Footsteps, a short Emotional History (EH) piece, was developed around the human emotions of fear and surprise. A short audio piece of 2 minutes, the main aim of ‘Footsteps’ is to draw the listener in with an intriguing narrative whilst building suspense through the use of background ambience tracks and editing of speech. The EH piece features a Women who recounts the night she, as a young teenager, is confronted by an intruder in her house.
The interview track was kept largely unedited with only pauses and breaths manipulated. Adding pauses and keeping breaths helped add a ‘natural rhythm’ to the dialogue, this was discussed in Lyssa Mudd’s Editing Sound’ (2017). To structure the interview, I went through the multiple times and highlighted key moments and quotes that the interviewee said. I also asked the interviewee to include a few extra details such why she wasn’t sleeping and probing deeper to discover if there were any details that could add to the conclusion. I then prompted the interviewee to use them in the final take. An example was the ending line ‘the only trace he left was a pair of shoes at the back door’ which although the interviewee didn’t believe it was an important detail and originally left it out of the story, I believe it added to the mystery and ambiguously to the story.
Sounds in audio storytelling need to ‘completely inspire an image in the mind of the audience’ Ben Burt explained on the Arts Edge Podcast (2011). Attempting to capture this image in minds of the listeners, my editing incorporated a suspenseful background track, pauses in speech along with silence to attempt to heighten the emotions felt whilst listening. In Audio Storytelling in Today’s Visual World (2016, p. 24), Jenny Ek in explained that ‘there is no need to use the same object for the sound rather ensuring the use the object that which will represent it best’. I used this concept to mimic footsteps, recording a screeching door and editing it with a large room reverb. The pronounced echo from reverb added to the surreal moment of the intruder coming towards the room.
The main issue that came apparent when recording, was the background sounds around the recording location. A motorcycle revving its engine next door along with my housemate opening the door made multiple takes unusable as it detached the listener from the story. Luckily, I was able to capture a great take without obtrusion from outside noises on the 5th or 6th attempt. Probing out information, I was also wary of home much to prompt the interviewee, morphing the truths from an already great short story.
Overall I believe that the EH audio piece was a success and will have the desired emotional effects on the listeners. Had I have worked with the background audio further and collected additional audio samples, a more suitable connection between the blood-curdling scream section and the background audio would have been established. The main takeaway I gained from this assignment is to capture a large variety of sounds when recording to ensure the audio piece does not finish with any ‘missing pieces’, especially those connections that tie together narrative and emotion.
Are16ocean, 2012, Suspense Ambience, 3 February, FreeSound.org, viewed 20 August 2017, https://freesound.org/people/are16ocean/sounds/144981/
Burt, B & Furst, D 2011, D.I.Y. Old-Time Radio: Telling stories with sound, Podcast, 24 October, ARTSEDGE: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network, viewed 26 August 2017, https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/d-i-y-old-time-radio/id474001652?mt=2
Cadere Sounds, 2014, Horror Cinema 2, 10 March, FreeSound.org, viewed 20 August 2017, https://freesound.org/people/CadereSounds/sounds/222549/
Ek, J 2016, Audio Storytelling in Today’s Visual World The necessary components of a successful soundscape for an audio play, Arcadia, pp. 24, Viewed 26 August 2017, http://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/120200/Audio+Storytelling+Jenny+Ek.pdf;jsessionid=20028696D979BCF7F4DD283CD55B65B5?sequence=1
Mudd, L 2017, Editing Sound, B-Side Radio, Viewed 25 August 2017, http://bsideradio.org/learn/editing-sound/