Telling a story with sound

I chose to write about the RadioLab Behind the Scenes podcast because I liked it best! What initially caught my interest was the subject matter. I’ve always been interested in how sound goes together and the thought process behind it, so I was immediately drawn to this podcast. It was really interesting to listen to how sound clips are put together while at the same time trying to analyze the sound itself.

I immediately noticed the mixing between the voices/talking (I’m sure there’s a name for that) and the background noise and music. I think the most important thing about mixing sound is to keep the volumes consistent. I learned this the hard way when I made my video portrait with PremierPro, and I don’t plan on making the same mistake this time around. For my video portrait, I shot in so many different places with so many different types of background noises that it was extremely difficult to edit everything out in the program. This podcast demonstrates expertise in recording in quiet places with limited background noises and sounds.

My favorite part of this podcast was when one of the main speakers was discussing the art of adding sound effects to recording. Different classic sound effects were edited in during this part of the podcast, enhancing the sound and demonstrating what the speaker was actually talking about, which I thought was a really effective technique. The effects weren’t clunky or distracting. They added to the sound, which is extremely important and something I am going to keep in mind when making my own documentary.

The talking is scripted while also conversational, which is most definitely an art. When writing, we’re all so focused on coming across clear and intelligent, but that’s not always how we talk. So writing for the ear as opposed to writing to for eye is a completely different beast, but I think that this podcast does this extremely well, especially when the men are explaining about the technology of recording sound. The tone is light and personal and even funny at times. Because that’s how talking is. It’s not perfect and sometimes messy and unclear, and people tend to say what they mean more when they speak than when they write. I think that a sound documentary would be an interesting outlet for creative expression and it’s nothing I’ve ever explored before.



One thought on “Telling a story with sound

  1. Sarah,

    I had the same problem with my video portrait (and actually my sound archive too). Because I recorded in different places, I had a variety of background noises that seemed to interrupt the dialogue in a great way. This video was a great example of managing the sound properly. It probably helps when you have world class equipment!

    Also, you make a great point about writing for the ear vs. writing for the eye. “When writing, we’re all so focused on coming across clear and intelligent, but that’s not always how we talk.” I think its so interesting how we can come off like two completely different people when we write vs when we talk!

    Great post!

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