May 2012 Newsletter - And Down the Stretch They Come!
And Down the Stretch They Come!
A jam-packed field. Each running neck-and-neck trying to lead the pack. The whole mass moving toward the finish line with breathtaking speed. Finally it ends, but it's too close to call!!!
No, it's not the Kentucky Derby. It's an overcrowded commercial with too much information that's been crammed into 30 seconds. Sound familiar? We all want to get our message across, but we often say too much. I'm guilty of it (as many of my friends would attest).
What's my point? Your audio engineer at Dynamix Productions is not one-dimensional. We can also be a part of your creative team; your copy writing staff; your proofreader; your client liaison. In other words, we're not just button pushers. During your recording session, we can offer scripting advice so that your message is not cluttered. If one sentence sounds better rewritten as two sentences, we can suggest how. If your brand is not standing out enough, we can point out ways for more emphasis. We are experts at understanding that scripting for narration is much different from visual mediums like print and web. We want your message to be clear and concise, without getting bumped, ran into the rail, blocked out, or flat out beaten. Oh, and horse racing lingo? We do a little bit of that, too.
Dynamix Tech Notes
So what do you do when you do need to cram too much information in a short amount of time? "Time Squeeze" to the rescue! In the old analog days, engineers used to speed up a tape or record to make it run faster. However, the audio was pitched up and started sounding like Mickey Mouse. Digital time-squeezing solves the pitch problem by mathematically throwing out data. Smoother sounds can be attained by matching the right algorithm with the content. Although voice-over is less complex than time compressing music, it can perhaps be the trickiest. Our ears (and brains) are designed to be experts at listening to the human voice. Any deviation from "normal" can be detected almost instantly. Therefore, we like to quote the "ten-percent" rule when digitally reducing time. Once a voice is time-squeezed more than around ten-percent, it starts to sound fake. Therefore, a recording that is 33 seconds long can be time-squeezed by 3.3 seconds to about 29.7 seconds without sounding too processed.
However, when you time squeeze this much, you will lose the spacing and leave sentences butted-up against each other. We like to build in spacing with breaths deleted and tightened before the final "squeeze." This at least retains a little "air" and personality.
Just like all rules, it doesn't always hold true. Hard and short sounds like "k," "t, and "p" are shortened even more and sometimes disappear all together. If we are planning a dramatic time-squeeze, as in a legal disclaimer for instance, the narrator will read slowly with exaggerated emphasis on consonants so they won't get too truncated.
What about adding time? "Time-stretching" does the reverse and adds in information. Here we use the "six--percent" rule. Anything longer makes the narrator sound drunk and makes for some good laughs. But it can be a little eerie when you push it too far and it doesn't make much of a difference. That guy must have drank his lunch!
Recent Projects From Dynamix Productions
"Copper Theft," "Pocket Rewards," and "Severe Weather" radio campaigns for East Kentucky Power(Winchester, KY)
Ongoing learning modules and sales training soundtracks for Lexmark International
Voice-over tracks for Grand Victoria Casinos(Earworks, Virginia Beach, VA)
Post-production audio for Jackson Purchase Medical Center TV commercial, Mayfield, KY (Lifepoint Hospitals, Nashville, TN)
Post-production audio for Carino's "Taste of Summer" TV commercial (Cornett-IMS, Lexington, KY)
Radio spots for Commercial Bank of Grayson (John E. Campbell, Lexington, KY)
Production has begun on the documentary "Southern Cross," about the first Confederate battle flag (Witnessing History, Lexington, KY)
Neil Kesterson was a guest lecturer on location recording at Georgetown College's filmmaker's class (Georgetown, KY)
Post-production nears the end on "unDeserved," a short film by Ed Smith of Georgetown College.
Sound design and audio post-production on "The End Again," a short film by Steve Martinez.
I hope you find this newsletter informative. We've now been in our new studios for 15 months and it's been a very positive move for us. If you haven't seen our new studios yet, go to our web site. Or better yet, stop by! We now have two complete control rooms and voice-over booths, allowing us to be even more flexible in scheduling your projects. Oh, and pet the dog Daisy while you're here.