Sound and Moving Image: Choosing Audio for to Video.

This assignment required me to use Cubase to score the video clip below, and produce non-musical sonic elements to accompany visual components and narrative. Sonic elements may include atmospheres, spot effects, visual punctuation and other diegetic sound, while showing an example of both foley and sound design.


The Film Clip with my score is shown below:




Project Set-Up:


First of all we had to set up Cubase so that it would be easier to work with video editing, so after I had created a new project, The first thing I did was add the “Jog and Scrub” wheel to my transport panel, this can be done by right clicking on it and selecting “Jog and Scrub” from the drop down menu.


The Jog and Scrub wheel consists of 3 parts, the innermost section has two symbols a + and  -, these allow you to more forward 1 frame at a time to get precise timing when it comes to clips. The middle section of the wheel or “Jog wheel” when dragged round with the mouse allows you to spool your way through the footage, while the outermost wheel will fast forward (clock wise) or re-wind (counter clockwise) the further the dial is panned to each side.



I also changed the two timer bars on the transport panel, setting one to bars and beats, while the other I set as time, so I could keep track of the position of the film, and where it falls during a bar. This can be done by clicking within the two areas on the transport panel and re-arranging it. I loaded up as well a Time Display and Video viewer so I had the visual cues and a larger clock to see the frame it was set to add markers. This can be loaded up from the Devices menu drop down menu, while the video player can be loaded up by double clicking on any imported audio.


Once I had set this up, I imported the video into the session, this involved saving the file within the project folder, so It would be easier to find if I couldn’t remember its location on the drive. To import a video clip into Cubase you go File > Import > Video File. However sometimes your frame rate of the song isn’t the same as the project, this can be simply changed by selecting Project > Project Set-Up < then selecting the appropriate frame rate from the drop down list.


I then loaded up the Video Player so I could the video playing as I was working on it, this can be done from Devices > Video Player. I also added both a marker track and a ruler track. Both can be selected from the insert track selection, and each fulfil a different purpose:


The Ruler track when set to time code allows me to see how far the video has progressed, while the marker track allows me to add marker or sync points for the insertion of audio.


Adding Markers:


I then proceeded to add markers to various points in the video to keep track of changes within the film so I add audio later. To insert a marker play the clip to the desired point, Click on the add marker button within the marker track.


Creating Sounds:


Now I had a list of points in the video where I could add audio, as mentioned before, I could us sounds I recorded myself or made, and existing audio, so I decided to make all of these sounds in Pro Tools.


The first one I created was for the electronic sounds when the Tetris like shapes flash over the screen. This was created by using a signal generator to generate some white noise on an auxiliary input. This was then bused into a stereo audio track, allowing me to record the signal being produced.

Busing Signal Generator





















I then automated the volume to cut in and out every other bar with the grid set to 1/32ths, giving me a tremolo effect which I then bolstered by a Distortion plug in to make it sound more harsh. Finally I added a 7 band EQ and added the Low pass frequency control to the automation list, so I could get it to sweep in and out for the duration of the clip. It was then a case of importing it into Cubase, and then placing it at the correct marker in the project, though I used the time stretch feature on Cubase to change how fast the sound is played, so I sped it up by double and put two together for the last set of shapes towards.

Volume Automation

Low Pass Automation







Next I made a synth pad to be used throughout the clip to provide ambiance, this was created by using the same signal generator as before recording into a audio track, but instead of using white noise, I used a square wave at 440Hz, which is roughly the frequency of an A note on a piano. After this I recorded it into another channel but changed the frequency to about 510Hz, I chose this number because it was only slightly higher than the previous frequency, but not close enough to another note.

Synth Pad


Because of this when played together both waveforms would be slightly out of phase, causing a chorus like effect. I then grouped them into an auxiliary input, and automated the volume so it would have a slow attack and release, as well as adding a reverb plug in to increase the resonance of the frequencies. Again I imported it into Cubase and placed it in the appropriate locations.


Another sound I created was the beeps, during the scene where the man is sitting at his desk, this was made using the signal generator playing a square wave at 500Hz, which I then made the beeps but automating the volume. Once imported into Cubase, I then just placed them within the correct markers.



Attack and Release






Finally I produced some un edited white noise for the static on the TV at the end, which was just recorded in the same way as mentioned above,  and placed at the appropriate marker.


I also tried experimenting trying to create some industrial sounding piston sounds using a combination of both white and pink noise (each octave has the same amount of noise power, with each one being reduced or increased by +/-3dB.) I was automating the pink noise over the white noise, which was constant, playing the pink in short bursts. However when imported into Cubase, it made it sound like there was too many sounds going on, especially since I was trying to show other sounds in the areas I added it to.


Other Sounds:


I also used a selection of existing material in my video, the first of which is a clip of a film projector, where I thought it would fit the slide show feel of the opening credits. This came from the website, which in their terms and conditions I could use it for personal use, or non financial benefit.


I used the sound of a Dial up modem during the later scenes in the video, this was ripped off a YouTube video, I found out later that the free program Audacity has a preset which also replicates this sound. I used it to make it sound like the computer in the office was really old and then crashes because of it. Video link below.



The sound of the digital camera zoom was taken from the website, which also said in its terms and conditions that it could be used for personal use/non financial gain. Imported it into Pro Tools to cut it down since it had other parts which were not relevant to sound I want it to achieve. I used it to give the impression on the zoom outs it was a CCTV/Security camera recording.



I also recorded some Foley style sound effects on a Zoom Handicam H2 Recorder, these included the sound of Footsteps and a Door opening. For the Footsteps, I had to walk down a set off metal stairs while watching the footage to get them in sync, while the door I found and recorded it shutting. The Door sound I didnt need to edit, and it was placed directly into Cubase at a fade in, the footsteps however needed a Low Pass filter to get rid of some background noise, as well as the  sound then being Normalized to bring up the volume.






Doing this assessment gave me an idea of the sort of routine a sound designer has to get into during post-production of a film, giving me a whole new insight into the process.




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