Introduction: The problem and search for an efficient solution.
Education is a peculiar matter: every country has its own approach when it comes to designing a system that would be effective for everyone. However, in a fast-changing technological world, distinct and creative alternatives to learning have been benefiting those with socio-economic limitations. In addition to in-class lectures, for example, students are able to design their own learning methods by taking advantage of online tutorials composed of video and text formats, as well as audiobooks.
Despite the ease of access to information, it is critical to observe that foreign language countries might not have a proficient usage of English, thus limiting their reach to world- class education. Brazil, for instance, suffers from little proficiency in English: in a population of approximately 208 million (Silveira, 2017), only 5% speak a foreign language, and 3% are fluent in English (Rodrigues, 2017), as can be confirmed on Figure 1.
In this context, some questions can be considered for this study:
- Taking into account the readiness of access to information, would it be possible to bridge the gap regarding the lack of learning resources available in countries where English is not a second language?
- How can we approximate Lusophone countries, for example, to practical audio post-production education without losing the essence of knowledge diffusion?
- Which would be the requirements to fulfil this proposal and how could they be effective?
Given the issues presented above, this study entails the development of an accessible audio post-production YouTube channel, with the means to educate and entertain students and professionals across the creative industries. Here, the concept of an accessible audio education is not directed towards people with physical or mental disabilities. Conversely, it is aimed towards including those who do not have access to studying in first-world countries and/or are not fluent in the English language — within the Lusophone countries, I am addressing specifically the reality of Brazil.
Being the most watched video platform, YouTube comprise over a billion users, whose age statistics range from 18 to 49 year-olds (YouTube, 2018). In fact, watching videos on the internet was part of the routine of 69% of people watching TV in Brazil (Think with Google, 2015). Furthermore, the insertion of closed captions may result in a rise of 40% in views, as well as 80% increased likelihood that a viewer watches a video to completion (Griffin, 2018). Despite acknowledging the industry’s care for numbers, this project is determined to help students and professionals get a better, more robust insight into audio post-production. In other words, it seeks to add meaningful value instead of generating content in pursuit of overindulgent statistics. With that in mind, two surveys — one in English and one in Portuguese, as illustrated in Figure 2 —, were developed to gather precise information on why does the target audience search for audio tutorials and how do they benefit from it.
Both gave interesting results: where the former extols the response from audio professionals, the latter highlights mostly students from either film or audio post-production. The most relevant data respective to the aforementioned results comprise the participants specialisation; level of experience, preferred communication methods and average tutorial lengths, as seen in Figures 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 below.
As opposed to the English survey, more Brazilians who look for audio tutorials are specialised in film. That is beneficial for the project as the target market is not only audio professionals, but also filmmakers and video producers.
Being informed of the level of experience the target audience finds themselves in significantly aids in shaping the way I approach the tutorials.
Out of the elements illustrated in Figures 7 and 8, I have been experimenting with different approaches in regards to enthusiasm, conciseness, empathy, simplicity and tone. There are some videos where I’d talk faster or slower; calm or agitated. However, despite the communicative observations, the key element that provided significant feedback from the community was the amount of creativity put into certain videos, which I’ll go more into detail further in this text.
As for the average video length, each tutorial is somewhat longer or shorter then its peers, although within five to eight and a half minutes, which is a reflection on the majority of the votes, as demonstrated in Figure 7. I have disregarded the Portuguese survey results for average tutorial lengths as every two out of ten participants voted equally for every option with the exception of ‘2 minutes’, as pictured in Figures 9 and 10.
It was unfortunate not to have received many responses from Brazilians overall, when contrasted with the English version of the survey. I published the survey in three major Brazilian Facebook groups on filmmaking and audio, although practically nobody seemed interested in it. The reason could indeed be the lack of engagement with both the theoretical and practical studies of audio post-production.
Nevertheless, those who did answer gave me the motivation to take the time to subtitle the videos; out of ten replies, nine voted ‘yes’ as to whether or not foreign tutorials would benefit from possessing Portuguese subtitles. In fact, one participant claimed that despite not struggling with English, subtitles are advantageous for those who do, as is outlined in red in Figure 11.
Production: Dealing with Perfectionism and Reflecting upon what Matters.
Perfectionism is a victim of a horde of interpretations: to name a couple, there are those who see it as an essential attribute of creative work and those who deem it as an obstacle to unleashing our true potential. I belong in the middle of the aforementioned points of view; however, that has not been the case until recently.
Given the results of the surveys, I have been experimenting with the pacing and tonality of my speech, as well as how objective can I be within a small timeframe. Speaking in English with a constant and flawless fluidity is quite challenging; in order to make it work, I record several takes with two inputs—through the internal microphone of my computer and a DAW—, and then synchronise them and source the best sentences to create a final take. This process demands more time, however it has been making myself aware of mistakes I normally make when speaking, thus resulting in a more productive workflow.
When I began working on the project, I was anxious enough not to critically reflect upon the stories I needed to tell and how should I convey them to the audience with the best of my abilities. Rather than putting myself in the viewer’s shoes and being concentrated on making the videos friendly and easy to follow, I was so focused on what would the audience think about the minute details that I lost track of what was more important. A plethora of approaches have been tested as a means to find the most productive and creative solution. Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection (Grant, 2016, p. 37). Indeed, had I obsessed about what my interpretation of perfection is, the videos would forever wander in nothing but ideas.
Despite not being fully satisfied with the creative outcome of some of the videos, I decided to publish and leave them live so that I can allow myself to learn from criticism instead of obsessing about what people might think. While being a difficult decision, it has been an eye opener as to what should I care about the most; that is, either being helpful and making sure the videos are easy to follow or neglecting accessibility and engagement by enveloping myself into an utopic ideal of perfection.
After publishing and sharing the mix template videos with the Brazilian audience, I have received positive and valuable feedback about the quality of the material (Figure 12), which was a consequence of preparing the communication method beforehand, as well as empathising with whom would be watching, that is, either students or professionals. the strikethrough on the names and profile pictures of those who commented was applied to respect their privacy.
The translation from English to Portuguese for the post is as follows:
- Hello everyone, how are you doing? I’m dropping by to share with you a couple of my new videos (parts 1 and 2) about the creation of an efficient dialogue mix template in Pro Tools. Furthermore, there are plenty of other tutorials already published in the channel, all containing Portuguese subtitles. Have fun! Ps: your feedback would be very valuable.
As for the comments:
- Very good! I loved the tip on the empty track.
In addition to Facebook data, YouTube gathers interesting analytics on which countries have been the most prominent in regards to watch time. In this case, as can be seen in Figure 13, Brazil leads the first five with 30%, followed by the US, UK, Spain and Australia, with 21%, 5.6%, 5.1% and 4.0%, respectively.
Where the data gets even more relevant is on the percentage of watch time with English closed captions or Brazilian Portuguese subtitles enabled, as illustrated in Figure 14 below. This is an indication that the project is being successful at its core.
To Be Continued…
Being a work in progress, the study is far from reaching a conclusion. Coming from Brazil, I must admit that the discrepancy between the quality of education of the country between first-world countries such as Australia, US and Canada is staggering. Before creating the surveys I had exchanged some emails with a Brazilian professor and audio professional about quality of audio education in Brazil and below is the pivotal information he provided. For privacy purposes I will not mention his name.
If we think about teaching Audiovisual Production in Brazil, in general, it is common to realise that school owners think first about profits and then about quality. In regards to the relationship between theory and practice, I affirm that there is more theory than practice. Theory is important, but when you enter the job market, you must have the right intuition when equalising a space, perception when evaluating a soundtrack to use in movies, and the sensitivity and focus when working with Foley.
Given the statement above, the data described in the beginning of the article and my personal background with audio education in Brazil, the YouTube channel revolves solely around practice. It has been gratifying to have had a good reception from the target audience, and the objective is only to expand and study effective ways of bridging the gap between those who do and do not have the chance of studying the fantastic universe of sound design in first-world countries.
British Council. (2017). English in Brazil: An examination of policy, perceptions and influencing factors [Image]. Retrieved from https://ei.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ latin-america-research/English%20in%20Brazil.pdf
Grant, A. (2016). Originals. Place of publication: Penguin.
Think with Google. (2015). Pesquisa revela a intimidade do brasileiros com o YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/pt-br/advertising-channels/busca/ pesquisa-revela-intimidade-dos-brasileiros-com-o-youtube/