Editing Episode 11 - Science Brian's Feeling For Snow

It’s been a while now since I had a good, “You want me to make the sound of a WHAT?” rant, but Science Brian’s latest episode (aka. “The One With The Penguins“) helped me to get back into the swing of things. I mean… just take a look at this:

A snippet of AST script showing the sound effect "THUMP OF A RUBIK'S CUBE ON SNOW"

He does this sort of thing on purpose, you know.

I… just… *sigh*

Of course, had Science Brian written this during the extremely long and snowy winter we’ve just had, the effect would have been straightforward to say the least. Snow + microphone + Rubik’s cube + throw = sound effect. But no. He waited until there was nary a flake of snow to be seen before landing this in my in-tray. Darn him.

So where to start?

Well, as it happened, I had a range of snow-based sound effects left over from Episode 6 (aka. “The One With The Reindeer“), including some crunchy ‘walking through snow’ footsteps. Foot landing in snow; Rubik’s cube landing in snow. Surely not that dissimilar?

Next, as part of the Episode 11 recording, I had taped* a couple of minutes of general ‘Science Brian doing a Rubik’s cube’ noises for use as background (as noted at the top of the script snippet, above). This, after a text conversation that went something like this:

Producer Dan: Brian, can you bring a Rubik’s cube to the recording this weekend?

Science Brian: I carry one with me at all times.

He’s a strange, strange young man…

Anyway, armed with these two sound effects, I just had to snip out a 0.04-second piece of Rubik’s cube – not the actual ‘click’ of a face being turned, but the plasticky noise of the cube moving around in Science Brian’s hand – and merge it with the lightest of my snowy footsteps. The trick here was find the precise position for the cube noise within the snow noise to make it sound as though the cube were causing the snow to crunch, and then to adjust the relative levels of the two noises so that the cube isn’t drowned out by the snow. Quite the painstaking process.

And the result? Almost completely inaudible on the final podcast. A complete waste of my time and effort. There’s a lesson here somewhere.


*No, we don’t really use tape. That’s just me showing my age.

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