How’s it hanging audio nerds? Well I hope. That is good to hear. Today (going on last week, cough) myself and some of my peers began our foray into the world of foley artistry. The mastermind behind it all was Ricardo, who had sourced someone in need of foley work through the wonders of the internet. The brief is for a simple radio segment featuring cavemen talking and painting in a cave, this gave us the basis for the type of sounds that we would be required to source. The score and vocal tracks were already provided by the other party so we were only required to supply the foley work. We had a strict deadline of Sunday the 21st of June, so we decided that we should begin quickly. Here is the link to the brief supplied to Ricardo.
Here is the session plan for the 2 days of work, recording one day, mixing out of the box the next.
This was our first time using the post-production studio without supervision and I must say we did quite well. We had very few issues and the ones that we encountered were dealt with simply and swiftly. We had our hearts set on using 2 AKG C414 microphones as they would offer us a bright detailed image of the sounds we would be recording, but alas, it was not to be. There was only 1 C414 available for booking so we settled with using an Audio Technica 2050 as our room mic and the C414 as our close mic. We had an issue with the C414’s shockmount being threaded completely, this was solved by tying a hair band around the mount and the stand. Whilst Jackson and I were setting up the microphones, Ricardo and Sarah had prepared the Pro Tools session and we were ready to record.
But we did not! Instead we took the time to go through the session a couple of times and mark all the sounds that needed to be created, this was time consuming (and could have been done prior to the session) but ultimately paid for itself in the end as it helped the session flow smoothly. We encountered the same headphone pan issues that occurred during class but we discovered that because the interface is digitally controlled, the channels were all panned one direction and it maintained this state despite a complete restart of the system. Why this did not affect the studio monitors I am not sure. Once that was sorted we actually began recording.
Instead of recording each sound as the track progressed we decided to record “instrument” takes. What I mean is that we recorded all of one sound then proceeded to the next. We started by getting Aaron to perform all of the footsteps that would be required. We quickly found that the C414 was perhaps a little harsh on the rocks when Aaron was actually walking and rectified this by having Aaron perform the steps with his hands. This worked wonderfully.
We progressed this way quite efficiently. By treating the sounds that needed to be created as instruments, the workflow became very similar to recording a really weird band that need rock sounds.
One of the sounds I am quite proud of but ultimately was not required for this project is our self created “bat” sounds. Jackson, Sarah and myself all attempted at creating a bat screech using just our voice. We researched some bat sounds to try and recreate, but it didn’t quite go to plan. It turned out a whole lot more terrifying that was required for this brief, but now I have this awesome screech sound I can use at a later date. Here is a sample if you don’t want to sleep tonight.
All in all I think our first session in the post-production studio and our first attempt at performing foley work was a great success. We all had great ideas as to how each sound should be achieved and built upon. We left the studio with the intention to mix and edit in the Neve studio the next day.
And enter the studio the next day we did! Had you going for a bit there didn’t I? No? Oh well. This session for me was mostly intended for a refresher on how to use the big fancy Neve console as I had only been in there for one class, and it was poorly run at that. First thing we encountered was a shittily normalised desk. This was a pain because I had forgotten that you can push some of the pots in the Neve, once Jackson showed us that, we had the issues sorted quite quickly. As for the actual mixing of our caveman session, we mostly needed to do some cleanup on the tracks, EQ and levels were the biggest concerns.
We began by sending all of the tracks to the desk in the order they were recorded. We used the desk EQ’s to remove unwanted sound and tweak to taste. This was a suitable way to work at the beginning of the session but soon proved to be an issue when we removed some tracks (the scary bats) and were ready to print back the Neve affected tracks. Marking the tracks on the desk would also have saved us a lot of trouble. We had to work out which tracks were where on the desk so they would match with the EQ we had applied and send from Pro Tools to the correct channel. This was perhaps the longest part of the session and all could have been alleviated with a bit of forethought and some masking tape and a sharpie. Aside from that we had a smooth session and achieved the sound we were happy with. Here is a final roughish mix for your listening pleasure. The content was submitted to the client before the required due date.
- LO1: Record and Edit Audio for Narrative
- LO2: Demonstrate intermediate studio production techniques.
- LO8: Apply critical theories to interpret and solve creative problems relevant to the area of specialisation.
- LO16: Plan audio for multimedia projects.
- LO17: Define and implement the requirements of a session plan.
- LO22: Deliver audio for multimedia products to industry standards.
- LO23: Produce work on time and within scope by engaging appropriate project management methodologies.
- LO26: Interpret a brief and deliver a product to a client’s specification.