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AES 145 Student Recording Competition Interview

 1) Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you study?

My name is Peiqi "Peggy" Duan and I’m from Shanghai, China. I got my BFA degree in Film Sound Effects at Beijing Film Academy and just got my MFA degree in Film Sound Design at Chapman University this summer.

2) What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

I started learning vocal performance, violin performance and theater performance when I was 6 years old. Doing something about the art of sound and story was always my dream during my student period. According to my high school studies, I realized that I was good at mathematics and computer sciences, which made me decide to apply for a major that could combine the art with computer sciences - Film Sound Effects.
Beijing film academy is the best film school in China. I left my hometown and studied in Beijing for 4 years. Finally I decided to widen my horizons and pursue my MFA degree in Hollywood, the center of the U.S. film industry.

3) Tell us about production of your submission? What is the story behind it? What inspired it? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry?

This was my first entry. It was from my thesis film "Thicker than Water". I did all the sound works except composing. We shot the film for 11 days in October, 2017, and I did the post sound mixing from March to May, 2018. The story happens at Anna, Illinois, in 1890s. A crippled white boy Jacob develops a friendship with a mysterious white-looking newcomer Silas, and his racist worldview is threatened when he discovers that Silas is really black.
In this story, there are some important parts which need a lot of sound design, such as river, Yemaya (river god), bells and death whistle.
Director wanted a sound for Yemaya. Silas defined Yemaya as the mother of water. And, our composer had already created a main theme melody before our shooting. So, I decided to use a woman vocal as Yemaya’s sound. The woman vocal hums the melody when she is summoned. Actually I was the voice actress for Yemaya and the singer of credits music.
“When someone dies on the tree, a bell gets hung from the branch.” Bells were always connected with water and Yemaya. To get clear and accurate bells’ sound, I borrowed the bells in different sizes from PD department and recorded many different bells sound during my foley session.
Silas’s death whistle in the film was a Chinese traditional ocarina actually. I found there was a real death whistle in the world. It sounds like thousands of people screaming. That was exactly what I wanted, so I bought one online! However, I thought the sound would be too simple for the death whistle in this story. To make the sound richer, I also added the sound of ocarina, one high pitch sound and one mid pitch sound.

4) What/who made you join AES?

I learnt about AES when I was in China. My professors were international members of AES. Last year, I got a chance to be an AES student volunteer at NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. I had a wonderful experience there, and finally decided to join AES.

5) Tell us about your favorite experiences at the 145th AES convention in New York!

Absolutely the multiple audio conferences. As a film audio student, the knowledge of audio tech stuffs were very invaluable for me. In addition, I made some friends during this wonderful event, and extended my social network to the world. And of course, the feeling of getting the prize of the Student Recording Competition was unforgettable forever.

Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2019

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