Reflecting back on the Trimester

Over the trimester I have worked on several projects. Now that it is week 13 and the end is near I thought it would be good to reflect on everything I have worked on throughout the tri.

Major Project

I only had one main project that kept me focused throughout the trimester.  This project was a very new experience for me and definitely expanded the knowledge and skills I already had as well as putting me right out of my comfort zone completing  certain parts of audio I have never done before especially composing my own music. This was something I had never really tried before so I spent a lot of time researching and playing with music using Ableton and finally coming to hooking a keyboard up to compose my music.  For me this process pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and made me critically evaluate my skills.  When you are trying to create something you are your strongest critic.

Rick and Morty

This was quite a large project for myself as it was a full 2 minutes of full sound replacement which is a lot to do for one person. This was definitely a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons and create a major project for myself unlike previous trimesters where I have worked within a group. By having an individual project it definitely made me work a lot harder as I needed to complete all tasks by myself from the pre production stage to producing and then submitting it online. This was a struggle due to unavoidable personal circumstances which caused me toe out of action for two weeks during this trimester. However, I do believe the project has run smoothly due to my careful planning in the pre production stage as seen here in this blog.

https://sarahbotta.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/rick-and-morty-scene-preproduction/

As it was necessary for me to have time off during the trimester, I used this time to   thoroughly plan out my projects; mainly my ‘Rick and Morty’ sequence. I used my time finding a suitable script to give to my two voice actors and watching the clip many times for a few hours to identify every sound effect required and to know an approximate time so that when I came to producing the product I was able to put sounds in the right place straight away. My planning also included identifying what microphones I wanted to use and a time schedule. this enabled me to be ready for when I was recovered enough to return to SAE . I had goals for each week which enabled me to manage my time better.

Now reflecting back on the production stage of the project I know that with more time  to work on the project I would have been able to recreate all the audio assets myself instead of having to source some of them online. That was one factor of having so much time off, it hindered the amount of use I could have in the studio. I was unable to attend SAE to use the studios.  If those two weeks had been available to me it would have been beneficial to be in the studio allowing me more time to mix. However, overall looking at the finished project I delivered on the day I am quite proud of what I executed individually.  I have never composed before in my time here at SAE so it was a big learning curve and one I’ll continue to work on and improve my skills. Comparing this though to the aesthetic of the original audio I believe I have gotten this quite close as I am trying to portray crude humour and with the help of the SFX/composition I’ve created and the voice acting skills of Jackson and Harley I have definitely got the approach of this scene that I envisioned. I tried creating the audio similar to the company Adult Swim tv shows (Rick and Morty, Robot Chicken) with minimal composition and focusing more of the voices which was my aim to deliver the comedic aspect.

As this is a  TV show, I tried recreating all the audio by getting similar aspects of the composition and SFX as well as trying to keep a clear aspect of the original show so if I have people who view my recreation of audio and have seen this episode they still receive the same message and comedic aspect.

Another television show created by the company Adult Swim is Robot Chicken (parodies of popular culture  which is also another placed where I sourced inspiration and aesthetics of being able to keep the content of well known pop cultures but giving it a comedic aspect to it which is what I hoped for and hopefully executed successfully in my project. Though I believe my project does need more work, so over the break I will be improving it for my portfolio. Overall looking at the project and comparing it to the original, there are some differences that are expected. An example of this was that we didn’t have professional voice actors though the work of voice overs was executed quite well. However, if you look at different takes the voices to vary which made it difficult to splice tracks together. Another thing if the foley yes  I do believe I did a good job however looking at the originals I definitely believe it could be improved by thinking more in depth about how I could create the sounds instead of resorting to looking online.  From research to comply to Australian broadcast standards in post they must meet the “Operational Practice 48 (or OP 48) has been the standard when mixing for broadcast on Australian TV. OP48 is a little vague and is generally enforced differently, depending on which TV station your soundtrack is being broadcast on. OP 48 is also based on VU and Peak level which is more a measure of the electrical signal of the audio rather then how loud the soundtrack actually seems to the listener. This meant that by using a bit of multiband compression and EQ you could make the sound seem louder while keeping in check with the OP48 requirements.” (Sound and Code. (2016))  “The other part to OP 59 is the True Peak limit of -2dBFS. Many software limiters only measure the peak of the audio samples, not the waveform that will be created when those samples are converted back into the analog domain. This means that your audio signal may actually be distorting and clipping on playback or when being converted to lossy codecs such as MP3 or AAC which don’t handle this clipping very well and introduce distortion. Meters that conform to ITU-R BS.1770-3 should aksi have a true peak indication as well.”(Sound and Code. (2016))   I do know for a fact my audio wouldn’t be at this level I still would need to master it which I plan to do over the break.

Minor Projects

Throughout the trimester I have had several minor projects that I have worked on/contributed to that I would also like to reflect on.

Mastering EP

A side project I worked on this Trimester was mastering an EP for student. The brief given to me, “Mastering a 4 track EP for a student at JMC, who has mixed an EP for an artist who wants to release this album to the public. The student has asked me to master the EP and wants it done by the end of the trimester.” As this EP has progressed during the trimester with other projects being the main priority it has been pushed to the side until I have other things sorted.  However the client due to miscommunication has made it quite difficult and has been quite demanding. This included him believing an EP can be mastered in a day which is not a fact at all. It takes several days to a week or more for an EP to be mastered to its full potential. However, due to the student wanting this EP back I had to speed up my mastering process and have it handed in earlier. After mastering this whole EP using MS, I had another set of ears from another student here at SAE, Harley to listen to the EP to give me feedback. Based on the feedback received I improved the quality of the final product; mainly just fixing up issues with the compression which wasn’t too hard to readjust.

Like I just have mentioned in the paragraph before, an EP can not be mastered in a day meaning I have had to adjust and work on mastering an EP from working at home through my laptop with either my headphones or my samsung speakers. Though these speakers wouldn’t be the most reliable speakers this is all I have to work with at this stage. This of course made it quite difficult to mix and master at home. However, I have adapted to listen through my headphones then book studio time to critically listen then do minor fixes at the studio. I have also had to adapt with this trimester with doing a lot of work at home than at uni due to medical reasons causing me to lose almost three weeks away from uni. This meant I did a lot of work on blogs and mastering the EP whilst away to try to keep on top of all my work.  A major issue with this was using lots of programs which means my laptop was going flat quite quickly. It would be easier if I had a desktop of some sort to be able to work constantly without having to worry about losing work due to equipment losing charge. This situation is frustrating but unavoidable at this stage due to money constraints and space issues.  I currently live in a small bedroom in a dormitory which is not an ideal situation when you are trying to create and publish projects.

Another issue I had with the mastering client was trying to deliver the final item 8 x bounced mastered tracks. (4x 24k,48bit and 4 16k,44.1bit) Trying to be professional in this industry, I tried to hand over this EP on a USB which the client could copy to a laptop in person rather than upload them online to a drop box became problematic. My accommodation suffers from poor internet connection making it difficult for me to upload anything successfully at my end. After chatting with the client to negotiate a suitable solution it became apparent that there was no way it was possible to give the mastered tracks to him as he wouldn’t budge by bringing either a laptop or USB to university with him. However, upon reflecting on this situation I do have to understand that this will happen in the work industry environment and is just preparing me for any situation. In the end I was able to upload all the files to the drop box and am still awaiting on his feedback on the final product. I have messaged him several times about his opinion of the EP and haven’t heard anything. This has definitely opened up my eyes and shown some people in life will be difficult to work with however you just have to deal with it and do as the client says even though you may not agree. If I was to do this EP again, though I would say I wouldn’t want to do that again. I do not enjoy mastering.  It is definitely not something that I would like to do when I am looking for work in the audio industry. However, if I thought about this process the first time, I would have liked to have written up a contract with the client which he would have signed stating everything that was said through Facebook messages on written paper so there would be no miscommunication and we would have a paper copy of the contract as a referral. So the major thing I have learnt is that communication needs to be clear on both sides. Dates need to be set and timelines adhered to by both parties.  Clear timelines means there can be no confusion about what’s being done and when it is due.

Disremember

Throughout this trimester the two different classes (Post and Music) were given a project to work on together; being in the post class our project was to work on a past SAE students graduation film called, Disremember. My role was to work on some of the Foley.  Due to not being there for a big chunk of the process it was difficult to contribute, however I did at the beginning by helping  another student, Jackson work on Foley by going through the film and writing down every Foley sound that will be needed to be made for the film. We then started creating them. I believe this is quite an important part of the process, as you do need a plan of how you are going to go about creating all the sounds and making sure with careful planning that you’re not going to miss any. Definitely from this experience helping with Foley it really opened up my eyes to a list of opportunities in audio and these ones I am definitely interested in. Since coming back to SAE and talking with the lecturer, Adrian, I will be contributing a bit more with this film by adding some of the last Foley that is crucial to this project. This is definitely testing me with how I can achieve these last bits of audio.I believe I will be able to complete them easily. Overall, this film was an experience and definitely is preparing me for what I can expect in future jobs prospects and what I will be expecting next trimester when creating my graduation project along side the film students. It was definitely an experience with either working by myself or with two to three other people to working with a team of 10 or more people. It really showed how we have to communicate to remain on task and get the job done.  If everyone is not on the same page then the finished project will not be the best that it can be.  Communication is the key to keeping projects on track and completed successfully.

Jo Animation

Jo’s Animation was definitely interesting this trimester as at the beginning of the tri myself, Harley and Caleb believed this would be our major project. However unexpectedly things changed and we all went off and did our own projects instead. But during the trimester, myself and Caleb tried to continue with this project by trying to keep in contact with Jo. Thi proved difficult as  we never saw her at uni and she remained difficult to reach  through Facebook. I, however, during my time off tried planning the project, by writing out a script on Word docs that I could use for the voice actors; which were Harley and myself. Caleb then decided to get the SFX but this project is still definitely a work in process for Jo. As a result, on the audio side, there is still a fair bit that needs to be done.

Conclusion

Overall this trimester has given me new skills such as mastering and composing as well as expanding my knowledge in areas other areas of production. Everything that I have ventured into this tri has also helped me with deciding on the careers I would like to pursue in this industry. Looking at everything I have done this trimester as well as taking into account my circumstances with absence due to surgery,  I believe I have done extremely well to finish everything within the time I have had to work on these projects. I definitely planned this trimester well by being able to push myself in parts of audio I have never had any experience on yet still managed to complete my tasks and manage my time effectively to catch up to my classmates in most instances. My time management skills and my attention to detail in the planning stage has proven to be a beneficial strategy to allow me to use my studio time effectively to complete set tasks. When in the studio, as studio time is precious it is important that you know exactly what you need to do so that  studio time is optimal and the most output is achieved. So that is trimester 5 over; all my other blogs can be read here o everything I have done within SAE so far.

https://sarahbotta.wordpress.com/

 

References

OP 59 and Loudness Standards for Australian TV | Sound and Code. (2016).Sandymilne.com. Retrieved 30 August 2016, from http://www.sandymilne.com/op-59-and-loudness-standards-for-australian-tv/

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