The Arctic Sound Replacement - Reflection
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
The Arctic trailer sound replacement was a fun and interesting project to work on and relatively challenging as well due to the fact that you have to convey so much within a short amount of time and keep the audience engaged throughout. I got to work with some great engineers to produce the Foley sounds and learnt a lot about how audio for a trailer comes together. Overall I think the project was a success but there are a couple of aspects I would still like to change going forward to further enhance and refine the final product, but as it stands its something that I am fairly happy with.
Working with a team to produce the Foley sounds really helped all of us to achieve some high quality sounds. Having the constant feedback and evaluation in the studio about how to produce the sounds and what they actually sounded like to the video ensured that what we were producing was of a high quality. This also meant that any sounds that weren't working so well or if we didn't specifically know how to produce a sound we could all come together and work out the best approach to tackling the problem. For example producing a helicopter SFX, Ash had an idea on how to produce the sound and we kept on refining the process until we produced a sound that was better than what we started with. The creative and evaluating processes and was only really achievable because we had a we positive group environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing their ideas and we all worked towards the same goal of producing great audio. This really shows how important it can be to work with people in group environments and make sure everyone feels like they have the opportunity to contribute creatively. To achieve this same dynamic with other groups in the future could be challenging but I believe that was long as everyone is working towards the same goal it can be done. Its also a good idea to let people have their own opinions about things and try them out even if you think they might not work, going through a different creative process to your own might lead to unexpected results.
There were a couple of very minor problems in the Foley session like working out how to get audio in the headphones, one microphone we wanted to use wasn't working properly, and just the overall process of working out how to produce difficult sounds, but all these things were overcome quickly without too much drama. This again comes down to a positive group environment where everyone worked together to solve problems to get on with the task at hand. Having set up a pro Tools session before entering the Foley studio and creating a spot list of sounds to produce really made the whole thing run a lot smoother and saved a lot of time trying to work out what and where sounds needed to be. If this wasn't done there would have been a lot of wasted time which could have resulted in the energy of the group dropping and the loss of recording momentum. Having a solid plan and idea for a session before hand really is mandatory and seeing as I was the one organising the sessions if I didn't do this preparation not only would I not be working efficiently I would also be letting down the other engineers who had agreed to work with me resulting in a lesser session. This would not only look bad on me but the quality of work that everyone would be getting at the end wouldn't have been as good meaning the final products would be as good as what they are. Having a good pre-production means the best results can be achieved and everyone you work with will be more grateful for it.
The creative process of editing and mixing the Foley to the video was somewhat easy seeing as the the audio that was recorded was of a high quality, the difficult thing was making it fit perfectly into the environment. As the Foley sounds were very clean sounding using EQ and compression to produce a sense of distance from the audience was needed, this was a challenging process of trying to what out whats too much and whats not enough processing to make it feel real. In the end I think I didn't use enough, the sounds are still just ever so slightly too clean sounding which could result in some disconnect of realism for the audience. I discovered that its a very hard balance getting something to appear like it is coming from the environment being displayed whilst still having a sound that is intelligible. Unlike with the Foley recording session where we all gave constant feedback about what was being produced I didn't really seek much feedback for what I was doing in my mixing process. This really is a very good example of why getting others to listen to your work at all stages of production is so important in producing high quality and realistic sounding work. After watching and listening to how other engineers have approached the mixing of Foley sounds and getting more feedback about what I have produced I now have a bunch of ideas that I can now implement to hopefully try and elevate my trailer to a more professional level. If I had more feedback sooner my product could already be better than what it is now.
I was running a little bit behind in my schedule towards the end of the production as I had a couple of other projects I needed to finish so if I had tried to get more of this project completed earlier I would have had more time to get feedback from other people and then implement these changes. I think I underestimated the challenge of producing a trailer that not only sounded good but worked to convey all the different aspects, emotions and scene transitions. This could have been avoided if I really worked to produce a final product sooner than what the actual deadline was, if I had planed to produce a finished product a couple of weeks prior than I would have discovered that it was more challenging than I initially expected and could have put more time in sooner rather than later. I'm still happy with what I produced there is always room for improvement which could have occurred before the deadline resulting in a better product to present.
The overall aesthetic I wanted to produce was to make the hardship that the 2 main characters are going through be felt by the audience and to bring this harsh Arctic environment to life. In the first part of the trailer I wanted to set the scene for the environment and their predicament, to do this I focused on the Foley sounds and the wind SFX to put the audience into the environment. I also used sad and drawn out music to produce a sombre feel to provide emotion, I wanted this very first part to be sad, lonely and distant to help sell the fact that something bad has happened but they are trying their best to cope with it. For the transition in the middle/end section I wanted the pace of the music to increase as they begin moving away from the safety of the crashed plane to the open danger of the Arctic to try and find help. The music in this section is more cinematic with orchestral instruments, percussion and multiple rising synth effects, this was done to try and provide that sense of danger and to also add more tension to the scenes. I still wanted the Foley sounds to be heard in this section but I could have boosted the music louder than what it was to really make this sense of danger more prominent to better convey this harsh Arctic aesthetic. Transitioning from this section to the very end section the music dies down and is similar to that of the start bringing back the sad, and lonely aesthetic as the male character has fallen into a cave, potentially injured but he is still trying to keep positive. I wanted the audience to content with what he is saying at the point so I had very minimal amounts of other audio going on in this section, just the dialogue and the music. I wanted the music in this section to tie back to the beginning to produce a sense that even though they are now in a different area nothing much has changed and they are still in a dire situation or even worse than before. The Foley was used to put the audience into the environment and the SFX and music was used to tell the emotion of the characters.
All up I'm happy with the outcome and learnt a lot from the different from the different phases throughout the production. From recording Foley in a great group environment to creatively mixing all the different elements required to make the audio work with the video content was a very rewarding experience. From now on I'm defiantly going to try to set my own timeline so that I have a somewhat finished product before the actual production deadline, this will not only force me to work more efficiently but means I have more time to evaluate my own work and to receive feedback to make my production even better. Also working in a group environment where everyone is aiming for the same goal and whats to achieve great results really helps to produce higher quality audio than if I tried to do it by myself. Post production work is something that I am leaning towards more and more and doing projects like this is really beneficially to improving my skills and broadening my knowledge. I hope to work on more projects like this in the future.