Category Archives: Audio

Sonic Postcard – Production and Editing

The cities shopping centre is a bustling and noisy place, so we headed there to get some audio recordings. We would walk about with the recorder in action and just pick us noises of everyday life and people going about their business. We also got a lot of conversation as well. We decided to stop for a moment and take in the sounds and noises around us. To do this we closed our eyes and focused on listening (as the lack of one sense is normally compensated by another over sensitive one). There were certain sounds we decided we liked and wished to record.

The first was of people selling newspapers. The Big Issue and Telegraph were ones we picked out. We got both women and men saying these newspaper names in their own way. We also heard the sound of escalators and tried to record them, though the microphone didn’t pick it up too well and we scraped that idea. We did however follow the escalators into the shopping centre’s centre where we noticed a lift with a woman’s voice saying ‘Doors Opening/Closing’. We though this could sound amazing during the final piece so it got recorded.

We sat down for lunch and whipped out our grub and the Marataz 660s. As we were in a large canteen, there was so much noise which consisted of eating noises (jangling cutlery etc), conversation, laughter and other such things.

We passed a convenience store and managed to obtain audio of trollies rattling along the cobbled streets. Someone in the group is a smoker and we noticed that the striking, grating noise of their lighters (as they struck the flint) was particularly interesting and so that got recorded also.

So with our bags of sound we headed into the editing suit. Without going in to precise detail of every audio sound, we managed to section different select sounds and noises in our audio. These were taken out, some combined or overlapped, others were played as bridges in the audio. There were some sounds that we put together which had a slight beat to them so we used that to create a rhythmic tempo in the piece.

We had a crazy idea of playing the audio file we had created backwards. At first we assumed it would sound tacky and horrible although it turned out the sounds worked well into feeding into each other and so we kept it in.

Certain sounds fitted well together and therefore we decided to make them into a motif. This would be played at different times during the whole audio piece. An audience will recognise the motif every time it gets played. We felt as a whole that the motif actually had quite a catchy beat so we hope that the audiences pick up on this and immerse themselves in the audio.

We decided to keep the length of the sonic postcard relatively short. This was a result of the styles and types of audio that we included. Had it been a more musical piece aesthetically, we may have made it longer. It is however, a series of sounds which we felt, if played for too long, may loose the audiences interest.


Sonic Postcard – Research and Planning

A Sonic Postcard appears to be a piece of audio track that is played in relation to anything the creator wants it to be. We were shown a number of these in our lecture
I particularly loved the wood falling although I think more could have been done with it to say make it more musical. I then looked at the links on the blog and learnt more about what sonic postcards entail. Also, it was interesting what people have interpreted a sonic postcard as for themselves.

Different people from different social backgrounds have created completely different styles of sonic postcards. On the website I sampled clips from children playing and the communication between them and adults (I presume to be parents or teachers). I also found people creating music from sounds in the street. The possibilities and combination of styles is vastly diverse.

My Glasses Crew group got together and immediately had tonnes of idea about what we could do for our project. One strong idea was recording people saying emotive words in different manners, in different tones and pitches and creating them, in terms of musicality, in to some sort of tune. However, we deciding against this as the brief was about what our world sounded like. We thought clips from situations we find ourselves in every day would be more appropriate. We would collect a great number of these, then choose out interesting sounds that occurred, then put them together to create some sort of melodic structure.

Audio Drama – Production and Editing

The piece of equipment we used to record was a Marataz 660 with a directional microphone. Once we had familiarised ourselves with it’s fuction, we set out to record.

We recorded the actors in roles of the characters we created, and let them improvise with very little direction. This allowed them more flexibility to get into the character. However, we were a man down so i stepped forward =D. I was recorded as the Jason’s friend.

Once we had the initially clips of audio, we played them to other peers. There was a mixed response in the feedback we got. We only went in with raw audio, we had edited it, trimmed it down and placed it in a predetermined order but had not added beeps, answer phone voices or other telephone related sounds. Some comments were on how dull it was. They appreciated it was not yet finished and only contained recorded audio but it was too flat, there was no conversation. Another prominent comment was to reduce the level of distortion we had used – however, we felt that audio quality was lost as it was being played through laptop speakers as opposed to the big speakers we had used.

So we went back to the drawing board and made some changes. Firstly, Jason’s voicemail recording needed to change and as we could not get hold of the actor who had previously done it, I did the voice of Jason. Scott then re-recorded what I had said as Jason’s mate, although he made him more concerned about Jason’s situation and less judgemental. It worked better. Champion. We had given up trying to work with the actors by this point and instead used Ally as the answer phone voice. She sounded rather authentic I felt.

Bearing in mind the comment that our audio was too ‘flat’ we decided to include a conversation in it, rather than just monologues. We had tried this when I had done the voice for Jason’s friend, with someone interrupting me and asking me a question about the situation and me discussing it with them. It clearly did not work. So this time we decided to pull the conversation out of the voicemails, over the top of them. We proposed that Jason had just got back from a trip; so he starts to go through his numerous voicemails; during which his mum walks into his room (we made a knocking door noise) and engages him in conversation.  After we put all the audio clips together and overlayed the conversation all we had then to do was include the beeps which we found on a free sound clip program.

I think it’s a successful Audio Drama. One note. Never work with actors. The act like actors. Not like people with excellent acting skills!

Some pics of the editing stage:


Audio Drama – Research and Planning

I looked at audio dramas that had being created to find out what constitutes one. Basically, it is a narrative driven sound recording with no visual companion and is normally a dialogue (with the inclusion of monologues).

Here is an example I found of a amateur (though well done) audio drama.

I was familiar with institutions audio dramas such as The Archers and also Terry Wogan’s Janet and John:


Having listened to a few of these, my group, The Glasses Crew, met up to discuss how we could create an audio drama based around the life of Jason Calvert. After much of this we decided upon doing something a little different to a normal audio drama; this being a telephone call. This idea the developed into voicemail messages.

The audio drama still followed a narrative. Jason has been up to no good and snogged a girl in a nightclub…despite having a girlfriend. We could create hostility into the drama from this idea. Jason, being a young person, has carried out something which audiences can identify with. We stereotyped Jason into what some people may think of young people – acting without care or responsibility or consequences.

We developed a number of characters for the drama:

– Jason, the main character. He would have a ‘you’ve reached Jason, please leave a message’ message at the beginning as audiences instantly identify the audio drama as being a voicemail.
– His (now ex-)girlfriend. She would have a sob story about how much Jason had hurt her etc.
– His ex’s friend. This character would criticise Jason for his actions siding with her friend.
– His friend. This character would be asking what the hell Jason was playing at. He needed to call him urgently and explain why he did what he did.
– The ‘other girl’. We felt this added charm to the narrative as well as a bit of cheeky humour.
– Jason’s Sister. This character was created to break up the intensity of the narrative. She plays no fluidity to the narrative although she would reinforce Jason having so many voicemails (we decided we would be travelling as this was his hobby in the CofC we created for him – she would ask how his trip was).

We then had to decide how we were going to go about doing production. First and foremost, who would play the characters. We make contact with actors and did some voice tests. Once we knew what skills of actors we had to work with, we moved onto the pre-production work.

We decided to not constrict our actors with a script as improvisation would sound more natural and more like a voicemail. We briefed each member about what they should say, for example, to the chappy playing Jason ‘say your name, your not available because your in **** and to leave a message and you will get back to them’. For the girlfriend it would be a sob story about how hurt she is etc. The sister would ask how his trip was. His friend would ask him to call him back and ask what he was doing cheating on his girlfriend. His girlfriends mate would have a go at him. Finally the ‘other girl’ would express her enjoyment of their experience together and ask to perhaps rekindle their passion.

We then listed what we would need to do to make these messages sound genuine. We decided to record a woman’s voice saying the usual jargon automatic voicemail things ‘ you have one new message, to listen to your messages…..’ There was to be seven messages from the characters, broken up with beeps as typical of voicemails. We also decided that we would record clean audio, then during post-production, we could add distortion to make it sound more like a phone line – this was so we could make the audio sound a bit distorted whereas we could not undistorted bad, unclean audio.