Final Reflective Summary

This project consisted of six, 1-2 minute pieces that include narration, sound effects, music and is recorded nearly entirely with binaural microphones.

Project Overview

What I Did During This Project:

This project tested my skills a little bit as I attempted to do a lot of things that I had never tried before. I was tasked with writing six short stories which proved difficult at times as I found it hard to both incorporate the original ghost stories as well as making it an interesting piece to listen to, however I am proud of the piece I did for the Lawn as I think it is an interesting concept and not a traditional story like the others. I was also tasked  with recording voice-over for the pieces which was difficult to do at first, however with practice I became comfortable with doing it and created some decent voice-overs. I also had to figure out how to record things binaurally which wasn’t very difficult as I used a fairly simple piece of equipment, however crafting a fake head proved tricky at times as it was bulky.

How Did The Project Unfold?

I started this project with a very vague idea of what the final product would be, I knew that I wanted to create short stories that had a scary twist, and I knew that I wanted to incorporate binaural recording techniques in some way. The ideas that I had would change on a weekly basis and especially after I went to record atmosphere on location and got very little out of it, I decided that the best way to utilise the binaural microphones was to record the narration with them. I found that the binaural aspect of the project became somewhat of a gimmick and would have been better if the entire project was a singular, moving piece. Most of the research and blog posts were completed before the final week of submission, which is an improvement for me as I usually leave that to the last minute, however the audio work was completed mainly during the last few weeks, which makes me feel like some of the pieces are somewhat rushed, and could perhaps be improved if I had left time to mix them better. I ended up sourcing the music/background ambience I used as I didn’t feel confident in my music making skills.

Research

LO1 – Pros/Cons:

I feel like LO1 was one of my more thought out and researched objectives as I looked in to the ways that other people recorded their binaural pieces and it also influenced my purchase of the Roland microphones as I uncovered in my research that they were a good option for people that wanted to begin recording binaurally without having to create their own microphones from scratch. I made sure to document the problems that I had with my initial recordings and how I had planned to get around them, which made me think about the issues in more detail before the next recording sessions. I think if I were to continue my research or add to it, I would have searched for binaural recordings that focussed on using the microphones for narration instead of gathering sound for atmosphere.

LO2 – Pros/Cons:

I think that the research for LO2 focussed less on radio and instead on storytelling and recording voice-over, however this is not necessarily a bad thing as my research helped me become more confident within my abilities when it came to writing and reading a story aloud. Listening to ‘The Stone Tape’ definitely helped influence my piece as it showed off how to create an atmosphere or space when recording binaurally and how you can create something genuinely scary using only sound. I think if I were to continue the research I would focus more on finding more radio dramas that both used binaural recording methods and traditional recording methods so that I could gain more insight on how it is done professionally.

LO3 – Pros/Cons:

Again, in LO3 I think I veered away from my initial research topic, however I did focus on how traditional horror media creates atmosphere and what some of the common tropes in film are and this definitely influenced the way that I created my pieces. For example, I took influence from some of the most popular horror movies when it came to creating an atmosphere/ a piece of music to accompany the narration; I focussed on making the listener uncomfortable by using both high and low notes simultaneously. If I were to continue the research I would have branched out and looked in to games as a medium and how they create an effective atmosphere.

LO4 – Pros/Cons:

Lo4 was definitely my weakest area of research and I think that is apparent from my blog. I didn’t exactly know what to look for when it came to this objective and could only think of a few things to discuss. the main thing that the research influenced was how the project would be shown; I took my influence from the pieces at Sonophilia 2016 which involved short stories and poems being told about specific areas, this is where I got the initial idea from for my project. I think I would have chosen a different learning objective completely if I were to do this again.

Conclusion:

What Would I Do Differently?

I think if I were to start this project again, I would take it in one of two ways, I would either completely ditch the binaural aspect of the project in favour of more traditional recording methods, or I would have created a moving piece that lasted the same amount of time as all the pieces put together. I found the binaural recording fairly gimmicky at times and I think it would have been easier and less stressful if I had recorded the whole thing in stereo/mono. However, if the piece was not static, and I still decided to use the binaural microphones, I think it would have been a different experience, but would have made the binaural microphones more necessary.

Final Words:

Out of all of the projects I have done at my three years at university, this is the only one I feel I have been creative on; this project was about doing something I had never done before and creating something different from what everyone else was doing, instead of just jumping through hoops to get a grade. I have enjoyed working with Emily on this project as her enthusiasm and interest in my idea made me much more excited about actually doing it, instead of half-arseing it.

Map (Supporting Materials)

0GsKrqL - Imgur

Full Size Image Available From: http://imgur.com/0GsKrqL

Scripts/Stories (Supporting Material)

Browns Pie Shop – Ignored

I have been stuck in this building for nearly two hundred years now. People come and go every day, but I have to stay here. I am so jealous of the other children that come here with their parents and get to leave as a happy family. I really miss my parents.

I tend not to bother the customers or the cooks that work here. But I sometimes make noises to see if they notice me, and most do. However, some of the cooks don’t acknowledge me…and I don’t like that. It’s not nice to be ignored.

Around fifty years ago there was a new cook hired at the shop and he didn’t believe I was real, so I started being louder than usual…but that didn’t seem to bother him. So I started moving things in the kitchen to try and spook him…but still nothing. I felt that the only way he would believe I was real is if he saw me…I scared him so much that he fell backwards into the sink, where there was a knife facing upwards…There was blood everywhere and his eyes were so lifeless… I never wanted to hurt him…I just wanted to be noticed.


Lincoln Castle – Knox

If only I hadn’t stopped for the night, perhaps things would be different. Maybe he would still be here.

I only stopped for one night, but that is all it took, just one night. I could have saved him.

The thought of all those people… watching his final moments on this earth… I can’t imagine how that must have felt for him.

He was an innocent man. He would never kill someone, it just wasn’t something he could do.

We were tasked with freeing him, all we had to do was return within 5 days, and we failed…

I rode tirelessly through the night, but I was tired, as was my horse. So we stopped… Slept through the night and awoke to the sun beaming through the windows.

If only I hadn’t stopped, perhaps things could be different… Maybe I could have saved him. 

 


Cathedral – Judgement Porch

In the 14th century, the black death was sweeping across Europe, taking the lives of millions. Around 1349, it reached Lincoln. Bubonic plague took over the city and the corpses began to pile as the population dropped rapidly.

The church had no idea what to do with the corpses, as they couldn’t possibly bless every person that had died, so they decided the only option was to bury them all together.  A mass burial began on the cathedral grounds.

It is said that once a year, on the anniversary of their burial, the ghosts of the dead rise and march in procession through the doors of the Cathedral, singing for the salvation of their souls, as they attempt to end the struggle of being stuck in limbo.

Those who are not worthy of redemption, aren’t allowed to enter the gates, so they roam the grounds of the cathedral, forever stuck between heaven and hell.  

 


 

Greestone Stairs – Thieves

So…Saint Hughes died. And he was buried with mountains of gold and gems. Of course, we had to steal it. We would be idiots not to.

The plan was simple, enter the cathedral, wait for closing time, take the loot and then get out of there.

I don’t know why I chose to take Hughes’s head with me as well as all the gold, But I guess it would have made a cool trophy.

After we had bagged everything up, we headed out of the Cathedral and headed down the steps.

You may think I’m crazy but I swear that when I looked ahead of us, I saw someone hanging from that damn lamppost. It scared me so much that I tripped up and dropped everything. The head rolled down the steps and just kept going down the hill.

If I hadn’t tripped up, we would have gotten away with it, we would be rich. But now I’m stuck in this cell.

 


 

White Hart Inn – I Can’t Sleep

I Can’t Sleep. Every time I close my eyes and begin drifting off, I hear a sound and I swear it’s coming from outside the room, It sounds like people are running up and down the hall. Everytime I hear the noise, I get out of bed, open my door and check the hallway to see what could be making such a racket. But there is nothing, just an empty hallway with no one to be seen.

After the third time hearing this damn noise I get up out of my bed, put on my dressing gown and head down to the reception to see what was going on.

“Excuse me, I am in a room upstairs and I keep hearing people running up and down the corridor, please can you sort this out?”

“Of course sir, I will get right on it.”

I return to my room and get back into my bed.

*Rattle Door aggressively*

“For god sake!”

I storm towards my door, reach my hand out towards the doorknob, but before I grab it, it starts to turn.

 


The Lawn – Inspection

April 5th – Inspection of The Lawn – Day 1

I began my inspection by looking around the sanitarium. Everything seems to be normal, the methods used here are far more progressive than I had expected. The doctors care about their patients and they feel safe here. I noticed that one area was cordoned off, the doctors said there was a fire a few years back so the east wing is inaccessible.

 

April 12th – Inspection Day 7

It has been one week since my last entry and I have been noticing some strange things. Certain patients seem to have gone missing: on the 9th, a woman by the name of Julie Morgan was no longer in the hospital. I brought it up to the psychiatrist, but they just told me that she was discharged. I find this hard to believe as her condition had only been worsening since I got here. I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking of someone else.

April 18th – Inspection Day 13

I have heard noises coming from the east wing the past few days, it seems distant, but I am definitely hearing something. It sounds like screaming and electricity, but I can’t be certain. Something definitely isn’t right. * Records the sound he has heard* I don’t know if this thing is picking it up, but there are definitely sounds coming from down there.

 

April 19th – Inspection Day 14

I can’t believe the things that I have found…. I found Julie…Well, what’s left of her. Her body is burnt to a crisp, but it is definitely her. The smell of this place is revolting…Oh, shit, someone’s coming.  No please…stop. You can’t do this to me… What the fuck is this thing?! NO! 

 

Music and Sound Effects in Horror Media (LO3)

Music

Due to having a very low skill level when it comes to creating music or scores, I will be finding music or ambient backgrounds to accompany my piece online. However I wanted to know what makes a music in films scary and what some of the most common tricks are when it comes to creating a tense atmosphere in films.

I listened to some of the most popular movie’s soundtracks and something stood out immediately, quite a lot of the best soundtracks were fairly minimalistic and relied on only a few instruments. Films such as Psycho used more traditional instruments such as the violin to create sharp, high tones that cut through and shocked the listener, whereas films such as Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street used synthesisers, mixing both high notes and an underlying bass note to create a sense of easiness by leaving the mid range frequencies blank.

Sound Effects

I will be creating certain sound effects during this project as well as sourcing them online. My original idea was to make the pieces quite effect heavy, however on my first attempt at editing together one of the pieces with sound effects, it didn’t add a lot to the piece and at points came off as quite tacky and forced, really taking the listener out of the experience.

I think the best option for me when it comes to effects is stick more to background ambience and only use sound effects when I really want to make an event stand out and pair it with the story. However, in certain horror media, it can be more scary when you subvert the expectations of the listener and start adding effects that don’t fit within the scene, building up tension and confusing the listener and then scaring them at a later part of the piece.

How the Piece Will Be Distributed (LO4)

After a lot of time trying to figure out the best option for the distribution of this piece of media, I have come to the decision that online distribution is the best method.

All of the sound files will be accessible via SoundCloud, as well as on cloud storage websites (Google Drive/Mega/DropBox) so that you can either stream or download the audio files for personal use.

The map will also be distributed online and will be labelled with each area. I will make it available on various websites so that it is accessible in multiple ways.

 

I find that online distribution is the best solution for media as it is then accessible for anyone with an internet connection. I will urge people to go to each of the places to experience the sounds in the area that influenced each of the stories, but even if you are not in the area, it will still be able to have an effect.