What do you think of when you hear (or read) the word restriction?
Unfortunately, the word restriction often carries with it a negative connotation. Though within the creative process, restrictions can be quite beneficial, and sometimes inspiring. As Belle Beth Cooper explains in her Buffer blog post, “What restrictions do is take away some of the choices available to us, and with them, the paralysis of choice that stops us from getting started.” We all have restrictions that somehow shape our work (from a simple self-imposed framework or template to budget constraints, and so on) and this month we want to explore some of these restrictions from the perspective of sound design.
We here at Designing Sound ALWAYS encourage contributions from the community. If you would like to throw in your “two-cents” on this topic, please be in touch and let us know. As always, feel free to contribute to this month’s theme, or maybe next month’s topic is of more interest to you (which will be “Film Theory”), or go completely off-topic. Anything is fair game. Please contact doron [@] this website to get the ball rolling.
There’s a lot of things to like about Frozen. The animation is beautiful, the script is tight, the performances are great, and it even features a catchy tune or two. It’s also got some great sound. Check out the opening ice cutting sequence. It probably had whole cinemas ducking for cover in 3D but even in plain old 2D it works. The effects are great and when you get out from under the ice into the open air there’s that indefinable ‘softness’ to the soundstage that only happens in a snowy environment. And the film has a lot of it; ice, snow, crunchy, soft, cracking, and exploding and it all sounds just right. But my favourite thing about Frozen are some door knocks from right at the start. (more…)
We as a community are lucky to have a number of amazingly informative resources available to us, and podcasts count among the most popular. Well, add a new one to your listening list: the Dolby Institute, in conjunction with SoundWorks Collection, is presenting a limited number of podcasts in a series entitled “Conversations with Sound Artists”. For the first episode, released a few days ago, they speak to Randy Thom of Skywalker Sound. Read more info on the podcast on SoundWorks Collection’s page.
The Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle created by Epic Games
What is your favorite sound effect from a video game? Reminiscent sounds from arcade, Atari and Nintendo games often come to mind, but effects from a few modern games have also become classics. Yet it is not from their nostalgic qualities that they join Mario’s square waves but rather from their versatility and ability to evoke sensations of skin-raising, visceral empathy. I am, of course, referring to a sound on my own list, the Mk2 Lancer with its chainsaw bayonet from Gears of War.
This summer the franchise gets an upgrade, and in this short video, development team The Coalition shares how they not only translated the game to Dolby 7.1 Surround, but also how they remastered the orchestral score and overhauled the sound design with new Foley while maintaining the distinctly crunchy character of the original game.
Cattle grazing through the fields
Guest Post by Beau A. Jimenez
While on a calming walk, a car drives by me. As it zips by, some jerk in the passenger decides to scream at me as loud as they could. Being caught unaware, I jump. A feeling comes over me. The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I feel scared, concerned, and worried within a fraction of a second.
My roommate’s dog whines and cries as his master leaves the apartment. I can hear the sadness translate to my understanding. It’s a universal sound that says ‘Hey wait, don’t go!’ Through this sound, I can sense how much the dog cares for this person.
There are countless examples of vocalizations that make us feel something. There are emotive sounds that capture happiness, curiosity, sadness, pain, anger, fear and more… These sounds break the barriers of language and don’t need to have comprehensive words to understand their intent. As humans, we perceive emotive vocalizations in a deep-rooted, relatable way. These sounds are more felt than understood. They are visceral sounds that light up our brains in a profound way.
Within this article, I’d like to talk about what happens to us when we hear these vocalizations, talk about examples of emotive creatures in film that demonstrate expertly-done creature sound design, and give my own outlook on the significance and fun of creature sound design.
How We React to Vocalizations
We all have a reflex system built into us from birth. It’s a startle-response system that triggers upon an unexpected, loud, or jarring sound. This response can take us from an idle state to a state of high alertness within a fraction of a second. Centuries of predator & prey interactions have designed us to react in a fight-or-flight manner for our survival. That jerk-in-the-car’s scream caused my body to release certain chemicals inside my system, putting me into a temporary alert mode. It doesn’t feel great when you don’t expect it! But in film, it progresses the story and strategically steers the audience towards the sound designer and/or director’s intent.
A great example of a startle-response sound moment is the jarring picture cut into the ‘raptor feeding’ scene in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Dr. Alan Brand holds a supposedly vicious baby raptor is his hands as it coos sweetly & innocently. On the picture cut to the adult raptor cages, an absolutely terrifying blend of shrieks and squeals blare across the front and surround speakers. This puts the audience into a state of high alertness. As a result, the audience becomes cautious of the terrors living within the cages. (Which I believe is the exact goal of this scene!)
It’s been long overdue, but we’ve finally updated the archive links to include the featured topics we’ve been running over the last few years. Just hover over the “Archives” tab in the menu bar above, and click on “Featured Topics.” Don’t forget that there’s a bunch of other cool stuff in the site archives, including links to the site’s previous feature system, “Featured Sound Designers.”
Photo: Adriane Kuzminski
“Peace and Love” by Banksy
As this is the month of favorites, what do you “heart”? In NPR’s Morning Edition, Christopher Joyce and Bill McQuay discuss how the invention of the stethoscope in 1816 revolutionized cardiovascular and respiratory diagnoses. They also visit the world’s largest collection of natural sounds located at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where, thanks to the invention of the phonograph in 1880, one can experience other living stories told through their nature patterns and harmonics.
This story is both an article and a radio segment, and it is part of Morning Edition’s weekly summer series on the “culture of listening” among researchers. The most recent edition contains more audio from the Cornell collection, featuring whale songs and their complex patterns and ethereal echoes from the bottom of the sea.
Jeremy Rogers at The Sound Keeper has just come out with a great new blog post on one of the most iconic film sound effects: the Indiana Jones punch. In the post, he recreates the sound, breaking it down step by step with great example clips and a detailed tutorial video. Head over to his post to check it out!
Steve Tibbo, CAS, with cart on set at “Modern Family”
GUEST CONTRIBUTION BY DALE CROWLEY
A few days after this interview with Steve Tibbo, he was nominated for the 6th time for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for his work on ABC’s “Modern Family”, where he has been the production sound mixer on every episode other than the pilot. The episode that was nominated is called “Connection Lost“. We discuss this episode in detail and talk about this complex undertaking as well as many other topics ranging from his work on Modern Family to the gear he uses to record on set and on location, and we also delve into his work in re-recording mixing, ADR, and sound design for film and TV. This month’s theme is “Favorites” and “Modern Family” is my favorite TV Comedy and sound is my favorite subject. (more…)
Photo: Heike Liss
Snippets of Dren McDonald’s score for his seven-piece ensemble.
Dren McDonald shares his third and final entry on the audio production of Gathering Sky. Written during the game’s development, the first two entries focus on keeping an open mind when joining a team late in the game’s development and maintaining this flexible mindset while composing and recording a live studio session. In the final entry, a post mortem, McDonald further emphasizes flexibility by sharing his incremental process of designing “reverse” dynamics in FMOD before the studio session recording.