Audio Recording at Manchester Cathedral

I had recently committed myself to an audio recording at the Manchester Cathedral (Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX.) in December 2012. On the occasion of Christmas, few choirs such as the Manchester Glee and others were performing few carols, most notably a “Carols by Candlelight” performance performed by a 20-25 member Henshaws group. The singing group is associated with a non-profit society known as Henshaws that has been working for 175 years with the visually impaired. Figure 1 depicts the placement of microphones in the venue which assumes a Decca Tree arrangement. Two figure of 8s (Rode NT2A) had been placed at the back to capture the voices of the audience with very little from the choir in the front. cathedral setup

 In the middle of the hall, two cardioids had been placed, aiming towards the choir that was also capturing audience in the middle. 2 AKG C214s were positioned directly in front of the stage in XY technique to obtain a wide stereo image of the singing of the choir. For a piano at the right, a Rode NT2A had been employed. It was significantly desired to capture the output of a Soundfield microphone as well but the venue being large and the insufficient size of cables limited some creative goals. The mutitrack recorders used for the recording of the carols were 16 track 2 Focusrite Sapphire Pro 26s. Faced with initial issues with audio software Logic Pro, these had to be quickly resolved by importing files into Adobe Audition in order to continue with the recording. The carols that lasted for two hours included solo and instrumental performances. The recording took an interesting turn when faced with capturing a brass band, halfway through the event as the setup was prearranged only for vocals and piano. Despite limitations, the live musical performance capture turned out a success owing to the resourceful approach towards setup and microphone placement in the venue.This enabled achieving a considerable clear output for which it needs to credit my audio course mate, Robert Baldwin for essential planning and prioritised workflow in all the audio arrangements. The recording of the Carols by Candlelight has been a step forward to learning of adjustments and improvements that could be made in future recordings so as to more closely reflect the initial intentions of recording live events. The experience had also led to the exposure of technical difficulty prone areas that is capable to arise during phases of production and pre-production and to thus get better prepared while tackling similar situations.

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Spreadable media 3

The rise of several media platforms has given a new meaning to the term ‘spreadability’.  Henry Jenkins has  quoted in his book “Creating Value in a Spreadable Marketplace” that YouTube (Burgess and Green, 2009) has emerged both as a central archive for media content… and as a distribution hub through which this content flows outward through a range of social networks. Youtube indeed has considerably contributed to the participatory culture of audiences thus enabling the spread of all kinds of content through the online medium. A particular type of content is spread through several platforms that may be linked to one another. An example of this is the short film Elephants Dream, the world’s first animated open movie made available in a variety of platforms benefiting a larger audience which would otherwise not have occured had it spread only via traditional media. This has proved to be of great advantage to independent artists who are able to reach out to wider audiences thereby creating social communities and increasing spreadability. However this also draws the attention of traditional media industries who have not been used to their messages spreading unpredictably and uncontrollably throughout the web. Recent posts claim that now, they too desire to attract mass audiences. With differences in the distribution and circulation of content as content makers rethink on the current shifts of content spreading among audiences with concerns over authorized and unauthorized ways of circulation, the shifting paradigm is leading to extend emphasis to strengthening social ties rather than concentrating on unauthorized sharing of data. Jenkins,H., Ford,S. & Green, J. (2011). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Society. Retrieved 1, January 2013 from http://video.mit.edu/watch/spreadable-media-creating-value-and-meaning-in-a-networked-society-8705/.

Thus spreadability in turn enhances cutural diversity as increased people now have access to a particular content, thus redefining the principles and goals of reaching out in a networked world.

Spreadable media 2

With regard to the first artefact posted in youtube, the experiences of attaining the grips of a video software only elevated all my acclaims for the hundreds who posted videos in youtube. At present with the Gangnam style the first youtube video with a billion views, I tried to grasp the essence of the type of content that people like to watch. One thing that was clear was that, people rather enjoyed watching music dramas more than perfectly sensible mundane content.  With records of  Gangnam style as the most “liked” video in youtube history and that too within a span of six months, the other initiative was to create a video that emphasized on the highlights of the amusing dance style that attracted audiences in an unique manner. However for the moment, an audio recording is what I have been focusing on. The American rock band “The Fray” having one of their international hits  “How to save a life” , was released in 2006, peaking in several international charts. The second artefact is a recording of their song performed by A.S. George, a contemporary classical guitarist which is uploaded in media platforms.

The recording that was not done in a professional setup but being more customary,  resulted in the use of added filters and effects to overcome recording obstacles along with considerable compromise on ambience and technicalities. The quick recording consisted of at least few tracks of electric guitar, single keyboard and vocal track. As for any other recording, noise removal, pitch changing effect, tempo change effect and other alterations were engaged in the mini production process. For now, it is available on Youtube and Reddit platforms.

Spreadable Media I

As a part of the Social Technologies module, we are required to produce 3 media artefacts and while I have been pondering there have been a few thoughts..

As folk music serves one of my interests, I considered one of the artefacts to be based on such genres. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary are few well known folk singers who have influenced popular music for several decades. There have been notably 2 other folk  artists, among the most popular recording artists of the 1960s and whose music I would give a little emphasis namely, Simon and Garfunkel . As part of the spreadable media, I intend to combine some of their recorded video footages and throw some light on the duo’s vocal harmonies. This might require to use a video editing software and to combine the footages with some edited audio tracks. Youtube being one of the most preferred video platforms in the internet it would be satisfying to upload the video content using such a medium. Networks such as Facebook, Twitter would also be quite instrumental to share and monitor the spread of the video. The video is targeted towards those who enjoy traditional folk  and others who may be fans of the 1960s artists. The music of these songwriters have been one of my favourites since young, and I presume there may be others as well who esteem the duo for their musical performances. The progress of the content will be updated weekly through the blogposts.

A few references: “Simon & Garfunkel”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1990. Retrieved January 8, 2011.

^ Simon and Garfunkel, The Kraft Hall Concert, BBC 1968 Video of Ed Simon’s performance can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E21lzfpt8Dg&feature=related

The other media artefact will mostly be an audio recording whose ideas are still being worked upon.

The Youtube opinions

You Tube caters to a huge audience, literally to anyone who has a video camera and a simple internet connection! Home video, music videos, talks, cultural shows, documentaries, movie clips how to do almost everything in the world, so on and ever…the list just never ends on what Youtube holds.

Stating Zororo Mubaya’s opinion about the video channel ‘youtube does not discriminate against quality or content of a video which alone serves as a passport for home video makers to post any video….’ In this way regular day-to-day videos gain license and space to make its visible presence through a medium which would otherwise not have been possible in a constricted conventional media realm. The facility greatly encourages enthusiastic budding creators from all spheres, irrespective of age to unreservedly display their video talent.

The participatory culture had not yet distinguishably taken its toll, until the marked arrival of Youtube in 2005, where it saw an exponential rise ever since the initial videos were uploaded. The internet had suddenly transformed into an interactive space magically turning passive users into cultural content makers. In the same appeal, Michael Wesch quotes Stephen Weiswasser’s concern over the internet’s growing attraction, in his 2008 video: “You aren’t going to turn passive consumers into active trollers on the internet”.

The idea of uploading content onto a video platform such as Youtube, requires users to deal with other practicalities. On the same video, Anthony Minshull throws light on the aspect of being unsure of audiences watching online; the explicit fact of an anonymous world that lies on the other side of the camera which we are completely concealed from, leaving us with stark feelings of self-consciousness and self-perception.

With the enormous potential of today’s internet opportunists and endless technology that is readily available, Youtube has literally become a space in which videos of anything you could possibly think of, you would find with immense abilities of attracting extensive number of views. Touching on this, Nabeel Malik closely comments on the strengths of video sharing “The power of a camera or a webcam is undoubted fundamental but what we can do with these devices or gadgets, it give us something different or even a way to express ourself in a way we wouldn’t usually”.

Although this cherished online resource has innumerable advantages of sharing yourself bountifully across the web, and also avails as “a springboard to international success” which Clare Wells candidly denotes, it begs the question whether it does prove as a sort of hindrance for those who possess the true originality and professionalism of producing phenomenal assets stay afloat within a prodigious distribution channel. In my opinion, this video sharing site enables a vivid connection between people, a sort of affinity or openness to interacting with persons that instantly promotes social bonds within a diverse online community. This is also recounted by Nardi(2005) in the article written by Patricia G. Lange titled “Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on Youtube”.

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Reflections so far….

Highlighting on what has been already done… Quite along it’s all pretty much been a profound experience diving into an obscure digital pool from which I had cautiously kept myself out in previous years. As getting glued online was not very much encouraged during former education days, I have only now realized how vital it is for an emerging professional in the present era to carve an identity for oneself. If you have been following my posts, it is quite obvious from the very first one that creating a digital identity has come as a whole new dimension and might have had the biggest impact on me. Each lecture has only reinforced the use of the internet in a more productive and benefiting manner although the internet may have its own defects. Cristina Costa had finely illustrated the significance of categorizing online information by using diigo, the online service for strategically bookmarking content. This tool has made it a lot easier to organize and access scores of content in a systematic style. In the subject of networks, building an online web through Twitter enhances the exchange of useful content, enabling a professional in manifold ways. As Dr. Adriana threw some light on Brazilian trash culture, I was prompted to ponder on the power of memes, the voice of the popular fandom spreading ideas and influencing general users’ opinions. Fan literature, fan culture and trolling were concepts I was provoked to get accustomed to. The concept of the remix was appealing to only a certain degree; the popular notion that remixes may be constantly inevitable and that nothing is purely innovative but a regrouping of existing ideas. Hugh Garry’s compelling lecture greatly encouraged to exploit the online tools that never earlier existed and are now privileging users to habitually employ the web. Altogether the lessons so far have been eye-opening and invigorating to a world which I would have remained superstitious and wary of, had it not been exposed of its merits and detriments.  There is the need for me to improve on the networking aspect and to become a versatile blogger. Word press offers to express and promote oneself in an explicit manner; twitter encourages professional linkages, and other similar platforms advantages to exhibit the different sides of an individual thus integrally contributing to the development of a well-rounded identity in the digital world. In other words, engaging online enables the creation of a persona that favors efficient relationships capable of impacting oneself through all means professionally. In short, establishing a successful digital footprint in any legal way would have interested me the most and in turn, I hopefully wish to build it during the rest of the module. Reflecting on the journey of online experiences, the indispensable need of the internet and its culture has indeed brought a shift to pursuit a gleaming present-day online world.

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Anthropological introduction to YouTube

“We’re really living in a different kind of mediascape over here..it is an integrated mediascape we now live in..Media mediate human relations. When media change human relationships change” remarks anthropologist Michael Wesch. No doubt , with a variety of media platforms emanating every six months this is apparently manifesting on the existing human relations. The integrated mediascape, the centre of which human beings now live has shortened huge distances among individuals enhancing the social relationships, intensifying the speed of connections thus collaborating individuals across space and time; Youtube has been chiefly instrumental towards achieving this corporate design. It has provided free access to confined segments of knowledge, breaking down the firm boundaries that has enshroud it for years. With a simple internet connection, one can tap into rich content that is now freely accessed through a universal global platform. Its also a kind of new media harnessing the power of creation. Extensive remixes of home videos are created everyday gaining popularity and attracting tons of fun for an evergrowing audience. So its certainly something that is not just of what professionals make of it but facilitates a whole new ground for  thousands of potential producers desirous to break out fantastic content through the online medium thereby also enabling substantial monetary profits to habitual users. The new form of expression has enabled ordinary youngsters to fame in ways that would have been otherwise impossible had it not been for the smashing opportunity to display their video talent. Expressing oneself through a media portal has catered to arrange for youth to capture interesting moments and spiritedly distribute it across the web. While Youtube endeavours towards engaging greater audiences or increased viewership through its initiatives of sharing content through organised channels and capitalising for premium content programming, it has unimaginably knocked off to the top rated visited websites in the world.

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Few thoughts on Remix

Human beings are designed to produce anything new only from resources that already exist. We live in a system of interdependence where our thought processes are in some way influenced from what we are continuously exposed to. New ideas emerge out of old ones and current advancements are a result of previous findings. Nothing springs out wholly original, and quite plainly, what we produce is obviously influenced by what we receive. The foundations for new concepts rely on established principles resulting in outcomes that would have been uncertain had it not been for previous breakthroughs.

Paradoxically, we do not witness countless groups of creative intellectuals emerging with outstanding innovations. To what extent can we casually term great achievements which took years of persistent analysis, tests, trial and error, and serving as milestones in history as well as contributing considerably to what we are of today with something as simple as a “remix”? I mean, if major developments that took centuries of time to establishment, was worthy to be merited as a flimsy “remix”, it might as well all successively eventuated in a day’s time and we should have turned instantaneously digital.

Johannes Gutenberg, Thomas Edison, Graham Bell and even alongside competitors like Elisha Gray, Henry Ford  and other history makers have just constituted a select majority that were uncommonly earmarked to creatively assemble the then existing machinery components to the refined functional equipment we are using today. Although it is rudimentary to consider that advancements may undoubtedly flourish from previously existing material, it may be slightly amiss to disregard, had it not been for those who, undeniably benefited millions in varied ways, in my most humble opinion, we wouldn’t owe anything to the pioneers of history today, or reminded of them at some point, to reckon the least.

Man is limited to harvest from seeds that have been sown, though not all are exceptionally gifted with potentiality to produce outcomes of competence. We mutually influence, favoring one another intellectually, culturally and artistically. With regard to recreativity and the hassle, I share the same views as Simon Reynolds: “ It’s not the fact or the act of theft but what’s done with the stolen thing that counts: the spin added that “makes it new”…. The hallmark, or proof, of genius, in fact, is not merely transmitting or remixing. It’s fashioning something that others will someday want to steal.” But geniuses own another prestige.

And of course, there holds no restraint to those who should purely espy that “Everything is a Remix”!

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Ethics of Internet Research

The Internet serves as a huge reservoir of people’s ideas, views and perspectives making it an incredible tool for research for day-to-day users as well as professional research personnel. Online platforms such as Google and others are extremely useful in understanding different sides of a particular subject. Other linked up sites can convey much about individuals who could serve as effective research subjects thereby casting successful online impressions. Anyone with a sufficiently visible online presence is liable to fall prey to any such anonymous study. But the question that arises is, while carrying out analysis on such specific items, how much moral conduct, or more rightly addressed as ethics, is observed while performing these tasks.

Not all researchers of the past who have carried out internet research are very well-thought-of or are deserving of praise once their content has been delivered in some form of print or other media. Participants who are unaware of invisible online audiences are prone to virtual shocks if their data has been used to portray them in ways not appealing to them or if their concerns are made undesirably public. This could potentially damage their online relationships. It is not enough to disguise the identity of a participant by using an online handle. Nonetheless, exploring a virtual persona can be devastating as using an individual’s real name. An individual’s data collected without consent by linking to their social networking connections, chats, twitter updates, blog posts, comments etc. cannot help but raise ethics-related questions. Sometimes it is also what their friends put online which entail as valuable assets to researchers. In countries like Britain, where ethical approval is a primary requirement for in-depth study, the nature of outcome may be worthy of acceptable approving standards.

Well, to conclude, in my opinion, ethical research practice means, as researchers we adopt strategies of being honest and transparent online, clearly defining the pros and cons involved in the research study and the confidentiality of the study participation. Clearly, researchers owe responsibility to participants behind computer screens and hence require  receiving informed consent from subjects before initiating any research project. Although learning how to promote critical research on participants is seemingly quite significant, it aids to understand that not only protection of participants on the receiving end is assured but also to positively empower them.

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On online networks

Regarding Twitter

Twitter, I think, is simply is a great online tool for network building and knowledge sharing (which everybody knows!); a wonderful tool to promote networking to huge extents. A mere tweet can be used to convey huge contents of information by using simple hash tags. The discrete syntax could be a bit tricky to follow at first but soon becomes ‘second nature’ for regular tweeters. It allows one to convey directly just the point keeping out unnecessary formal courtesies. It is also ideal for those who are running round the clock and want to convey quick important messages. This networking platform launched just in 2006, has been quite instrumental in birthing prolific connections across internet audiences playing a remarkable role in significant exchanges especially during crisis situations. The elements of Application Programming Interface (API) such as search and streaming APIs are great tools to retrieving tweets oriented to specific events. Bruns, A., & Liang, Y.E. (2012). Tools and methods for capturing Twitter data during natural disasters. Retrieved 1, January, 2013, from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3937/3193. This has thus led to directing immediate valuable attention during catastrophic situations in Australia, New Zealand, Japan (2010-2012). As of December 2012, this networking platform, within a short span of time has grown to serve a mammoth audience of 200 million active users per month! The tweet that can consist of a maximum 140 characters is what restricts users to convey in short yet powerful messages. Not only can the amazing online tool be used to share vital data but also to spread informal updates to followers inevitably making it a dynamic “sms of the internet”.

Facebook

The social networking site founded in 2004, has undoubtedly made the world smaller by facilitating connections between users across the web. The social networking site indeed has been credited as an asset for those who wished to sustain past relationships through online connections. However the social platform has also given rise to off base tendencies for users to initiate unknown ties which are reported to have its unsatisfactory outcomes. A news article in 2011, had reported around 2, 00,000 facebook account users in Bangalore, India were hacked with links to pornographic and sexual content. Kurup, D. (2011). Facebook feeds spammed globally. Retrieved 1, January 2013 from http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Bangalore/article2635228.ece?homepage=true. In contrast there have been beneficial reports of family reunions and distant acquaintances restored through this networking tool. As along as a social network, as for any site on that account, is instilled solely with a sense to effectuate meaningful connections between people across the web space, I candidly admit that it is only a matter of having its positive social  impacts.

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