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About Michael Rasbury and Sound Design

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a new website showcasing original environmental recordings utilizing HRTF wide stereo techniques

Bury The Dead

SPRING, 2008
4500 (AS OF OCTOBER, 2009)

Overview   The Earth Recordings website is the result of a multi-year project for the University of Virginia developed during sesquicentennial leave. Field recordings were made throughout the United States and abroad.  These sounds are cataloged at http://www.earthrecordings.com and are freely available on the Internet.

The primary purpose of the sesquicentennial release was to expand my research as a sound designer through field recording. A desired outcome of this research is now a reality.  I created and published a free Internet based, “phonographic” resource to sound designers and enthusiasts.  It is important to note that the basic building block for theatrical sound design is the sound recording and most designers make extensive use of prerecorded sound libraries. My research provided me with the time to become a distinctive creator of these basic building blocks.

I actually began collecting data for this project well in advance of the actual release time.  As a theatrical Sound Designer, I find myself working in a variety of theatres around the country.  The release time during the spring of 2008 was no exception and I had the opportunity to make recordings outside of the state of Virginia.  After submitting my proposal for the sesquicentennial, I received a grant from the Department of Drama to purchase a stealthy digital field recording system that I could take with me to a variety of locales.  Between 2006 and 2008, I recorded natural environments in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Nevada City, California, Ruston, Louisiana, Waterford, Connecticut, New York, New York, and Manteo, North Carolina. Finally, I spent ten days in Switzerland serving as producer and recording engineer for a multi-track pop music recording.  While there I captured additional recordings as part of my research in field recording

During the first part of the spring semester, I used Digital Performer (Digital Audio Workstation Software) to "clean up" my growing collection of recordings. I first listened to and viewed the waveform of each recording to determine if any material needed to be removed. Although rare, some of the recordings contained extraneous noises and these were removed. I also listened for any unwanted frequencies within the recording. An example of this would be a distant generator or other rogue frequencies with abnormal qualities. Very mild equalization was applied to handle these issues. I also listened to the dynamic range of the recording. If it was determined the range was too great for conventional speakers and headphones, a small amount of dynamic compression was applied using a high quality, 64-bit process.  After this type of minor editing, I then prepared a version suitable for Internet delivery using the .mp3 format encoded at higher than standard rates. Each file was encoded using dithering and noise shaping in order to best preserve the extreme high fidelity of the original digital recording.

For the remainder of the spring semester, I spent time honing in on my web design skills, completing a fifteen page website presenting information about the research and downloadable sound files. I created multiple categories/pages for storing/delivering the recordings.  I also secured the URL, http://www.earthrecordings.com, and pointed it to the University of Virginia web server where the site is stored.  This is a work in progress.  It is my goal to continue making these recordings and upload the new recordings to the site.

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