Matt North – Career Update

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Blog post by 2012 Audio Production graduate Matt North.

Since my last update on the Audio Production blog, things have changed dramatically for me in my career and I have been very busy. In June this year, I left Ideal Shopping Direct after just under a year of service working as both a Technical Operator and Audio Operator – mixing over 500 hours of live broadcast audio for the TV shopping channels Ideal World, Create & Craft and The Deal Channel.

I left the role because I managed to land an incredible job working as a sound recordist for a small family company in London called Videoheads and have since been involved in some very exciting projects. Videoheads are a small kit and crew company based in White City and have worked with all of the major UK TV broadcasters on a long list of programmes. Since joining, I have been very fortunate to work on programmes for the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky on such programmes as The One Show, Crimewatch and currently Channel 4’s coverage of the iTunes Festival 2013 as a location sound recordist. I have also worked on a few corporate shoots for big companies/clients such as Electrolux, Sky One, AQA and Ernst & Young.

My skills are well and truly being put to the test and I’m learning new methods and skills every day as each shoot brings its own audio challenges and issues.

I’m also currently mixing a short film I shot last December in my spare time (which is very little at the moment) and continuing to build up and add to my personal location recording kit.

If any students have any questions or would like to get in touch with me about anything, my email address is matt@mattnorthaudio.co.uk.

How The Money Gets Divided From A CD Sale

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The average CD costs eight pounds. Who gets a share of it and how much to they get? Musicians, producers, songwriters and managers are just a few. It goes in lots of directions. Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Robbie Williams’ manager trace them in this clip from the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘You And Yours’.

Björk Tackles The Grid

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When using a DAW for electronic music production, it is often frustrating to be shackled to the grid as it often dictates the feel in the rhythmic elements of a composition.

In the songs and apps for Biophilia, Björk tackles this problem of the rigidity of the grid in her exploration of nature, music and technology.

In the very interesting clip below, she describes a much more fluid approach made possible by today’s sophisticated technology and its ability to behave in a much more organic way.

Listen to the short clip from the BBC 6 Music programme ‘The First Time’ here:

The Soundworld Of Dr Who

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This interesting documentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and explores the sound design of Doctor Who, both in its early years, and in recording the seventh BBC Wales series. Matthew Sweet interviews Tim Ricketts, Paul Jefferies and Brian Hodgson who are all involved with sound design on Doctor Who, past and present. Also interviewed the voice of the Daleks and Ice Warriors, Nicholas Briggs. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the interval of the 2013 Doctor Who at the Proms.

Listen to the programme here


Also

Doctor Who: How Norfolk man created Dalek and Tardis sounds

Foghorn Requiem

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There used to be more than a hundred foghorns stationed around the British Isles but now there are fewer than 30. The BBC’s arts correspondent Rebecca Jones reports that a special requiem has been written which will be performed by ships at sea, three brass bands on the shore and the Souter Lighthouse foghorn near South Shields to mark the demise of the foghorn.
Listen to the BBC Radio 4 clip here

Update: please read Robin The Fog’s excellent account of the performance and listen to recordings here.

Oblique Strategies

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‘Infinitesimal gradations’, ‘Repetition is a form of change’, ‘Bridges -build-burn’ – just three of the gnomic aphorisms contained in the Oblique Strategies cards devised in the early 1970s by artists Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno. The cards were aimed at providing a creative jolt to artists who were either stuck or searching for new directions for their work. Most famously, Eno and David Bowie used the cards during the making of the now infamous set of albums known as the Berlin trilogy.

Simon Armitage first came across them as a student, but has never actually owned or used a pack himself. Now he sets out to tell the story of the cards, talk to some of those who’ve used them (across the fields of music, writing, cooking, business and more) and also find out whether the cards will take his own writing in a new direction. Among those he’ll speak with are Carlos Alomar (the guitarist on those Bowie albums), user Paul Morley, chef Ian Knauer and creativity guru Professor Tudor Rickards. He’ll also use the cards to try and help him track down the elusive Brian Eno himself.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here

The Science Of Music

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In this BBC Radio 4 series, Professor Robert Winston looks at music with a scientist’s eye in a series which seeks to fully understand our relationship with the power of sound.

In Episode 1 of the series, Professor Winston explores the origins of music. Are we really the descendants of singing cavemen?

In Episode 2, Professor Winston explores the logic, engineering and physics underlying the musical sounds we hear. Why do some notes sound good together? And are we really simply seeking patterns when we listen to music?

In Episode 3, Robert Winston explores music and the mind. What’s happening in our heads when we listen to music?

In Episode 4, Robert Winston explores the science of music performance. What’s happening when we perform music? And does it change our brains?

Audio Production At The 2013 Degree Show

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There was some really excellent and varied work at this year’s degree show and I’ve included a small selection of it here.
The work covers some of the radio, experimental and music output. However, there is plenty more film and animation work yet to be included here.
Thanks to Tom Ward and Andy Kettle for representing AP in the degree show committee.

Collaborations with Animation

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Blog post by level 2 AP student Nathan Lewis.

Earlier this year, an opportunity arose for Audio Production students to collaborate with the final year Animation students, who needed an original soundtrack design for their films. With the chance to enhance my learning experience and add to the repertoire of short films for my portfolio, I gladly attended the meeting to pitch my musical stylings to the groups in a rather professional manner (I hope). I was aware that each filmmaker required a specific style of artist for their film and was therefore delighted that my music captured the interests of two of the groups, which turned out to be amongst my favourite of the films.

With a rather jolly disposition, I took out my laptop and asked as many questions as I could about what they required from me. Both films required music and sound effects intertwined under a three dimensional, naturalistic, yet dreamy umbrella of auditory experience. I immediately got to work!

After uploading the animatics, I began composing the music. My method is to let the story play a few times till the required vibe is discovered for which I then perform the indicated melodies on a MIDI keyboard to depict the mood on screen. Because the animatics mainly consist of pencil outlines; imagination and foresight is very much required, hence it being a good idea to ask any key questions integral to understanding the plot, early as possible.

In total, I must have had about four pieces of music rejected, which taught me not only to keep my cool, but also a lot about catering for someone else’s design and vision, as usually the boot is on the other foot. Through many edits and adjustments, I eventually earned the trust of my teams and they allowed me to work more autonomously towards the final stages.

Highlights included the enlisting of my father as “incoherent quip” actor to perform some grunts, screams, oohs and aahs in one of the more acrobatic films. I originally attempted this myself only to rapidly discover my voice being not of the masculine persuasion required of the character.

Upon mutual satisfaction, the animatics were finally replaced with the fully animated versions where the stenciled in biros were replaced with beautiful colourings and HD frameworks. With these versions being less sporadic and more, well, animated, I was able to perform and record the foley which consisted mainly of footsteps and clothing rustles to bring the picture to life. The final versions were met with enthusiasm and sincere collaboration prospects for the future.

I recommend and advise any Audio Production student to get involved as it’s not only experience towards the field you are in, but also of the animation process itself; hence providing you with a wealth of invaluable industry experience upon graduation.

The two films complete with my composition and sound design can be seen here: River Man and here: Snowblind