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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!