Sound Walk No. 1, Coming Home
A first assignment for ITP’s Hypercinema class; a sound walk. I collaborated with classmates Toni(Yujung) Jung and Catherine Dinh to create this piece; a meandering journey through what it sounds like to come home. The piece joins each of the creators as we return home at the end of the day, gather ourselves a meal, and finally sit down to enjoy it. At times it may be clear which house is which; at others, they seem to blend together.
We decided that we wanted to choose a simple, daily activity to capture and share a story about. A pretty mundane activity (coming home, making food) could be different for each person, each cuisine, each home. We thought the juxtoposition of our evenings might be interesting, either in its contrast or lack thereof.
Each of us went home and recorded our own evenings in our natural environment. Then, we split the takes into sections (opening doors, preparing vegetables, active cooking, plating, and finally sitting) that we could each splice together into a single piece. We intermixed our audio so that each section from one person was followed by another, making a sort of montage of keys jingling, chopping vegetables, and plating.
While creating a sound walk seems easy enough, this proved surprisingly difficult. I’m grateful for my limited experience with film and recording; it may have been many years ago, but some basics hold; understanding the need for silence, how close the microphones need to be held to the source of the sound, the instinct to do three or four (or more!) takes.
A few lessons learned from this adventure;
- It is remarkably difficult to match sound quality if different people are doing the recording
- Set concrete expectations for sound capture process, or you might get some mismatched clips! I ended up taking three or four takes for each “moment”, but was the odd one out in this.
- While Audition is incredibly powerful, you inherently lose some amount of data by de-noising your audio
- Record good sound to begin with (editing is hard)
- Sometimes, larger SD cards can make your life harder (looking at you, Zoom recorders)
- Storytelling requires attention to detail that varies per-medium. Sound has its own intricacies.