Teach Me Tuesday: Sound design


(Bri Castellini) #1

Welcome to Teach Me Tuesday! Today’s Topic:

How do you use sound design to tell your story?

(inspired by a conversation with @SecretLivesPS)

Sound design means everything from:

  • Background foley/ sound effects
  • Music (or lack thereof)
  • Ambiance/ room tone (or lack thereof)
  • Etc!

I’m especially curious to hear from the animation folks, who have to do WAY more sound design than the rest of us!


(Rodrigo Diaz Ricci) #2

It is complicated and has as much work as doing the series.
I use pre-made and free-use sounds, but not always free means that I will find that sound that I just need and that usually comes in the paid libraries.

In the case of my web series, being of horror, I like to make use of strange sounds, laments, noises of tuneful strings, etc. To create an extremely disturbing atmosphere. (apart from electronic music) I like to make the sound with either the Korg VST, which brings some very good sounds that are regulated by the MIDI controller keys. I make other sounds directly with the computer microphone and then process it using echo cameras with the recording software.

Many of these sounds still do not appear in the series, since the design must be according to the scene and until now I have used only the music that I have created to set everything up. But there are some scenes later where those strange sounds go.

For example, in a scene where the character enters a crypt, you would normally be a sound of cellos and violins using Minor scales, but if you switch to strange sounds, detuned strings, guttural sounds of what a spectral creature might be, the environment of the scene changes radically. This is much more effective, by the way, in a large room with the big screen and full of spectators. In the computer that effect drops by at least 50%, so it is hard to achieve that degree of intimacy with the viewer.

I like to use the sound of the storm. Lightning and thunder and the rain begin to fall, as a prelude to the fact that something very bad is going to happen. It is a bit like the use of color: the sound determines not only what is being seen on the screen, but also what is going to happen: anticipation.


(Bri Castellini) #3

I never spent much time on sound design in my projects because I didn’t know what I was doing, but there were quite a few sound gags we did that I didn’t really realize until I started doing closed captioning. For instance…


(Bri Castellini) #4

That’s so cool! I’ve recorded my own foley before- for a zombie machete kill we whacked a watermelon with a machete, and then did the same for a baseball bat and a few other weapons so we’d have impact sounds. It was very messy but very fun haha.


^^ The aftermath


(Rodrigo Diaz Ricci) #5

Yeah! It’s the best thing about Horror: full of fun things to do! :smiley:


(William E. Spear) #6

Thoroughly enjoying this thread. My writing started with radio/audio drama where everything is a sound. Early on we realized the sound needed was not always made by the item in the story. We took a step forward when we began making sounds appropriate for the effect rather than capturing the sound made by the item in the story.


(Bri Castellini) #7

Can you give us some fun examples of this?


(William E. Spear) #8

Gun shots were rarely guns shooting. The nature of the sound with its quick attack and slower decay could be replicated with a clipboard or ruler slapping on a desk. Grains of rice dropped onto the wax papered end of a can was passable rain drops on a rooftop. We ultimately evolved into ratcheting down the number of sounds to the bare minimum or substituting music if possible.


(Gordon McAlpin) #9

I hired someone for the sound design on the Multiplex 10 short, but for the web series, I’ve been doing it myself to keep the budget down and turn things around more quickly.

It’s all been pretty mundane, though, so I probably don’t have anything too useful to contribute…? I picked up the Ultimate Foley Collection here when it was on sale for 50% off once https://www.sound-ideas.com/Product/446/The-Ultimate-Foley-Collection and that has some room tone, clothing sounds, and a toooonnnnn of footsteps — different shoes, different surfaces, different gaits. Super useful.

I’ve picked up a couple of sounds from Pond5.com such as the heartbeat in our most recent episode — http://www.multiplex10.com/2018/04/09/this-is-a-quiet-place/ — and I recorded a few sounds of my own for that one, too — the card flipping and door sounds, using a Tascam DR-05 I bought a few years back. It’s not the greatest mic, but it does the job. I need to remember to capture some actual movie theater room tone sometime, because there’s a lot more I should be doing with the ambient sounds than I have been.


(Herman Wang) #10

A tip that has helped a few people I know: if you want something to sound “far away”, don’t turn down the volume; instead, filter out the high frequencies. You’ll get a more realistic effect that won’t be distracting to the viewer.