Kamis, 29 Desember 2011

The Envelopes of Sound: Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release

What is sound? That is an extremely broad question with answers coming variously from science, arts, and even philosophy. One way to think about sound is to consider it in contrast to sight.

In the arts, when we think of a single image, for example a painting, it is completely independent of time. It remains the same from the moment we see it to the next time we look at it. This is specifically for an isolated image, obviously not so for a watching a sunset or a movie.

With sound, it is much more difficult to think of it outside of passing time. The only way to think of this would be to imagine a single, unwavering tone, but even then, that is a single sound extended over time without any changes. More importantly, unchanging flat tones are barely considered art. When we think about the sounds that are produced in the service of music, we must take time into consideration.

When we hear a chord being played on the guitar, it comes to us in several phases that change over time. Even the singular smack of the snare drum becomes modified in our perception in just a few microseconds.

What defines the different stages in time of a sound and how we hear it are commonly known as envelopes, and they are an extremely important lesson for music recording. They are: attack, decay, sustain, and release.

Imagine visualizing a sound as a mountain, with the main part of the sound being represented by a plateau at the peak. The attack is the upward slope of the mountain. In other words, it is the amount of time it takes from the first instance of the sound (or from when the note is struck) until it reaches its peak volume. Drum sounds, especially the snare, have a lot of attack.

If our sound mountain's plateau was not actually the highest point of the mountain, but rather after we reach that initial peak after the attack, it sloped down a little before becoming flat, then this downward slope is the decay. It is the amount of time for a sound to settle after it hits its attack peak until it reaches the level the sound will be sustained for.

This is our plateau. It is the main level of volume that the sound will be heard. The longer the sustain, the longer the sound. Pianos have sustain pedals to keep the sound going longer after the pianist hits the key. Synthesizers can hold a note with endless sustain. Most acoustic instruments will have a relatively short level of sustain before beginning to die down again.

This is when we come down the mountain. The release measures the time from a sound's main sustain level until it is inaudible. With synthesizers, the release is counted from the moment the key is released, hence it's name.

Every sound has this temporal relationship with the moment the musician strikes a key or strums a chord. Music production training depends upon professionals knowing these fourtemporal envelopes well before thinking about more complex aspects of recording, mixing and producing.

Rabu, 14 Desember 2011

Cementing Your Place in History Might Mean Taking a Risk

Everyone has his or her own style. From how people dress to the way they socialize with people, everybody has an individual and memorable touch. When you decide to work in movies, this touch has the ability of reaching the silver screen, to be etched in the minds of viewers forever. Think about it. Walt Disney coined the animated film, and launched the very first feature length cartoon. George Lucas opened up the imaginations across world, while Steven Spielberg is known for his thrilling and suspenseful films. All of these movie producers left something on the screen long after they left the movie set -- sticking to their strengths is what made them famous.

It is individuality that carries you the furthest in the movie business. While networking, education and experience are all essential to the movie business, you have to have something to offer once you reach the top, something to inspire others to aspire towards. It is this motivation that will make you stand out in the competitive entertainment industry. If you're an individual that's always followed the beat of your own drum, and you're creatively inclined, then maybe the film industry is where you belong. It is a playground for the odd, the unusual, and the brave. If you possess any of these characteristics, then you should consider taking your skills to the next level. Consider attending film classes in a bigger city, like Toronto.

In 2012 alone there have been a number of films filmed on Toronto soil, including Total Recall, Waiting for Summer, and the Disney television movie Frenemies. Toronto is a prime location for moviemakers across the globe due to its accessibility, and affordability (filming in Canada is usually less expensive than filming in the United States), and for these reasons, movie producers are making more and more movies in the Canadian city. Attending a film production school in Toronto will immediately put you in contact with members of the film industry, through both your professors as well as your fellow classmates. You will gain both the practical and theoretical knowledge necessary to make you a memorable applicant when applying for your next job.

If music is your preferred medium, then consider an audio engineering program. You can work in movies, in television, in radio, at venues, and of course, independently. Audio courses will provide you with the software training needed to ensure that you can keep up with the ever-evolving demands of the entertainment industry. Education will provide you with the tools necessary for you to create something unique to you.

The greatest moviemakers in the world are risk-takers. Consider the plethora of planes that Howard Hughes plowed his way through to make Hell's Angels. While the majority of filmmakers aren't flanked by an inherited fortune, this is a prime example of the risks that really great filmmakers are willing to take. So remember to take risks - this is what will take you to the top in a movie career.