Producing an audio narrative piece was a new challenge for me, however the strength of my script gave me confidence in the final product from the outset. I feel that the script alone told a story, therefore I wanted to tell it without the use of visuals.
I had already constructed my character in my head, all I needed to do was find someone to play the role and record it. Luckily, my friend does a great American accent which was perfect.
I used a Zoom H5 to record my audio. The plan was to use the radio suite to eliminate any possible background noise, but due to time constraints I had to find a way to record it in my house with minimal unwanted background noise. I’m glad I had to improvise with this because it taught me that I can record audio wherever I want as long as it is quiet. I recorded in the cupboard under the stairs as it is a tight space which allows less room for error (e.g.: echoes, humming, passing traffic).
I also left the Zoom in the cupboard for another three minutes in order to record some ambient sound in case it was needed during the editing process.
I used Adobe Premier Pro to edit my sound, as I find it easier and quicker to use than some audio programmes such as Audition and Audacity.
It was quite difficult to get the entire script recorded in one take as it was quite long, therefore the audio was split into two sections as Danny (my voice actor) was struggling to do a single take with no mistakes. This had a negative effect on my sound, and the ambient sound was not helping to disguise the dip in levels between the two clips. I had obviously placed the mic at a different distance during each take, which wasn’t very smart but under pressure you sometimes do silly things!
In order to overcome this I had to come to a compromise. I decided to use one of the first takes where we were able to record the entire thing. Although there were some stutters and a slight change in the script, I feel like this added to the authenticity of the piece. At one point he began to stutter when talking about his father, this was quite a nice touch as it added to the sense of emotion in the piece, also allowing the audience to develop more of an emotive response to the character and his story.
I tried to add external sounds of news stories playing on the television. For example this clip shows George W. Bush speaking publicly about his beliefs that the Death Penalty age should be reduced to 14 years old. This clip related closely to my main themes of the Justice System in the the United States and how it treats certain social groups. He also mentions that the police should know everything about everyone so that they know what they are dealing with, which was also relevant army character could have already have been judged before sentencing.
Although these ideas seemed good, when I added the audio to my piece, it didn’t really fit in with the mood and the narrative. I therefore decided to remove all other interferences in order to lay the main focus on what he is saying.
I distorted the sound to make it sound like a phone call, simply by adding a distortion filter and playing with other functions such as the high pass filter to make it sound more like a phone call. To finish, I added a dead dial tone just to wrap it up for the audience, making it clearer of his circumstances. The way that the tone just cuts off his final sentence represents the prison phone, as often inmates don’t get to say goodbye to their loved ones before the call is abruptly ended.
Presentation & Feedback
During my presentation there was one main issue…THE LEVELS! It was an easy mistake to make, I had forgotten to turn up the levels so the entire class struggled to hear everything the character was saying. So, the first thing I did when I got home was change the levels…it was fine after that.
Despite this, I received some good feedback. It seemed as though most people understood the concept behind my piece and thought it was engaging.