• Trenton L. Bice

WEEK 13 - SAE Reflection

Prefice: For our final blog this Trimester at SAE we were asked to address the following five questions, to which I have done indirectly through the blog below.

  1. What have you created this trimester? Talk about live sound, music production, post production and the podcast. if you have any freelance projects then talk about those and give me active links so that I can see/hear them.

  2. What have you learnt this trimester?

  3. What have you learnt about your own practice during this trimester?

  4. What areas are you planning onn improving next trimester?

  5. Where do you think you fit on the grade scale? Take a look at Campus Online for the AUS220 rubric.

Our first Trimester of 2018 (Tri 4 for my Bachelor of Audio) at SAE Melbourne has been an outstanding success, having completed four major projects of which myself and fellow team members are deservingly proud.

The projects were broken down into three four-week intensive assignments and one trimester-long group Podcast. The intensives (in chronological order for my team) were:

Live Sound: Learning how to set-up and EQ a stage as well as source and promote artists which culminated in us throwing a live gig on Campus.

Studio Production - Given an independant track which we had to recreate from scratch - using just the core lyrics from the original, in our case resulting in a modern Southern-Blues tune.

Post-Production - Taking a scene from a movie and stripping all the audio, with us again rebuilding the entire soundtrack from scratch. From character voices, foley/sound effects and musical score with the finished product being a scene that could be dropped straight back into the original.

The Podcast - A minimum-fifteen minute podcast about Melbourne’s influence as an Internationally leading music city; compiled through interviews, narration and archival audio that delves deeper into Melbourne’s music culture.

The live sound gig was a roaring success according to feedback from all parties at the time (ie: teaching staff, audience, our performing artists aka ‘the band & DJ’ and fellow students). It was great to be first cab off the rank when it came to putting on the live event as I feel we set the standard and that each ensuing group used our blueprint for success (eg Posters promoting FREE Drinks & Music to lure in the people, Decorative stage design) and built their events from there (eg: with Video screens and livestreams).

Studio Production was also a great experience but our sheer group size was a detriment to my individual development. Whilst having a group of 8+ was a handy benefit in the leg work that went in to setting up our live gig and making that go smoothly, this was a hindrance in the tight confines of a production studio. Whilst extremely pleased with our final product, “Straight Out The Door”, I feel we could’ve reach greater potential had this not been a ‘song-by-committee’, diversifying our thoughts to meet approval of the group and that smaller groups would have allowed us to be more adventurous creatively.

Saturday Morning spent Helping Griffin Jennings out during the vocal recording for Staight Out The Door

Saturday Morning spent Helping Griffin Jennings out during the vocal recording for "Staight Out The Door"

Personally, I wasn’t satisfied with my progression both in the recording process and on the desk, as I found it hard to juggle trying to get the most of this individually whilst also giving all team members “a fair-go”. That being said I relished every opportunity and loved discussions at the core of the creative process and absorbed as much from other team members as possible during recording sessions (eg with Griffin Jennings when recording his father’s vocals) and in the mix sessions (with Julien Le Pape in Pro Tools). I just wish more emphasis was put on our individual development during our in-class sessions.

[I could not speak more highly of our teachers and their methods throughout this entire trimester, they’re knowledge has been “to infinity” & beyond”]

I feel similarly when it came to the size of the group limiting our individual potential in our Post-Production project. This is in no means a slight on the course, each intensive was absolutely fantastic but again I did not want to be too demanding of desk time, or controlling of the group by putting me ahead of anyone else on the team. Toy Story 3 was an amazing challenge to re-create and I feel our project surpasses the original (I am biased and we no doubt had more time than the deadlines Pixar would’ve worked to, plus we have an extra 10 years of technology on our side).

When the opportunity did come to run the desk and get involved with mixing I relished these opportunities and made the most out of them. I just need more to time on the desks-if nothing else then to fail or come across obstacles that the experience and leadership of teachers in the room can help-not that I will learn on my own.

A quick example from each where I wish we had more individual time with tutor:

Live Sound - Running the mixing desk in a live environment (only 1-2 team members got to perform this for a realistica period of time as we each managed roles, working to our strengths to make the night succeed best as possible).

Studio Prod - On the desk during the live recordings and also when using the patch bay to build familiarity and confidence when problems arise.

Post Production - More time mixing, editing and syncing to time on the desk rather than just in Pro-Tools.

Corey mixing Toy Story 3

Corey mixing Toy Story 3

What I’m doing to improve in these areas: For starters I completed Pro Tools 101 in the break last year and will be doing the next leg of this accreditation in May which will help with my confidence and knowledge in Tools itself.

I plan to spend more time in studio when others students have bookings or recordings, to allow myself more practice through absorbing what works for others and gaining myself more time on the desk.

Continue to challenge myself creatively through reading, research and trial error. Again this only comes with more hours in the box, behind the desk and around those in established roles of what I aspire to be.

Onto my a summary of the Podcast. I couldn’t be prouder with the work and final product but wish I was more involved in the initial creative process. I commend Tim Knowles for his excellent work on the script and sourcing a lot of the audio, but this is an area I have extremely high interest in too (the history of Melbourne music, plus wanting to create a podcast soon myself). I respect his creative methods and he did an excellent work on the script (he likes to get in the zone and write-much like I do as you can tell by the length of these blog posts- but I would’ve liked to have been in the room or consulted more during this core of the creative process). When I would reach out with ideas they often fell on deaf ears.

Scheduling wasn’t ideal either, with half the team members having their intensive on alternate days, meaning that half of the group booked studio time when they were free on Wednesday’s without really giving us an alternative to do it later in the week when we all could've attended, therefore I feel I missed a chunk of the early work as I Susan and I were in class. When I did get a chance to participate I loved it, especially during the editing process which restored a lot of my confidence in my efficiency behind the desk when working in front of a room full of people.

I feel a solution to this would be to allow in-class time to work on the podcast. Whereas we would sit through a 3-hour class each Tuesday getting updates on where each group was at with their individual group projects-which was interesting and a great gauge for our group’s progression- I feel giving us this time to work on the pods together, then coming in as a group individually updating the staff of our status would’ve been more beneficial use of everyone’s time.

As much as I love him I I felt at times this was a bit of the Tim Knowles Show - for one it was just a given that he would narrate, without consulting other team members if they would like any speaking or featured roles within the piece and his father was our main featured guest. I am not taking anything away from our finished product, it is absolutely excellent and should be featured in the Melbourne Music Hall of Fame at the National Art Gallery due to it’s accurate reflection of how the Melbourne music scene has grown.

So, in summary for my Trimester, as much as it seems I have complained above this is all just a natural means of reflection on myself and to give myself motivation (That I can ALWAYS DO BETTER, NO MATTER HOW SUCCESSFUL I AM) and what I need to improve to limit these potential shortcomings happening again. Forcing myself to be more involved and a bully(for lack of a better term) for time in the creative process and around the desk, make myself more engaged in tasks from the get-go despite how uncomfortable it may be in the tiny rooms, don’t put up with, or indulge in as much nonsense talk from fellow group members and continue to try at making us all better by being more focused.

I’ve discussed many shortcomings and how I am going to improve, but perhaps I should do myself the justice of at least pumping up where I feel I went well. As mentioned numerous times during our in class reflections I feel we really did work to one another's strengths quite well which is why each project resulted in such excellent. We only had so much time to work with which is why we couldn't all get more of a go to increase our shortcomings. I felt I was key cog in helping us clearly defining roles which got the best out of our team.

For the Live Sound gig I was overall Project Manager, not singularly delegated to one task but assuring everyone was taking care of theirs smoothly, and I leaned on my 5+ Years marketing (and even more in sales) experience to help promote the event week’s before plus on the day. I also feel our time management was exceptional here, allowing plenty of time for any obstacles we may have faced. Another strength was my people skills in managing our team and the artists; and having proper communication between all artists, Front of House, Stage hands, bar staff and the audience was crucial into a drama free event running so successfully. After all it looked like an Atomic Kitten Gig, smelt like a Beastie Boys gig and felt like a gig that went as smooth as some bandpipes being played atop the Brooklyn Bridge (does this video actually exist on the internet Mr Dalton? A link I could not find).

In studio prod I loved the initial creative process, bandying around ideas and seeing the end goal come to fruition. I absorbed as much as possible in this time, particularly from Griffin in regards to chord progressions and Corey with recording brass.

In Post Production I loved doing the character voices and as I have had some experience in voicing radio commercials and doing interviews in the past, by being the first in the group to record I feel my leadership here helped calm the nerves of others in the booth which got the best out of their performances. With our main dinosaur roar not being as full as we would've liked from just a trombone sound-and with deadline rapidly approaching- I came up with the idea of ​​warping the car engine revs and layering it with the trombone which worked a treat. All foley and SFX in general I felt I was a key part of most of our out-of-the-box ideas which also proved to be some of our most efficient. (Eg something simple like a brick dropped against carpet to be Woody falling and bumping against the train; rustling a doritos bag to be an earthquake cracking the hard, rocky, ground; and the aforementioned T-Rex.)

I am so proud of all the team members I worked with throughout this Trimester, as well as seeing the other projects submitted by fellow classmates. Evidence of our final products and feedback from staff and peers proves we are most definitely at the top end (HD’s) of the grade scale. I feel my consistemnt engagement, and contributions to in-class discussion as well as feedback to others during and out of classtime was in the elite few again this Trimester.

I mentioned in our final in class reflective and would like to reiterate here just how inspiring my level of classmates has been in making me wanting to continue to get better; not because of fear that in a world after uni that we will be fighting one another for jobs, but in the fact together our excellence is what will help CREATE JOBS for one another.

Personally, this course is already helping boost my career more rapidly than ever imagined. Whilst not ‘official’ freelance work, I’ve been getting real on the job opportunities in the real world with those doing what I want to do. Making Tunes, throwing parties, hosting internationals and Playing said created tunes and marquee events. From being part of the Crew at the “Paradigm” trance festival at Hisense Arena in MaRch, interviewing artists backstage and also assisting friends managing a stage at Babylon festival in February, special party and event promotion and in studio experiences with some of Melbourne’s biggest & hottest names in Techno (Steve Ward, Handsdown & Leighboy, Alegra). Getting a weekly gig DJing at Somewhere Bar on Chapel St and recently the far-too humbling experience of playing my first ‘real’ Melbourne club set Pawn & Co Day Spa a fortnight ago. Putting real thought into projects that the audience gets positive feeling from. Plus some of my own individual ventures (the podcast and more special one-off events to be revealed later), I definitely feel my career is on the cusp and opportunities are naturally creating themselves.

Thank you also for Mr Tim Dalton, Michael Clarke, Tristan Meredith, Trinski Liwanag and of course Dr Leon Marvell for their wonderful time, insight and guidance through the year thus far at SAE. Without your patience, knowledge and thought we would not be getting THIS good, this fast.

Now what better way to finish and keep us focused throughout the break, than with some simple advice from the absolute pro's at the top of our game. The mecca when it comes to career goals but this is from when they, themselves were on the rise. They also happened to produce many of my favourite songs of all time.


P.S I appreciate you allowing me to repeated blow well-over the word count each week, but to me these blogs have become more than just a short school required reflective, and more of a commentary on my thinking and deeper mindset throughout these times that I did not wish to over-edit.

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