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Covid a year on - Sound Effects

It's a year, a year since we were coming to terms with what the word 'pandemic' actually means and in what ways it would affect our lives. Looking back I think it is probably a good thing we didn't know then what we do now but, as humans, of course we adapt.

Before I begin lets make it clear that I understand and respect the fact that the ultimate cost here has been paid in life and the hurt and sadness brought to so many families. We remember the huge, and growing cost, on a daily basis.

For people working in the media there was lots of head scratching, how do we carry on, how do we film, how do we record voices, how do we do both.

As more of a sound guy my first reaction was to work out what it would take to work from home. Get the mic set up, a way to record - renew that Pro Tools subscription! After a year we have found a way around just about everything. TV shows are back they found a way, radio, not quite so difficult to work from home. Commercial and voice artists the same. Back in March 2020 though if you told us we would all be wearing masks in a few months - that probably was something you didn't believe - how times change

I've been mulling over what we now except as 'OK' that I don't think we did a year ago - we have adapted but it has clearly caused the art to suffer. Here are a few:

The constant dropping of internet and Skype connections in radio interviews "oh we seem to have a bad line to X we will try and get that back" decoded that means "to hell with the Skye call her on the phone'

Reporters on TV delivering reports in masks, muffling the sound to a degree that would make any decent sound engineer shudder.

Tinny sounding voiceovers on adverts, clearly coming to terms with their new IP set up and struggling to get it right.

Podcasts with guests dropping out all over the place, coming back and then leaving again for good - where did they go? nobody knows, down the internet pipe of hell.

Delays, lots of delays, delays everywhere. Lets try and hook up a three way studio debate with the presenter at home and three people down the line - often a recipe for hilarity*

*hilarity that turns to frustration that after so many months this is still happening!

All these compromises cannot be helped and indeed they have helped us to keep going, keep talking and stay together while apart - stop to think what this pandemic would have been like in 1980 with no internet?

We clearly hope the worst is behind us. Vaccines, science and medicine will return our world to a new normal. Personally I do hope that everything we have normalised does not be come that new normal. We need to get back to recording proper voiceovers, asking guests to attend for important interviews where the value is lost by a constant stop start. When this is over we shouldn't accept The One Show conducting an interview with some personality that looks like they are on the moon on a foggy day.

Technology has got us through, medicine will make us better but let's hope that as soon as we can we restore our effort, pride and skills to everything - that we do.

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