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News: A Sound Effect: How to Design Supreme Sci-Fi Weapon SFX

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 | 0 comments

In a recent blog post, A Sound Effect spoke to sound designers Ruslan Nesteruk and Glen Bondarenko on the techniques and tools they utilize in creating sci-fi weaponry SFX. The post delves into layering, synthesis techniques, breaking down each weapon into its constituent components, and a great deal more. If you want some insights on creating better sci-go weaponry, you owe it to yourself to head over to the post now.

Beyond the Mouse and Keyboard – The Role of Touch and Motion in Sound Design

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 | 10 comments

Apple Mouse and Keyboard

This is a guest article written by Justin Spasevski, a freelance sound designer and mixer based in Sydney, who is currently editing and mixing “The Celebrity Apprentice Australia”. You can view his credits and portfolio on his website Braided Audio.


When looking into the creative aspects of sound design, I’ve always found it interesting how certain workflows can influence the end result. Sure, most of us have developed methods that work well, but sometimes we need to approach things differently in order to achieve something unique. So in light of this, I’ve decided to focus on an area that is of particular interest to me -­ the use of touch and motion controls for sound design.

Given recent technological advancements in capacitive touchscreens and consumer-level motion sensors, I have found the tech to be increasingly useful for sound design applications. What makes them so interesting is their unique approach to user input, often adding extra dimensions to the standard ‘click’ and ‘type’ interactions we’re all accustomed to.

In this article, I will demonstrate sound design techniques that utilise touch and motion controls and discuss why they can be a valuable asset to any sound designers’ toolkit.​ Let’s start with the most popular piece of hardware -­ the iPad. (more…)

Why I Gravitated Towards Live

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo: Marc Solaris. "...interaction between video, sound and movement" Through a stage curtain there is an outline of a person singing into a microphone as an other person controls the mixing console

Photo: Marc Solaris. “…interaction between video, sound and movement”

This is a guest article written by Will Tonna, a sound designer and audio engineer based in the UK. He is currently the sound designer for One Minute, a play by Simon Stephens, which runs from September 10th to October 3rd at The Vaults in London. You can view his showreel and portfolio on his website LampEight Audio. This is a hold-over from last month’s “Favorites” theme.


On this month’s topic of “favourites”, I decided to share my thoughts on a somewhat underrepresented area of sound design; live performance and theatre. It’s an area that I’ve always felt most comfortable producing in and where my working practices have always seemed to best fit. Hopefully, through sharing my reasoning and experiences in sound design for the live experience, I can offer a glimpse into a lesser-known and exciting area for creative sound.

The funny thing is that theatre isn’t exactly in my blood. Short of a GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in drama and a few weeks in stage school as a kid, live performance was never something I went out of my way to get involved with or felt any great pull towards. But when I took up an offer to provide sound for a performance art student during my time at college, what I found it offered me – and anyone else I would encourage to get into this exciting area of work – is an expressive and evolving environment for sound design, ripe for experimentation and interaction.

I’d like to share with you some of the key characteristics that drew me in to live performance. (more…)

News: iZotope and Present Ask a Sound Expert AMA 

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo: Steve "Major" Giammaria

Photo: Steve “Major” Giammaria

Today at 12:00PM PST, Steve “Major” Giammaria, Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer at Sound Lounge in NYC, will discuss the processes, tools and methods he uses for audio post production during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on AOTG. This event is made possible by iZotope. For more information, visit the announcement, or join the AMA, which will be active very soon.

News: The Evocative Aves

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 | 0 comments

Winter Chickadee by Dave J Doe

Photo: Dave J Doe

The month of favorites may be over, but for me, the chirp of a wild bird can comfort at any time. When I think of an early morning robin, a lone wintery chickadee, or a nest of spring-time sparrows hidden under the roof, specific emotions evoke from the sonic data in their calls. They express the time, the season and weather, and the topography they declare home. Their calls, as well as their silence, create a thick atmosphere that can enhance just about any scene, from the mockingbirds of the South Atlantic in the US version of House of Cards to the backyard birds surrounding the peaceful but seclusive Mulwray mansion in Chinatown. In interactive scenes, they reflect the actions and the changing landscape around the avatar, signaling moods from solitude to panic, though they are rarely the cause of threat (unless you’re in Bodega Bay). In our existential life, they remind us the world continues on with or without our presence.

So, who is the owner of your favorite call? If you can recognize him or her by sound but not by name, check out The Macaulay Library from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which has uploaded nearly 137,000 of their 175,000 audio samples online, or the Xeno-Canto noncommercial database, which allows you to search by call length, number of notes, or even changes in pitch or rate.

If your sound effects library is lacking the charm of even the intercontinental sparrow, there are several commercial libraries to meet your twittering needs. The massive Animal Planet Sounds, Vol 1 from Sound Ideas contains hundreds of bird calls and ambiences, though the bird sounds consist of less than half the library. If you are looking for a more specific library, consider Quiet Planet’s Prairies, Boom Library’s Birds of Prey and Deciduous Forests, or The Recordist’s Bats, Birds and Bugs. Each library contains over 100 sound effects, metadata, multiple versions of each sound, and a recording quality of at least 48kHz/24-bit.

Monthly Theme: Restriction

Posted by on Sep 1, 2015 | 0 comments

chains of restrictionWhat 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.

Don’t knock Frozen

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 | 5 comments
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…)

News: Dolby Institute “Conversations with Sound Artists” Podcast Series

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 | 0 comments

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.

News: Remastering Gears of War – Audio

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 | 0 comments

The Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle created by Epic Games

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.

Emotional Beings A Creature Sound Design Discussion

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 | 5 comments

Cattle grazing through the fields

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!)