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Steve Whitford
The Truth of Sound: Recording Realist Documentaries - 'Ambisonics and the Recordist as Author'

25 May 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM BST (London)

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Observational documentary and realist (scripted and unscripted) location sound recording is a much under-explored area of film sound, despite its very large employment opportunities. I seek to address this by drawing critical attention to the intricacies and skills involved in location sound recording within realist filmmaking – both scripted and unscripted. I show how this art continues to be central to the creative process of production, in driving the narrative and shaping the text’s influence, within the pro-filmic space.

Steve Whitford is uniquely placed as a documentary sound recordist who, after over 25 years of production experience, entered acedemia and created a body of insightful research exploring the role of sound recording. In this two-part series Steve draws upon his extensive experience as a documentary recordist to explore both the historical and conceptual background that informs location sound followed by a detailed explanation of current sound recording techniques.


The Truth of Sound: Recording Realist Documentaries
Part 2: Ambisonics and the recordist as author

Steve proposes that the realist sound recordist’s role has an authorial voice and a creative agency connecting the storytelling skills in recording for single camera with the new opportunities afforded by the emerging technologies of immersive field sound recording – ambisonics being a vital part of that development. The objective of all documentary techniques – old or new – is to give the audience the sense of being there.
(Topics: Authenticity and the pro-filmic event, 360-degree immersive sound, spatial audio, techniques and technology, audience angagement)

90 minutes followed by Q&A.
Each ticket includes free access to a recording of the event for 6 months.

Saturday, 18 May 2024
Part 1: Being There

Steve Whitford is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth teaching the MA in Sound Production and is Course Leader for the MSc and MA Film and TV Production. Since 1984 he has recorded sound in the film/tv industry across a wide range of programming for international broadcasters and independent TV companies. Though his first love is documentary Sound Recording he has compiled extensive experience in drama as well as corporate productions. He won the RTS Award for Sound Recording on BBC2′s ‘Fighting The War’ documentary series for which he was embedded with the Black Watch (7th Armoured) during the invasion of Iraq.  Full credits can be found at whitford.net.

He is currently writing his PhD: “The ‘Truth of Sound’: Exploring the effects of an immersive location sound recording methodology, within Realist filmmaking”. His research includes articles for The Soundtrack, The International Journal of the Image and International Journal of Creative Media Research, as well as presentations at Mapping Spaces, Sound Places: Geographies of Sound in Audiovisual Media (Cremona, Italy, 2019), Ambisonic-centred Location Sound Recording: Reinvigorating the Observational Documentary (ObsDoc) Genre? for AVANCA | CINEMA 2020, and Teaching ‘Otherness’: Reflections on film production pedagogy and political agency for MeCCSA, South Bank University, London (2020).


25 May 2024
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM BST (London)
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Steve Whitford - Part 2
£ 12.00 Ex VAT