The dictionary lists the following explanations for the word Documentation.
- the use of documentary evidence.
- a furnishing with documents, as to substantiate a claim or the data in a book or article.
- Computers . manuals, listings, diagrams, and other hard- or soft-copy written and graphic materials that describe the use, operation, maintenance, or design of software or hardware: The documentation for the driver program is displayed on the screen.
I’ve always been a big fan of documentation and make every attempt to take down detailed notes, screen shots, photographs etc when I’m recording or mixing. While my pre-occupation with documenting might border on obsession, I strongly feel that documentaion forms an important part of lives.
The primary reason for starting this blog was to be able to document and catalogue eveything I do. The blog helps me reduce the amount of paper that has been accumulating in my drawers! But having said that, one must not underestimate the traditional method of documentation – a piece of paper and a pen. This is especially useful in scenarios where you can’t cart your laptop along. As a sound designer I believe documentation is important since it provides a template and a point of reference for similar projects that may come up in the future. Personally, having pages and pages of documentation has helped me time and again to come up with quick solutions and provided me with recording, mixing and editing techniques to fall back on in times of a sound designer’s version of writer’s block (Which is about 90% of the time!).
Here’s a track I had recorded as a student and the “log book” I typed out as part of documenting the process of recording and mixing.
While the above document is an example of one way to approach your studio session – both recording and mixing, field recording needs a different approach. The ability to quickly take down details of a take and identify which one you will possibly use once all the material is back in the studio is important. To be able to do this I’ve created a template based on the H4n’s file labelling protcol to help me quickly take notes during a field recording session. Here’s an example of how I use the template during recording sessions.
Finally, like I said in the beginning of the post; I am a big fan of documentation and it has helped me immensely in terms of serving as reference material. While it is at times hard to document what you do while you’re working, it’s always good practice to try and take notes during the process of recording, mixing, sound design etc simply because these will most likely prove useful in the future. As far as students are concerned; those of you pursuing courses in audio engineering, audio production etc etc should make it a point to take down in as much detail as possible what you do during a recording or mixing session. Whether the course requires you submit a log book or not, you must make it a habit to take down things you can go back to once you’re out in the “real world”. Make sure that you use your time in college well and experiment and document. You might just stumble on a technique (which you have duly documented and then used during your professional life) that will lend your audio content a very special sonic signature that people will recognise and attribute to you!!