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’ve talked about how sound is a physical event. This week, I was scanning through a little notebook I’ve kept of these types of ideas over the past 5-7 years, and I came across another little idea that sparked a thought for this week’s post.
“Sound has mass.”
Sound requires a medium to travel through. Most of the time, that’s air…though it can obviously be water, metal pipes, etc. While sound is in these mediums, it has mass…sort of. The feel of that kick drum when piped through a concert’s sound system is a great example. You feel that pressure wave hit you, rattle your chest. Air has mass, and it moves you. Sound is what moves the air. This isn’t really what I wanted to focus on this week. It’s just a necessary tangent for me.
The question that was bouncing around in my head this week, is how can we represent that physicality of sound in a film or game? There’s the clichéd bleeding ears shot, and there’s also this idea of “contact hearing” that I posted about only a few weeks ago. Those are two, and I’m sure there are plenty of others. The realization came that it’s necessary to have appropriate imagery to support the representation of a sound’s physical nature. This means buy in from the director.
Is there a moment in your project where the story could be bolstered by the display of the physical effects of sound? Have you spoken to your director or game designer about how it could, and what sort of visual would be needed to convey it?
This is probably evident to a lot of people, but your boss has a huge impact on how good your project sounds. I’m talking about the director, or the game designer. If you want to get any of your ideas into the project, you have to get them to buy off on it. This is probably an obvious statement, but how often do we remind ourselves of it? MPSE does an awesome job of honoring those directors who appreciate what good sound brings to their films. Kudos to them! Without the support of the boss, even the most skilled sound professionals will have a hard time contributing their best work. It goes deeper than that though.
I can clearly remember the first time I realized how important that top level boss is to making an awesome sounding design or mix. I remember hating that specific idea my boss wanted me to do…not try, do! It was an order. I remember the first time I realized that the problem wasn’t the request, but my approach to that request. That moment changed the way I did everything ever since. If we want our ideas entertained, we need to entertain the ideas of others.
Of course, that’s not to say that every idea that comes down (or goes up, mind you) is a good one, but there at least might be the kernel of a good one buried somewhere underneath.
In a recent post on the blog over at A Sound Effect, Asbjoern Andersen interviews long-time animation sound pro Jeff Shiffman of Boom Box Post. They discuss Jeff’s workflow and approach to sound design, as well as the specific challenges and successes he had working on numerous animated shows. Take a look at the interview here.
Cities and Memory: Oblique Strategies, a recent collaboration between sound artists, musicians, and field recordists from across the world, was released earlier today. The project brought these sound artists together to create new musical remixes of field recordings from around the world, using Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies cards as guideposts for their creations. It features recordings from locations across 19 countries, and involved 63 contributors, including Designing Sound’s own Berrak Nil Boya. Some of the pieces can be heard currently at the website, and an album of highlights will be released later this month on the Cities and Memory bandcamp.
Image by The Presler Project, used under a Creative Commons license. CLick image to view source.
Guest Contribution by April Tucker
Last year, I got one of the weirdest compliments I’ve ever heard: “You’re a real unicorn!” I was working with a mixer who I had recently met (but was an established mixer), and he looked at me in amazement as I asked questions about his workflow. “I’ve heard of Lora Hirschberg and Anna Behlmer, but I’ve never met a female mixer. I’m sorry I’m so taken aback, but I really didn’t think someone like you existed,” he said.
When I heard that the Designing Sound guys were stepping aside this month for women contributors, I thought it was a great chance to say, “Hey look! There’s actually a lot of real unicorns!” Except… it’s been pretty silent. I asked a few women who I thought might be interested, and one woman (who I highly respect) said, “I would rather not address our industry when my invitation is based on my gender. I look forward to writing based on the knowledge and expertise that I can offer as an equal member of the industry.”