So we’re back from our trip and I’ve got several hours of recordings. Something I’ve been trying to figure out is how to turn the recordings I make of my family into more of a finished product. Over the years I’ve accumulated something over 600 recordings. Just like a huge stack of photos or a bunch of videos, the recordings are fine by themselves to a point, but they are often long and have lots of dead space in them. Or they may be full of just ambiance, but it’s 90 min and really 3-5min is more than enough.
How to edit this down? How do I make this something that is more entertaining, and has more of a structure?
The normal process is to start with a story idea, go collect audio based on that idea, then piece it together in a way that tells the story. But what if there’s no story at the start?
The good news is that the audience is very forgiving, if a bit small – me and my family, maybe a bit of extended family – and the story doesn’t have to be of NPR or even podcast caliber.
The bad news is that there isn’t an established process for forming a story from a bunch of raw audio. At least, I haven’t found one. So I’ve come to a basic strategy and we’ll see how it works:
Listen to the tape, and see what the common themes emerge. For example, on this recent trip I made much more of an effort to get family banter so there is more discussion of the ‘Are you recording this?’ line along with discussion about which is better, audio or video in the beginning and then the discussion changes over the trip as recording became a bit more accepted (or they just got resigned to it). Another was that as we drove from one part of main to another we started to run into places being closed and it became a running joke.
List these themes and the chronology of events.
Form a story structure of the events & themes.
Go back to the audio for the bits that support those items & pull the clips.
Assemble the piece, using narration to fill the gaps as necessary.
I have no idea if this will work or no, but it’s the best I can come up with so It’s what I’m doing.
For what it’s worth, I’m using Hindenburg Journalist to do most of the editing, with Reaper being used to split up some of the polywav files.
Last but not least, what do I call the result? In the interest of helping whoever else might be trying to do the same thing, what do we call the audio version of home movies or a scrapbook?
What do you do when your spouse wants to see a bunch of lighthouses? Well if you’re me you record them! And since we’re on vacation I’m trying to record the trip in the same sort of way that a photographer or videographer would.
Getting family banter is easy. Getting good sounding family banter while in a restaurant in a way that doesn’t mortify my teenaged daughters is a bit more challenging. Tucking the mic under the flap keeps it a bit discreet, and putting the bag on the table at the end of a booth works, but restaurants are noisy places. Really, the Zoom H2n would be a better choice in that specific instance. The car and hotel room, along with walking around are better times to try to capture good sound.
Lighthouses are also surprisingly noisy places. Lots of people, wind, ocean, birds, and people. And the cars they leave idling while taking a quick snap of themselves.
Amazingly, not many have come up and asked me what I’m doing. Usually, holding a mic with a windscreen is obvious enough to draw questions.
Amazingly, my daughters still walk up to me as I’m recording to ask “How’s the recording going? Oh, sorry!”
Still, it’s not too hard to get a minute or so of decent ambience out of 5 minutes. My standards are not too high – I’m not waiting for silence, just the absence of loud people and vehicles. Distant boats & planes are part of the soundscape in my ears.
I decided to take the strut case on our trip, and it’s working out fairly well.
I’ve got the Talent cell in the bottom battery wrap, and it’s had more than enough power for my needs. The AT4022 is plugged into mic 4, and I can keep the mic wrapped under the cover for storage, but still record with it there if I want to.
I plugged my stereo cable into the 1 & 2, and tucked it into the belt loops so it’s ready when I want to record an ambiance.
I brought my clippy mics with the plan that I’d clip them to the ends of the bag and they would go into the aux input 5/6, when I want a stereo image on the go. I haven’t tried it yet because I haven’t felt the need, the wind has been too strong for the little furries they have, and I’m rather liking working with mono.
I’ve brought an AT8010 to use, but haven’t brought it out yet but will soon because the AT4022 does have a fair bit of handling noise and cable noise.
Anyway, back to the Strut case. It is working quite well. The velcro is annoying, but it holds well and I don’t know what would be a better choice. I’ve been using Etymotic earphones for monitoring because regular ‘phones aren’t hat-compatible, and they fit in the pocket just fine. So I can carry everything with not to many cables hanging out. I’ve been carrying the charger for the TalentCell with me just in case, but today that will be left at home so I can move the battery to the pocket and try things that way.
I’ve also learned that the Rode WS8 works well but is no match for the BBG with furry, and the Etymotics don’t reveal wind rumble as well as I’d like.
In photography we call it photojournalism, but in audio is it sonic journalism? If scrapbooking is arranging photos into an album, does it become scrap sounding when you do it with audio recordings? Do snapshots become snapsounds?