The next part of this trimester involved undertaking a recording to tape, so the group and I headed over to Soundpark studios in Northcote to make use of their facilities. We had found a band to record earlier, they were called SCOUT and had quite a lo-fi psychedelic kind of feel that I think suited the tape sound pretty well. The studio itself was well equipped, nice rooms, plenty of instruments and a large assortment of microphones, and the real reason we were there, being the tape machine and variety of analogue outboard gear. The tape machine itself was something entirely unfamiliar to me, so I found learning about the operation and functionality to be quite interesting. Trying to understand the signal flow in this type of studio I found a little confusing at first, but quickly got the hang of when I needed to help with patching. My role for the day was tape operations, so I was set to get a good amount of experience using the tape machine.
The microphone placement and such were all fairly standard, lots of older mics going on but largely familiar configurations, we were a bit creative with our trash mics however, placing one inside a guitar case and the other in a Leslie speaker which was hanging around in the studio. Another interesting thing we did was with the guitar sound, we had it coming out of two amps, a large one and a small one, and we miked each of them separately to create a stereo effect.
When the band arrived we certainly weren’t ready to start recording, this was mostly due to our unfinished and inaccurate session plan and the fact we changed our minds about certain microphones and rooms once we got into the studio. Luckily the band members were great and waited around, getting to know us while we figured things out. One of the biggest difficulties we had was patching, especially once we changed around the session plan, as we had ended up with multiple copies of it, all of them different. In the end we had about three people working on patching as all the microphones had been ready for a while, it was a bit disorganised but we got it done in decent time. Once we started recording everyone was a bit more relaxed and able to perform well. We finished up recording two songs, doing about 3 or 4 takes of each to capture what the band was looking for. A quick mix and they were really happy with the results, even going ahead to release it later that week. A link to that can be found below.
The final intensive unit for this trimester was post-production for film, We were assigned a three-part web-series produced by some film students that we were to create audio assets for. I was somewhat excited about this intensive as sound for film is and area in which I find myself quite capable, but it actually ended up being quite a challenge. This was mostly due to the fact that we largely had to work without any of the on-set audio, as it wasn’t given to us until the final week of the unit.
In the first week we went over some basic techniques of post-production, creating foley, syncing audio, mixing in 5.1 etc. I found all the work we did in 5.1 surround to be really interesting, I think it really added another dimension to the sound. We also listened to some 5.1 mixes of music concerts, paying close attention to how it was spread around the different channels. We also did a test mix of a pre-made foley mix to get a feel for panning in surround.
In the second week we received our first cuts of the web-series, at this point we were able to create our asset lists, where we list every sound we will need to create to accompany all the visuals. After completing asset lists for two episodes we began to record some sounds to get a head start on next week.
The third week was when we really began putting things together, as we received final cuts of the visuals, but still no audio unfortunately. We were able to sync up the sounds we had already created and record the remainder of the sounds to finish up. I think the hardest part of this process was trying to emulate very specific sounds, one in particular was the sound of a duster, we had to locate an actual duster to get anywhere close to the sound we wanted.
The final week of this intensive we were to edit and mix everything together with the on-set audio. This was difficult in many areas as the audio we were given had plenty of flaws that we needed to correct. I ended up learning a lot about noise/clipping removal tools in this process though so it wasn’t all bad. Once we had everything cleaned up we added some background sound or ‘atmos’ that I recorded to fill in the gaps, then went through and made sure everything was in sync with the visuals. Once everything was in place and sounding right we started to mix, panning most sound effects to the back, foley to their relative places in the stereo field, adding reverb and panning that to the back and doing general leveling.
Overall this project was a good learning experience, a few issues here and there but I feel it definitely contributed positively to my skills.