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  • Writer's pictureBrett Ainslie

Soundscape Album Part 4: I'm Going to Miami!

A few months ago I took a quick trip down to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a little Arr and Arr! as pirates would say. I think of pirates when I think of South Florida, so whether or not you found that funny, I'm pretty sure there's some history to it, either true or at least in its tourism history. Anyways, this is a sound blog, so on to that!

Downtown Miami
Downtown Miami

The past 6 months or so I've been traveling without a camera (lie #2), in order to focus my "vacation album" on a more powerful medium: sound. Images give information, as sound conveys emotion. The feeling we get when hearing sound is much more powerful than our experience when seeing an image. It's not just the words or what it is that is making the sound, rather, expression of how the words are said and the personality of the sound, the room, how the sound interacts with its environment. A ship's blow horn gives a very different feel when it just dies out in an open ocean as it does when you hear it bounce off the walls of an industrial alley way right at the dock. So as simple as some of these soundscapes may seem at first, envision yourself there (it shouldn't be hard) and tell me you don't feel more there than you feel when looking at the photos I am supplying here; granted, I'm no photographer. 

Ft. Lauderdale
Ft. Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale and Miami are very similar places for very different people. Take a photo, they may look the same in 8/10. Great beach and aquatic cultures. However, in case you don't know, Fort Lauderdale and Miami feel extremely different and you'll notice that in these sounds. Miami is much more lively, young, musical, dangerous, sporty, celebrity and flamboyant. Fort Lauderdale is more family, yachters, relaxing, corporation franchise owner. In fact, South Beach in Miami also has a different feel than Downtown Miami as well. As I'd say South Beach was more of the beach culture of course, the flamboyancy, high end club, which Lambourghini is yours, and Downtown Miami was more populated, plenty of events, concerts, street performers, police activity and creepy streets. But don't take my word(s) for it, listen and think about what you feel.

Getting Real

This entire topic is relevant to what is happening in current day Film, TV and Media. Decades ago, shows on TV and films in theaters, etc, used to have mediocre to good cinematography, but still pretty good stories, and production value all around. Nowadays, you see so much crap on TV, on "produced" internet, and even in the cinema or streaming services that have weak stories, bad sound, etc, but amazing cinematography. Working on these types of projects, I have certainly noticed how much attention, care and what seems to be budget is for the image, the camera, the cinematography and not other things that arguably matter more; story, performance, sound, production design, etc. This is partially due to how affordable cameras have become over the past 10 or more years and now everyone, including Directors get excited about creating beautiful pictures for cheap, and they forget about everything else.

I've done jobs where I'm asked to record a voiceover; sound only. It needs to be the best sound I can get, without hearing a room. Yet, often, they decide to put a camera in there because they spent fortunes on it already, and not only that, but the camera guy tells me to move my boom out of his shot so that he can get a pretty picture. If they have officially decided to fully shoot this for both picture and sound (I'm imagining an interview setup), for every 10 minutes of sound being used, only about 3 minutes of that video will be used, and sometimes this is a multi camera shoot, so you do the math. I wish I could find that reference but I swear, I read it in a film studies book in college film class. Everyone seems to have forgotten that the picture has already been shot and all we need is the sound and we need it to be a certain way. This is something to think about in the future, how to prioritize needs. That sound puts emotion into the listener, emotion that cannot be given to by any image. Sound and image compliment each other as neither can do what the other does.


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