for the best experience we recommend wearing headphones
and going for a walk
The River Issue
Over five frosty days in January 2015, 26 students and two guest tutors – Chris Watson & Jez Riley French – gathered with staff from the UWS Creative Media Academy to undertake an acoustic exploration of the River Ayr. The workshop was delivered with the support of the EU-funded Honeycomb Creative Works program.
Interest in the sound recording of natural and human environments has grown rapidly in the last few years. Described in various ways: location, field, natural, wild etc., these recordings can be put to a multitude of uses including film, television, radio, art installations, web and CD releases, video game soundtracks, as part of musical compositions and so on. Although we often think of these art forms as primarily visual, in fact the sound track often plays a dominant role in the viewer/user's experience.
Learning to create original and effective sound tracks is a crucial and major part of many creative processes. New digital equipment makes recording and editing sound more accessible to many non-specialists, but also requires skill and experience in order to get the most out of it.
This five-day course aimed to teach students the skills necessary to produce superb field recordings that can be used in a wide range of different media projects, and give them hands-on experience with some of the latest equipment.
The course was attended by film-makers, sound recordists, radio producers, audio artists, musicians and video game designers, both professional and amateur.
It was taught by Chris Watson, one of the world's outstanding field recordists, whose work ranges from CDs released in his own name to the soundtracks of countless BBC wildlife films, and by audio specialist Jez Riley French.
About the Trainers
Chris Watson is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planet productions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound.
Chris’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops. His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica.
The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield.
Jez riley French is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening.
Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics. In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.