Critical analysis

for this unit i had to develop a bank of sounds to be used in my interactive narrative while also demonstrating my knowledge of the technological aspects of sound equipment, software, and my capability of using it.

It started off well, i had identified what sounds i needed for my game and got some advice on what equipment would be most suitable for the job. it eventually came down to the fact that since i was recording sound from specific sources as well as using foley, i would need a micro phone that was sensitive (so some form of condenser microphone) but at the same time need to find a way to reduce background noise from having an effect on my recordings, Dartmoor can get rather windy after all. taking all of this into account i eventually managed to rent out:

  • a tascam sound card
  • an ME-66 shotgun microphone
  • an XLR cable
  • and a deadcat (a fluffy object that slide on top of the microphone to reduce “popping” and interference from the wind)

recsched

Originally i was supposed to get a myriad of sounds between jan 17th-20th which included rustling leaves, streams, birdsong, footsteps and ambient chattering of people to add to the depth of my games environments.

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances i as unable to leave the house for the entirety of that following week due to illness. which left me missing a considerable amount of ambient outdoor sounds.

Upon returning on the 24th i managed to book out the equipment until then end of the day and use various items around to college site to use for foley and in the end managed to gather some sounds to use in my artefact.

My next task was to clean up the sounds and get them ready to be used in my game.

After importing all of my sounds, the first order of business was to cut out the parts i wanted to use for the final assets, which was easily done by using the snipping tool to isolate the part i wanted and delete the rest.

Once all the unwanted parts of the tracks were cut away the sounds were ready to be exported to be used for the game.

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Next i began working on the soundtrack for each of the levels. after recording the basic notes, i used a synth called “alchemy” and experimented with some of the settings. After a while i discovered a voice that i was happy with, i set the reverb to maximum ad bought the release up to around 50% which gave my theme a slow, ethereal feel. perfect for a magical forest.

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Forest theme in development

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Upon completion my soundtrack were exported via the same method as my sounds, i am very pleased with them and the fact that they will loop in the game engine.

Logic is proving to be a very powerful program, ive only scratched the surface of the alchemy tool and am astounded that i was able to create sounds like that so easily. if i have one regret, it is that i would have been happier if my game had a few more sounds in it, especially voice acting. while i am disappointed that my environments are lacking the diegetic sounds they deserve, i am none the less hopeful that the sounds i DO have will do the narrative justice.

 

 

 

Final sounds and music for my game

recschedThe original schedule i had with a list of sounds (sound track excluded) that i had wanted to gather. what was also done (no picture available yet) was the risk assessment form for me taking the loaned equipment out to dartmoor (a moderate risk area).

audio-log

A list of the sounds i was able to gather and edit.

A playlist of all the sounds and music in my game.

A report on sound

Roland Barthes tells the narratives of the world are numberless. Among these numberless narratives lies sound, and within that, music. The use of sound within a narrative can help establish a context. A narrative is not the same thing as a story but the method in which a story is delivered. Used in coalition with the text, sound can have a variety of effects on how the the narrative is received by the end user the appropriate use of technology and delivery of sound allows them to become involved in an immersive, complex, emotional experience.

Film

This film example is of an intense fight scene from the film ‘The Matrix’ where the main character, neo, is fighting off hundreds of enemy agents. In this scene the enemy replicates itself, sending endless and unrelenting waves of foes to attack our protagonist, an otherwise hopeless and high tension situation:

Neo vs Agent Smith

However, neo while out numbered is not outmatched and is able to hold his own quite well. This leads to some sort of long, drawn out and epic battle. As such its only fitting to have appropriate sounds accompany it, in the video every hit, kick, punch and impact is delivered to us with a satisfying crunch or squish without end (aside from the occasional respite in the form of a slow motion jump or throw) which further emphasises the fast and chaotic nature of the scene as well as the ebb and flow of the characters’ position of power.

Now let’s see what happens when we change the sound composition of the scene:

Neo vs Agent Smith (banjo version)

Instantly the gravity of this scene and has been lost – the scene becomes comedic, an entirely different narrative to it’s original purpose. The removal of diegetic sound lessens the level of realism in the scene, thus a loss of immersive experience.

This next example is the music video ‘Dancing in the Street’ by David Bowie and Mick Jagger:

Dancing in the Street

The video is expressive and uplifting, the music synchronising well with the actions and words being relayed. Lip syncing is the only form of diegetic sound used. It feels real and spontaneous. Let’s take a look at the next video:

Dancing in the Street (No music)

Here, the musical overlay has been removed, and diegetic sounds have been added. With the music removed, the meaning of their movements, every twirl, kick, or pose intended to work in tandem with a beat or lyric, suddenly loses all meaning, and the result it quite comedic. What is interesting is that this is probably not too far from the truth of how it really sounded when being recorded on set. The more life-like version seems less real and more contrived than the published music video!

We can see from these examples, that sound directly affects the context of a story, and can change the narrative. Even slight adjustments influence the way an audience will perceive the text.

Animation

I’ve chosen the short animated film ‘The Lost Thing’ by Saun Tan as an interesting example of both foley and soundtrack working together to successfully create a fluid delivery of visual narrative. This animation was originally a book and it’s interesting to see how the addition of sound and movement adds another dimension to the narrative.

The lost thing

I really liked the level of detail in the foley, there was a sound created for nearly every visible action, including actions which might have gone unnoticed and/or taken for granted (for example when the boy’s hand brushes against the box in the garage, and when the lightbulbs lowered back into the ground in ‘The Department of Odds and Ends’ and their covers settled back into place). This made the experience of watching highly believable despite the surrealism of the piece. The soundtrack was quite natural (guitar/strings), and complemented the more reflective parts of the story.

In the animation ‘Nuggets’, the foley, soundtrack, and visuals contributed equally to the telling of the story and the impact of the narrative. The ending left me drawing comparisons to earlier events in the animation, how the music that played whenever the kiwi got his high gradually became slower, and more mundane; how the impacts of their coming down from the ever shortening high became less gentle, and began to have an impact on their life outside of the nuggets golden glow. At the end, the absence of music that had always been present during the kiwis’ phases of sobriety seemed more foreboding yet it’s a factor thats never changed, I would even go as far to say the the addiction to the nuggets music latched on the the viewer as well.

Nuggets

Games

The game of choice has to be journey. The music and sound effects in this game are especially important considering that the game features no combat or dialogue, meaning that the game must rely on environment and sound alone to tell a story.

What I find clever about this game is that its soundtrack is composed in a way that parts of the songs loop until the player reaches a specific point in the level, where the song will then progress into a crescendo that complements the action or scene.

This scene is an excellent example, the ambient underground music keeps playing until the chase begins. The music builds in tempo and intensity until the creatures chasing the character are thwarted by a magical barrier.

Types of microphones

What equipment to use is essential knowledge when you are recording sounds as it varies depending on the kind of sound you’re after.

Dynamic microphones

A dynamic microphone tends to be extremely robust and capable of handling high sound pressure levels, meaning it is ideal for capturing extremely loud sounds without distortion. It also requires the user to speak very closely into it, reducing the influence of background noise and making it the microphone of choice for lead singers, performers and reporters in high sound environments such as stadiums or concerts. The microphones renowned durability lies with its inner components, consisting of a diaphragm, a coil of wire, a magnet and a transformer, the microphone has no circuitry the could be damaged due to liquid or rough handling.

Condenser microphones

While less sturdy than the dynamic microphone, the condenser microphone is capable of capturing much higher frequencies and therefore more subtle sounds. A good example of its use can be for voice acting (although a pop guard tends to be used to stop the users’ breath affecting the recording), and capturing sounds through the method of foley. This microphone works by using air waves to move the front plate back and forth from the charged black plate, altering the charge and generating the electrical signal that is sound.

While brilliant at collection rich, crisp sound, this microphone is not only very sensitive but also requires “phantom” power as to provide charge to the back plate. The power gets its “phantom” status due to the fact that these kind of microphones used to require an external power supply. It want until 1960 that this necessity was internalised via wire, making the microphones power source more or less invisible.

References

Barthes, R. and Heath, S. (1988). Image, music, text. 1st ed. New York: Noonday Press.

Cook, P. (2007). The cinema book. 1st ed. London: BFI.

Filmsound.org. (2017). Sound Design of Matrix. [online] Available at: http://filmsound.org/studiosound/post_matrix.html [Accessed 30 Jan. 2017].

Sound Hub – Powered by Shure. (2017). What is Phantom Power & Why Do I Need It?. [online] Available at: http://soundhub.audio/what-is-phantom-power-why-do-i-need-it/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2017].

Viers, R. (2012). The location sound bible. 1st ed. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions.

Yamahaproaudio.com. (2017). Microphone types | PA Beginners Guide | Self Training | Training & Support | Yamaha. [online] Available at: http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/global/en/training_support/selftraining/pa_guide_beginner/microphone/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2017].

process of sound production

First script reading

read through the scrip, let the scenario play out in your head, document any and all sound you hear (dialogue, environment, general ruckus) the more thorough the better. Also listen for non diegetic sounds, what sound effects do you hear when the scene plays out in the context of a player?

Grouping voices

group your sounds into categories, balance them out in order or importance (IE voice louder than general background chatter)

categorise/identify

Separate the sounds into: concrete, musical, and voice sounds.

Concrete sounds are sounds that fit with the diegetic, for example a clock ticking when a person looks at a watch.

musical is when that sound is played out of context for dramatic effect, for instance theres no clock yet we hear ticking begin to slow down in a time freeze sequence.

voice is pretty self explanatory, just the voice of the characters.