Week 3:w/c 03.10 Unit 1:Introduction to audio

Condenser mic-

This week is all about sound and how there are different types whether that is the various limitation for different microphones and how they are used.

Dynamic Mic –

This is used for a general purpose which is better suited for higher volume and frequency such as presenting and performances. They pick up sound through having a magnet inside of the microphone.

There is a thing that we use in sound with variation of microphones settings and uses for each one this is called a   polar pattern. It is  to know how far the sound can travel and respond.

Polar patterns

Polar patterns are examples of how much sound the mic picks up.

Such as :

Omnidirectional – This is to pick up the sound more equally from all directions for recording the ambient for more than one person this is frequently used in a choir or band.

Cardioid – This polar pattern is more sensitive when it is used in 120 degrees which then cancels out the background and focuses on the foreground sounds.

Hyper-cardioid – It is harder to pick up the sound closer to the mic than further away.

We also in groups we went and found out two more different polar patterns that can be used with mics. We found the figure 8 and shot gun.

Figure 8 –It is measured in different pressures as this is quite a sensitive mic which can only pick up from the front and back of the mic ,this is usually used in interviews.

Shot gun – This is extremely directional and is mostly used for film and TV crews, This allows to have a specific selection of sound which picks up if it is directly in front.

Super-cardioid – It rejects more sound from the sides rather  than a hyper cardioid which has a tighter pickup from the sides of a mic.


What are a microphone’s polar patterns?.(RODE,2016)


The task –

N0w we knew a lot more about how polar patterns work and why we use them within audio, We wanted to know what they sounded like in different areas from around the college.

Here are all of the sounds from this task (in order from start to finish)


Interior –


Sound map – Canteen digitally
Sound map – Canteen hand drawn

Canteen (30 degrees) – There was a few noises for the mic to pick up such as the noise of the fridge humming, keys rattling and different tones of voices in background. It was interesting to see how much using the 30-degree pattern pick up. As this was more of a narrow pattern it could only  pick up  the ambient that was nearer to the microphone rather than further away.

Canteen (150 degrees) – If we changed the pickup range to 150 degrees there were a few more different sounds added whilst recording the audio such as the till tray moving with money shaking in it. This had more of various sounds picked up than before hand such as you could slightly here the talking of the coffee shop or within the main hall of the college.

Sound map – Canteen hand drawn
Sound map – Canteen digitally

A classroom (30 degrees)  – It was  a noisy space to begin. this  only picked up the foreground sounds rather than ones that were in the background. With hearing beforehand people talking, keyboards typing,  computer mouse’s clicking, paper rustling and pens tapping. The overall result was that it was very limited as it was  picking up the ambient that was closer to the table  where the mic was placed.

A classroom (150 degrees) – This was surprisingly quieter than the one before with having to turn up the mics sensitivity to 6 instead of 2 this was so then I could hear the audio more, this only picked up key elements such as the computer mouse clicking and the paper rustling.

Exterior –

Sound map – Canteen digitally
Sound map – Canteen digitally

 Outside student union (30 degrees) – With using the 30 degree pick up pattern this was again the same response as the 30 degrees in the classroom which the mic only picked up more specific sounds like  the sound of the table tennis ball going back and forth rather than the talking.

Outside student union (150 degrees) –  This was  opposite  towards the 30 degree used outside of the student union which was in the same place this picked up the vocal rather than the more specific sounds.

Sound map – Canteen digitally
Sound map – Canteen digitally

Outside main entrance (30 degrees) –  I could, first of all, I could  hear the ambient of birds, talking and  cars driving passed. The overall result was that the mic did pick up most of the ambient. However, the sounds that were closer seemed quieter.

Outside main entrance (150 degrees) – Before testing out the pickup pattern there was similar sounds that were heard when testing the 30 degrees pattern. Such as birds , talking and cars driving past. The overall result was that the ambient was much clearer than the 30 degrees, with being able to also hear the rustling of the trees and the seagulls that were further away from the positioning of the mic .

Overall I have learned the different scales of how the pickup pattern works and is used in specific scenes and why we also use different microphone for various shots.

 Using and creating  Foley –

During this task, we were given the chance to try to create Foley this was interesting to see how Foley artists create a specific sound whether that is objects, movement, clothing or vocal audio. Each of these are produced for the purpose of creating more emotion or drama and this is also because on most shoots they record the visuals separately from the sound.

We started off with going to various places to test out the type of sound it gives out. Such as a large area for echo or a smaller space for a denser sound for the Foley.

Sounds from our task for foley :


Human voice – At first we were going to just whisper to create a dramatic effect to the Foley which would be used as in film and television genres like, Horror, Crime, Thriller or Sci-fi  we used the pickup pattern of mono this is so then it can cancel out the background of the sound. However, we changed this because it didn’t work as well as we thought, so we used one of our advantages which was to speak in a different language as one person in the group could speak French the purpose of this was to use this in similar genres, we started out with. The reason for this is because in many films not everyone speaks English or a language we may not understand.

Footsteps – We recorded our sound through using a 30 degree pick up so then it still cancels out the background but still has that echo effect that we wanted to include. So then we can create this audio piece to be dramatic. We created the sound of footsteps by stomping whilst going down the stairs in an empty space. This could be used whilst going down an attic or climbing up the stairs but in a drowsy/tired way which has a slower pace than when you are energetic.

Rain – I found this was one of the difficult sounds to create and although it may sound good whilst playing it back and listing to the audio but sometimes it doesn’t come out the way it was planned. We used the stair railing which was metal so it will give off a slight effect of what rain sounds like whilst falling onto some kind of metal or sometimes it’s what it sounds like when falling onto the roof. I think maybe next time we could have different objects just in case the one we used may sound good when listening to it but not when you’re playing it back on the computer.

Spaceship– The main idea was the sound of a spaceship trying to start up that you may hear in some fiction film such as Star Wars (1997) or Star Trek (2009) So we used the sound of when a lift closes. Although if I was creating Foley professionally I would add more audio to the layer so then it will sound futuristic.

Horse hooves – We used our feet like we did for the footsteps, as one of us had a heel on their shoe it gave us that advantage to use it on the side of the stairs we had used for the footsteps. So then It sounded like a horse galloping past with it being in the distance and then drawing the sound closer to the mic.

Sound of choice – Mythical creature

Whilst we were testing out different objects to use for the spaceship effect we used the sound of the automatic doors closing by recording the doorway. With the air compression, it created a louder and squeakier effect. This is the type of creature that will be used in the genre of sci-fi films such as Jurassic park (1979) and Alien (1979).

 Overall thoughts on task –

Overall I learned how much of a skill being a Foley artist is and how much time you do need to create these sounds, I found it interesting to see how Foley artists think of these different objects that may not look like they could work but can. Being a Foley artist is about experimenting with different objects and textures to create more drama to the scene. Also,we did create more sounds rather than just the ones we got told to do so then we can look further into how to make different sounds and it makes us think about the pace/rhythm or the ambiance around the focus.

Clock – This came from the idea of big ben when it hits 12 pm and it has a loud echo that spreads a crossed most of the city, London. So,we used a metal railing that we had used for the footsteps to try to create that exact effect.

Checkout scanner – When testing sounds for the space ship we went in a lift so then we could maybe use the noise of the door closing. However, it turned out to sound like the annoying beep of a scanner that you would hear in a shop. every time it scans every single item.

Harvard reference :

Alien (1979) Directed by Ridley Scott [Film]. Los Angeles, Calif: Twentieth-century fox.

Jurassic Park (1993) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Universal city, Calif: Universal Studio.

No name (No date ) Microphone-v3-icon. Available at: http://www.freeiconspng.com/free-images/microphone-icon-5043(Accessed/downloaded: 07.10.16).

No name. (2013) Sound Icon. Available at: http://osxdaily.com/2013/03/21/change-the-notification-center-alert-sound-in-mac-os-x/ (Accessed/downloaded: 07.10.2016).

No name. (No date) ???header_VoiceGuideMsg??? Available at: http://emuseum.scuolagrandesanmarco.it/ (Accessed/downloaded: 07.10.16).

PIXBAY(2012) (no name). Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/keyboard-typing-types-keys-input-27797/ (Accessed/downloaded: 07.10.16).

RODE(2016) What are a microphone’s polar patterns?. Available at: http://www.rode.com/blog/all/what-are-a-microphones-polar-patterns (Accessed: 06.10.2016).

Shure (2016) MICROPHONES: POLAR PATTERN / DIRECTIONALITY. Available at: http://www.shure.eu/support_download/educational_content/microphones-basics/microphone_polar_patterns( accessed date: 06.10.2016).

Star Trek (2009) Directed by J.J. Adams [Film]. Los Angeles, Calif: Paramount Pictures.

Star Wars (1977) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, Calif: Twentieth-century fox.



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