Sound engineering- Titan of music domain
Few months back I did watch Inception, Avatar (5th time!) and Iron Man2 in my PS3 and got amazed the sound track performance when got stream through 7.1 channels. Wow..!! Speechless.!! If you are an avid music enthusiast or sound related fanatic I am pretty sure you would well aware about this technical domain.
However, when I was reading few technical blogs and forums about sound engineering did come across few interesting things which I would like to share and describe.
At present in sound media, sound engineering contribution is incredible and an inevitable technical need largely on feature film making, Live music concerts, TV serials, stage shows and or any form of music world arena. It’s a technical T- Rex in music industry domain where it extend hands to create wonderful quality of sound.
If you watch any visual treat which combines with amazing quality of background score instantly creates terrific feeling related to your emotion and passion. Because the sound virtually takes you to live in that visual world like your physical presence similar to the character you watch. Certainly, it is fueling and triggering your thoughts. Sound is life.
When taking consideration of feature film making or any visual presentations sound engineering performance applied as team work which involves many hidden factors were you cannot see at screen. Real virtual world. At ground, a musician/music master who is a creator of music when shares ideas and thoughts related to background score and music, sound engineering technical team involves deeply to create the wonderful sound effect to the scene or subject related contents.
When you watch good film with amazing music background we depict as “Awesome music”. Indeed, here the sound engineering team work is incredible and invisible. At studio recording or live concerts there are various sound recording instruments, electronic gadgets and sound engineering software utilized at professional level to channelize and balance the sound which produces wonderful quality of music or sound effect. Basically, It is an art of engineering. Applying and utilizing with right sound technique instruments or tools related to the theme/ content is the key to create wonderful sound.
This department uses various equipment such as microphones , mixing boards, amplifiers , sound synthesizers, sound synthesize software’s, monitors and audio lines etc., to control and direct the different sound track outputs released by the orchestra /or musical group. The level of applying high end technical instruments and tools will vary and depends on the theme or media will determine the those factors. Each of the above instruments and tools has specific functionality that enables the sound engineer to control the overall audio experience.
How Background Score works?
As said, It’s an art. A good sound engineer should have adequate knowledge to handle various kind of hardware and software tools and equipments at professional level. Also they should have good visual thoughts to understand music master’s need and able to provide and handle the right tool and equipment as required.
For instance, during post production and re recording occasion sound engineer and his team will involve heavily with music master and director for background scoring were they will go frame by frame very carefully. Funny though, Just try to visualize if you watch a scene or movie only with dialogues without having any background score..how it would be!? When considering feature film making the power of sound engineering is enormous. Let me try to explain with tiny model ..( At recording studio screen visual frames goes as follows…)
- Hero car comes into porch and engine stops (camera angle from porch as mid shot and goes closer with trolley near car when it stops)
- He walks out and press door bell and knocks the door after few seconds. (camera behind on him… steady cam )
- Outside tree birds tweet lightly and he whistles for a moment
- Door opened by hero’s son and “Hey dad…how’z it going?” (camera get in and come behind on him. Mid shot )
- Hero close the door (background PS3 game running with full music volume. Low down sound of door lock)
- Where is mom? “Hero asks his Son” – when he asks a moderate chopper sound they hear outside and shades away
- “Honey. “I m com in.”….( Low long lengthy voice…sound from upstairs..)
- Hero walks out near dining room and drag a dinning chair to check some mails. (he opens few mailers…Mid shot… Hall pS3 still running..)
- Meanwhile wife come over with “tomato bruschetta” on plate..( camera starts @ kitchen and comes back with her..steady cam)
- She keeps the plate on table (camera backside on her..) and keep moving towards window.
- She opens the windows by keep talking to him (Camera outside window facing her face as mid shot )
- She walks down and sit in a chair facing hero.
- Shot cutover behind Hero’s shoulder level as mid shot facing heroine.
If you try to add your own background scoring for this unfilled BGM visual you can surely understand how hard the visual media creators profile works to keep the scene become more harmonious and meaningful with live effect.Magnificent. A music master, director and sound engineering team first watch the scene thoroughly and go for background scoring finally. (Scenes would have been edited by edit team already. All depends…)
Being a sound engineer they need to account many things like…How many characters, what back drop, each character speaking distance, what kind of tools they hold or tasks they does, camera frames/shots and frame distance, exterior and interior sound and etc., like all collective attributes should be taken consideration before finalizing the BGM. It needs tremendous energy and dedication with your passion. That’s the drive goal.
Most of the creators would like to show up their character’s emotions through with the way of sound or expressions instead dialogue. (A deep breath and say “hmmmm’ may express more sometime!) During such situations, the story backdrop, place, no of characters involved, moments of scene flow and etc., all could be expressed via sound even without dialogue sometime. There are several movies have such example were the sound speaks instead dialogue.
What makes a good sound engineer?
Well. In today’s world, a sound engineer should be very much proficient enough to handle different types of audio / video equipment and related digital media recording knowledge is indispensable. Basically the knowledge span across like..handling digital multi track Recorder, network computers, various types of mixing boards, analog /digital tap storing models, data back and recovery pattern and etc., are very much crucial.
Also, with advent of technical age and digital revolution, recording equipments and mediums are dynamically changing off ten or improvised which has extensive linkage with software oriented applications. Primarily, the emerging music techniques are mostly software driven.
Most of current sound mixers, monitors, trackers and recording tools are digital based operations and communication for effective data handling and transfers, and all are almost software driven. Being an avid sound engineer it is becoming more vital to be well aware of these equipments, tools & techniques are the key to become niche in sound engineering.
Basically the sound should be balanced and should provide a constant flow to the theme .Mixing board allows the sound engineer to mix various sounds from instruments like drums ,guitars, violin, bass, keyboard, vocal and other tools. The mixing boards are in many sizes, and separated based on number of tracks or channels they hold. (try to Google more as mixing board..) Since I am not a music oriented technical person cannot get in very detail at thi stage as how each equipments helps technically to create wonderful sound mix. The sound mixer ranges from eight to 124 or more channels based on capacity.
Each channel can accommodate an instrument or voice. Each channel also has several variables depending on the board’s size and capacity. Here the vital sound attributes are bass, treble, channel equalizer effect , volume and others. To become a good sound engineer first love the profile and profession. It’s not a job profile like going 9-6 daily. Fire of art and passion. Its a journey and search.
Keep focused on latest industry updates to address current trend and latest equipments in sound media. Be connected. This is very much vital. I strongly believe, there are enough magazines (Like CreativeCow , Mixonline ) and forums available on net related to sound engineering, Creative media and audio video channels. Try out all.
There are good institutes who educate Sound or media related classes. If you passionate with media industry please try out. Few listed below:
Music or any creativity is an endless journey. Better let us love the journey and not the destination. Keep going…!! Keep blogging..!!