Category: Sound Design


independent

Formulating the Project:

For this project I needed an external brief to meet the criteria of this assessment. I knew I wanted to make a short film for this project, so I did some research on competitions in the UK. I found the Sundance London Short Film Competition online via the website http://www.onlinevideocontests.com. Although the competition would probably be stiff, it was too perfect to pass up as it fit perfectly with what I wanted to do. Another added challenge was that the competition deadline was in less than four weeks. However I wasn’t going to let that deter me, if anything it motivated me to get the video finished before the deadline because in the media industry most projects are given a maximum of two weeks.

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The first thing I did was send the link to my fellow classmate Jordan Schofield to see what he thought about it. He really enjoyed the brief and was willing to collaborate with me on it. We discussed the brief and what it consisted of. The video had to be 3 to 5 minutes long and the brief states that the theme had to be inspired by the theme, “Making A Go Of It.” This was followed by a short paragraph that stated.

“As the world around us changes rapidly, it seems we are constantly striving to either get ahead or get by. This year we are looking for stories about moving forward in life, love or loss and the pursuit of what makes us inspired to keep going. Sometimes these are happy stories and sometimes they are poignant, but they always change the way we look at the world.” – Sundance London

With this, we decided a few main components that we wanted the video to consist of, and from there we did a rough brainstorm of how the video would be put together. So since Jordan loves writing scripts, and I’m not the biggest fan, it was bestowed upon him, that he took on writing the script for this short story. We both came up with ideas, and Jordan produced the dialogue.

We started with the ending first. We knew that whatever the story ended up being that we didn’t want a cliche happy ending, as most videos tend go down that road. The problem with that is it’s just not realistic, as life isn’t always happy as media usually makes it out to be. We then devised the story around this factor. We came up with the main character wanting to be a successful writer but struggling to find jobs in this industry. This is also a real struggle that many people face once they graduate university, so I quite liked that fact that the story remained true to reality. Below are the notes/ brainstorm leading up to the script.

Main Components:

-DREAMS

Opening scene is a dream of the main character of his/her ideal job. ie writer

Second dream is the main character younger with a parent saying they can be whatever they want to be and anything is possible.

Maybe third dream during interview process ???

-Wakes up, walks past his degree, showing he is capable.

 

-PHONE CALLS

Between mom or girlfriend for added character development asks if he has any luck with job hunting

Newspaper on side, red circles around some jobs, some crossed out already.

Computer open on job site.

Gets phone call, being denied another job, his face drops, and he crosses out another red circle on the newspaper

Throws paper in the bin, camera follows, zooms in, when zooms out it is the psychiatrists bin (bridge between scenes).

 

-PSYCHIATRIST

More character development

See that the main character is afraid of actually going for this big job and afraid of failure

Doesnt want to work a factory job like everyone else

 

After this he is confident, montage of him getting ready for his interview, circled date, brushes hair, sprays mouth, puts on suit and tie, polishs shoes etc etc

 

-MAIN JOB INTERVIEW

Really trys hardest for this big interview, gets suited and booted/practices his interview in mirror

Cuts as he sits down across from the employers, with him smiling hopefully

 

-ENDING SCENE

Comes home with a factory jumpsuit on.

Slumps down on the couch/ chair.

Looks tired is not happy, slow pan out to symbolize he is alone and he comes to realization that his life is not how he wants it.

 

 Implementing the Project with Agreed Procedures:

With our idea set in stone and the script made it was then time to get this video made. Andrew Miles offered to help out with the production which was very nice as we definitely needed the extra help. So we then allocated roles and responsibilities. While I would direct and edit it, Jordan would write it, and Andrew would be in charge of head camera operator as well as lighting.

We also decided that we would all be acting in it, as sourcing actors would be too difficult of a task to do within such short of a period. I decided that I would take on the main role while Jordan took on the role of my psychiatrist, and Andrew would be the person interviewing me in my dream. We also acquired Gareth Skinner from college to help act a bit, as well as Jordan’s father and younger brother who also did some acting. I also arraigned an external music composer to create an original sound track for the video but due to time constraints with the contest deadline, I was forced to do the sound design myself sourcing royalty free music and sound effects.

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As a team we all pulled together and produced this project to get it made. We had 5 locations all together: Andrew sourced his mothers office in Syston for the 1st dream sequence. Next I had used my home for the main portion of the short film, I also used my Aunties house in Grimston for the psychiatrist bit. Jordan used his house for the 2nd dream sequence and finally we used the college for the job interview towards the end, both of which are in Melton Mowbray. We made a shooting schedule that consisted of 5 days over the course of 2 weeks.

To get to and from location we all relied on public transportation, which wasn’t all that bad apart from lugging heavy equipment on a crowded bus. We used most of our own equipment, such as multiple canon DSLR’s, a tripod, My Rode video mic pro, and a jury-rigged boom pole. From college we had to book out the photonbeard lighting kit and the 1 metre glide track (which were the biggest kit we had to lug around).

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I had also considered costumes a major thought. Since Jordan was going to be a psychiatrist he needed to be dressed in somewhat smart clothes. Although he didn’t seem to have any to suit that role. So I went to the thrift shop and found a nice collared shirt and a sweatshirt to go over it for a reasonable price. I would say for the scene it suited him quite nicely. Next I wanted the factory uniform that I wore at the end. I located one from the Country Co store for about 20 pounds, which wasn’t bad but considering I only needed for one scene and nothing more I returned it and gained my full money back, not bad if I don’t say so myself. Also Smart clothes were also required for the first dream sequence and last interview scene.

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The main prop that I had to get ahold of was a college diploma in a frame. This was to add to the character development to show that the main character had the qualifications but just struggled to get a job in the industry. So since I’m still working on my diploma and I’m doing media not journalism, I thought I’d just make one instead. I downloaded a diploma online (one from California which was very suitable for me) and I erased the name that was on it and replaced it with mine in Photoshop. I used a specific font and even curved it a bit so it was more realistic. In the end it looked somewhat real which was good for what we needed it for.

Once all this was done I had a week and a half to edit the video as well as did the sound design before the submission deadline. This was all done in Adobe Premier CS3.

Paperwork:

Below I have release and consent forms for actors who appeared in the video as well as spoke in the video. In addition there are also location release forms for the places we filmed.

 

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180

Evaluate Project Outcomes: 

I spoke to my lecturer Paul Smith about this video, and he gave me some really good critical feedback. He made a few valid observations as well as pointing out some mistakes we had made and I gladly took them all in and learned from them.

Above are 2 shots from the beginning dream sequence. In the first one I am looking left towards Andrew while the second I am looking right towards Andrew. Although I am positioned on the left side of the frame this still makes it really confusing to the viewer. This is because we broke the 180 degree rule and we crossed the line of action while filming. This is the only time we made this mistake during this shoot, but if we never had the first shot then things would have been okay. Paul did say that since it was a dream sequence, that we could have gotten away with it if we actually did it intentionally because dreams aren’t always normal.

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Above is another two shots that we used from the short film. I cut from  the mid shot to the close up because I wanted to show more emotion with the characters. The problem is the continuity with the little boys neck. In the first shot he is leaning back more, which makes it not flow and obvious that we filmed multiple times. To avoid this, next time while filming, I’ll get a shot individually of each characters face, possible an over the shoulder shot so it makes continuity and editing much easier.

Another criticism that paul had was the fact that nothing was pushing the main character to go and get this job. We needed more character development to make this a real problem for him. Paul suggested that maybe the mother is pressuring him to go out and get a job and she is always nagging him about it otherwise she’ll kick him out the house.

I completely agree with this point. Watching this video I feel as the problem isn’t intensified as it should be. This was definitely a learning experience for next time though. To my defense, if we had done something like that, it would greatly surpass the 5 minute limit for the contest. The video was cut down from 8 minutes to 5 minutes already, so adding in more scenes would have been very difficult from me when it came time to edit.

Other than these mistakes I believe the video was shot quite well and had a somewhat high production value. With a little extra time I think we would have realized these problems and fixed the issues accordingly. Next time I will make sure not to break the 180 degree rule as it can confuse the audience, as well as create more of a problematic setting for the main character so it engages more with the viewers.

Unit 3. Criteria 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, &; 4.2

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Create a sound design for the first 13 minutes of: ‘Vexille’ (2007)

As a whole group you will act as a re-dubbing sound design team for the Science Fiction Anime film ‘Vexille’ (2007). Your brief is to create a new sound design for the English language release of the film.

You will be given a muted version of the opening 13 minutes of the film (with subtitles as a guide for dialogue).Therefore, it is your task to research, plan, record, edit and mix the production to the clients specifications.

Your group will be split into smaller satellite teams which will be responsible for different departments in the Production and Post-Production phases. You will then all individually, create a completed, stereo mix of the film.

This particular unit is focused on sound design so therefore you will be graded on your ability construct a coherent and technical competent sound design for the production. You will be expected to use correct equipment to capture audio and also use sound design techniques to enhance the production aesthetics.

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For this task our year was split up into different sound departments groups that was responsible for completing their portion of the sound design. This consisted up of: ADR (additional dialogue replacement), Foley, Atmospheric sounds, and SFX (sound effects) which were divided up into weapons,impact, and machinery sounds. And it was up to each individual to source their own music score if they decided they wanted one when it came time to do the edit.

I was responsible for the machinery sounds with Jordan Schofield. I also helped out with some ADR as well as foley. This project was supposed to be a group effort, unfortunately not everyone pulled their own weight which caused for the rest of us to pick up the slack. Such as atmospheric sounds were not properly synched up, and they weren’t the best quality so I had to source those online and synch them up myself. Weapons sounds were non existent so that had to be done individually as well. Impact sounds forgot to do bullets hitting objects so those had to be produced also. This project has made me realize that working in big groups isn’t always the best thing, I think I much rather prefer working in smaller groups or possibly individually so we have more control over the final end product.IMG_9790

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For this project we simply recored sounds using Garageband on either my laptop or Jon’s laptop. The recording process became consistent after a few tries and we had got it down pretty well. After everything was properly hooked up we used the audio mixer to make sure there was a strong signal coming in, and after we recorded each sound we double checked to make sure it was done properly and here was no extra noise (such as a fan humming in the background). If this was the case we would re position the mic or adjust the audio gain to achieve better results.

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We had to come up with sounds which isn’t as easy as one would expect. For most sounds out there, the sound effect is something that sounds better than the actual sound itself: for example walking on shredded paper sounds like grass even more so if than a recored sound of someone actually walking on grass. We thought of many things to record as about 50 percent of most sounds had to be created rather than sourced. Below Jordan Schofield and Craig ellis are recording an old Mac computers disc tray as part of a mechanical sound. Most sounds need to be layered together to sound well finessed .

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Many days were spent in the studio trying to get most sounds completed for this assignment. We wanted to give everyone plenty of sounds to work with when it came to the editing/mixing stage. Some sounds worked really well while others didn’t. It was mostly trial and error with random things we could find and record.Picture 6

Above is a screenshot of myself mixing in Adobe Premier Pro CS3. Here I am EQing (equalizing) the sound of the helicopter blades while the scene takes place inside the helicopter. I brought down the highs as well as a few of the mids and a tiny bit of the lows. This made the helicopter blades sound quieter which worked quite nicely and fit together.

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The final mix was completed on the colleges computer in Adobe Premier pro CS6. This was nice as it was quicker and had a bigger screen than my personal laptop. Here  I am synching up all the bullet/ bullet impact sounds. I made sure none of the audio levels peaked as well as fading each sound in and out using the constant gain to avoid any sudden changes. Over all I am quite pleased with my edit and I think it works quite well.

Criteria: 2.1 & 3.1

Critically Reflect on the Process and Final Productions you have Created

This task requires you to create a Reflective Learning Journal (RLJ) that charts the journey you have undertaken for the duration of the unit. You should comment on the process, discoveries, discussions with lecturer and your peers and other related information that has assisted you in creating your finished artefacts.

However, you must make sure that you reflect on your work (please refer to documentation guidance such as “Gibbs Reflective Cycle”) and do not just describe the process.

Your RLJ has no word limit and can be presented in a variety of formats (video, audio commentary, written). It is a tool for you to use to document the process and used to assist you in your future practice.

As well as reflecting on the process it is important that you critically reflect (advancement of reflection) on the finished production you have created. When critically reflecting (refer to the lecture on critical reflective practice) it is important to remember that in order for your reflection to be critical it needs to consider numerous perspectives, or lenses (Brookfield, 1995) that assist in you in defining your assumptions about the quality of your production. When critically reflecting upon your finished production it is essential that consider the success of the artefact in terms of technical quality and fitness for purpose in accordance with your original intentions and the assignment brief.

Be able to reflect on own sound design work

Finished product

  • technical quality;
  • aesthetic quality;
  • realisation of aims;
  • suitability for purpose;
  • own contribution to product;
  • team’s contribution;
  • meeting deadlines;
  • audience feedback


Production skills

  • technical competence;
  • workflow and time management;
  • production management;
  • teamworking

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——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–TASK 1

For this task we were told to create a historical timeline reviewing the development of sound design in the film industry. I chose to make a video with images/video/music and a voiceover because I thought this would be more appealing than writing a paper. I decided that for me this would be easier than writing and structuring together a paper other then the fact that I had to source images/ video/ and music that fit together. I had to research then rip videos off of youtube.com then convert them from .mpeg4 to .mov using MPEG streamclip. With these videos I found pictures to accompany them and then I wrote my voiceover. Following this I recorded my voiceover with my RODE Videomic Pro then uploaded it to my computer. Personally I don’t like my own voice but who does? One thing I would change in the future would be to have more energy when I record as I don’t sound very enthusiastic and it does sound a bit mono-tone at certain moments. The music I sourced from freesound.org, and I cut it to my liking and looped it over and over. Personally even though it was undoubtably repetitive, I believe it seemed to work for what I need it for and if i had to do it again I would. Other than my voiceover I would say that overall I did an exceptional job. With time restrictions I was forced to work under a tight time restraint, which I wish wasn’t so but it is understandable. I enjoyed doing all the research for this project as it was very interesting to me. Before this project, I had no idea that Skywalker Sound and American Zoetrope Films are both based in San Francisco, and thats where I was born and raised. Quite embarrassing if you ask me. The most important thing is now I know. I would say that if I were to do anything else I would add more information and expand further on important things.

TASK 2

For this task we  told to individually analyse sound design in a film, animation, and computer game from a chosen list. Originally I wanted to create another video with an added voiceover but again with the time constraints I unfortunately decided against it. I also thought with a voiceover during the scene would take away from noticing the sound design aspects. So I decided to just embed videos from youtube.com into my website and analyse them with text instead. Overall I enjoyed this assessment task, but I will admit that I did have some difficulties with examining the sound design for the computer game section. I learnt that film, animation, and computer games all go through a different processes of sound design as they all have different aspects to consider depending on what best suits their category that their in. Computer games have to use sound that engage their players and help them during game play. Most of the videos I researched where of people recording themselves playing the game (mostly online) and most of the sounds I could make out were just footsteps, gunshots, and explosions. I wanted to find video of gameplay in the career mode as it has a story behind it and it shows more than just gunplay. It gave me more sounds to analyse and made expanding upon them much easier. I found that this was the most difficult category to analyse because it is the one I am most unfamiliar with as I don’t really partake in playing video games as it personally isn’t a big interest for me. Nonetheless I would say I didn’t let this discourage me . I would say that once I found a more filmic scene in the career mode this helped me  treat it as it was just an animation only with added functions. Other than this I quite enjoyed looking at the sound design in these different categories and see how each one differs in their own way.

TASK 3

This unit really helped me understand some of the basics of sound design. Such as setting up the audio mixer hardware when recording as well as using the gain to control  levels to receive strong audio signals. Also the microphone positioning  has to be correct to achieve the desired sound. Such as if someone is yelling into the microphone it would wise to record from a distance as the sound is loud enough anyways. As well as hardware I also gained a better understanding of sound design with software as well, as the two go hand in hand. I learnt that most sounds are layered together within an editing  software to make up a final sound and everything is mixed towards the end using basic audio mixers. Another thing that is very crucial for time management, is correctly labeling audio files as there will most likely be a lot, especially for a feature film. I really enjoyed doing this module as it was almost all practical post production work which is my favorite aspect of filmmaking. It is a massive growing industry that would be great to be in, but often overlooked.

TASK 4

For this task we had to re-dub the first part of the animation ‘Vexille’. This included sound effects, ADR, foley, music score, and atmospheric sounds. This task took some serious effort, time, and work put into it to make it what it is. It makes me appreciate the dedication it takes to make a great sound design possible. After creating and obtaining all of the sounds I needed it wasn’t a case of just dragging and dropping those sounds into the right place and then it was done. After all the sounds were put into there proper place (which took a lot of time to sync up just right), they needed to be mixed using the audio mixer in Adobe Premier. I adjusted the levels of the sounds depending on what best fit the animation (such as the car in the opening scene, as it was driving away I lowered the the volume). I also adjusted the sounds from the left and right speakers (such as when characters walk from one side of shot to the other, I would move the foley sound of their footsteps in the direction that they walking). Effects were also used such as de-nosier to get rid of background hum, reverb to add slight echos, and equalizing to raise or decrease bass and treble. This created a greater sense of space within the animation instead of sounding flat and unreal. Also finding the best fit music score that was royalty free was also a challenge. Eventually after much needed research I found music that I thought was appropriate and suitable. Hundreds and hundreds of sounds were used in my final mix. Layers and layers of sounds were compiled together to complete the best realistic sounds possible. I really enjoyed this unit but for future sound design projects I would have done a few thing differently. This includes doing more research on sourcing sounds to save time trying to create the perfect sound on my own. Also as a precaution I would take on board most of the responsibilities for the sound design project as some people aren’t as reliable as they should be. I would also edit the project bit by bit as I went along with it, instead of leaving it to last minute so I had more time finessing each sound and making it near to perfect. Overall I gained a lot of experience from this unit, and I plan to use it for my sound design projects in the future.

Criteria: 4.1 & 4.2  

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Assessment Task 1:

A Critical Review of the Development of Sound Design Practice

You should create a historical timeline (this can be written, graphical or video format) that critically reviews the development of sound design in the film industry. It is important that your timeline discusses the landmark sound designers, landmark companies, organisations, roles and technological developments.

If you decide to create a written historical timeline you should write approximately 1000 words; video production should be no longer than 5 minutes.

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Above is the final video for this project. I thought it would be more practical if I made a video rather than writing a paper. Below is a screenshot of myself editing this video in Adobe Premier Pro CS3. I had obtained the music beat from freesound.org and I had to cut it to my liking. Music is by christianjinnyzoe and is called down tempo track. All my references for the videos that I used in this production will be at the bottom.

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References:

Pat Vasquez-Cunningham. (2010). A Foley Makes It Sound Just Right. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbfCgyhyvgg. Last accessed 13/10/2010.

Marc Carlton. (2013). Foley Recording at Clean Cuts. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj2Cky5I8OA. Last accessed 13/10/2010.

Fartfx3. (2009). WALL E Animation Sound Design part 1. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsfbXGDw_aA. Last accessed 13/10/2010.

ThinkingSound. (2011). Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola Talks about the Evolution of Movie Sound. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-fNpE9vQJw. Last accessed 13/10/2010.

Criteria: 1.1

‘From the Ground Up’ – Building a Sound

You will build 4 test pieces that focus on particular areas of sound design:

  1. A.D.R
  2. SFX
  3. Foley
  4. Atmospheres


Each test piece will be an originally filmed narrative sequence, photographed by the entire group. You will then work in small groups to record, edit and mix the sound design for each. Emphasis will be placed on the art of ‘building’ a sound or a series of sounds in layers; from the ground up.

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Week 4: For this assignment, we were given a scene from The mirror (1975) by Andrei Tarkovsky without any audio and our task was to build up the atmos pas (or atmospheric sounds) for it. This excluded any dialogue or foley sounds ect. Atmos pas is usually the first track in sound design and sometimes can be done in pre-production even before principle photography. It is because the sounds aren’t ‘direct’ or ‘synced’ that this is able to be done beforehand.

Atmos Pas:

For this task I worked together with Vicky Grant. The scene we were given, the character is a dream state. We  wanted the Theme to be eerie and unrealistic. The Mood we were going for was strange and unsettling. In the Narrative Arch, we felt like this was definitely building up to something so it had to be in the complication stage. Location is indoors in a creaky old house and the Weather is really windy and cold. With the water drop we played them in reverse to create a more dream like state.

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Here is a screen shot of us using the audio mixer in Adobe Premier Pro CS3. Each sound has its own track and was named properly to make things easier. We adjusted the pitch levels when we needed them higher or lower depending on what we were going for. We even tried adjusting the balance from left to right with the wind but ended not using it. Below is our final product and below that is the original.

Week 5:

For this weeks assignment our class focused on making Foley Sounds as well as Spot FX. We did a test piece from the animation Vexille. We decided what foley sounds we would need, for the humans we would need clothes rubbing together and footsteps with solid shoes on snow and concrete stairs. For the robots we would need robotic sounds of some sort but we weren’t quite sure what would work. Below is a picture of the studio, we used three microphones 2 hyper cardioid  mics for dialogue and one shotgun microphone for spot effects. After having problems with Pro Tools we decided that Apples Garageband would work nicely.

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Below is a picture of the sound mixer that we had all the XLR leads running into from the microphones. They were all in their proper order running from left to right. Here we checked our levels and made sure none of our sounds peaked as we recorded.IMG_3325

Craig Ellis did a lot of our foley sounds for the humans. We found some solid shoes for him to wear and in sync he mimicked the movements of the characters on the projected screen. For the surface sounds we found a couple slabs of concrete for our hard surface and we decided on a shower curtain for our snowy surface. Both worked rather nicely. Below is a picture of Craig rubbing together pieces of cloths using the shotgun microphone to imitate the noise trousers make while walking.

For the robot sounds we used a number of items which included a squeaky desk lamp, an old dial telephone, a VHS player, some sort of dial, and a desk chair. All the sounds layered on each other worked almost too perfectly. It was a matter of trial and error and getting sounds matched up perfectly but in the end we got there. At one point we couldn’t figure out anything to use for the robots scanner, So I thought I’d give vocalizing it could work. Sadly it didn’t but it was fun to try. One thing we were unable to work on because we ran out of time was adjusting the pitch and balance to give our sounds depth. This will be something that I really look forward to doing.

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Week 6:

For this weeks assignment we focused on ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) for the animation Vexille. We discovered that since the dialogue was originally Japanese the timing wouldn’t be dubbed exactly right. We worked around this as best as we could. We used the hyper cardioid microphones as these were best fit for what we were doing. We figured out that if the dialogue required yelling into the microphone that we could distance ourselves further from the microphone as it was louder and we wouldn’t restrict ourselves saying our lines, and our audio waveforms wouldn’t peak.

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At one point we realized that the dialogue had some reverb attached to it, for some odd reason. We were unable to figure it out until Joey Lever mentioned that Garageband put some reverb on it if you select a recording because it’s mainly used for singing and it’s an added effect Garageband throws on there. If you selected a no effect real instrument it comes out nice and non-disrupted. It took us a while to get everything to sound right, but with loads of trial and error, in the end we got there.
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Criteria: 2.1 & 3.1