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Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 | 31 comments

Sound Design Challenge #12: Lifeless Howl

Welcome to the next Sound Design Challenge! We’re excited to have Boom Library sponsoring this challenge, and they’ve donated a copy of their Creatures library for the winner of this Challenge. Please take a moment to thank them for their generosity by following them on Twitter and visiting their Facebook page.

So, what creative challenge have we got in store for you this time? I think it’s past time we got another video oriented challenge into the mix. So this time we’ve gotten permission to use a test animation from 3d animator extraordinaire, Marcelino Newquist. [Marcelino would also like us to mention the modeller/rigger Chad Vernon, whose rig he used in this animation.] The picture at the top is a screen-cap from this challenge’s video.

Your challenge this time is to create a set of vocalizations for the creature featured in the video, without using any animal (yes, this includes human) sounds. If you would like to build out the rest of the scene, then have a blast.

The rules of this challenge:

  1. Make sure to read and understand the General Rules and Legal Disclaimers as described on this page. Participation in the Challenge implies you have done so and agree to the terms listed therein.
  2. You may not use any animal sounds in your design.
  3. You may design sounds for the rest of the scene should you wish. There are no restrictions on the use of sounds for anything other than the creature.
  4. Your entry, the contest video with your final design mix, must be uploaded to the Vimeo group by  Thursday, October 6th (5 PM U.S. Eastern Time).

Edit: Someone just asked if you can use a vocoder. The answer is, “Of couse, as long as you aren’t using an animal sound with it. ;)”

The video for this challenge may be downloaded here (right-click and download). [note: this video will be removed at 5 PM on October 5th, 24 hours prior to the the close of the competition.]

As usual, I am looking for volunteers to assist in selecting the finalists for this challenge. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me here.

Once again, a big thanks to Boom Library for sponsoring this challenge…and to Marcelino Newquist for allowing us to use his work.

Good luck!


  1. very interesting competition, will be participating ;)

  2. interesting challenge. one question: will you be judging the vocal design or also include all contextual sounds (heli’s etc.)?

    • The focus will be on the creature vocals, but that is just for the five nominations (what the judges will be doing). I can tell people in the public voting to focus only on the creature vocals, but I have no way to guarantee that they will not be swayed by someone who may build a kick-ass design for the entire scene…….And hey, you do have three weeks. ;)

  3. What about instrument sounds? That is one of those grey areas where the human is involved in making the sound, but not the direct source of the sound.

    • that’s fine. if we were to get as all encompassing as that, you wouldn’t be able to use an “handled prop” or foley sounds, mechanical devices that require human input, etc. simply no direct vocalizations or mouth noises.

  4. Great challenge Shaun. 
    Sorry to bring this up again, but I can see the rules mentioning calibrating our monitors as we have done before on other challenges. what about max peaks? Any rules on this?


    • @Mikkel – The request/common courtesy “calibrate your monitors” clause is listed in the general rules. I won’t be putting a limit on maximum peaks.

  5. Sounds like a great challenge. I definitely know what one of my sources will be already, I had sort of stumbled upon this kind of thing just messing around one day, though it only does well for the breathing… that scream at the end (and pictured) is going to be a little more tough to do convincingly. 

  6. No animal or people sounds? Sounds like an interesting challenge! :)

  7. @Benjie
    Just a few tips:
    – I miss a monster growl around 0.04. The monster jumps on the floor and growls.
    – The ambient sounds are too loud. If you lower them a bit then there will be more focus on the monster.

  8. Wow Benjie even though i agree with Jeroen that there are some sounds missing the sound you do have is awsome! How did you made it? (if i may ask :P).

  9. The sounds for the breathing are there, I chose to keep those behind the ambiance though. I felt that the mouth movement as hes jumping is just small breathing and I did not want to focus to much on that, I wanted to build the excitement for the big scream. As far as what I used to make the sound, I can tell you after the contest is over! hehe

  10. Just made my contribution:
    This is the first time I made the audio track for an animation without any sound. Great challenge!
    Greetz from Germany. Jakob

  11. Okido :D

  12. Hi Shaun,
    a quick question on the additional sounds.
    “There are no restrictions on the use of sounds for anything other than the creature.” But I guess all of these should be self-made/recorded nevertheless?

    • Not so, Roman. There’s no requirement to use only personally recorded sounds. Feel free to use any sounds you own a license for. When there are challenges that require you to use only personally-originated sounds, it will be mentioned explicity in the rules for that challenge. So have at it!

  13. Just wondering does the no vocalizations rule extend to any sounds included within the rest of the scene that are not from the creature?

    • No. As mentioned in the rules, you may use any sounds you like to build out the rest of the scene…if you decide to do so. The smart thing to do would be to keep any vocalization sounds used for the scene well defined as separate from the creature.

  14. Thank you Shaun!

  15. Here’s my quick and dirty contribution:

    This is actually my first attempt at creature vocalization. Not at all easy but pretty darned fun.

    Since this is actually my first Vimeo upload as well I just hope it works :-)

  16. @ErikG

    Hey Eric, I think you uploaded yours without any sound!

  17. Ok so I failed… forgot to tick the audio checkbox in the quicktime export…
    New link:

    This is actually my first attempt at creature vocalization. Not at all easy but pretty darned fun.

  18. Hi everyone! I have a question!
    I submitted my video today respecting the AGCOM standard is it the required one?!

    • Don’t worry. To date, we haven’t asked people to adhere to any specific standards regarding mix levels. How you mix should without those kinds of restrictions is an important factor in the judges’ nominations. The only thing we ask is that your speakers be calibrated to a known listening level. Known to you that is, so that you have some idea of just HOW loud you’re making something. ;)

  19. Thanks Shaun!


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