13 Weeks of Learning and Experience

The past thirteen weeks have flown by as if part of a dream, but that doesn’t mean that the time spent was unimportant, simply a different kind of experience to previous time I’ve spent learning. These recent times have felt more like actual practice than anything else, not so many new techniques, or new equipment, but more learning about managing people, time and ideas. I’ve often told myself and others that I work better in small groups, and recent experiences have only enhanced this feeling, The better I know the people I’m working with the better I can manage my own actions and assertions based on what they will react positively towards, and the better I can work to their strengths and around their weaknesses. One of the other reasons I thrive in small groups is the fact I find it easier to be a leader, and something I find I’m good at is assigning tasks to play to peoples strengths, if nobody is doing things they don’t feel good at then everyone will be efficient. Obviously there are tasks which aren’t favoured by anyone but they are usually the kind of things that people understand are necessary to get through. This kind of task allocation, even though not as conducive to a learning environment where getting experience in new areas is important, works really well in real practice, people feeling appreciated and useful does wonders for morale. Compared to larger groups, which I often find impersonal and less directed, small groups are where I and many other people seem to work best. I feel like this part of the course is more based around soft-skills and the ability to know yourself, we’re expected to be proficient with the hardware and technical skills so besides more experience these slightly abstract concepts are key to progressing as a practitioner.


The first project I completed in a small group was a soundtrack for a student documentary, I really spearheaded this one and quite enjoyed working on it. I think everyone in the group made a good contribution to the final result and at least enjoyed it nearly as much as I did. The director of the film was really impressed with our work and gave us some really positive feedback. An excerpt of this soundtrack can be found below.


Next up was the mastering project, a bit more direct learning in this one but ultimately another test of working in a group effectively to get the job done in good time. I think everyone had a good grasp of all the concepts involved by the end and we produced some good-sounding masters as examples.


the third project we worked on was the tape recording, this one had many issues and we were working in a larger group so I naturally found it more difficult to get things done. Unfortunately the band we recorded had to wait a while for us to get things sorted out, but they were really great people and stayed positive so we still ended up with a great result which they even released a few days later! A link to that can be found below.



The final project was a post-production job for some students who had produced a three-part webseries. This was split between my group and another small group, so we only worked on part of the series. Recording foley and syncing were quite enjoyable here, but the mixing was an absolute handful, with the final week being very stressful as we had a lot to get done in a short time. There were faults on our part and due to the producer/director so it didn’t turn out as well as either party had hoped but it was completed to a reasonable standard on schedule.


Moving on to my freelance projects, I only completed two this trimester even though I wanted to do more, I feel like both were very successful though, and I learnt a few things in the process.

The first freelance project I worked on was a track for a friend of mine’s major project, a hip-hop EP which he has planned to write and produce. This was a lot heavier on the musical side than I expected, I was expecting just to play keyboard parts but ended up co-writing most of the piece. I found the client and I worked really well together though, and came up with some great musical ideas and a really polished product. I wasn’t too familiar with the genre so writing some parts and the whole mixing process were learning experiences, we had another student come and give us some advice during the production though, and that was really useful. Overall I really enjoyed working on this track and the client was really happy with the result. The finished piece can be found below.


The other freelance project I worked on was a soundtrack for a fairly long student film, someone I’ve worked with before was doing the post audio for it so they recommended me to create the soundtrack. They were looking for quite a droning, ambient synth-based backing and I’ve done a few successful projects like that before so it was quite comfortably within my area of expertise. The main doubt I had was to do with the length of the film, once I got the final cut I had a few days to finalise the soundtrack, and with the staggering 17 minute length of the film I had quite a bit of work to do. Despite my doubts I managed to get through it confidently and produce a quality result by the submission date and received some positive feedback from the client. I mostly learned things about my own productivity in this project, mostly that stress is my number one motivator, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up for debate but I’ve mostly found it to be useful.


And with that it’s just about wrapped up, I had a great time working with people this trimester and I’m sure the next one will be just as good.