Sound of StoryLike a finely crafted sequel, there was a perfect counterpoint between Ray Beckett’s passion for capturing film sound ‘on set’ at last year’s Sound of Story conference and Glenn Freemantle’s jubilance over having to build the soundtrack to Everest almost from scratch. But let’s begin at the beginning.

It’s Brighton, and the Lighthouse arts and culture agency is hosting its second Sound of Story to a full house…

Chris WatsonHeld during Brighton’s annual film festival, Sound of Story lines up a series of talks and workshops for ‘filmmakers, sound practitioners, music producers and film lovers’. The audience, as judged by their questions, were varied both in knowledge and interests. In contrast, the speakers were consistently among the best in their fields.

They ranged from supervising sound editor Freemantle (most recently on Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest) through Martin Stig Andersen (the man behind the soundtrack to Playdead’s Limbo) and singer/composer/filmmaker Barry Adamson, to noted wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson.  There were also Matt Adams and Evan Jerred – whose 90-minute, one-shot, live-to-screen movie, My One Demand, had mouths open in disbelief – and Magz Hall and Nainita Desai, who offered their own takes on radio and music for film.

The day’s talks (followed by a day of workshops) opened with Watson, a veteran location recordist who specialises in wildlife and natural events. He was keen to promote the concept of distance perspective in sound, something that he maintains cannot be added after the event. A commission from the National Gallery saw him put a two-minute sound accompaniment to Constable’s ‘Cornfield’ as part of a project to extend the usual viewing time of a painting from its four-second average. Talking through the various elements, he explained sources and their roles in the soundscape – the sheep (‘woolly maggots’) were omitted on account of the havoc that they and cockerels have wreaked on countless location recordings.

With samples of recordings used in the BBC’s Frozen Planet television series, he also discussed illustrated time compression using sequences drawn from a five-hour Kentucky desert ambience and a recording of salt water sea freezing – a process that takes around three months in real time. He reckons to have had a number of mics eaten while placed in the field.

Inside

Variously described as being seminal and completely absent, Martin Stig Andersen’s soundtrack to Playdead’s classic Limbo has been widely discussed, both by the game-playing fraternity and himself. He is happy that it frustrates the boundaries of music, organised sound and sound design, and that it brings electro-acoustic into the mainstream through gaming.

Now working on Inside, the follow-up to Limbo, sound has aspired to still greater significance, as it is able to kill. Explaining some of the sound creation processes, including bouncing a recording off a wire recorder, Andersen contrasted use of the term acousmatic sound in cinema – where it refers to events heard, but not seen – and in sound design, where it describes sounds that can no longer be recognised.

A further Inside development is the disassociation of the graphics and sound engines, such that the game does not ‘reset’ when the character dies but retains its soundtrack. ‘Dying used to be annoying,’ he says. ‘Now I don’t mind dying because it sounds great.’

Andersen expects high-quality sound to become increasingly common in games, and works on this assumption, with checks to ensure small speaker compatibility. He also anticipates sound becoming more tightly integrated with games graphics, to the point that it is an essential part of game play.

Barry Adamson’s own story is cursive. It takes in work in various fields with a great diversity of people, including David Lynch, Oliver Stone and Danny Boyle, as well as an extensive music CV. And he has anecdotes to support them all. What quickly becomes apparent, however, is the value of being involved in multiple disciplines. For her part, songwriter and music composer Nainita Desai used her work on a documentary about Scandinavian serial killerThomas Quick to discuss the mixed benefits of using temp tracks.

Glenn FreemantleLike Adamson (‘I used to bunk school and listen to radio’), Freemantle (‘I’m not good at writing’) is open about having built a career as academic outsiders.

The frenetic journey made by Blast Theory founder Matt Adams and sound designer Evan Jerred across Toronto saw them combine a written script, live input and chance, as they streamed My One Demand to a live cinema audience. Using a continuous single camera shot and attendant audio capture, the film made unorthodox demands on the sound team.

The stream followed a predetermined 6km route, incorporating a narrator and scheduled encounters with seven characters along the way, and allowed its audience to offer suggestions to its progress. It also invited comments that were included at its close as part of the film credits. Conceptually ambitious and made on a small budget, the technical account of how it was achieved was something of an education in location sound technology and logistics. ‘I was both recording and mixing a feature film on the fly, while running through the streets,’ says Jerred, who, among his many tasks, had to keep an MS mic array tracking a Steadicam.

Equally resourceful was Magz Hall’s account of her ‘exploration of artistic potential of radio and its use outside of conventional settings’. From the relatively familiar ground of an Ambisonic recording of Hong Kong airport, she has ventured into radio’s own history for her inspiration – ‘making radio about radio’. Among her work is a ‘book radio’ carrying a circuit transmitting the text of 1920s explorations of radio’s use in spiritual communication and telepathy, and the creation of a series of fictional ‘trace stations’ drawing loosely on the Numbers Station phenomenon. She raised the spectre of radio frequencies left derelict after the switch-off of analogue broadcast and subsequently occupied and repurposed.

Ex MAchinaGlenn Freemantle’s contagious enthusiasm ensured that the Sound of Story overran. From Gravity, set in a location without sound, to 127 Hours, with an amputation scene that is excruciating without resorting to gore, and Sunshine, where the audio spectrum of the last sentence spoken by of each the dead characters shapes the sound of the final nuclear detonation, Freemantle is well versed in challenge

The story behind the Everest soundtrack begins with location recordings in conditions that made them unusable and extends to making the sound an emotional experience rather than something to be listened to. Ex Machina, meanwhile, sets out to make a robot an object of sexual desire – and succeeds, very largely due to three long days in a French recording studio finding endless means of miking gyroscopes spinning in oil and crystal bowls resonating on top of a grand piano. And then searching hours of recording for just a few moments of sound.

‘If you get it right,’ he says, ‘sound becomes an emotional force’.

As well as welcoming Matt Adams (an audience member last year) and Swedish sound designer Joakim Sundström (who hosted a workshop on soundtrack design) as returnees, The Sound of Story has also built well on the attendance of its inaugural year. Hosted neither by a manufacturer nor a commercial audio school, the event’s wide-ranging agenda is ably supported by the status of its speakers. Expect to hear more.

See also:

More: www.lighthouse.org.uk

Last/Next Blog

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditNewsvineTechnoratiLinkedIn
Pin It

Fast-and-Wide Blog

  • The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains
    Released in March 1967, ‘Arnold Layne’ was the first of eight singles from the fledgling Pink Floyd that year. Fifty years on, and with an unassailable...
    Read More...
  • Making Waves: Cause and Effect in Kit Reviews
    Sharing time and a couple of bottles of Asahi with another former pro audio magazine editor in the bar of London’s Metropolis Studios recently, the...
    Read More...
  • The Heydays of Phase
    Sometime around 1975-76 I wanted an MXR Phase 90 for my Wurlitzer electric piano – I wanted what the ‘real’ keyboard players of the time were using....
    Read More...
  • The Vibe Revival
    With the ambition of the first Leslie emulation pedals finally fulfilled, the story of the Shin-ei Uni-Vibe has come full circle. In its wake we have phasers,...
    Read More...
  • Second Screen Sports: Off Tube, On Target
    My local pub has a split personality. Or, maybe, it’s more like a secret identity – a single location but with two roles in life. For some...
    Read More...
  • Sound of Story: Chapter 3
    I once read that smell is our strongest associative sense. I’ve since tried to establish the relative ability of our other senses to evoke memories...
    Read More...
  • Flange Theory: How I Miss My Mistress
    It seems to have become a common misconception that guitar fuzz boxes and distortion pedals predate more eloquent effects, such as phasing and flanging. OK,...
    Read More...
  • Echoes from the Past
    If you count the green 1970s Carlsbro thing that’s presently in storage in a city 100 miles away, I’m now up to eight footpedal delay units....
    Read More...
  • Safe and Sound
    Just a few days after the events in Brussels and in the wake of the killings at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, an incident at a London venue went largely...
    Read More...
  • The New Bootleggers
    The world of bootlegging music has come a long way since I bought my first illegal concert cassette from a Walsall market stall. Its lousy artwork, poor...
    Read More...
  • Dying like Heroes
    Sitting down to write this shortly after the deaths of Lemmy and David Bowie, I’m presented with yet more sad news. I can add Mott the Hoople drummer...
    Read More...
  • Sound of Story: Chapter 2
    Like a finely crafted sequel, there was a perfect counterpoint between Ray Beckett’s passion for capturing film sound ‘on set’ at last...
    Read More...
  • TV and the Radio Star
    With Apple promising ‘the future of television’ with the latest-generation Apple TV, the race is on for music streaming services to get onboard....
    Read More...
  • Track Limit Exceeded
    For some of us who grew up with the rigours of analogue tape multitracking, the term ‘infinite tracks’ has never really lost its shock value. From...
    Read More...
  • Gear Change: AES67
    Commenting on the former BBC Top Gear team reuniting for Amazon’s internet TV enterprise, presenter Richard Hammond enthused over making a programme...
    Read More...
  • Music for Pleasure
    To players of modest ability, entering a 1970s Birmingham music shop could be like entering the Arctic Circle – an inhospitable place where...
    Read More...
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
Fast-and-Wide.com An independent news site and blog for professional audio and related businesses, Fast-and-Wide.com provides a platform for discussion and information exchange in one of the world's fastest-moving technology-based industries.
Fast Touch:
Author: Tim Goodyer
T: +44 (0) 1273 726201

 
Fast Thinking:Marketing:  Fast-and-Wide
Web: Latitude Hosting