Sunday, 11 January 2015

Soundscape: First Creations

    The first drafts for my Soundscape audio are complete. It was interesting tweaking sound files to make new sounds but I am unsure about the final feel. I suppose partially because this project was quite brief - 3 30-second videos that portray some kind of ambient or active sound. So overall the outcomes were not that complicated. I probably had the most fun making 1 and 3. I had to compress the renders a lot in order to upload them to the blog as at full resolution (1440 x 1080 pixels) the video files measured 1GB in size on my hard drive. I made half a dozen test renders in order to find out what settings I could compress my videos down to although I wonder if I could have simply reduced the number of frames as I learned from mu Maya classes that the 1GB file at 25 frames per second contains 750 instances of the same image repeated over the video.

    Presumably since the images are there for visual association I might be able to escape with cutting down the mumber of frames. Experiences with framerate lulls in video games have taught me that sound and visuals can potentially run separate to each other; for example I have noticed when framerates hit 20 or 15fps for a game designed to run on at least 30, animation and sound for in-engine cutscenes would desync, leading to characters mouthing silently for a second or two after they should have finished speaking as even when framerates drop t oas low as ten per second, the span of the sound file being played does not change..
    I think what I loved about the work on the audio for picture 1 was the vividness I had in my head, so it was one of the easiest to visualise. The moment I saw it I instantly imagined this underwater world. So my head was swimming with bloops, churns and that general echoing ambience you have whenever you submerge yourself in water. It was very fun to make. I was pleasantly surprised with myself that the echoing noise heard thoughout came from recording the overhead ventilation on the lower 3rd floor. Admittedly I didn't exactly go too far out with this one; the "gloop"ing and the sloshing heartbeat came from me messing about with a water bottle.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, this one was made bu trying out various bristling noises. I got an interesting sound from sorting dried spaghetti and I also tried rubbing the bristles of a toothbrush. with my finger to see what sound came out. Perhaps this one could do a bit of improvement with the scratchign being more gradual.

    The final soundscape was another interesting creation. I recognised these as viruses so I had no idea what sound could be associated with them. I had thought about pollen so I considered brushing noises. The ambient hum was acquired from another ventilation system, this time an extractor fan behind a door. I thought it gave a nice spacey echo as at the scale of viruses water and space become less distinguishable (if that makes any sense, viruses are measured in nanometres and can be as small as being only twice the width of a single DNA sequence). It was drowned out by the hum but I had also managed to include a stationary bus engine as an initial ambient noise before including the louder hum.

    Overall, despite a few hiccups I have enjoyed this project. But there must be more to do as it feels very brief. Perhaps trying to improve these soundtracks.


  1. Hi Mark,

    Yes, the project's not over yet! :)

    These clips are good starting point, but for me at the moment, they are lacking... something. I would like to say a narrative, but I'm not sure that's the right word... For example, image 2 to me has a creeping feeling, but at the moment, your soundscape is pretty uniform, without a feeling of movement. Maybe you need to look at a way to introduce some tension....

  2. Hey Mark - I've been excited by your excitement and hands-on approach to this project - but yes, there's so much more here to investigate! These are like your first thumbnails - you've got them out, you've got them done and you've learned a lot, but there's more thinking and playing and finessing and conceptualising ahead of you. In terms of digging a little deeper into the realms of sound design, I suggest you start to think of your images as a 'key frame' in a 30 second sequence; take image 1, for example; those orange cascades/squirms - is this image the beginning of an invasion of them? Is this the moment before a bigger explosion or emission, and if so, how might you design that build up from 'less' to 'more', from 'quite' orange and squiggly to 'very' orange and squiggly. Try and think in a sequential way - so not only must you go deeper, you need to go longer too! These soundscapes need to be masterpieces in miniature - with every nuance cultivated, refined and earning its keep!

    1. I might be thinking too literal again. As for image 3 I had trouble looking beyond "viruses" so I wrapped myself up into thinking "how do I give viruses sound"

      I also found myself treating these as ambient pieces, which now I realise is probably the wrong way of looking at it as it deprives the pieces to a form of narrative and instead keeps them at a level where they only work best if they are added to something else. I will consider looking at the pictures as key frames for future compositions. I have a healthy number of sound files to look at so surely there must be something within my archives that I can manipulate to add to or refine what I have.