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  1. Reflective Journal for Audio Project 2

    May 7, 2013 by Andrew Kettle

    For my final project I collaborated with media production students to produce a short film. We decided to choose this as our semester b project because we believed we worked well as a group in our Sound for Visual module in level 2. I thought this project was most suitable for me due to my skills into the audio recording process and my future career aspirations. I am currently undergoing work experience producing sound for a feature length film. I felt i could use the skills that i have learnt through this work experience process, as well as my skills learnt through University, to produce a high quality sound track for a film production. I am highly interested into the process of recording sound for film and i believe this has been reflected on the outcome of the final film.

    I believe on a whole I worked well with the media production group. At first we had some communication issues which in turn, caused disagreements and arguments between the group. For example, arranging meet ups, booking locations and creating logs for each week of production. The use of social networking was important in terms of communication within the group. A simple group was setup where each group member could post their thoughts and opinions on the project as well as arranging meetings and posting any relevant material needed for the project. These consisted of call sheets, shot logs and many other vital information. I worked well with the film director and editor in liaising with them each week with constant updates on the project. Constantly speaking to the director throughout the film process meant i could obtain a stronger understanding of the outcome he wanted from the film. I gained understanding of  how he wanted the audience watching to perceive the film production. From knowing this information, it helped me in carrying out each location shoot with more confidence in what sounds needed to be captured in order to meet the directors guidelines. I noticed whilst producing sound for our film that the research I had studied could easily be applied to the professorial practices being carried out. Some of these for example are microphone placements which came naturally without much thought. Without undergoing research prior to each shoot, a different outcome would of been apparent.

    The location recording stage of the project went really well. This was also an enjoyable process which gave me a further insight into the long, strenuous process a location shoot can be. Working within a group as well as independently played a big part in the success of the location recording. Myself and my group were disappointed with the sound of the Marantz recorder. This was because of the sound of the pre amps in the Marantz which impacted the overall audio quality. We borrowed an SQN 5 Channel location mixer from Ronald Fowler, a University lecturer. The SQN mixer made a huge difference on the quality of the dialogue recording. This was due to the better pre amps inside the SQN. Research into using the SQN mixer was needed prior to using the equipment. This was to prevent any problems with routing the equipment. Problems that arose during our location recording consisted of sound recording restrictions and equipment failure. Due to some of the camera angles used in ‘April’, the boom had to be positioned in inconvenient places so it was out of shot. This affected the sound which we could capture for certain shots due to the distance the microphone was away from the actor. We rectified this by recording the audio on different camera angles. Another way this could of been resolved would be to use different sized boom poles to position the microphone closer to the actor who was speaking. Radio mics is another possibility to rectify this problem, which i will bear in mind if ever completing another project with similar occurrences. The other problem that occurred on the location shoots was equipment issues. Whilst recording our opening bar scene in the originally decided Home bar (which was later re-shot in Engine Shed) a switch on the Marantz was accidentally changed. This switch was what determined if the Marantz recorded at line level, or mic level. Due to us using the SQN as our location mixer, the Marantz needed to be on line level else the signal would be amplified again by the pre amps inside the Marantz. This meant that when the audio was played back, it was incredibly distorted and unusable. Luckily, due to overly loud external background noise which was out of our control, this scene was scheduled for a re-shoot. This problem occurred because of a lack of planning between both myself and Ash and the media production group. To prevent this problem happening in future productions, I would test the Marantz level as well as checking the switches are correct during each location shoot.

    The post production stages of our project went really well with good co-operation between myself and the media production group. I really enjoyed recording the ADR recording for our project. This was because i have not recorded much ADR before this film and it was an insight into this industry process. If this process is done correctly, it can improve the overall sound of the dialogue greatly in the final mix. The foley recording was recorded to a very good standard. The foley sounds are very subtle in the mix which gives the impression to the audience that they have not been added in during the post production stages of the film. I have learnt that when recording foley, it is best to act as the actors are in the film to capture the sounds. This gives a greater sense of realism to the foley sounds that are recorded.

    In conclusion i am very pleased with the outcome of the sound work to our film. I believe many of my skills have improved for example, my communication, time management and understanding of the film process. From working with media production students means i have learnt that i have to work to not only my own schedule, but also other members in the film groups schedules as well. My understanding of the film process has increased due to working with different equipment other than audio equipment. They will benefit me in my chosen career path in working within the film industries as a sound recordist. This project has opened my eyes to all the processes within film productions and given me more experience in working under pressure to deadlines.

  2. The Final Mix

    May 7, 2013 by Andrew Kettle

    Today the sound for ‘April’ was completed and mixed ready for the final movie export. Due to booking complications with the sound theater, the final mix of the audio was done at my home studio set up. When we were using the sound theater for our pre production we were using blue sky 5.1 speakers, in a 2.1 setup. At my home we were using KRK Rokit RP8 studio monitors to mix the movie. We listened back at first to the full audio with the visuals. From listening to the movie through studio monitors we noticed several noises in certain atmosphere and dialogue tracks which we did not previously hear on the sound theater speakers. This meant we had to amend the noises by either laying tracks over them to cover the noise up, or dip the volume to mute the noise in the audio.

    In the final mix of the audio we automated fade ins, pan changes and bus sends. From making subtle changes to each track the overall mix began to sound more realistic to accompany the visuals. We used fade ins and outs to link atmospheres to different scenes and to control the volume of the music tracks. We used pan changes to automate some foley sounds which go off center camera and are off screen. For example, the keyboard that Issac is typing on in scene 7. The camera pans round to April entering into the room but the sound of Issac’s keyboard typing continues but pans the opposite way to the shot. This adds realism to the visuals and adds greater ambience to off screen sound.

    The director of ‘April’ watched the film with the final mix of the audio, and was very pleased to the standard and the placement of the audio that had been inserted. This means we can export the final mixdown for the editor to burn down to a DVD ready for submission.

    The Final Mix Setup

  3. Fourth Studio Session

    May 5, 2013 by Andrew Kettle

    In the fourth studio session we went back over the whole movie from start to finish. We did this to analyse all the sound that had been inserted into the film and checked to see whether it was all in sync. We noticed when watching it back that some dialogue tracks did not sit well with other tracks in some scenes due to slight syncing issues to the pronunciation of words. To resolve this we swapped the audio file for another take which was recorded with a slightly different pronunciation. This made the audio sit better with the visuals. Due to time restrictions in the sound theater and booking complications, the last studio session was much shorter than the others. For the remainder of studio time we kept doing checks over each scene to correct any problems and began to mix the levels for each of the tracks. This session was not as productive as our previous sessions due to time restrictions. This has impacted in the scheduled timescale plan we set ourselves to meet for each week, which backlogs us for the next session.

  4. Third Studio Session

    May 4, 2013 by Andrew Kettle

    We have finished our third studio session. The aim for today’s session was to finalise any foley and atmospheres that we had decided to alter or change and source and insert the music into the film. After watching the film over again we noticed parts where more foley and atmospheres were needed to add realism to the visuals. We decided to add in some off screen sounds which created a more realistic ambience to the picture. The off screen sounds were for example, keys being put down, computer keyboard typing and various coffee machine sounds.

    To source the music for ‘April’ we had to use copyright free music. This was due to licencing issues in using copyright recorded music in our film. To search for this music we used Creative Commons which sources music in the public domain. We wanted to keep the emotion strong within the film music which narrowed down what genres of music to search for. Apart from the bar scene and the cafe nero scene, the music present has been selected in terms of instrumentation and genre to fit with the visuals correctly. For example, during the couples break up a sad piano track plays which enhances the emotion of sadness. An example of the music track is posted below.

    Piano music track

    An example of a music track which we chose not to use is posted below. This track was going to be in the restaurant scene. We decided not to use this track because we all thought it sounded to comical for the narrative behind the scene. The scene is showing how April and Issac are having their anniversary meal in a restaurant.

    Example of a music track not used in the restaurant scene

    Two of the tracks which were used in ‘April’ were composed by a musician who is a friend of mine. He gave us permission to use his music because it would also increase his own exposure by having his tracks included in a film production.

    Music List

    The music was the most difficult to add to the film. This was because it was difficult to keep the emotion behind each scene without making the music too loud. The sound has been placed quieter in certain scenes to act as if the sound is being emitted from within the location, and not music over the top of the visuals. This was done by using reverb sends on the music tracks to make them sound distant and lower in the mix.

  5. Second Studio Session

    April 27, 2013 by Andrew Kettle

    As ADR was finished last week we can now move onto the foley and atmospheres for ‘April’. The foley recording went really well with brilliant progress. We had no problems in regards to recording our foley sounds, however the MAC was a little temperamental at times with hardware issues. A few restarts and everything back to normal. We went through the film spotting the foley points prior to beginning to record the sounds. This meant we could work down the list of foley and know exactly at what time and scene each part of foley was needed. In the foley recording process we covered all areas of foley for example, clothes movement, footsteps, light switches glasses etc.

    After completing foley recording, we moved onto the atmospheres for each scene. Whilst location recording we gathered room tones for each recording location. This meant when we are mixing we can use it to fill in the parts of digital silence during sections of dialogue. As well as using the room tones for atmopsheres, we used several library sourced atmospheres for ambience in the bar scene and restaurant scene for example. We noticed that using certain atmospheres in some scenes can create the feel of the time of day the film is set in. This is used for example in scene 6 of ‘April’. The scene is set in the morning as the couple Issac and April wake up. To portray to the audience that the scene is set at this time. Birds are added low in mix to resemble early morning bird calls. The atmosphere used is posted below.


    Birds and morning atmosphere


    Foley Recording



    Foley and Atmosphere Recording