a colleague of mine, we recorded our questions, radio opening and closing. I don’t really like how my voice sounds but I made an effort to do everything I could with this project so I would feel how it’s like to be in the different positions.
I drove my scooty to uni and started editing!! First I had to arrange and cut my voice recordings. I did the same for every other recording of the answers. There was a moment where I had to think which meaning or which type of vox pop I wanted. My questions were rather serious but the answers I got weren’t as deep as one would expect so I decided to go with a comic vox pop.
Some sound FX were added and I managed to make an effect with a recorded voice with the help of this video!
At the end I was happy with the outcome and learned a lot more about sound editing and capture!
Our final project for the sound part of LTAV was to make a small audio file of 30 to 40 seconds. The audio had to contain a dialogue between at least 2 characters and there had to be a big noise interrupting the dialogue. We had to present a script along with the audio so the teacher could see what kind of noises we would use. We could get sounds anywhere, samples, youtube videos, television, radio…
I gathered a lot of sounds and it was quite fun to play around with them!
My initial script was good but when I was done editing the whole audio I noticed it was waayyy too long. As I worked in GarageBand, instead of seconds, the measure was in “beats”. Well, I had 40 beats but it turns out that that was in fact 1.20 minutes so I had to cut a lot on my script.
I’ve been through a lot of changes with this project since I never worked with audio like that before. For the voices of the characters, I used my friend’s Constança’s voice because she has a diverse amount of accents and voices. After recorded (on my computer) I almost didn’t change their pitch. I put the voices on opposite sides so it looked like they were far from each other, talking.
For the ocean sound, I used a lot of combined samples like ocean waves, seagulls, water fountains. It was a bit tricky but I played with the volumes of each sample and I think it worked!
Throughout the whole project, I was watching some tutorials on how to edit audio. I am aware that Garageband is not at all the best program to work with sound but I hope to learn better ones in the future.
Here are some screenshots of my editing:
This project really got me interested in editing sound. First time I actually played with stereo and I found that sound is an amazing tool with infinite outcomes!
Han Zimmer is a really known composer of movie soundtracks. He made the music for several films such as Inception, Interstellar, Sherlock Holmes… And by that, we can surely assume he is the top of the top! There’s now a paid masterclass available where he explains what and how we should think when composing something.
Luckily, my Dad offered me this masterclass which I am taking little by litle and it’s just great! I am learning from Han Zimmer!!!
Hopefully, these classes will help me on the piano (I play the piano) and also when it comes to composing. Let’s say I never even tried to compose yet… I am aware this is a great tool I can use and who knows I’ll be doing the soundtrack for my own animations!
Here’s a screenshot of the class:
Has he’s in front of the computer at all times, he can come up with quick examples of what he just said!
I still didn’t finish the Masterclass but there is no reason to be stressed about it!
For someone who had some expectations about this course, I still get surprised every day. In general, the course is even better than I thought would be. I realize it opens me so many doors… I just have to be careful not to get lost between them!
My classmates are the nicest people. Always ready to help, share and discuss and that’s crucial because I’ll probably stay in touch with these people and work with them. It’s funny because it looks like I’m just getting used to how nice and welcoming people are in Porto.
About the Sound classes, in particular, I am just loving to learn the science part of music. How octaves work and tones. I already know most of the things but just because I studied piano and it happened already twice that my brain clicks when there’s some explanation about notes or something because it’s a different explanation for the same things but it helps me understand it through another perspective.
I also like the rhythm we’re taking things. The sound is not an easy thing to understand 100% so the classes don’t flow as fast as others, which is good.
I am really happy with these classes and the course in general.
Professor Pedro gave us a homework that consists of recording your own voice saying “If my calligraphy was my voice, I would sound like this”. We have to look at our notebooks and all and think of the characteristics our letters and give a voice to it.
First I tried to list my letter characteristics:
Letters are really close from one another
After that, I actually imagined my calligraphy like a person…
That person would sound slow, and a bit annoying, smart and like it has always something in her mouth – because she’s fat.
I then went to record the voice…
I had several takes. On the first one, I talked at a normal speed with a “fat lady voice”, which I think it’s appropriate for my calligraphy. After that, I talked slower, which makes sense but then I was sounding like a guy so I slightly changed the pitch. The final record was actually funny and totally according to my letters.
Unfortunately, I can’t upload the audio on this post.
I really had fun with this homework and I can’t wait for next class. Hopefully, the teacher will explain that there’s actually a technical reason why some voices sound aggressive or sweet or irregular.
After the sound walk, I thought it would be an interesting idea to draw and colour the sound in both music and background noise but in a more abstract and less technical way!
The outcomes so far are not really what I hoped would be. I believe I’m being too superficial. I really have to focus on the sound and feel it, feel its temperature and texture and so on… I know it probably sounds crazy but I start to find it a really good exercise.
By closing my eyes I can focus on the sound but the problem is that I have to draw at the same time so my focus dispersed. I’ll try to work on that.
The experience will still go on and hopefully, I’ll become happier with the results. Even if all this doesn’t work out the way I want I still end up having a different experience with sound.
Some, let’s call them, sound drawings:
Sound of Tame Impala – Elephant
2. Blue in Green – Miles Davis
3. Sunset – The XX
I noticed that the white background really makes a difference. It disturbs me because that’s not what any of the songs says, I will also work on that!
On the second class of Fundamentals of Sound, professor Pedro prepared a different activity. His main goal was making us understand that sound is in fact everywhere and by being aware of it we can feel space and hear things we thought we weren’t able to.
1st exercise: We were gathered in pairs and while one was guiding with small touches in the shoulder the other was with his eyes closed (while EVERYONE had to be silent)
First time I did that. It was a great experience to be able to estimate the size of a room by the sound of a clap or a voice.
2nd exercise: professor Pedro gave us a sheet to complete. It had numbers of things like the loudest sound, the highest sound, a sound you never heard, a relaxing sound, etc… and along the walk we took, a SOUND WALK, we had to be silence and fill the sheets with sounds we were hearing.
It was an unbelievable experience although there was a lot of car noise what made our task harder, and maybe that was the purpose. Being focused on the sounds around us should be a daily exercise and I’ll try to make it a regular thing
3rd exercise: Drawing sounds (exactly what it is)
This was the activity that interested me the most since I love to draw… I guess most people did similar drawings, looking like sounds waves in different ways… But I want to explore that and draw with watercolour the sounds I hear, and see the difference between drawings made while listening to music and while listening to.. let’s say the world!
(the teacher collected the sheets, otherwise I would post the drawing I did)
I look forward to learning much more from this class!