Post-Mortem

This trimester I participated in a number of projects; baseline tasks, a larger podcast project and some freelance work.

The first of the baseline tasks I participated in was the post-production task, where we had to create sound for a short clip taken from a film. Initially we all contributed to documenting what we would need to create, categorising sounds under 4 categories; Sound effects, Dialogue, Atmosphere and Foley. This was extremely useful as it let us produce similar sounds consecutively and effectively allocate time. I contributed mostly by creating the soundtrack, which I did outside of class, giving us more time to work on other aspects of the sound. I also provided some dialogue for the project, which was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. I think this project went quite well, my group worked well together and the end product was satisfactory.

The second baseline task I worked on was the live sound task in which we were required to not only learn the skills needed to take a small exam involving operating a new piece of hardware but also organise and complete a real live gig at SAE. Learning how to mix sound in a large ‘live’ area such as the soundstage where we had the class was something entirely new to me, and it took me some time to adjust my ears. After a few weeks I was able to complete the ‘exam’; a rough mix of a song completed in 20 minutes, I feel that I did a pretty good job. The live show took place the following week, and my official role was ‘Rack-monkey’ so what I mainly did was patching cables and turning amps on. I also helped quite a lot organising the input list and setting up the routing in the console to match. I didn’t find I was able to utilise my skills as much as other tasks but I learnt many things from this live sound experience. I would have liked to mix front of house in this project but my other group member did a great job of it.

The final baseline task was the demo production task, in this task we needed to turn a rough demo song into a full fledged commercial product. This included writing instrumental parts, recording instruments and vocals, mixing etc. All of this was required alongside learning a new console on which we recorded everything. This was probably the project which I contributed the most toward, after we came up with a basic structure for the piece I designed some synth sounds and wrote parts for them as well as piano, organ and strings. We spent a large amount of time outside of class recording and working on the composition, which let us put a lot of detail into the track. Unfortunately we weren’t able to mix the track on the Neve console as it went out of commission but I think we did a good job of the mix in pro tools. I feel I was able to make better use of my skills in this project and I enjoyed it immensely.

Another project I completed this trimester was the podcast project, we were given the opportunity to make a podcast featuring Melbourne artists, about what makes Melbourne a ‘music city’. We chose to showcase female artists in Melbourne, as they are often under-represented in the music scene in general. We interviewed a number of artists at a lovely little local show called ‘Coup’, which was hosted at the coziest little venue you could imagine. We also recorded some of their music, some at the live venue and some in the studios at SAE. I mostly contributed engineering work to this project, often at the desk or even just setting things up, but I also edited part of the podcast and contributed to the final mix. I think we created a nice experience which let the artists we talked to really tell their story and give their insight on how women are represented in the industry, among other things. I felt I could have contributed more to the final result but it was difficult with 5 people in the studio, and thereafter having to leave for other work responsibilities.

I also participated in a couple of freelance projects, the first was a short trailer for a youtuber, I was required to create a piece of music, add sound effects then mix all the sound for a short trailer the client had created. After one revision I managed to create a product that the client was satisfied with and I thought represented the best of my ability. The project was completed over a time frame of one week.

The other freelance project I was part of involved creating a musical score a short film produced by other SAE students. I had very little direction in this project but this meant I had a large amount of creative freedom, and after watching the film a few times I had a good idea of the mood I wanted to create. In the end the client was very satisfied with the product I produced and I achieved the level of quality I was hoping to.

I believe that many aspects of my skills in the technical side of audio have improved this trimester, I am constantly becoming more comfortable with software such as pro tools, often learning from my classmates and using it more efficiently as a result. I also think that my general recording workflow has improved, my aptitude for mixing desks and other hardware has helped this greatly, I’m also working to improve my knowledge and use of microphones. The biggest skill I’ve learnt this trimester is how to listen for how a room responds to sound, this was crucial in the live sound unit when we were tuning the PA system. I still need to improve a fair amount with use of microphones especially to become a capable engineer, I could also use more experience mixing live instruments rather than electronic sounds.

In terms of my soft skills, I’m fairly satisfied with where i’m at, I’ve improved a little in some areas I would say, such as time management and self confidence, and I feel these skills help my work. I think my communication skills require the most improvement, as I often still hold back or become nervous when presenting my own ideas. I would say that I could contribute more to projects if I was more confident and assertive with my ideas. I don’t think I’ve negatively effected any of my groups but I could certainly give more than I have in the past.

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