As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…
I was touring the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose this past Friday. The tour ended in the dining room, covered entirely in intricate wood paneling (except for portions of the floor, which were covered with area carpets). I was struck by two things. The first, how quiet the room was. Very little outside noise made it into the room; perhaps because of where the space is nestled within the house. The second was the quality of the reverberation in the space. It had very interesting characteristics that made me want to listen to the tail out of the guide, more than what she was actually saying. [Not a slight on you in any way, Olivia, the room just sounded too interesting.]
This experience reminded me of an idea that, while in no way my own, is worth repeating regularly to keep it in active memory: “Sound design starts with the recording.”
We spend so much time refining, twisting and mangling sounds after the fact, but there’s so much we can do in the capture phase. Recording space, mic choice and placement all have an enormous impact on how we use the sounds later. Frequently, we record to give ourselves the most flexibility with a sound. Sometimes, it’s worth it to forego that to see what kinds of interesting sounds we can create at the source.