In the last few months some “freelance” opportunities have presented themselves, both in and out of SAE. I will reflect on learning outcomes and try to define what my creativity is and how I use it.
The projects I've been involved in include a short animation film, video game app, 9 piece soul band recording, hip hop track production and a recording and a audio visual project being showcased later in the year at the Australian National Gallery in September.
The animation film “Rock and Diamond” goes for 2 min 30 secs. It’s a love story between two characters. My job was lead sound designer and created the sound effects for all the different components like the: voice over for the Rock character, lots of diamond and glass sound effects, footsteps, atmospheric sounds like the daytime ambiance and wind, lots of earth sounds for rocks tumbling and breaking etc etc
This was a fun project but I underestimated to attention to detail and hours needed to fill the animation with sound effects. Most of the sounds were created from home recordings layered with effects and synthesizers. Some designs included hitting glassware with various objects, garden pick hitting rocks, throwing rocks at other rocks, recording a Tyre rolling on dirt (engine off) and general gravel type noises. In terms of creativity I had an open book and was only limited by my imagination. I define my creativity for this project as “playing it safe” and not going to extreme with fx. I think this was mainly due to having little to no direction from the animators. Having more vision from different people could have benefited this project.
Next up is the video game app which is not released yet. I created around 60 sound designs (some may be used for another game) which involved heroes attacking, defending, healing and using spells to try and kill the opponent/s. This app was put together relatively quickly in order to test the market and provide feedback on industry. The overall theme is that it’s a gem based game like Candy Crush but involves heroes that fight one another. The game play involves being more strategic and making good gem lines in order to progress. I found this process of sound design a really good outlet for my creativity and I enjoy listening back of what I achieved on them thus far. Once again I am finding my creativity sometimes hindered by my own imagination. What I envision can be totally different to the developers vision. Lesson learnt: my creativity is not always as good as I think. I see myself as highly creative but you can’t get complacent on that fact. Getting feedback and comparison is a great reality check which lets you know where your standards are at.
The 9 piece soul band recording for “Andrea Marr and the Funky Hitman” was part of a mentor ship program where I was to help relatively new students carry out a recording session. I was emailed the session plan late the night before and had no time to prepare. Come recording day decisions had to be made on the fly and quickly. The guys I was mentoring hadn’t used the recording space or control room before, in fact I had never carried out a recording session in that studio but I had used the console and gear somewhat. The pressure was on as the lead artist was paying the session musicians a lot of money to be there. With only a 10-4 slot and an expectation of four recorded tracks it was a tough day. By the time we hired out the gear for the day, set up 20 odd mics, line checked and started the first song it was already 1 pm. There was a lot of confusion setting up the headphone mixes for the artists and we had to isolate a loud earth hum in the system. The biggest problem with the headphone mixes were that we only had two separate ones and we ran into the problem of affecting each other's volumes when trying to satisfy another artist. This was a costly exercise which stressed the musicians and they lost faith in our abilities. Once the ball was rolling and we had a couple tracks down I started to take a backwards step and let the guys I was mentoring take control. Prior to this point I had to take control of the day. The only creativity here was choosing the best places and mic for a live recording with loud instruments like the brass trio, drums and guitar amp. I would define my creativity as “rushed but necessary to get the job done.” If I had my time again I would recommend they book a longer studio session, plan it way earlier and get some prior knowledge about the studio they would be working in. I felt as though I had been thrown under the bus on that one. All in all the recordings still turned out good and I've since sent through some mixes to the band which they seemed happy with. Examples of audio will be coming soon.
I’ve talked about the hip hop production in an earlier blog so I will skip over that one. I can define my creativity during the production as heavily influenced by industry and social behaviors.
For the project known as the “Nervous Recording” I was assisting the head Engineer in 2.5 days of recording in the live sound stage at SAE South Melbourne. My job was to help find some sweet spots for microphones in places such as: High and low strings on the concert grand piano, xy stereo room mic, omni directional mono room mic, omni directional ensemble room mic and spot mics for the clarinet, violin and vocals.I really enjoyed testing different mics and positions on the piano, the smallest shift meant a completely different sound. My favorite mics were the xy placed really high up (mic stand on a table) pointed at all instruments keeping in mind stereo balance. This was as far as I could get creatively and the remaining session was more technical. This was a great chance to observe great musicians, composers and a great head engineer. The professionalism was like no other session I've been involved in making is something to aspire to.