As before, due to COVID lockdown during my A levels and gap year, I had very little experience of working with professional audio recordings, so I was a little unsure of what to expect.
We were first introduced to audio work in class, the first activity we were asked to was make up a minute long story, independently, that could be about anything, truth or a lie. Mine was based on a lie, I made up a story of when I was kicked by a horse and broke my ribs. After devising our stories, we made them into monologue scripts and performed them in front of the class into a microphone whilst wearing headphones. This was to experience how it felt and sounded to hear your own voice back to you. Hearing myself through audio equipment whilst recording, was initially strange and quite alien, but I quickly became comfortable with how I sounded, whilst many in the group found it disconcerting for some time afterwards.
We also were given a homework task to find an image of an animated character and create our own voice that we believe would suit the character and record ourselves talking for a minute as the character. I chose a simplistic drawing of a cartoon man with glasses and then created my own minute long script, based on his journey through the park to the pub. I gave him a high pitched voice but he spoke slowly.
As part of the audio aspect of the media module, we visited Steelworks Studios to record different pieces we were given. For this recording at Steelworks, we were put into groups in advance in class to read through sections of the play ‘Orphans’ by Dennis Kelly. Not long after, we all went to Steelworks, in time allocated slots, to record our sections. Unexpectedly, I was let down by the 2 others in my group as they failed to turn up for the slot, which was annoying but not an insurmountable problem as I had a friend on the course doing the same script who was willing to stand in at last minute, also the lecturer stood in for the other male character.
I found my character in the script interesting as, without context, our section made it appear that my character was unaware of his strange behaviour and the effect it had on others, and also he seemed very troubled and emotionally unstable. When we researched context into the script we became aware that my character is in fact not a particularly pleasant person and is a racist, he appears sociopathic and does not care how his actions affect others.
When my slot came up, we were called in by the lecturer and shown around the equipment and advised where to place our scripts so as not to disturb the recording which was a useful piece of advice to learn. We then had to calibrate the equipment by displaying to the technician the loudest and the quietest volume we were planning on speaking, so he could get the range adjusted properly. Once it was all calibrated, we were straight into the recording, which we did in one take, went without a hitch and was enjoyable. Interestingly, I discovered that to avoid page turning noises being picked up, it was best to unstaple my script and drop the pages onto the floor as I went along, this did reduce the chance of noise being picked up by the mic but meant it took a while to get my script back together.
Overall, recording audio has been a positive experience and a good learning curve, especially when it comes to overcoming problems like people not turning up and avoiding noise; also getting used to being around professional equipment and seeing how it all works has been very useful and has practical application. Finally, working on voice only in class, solo and at the studio has been very interesting and has shown me another line of work I would be interested in in the future.