People behave in different ways when being recorded.
Some prefer sitting down. Others get a more powerful voice when standing up, supported only by their own two feet.
Those who sit may start fidgeting and swivelling and, thus, ruin the recording by introducing chair noises.
Those who stand may start shifting their weight from one foot to another distancing themselves from the microphone occasionally. Sometimes, they have squeaky shoes.
Some people stay completely still. Others wave their arms around like a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men. Often it helps. Especially when doing voice acting for highly expressive characters or children’s fairy tales. It is always fun to watch, too.
Some want to speak as close to the microphone as possible. Especially when you have been in a band, have been taught to always sing straight into the mic and avoid moving away from it to make the sound technician’s life easier. With some microphones, however, doing this results in terrible mouth-noises, clipped P-s and T-s, and an overall horrible result. Usually, the best is to stay about 20 centimetres away from the mic or to look a bit aside and avoid speaking straight into it.
Sometimes, when you are tired, you make a recording, think all is well and done, but wake up the next morning, only to hear that you recorded yourself saying “2009” instead of “2019” for ten minutes. Then you have to do it all over again.
Sometimes you discover at the end of a 3-hour recording session that the lights that you just turned off and which had been on for the whole time, emit a nasty static noise. Next time, you will record in a pitch-black studio, in the dark, but you still end up with some kind of an unidentifiable noise in your recording. Must be the ghosts.
Sometimes you wake up at 5 a.m. to go out and record the birds yelling “Fuck me! Fuck me!” when they are the loudest and end up chasing after a pair of woodpeckers playing tricks on your ears by flying from one tree to another. By the way, in early spring before daylight saving time songbirds sing until 6:00. Then the crows, ravens, and magpies take over.
Sometimes, a car or a train passing in the distance ruins your recording.
Sometimes you end up sitting on your floor with a pot filled with water and an empty wineglass, making waterscapes and melting ice sounds out of thin air.
Sometimes you fake the wind and insect sounds with your mouth or by waving a paper pamphlet in front of the microphone.
Sometimes you cut and slice and glue and mix and split and merge and fade and do other magic with your recordings so that you end up with a bunch of tiny clips of audio making up the whole story.
Sometimes you just cannot get the volume levels right. Whenever you listen to the audio with your headphones, it sounds great, but with some other device it sounds crappy, so you tweak one track up and the other down, and in the end decide it is impossible to get it perfect and just let it be.
After all this, you end up with an audio story.
“The Wildflower” is the final result of my “Storytelling through Sound” course focused on audio and sound design.
About the story
“The Wildflower” is a dramatic bedtime story for grown-ups. It tells the tale of a lonely flower admired by three competing lovers – the Bee, the Bird, and the Butterfly. While the Wildflower knows she has to choose between her friends, she decides to postpone the day repeatedly. In the end, the Wildflower does not live to see another spring. The lovers are devastated and all of them end their lives one way or another.
Read the full story:
Sounds from other artists
In order of appearance:
I recorded some waterscapes myself, but none of them sounded as good as this one to me. I fell in love with this slow stream sound.
I actually had no idea what sounds elk make before finding this recording.
I added the slap quite late and decided not to go to the studio just for that – laziness won.
Everything else was composed, recorded, and created by me. The main melody is a song my beloved mother once played to me on the piano.
Eva Stronkman – The Wildflower
Victor Reijnders – The Bee
Bradley Hillas – The Butterfly
Simon Nagel – The Bird
Eva Maria Veitmaa – Narration, sound design, and story
Rik Nieuwdorp – Teacher and mentor
My sincere gratitude goes to all of the amazing voice actors I had the pleasure of working with. You shall be rewarded with Estonian chocolate, as promised.
And thank you, Rik, for pouring all this knowledge on us. With a twinkle in your eye, you could go on for hours about sounds, recording, and sound design.
The bee sounds turned out pretty cool and realistic, given that they were human voices only. Same goes for the winter winds.
The “butterfly flight” sound was originally me waving a paper booklet in the air. I reversed it and added some effects, and this is what happened.
In the section about March and cold weather I used a sound of me moving my wet finger on a regular wine glass. It gives the story kind of an icy and eerie feeling.
GarageBand and a laptop keyboard were used for creating the background music files. They were exported from GarageBand as .wav files.
Most of the narration was split up and put together from various recordings to filter out the best versions of the same phrase.
Recording the birds at 5:30 in the morning was awesome. Thanks to that, the birdsong is really loud and pretty. From 5:30-6:00 songbirds sang and from 6:00 the ravens and crows took over. Two woodpeckers teased me as I ran from tree to tree trying to get a recording of the unique sounds they made. Some really nice bird recordings were ruined by cars or trains passing in the distance, though.