New Schedule, New Routine | What have I been up to?

Welcome back, me! It's been way too long, and I was luckily reminded by Liam (not the one you're thinking of) my new friend at work (He's an avid reader). That I need to get back into the swing of things. Although starting this new job has been a shock to my sound system, I can say it's been refreshing not having to worry about money. This audio stuff won't pay for itself you know...well not yet anyway. 

In the middle of this mid-tri mayhem, i've been working on two games projects. The first is sound design for a radio in a kitchen, that has allowed me to go through my portfolio and find a creative way to get the best of my work out there. I've made cuts of all my previous work, and sampled it amongst some recently recorded dialogue that I helped Jackson and Yasmin record in the Neve. The second game and my main project for the end of the trimester, is set in a prison cell, which sees two inmates reminisce about their past lives.

While not blogging for the past 3 weeks, i've challenged myself to remain present in both my new role and at SAE. It has been hard, but of course, I never go into things like this without a plan. At the beginning of this trimester I focused almost entirely on my project management and it paid off. I finished my first project with no hassle, and feel as though with all this noise happening, I can handle it. Not to say it will be easy, but keeping my eyes on the prize has never felt so important. Now that's out of the way, let me discuss what i'm doing at the moment, and what I want to get done before the Tri finishes. 

Radio Show Sound Design

This idea came from the guys in bachelor of game design for their inter-discipline project. They wanted a radio that was on the fritz, so I thought I could be a bit sneaky and slide my work into the project in a creative and interesting way. I originally intended to recreate the same effect that features on the album 'Songs for the Deaf' by 'Queens of the Stone Age'. Even though it was for a game, I decided to use Pro Tools as the DAW rather that FMOD, as the I had originally intended for the show to be one long track. After showing the track to the game designers, they loved it, but had some changes in mind to fit the narrative in the story as the game changes. The changes I will need to make will include placing the dialogue into FMOD and having it trigger on various instances within the game. 

In the interest of those reading, and for the love of art, here is the demo I created that if you have 7 min is worth a listen. 

How It Was Done

Editing

In order to capture the sound of a real transistor radio, I needed believable edits, that followed a believable flow. To do this, I randomised the placement of my samples, that included various music I had produced, dialogue recorded by the team and a sample that I captured off YouTube. To back this up, I had a sample of an oscillating transistor radio and white noise spike that worked together to fade the samples in and out and also keep the track busy in the background. Below is a screenshot of the placement of the audio tracks, along with an automated volume that works the whole way through the oscillating radio track. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 4.22.21 pm.png

Mixing

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 4.32.34 pm.png

After everything was organised, I got straight into the mix, and decided it would be better to keep things really simple and only use EQ and Compression on my main busses. As you can see on the Radio, Music and Dialogue busses I compressed them first. This was to ensure that everything going into my print bus was at an even level and could be attenuated once the sound had arrived at the print bus. 

 

A Good Choice of Microphones Is Mixing Too!

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.32.38 pm.png

The session was mostly clean sounding, thanks to my two favourite mics the Electro Voice RE-20 and Copperfone. I decided on these microphones at the start of the session because I knew it was a shortcut to a great result. The Copperfone already had a great radio sound, which I often compare to the microphone in The Kings Speech or The War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Wells. That sound to me, is the sound of radio, no matter how much they try to make it clean and booming, but we still needed a modern day sound in there, so we also used the RE-20. It was great at capturing the softly spoken dialogue of Ethan (Game Programmer), who I suggested read a book in the live room to add more asset variety to the show and to keep on the theme I had originally hoped to achieve with QOTSA's 'Songs for the Deaf'. Along with this choice of microphones I EQ'd the sound on the way through the Neve Custom 75 Console with the 1073 Pre-amp EQ's. I found an expenential difference in the sound, when I adjusted the high end above 10k which added more brightness and clarity to the dialogue. I have no images of this, but intend to research these pre-amps more and perhaps write about it in future blogs. 

EQ, Compression and Noise-Reduction

The compression I placed on the print bus is heavy, however for the purposes of trying to get all sounds to come to the same level, this was something I thought necessary. I used a 23.3:1 Ratio with a -34dB Threshold, this ensured all the quiet sounds I had throughout the track came right up to meet the overly loud ones. This would normally be out of bounds for me when mixing a frshly recorded track, but because I was creating a new track from tracks I had recorded at various times for various purposes, I felt I needed to. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.35.22 pm.png

I used the EQ on the print bus to brighten up the high frequencies with a 10k shelf at around 2.4dB to introduce some brethiness in the dialogue, which was my way of helping the narrative of the story, and adding more clarity by raising the gain at around 3Khz. I acheived a nice believable sound that complimented the ocsillating transistor sample that had been placed in the background. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.35.38 pm.png

Perfect timing, I just recently received the RX Voice De-Noise from Isotope as a Pro Tools promo, and found the perfect situation to use it. What situation? you might ask, not as bad as Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino, but still bad. I used this plugin to clean up some of the sounds that had been recorded in the dialogue that had too much bleed or buzzing noise. I used the plugin on adaptive mode, and was able to increase the threshold and reduce the noise with ease. It was a really vital plugin for this situation, because it allowed me to take out frequencies that were too difficult to take out with an ordinary EQ. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.48.12 pm.png

What's Next?

I have these two projects to get finished by the end of this week, then I'm going to throw a microphone into the sea. That's right, the sea. It won't stay there though. It's a simple durability test. Now that I have found my groove again, I plan to keep this blog consistent, and to maybe even do a few videos, that will see me enter the insane world of vlogging. In my next blog i'm going to discuss the music behind my main project, Parole and will talk about how much I miss working in the studio with bands. 

 

References

Copperphone. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.placidaudio.com/products/copperphone/

Custom Series 75. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.customseries75.com/site/

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf Radio Banters. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7kfXG2d6BI

The King's Speech - Colin Firth as King George VI (Britain enters World War Two). (2018). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxew7HJS_Zo

"War of the Worlds" 1938 Radio Broadcast. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzC3Fg_rRJM

Wilkins, B. (2018). RE20 Broadcast Announcer Microphone w/ Variable‑D by Electro‑Voice. Retrieved from https://www.electrovoice.com/product.php?id=91

Stephen Rumph