Guest article by Douglas Murray
photo by flickr user Bo47 (Bo Nielsen)
Remember, all rules are meant to be broken! With that principle in mind, let’s scratch the surface of the grammar and possibilities of an aspect of film sound design: backgrounds (also called BGs, atmospheres or ambiences).
Backgrounds offer a powerful opportunity to use sound for maximum impact. Movies essentially need to have background sound at all times. By adding background sounds to a scene we define what the scene is, where we are, and what’s happening around us, even off screen. We can also suggest to the audience how to feel emotionally about a particular scene by giving subtle or direct sonic cues incorporated into the background sounds.
Guest contribution by Chris Didlick
We are Box of Toys Audio, a music and sound design company with studios in London and Stockholm. We provide audio services for commercials, branding, trailers and all manner of projects. With the ongoing innovation and expansion of digital media we are sometimes offered new and uncharted avenues for creativity, which is why when we were asked to work on the new Madefire Motion Book platform we embraced the challenge readily.
Madefire is an iOS app that has been optimised for the iPad and iPhone, emulating the traditional graphic novel format with the addition of motion, interactivity and audio. What’s more, Madefire is also releasing, in phases, free development tools that can be used by independent artists to create and publish their own stories on the platform. With Moving Brands CEO Ben Wolstenholme and comic book legends Dave Gibbons and Liam Sharp involved in the creation of the app, we jumped at the chance to create the audio for the first three in-house story releases, namely “Treatment”, “Captain Stone is Missing…” and “Mono”. Not only were we creating the audio for the narratives, we were also constructing an SFX library for use within the development tool. It was therefore important that the audio enhanced each story while being effective for future titles.
Guest Contribution by Chris Groegler
Hi, my name is Chris Groegler and I am a Senior Sound Designer at Ubisoft-Red Storm Entertainment. Our latest project was Ghost Recon: Future Soldier where I was audio lead for Multiplayer. We have an audio team of five people and basically all of us have a Zoom H4n audio recorder. We have our Zooms with us all the time in case we are in a situation where we need to quickly record a sound and don’t have our Sound Devices 744 with us. Since the H4n is such a handy device to have around (it can fit in your pocket) I’ve always wanted to try and record the majority of environmental sounds with it and implement them into a shipping title. Well, that opportunity came about when I was working on a DLC pack for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Future Soldier shipped in May of 2012 and we started working on our first DLC pack a little before the ship date.
Welcome to Ambiences month here on Designing Sound. Often referred to as Atmospheres or Backgrounds as well, this element of a program mix deserves more attention than it commonly receives. Though not as present as dialog or hard-synced sound effects, their contribution to the tone “in-the-moment” narrative is no less important. Look for the first featured article in a few short hours.
And because I said we would, December’s theme will be Reverb. If you have an article idea you’d like to pitch, for either this month or next, shoot me an e-mail at shaun.at.designingsound.org.
I had the recent pleasure to receive a copy of Factory Machinery Ambiences from Mikkel Nielsen over at Sonic Salute. It’s a pretty cool atmospheric selection of engines and motors and pounding metal. Some blurbs from the library page:
Sounds range from plastic foundries, casting machines, and machinery alarms, to giant textile processing units, and medical equipment manufacturing, cleanrooms and robotics.
All very loud environments. All recordings are several minutes long.
Recorder: Sound Devices 702. Mics: Sennheiser Mkh416 and Ambient Emesser.
Factory Machinery Ambiences. 65 stereo tracks. 96Khz 24 bit. 4 GB, ZIP download. All tracks named and Metadata tagged.