AUS220 - Critical Reflection

This AUS220 series belongs to an assessment from college.

This trimester was the one I took the most risks and put me out of my comfort zone in every opportunity I could find. I've focused on improving everything I've been doing wrong in regards to communication and collaboration. 

I've really enjoyed the live sound and music intensives as they were new to me. I've never participated in the entire production of a song, and being able to collaborate with some ideas--even though I don't understand music that much--, as well as play an instrument that would be utilised later on accounted for a terrific experience. As for live sound, despite not being for me, seeing and hearing effects such as compression and gating being applied in a live environment shed a light into what I found to be the most complex concepts to understand. It was also tremendously satisfying to hear from guests and the band how professional our gig sounded and looked like. 

As I stated in the first paragraph, this was the trimester I took the most risks so far. I've worked on 7 freelance projects while working part-time and studying full-time. I wanted to challenge myself into seizing the most of every hour in every day, and the result was extraordinary. I did deliver all projects to the best of my abilities and received great feedback on all of them. One of them is still on-going and due this weekend--it's an audiobook for visually impaired children. Two of these were collaborations with the game and film departments at SAE and the other ones were comprised of an interview for Sound Ideas, two articles for and an episode edit for the Tonebenders Podcast. In addition, despite not being freelance, I've written 5 extra blogs for AUS220 simply because I love to write.

Speaking of podcast, I was in charge of the editorial for the trimester podcast project. I ran into many challenges involving the narrative arch of our story, as we lacked a bit on elaborating a solid research. As much as I've worked on improving communication and collaboration, it came to a point where I was overwhelmed by discomfort and that held me back when having to find the right people to be interviewed. Nevertheless, I'm very satisfied with the overall quality of our production despite its minor flaws. 

All in all, I believe I did a terrific job this trimester when compared to previous ones. I've worked on improving my insecurities and weaknesses, and I've put myself in a very tight deadline on purpose in order to push my boundaries and take the most out of my education. However, having challenged myself with numerous external projects, I sacrificed efficiency when researching for the podcast. That's not to say that I regret my decisions. Despite such mistake being minor, I'll take the result as a learning experience and work towards improving it from now on. 

Here are the links for the external freelance projects:

AUS220 - Bonus Blog 5 - It's All About Process

This AUS220 series belongs to an assessment from college.

I've been reflecting about some that Tim said in the live sound intensive, that's not about the end product as is with studio or post production; rather, it's about the process. It's about planning and efficient execution. While I do agree with the former, I must disagree with the latter. 

You see, since I began studying sound I've always been told that people don't care how you do it, as long as you deliver what the client asked for. However, without process, one would deliver poor quality work instead of a professional and outstanding one. I've always been a tech nerd, especially when it comes to portable gear. The illusion student are often bombarded with is that the better the gear you own, the higher quality your work will be. Is it though?

I was recently confronted by a fellow sound engineer on a recorder I use to go field recording on the fly. He said it was unbelievable that I'd call myself a professional by using a cheap zoom recorder. My reply to him was: "Well, it's not its quality that matters here, it's how I use its potential to my own benefit." In other words, it's about process; by understanding its frequency response, polar patterns and SPL sensitivity, I can make a plan at to what and how to record in order to save time in the editing and treatment stages. If I were to approach this randomly by just thinking of the end product, I would be neglecting important factors such as noise control, EQ, compression, not to mention what story would such sound be telling--I always record thinking about the characteristics of the sound and if it'd be a good fit to the story I'm telling.

I'm writing this bonus blog on Friday, a day after our last intensive class. Something that Trinski has been repeating since the first trimester is to ALWAYS de-ess before compressing. That's process. Sure, the mix is our final product, but in order to get there we had to follow both a creative and technical processes. The same it applied to post production. It terms of sound design, there are many ways to figure out the character of a sound, but without a guideline as to how to approach it, you end up with nothing. 

After the previous paragraph I struggled to continue because I had the idea to turn this into an article, so I'll end right here and start brainstorming ideas for it. I really wanted to write more than 5 blogs, though I think I'll the other ones for next trimester.

AUS220 - Blog 12 - Music

This AUS220 series belongs to an assessment from college.

  • Are you happy with the demo that you have produced as a group and what would you have done with more time/facilities/budget? 

    Happy? I'm more than happy with our demo.... and that's the end of the blog.

    Jokes aside, I'm impressed with the quality of our project, not to mention team collective team effort applied on top of it. As mentioned in other blogs, our initial approach was quite darker and melodramatic, however as we progressed the mood got changed to something brighter, hopeful, while maintaining the sad tone to it. I think that everyone did a terrific job; Jake was excellent in producing and managing the project, Nick did a great job on the guitars, Phil drove the console very well--we've alternated of course--, Peter was invaluable and I helped with Pro Tools operation as well as some creative suggestions when we were writing the song and mixing it. My studies in music theory have really helped me to have a better understanding of what they were talking about when it came to chords and harmonies. In the end, Trinski gave us all feedback and what he said made my entire day: "Victor, I know this isn't your forte, but f*ck yeah, excellent job." 

    After we bounced the mix we went to the live gig in the sound stage and played back our demo to our friends, and the bass was extremely out of control. It sounded perfect in the Neve and through headphones, so I'd say it was the bass calibration in the stage. Nevertheless, what I would improved if time allowed is the intelligibility of the vocals. To my ears, it sounds like some consonants get masked by other instruments, for example, the hi hats seem to clash with the 'X' of 'box' sometimes. Other than that I think volume automation would be a great addition in the beginning, as the song begins quite weak and then builds up to a warmer and fuller impact. I think that if the intro was a tad quieter and the impact a bit more punchier it'd give the track nice steroids. I'd also improve the clarity of the keys, as their character really spices the track, so to speak. 

    As a group, we've come a long way since the first intensive. At first, I was very shy and intimidated to work in groups; however, as I'll explain in the presentation next week, I worked hard into building relationships and collaborating efficiently in a creative environment. I think that, overall, we struggled to find a common ground in the beginning, but as we progressed we found ourselves in an epiphany and made the projects come to life.