Final Piece: Installation

 

I sketched and talked through several techniques for building the walls of the space with technicians. With their input, I decided on a two flat right angle structure with extra timber for bars as support. The particular way in which it was built required no drilling into the masonry, as the back wall was supported by being wedged in by the second flat which intersected it, and the second wall was drilled into a support timber, which itself was wedged and drilled into the first flat.

(instert sketch here)

 

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The acoustic foam worked like a charm, although at first a few of the squares were falling off overnight, though this was soon rectified by a stickier brand of carpet tape and topped off by adhesive glue. This worked much better.

After originally planning on utilising the strip lights within the room and affixing baking or tracing paper over the gap between the top of the flat and the ceiling to diffuse the light, I decided to try and purchase a light externally. I needed a clip-on lamp to clip onto the top of the flat which could be adjusted to point in the right direction. I also didn’t want the spread of the light to be too wide as this would hamper the experience for the audience.
I bought 2 bulbs of different lumens and colour balance (strength and warmth) to try out in the space, eventually opting for the warmer and less powerful of the two to create a more secluded atmosphere.

An issue I encountered was trying to keep the light and the sound from the outside corridor from leaking into the space. For the light, I landed on a curtain, which was black fabric hung from the ceiling two layers thick.
The sound that leaked in was possibly a larger issue, although it was reduced fairly significantly if the door remained closed, therefore for the degree show opening, I will affix a sign to the door asking for it to be kept closed, and that only one person should enter the space at a time.

If I had the budget or time, I would like to have been able to fully soundproof the room, although this was not possible on this occasion. Having the audience wear headphones as opposed to playing the sound through speakers does more strongly enforce the distinction between listener and outside world, with less sound leaking out, and less ambient sound heard by the listener themselves.

 

(instert final image here)

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Final Piece: Recording & Editing

I recorded the audio for my final piece in the sound room using the RØDE NT2 mics. The microphones had shock mounts to mitigate against noise generated by shaking and pop guards to mitigate overly loud plosive sounds (the word ‘POP’ for example with the P sounding like a small bang). I also recorded in the dedicated studio rather than outside as  I wanted the crisp, clear recording this technique would give me.

Having recorded all the text in full takes, and sometimes repeating particular sections if I misspoke or if there was an external noise, I went through and extracted the sections I wanted to use based on the quality of the recording.

I used Adobe Audition to edit the footage. I used this particular software as it had the range of tools I required, specifically noise reducation and the large support community which would make troubleshooting easier and time effective when problems arose. It also has a range of useful tools when it comes to exporting – being able to select specific sections and export those as full files, and to specify exactly the format and the quality of the export, as well as settings such as mono or stereo.

Ambient noise reduction was a primary concern for the editing process as I wanted the final piece to be a clear voice with no interference. This involved capturing a Noise Print which gives a reference for the program as to what the unwanted noise sounds like on its own. This meant I could command the program to apply the filter to the entire audio file and remove the unwanted sounds.

In the second step of the Noise Reduction (process), when adjusting the strength of the Noise Reduction (a percentage) I had to strike a balance between removing hums and hisses and comprimising the actual voice footage – that which I wanted to keep. If I removed 100% of the noise using the Noise Print as a guide, the progam would accidentally remove key parts of the sound of the voice leaving it sounding tinny and hollow. Technically, the trouble was that the frequencies of the humms and hisses (the noise) that I wanted to removeo were the same as that of the human voice; my voice.

This balance of the strength and amount of noise reduction allowing for as much noise reduction as possible while still allowing for a full and rich sounding audio track without distractions.

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I then placed the extracted segments of individual lines into a new single timeline that included all the audio I wanted from the two recording sessions.  This meant I could treat all the individual excerpts as a whole piece of audio, and edit it to feel cohesive. This involved EQ balancing to normalise the volume and ….

 

  • What I gained from this

I increased my knowledge of audio editing software. Particularly how to isolate sound to create an immersive atmosphere, allowing the contents of the piece to transcend the limitations of live audio and let the listener get lost in the story.

  • What I’m going to take forward

In future when recording I’m going to ensure the original recording is as close to perfection as possible so less editing is required. Editing is extremely time-consuming with diminishing returns and so ensuring a proper set up as early as possible would mean I could be as productive and efficient as possible and allow me to focus more on the content of the piece.

 

 

 

Final Piece: The Catalyst

During the Easter holidays, I made a trip to Paris and stayed in a hostel for nearly 2 weeks. Having spent the first 7 years of my life in France, this was the first time I’d been back for an extended period of time, and especially alone.

Broadly speaking, and the answer I would give if anybody asked, I was going to improve my French. Again, I basically hadn’t spoken it for a decade and a half – and if I had it was so far removed from the context of the everyday: think Midlands schoolkids bashing their way through ‘je joué au foot’.

It was different this time.

With my notebook already armed with key phrases that seemed half familiar, and a map of the Paris Métro that did not, I stepped off the train and out of the gates of the Gare Du Nord.

The first thing I noticed was the cold, the remnants of the beast from the east. The second was the bustle – almost but not quite matching London. Finally, the militarisation struck me. Soldiers, honest to god soldiers with semi automatic rifles and camo gear guarded the station, alongside the equally kitted out Police.

On the second or third day, my bag gave up the ghost. This led to the first big test of my french. It was a step by step process. In the glasses store that I walked into in order to ask where I could buy a – I guess I didn’t actually know the word for bag, so I mimed enthusiastically, using props (obviously I could convey what I wanted fairly well – it was just the vocabulary that escaped me). The attended kindly pointed me down the street towards the main shopping district, carrying on down the Rue la Lafayette. The behemoth that is the Galeries Lafayette soon greeted me, and I slinked around in awe and only slightly disoriented. After finally finding a section that sold ‘sacs’, I looked through a few and picked one out. €129. Yeah. No. Again fumbling for vocab, I tried to convey that I was looking for a bag that perhaps ‘moins’ – I rubbed two fingers and thumb together. Ah, d’accord, moins cher, he replied. He suggested ‘Citadium’ – une autre boutique.

As it turned out Citadium didn’t have the type of bag I was after either, but having to visit it and several other stores before ending with joy in the Decathlon at la Madeleine cemented basic interactionary French in the front of my mind, and having the such a specific task did frame my interactions in a way which made it a lot easier to pick up words and gleam meaning from context. I would definitely recommend it as a way to jump back into a language after a long time away.

  • What I got from this:
    These experiences formed the catalyst for the final piece as I want to delve deeper into the human experience, particularly the sharing of deep human emotions I have trouble accessing. I want a way to share these experiences with others and have it resonate with them.
  • What I want to Take forward:
    The power of memory. Part of what made the trip to Paris so integral to the work is that it allowed me to access memories that had previously been relegated to a deep chasm of my mind. Even something as throwaway as a McDonald’s advert was still referring to a particular piece of French media and culture and triggered my memories associated with the character (in this instance Lucky Luke – technically Belgian). It was the specificity of it that mattered, and that specificity is the crux of the memory vignettes I present in my final piece, ‘Familiar Ghosts’.