Developing Practice Module Workshops


Over the course of the semester (exactly like the last one), a series of Workshops have been put on to support and improve our learning and all-round technical skill. The first one this calendar year was learning how to record sound…


Sound recording workshop:

We were using the ZOOM XYH-6 Stereo Mic

This first workshop was interesting. And not to mention, surprisingly difficult. Led by our engaging and charismatic tutor, we were first off introduced to the theoretical side of recording sounds. Learning about the difference between Stereo and Mono soundwaves, which when shown in a recording context can really change the way it sounds, when it’s played back. We then learnt the best format to record sound in, which was 48khz and 24bits (I think).

After an introduction to the recorder, we were then taught the two different kinds of microphone we’d be using and what purposes they served. The two different kinds were called Dynamic and Condensers. Dynamic microphones were more suited to a plug and play method of usage while a Condenser was most effective suspended in the air and it also offered wind protection. Shortly after this info was delivered, we were tasked with recordings some out door sounds for our selves…

Things I learnt:

The equipment in use

• Sound recording is much more than button pushing and it actually requires a lot of care and attention to make sure that it’s recorded at the best quality attainable, given the environment and direction of which and who the sound is coming from.

• The two different kinds of sound recordings, mono and stereo.

• Two different kinds of microphone used to record with a hand-held microphone and why you would want to choose them.

Things I’m still not sure about:

• Quite simply, how to use the thing as the interface and way to save files, plus the correct settings to use. But of course, I’m sure there are resources available online for me if I need a quick refresher.

Below is my sound recording, in response to the workshops. I altered text from my copy of Don’t get a job, make a job by Gem Barton:


Web design workshop:

This course turned out to be a three session epic. I had, before this, very basic knowledge regarding the coding language of HTML and CSS and very minimal knowledge revolving around the Javascript language. Prior to this Workshop I had only ever learnt to code using Sublime, though fortunately the Brackets interface was simpler and in fact more intuitive!

Brackets in use (though, not by me)

Like some previous workshops, a sign that is has been engaging (or most likely difficult) is shown by the lack of photographs snapped throughout the program. Throughout the Web Design Workshop, this also proved to be the case. By the end I was buzzing and extremely motivated after learning basic javascript. I was amazed by the things you could do with it. Even after just a couple lines of code, we were moving letters around the screen on command or on mouse hover.

So I dug out this book I bought a while ago ‘Javascript & JQuery’, signed up to the website ‘Green Socks’, recommenced to us by the tutor and made plans to get learning…


Sound editing workshop:

Another workshop using sound. This time we were working in post-production. And things were kicked off with…

Which is a brilliant video all about the tricks played on us as viewers by sound designers, when they’re composing recordings to be used as foley sounds in some kind of moving picture. For example, frying bacon for rain falling and someone jumping into a swimming pool for the sound of futuristic helicopter starting.

Abode software in use

In this video, the TED talker explains that with sound…

“You can manipulate peoples feelings”

By this he means, you can create mystery if you hide the source or even tension if the sound is off-screen.

Key learning:

• That a WAV file is better quality than an .mp3! An .mp3 is kind of like a JPEG of the photographic world.

• Room tone/atmosphere tracks are background noises in film and they create balance.

• The sound of a film is 50% of what youre watching. This may seem obvious but that shows just how important what you hear when watching something is.

• And it’s important to never delete any sounds and to keep a library of sounds saved inside a folder, and on a hard-rive or something.

And lastly, something that the tutor said which I really liked when I asked him what his favourite project to work with was…

“It’s not about what you work on, but who you work on it with. You could be doing sound for Lord of the Rings but have a terrible time doing it because who’s in the team”


Letterpress Workshop:

Boom! A workshop I’d been looking forward to since the beginning of last semester. The Letterpress process is one I’ve heard and read so much about, after seeing it in the film Helvetica and also being lucky enough to be at a talk by Alan Kitching (who’s work was shown so as for inspiration), whilst studying down in Falmouth!

From minute one of working in the studio space, I was pumped! The process was incredible. From rooting through all the draws to find physical letters for your piece, to then laying them out all by hand. It had serious charm. Someone said that…

“It’s actually quite nice having a limited number of fonts to choose from”

The four pictures above show the process (very roughly). Picking the letters, writing down where they came from so you don’t forget, placing them and lastly printing it. We learnt how to print with wooden type and also lead type. Before I explain the slightly more intricate process of letter press printing, I want to note down all things I learnt throughout this workshop. Thanks must be given to the knowledgable tutor, Ben:

• The wooden or lead block is called a ‘sort’

• A unit of measurement used most commonly when dealing with letters of a much larger point size, is called a ‘pica’. I can refer to this to remind me how it’s said.

• (Obviously), how to print with wooden and lead type.

• That lead type is actually more fragile than the wooden type. Thanks to an error of mine, I almost learnt the hard way.

• I also learnt later that if you put a bit of paper underneath an un-even letter, you can maintain a flat level of blocks to print on. Achieving a better quality print. [see below-left].

• You can also 3-D print slash laser cut your own type (which is something Ben showed us).

[see below-right].

After a bit of experimentation with the wooden type, I walked past Maaz who had just start to use the rotary automated letter press rolling machine (I can’t remember exactly what its name was), but I decided to document the process:

  1. First, one would have to organise all the letters in a tightly compact area. Making sure that none of the sorts were loose. Otherwise the roll with paint on it would pick them up and destroy the printer. [image one].

  2. Then with it all in place, you would you would switch it to a ‘trip’ setting, using the circle knob. [image two].

  3. After you’ve rolled over the type, in this ‘trip’ setting (to put a thin layer of ink on top), you can get the paper ready [image three].

  4. Now, roll over again (making sure there is a thickness of around seven sheets of newsprint in there). And this time, after switching back to the ‘print’ setting.

  5. Boom, you can print. After you’ve rolled all the way to the very end [image four].

  6. You can take print out [image five].

  7. This process can then be repeated with different sheets [image six].

  8. In [image three], you will need the foot peddle to get the paper in.

Towards the end of the workshop. I spent the afternoon challenging myself to create a short passage of text, using the 8pt Univers leade typeface that was available. This was unreal! It was massively satisfying to sit down and compose something that would take seconds to do on a computer. And after finishing it and adding it to one of my other pieces earlier that day, I felt well accomplished too. (I’m not sure if you can read it but it’s probably best if you don’t, it’s quite rude haha!).

Post feedback and post letterpress workshop, I decided I wanted to research the subject of typography much further. Starting with watching this video I’d seen popping up a while, which I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time. It’s a history of graphic design production:

Finally, this piece became my response to workshop brief of, ‘creating a letter pressed response to your own feelings towards Brexit’.

3D Scanning and Printing Workshop:

This workshop introduced us to printing, scanning and producing 3-dimensional models. It was cool to see the kind of things that are possible to create, and it was insightful to learn which bits of software we might need to produce them. In the morning, I was scanned by this device nicknamed the ‘Spider’. This created a digital 3D version of me.

The above images [from left to right] show the scanner, the tutor with me as a 3D scanned model. And lastly, the digital model inside the software we used, called ‘Rhino 6’. This was suggested as good to use if we wish to work with 3D pieces.

We were then assisted in developing a type based piece in Rhino. Which was cool too. There’s a lot of potential and fun to be had with this kind of tech, especially if one creates a mould so as to produce something with a range of different materials. I really want to exploit the resources, so hopefully my project will lean in that direction.
Contact: Student Project Co-ordiantor. Demi.


Risograph Workshop:

I’d never used a Risograph Printer before this workshop, so I was super excited to get stuck in and print with one!

We all created a Riso based on the Manifesto we made last semester, it was an intriguing introduction to the process. I didn’t actually snap my final works, I was too busy snapping snaps; which I’ve realised is my new favourite thing. We experience everything else through our phones, don’t we?

Anyway, the following Thursday (this workshop was on a Tuesday), I popped back up to the third year design floor of the Arnolfini and with the huge help of one of the Third Year tutors I was Riso-printing again…

One of the pieces I made, now up in my room

It was SUPER beneficial for me to head back up and learn how to use the printer properly, it’s actually a rather simple process which was easy to learn and it produces some nice results.