Friday, 27 January 2012

2nd assignment - The Sight of Sound

For this assignment, combine audio effects into a soundscape to represent a place or an event.
I've done a little sound work in the past. In the early days that involved adding music to slideshows (before I understood the copyright and public broadcasting implications) and my more ambitious attempts at using macromedia software like Director, Flash & Author-ware. Gosh it used to be so difficult and time consuming. It's astonishing how social media and web based applications have changed all that. It must have a huge impact for people working in the Creative Industries.
More recently I've recorded, processed and produced Podcasts from time to time which I've enjoyed, and doing that provided an opportunity to get to grips with Garage Band, although with most of the software I use, I only know enough to do what I want to do. So I can use quite a range of software but not very efficiently. I created this audio project in my usual round about way and I'll  outline the process in this post. My colleagues in edtechcc will soon appreciate the ridiculous processes I go through, largely due to my amateur status and general ignorance.

Cooking for Christmas (mp3)

It took a little time to think about a scenario I could develop but decided to try to create a soundtrack to accompany the short animoto video preliminary project. I looked around for some free sounds and registered with freesound a site that Colin had recommended. It has a great stock of short audio files and I found it really user friendly. I used Garageband to arrange and organise the eight or so tracks but had problems with the final little piece of music as it would not move into GB software. 
Eventually I realised that it was the file format that was the problem (.wav) and Garageband didn't like it. I decided to export the project as an MP3 file and then opened it in Audacity which does like .wav files and added it on to the end - of course Audacity doesn't export in MP3 without an add in so I decided that I would convert the file using ZamZar, a free converting service  - works well and I'm reasonably happy with the result.
It did occur to me during the process that anyone who had a hearing impairment would be excluded from the experience and it seemed important to me that I provide the activity in an alternative format so I wrote a description of the audio. I think this would be acceptable as a reasonable adjustment and it is important  that accessibility considerations are made at the outset rather than "retro-fixing" later on.

The sequence starts with general kitchen noise of utensils being set down and ingredients gathered together. This is followed by an egg being cracked, whisked and then mixed with other ingredients with a wooden spoon. Following the scraping out of the bowl, the sound of paper depicts the process of sealing a pudding bowl before steaming for a length of time when the sound of bubbling water is used. A timer bell rings to signify the end of the cooking time and the end product is divided up for the assembled company that can be heard. The sequence ends with a short rendition of silent night in an old music box style.


  1. You make an excellent point regarding including accessibility considerations prior to implementation. It has really made me think.

    My Audacity 1.3.13-beta allows exporting in mp3, without any add-ins, so I guess that I was lucky being able to skip the extra steps needed to convert a file.

  2. Great sound scape. A lot of thought has gone into your idea and how to get across each action of making a cake.