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.

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)