Dissertation Statement - Help me choose please!


Hey guys,

I know I posted something reasonably similar before about anime but I was thinking about doing a dissertation on the subject, here is what I've got so far.

"What are the Processes Required in Creating a Successful Sound Design in Action Shōnen Anime?"

I noticed after watching a few anime, most of the sounds are synthesized or sounds that have been processed a LOT and there has been hardly anything on sound design of this kind. I would analyze generic action shonen anime sounds in terms of processes like EQ etc.

I was then thinking about comparing older and newer ones to see how they have developed over the years (I know that makes it partly a historical document, but I feel I should add it in the literature review somewhere) and finally whether using a more "realistic" sound design e.g. using soundscapes would benefit this form of anime.

I was also going to throw in some case studies and interviews with prominent sound designers (if anyone responds haha) in the field to see what they have to say about the matter.

The methodology would be something along the lines of putting my own bank of created sounds to a few clips and show unbiased subjects a film of my own design and the original film to see what they feel suits the picture more, maybe throw in a version with a combination of both, one to try and emulate more motion picture type sound, and one with "hyperreal" anime sound just to gather response.

Sorry for rabbiting on haha just wanted to get your opinions and feedback!

I also have another which is "What is the Validity of using Mathematical Techniques to Create Future Contemporary Hits in Popular Music?" (I know I'm a geek |8]) analyzing things like uplaya and scoreahit etc, but there is a lot of ambiguity on that and I feel as though I could slip up somewhere.

I digress, please let me know what you think! Would be much appreciated!

Kind Regards


Posted 2013-02-07T19:20:34.333

Reputation: 167



To be absolutely honest, I can't say that your thesis, as stated, sounds like a terribly interesting read. Analysis, particularly when it comes to mixing technique, can be rather difficult to make interesting. It's kind of like reading the verbal equivalent of a spreadsheet. However, if you find a way to give it a broader scope in terms of how your analysis effects (or should effect) sound design practice, then pretty much any topic is fine. You have to have a topic that matters, or if you can't find one/aren't interested in one that actually matters, you have to find a way to make what you want to do sound like it matters.

So, why is the huge amount of audio processing done in Shōnen Anime important? Why should anyone care? Why do you care? Because that's really the point.

Contrary to @Internet Human, I think subjectivity is something that should be actively engaged with. If it doesn't affect you on a deep, subjective level, there's not much point in studying it, really. All of the driest, boringest, most academic seeming stuff (Philosophy, psychology, meta-linguistic theory, etc.) only exists in the first place because someone cared so much about the subject that they had to write 90,000 words on the subject.

Academic study and writing doesn't have to be as stale and lifeless as most people seem to think. Having an opinion isn't a bad thing. Expressing emotion isn't a bad thing. The only thing that you must be able to do is provide justification for any of the claims you make. As long as you do that, you're in the clear.

Writing a dissertation is no different than making anything 'artistic'. A good piece of writing has a sense of dynamic, a sense of flow, a sense of tension, and a genuine feeling of cathartic resolve when the conclusion is reached. You can't do that without engaging the reader on a personal/human level. Of course, you have to be careful not to be too personal and get carried away, but you won't be marked down for being enthusiastic, interested, and opinionated. Because if it seems like even you don't care about it, then who gives a shit in the first place?

So express yourself and show that it's important, even if only to you.

Also, for my two cents, I'd stay away from conducting surveys. I don't know what context you're working in, but if a study of the kind you propose is done under conditions that aren't strictly controlled and properly supervised, the results are scientifically and statistically meaningless, and the whole therefore is a bit of a waste of time. Also, in all likelihood, the sample size you'll end up having will be uselessly small. A study of 20 people who know you and whose answers will be affected by your relationship to them, basically nullifies any conclusions you could have drawn from the results.

If nothing else, when I was starting my dissertaion 8 months ago, the one thing my supervisor told me not to do was write a survey-based thesis...


Posted 2013-02-07T19:20:34.333

Reputation: 4 260

Thank you for your honest feedback! I maybe have to reconsider the format of this dissertation to maybe make it more of a educational project then just research, like a "how-to" guide perhaps in regards to anime sound design?

Good advice about surveys, but I suppose maybe anonymity no the internet and getting maybe like this community or an anime community to answer questions who I obviously don't know can't hurt.

Thanks for the advice though, it has really focussed my attention on shedding my statement and methodology in a new light! Out of interest, what was your dissertation on? – FFRMusic – 2013-02-07T22:39:25.723

So I guess some art departments could accept primarily just a creative approach on dissertations, rather than attempting to find sound arguments and/or new information. Which is logical, if the creations or the dissertations aren't even meant to be assessed with objective criteria or compared to something existing. But I personally find that to be a rather difficult way to approach writing a coherent paper that has some "real" meaning. You're given an opportunity to present something new/meaningful, so why not attempt making it as sound as possible using the best ways and methods you can? – Internet Human – 2013-02-08T09:04:46.580

Well, I did my dissertation on creating audio books based on an attempt to re-formulate a couple of Michel Chion's theories about Acousmétre and Film into a non-picture context. So, I made 4 different versions of the same shortstory, broke the work down into broad categories (background, forground, narrative elements, temporal elements) and discussed how the treatment of each category of sound affected the listening experience. I made wild claims and invented a theory or two, all backed up by solid references and (self-made) examples, and I got somewhere in the region of a North American 90%. – g.a.harry – 2013-02-08T10:13:37.010

Which is not, by the way, to boast. I had initially thought of doing the survey thing (creating the different versions, playing them for people, then interviewing them on what worked and what didn't). But that's actually useful than pretty much anything else. Most of the people you'll survey aren't sound nerds and can't describe what they feel about stuff in a way that doesn't require interpretation on your part as the writer, which basically destroys any attempt at being objective. Out of interest, what do you mean by "assessed with objective criteria"? There is no objectivity in art. – g.a.harry – 2013-02-08T10:22:27.357

@g.a.harry "There is no objectivity in art.". That's the problem (more so in dissertations). What I was trying to seek is that what are art dissertations then supposed to "give out" in the first place? And how would it answer the OPs question about picking an appropriate topic for the dissertation and deciding on a "proper" way to execute it? And what makes conducting surveys a bad choice? If art is assessed only on the level of subjectivity, then should we discard all theorizing and focus only on practical demonstration and feedback on how it's perceived (for which surveys are appropriate)? – Internet Human – 2013-02-08T13:31:48.343

1See I don't know. It seems to me that hiding under the mask of objectivity by way of doing an audience survey is a convenient way of avoiding having to draw any real conclusions and make any real arguments. Art isn't science. There is no amount of data you could present with with about the popularity/watchability of a Michael Bay movie that would ever make me be able to sit through Transformers 3. Nothing in art is "provable," but everything is debatable. And that is the purpose of an Art dissertation, to put forward a new perspective into the debate about art. A survey doesn't do that. – g.a.harry – 2013-02-09T10:39:15.933

@g.a.harry That's a good point/explanation. – Internet Human – 2013-02-09T18:53:16.100


I think doing polls is the best (or most publicly useful) way to go with art dissertations in general. Another could be sales or viewing/listening charts, if it's something that's sold or distributed. Remember that what we do (or consume) is perceived subjectively. So in order to get somewhat objective/truthful or just informative statements about art that carry weight, you have to ask (many) people what they feel or think.

I understand the interest to do analysis of sound and music, but again here lies the danger of excessive subjectivity and/or the study ending up being very non-informative, if one's attempting to draw some generalizable conclusions with inadequate methods and background study/knowledge. Or then you need to develop a specific methodology or criteria for the analysis or dig into the more scientific fields that study art or media formally (e.g. psychology) and lend methods from those.

Then, one popular method is to take the dissertation as a personal learning opportunity (which it of course is) and which you formulate by digging some background information (from reputable sources) about what you're going to do and then provide a practical case study about how something works or how you implemented something.

"What is the Validity of using Mathematical Techniques to Create Future Contemporary Hits in Popular Music?". What's this? Algorithmic composition?

Internet Human

Posted 2013-02-07T19:20:34.333

Reputation: 3 091

Great feedback thank you! Part of this course as well requires a practical project related to this in which I would create a "how-to" guide based on my findings in the written aspect, including examples of my own animation and the sound to it as well and also an example bank of sounds I create based on the information.

In case you're interested, what I was on about was this in regards to the second statement - http://scoreahit.com/ - thats one example.

http://www.scoreahit.com/node/11 - this is part of the mathematics behind it, which I find inspiring in a way.

– FFRMusic – 2013-02-07T21:56:07.423

@FFRMusic I also find the formulation of art interesting. It seems like an inherent feature of some art forms, genres and artists, even though we or the artists themselves may perceive or appreciate art as individualistic and requiring "human touch". Computational creativity is the field to dig into here and it provides relevant insight especially if you're thinking of working with digital art. Classical music has been written by a computer and one of the next things researchers are digging into is pop music composed by a computer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music_automation

– Internet Human – 2013-02-08T14:34:18.103


The only advice I can give is, you're going to be spending a LOT of time with the material - so pick something you are genuinely interested in and want to learn more about. I'd go as far as saying don't treat it like a piece of educational work - but treat it as an opportunity to research something you want to know more about, or to better your knowledge of a subject you feel you're currently lacking (as long as it's relevant of course).

Not only will the work come out better because you're truly passionate about it - but, if you pick your topic wisely - it will be valuable to your progression as a sound designer.



Fred Pearson

Posted 2013-02-07T19:20:34.333

Reputation: 717

Thanks Fred! Yeah I'm really interested in this field and would love to maybe get more into this area of Sound Design professionally later on! – FFRMusic – 2013-02-07T21:50:12.910