A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, sound effects, and music.

The Barn

Posted: March 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: music, video/motion

We all get caught between having creative ideas, yet having extremely limited available time to explore them. To explore some personal creative ideas during an extremely busy time, I decided to give myself a challenge: Create a shortform video in 36 hours, inclusive of shooting, post, and sound.

It wouldn’t be the best thing ever, but it’d be a Thing. A Thing would be done…or as done as I could make it. The goal wasn’t to create the best thing ever…it was to make something. Period. And the time constraint would force concision, hard choices, and provide the constraints needed to be creative.

This resulted in The Barn. If you’d like to watch this short video, I’d prefer you watch this full screen. I’ll wait right here.

Given the focus of this blog, I suppose that I should speak to the music in a little more detail. I conceived, shot, and did a rough edit of the video in about a day. I slept on it, and composed the music the following morning in one session. The soundtrack is influenced by what I’ve been listening to recently: Ben Frost, Kammarheit, Erik Skodvin, Elegi, Stefan Németh, Paul Corley, and others. The music started with a sampler patch I created based on me playing my guitar with a cello bow, and some guitar plucks prepared with small magnets. Samples included wood floor creaks and static bursts that I had recorded or generated over the past year. It was created in Logic Pro 9. (The description on Vimeo addresses more about visuals for those that are interested.)

Could the music be better? More dynamic? More varied? Sure, yes, on all fronts, with no doubt. But this was an exercise in reaching done, a battle against hoping to maybe-sorta start something, and actually making something, warts and all. As they say, “Better can be the enemy of done.”

There are a bajillion things I’d like to change, improve, and alter. But in 36 hours – including decent sleep – that’s not important. The goal was to express an idea with time as the primary constraint. And the goal isn’t to continue to obsess and tweak this project: It’s done. Now it’s time for the next Thing.

I learned a lot from this small project, and will definitely do more 36-hour projects in the future. I relish constraints, even if they are arbitrary: They focus the mind like nothing else, and soothe the Blank Canvas Problem.

I welcome any thoughts, especially on the value of constraints, in the comments below. Thanks for watching and listening. I’ll return to more typical posts on field design and sound recording in the coming weeks.

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ReDub: Stille Nacht I, “Dramolet”

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: sound design, video/motion

The Brothers Quay are among the most world’s most influential stop-motion animators, themselves massively influenced by Eastern European avante-garde animators such as Jan Svankmajer. This piece, “Stille Nacht III: Dramolet” was one of several commissioned by MTV, and was produced in 1988. Their work is often mistaken for that of (respectful and often skilled) imitators, such as Fred Stuhr’s music video for Tool’s “Sober” (1993).

This is an experiment in replacing the original sound with my own. No disrespect is intended to the very evocative and eerie chamber music score of the original, which succeeds in its period “vibe” and emotional ambiguity. I chose it for this exercise, in fact, for having no effects track at all.

While sometimes the work itself lets us know when it is complete or “finished,” sometimes other factors tell us when to stop fiddling. There are a few parts of this piece that I’d like to fix. However, my latest session file become corrupted. So, this is what we’re all left with.

All sounds used in this clip were recorded, edited, and mixed by yours truly. I’m sharing for fun, learning, and personal experience in a non-commercial context through fair use. So there. ;-) Enjoy.

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Field Workshop Notes, Part 1: Video Diary

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, nature recording, news, video/motion

I’m just back from the 26th Annual Nature Sounds Society Field Workshop. I thought that I’d share some video diary entries that I shot with my new iPhone 4. As far as I know, this is the first time that video of this workshop has ever been seen online.

I’ll be sharing more of the learnings, experiences, and recordings in the coming weeks. For now, I hope you enjoy this set of dispatches from the field.

[You can read about the gear I took with me in a previous post.]

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Magnet + Hydrophone

Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, gear, sound design, video/motion

Magnet + Hydrophone from Noise Jockey on Vimeo. [Did you miss my first video?]

It is what is says, people! ;-) I ducked out some handling noise, but for the most part the audio is unaltered. Enjoy.

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Fun with Bikes

Posted: April 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, sound design, video/motion

I’m pleased to offer the first video content on Noise Jockey, and outgrowth of an earlier post on recording bicycles. More to come.

Audio nerd bonus quiz: This was recorded double system with two microphones. The visible one was for the sound effect itself, aimed at the bike wheel. Where’s the other mic?

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