Disruptive Technologies: SMS Alerts (test)/Soundscape Notes

Using  sound bites such as short message service alert sounds combined with the fragmented visuals (also know as motion tweens), have shaped the animated film to how it will presented at the exhibition. Black and white or colour?


Below are gathered sound bites which will be used for the soundscape:


RECORDED (by myself)

Shinjuku train station automated voice (Tokyo)

Takadanobaba train station automated voice (Tokyo)

Village Vanguard store (Tokyo)

Heathrow automated jingle

London Underground automated voice

Victoria Station automated voice

Sainsbury’s self-service check-out automated voice

Police siren (Peckham Rd)


Narita Airport announcement

“Stand Well Clear” (London Underground automated voice)


Phone dial

East Croydon train station automated voice

SMS Alert (x5)

Composing Soundscapes

In my last tutorial with Jonathan, we discussed the points I should work on from my Unit One appraisal. One area which took the majority of our discussion is the sound aspect of the project. A voice-over had been planned but now shelved. From the Unit One appraisal it was mentioned that recording my own material as opposed to collecting pre-recorded sound bites from Freesound.org, would add more originality to my work. True. Also, Jonathan suggested that I explore the sound element of the project more lucidly and possibly consider creating a soundscape comprising of sounds from England and Japan. I initially thought that the mix of environments sounded interesting. So, over the past two, three months I’ve been out in the field collecting sound. The material that follows are my own recordings bar the sound montages which is basically an assortment of sounds (from Freesound.org) montaged.

So far, most of the recordings are from public urban environments such as train stations and airports. Here, I’m largely focusing on recording automated voices in English and Japanese.


Takadanobaba Station

Shinjuku Station

Village Vanguard Store (Shimo Kitazawa, Tokyo)



London Underground

Victoria Station (1)

Victoria Station (2)


SOUND MONTAGES (collected audio from Freesound.org then montaged in Audacity)

Montage (1)

Montage (2)


Disruptive Sounds Experiments

As I’ve almost finished working on the visuals, I’m now experimenting with the audio. A challenging and daunting task ahead of me. After editing and assembling a few selected animated sequences, I tried to imagine the audio first while analyzing the moving image. I made a few notes.

What should start first was the first consideration. I intend the audio to begin before the visuals, though not just a few seconds in this instance. The audio will draw the curtains before the visuals. As the viewer engages, the cognitive process begins.I intend to montage a diversity of sounds. A mash-up of some kind. I considered annoying, penetrative and monotonous sounds, something like pc/phone notification or water dripping from a tap.

There is a wealth of sounds on freesound.org, I’m spoilt for choice, so spoilt it took me ages to choose one. I selected a few and began tweaking the soundbites in Audacity; stretching, amplifying, fading in and out etc. I didn’t want to distort too much from the original audio especially when using the effects. It’s easy to get carried away so made sure to consider any alterations with more thought.      .

The dripping water and notification sounds work well together. I thought about disruption and tuning an old radio came to mind. Don’t know why. Anyway, I found an interesting sound piece called ‘Mental illness’ , which, when clashing with the other sounds, really shapes the audio dramatically forming a brief crescendo which was one of those lucky accidents. I think the next step here is to keep structuring and layering the audio now I’ve got a platform. Sound details from authors:


“Jolly sounding alert for incoming mail or message. Ideal for a notification on modern phones, devices on PC or Mac, Made on Alesis Q49 via Ignite software”

Dripping Water

“Sound of a dripping tap as recorded about 15 cm below the surface of the water directly under the impact point. Hydrophones were resting in the bottom of a metal sink”

Experimental Illness

One of those classic, radio-movie clips. Distorted. Taken from a VERY long recording of some weird channel I found while surfing the AM channels of my radio (they are best to make interference noise).

To listen effectively, crank up the sound.

Public Information Film Project: Persuasive Narratives (part 1)

Public Information Film Experiments

Back to work on the blog and hopefully I can kick-start some momentum again now that all the mayhem has quietened down over here.  Yesterday was spent looking back at clips of footage I had taken over the past six months. I came across this rat trap clip which was meant for an    Objects of Disobedience   post but decided I could make better use of it which would be relative to my project. Off we go.

The process:

1/ Video clip (unedited) filmed with a Pentax Q7 . I’ve not done much in the way of filming with this camera and was impressed with the high grain resolution.

2/ The video clip after experimenting with film speeds, notably the trap ‘snap’. Windows Live Movie Maker is better than I thought

3/ I thought about doing something fancy with the footage. Even though I quite like the  harsh minimal edge detector effect, it radically affects the persuasive message I’m trying to convey.

4/ The audio: This smashed glass soundbite was taken from freesound.org then amplified in Audacity. I was pleased with the result.

5/ The narration is provided by me, “Are you aware of your child’s online activity?” (I couldn’t think of anything else at the time!) Anyway, again edited in Audacity (merged, reversed and echoed). No, doesn’t work. If fact, a narration isn’t needed, in my view.

6/ The final edit. Yes/No? It looks a bit 70s retro

Overall, I’m looking for an end product which is succinct and minimal, a bit like the persuasive narratives in  Broken Glass (1973)  I’m far from that yet but this experiment has been worthwhile.

Sound Experiments and Collaborations(Part 2)

A recent trip to France made me consider how I will audience my project. While rummaging around an old book shop in Dieppe, I came across books I’d read in childhood and occasionally still read now. These books, mainly in the form of graphic novels such as Tintin and Asterix. Considering these French versions from the ones in English. Whilst the font remains the same, the characteristics change quite dramatically. The familiar (visuals) combined with unfamiliar (text) added with nostalgia is an engaging mix. Anyway, for 5 Euros I brought old, first edition of Les Bijoux De Castafiore (The Castafiore Emerald) and attempted to read the book on the four-hour ferry journey back to New Haven. No chance! I ended up taking notes as I got thinking how my work would look should the narration in my project be translated.

Les Bijoux De Castafiore.jpg .jpg
The Castafiore Emerald (English title) Herge (1962)


Putting ideas in practice. I have been working on a Pop-Art inspired rotoscope I Must Be Dreaming (2013). I made a few amendments. For a more vintage comic strip quality, I went from colour to a grainy black and white and included subtitles in French. Jonny (sound engineer), also working on the rotoscope, posted me some sampled audio. He quotes, “A dreamy clip of “Eros” by Piero Piccioni was edited and added, to underscore the fantasy and surrealism of the scene”  On first impressions, I thought the recording didn’t differential much from the original so I tweaked it further, adding echo, tremerlo and truncated silences. I even spiced it up with a rattle snake sound bite! Sound bite notes from uploader on Freesounds.org

Rattle snake hissing or shaking its tail at variable pitches. Recorded with the Tascam DR-40 built-in microphones, processed in Pro Tools 10, bounced to a 48kHz 24bit WAV file.



Another rotoscope, the jazzy, Make-up also got a face lift. Here Jonny adds two edits from Sun Ra’s When Sun Comes Out, to make a soundtrack. The first edit features percussion and upright bass and the second a piano chord. Other than amplification, I’ve not made any amendments.

Make-up (2013)






Sound Experiments and Collaborations(Part 1)

February and  March last year involved a lot of  sound  experimentation mainly using audacity software. Now I use audacity practically all the time now largely due to the simplicity of the interface and the ease of accomplishing something with speed, efficiency and minimal frustration. Despite taking a year out, which really hasn’t seemed like taking a year out, I’ve continued with the same working pattern these past few months. I’ve been experimenting with sound(s) on rotoscope animations  where I had previously  used copyrighted sound material.


While researching techniques used by notable sound designers, I found that the documentaries on the BBC i-player radio have a range of interesting, informative and insightful radio documentaries. Last week I came across this great radio documentary, BBC Radio 4 Bleep Bleep Bloop: Music and Video Games  from 2011 (I think). Paul Bennun (video game sound designer) explores the rise of popularity in video game music/sounds. Bennun interviews  Ivor Novello award winner, Joris de Man the composer of the Kill Zone series. I was inspired by the interview!



Demons of the Mind (2014). A collaboration with Simon Smith (fine artist/musician) who incidentally modelled for the animation. After numerous ambient sounds tried and tested, Simon loops audio resembling a police siren which we thought suited the visuals,  I sampled his original sound in audacity with soundbites such as crushed glass and metallic factory sounds.


Heat, Light & Shadow (2014). A collaboration with Jonathan Chinchen (sound designer) who previously worked on the Psycho project Don’t Have Nightmares 0.1 2015 (Revised) last year which was finalised earlier this year. For Heat, Light & Shadow I re-worked the audio adding cicada and wind sounds.  Jonny uses samples from two films, he comments: “Sampled from Analogies: Study in the Movement of Time (1977) .  As the rhythm of the sample combined well with the visuals to augment the floating movements of the subject. The audio switches to a sample from the movie “Last House on Dead End Street” to emphasise the heat and intensity of the subject’s stare!”  A dramatic comment! 


Colour versions of the above rotoscopes can be seen here


Night Dreamer (2013). A collaboration with Jazz pianist, Jeremy Kuhles. It’s a live recording of Jeremy covering Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer. Amplification and noise removal were the only tweaks so not specially a sound collaboration. The original colour animation is used for promotional purposes in gif form.











UWE: Sound Projects (1995)

Since the sound workshops earlier this year, I’ve been experimenting a lot with sound as I feel the medium will feature prominently in my project. Yesterday, I edited the sound play, Torment was made in the Media Centre at The University of the West of England, (Bower Ashton, Bristol ) in 1995. The sound play has links to my current project, both are psychological pieces of work. Also, they both use original copyrighted material which has been mashedup or remixed from it’s original state.

Sound Play: Torment, 1995 (Remixed 2015)

Using a Morantz recorder, the narrative is made up of varied ambient sound from the Bristol area, iconic film sound bites and homemade sound effects recorded in a studio. The aim was to convey mental torment as someone is preparing to take their own life.  The recording has a linear quality keeping the listener informed without ambiguity. However, as the background ding becomes louder, the narrative loses its representational quality and takes on its own journey. This is an area of my project that is constantly on my mind and how. A psychological piece of work involves playing on the mind of the viewer. However, my considerations are how much and what should I leave open to interpretation?



Social Documentary Sound Project: Bingo!, 1995 (Remixed, 2015)









Sound Design: Confrontation 2

Continuing with ambient sound experimentation, last week  I recorded a policeman interrogating a women outside the local library. Due to very blustery weather conditions that day, the original recording wasn’t clear which made it difficult to decipher most of the dialogue. Using the Audacity software, I enlarged the waveforms as to clearly identify areas to reduce the background noise (low levels) on the whole recording. However, when low levels and high levels clashed, this caused distortion which made the recording very unbalanced. Finally, I decided on selecting one area of dialogue, amplifying, echoing and altering the tempo. As a result, I’ve created something penetrative with a menacing repetitious edge to it.



Sound Design: Confrontation 1

Last Saturday morning, just by sheer chance, I was able to record a  confrontational conversation between a bookshop assistant and a customer in London.  While I was browsing through a few books in the TV/Film area, I noticed a man (20s) sitting in the reading area talking to himself. He didn’t seem to be disturbing anyone nor did he come across as a violent person yet his language was becoming rather too loud and colourful which prompted an assistant to have a quiet word with him. Before the confrontation occurred, I turned on my Olympus Digital Voice Tracer, placed it discreetly under my shirt cuff and proceeded to walk towards the seating area just hoping to record a few mutterings . However, a shop assistant came down stairs into the basement area exactly at the same time, obviously tipped off by another customer. The exchange between the shop assistant and the customer can be heard from the original Mp3 recording below with written dialogue:

Bookshop Confrontation (2015)   Mp3

A= Assistant/ C= Customer

A “Dju know what I’m gonna say to you?”

C  “What?” (rising intonation, startled/surprised)

A “Dju know what I’m gonna say to you?”

C “What?” 

A “About yer language”

C “Yea”

A “What my gonna say about yer language?” ( attempting to elicit information)

C  “D’know”

A “You understand that I can’t let you be here if you’re gonna be using foul language, ok?”

C “Ok”

A “So if I have any more reports of that then, I’ll ask you to leave, ok?”

C “Yea”

A “Alright”


This morning I was experimenting with the recording in Audacity. Below are the steps taken when editing the recording, sound specifications and the edited version of the recording:

Step 1: Trim start (6secs)/end (5secs)

Step 2: Fade in start(3 secs) /Fade out end (8 secs)

Step 3: EFFECTS: Amplify (4.1)+Wahwah  “Dju know what I’m gonna say to you?” “What?”

Step 4: Cut “Dju know what I’m gonna sat you you?” -“What?”

Step 5: EFFECTS: Amplify (17.1)+ Reverb “About yer language?”  

Reverb Data: room size 75%, pre-delay 89, reverberance 84, damping 85%, tone low 86%, tone high 84%, wet gain 5, dry gain 6, stereo width 100%

Step 6: EFFECTS: Amplify (17.4) + Echo  “What my gonna say about yer language?”-“D’know”

Echo Data: delay time 1 second, delay factor 0.5

Step 7: EFFECTS: Amplify(15.3) + Phaser + Wahwah “You understand that I can’t let you be here if you’re gonna be using foul language, ok?”- “Ok”

Phaser Data: stages 2, wet/dry 210,LFO frequency 0.1,LFO start phase (deg) 0, depth 255, feedback 90%

Wahwah Data: LFO frequency 1.5,LFO start phase 0, depth 70%, resonance 5.0, wah frequency 30%

Step 8: EFFECTS: Amplify(14.8) + Delay “So if I get any more reports of that then, I’ll ask you to leave, ok?”-“Yea”-“Alright”

Delay Data: type: bouncing ball, delay level per echo -6, delay time -3, pitch change effect LQ pitch shift, pitch change per echo 0.00, number of echoes 5, allow duration to change: yes

Step 9: EFFECTS: Amplify (6.5) + Equalization (select curve: telephone) 3 seconds duration (start 18.1 secs-end)



















Italian 1960s Lounge Music

Sound Collaboration (provisional): Jonny C

Over the past few weeks, amidst a busy work schedule, I found time to have a brief meeting with my work colleague, Jonny. I’m hoping that Jon will collaborate on my project as sound engineer. Background: After graduating from Glasgow University, he became interested in experimental sound mainly working/experimenting with analogue synth. Since he arrived in Tokyo in 1998, he’s collaborated with a number of bands, playing the synthesizer. Before we became acquainted, I recall going to see him perform with a band called The Lickerish Quartet about 6 years ago. They played at The Green Apple (below) which is a 60s/70s arty themed café in Koenji (Tokyo) . The café also serves as music venue at night and is well known for performances dealing with psychedelia, mod nostalgia and avant-garde experimental music.

The Green Apple Cafe 1


I vividly recall the theatrical setting devised  by the band before they came on to play. Playing on retro aesthetics, an 8mm film projector silently played Italian 60s film footage onto an orangey, pink coloured curtain while the band played. The band played a mixture of modern chill-out, poppy electronica with down-tempo elements and with the usual characteristics associated with lounge sounds (i.e. jazz, exotica and bossa nova origins). I was impressed by the whole visual spectacle. A performance in both foreground and background. I think I was more interested in the theatrical presentation rather the music. When I became acquainted with Jon, I found out that the stage setting and props were his idea.

During our meeting, we looked at my blog and I conveyed how I envisaged the sound. I informed him that I intend to make an installation of the bathroom used in the 1960 film Psycho. The shower room scene would be edited, animated and projected from a monitor inside the set. I further mentioned the feasibility of this plan and my intentions regarding scale. That is, if I’m unable to make a life-size set, then a miniature set will be constructed. A meeting with a set designer is scheduled next month. It was also noted that the installation/set will not be an exact representation but the finished article should look very Modernist by appearance with expressionistic influences.  Below are some researched 1960 bathroom designs from American Standard.

Example 2 Example 3



We considered the opening audio, which would run for around 30 seconds. I’m keen on the idea of using Italian 60s lounge music themes, so we listed a few composers and tracks such as Armando Trovajoli-Vivere Felici, Bruno Nicolai-Spy Chase and Nico Fidenco.

The idea being that Jon would then compose either sampling, remixing or work on similar themes. At this stage, there isn’t a concrete sound plan, though it is intended for the opening audio to distort into a more sinister theme which would be a cue for the animation to begin. The duration of sound will be no more than 2 minutes, 10 seconds. Sound bites used for the animation will be discussed in our next meeting. We will consider answers from Question 2 of the questionnaire.  The next step is for Jon to view the edited Psycho footage and work on a few audio tests. If we are on the same wavelength (audio wise ), then the collaboration will begin. The big “If”