About two months ago, Gervais Harry, Chris Prescott, Fiona Keenan and I worked together on an improvised sound for film project using tools built in Max. We took the performance a bit further (thanks to Gervais’ trickery in Jitter) and created an improvised film – where not only was the soundtrack improvised but the video too. The video was triggered and ‘edited’ on the spot. We would respond to Gervais’ video cuts with sound and he in-turn would respond to the sound through further video edits and visual effects.
The result was something unpredictable, unexpected and completely improvised since there were no rehearsals or a pre-determined plan. It was interesting as the traditional boundaries of film making were broken and it was a true collaboration between visuals and sound. It was a success and we were invited to perform at the Glasgow Film Fest.
We will have to create a 15 minute improvised film themed ‘Glasgow: A symphony of a city’.
How will it work?
We are collaborating with a film maker, Susan Kemp, who will shoot a variety of footage in Glasgow for us. Additionally, we will record sounds in Glasgow, including Glasgow-related poetry written by Fiona Rintoul.
Gervais will control the video side of things (and some sound design), while Chris and I will control the design of the soundtrack. We will have no rehearsals with any of the video and recorded sound material. Our first performance at the festival will be our first attempt. Exciting!
We have built tools in Max/MSP, which not only makes all of this possible but also allows us to communicate and share data with each other as we perform – automatically influencing each other’s tools. Over the next three weeks Gervais and I will blog about the tools and processes we will be using to make this performance possible.
Recently, on another windy day, I recorded the wind whistling and swishing through the ventilator shaft.
Here’s what it sounded like:
Feel free to download it!
To add some variation to it, I loaded it up in Kontakt (inspired by this, obviously) and modulated the pitch, volume and a low pass filter with a MIDI controller. I tried to retain the actual sound and character of the recording, whilst still affecting it subtley. If Pro Tools had a pitch automation lane, sound design will be a whole lot more fun! Small changes in pitch and volume can add so much:
Recorded with a Neumann KM130 pair (omni) and a Sound Devices 744 at 96KHz. Why? It’s what I had with me at that point in time.
The export audio to video options in Pro Tools and Logic rarely work well in my experience. I used to use iMovie to sync audio to video, but anyone who has come an inch close to even opening iMovie knows how enjoyable the experience us. Fortunately, it’s really simple to do this in Quick Time Pro (version 7 not X). If you use Logic Pro, your copy of Quick Time 7 should automatically update to Pro.
- Open .mov that needs audio replaced in QT 7
- Open the new soundtrack in QT 7 (wav/aiff)
- Select the QT window with the .mov, go to Window > Show Movie Properties (Cmd+J)
- Select the audio track and hit delete (to get rid of the existing audio, skip this step if the .mov has no sound)
- Select the QT window with the new soundtrack
- Go to Edit > Select All (Cmd+A)
- Edit > Copy (Cmd+C)
- Select the QT window with the .mov
- Make sure the playhead is at the beginning of the clip (0:00:00)
- Edit > Add to Movie (Option+Cmd+V)
- Export the movie to whatever format you need it to be in with the new soundtrack. File > Export
A snippet of the interview with Andy Farnell I’m editing for Designingsound.org:
Amongst the many good sound designers that I have met, they all turn out to be really well rounded people. They weren’t phenomenal, they didn’t see the world through an artists gaze. Sound is about going in to the world, what happens inside, its about deep knowledge about how things work and what that mechanism means to your emotions. I think the role of what a sound designer is becomes somebody who’s language is not about computers but understanding the mechanisms of sounds.
It should be up soon.
And, happy new year! Have a great year ahead!