Categories Menu

Posted by on Dec 24, 2013 | 3 comments

Our Favorite Sounds Of 2013

Photo by: Chris Phutully

Photo by: Chris Phutully

The year 2013 has been one of changes, additions, and collaboration here at Designing Sound and we want to thank all of our readers for their attention, suggestions, contributions, and overwhelming support. There have been so many great films, shows, games and events this year that we thought we would share some of our favorites for you to go back and check in case you missed them!

This post is full of links and youtube videos, so please be patient on the loading. I assure you it is worth it!

Read More

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 | 5 comments

Peter Albrechtsen Special: Backgrounds in the Foreground

[Written by Peter Albrechtsen for Designing Sound]

Let’s start with talking not about choice of sounds but choice of words.

In the US, background ambiences are called backgrounds – or just BG’s. In Denmark, though, we call them atmospheres. For me, that’s actually a better word to describe this part of the soundtrack, as background sounds can add so much texture, feeling and – yes – atmosphere to a scene. It’s an amazing tool to shape a scene, not just mapping out the geography and time of day, but also setting the mood, creating a vibe and building an underlying rhythm. It’s one of my favorite sound design tools because it works quite subliminally and can be extremely effective, nevertheless.

I want to start out showing a commercial I did a couple of years ago, which I think showcases ambiences in an interesting way. It’s an IKEA commercial directed by a very visually and aurally imaginative Danish director, Martin de Thurah, who really created this commercial with sound in mind. Here it is (even though this youtube-link isn’t exactly the greatest quality, sorry):

YouTube Preview Image

First of all, I need to point out that the sound design of this commercial wasn’t just done by me but by two talented colleagues as well, sound designers Morten Green and Mads Heldtberg, the latter also being a very skilled composer. It took a lot of experimentation and building of sounds to establish the very different universes and small tales that unfold very, very fast in this commercial.

If you’re very strict in the way you describe the layers of the soundtrack, some would probably point out that several of the sounds you’re hearing in this commercial aren’t really background sounds but foley and effect sounds. But still several of the small scenes are utilizing these foley and effect sounds like they’re part of a background ambience track – like the typewriter on the boat, the radio program at the apartment buildings or my toothbrush rattling in a glass at the end. This is not the point for me, though. What I find interesting is how the sound sets up a world of each image that goes beyond what the eye sees. The backgrounds really set the tone and the background sounds are in that sense very much in the foreground.

Read More

Posted by on Feb 18, 2011 | 1 comment

Peter Albrechtsen Special: The Sound of Music [Part 2]

Music is sound and sound is music.

That’s how it is for me. I’m a big fan of all kinds of music and music really influences all aspects of my work. I wanted to share with you some different songs and talk about how they’ve inspired my work. It’s by no means a list with all the artists I love – there’s no Kraftwerk, no Fela Kuti, no Miles Davis, no Slayer, no Philip Glass, no Nina Simone, no Boards of Canada, and, shame on me, no Radiohead. But nevertheless, here are 10 tracks (well, the last five) that have meant a lot for my work with sound:

Underworld: Skym

YouTube Preview Image

I love manipulating with the human voice. It’s such an awesome instrument in itself and you can make the most amazing textures with it without losing emotional impact. I’ve been listening to a lot of the early voice experiments by Steve Reich and Alvin Lucier and I’m also a big fan of the unique way the voice is used and manipulated by very different artists like Juana Molina, Mike Patton, Burial, The Knife and even Michael Jackson, who was a true master of advanced vocal arrangements.

This track has a special place in my heart. Underworld has worked on several soundtracks and for good reason – there’s something very cinematic about their atmospheric soundscapes, even when the duo is riding high on a beat. This track, “Skym”, is very low key, though, with no drums at all. Instead it’s based on a few tones and, first and foremost, the way singer Karl Hyde’s vocals is manipulated and echoed. Often the reverb comes in before the actual voice and at times just one word is cut out of a sentence he’s singing and repeated in extremely musical ways.

I was listening a lot to this track when I worked on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. There’s a very intense POV scene towards the end where the main character is drugged and he wakes up while the murderer is speaking to him. For this scene, all the sound elements you hear on the soundtrack were created from the villain’s voice using a lot of weird processing, reverb and reverse effects. It was my salute to Underworld.

The Books: The Story of Hip-Hop

YouTube Preview Image

Old sounds become new sounds in the hands of The Books. This New York-duo has a truly unique vision: Their songs usually consists of folky, acoustic instrumentation – guitar, cello, banjo and more – combined with a diverse range of found sounds and samples obtained from cassettes and other recordings found in thrift stores. If that description sounds a tad boring, it’s very misleading, ‘cause The Books’ collage songs are usually wonderfully playful, humorous and groovy in a charming, laidback way.

All of The Books’ albums are great but I picked this song because it just cracks me up each time I hear it. Besides that, it’s also just a brilliant example of The Books’ sound and how elegantly they weave different sound bites in and out of their tasteful instrumentation. The way they work with textures, sounds and weird voices is really something to behold. The Books’ sound has segued quite a bit into the way I deal with flashbacks and other sequences where time dissolves. I love it.

Read More