Sound Replacement Project Reflection: Recording Session Three…

Recording session three took place on Saturday 7th October and began in the C-24 studio and moved to the Audient 8024 later in the day. The goals for this session were to record the final foley sounds including the aftermath of the amp explosion (papers flying through the air, Marty McFly landing on couch, the shelving and contents falling etc), the skateboard sounds and also the voice over parts. We had all been collecting papers, magazines and various sized boxes/cartons throughout the week leading up to this session and upon arrival were confident that with our individual assets combined, we would be able to successfully create the sounds required.

Being mindful of the camera perspective in the clip, we decided to use several microphones (close and distant), to allow us to later blend and replicate the correct sound of the papers and boxes flying / falling for the viewer. Rather than using the foley studio recording room, we decided to utilise the whole studio control space for this recording. The mic setup was as follows:

  1. AKG C414: Distant Mic shoulder height 3m from sound source
  2. Slate VMS: Low close mic under desk 1m from sound source
  3. SE4 pair: Overheads left and right 3.5m from sound source
Setting up mics
The mic setup for shelf and papers / boxes falling down

With the mics in place, it was time to have some fun and make a mess! We stacked the boxes on top of each other lids facing forward and stuffed the higher ones full of newspaper, normal A4 paper (which I had wet and then dried to give a crinklier paper sound), magazines and various small containers/cartons etc. The plan was to push these boxes onto the floor and see what sounds we could record from the ensuing chaos. This worked a treat and we had greater results by staggering each individual towers fall by 1/2sec so that the overall sound lasted longer. Below are some photos of the tower before its demise with Shay ready to topple…and the aftermath!

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After several recordings of the box wall falling, we had what we needed and were quite impressed that our idea had worked so well. The good Dr Duck had to bail at this point and as our skateboard had not arrived yet Shay and myself decided we would track the voice over parts with our last hour in the C-24 studio. We agreed that as the vocal parts are heard from a viewer perspective at floor level and approx 1 – 1.5m away in the clip, that I should stand about 1m from the mic which was set up in the recording booth. We used a single SE4 for this purpose. I had taken some brief notes as to the spoken content in the clip and when it appears and we enjoyed a distinct advantage for recording this narrative as the actors mouth is not seen whilst the words are spoken!

The actor Michael J Fox has a distinct voice which is quite high pitched and in no fashion resembles the timbre of my voice, so I attempted to speak using a higher tone and with an obvious American accent. We recorded 4 takes and after a little comping and nudging had exactly what we needed to accurately reflect the original clip.

SE4 mic used for voice over parts. Spoken at a distance comparable with photo perspective.

Our skateboard had now arrived courtesy of Jaxon Arundell but unfortunately the only zoom recorder available proved unsuitable for our purpose (due to the overwhelming  noise floor). We booked a H6 for Monday to effect the skateboard sounds, moved to the Audient 8024 studio and started working on editing some of the recordings we had. The rest of the day was spent  placing sounds ‘in time’ with the actions in the clip and adding some amp feedback and distortion sounds to form part of the explosion in the video.

Once again, a very productive session. We as a production team have been extremely happy with our progress throughout this sound replacement project and are positive we will meet our production plans time frame for completion this week . Once we successfully negotiated the pitfall of having an inferior workflow in our DAW session in week two, things have been running smoothly and without issue. We have 8hrs in the MIDI studio on Friday and a further 8hr session in the C-24 on Saturday at which point (if not before), our project will be complete and ready to post.

Friday’s sessions task is to create a ‘Shepard Tone’, an interesting auditory illusion using a series of sine waves separated by octaves that tricks the listener into thinking the sound goes upwards (or downwards), to infinity! We will be using this to accentuate the increasing hum as the actor gains up all the volume and overdrive knobs in the clip. Should be fun as none of our team has created one of these before. Check out the short clip below exploring the ‘Shepard Tone’ phenomenon and how it is often used in film and games and be sure to check out my final blog early next week where you can view the finished work!



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