Week 4 - Only Class

This class is about effects - particularly, effects processes that mess with time and spacial awareness.

Echo/Delay

The use of delay effects (often called an echo) is one of the most important tools for creating the illusion of space - and for changing the perception of time. If we examine how the real world works, we can see that we are surrounded with delay effects. In fact, delays are some of the most powerful indicators of sound location and texture to the human ear/brain connection.

We can use delay effects on either the file editor or the session editor; we are going to focus on using effects in the session. This gives us the most flexibility, and we get to play some games with automation of delay settings. In your session, select the effects view, then add an Echo delay effect into the first slot of the effects list.

Open the Echo editor, and look at the parameters. Part of your assignment for next week is to find some videos on the use of delay effect; for now, let's use some of the presents. You select a preset from the drop-down menu at the top. Once you select a preset, all of the settings will change to support the preset. You can tweak some parameters (particularly the wet/dry mixing functions) as necessary, and use presets as the starting point for experimentation.

Audition's Echo effect is an interesting combination of delay, feedback system and EQ. Basically, each delay is mixed with the output for the 'echo effect', but is also put in a feedback loop that is resent into the input. This stays in control as long as the feedback level is relatively low (less than 60%), but rapidly runs wild at high levels. Some of this 'wildness' can be controlled using the EQ, which is applied to the feedback loop before it is sent back to the inputs. Using this feedback can provide a lot of creative options for the savvy sound designer!

Reverb

One of the tools that is critical, but often easy to overuse, is the reverb. A reverb takes the concept of the delay/echo and throws it into overdrive, simultaneously creating reflection emulation, discrete delays and the 'walla' of open space. The reverb is a critical device for most sound design work, but you have to be smart about how you use it.

We are going to use Audition's "Full Reverb" device to explore the reverb world. It is kind of unique because it provides a lot of control to the sound, but also allows us to treat the elements of reverb separately. This is important for our explorations.

Reverb is created out of two different type of effect: early reflections and diffuse reverberation. The early reflections are the sound that come directly from the source to you with relatively few bounces. They are important because they help your ear orient itself to the size of the 'room' that is being created by the reverb effect. The diffuse sound is that 'walla' of indirect reflections building up the non-discrete talk of the reverb. This is the classic sound of reverberation, and is what makes everything sound 'smooth'.

If you select the Full Reverb, you will see a lot of different options to control. Again, you will be watching videos to learn more about reverberation techniques, but one set of controls is critically important: the output level controls. You have separate controls for direct, early reflection and reverberation levels. Make sure you pay attention to these - if set incorrectly for your application, you won't hear what you were hoping for!

Use some of the presets to hear the wide array of reverb sounds that you can get from a single implementation of a reverb effect.

Effects Sends

Since delays - and especially reverbs - determine the 'place' of our sound canvas, it would be useful if all of the sound could share the same 'place' by sharing the same reverb. Why is this important? Well, if you have a complicated soundscape, but one of the sound seems to be in outer space while the other sound like it is in a bathroom, you aren't going to compel anyone with your aural landscape.

Submixes, using 'aux channels', is the key to creating a more compelling sonic landscape, and to doing it without overwhelming your computer. The steps for doing this are:

We will do an in-class walk-through on this, because it is positively critical for making good quality mixes. I've seen a lot of people mix with 4-8 different shared effects, so don't think you have to 'under-whelm' with aux channels!

In-class Assignment:

Create a simple composition that shows the use of both echoes and reverb. Use the effects send system so that all of the tracks sound like they live in the same place (because they use the same reverb sound). Make it at least 1 minute long, but emphasize the effects rather than the sounds.

Assignment Due for next Monday:

What, Exactly, Is The Midterm Project Supposed to Be?