Audio/Music Production for Visual Media

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Authored by John Whynot

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Course Code: OMPRD-677

Accepting applications for the inaugural Sept. 2018 class!

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

This course is an in-depth exploration of the tools, techniques, workflows, and creative considerations in producing audio for film, television, and related media. You will explore the history of film as a medium, through the development of technology for synchronizing audio to moving picture, to modern-day practices in audio post-production. You will also explore the process and technique of creating sound for picture. You will gather, craft, edit, and mix sound effects, backgrounds, and Foley that would be applied to visual media. You will prepare for and explore techniques for managing a large ensemble recording session for recording score. You will learn the process of submitting audio stems to the final mix, and learn the final mix itself. You will also create a film clip with your own custom-created soundtrack, as you hone your skills in audio post-production and work through an authentic, real-world post-production process.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Create sound for picture, applying audio post-production skills
  • Gather, craft, edit, and mix sound effects, backgrounds, and Foley
  • Prepare for and explore techniques for managing a large ensemble recording session for recording score
  • Prepare a film mix “pre-dub,” submit audio stems to the final mix, and complete the final mix itself
  • Create a film clip with your own custom-created soundtrack, using the techniques presented throughout the course
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Storytelling with Sound: The Anatomy of a Soundtrack

  • See a Dog, Hear a Dog?
  • The “Story Value” of Sounds in a Scene
  • Conventions and Terminology in Film Sound
  • What Is “Synchronization” and Where Did It Come From?
  • Assignment 1: Spotting “Once Upon a Time in the West”

Lesson 2: Actors Talking! Audio for Film History

  • Making Characters Speak
  • Conditions on a Film Set
  • Driving Technology Forward
  • Fix or Replace? Mix or Nix? Replacing Production Dialogue (ADR)
  • Assignment 2: ADR Spotting Notes for “You Got Nothin’: Café Scene”

Lesson 3: Scrubbing, Cleaning, Fixing

  • Problems and Solutions with Production Dialogue
  • RX, The Magic Bullet
  • Project Assignment Overview
  • Assignment 3: Cleaning up Audio Clips

Lesson 4: Environments & Backgrounds: Creating the Static “Reality”

  • Existing Background in Production Tracks
  • Choosing or Discarding Ambiences and Backgrounds
  • Collecting and Creating Backgrounds
  • Assignment 4: Making and Organizing Backgrounds

Lesson 5: Performing Reality: An Introduction to Foley

  • Walking
  • Handling
  • Rustling
  • It Looks like a Punch, but in Fact It’s Celery
  • Laying Out Your Pro Tools Session to Prepare for Foley Recording
  • Assignment 5: Creating Sounds with Foley Techniques

Lesson 6: Finding Reality: Sound Libraries, Collections, and the Outside World

  • Well-Organized Sound Effects Libraries
  • Building a Sound Effect Out of Sounds from a Library
  • Finding Sounds in the Wild
  • Field Recording, Sound Safari: The Hunt!
  • Simple Field Recording
  • Assignment 6: Sound Effects “in the Wild”

Lesson 7: Warping, Mangling, Building Sound

  • Basic Plug-In Mangling
  • Weirdness and Un-Reality: Using Plug-In Techniques to Enhance Sound Effects
  • Using “Whoosh” and “PaulStretch”
  • Stacking and Layering to Engage the Unconscious Responses of the Audience
  • Assignment 7: Using Your Body to Create Sound

Lesson 8: Music? Why Is There Music? Environment?

  • Do the Characters Hear It? Score, Source, and “Scource”
  • How Composers Write
  • What Is a Temp?
  • Does the Temp Point the Way or Is It a “Do Not Enter” Sign?
  • The Score Mock-Up
  • The Road to Completion
  • Preparing and Conducting a Scoring Session
  • Assignment 8: Working with Music Cues

Lesson 9: How to Mix Film Music

  • What Are “Stems” in Film Music?
  • How to Develop a Mixing Perspective for Film Music
  • Using 5.1 and Wider Formats in Score Mixing
  • Delivering the Score to the Final Mix
  • Assignment 9: Mixing a Music Cue

Lesson 10: Receiving and Delivering Audio/Video

  • Recognize the Implications of Frame Rates
  • Communicating with the Editing Team
  • File Specifications/Information Flow
  • What Is a Pre-Dub?
  • How to Prepare for the Final Dub
  • How to Deal with a Mix Session You Likely Will Not Attend
  • What Are “Deliverables”?
  • Handling the Data
  • Option vs. Commitment: The Eternal Question
  • Assignment 10: Stem Splits on a Final Dub

Lesson 11: Finishing the Project

  • Deliverables: What Do They Want?
  • Data Management and Archiving
  • Protecting Your Clients’ Investment and Your Own Reputation
  • Collecting the Elements: Building Your Library
  • Assignment 11: Final Project Presentation

Lesson 12: Beyond Technique and into Art

  • How Does It All Translate?
  • Where Is All This Work Going?
  • Interactive Audio (Games and VR)
  • Immersive Audio Technologies
  • AR and Artificial Intelligence

Requirements

Required Textbooks


Software Requirements

  • Pro Tools 12.7.1 or higher
  • iZotope RX Elements
  • Melted Sounds "Whoosh" (Requires full install of Native Instruments Reaktor)

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • Recording gear (microphones, audio interface, etc) for recording assets to use in assignments and projects
  • 500 GB free hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Instructors

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Author & Instructor

Grammy-winner John Whynot's first major feature-film score mixing credit was The Last of the Mohicans, which won the 1993 Academy Award for sound. He has since mixed and programmed dozens of feature film scores, including Austin Powers I and II, Ronin, Stigmata, and The Breadwinner.

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A composer and songwriter, his original compositions have appeared in feature films, television movies, national advertising and video games. He has extensive experience in all musical idioms and styles.

His Grammy- and Juno-award-winning career as a producer/engineer includes projects with Dave Matthews, Lucinda Williams, Blue Rodeo, Kathleen Edwards, Loreena McKennitt and Colin James

A multi-instrumentalist, he has appeared on stage or television with Bruce Cockburn, The Band, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Doug Sahm, Amos Garrett, Kathleen Edwards, Carole Pope, Corey Hart, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings

In his hometown of Toronto, where he was constantly seen on stage playing in literally dozens of bands (guitar, keyboards, saxophones), John frequently found himself in the producer’s chair in the studio. He was driven by a fascination with recording and an increasingly obvious talent for working the boards.

His move to Los Angeles in 1989 spurred a shift into film scoring. Within a short time he was brought into a project with composer Trevor Jones, who immediately hired him to program synths and mix the score to The Last of the Mohicans. Being a mixer who can read scores and relate to musicians as a musician has kept him working in film music ever since. He has also mixed and/or programmed scores for George S. Clinton, Elia Cmiral, Andrew Gross, Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna, John Debney and others.

In 2014, John accepted an offer to become an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in its vaunted Music Production and Engineering Department. He is now dividing his time between teaching and mixing in Boston and producing and mixing in Los Angeles.

Recently, John has been mixing album projects for B3-Berlin, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, JW JONES, mixing the scores to the Amazon series The Last Tycoon and the Netflix mini-series Alias Grace and the feature films The Breadwinner and The Man Who Invented Christmas for Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna. He is also creating a new Minor in Audio Post Production at Berklee College of Music. Read Less

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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