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TriMaster or Tri-mess-ter

With the Trimester coming to a close and holiday projects rising into the foreground, I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to look back on all the work I've done over these past few months and see where I have or haven't grown and what important things I've learned. This trimester was broken down into 4 week long intensives in which we got the opportunity to look at a few specific areas of the Audio industry and work with our mentors on a small project from start to finish. The three intensives where in the following industry veins:

  • Post-Production (Sound, Music and Foley replacement)

  • Music Production (Re-create a piece of music in another genre)

  • Live Sound (Plan and Operate a Live Sound Event)

Along with these intensives I worked on two game projects and a 20 minute podcast, mostly doing editing and offering narrative direction.

Firstly I wanted to talk a little bit about the people I worked with this trimester because I think it was a big reason that everything went so well. I was fortunate enough, having moved from so far away, to be put in a very welcoming group of students who were all very talented individuals. Not counting the entire cohort, in my group alone there was; Enoch a great piano player and composer, Harmen who understands signal flow and studio work like nobody else, Brendan who is an excellent organizer and was very good at live sound in general, and then there was Jordan and myself who are both really into sound design and post production. We communicated mostly during allocated class time, however we also had a online message board that we could use to communicate with each other at any time. Everyone shared a great level of respect for each other, the groups acceptance and discussion of ideas is what I think really made our projects smooth. In future I hope to carry this level of respect with me as I work with other groups.

To go in chronological order, the first major thing I worked on was the Live Sound project which had us organizing and operating a live sound event or "gig".

This was the poster we used to advertise our event to the students of SAE. The event went smoothly, that's not to say that there weren't problems, we just handled them well. The biggest problem we had was when one of the band members in our main act couldn't make it to the gig which required a last minute stage re-design. We swiftly discussed this as a group to make sure everyone knew what was happening and then just continued with the plan as normal.

I think this quick discussion was a great display of how important good communication can be and I think good communication starts simply with ANY communication. Too often I see projects fail because half the group "falls off the earth" and never participates in conversation. If this happened in our group and the manager forgot to mention the change to the stage hand, in the confusion of the darkness and music, there might have been a problem, any of at least a dozen problems. All of these potential issues where remanded with a simple 5 minute team briefing. My role in the whole project was recording engineer, I made sure that the entire show was recorded into a Pro-Tools session and that the film crew we worked with had labelled copies of my audio files to synchronize with their footage. Even though my interests lean more towards post production I did really enjoy being a part of this event and I think I learned some important things about space that I can translate into my work with video games.

After the Live Sound intensive we had the pleasure of working with Andte on a sound replacement in our Post-Production intensive.

We chose a clip from Scott Pilgrim vs the World which was a great sound replacement project, because of it's unique blend of cinema and comic book. Overall I think this was the best end product we delivered as a group, but I might be a little bias because I really love post-production. Even though I was the resident "expert" in this area for my team I decided to take a back seat on this project so that everyone else could get their hands dirty. I provided the ADR for Scott's voice, which was something I'd never done before. Staying in character, on time, in sync and on-axis with the footage was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be and I think it made me look at film audio a little differently. If I ever work on a film, I will do whatever I can to make sure the dialogue is captured as it is performed rather than relying on ADR, although it's a great technique to fix unusable audio, I definitely don't think it's a good replacement for the actual performance. I'm planning on using some of the techniques I picked up from this intensive to do some sound replacement for video game clips so that I can have high quality visuals to accompany my sound show reel.

Thirdly we worked on a music production project where we were given lyrics and an acoustic version of a song and we had to rework it into another genre. We chose to re-work it into a powerful vocal driven Pop Ballad with some orchestral elements.

I often played the role of producer on this project and used my background in music theory to make sure we weren't making any big mistakes in composition. Apart from this I learnt a lot about studio recording and mixing/mastering from Trinski who was a good mentor. The drums we recorded were recorded so well that they sounded almost mixed, straight out of the live room. This was largely due to our microphone placement, we used three microphones and followed the 3:1 rule to create a stereo image with our room mics, when panned this filled out the drum kit's sound in a way that avoided phase and muddiness. Although I'm a big electronic and sample user, I'm very interested in acoustic instruments and learning these various recording techniques will help me if in my future I need to create my own instrument samples or if I want to record an authentic band. One of my holiday projects is to create an original piece of video game music using only live recordings, I'll be taking the spirit of Trinski with me as I move forward with this project.

I can almost read this waveform like it's as plain as the text on this page. For those of you who can't this a human expression known as the "Uhmm", quite similar to it's cousin the "Ahh", but not as annoying as the cough or the sneeze. During the podcast project I was in charge of editing, I think I did a good job of removing most of the content that we couldn't use while still allowing most sentences to make sense. I think the biggest problem overall was our planning and narrative direction. We had nothing planned even after we had recorded all of the interviews, this led to us having to shape the narrative around the recordings we had. I think it would have been better if we had the narrative before recording so we could have gotten the recordings to help connect our story.

I've spoken in detail about how my two video game side projects went in another blog which can be found here.

I'm very excited for my "break" because I've just been given the opportunity to work on a new game project, this will hopefully test me in new ways and allow me to put all of my self-improvement ideas into practice!

Thanks for reading this hefty post and I'll be keeping you updated as we trek through the rest of 2017 together!

Kind regards, Corey.

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