Unit 13 Observation Task

This task involved undertaking primary research by going out into Canterbury and recording sounds from different areas and noting how they made me feel. I did this because I wanted to explore how specific areas produce sounds that evoke different feelings and emotions and also develop my understanding of how different locations that are close together can produce different sounds as for my Final Major Project I want to do something that will create different feelings for the audience. I planned to collect the sounds from the high street and the Dane John Gardens. I also recorded sounds from some other areas to be able to get clearer sounds of cars driving past. I recorded my research using a zoom to record in the areas I wanted and also made notes of some sounds that I could hear.

The first part of this task was planning out what I wanted to do and how it will help me. I did this by answering three questions; what do I plan to observe? How will this help me? What methods will I use to document my observation?

After I had done this I went into the Dane John Gardens and recorded sounds in different areas of the gardens. I first went up to the mound and recorded the sounds of traffic going past from up there and also the wind. I then recorded sounds by the fountain and an area with trees and leaves to allow me to record the sounds produced in different areas of the gardens. The sounds from this area made me feel calm because it was quiet and I could hear nature as it wasn’t very busy.

I then walked through the high street and recorded sounds from there because this is the main area that people who are not from Canterbury will associate with Canterbury. The main recordings I got from this area were stall owners yelling to try and get customers but I also got people passing by talking and a busker playing music. I also got the sound of a fire engine driving past without its siren on. The sounds from the high street made me feel very anxious and alert because there was a lot going on and it was all very loud and frantic.

After the high street I went to the cathedral and while I was there I noted down what I could hear through the recording on the zoom and then noted down what I could hear without the zoom on to see if that had any effect. With the zoom on I was able to hear much more and in clearer detail than without the zoom. For example without the zoom I was able to very faintly hear peoples conversations if they were far away but with the zoom I could hear what they said much clearer and was able to pick out that they were speaking French. I was also able to hear seagulls more clearly when I had the zoom. In this area there was a much calmer feel as it was quiet and a lot of people were just sitting down having lunch.

Then I went to the Marlowe theater and was able to record the river flowing past as well as birds. I also recorded some people talking. This area was also calm as there were not many people and I was able to hear nature.

By doing this task I have learnt more about environments and the effect sounds can have on the mood of these environments, and also how different areas of environments could have contrasting moods based on the sounds. I think I could have gone to a wider variety of areas to get more recordings from areas that are loud and see what effect they have and also found some areas that are very different.

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Unit 12 Final Analysis Report

In this report I will be discussing the work I have done throughout the last 6 weeks for my chosen discipline, which is sound. I will be reviewing the research I have done into my discipline and analysing the experiments I have done in order to further my skills and knowledge in my discipline. I will talk about the research techniques that I have learnt and used over the course of this term. The work that I have done that I will be discussing includes the Who am I task where I was doing primary research into myself, the interview task where I was interviewed by someone else and then had to plan question to ask them as part of research practice, the task where I took a personality test to find out more about myself, research practice where I first researched skateboards and then the history of sound, my experiments in fear and sci-fi, and my practitioners report where I researched influential people in sound.

Who am I? – Research task

The first task that I did over the first couple of weeks was designed to inform me what I knew about my interests and why I am interested in them. This was part of my primary research into myself to start me thinking about what I will want to explore in the future. I started this task by creating a mind map of everything that I was interested in and why I was interested in them, then I wrote what I knew about my interests and realised that there is a lot that I do not know. From this task I learnt I am very interested in storytelling and prefer films, shows, and games that have interesting stories and characters, so I am interested in world building and I will try to explore this for my Final Major Project.

Peer Interviews – Research task

The second task that I did was designed to give me practice in planning specific questions in order to research specific information. To do this I had to think about what I wanted to know and how I could structure the questions in order to find out the information I needed. Another part of this task was me being interviewed to get me to think about what I have experienced in my life and how that has influenced me. Also this was another task to get me thinking about what I enjoy and what I might want to explore for my FMP.

Myers Briggs Personality Test

In this task we took the Myers Briggs Personality Test in order to find out more about myself and my personality as this could be helpful in my future as I would have a better understanding of what my strengths and weaknesses are which could help me with my work as I will know how I can work best and avoid becoming distracted or demotivated. The personality type I was given by the test was INFJ-T which means I am more introverted- meaning I prefer being alone and get exhausted by social interaction, intuitive- meaning I am very imaginative and open minded, feeling- meaning I am more sensitive and empathetic, judging- meaning I am highly organised and value clarity and closure, and turbulent- meaning I am self-conscious and sensitive to stress. The test results also concluded that I look for constant improvement. The strengths that I possess according to the results are that I am;

  • Creative
  • Insightful
  • Inspiring and Convincing
  • Decisive
  • Determined and Passionate
  • Altruistic

My weaknesses include being;

  • Sensitive
  • Extremely private
  • A perfectionist
  • Someone who needs to have a cause
  • Someone who burns out easily

From taking the test I have learnt that if I do not understand the reason for a piece of work I am doing I am going to be demotivated, and if I am working for a long time on a project I am going to burn out quickly and lose the energy and motivation to work on it. I can use the knowledge of these weaknesses in the future as I will work harder to understand why I am doing something and ask what the purpose is if necessary and also I can make sure that I take regular breaks to avoid burning out as quickly, which will improve the overall quality of the work that I produce as I will be more motivated to do it and have more energy for it.

Once I had taken the test for myself I got a classmate who knows me well to take it for me in order to see what other people thought my strengths and weaknesses were. The personality type they got for me was ISFP which stands for introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving. The strengths of this personality type include;

  • Being charming
  • Being sensitive to others
  • Being imaginative
  • Being passionate
  • Being curious
  • Being artistic

The weaknesses of this personality are;

  • Being fiercely independent
  • Being unpredictable
  • Getting stressed easily
  • Being overly competitive
  • Having fluctuating self esteem

From these weaknesses I know I get stressed easily and I can use this knowledge in my future work as I will be able to work on staying calm and maintaining control so that I am able to work in a better environment and then produce better work. I can also try and be less independent if I get stuck in order to receive help and improve the work that I produce, which will also help me avoid getting stressed.

Skateboard- research task

From this task I learned different research techniques that I can use on Google that will help me find specific results easier. I learnt how I can broaden my searches if I do not know exactly what I want to find out by adding an asterisk to the end of the search in order to get results that include everything related to the term. Alternatively, I could also narrow searches if I wanted to because I know exactly what I want to know and want to filter out irrelevant results that will just get in the way of what I need by using Boolean operators such as “or” and “and”. By using these I am able to find results much quicker and I can use these when I start my own project to find the information I am looking for quicker which will enable me to start practical work sooner.

My experimentation into sound

From experimenting with sound and the research I had to do in order to do the experiments I have learnt more about the tools available in Audacity and what I can do with them. I also learnt how I can manipulate voices to make them sound demonic or robotic which I could use as a part of my FMP to demonstrate my skills. I also learned how science fiction sounds have been made in the past and the different processes that were required to create each specific sound and that most of the sounds were made just by using ordinary objects. I then experimented creating sci-fi sounds using ordinary objects and learnt what sounds I can create with them through editing. I can use this knowledge in my FMP as I will know how I can edit sounds to create the sound I want and I also know what kinds of objects will make what sound. I also researched Foley and also learnt from this how ordinary objects can be used to create different sounds that will be associated with other objects, for example shaking keys can be made to sound like soldiers marching.

My own research into sound and Practitioners Report

In these tasks I researched the history of sound in film and television using the research techniques that I learned from the task where I was researching skateboards and researched two sound practitioners, Jack Foley and Ben Burtt. From doing this research I have learnt about the historical context of sound in film and TV as I discovered that the first film to contain sound that was synchronised to the actions that were happening on the screen was “The Jazz Singer” which was released in 1927 by Warner Bros. The sound for this film was recorded and played back using a Vitaphone which was hooked up to film projectors. This marked a changed for sound and films as before this the only sound that accompanied films was performed by either an orchestra hidden from the audience if the film was being played in a theatre or if it’s not a big occasion the music could be performed by someone on a piano or someone playing the guitar, so there was not many sound effects that could be produced. Also in 1927 the Foley technique was used for a film for the first time, however experiments in this technique were happening before this. This technique has been used in films ever since and has largely remained the same. I also learnt about industrial factors as I learnt about the technology that was used to record sounds when they sound was just beginning to be used and what some of the problems were, such as amplifying the sound enough for the entire audience to hear and also synchronising the sounds with the pictures. Another thing I learned about the technology at the time is that the sound equipment was big and noisy and had to be kept in a soundproof room that was known as a “blimp” to allow them to record sounds in the best possible quality and not affect the sound and action being recorded. Knowing what the technology was like at the beginning I am able to see how it has developed and understand how the processes of recording sound for films has changed and also increase my knowledge of the technology that is available for me to use and this can give me a greater understanding of what I can do with it which I can use during my FMP to allow me to try new things and possibly produce better quality sound work.

One historical and cultural factor that I learned about while writing my practitioners report was that when Ben Burtt was doing the sound design for the 2009 Star Trek film, he listened to the sound design from the original TV series and took inspirations from them and tried to recreate some of the iconic sounds, such as the warp drive, as accurately as possible so that the new films would have that connection to the originals. As the technology has advanced since the original Star Trek series sound has developed in films and there are now new techniques that can be used to record sounds and I can use my knowledge of these techniques during my FMP. I also learnt that most sci-fi films made their sounds synthetically until Ben Burtt decided to use objects to create sounds that had a material quality to them which made them sound more naturalistic to the audience.

Conclusion

To conclude the work that I have been doing for Unit 12 has taught me a lot about sound and has given me a lot of new tools and techniques that I could use during my Final Major Project. I have learnt about different contextual perspectives of sound including historical, industrial, and cultural contexts that have led to the development of sound in film and television. I can use my knowledge of these during my FMP as I will be able to talk about how they have changed and may be able to generate ideas based on the changes, for example using objects to create more natural sounds which is what Ben Burtt did when working on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. I will also be able to use the knowledge that I have gathered from ding research into sound as I now know more about the tools I can use and I know more techniques that I can use to create the sounds that I want and know how I can manipulate voices to make them sound very different from the originals. This will allow me to experiment with sound recording to attempt to create the exact sound that I want. I have also learnt about how I can research quicker by using Boolean operators to make my searches more specific or broader depending on my situation. This will help me find any information that I need quicker and enable me to do my work sooner and increase my knowledge. I can use all of what I have learnt from these tasks to start thinking of what I want to explore during my FMP and what kind of product I want to make as well as ensuring that my FMP is completed to a high standard and that it demonstrates the new skills and techniques that I have gained during the last few weeks.

Unit 12 Week 6- Practitioners Report

For this task, I was following on from my research into sound by looking at two practitioners, one early and one contemporary, from my specialist area which is sound. The early practitioner that I researched was Jack Foley as he started the Foley technique of recording sounds that has given directors a new way of recording sounds like footsteps in post-production. The contemporary practitioner I looked at was Ben Burtt as he has designed sound effects for many films including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films and has inspired other sound designers with his work, but I will mainly be looking at his more recent work for the new Star Trek films. I will be deconstructing some of their work and looking at the materials they used, and the processes and techniques they used to create their work. I will also be discussing the biography and history of them and their work.

Jack Foley

Jack Foley was born in 1891 and was a pioneer in the field of sound effects in film. Foley had many jobs throughout his life, including, being an accountant, a cartoonist, a stunt man, and a film director as well as some others. However it was while he was working as an assistant director for Universal, who were under pressure after Warner Bros released “The Jazz Singer” that he came up with the idea of gathering people to record sounds like clapping or cheering. This became known as the “direct to picture” or “Foley” technique. There had been sound effects in some films before Foley, however he developed the best way to make them work as a small team was able to create the effects, match them with what was happening on screen and record it all on one reel. This made it very easy to record sound effects. It has been reported that Foley would be able to recreate the sound of three people walking together using his own feet and a cane.

One of the most famous examples of Jack Foleys work is from the film “Spartacus”. For a scene involving an army marching into battle the director, Stanley Kubrick, was not happy with the sound from the location and was planning to send the crew back out to record the scene again, but Jack Foley was able to save the time and money that would have cost and did the sounds using Foley. He managed to recreate the sound of the army marching using his feet and used keys in front of a microphone to create the sound of their armour and weapons moving as they marched. He was able to authentically recreate those sounds, that without him would have cost the studio thousands to reshoot, just by using his knowledge of what they should sound like and improvising how he would be able to make them.

Jack Foley has influenced me as now that I have learnt about Foley I really want to do more of it and I am always wondering about what sounds I could create with different objects when I have been doing my sound experiments and how I could incorporate Foley into my FMP.

Ben Burrt

Ben Burtt was born in 1948 and has been the sound designer on many famous and successful films, such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, which have won him four Academy Awards. During his career he has created iconic science fiction sounds including R2-D2’s voice, the hum of the lightsabres, and Darth Vader’s breathing. He “singlehandedly redefined the sounds of science fiction and other film lore by utilizing organic material such as film projectors, guy wires, and walruses to engineer authentic-sounding science fiction sounds”. Before his work in the first Star Wars film, sci-fi movies relied on electronic sounding effects to use for futuristic devices, but Ben Burtt wanted more natural sounds that would make the audience believe they were authentic. For example, he made the lightsabre hum from a film projector combined with feedback from a broken television, which he thought to do after a microphone picked up the feedback. It is because of his work pioneering sound design that modern sci-fi films sound the way they do and why he was sought out to work on the Star Trek films. One of Ben Burrt’s most subtle sound effects is the use of an “audio black hole”. In the film “Attack of the Clones” Burrt adds a short period of absolute silence into the film right before the detonation of a “seismic charge”. This was done to make the following explosion more prominent for the audience. He recalls his influence for this as from a talk with a retired sound editor.

For his work on the Star Trek films Burrt wanted to create new sounds that sounded similar to the ones from the original series and so created his sound effects in very similar ways as they were originally made. To recreate the sound of the Enterprise Warp Drive he thought about how it would have been made and then tried to do that himself by using the same equipment. He used a test oscillator and put it through a plate reverb chamber as he believed that was how the sound was originally made and he wanted a similar musical tone that would change pitch. To create the sound of the transporter he did something a bit different to the original series as the transporter in the film isn’t exactly the same, so he made the sound for it using bar chimes and adding a lot of reverb.

Ben Burrt has influenced me as he has changed the way science fiction sound effects are created and I enjoyed creating sound effects using ordinary objects and then manipulating them to get them to sound like something sci-fi and I want to do more work like that in the future and keep trying to create sounds for any genre just by using objects that I can easily find.

From this task I have learnt much more about two people who have both made a difference to the sound industry and how sound effects are made. I have also learnt how these individuals produced some of their most well-known works and how I am able to do similar things with the tools I have available which has given me ideas for what I could do for my FMP. I can use what I have learnt from this task in my FMP as I now have ideas as to how certain sounds can be made and if I need to make any of these sounds or sounds similar to them I will already have an idea of how I can start to make them and then I can develop that and experiment so that I can create the perfect sounds for what I require.

 

References

Anon, (n.d.). Ben Burtt answers questions about sound design of Star Wars. [online] Available at: http://filmsound.org/starwars/starwars-AQ.htm [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Buchanan, K. (2015). You’ll Never Guess How the Dinosaur Sounds in Jurassic Park Were Made. [online] Available at: http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/how-the-dino-sounds-in-jurassic-park-were-made.html [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Isaza, M. (2009). Independent SFX libraries. [online] Available at: http://designingsound.org/2009/09/septembers-featured-ben-burtt/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Isaza, M. (2009). VR audio resources. [online] Available at: http://designingsound.org/2009/11/ben-burtt-and-the-sound-design-of-indiana-jones/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Kunkes, M. (2017). From the Guild : MORE SOUND TREKKING WITH BEN BURTT. [online] MPEG. Available at: http://www.editorsguild.com/FromTheGuild.cfm?FromTheGuildid=68 [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Turdiman, D. (2017). The sounds of ‘Star Trek’: This man makes them happen. [online] CNET. Available at: https://www.cnet.com/uk/news/the-sounds-of-star-trek-this-man-makes-them-happen/ [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Viers, R. (2008). The sound effects bible: How to create and record Hollywood style sound effects. United States: Published by Michael Wiese Productions.

Wilson, M. (2015). How Ben Burtt designed the sounds of Star Wars. Co.Design. [online] Available at: https://www.fastcodesign.com/3045177/how-ben-burtt-designed-the-sounds-of-star-wars [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

 

References

Hrsto, H. (2016). Professional development analysis Jack Foley and Ben Burtt. [online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/HrvojeHrsto/professional-development-analysis-jack-foley-and-ben-burtt [Accessed 1 Mar. 2017].

LoBrutto, V. (1994). Sound-on-film: Interviews with creators of film sound. United States: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Punter, J. (2017). Jack Foley – Film’s unsung hero. [online] Filmsound.org. Available at: http://filmsound.org/foley/unsung-hero.htm [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

says, M. (2006). Jack Foley and the art of sound. [online] Available at: http://irishamerica.com/2012/01/jack-foley-and-the-art-of-sound/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

WILLIAMS, O. (2015). The secrets behind 44 classic cinema sound effects. [online] Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/cinema-sound-secrets-foley-artist/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Yewdall, D. and Yewdall, D. (2011). Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound. ed. United States of America: Focal Press.