Random Observations on Sound – II

“So did you record any nice sounds?”
“Yes, I caught some trees creaking, that was quite nice!”
“Your microphones must be very sensitive, right?”
“You mean because I got the trees creaking?”
“Yes.”
“But you can hear for yourself those trees over there creaking right now.”

“Ah!….”

I have been trying to force the principle of getting meaningful and better sound for tv production. It’s largely ignored. In this circumstances it’s considered a solved issue if the DOP or camera person just mounts a microphone – any microphone – on the camera. For any sound recordist this must be one of the most frustrating situations we encounter upon this type of work. And yes, the end result, without the production crew consciously knowing, will suffer from lack of poetry, lack of beauty, lack of a more profound meaning. But forcing this idea of better sound is like repeating to a child that vegetables are good for its health. It won’t matter any or as many reasons one could point out until the child for itself raises some sort of awareness about it.

As long as our media products are so concentrated on visuals, which we assimilate quickly, there won’t be even room to consider the relevance of sound on a context. Therefore, nothing of the manuscript will allow for this exploration. 1 minute to set up the sound gear it’s too much time to waste on the field.

Many times I’ve been kindly called sound nerd and sound enthusiast. And slowly and little by little, here and there, some people start to tune their senses for their own auditory world as long as casually they are open to actually listen to what a sound recordist has to say. But it needs to come naturally and from a good place. I have been on the verge of getting angry. Few people understood me anyway, because they don’t see how meaningful sound could add value to their production. We are usually not educated to notice the sounds around us.

So I don’t have any kind of magic potion to turn this around quickly. I do think that, from my experience, when a sound recordist wakes up very early in the morning  and goes out in the cold to do field recording, people will start to realise that there must be something special about it. When we share our recordings throughout social media, outside the field recording community, someone will eventually hear it. In the meantime, I find it  is important not to “get used to it” (as I’ve heard), but finding a good balance between delivering the best sound, keeping the nerdness and enthusiasm without forcing the spinach soup on the kid.

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