I’ve never done anything even remotely similar to sound production beforehand, so I was required to learn a variety of new techniques and technical knowledge, which for the most part I found quite enjoyable. However, with this lack of experience I found myself just not hitting the level of quality I had in mind.
Unfortunately due to technical problems, Garageband was not updated with the instruments I required until rather late into the project, leaving me very little time to actually compose my pieces. This fact, coupled with my lack of knowledge, I fear my soundtrack lacks polish and is generally mediocre.
I hadn’t used any (except for 1) MIDI files in my soundtrack simply because anything I could find on the internet wasn’t suit for my purpose. And this didn’t help the development time of 3 whole college days to compose my soundtrack.
I found my iPhone to be surprisingly suitable for recording sound effects. It managed to pick up a lot of small detail sounds and even small sounds in the room next to me, of which I had to edit out. When I came to recording wind and outside sounds such as wind, it proved extremely ineffective. Without the cover of a wind muff, the audio become a white-noise crackling mess, and was thus unsuitable.
The very nature of my animation isn’t very demanding in the way of sound, relying on my soundtrack more than anything. so I wasn’t required to capture anything particularly interesting, and my animation is set underwater which means I ended up heavily editing all muffling all of my sounds, meaning that by themselves they sound awful. Hopefully with the context provided by my animation, my sound effects will seem natural enough.
In conclusion; I found the experience to be quite enjoyable, but my lack of prior experience left me falling short of my expectations. The equipment I used was very suitable (with a few exceptions), and file management and editing process was mostly a breeze.
All sounds and sound effects I created can be found here, while the sounds I downloaded can be found on my profile (I could not find a way to add them to the main playlist)
The soundtrack creation was perhaps the most difficult part of the course so far. With near no-prior knowledge of musical composing, I had to take a random approach- hitting notes in different orders and finding sequences that sounded good enough for me to use.
In the end, I ended up with something that almost sounded like a cohesive melody;
I mainly used strings to get the main part of the track, and then laid drum beats and base lines beneath and slowly built up the composition.
I only used a MIDI file for a single piece, and that was OST – Finale. I couldn’t seem to get the famous ‘Jaws’ tune right no matter how much I tried, so I eventually found myself downloading the tune from midiworld.com
At this point I was using volume control to fade in/out certain instruments. I found this especially helpful when using the strings, to help them sound more fluid. The other pieces (OST – Adventure and Peaceful) were composed using much the same methods.
The final part was to save them and choose a file format. I instantly knew what format I wanted to use, the .MP3 lossy format. Through degraded slightly in quality, MP3 is widely accepted by almost all programs that incorporate audio.
Here you can also see a few custom sounds I edited through Garageband. I found myself needing some oddly specific sounding instruments, I found them through playing around with various sliders and adding different effects. I subsequently named and saved my new creations so I could carry them over to any new composition, should I need them.
The more practical side of the task demanded that I think carefully about what sounds I needed, and more importantly what sounds were possible for me to create. I instantly ruled out the possibility of getting recordings of Humpback Whale song and angry Tiger roars, so I was forced to download those from the internet, and further edit them myself. The rest of the sounds I needed were well within my reach however; I used simple techniques and a few edits with Adobe Audition to create my final sound effects.
The nature of my animation didn’t demand any truly dramatic sounds, as I plan on my soundtrack and visuals to carry most of the weight. My animation will also be completely void of dialogue.
Saving and Recording Process
I used my iPhone 4 to record all of my current sounds. I found it suprisingly good at picking up even the most minute sounds.
The app I used was surprisingly good too, allowing me to name and organise my sounds within my phone, making them very easy to then recognise and use in other applications.
It also allowed me to upload my sounds directly to Google Drive.
Very basic indeed. Blowing air into a bowl filled with water sounds silly, but it provided me with what I needed.
I tried producing bubbles at different elevations inside the bowl, and that provided me with some different sounds and tones.
Metallic Impact/Soft Impact
The first sound I created were simple impact sounds. And the way I created them was as simple as sound production gets;
Simply hitting a stone with a knife at different angles until I got a desired sound. I also used the same rocks to get the soft impacts by dropping them onto a carpet. I felt this didn’t even warrant a photograph.
This sound would have been very hard to obtain/re-create had I not already owned SCUBA equipment, so I felt lucky on this one.
These are the ‘Regulators’, or the mouthpieces of the SCUBA gear. They can produce a variety of hissings and wheezing sounds, but what I needed most importantly was the familiar breathing cycle always associated with underwater exploration.
Plenty of air to go around meant I could get some powerful air blasts, though I found that it clipped the audio too much and ended up having to using a more delicate sound.
I wanted to the gentle wish-wash of water to emphasise movement within my animation, and I felt that a sink filled with water and a wooden spoon provided what I needed. It’s really nothing special.
With all of my sounds, a certain amount of editing needed to be made to have them suitable for my animation. Again, the techniques and processes are relatively simple.
I managed to pull multiple sounds from the initial, individual sounds I created. I plan to make more advanced sounds using these techniques.
Cropping is the basic part of sound production. Trimming away at unwanted portions of recordings helps make them more neat and concise. It can also be used to surgically remove small portions of unwanted sound from your piece, something I found came in handy when editing the water splashes.
The second part was editing the levels/frequencies of my sound through the FFT filter. I found this technique to be essential when creating the ‘underwater’ effect I needed. I also managed to remove some of the crackling and general white noise I came across in my recordings;
Sound Recording Schedule
(Dates and time may vary depending on weather conditions and equipment availability, and some specific sounds aren’t listed due to the impossibility/impracticality of capturing them.)
Due to the the nature of my animation, I simply don’t need many complex sound effects (save for one or two), which means I can record the majority of my sound effect audio at home with my own equipment. My animation also doesn’t feature any dialogue which removes the need for a recording studio.
Health and safety only really becomes an issue when recording the animals with large teeth, so as a precaution I aim to fit the microphone onto a 15ft pole to avoid getting to close.
A list of the equipment I require to gather the audio and visual aspect of my animation.
The submersible Gopro is required if only for the one scene where I need to film partially submerged shots out at sea, which is the same reason why I need to use my Kayak. The High-definition recording camera I need to capture the bulk of the live-action shots to act as backgrounds.
The recorder is simply to capture all of my sound effects, and the Deadcat/Wind Muff cover I’ll need for recording ambient sounds outdoors, such as wind and waves. With the recorder I’ll record certain sounds from my own Scuba gear to provide audio for the character and harpoon. Any other sounds such as footsteps, impacts and movement can be created without the use of any specific equipment.
This sound map is going to greatly assist me in my animation production. It’s a map of what sounds belong in what scene, and what music is applied. The notes at the bottom are mainly for myself remembering why I decided to add certain things, but its also to help me to figure out how the soundtrack is going to drive the narrative.
My animation is going to be a trailer to showcase a reboot of the game “Jaws” from 1987. The animation is going to feature an animated character exploring an live-action underwater setting filmed in an aquarium or fish tank. The idea is to showcase the gameplay elements, graphics and atmosphere that would feature in the game.
Because the game is going to be heavily based on atmosphere and exploration, creating the right audio setting is essential. Ambient sounds are going to play a key part in the game, as will a music score to enhance the experience. The music is going to help drive the narrative of the animation and provide extra setting to certain events, depending on the situation. Preferably, I’d like the music to be in time with certain aspects of the animation, to enhance the experience further.
The objective of the sound design in my animation is to provide a setting, tone and overall feel of the game. The background sounds need to be subtle and feel vast, while the sound effects need to be concise, provide information and rise above the background noise. The music score should provide context to the current situation whilst conveying a sense of narrative, changing and sweeping as the animation does. Overall, the sounds need to be second to the animation and music, only drawing attention to itself when required.
The majority of the sounds I require are easy enough to obtain and can be created in any medium-sized volume of water and recorded with an conventional microphone. However, for sounds specifically heard underwater, I’ll have to obtain from source above the surface and add an underwater filter in mixing, as I won’t have access to a hydrophone. When recording ambient sounds, I’ll need to pick the right location and time of day to ensure no unwanted audio spills over into the recording, such as the noise of cars, people and excessive wind.
Unfortunately, specific sounds like tiger growls and especially whale songs are going to be incredibly difficult to capture, so I’ll have to explore other methods to create them artificially or obtain the sounds from elsewhere.
Any legal constraints involving copyright for sound/music can be easily avoided if I create all those myself and from scratch, however it is important to ensure that my music doesn’t mirror another track too closely, else that has the potential to spell legal action.
My animation will feature only one human character, and a character that remains completely anonymous. She is simply a diver who does not speak or have any specific race, and is there only to provide a character that the player controls. Designing a character like this means you can quite easily steer clear of any racial or sexual discrimination/stereotyping.
The visual design might as well be the main aspect of my project. The graphical style aims to be simple and crisp, seeming almost like miniature models when staged in front of the large live-action setting. The interactive elements of the game will follow the same art style, whilst terrain pieces and certain other objects will be photorealistic to aid in discerning what is and what is not an interactive element. The animation won’t feature any gore, (despite from being a Jaws game) so I aim for the style to appeal to all ages.
The sound on the other hand I want to feel as real as possible, as to aid immersion and engagement with the animation. I think that the use of realistic and artificial is an interesting combination that I’d like to explore.
I am going to be recording all my audio digitally, simply because its going to make the preceding processes a lot easier. Were I to record in analogue, I’d have to obtain an analogue recorder (which are rare and expensive), and then find an analogue converter (also expensive) to convert my files to digital in the end anyway. Digital just seems the easier and more efficient way to go.
I aim to use a 256 bit-rate through .MP3 to process my audio recordings. 256 is a suitable balance between quality and file size. As for kHz, I aim to record at around 48 kHz as it seems to be the standard for most recorders and microphones.
I shall record all my audio in mono, specifically to give me more control over the stereo environment in mixing. Simply said, I’d like to create a stereo experience in my animation through the placement of mono sounds, so recording the initial audio in mono makes more sense. The technology I will use to record these sounds is going to be fairly standard; I plan on using a microphone to record sounds I can create indoors, and then utilise a dead-cat to eliminate wind noise when recording ambient audio that can only be captured outside.
I plan on having my final project finished before the 18th of March, and all my sounds recorded way before that. To ensure no content is lost before the final deadline, I’m going to make great use of Google Drive to store and backup all my files, as I have done in the past. In the case of an apocolypse and all my sounds are destroyed, I can utilise the recording function on my phone to capture last-minute sounds to include in my animation.