Sound and Story

Using Sound to Help Tell Your Story, Open City Documentary Festival, London, 6th September 2018.

I was interested in this workshop because I have combined images with sound in some of my work and want to explore this further in my subsequent projects. The presenters worked through the process of putting together a soundtrack for a documentary film. The discussion of the process and effect of creating a soundscape, over which to lay dialogue, made me think carefully about the kinds of recording I have made (mostly binaural recordings to give a sense of the sonic landscape of particular places). Whist the recordings are relatively high quality, they fall short of conveying a full appreciation of the complexity of the soundscape. That is going to require a fair degree of enhancement and processing. It left me wondering why, given the ways in which we manipulate visual images, I had expected to present the recordings as they were. There is as much as a need for the sound recording to direct and hold attention and to present potential for meaning-making as there is for the images presented. This workshop has given me insight into how to achieve this, and guidance in the use of one particular tool (ProTools). I need to think more clearly about how the sound relates to the images and what I need to do with the sound to enhance this relationship. How sound relates to images is very different in, for instance, a gallery setting (where it can be ambient, localised, or personalised through headphones) and in an online audio-visual presentation. The combination of sound with print in a portable format (like a book) is a particular challenge. The point, gleaned from this workshop, is that how I design and ‘sculpt’ the soundscape will change according to the mode of presentation and form of relationship between sound and image desired, even if the sound is being used incidentally in setting context.