Audio, week 1.

We have started the introduction to broadcast module this week, and have completed a number of audio tasks. I’ve found audio quite rewarding so far, as it’s something I don’t feel fully confident in so a good chance to learn more.

The first task we had was to record the ambient sounds of rooms, and make it clear which room it was. I found this relatively easy with the bathroom and kitchen, because using water is a pretty clear indicator, but struggled somewhat with the living room audio.

In the living room, I ended up recording the radio, which wasn’t particularly helpful. It didn’t sound like an ambient sound at all, it just sounded like the radio.

I still don’t know what would have been a better ambient sound, but I think it may have been more effective to have people softly talking to each other over the low hum of the television.

A sound I felt went really well was the ‘hallway’ one. I was pretty confident about this one, because I think you can envisage easily exactly where this sound is taking place. However, I’m not really sure if it counts as an ambient sound. According to backtracks.fm, “ambient sound in relation to audio refers to the background noise present at a given scene or a location. This can include noises such as rain, traffic, crickets, birds, et cetera.”

Still, I think it is effective to place whereabouts in the house you are.

The next audio task we had was to record audio clips about Covid onto Audition, and then make them into a montage. As I ultimately want my audio package to be about people who don’t believe that Covid-19 exists, I decided to find audio relating to that.

I don’t think overall this was a good choice as it made selecting clips quite hard. There are a number of YouTube videos from news sources of anti-lockdown protesters, but interviews are sparse, most likely because it’s not a safe environment to do an interview in. Any interviews they did have were extremely difficult to hear, because of all the shouting and demonstrating in the background. This topic may be more suited to video.

I decided to start with Boris Johnson announcing lockdown, because it instantly tells the listener what this is about.

I think overall the audio is okay, but I don’t know what it would actually be useful for. I wanted initially to make something that might appear at the beginning of a podcast, or maybe a small piece about what these people believe. It’s not really suspenseful or informative enough to do either of these things.

I do believe, however, that once I begin understand Audition more these clips will turn out a lot better.

The next audio task we did was create headliners. These are small samples of audio, usually paired with some sort of image, that are generally used to promote radio or podcast shows.

I decided to use my audio from the previous task for this, as it was already put together. I quickly realised that this would need to be shortened, as my montage was 31 seconds, which suddenly seemed far too long when presented as a headliner. I cut it to 6 seconds, keeping some of Boris Johnson’s speech and a crowd chanting “freedom”.

I then struggled to provide the headliner with some context. Listening to it with just a still photo seemed to me to be somewhat lacking in meaning, and it became just a random clip of audio.

I decided to use a video instead of a photo, to make it more dynamic. I didn’t want to distract from the audio, so I used a time lapse of the houses of parliament. I think this was definitely the right choice, because it definitely adds something to the audio.

Despite this, I still found the clip rather boring. I decided to add some text other the video. I wrote “Do we trust our government?” which then transitioned to “Should we?” I felt at the time that this was a good addition, as it provided all the context necessary to the piece, and I could picture it as a promotion for some anti-lockdown podcast.

Looking at it now, however, I think it suddenly gives the headliner an angle, and an angle that I don’t agree with as well. What I want to do is explore why people don’t believe in lockdown, but here it seems like a piece about whether or not the government is lying to us about covid-19, which seems like a different topic.

I still think text is crucial to it, but maybe there were more appropriate words I could have chosen.

My last session of the week was learning audition. I found this very useful, as before I had been constricted by my very limited understanding of it. These are the key points I noted down.

Levels should peak around -12, and you don’t want a massive range of levels during one audio clip.

Sample rates are like the audio equivilant of frames per second. 44,100HZ is the industry standard for radio. 48000HZ is the industry standard for television.

There’s a couple of different ways to change the levels of an audio recording. There is a small symbol (below) which you can pull either way to either raise or lower the levels. There is also a yellow line running along tracks that you can move to change levels as well.

You can split clips with the razor if you want different effects on each piece.

I learnt more than this, but these were the key elements that interested me. In the tutorial we had a go at editing our earlier ambient nosies to create a multirack with these new tools. I didn’t find this particularly effective because they were so quiet, or distracting to the overall audio. For example, the living room audio ruined the whole thing because the focus was supposed to be my voice-over, which is hard when someone is also speaking on a radio.

After this task, I decided to keep experimenting with it to further develop my understanding.

Initially I just focused on my voice over to make it more clear and sharp. This was the original voiceover.

I cut out all the spaces between my words to make it quicker. I tried out a lot of different effects, and found that a lot of them made my voice sound quite tinny and odd. Others seemed to enhance my speech, but created a slight echo. This is how it ended up.

I’m pleased with how this turned out, I think there is a noticeable quality change. It was also effective to cut out the pauses, I think it made it sound more professional.

This is the multitrack I ended up making, it’s a little silly however enabled me to practise editing each clip and placing them together.