4D II Project 2: Sound and Image

Sound 1 – Thriller


Narrative: Man runs away from a mysterious enemy during a rainy night. He manages to hide in an underground sewers. As things are seemingly calmer, he then removes a wound from his flesh painfully and tries to make contact via his communication device but it fails. Suddenly, something menacing approaches from a distance. He loads his gun and awaits in fear…


Sound 2 – Fantasy


Narrative: Breaking down a cave wall with magic, a group walks inside, treading carefully. The sound of creatures lurking in the dark echoes the area. Soon, they get ambushed and fight the vicious beasts with weapons and magic.

Music used: Jesper Kyd – Approaching Target

Audiomachine – Earthshaker Drums

Acherontic Dawn – Tales of Dust

Breakdown and Process – Technique

Layering: Overlaying of different sounds to created layer effect

  • Sound 1: Combination of doom suspense music, impending footsteps and ambience
  • Sound 2: Fight scenes have many things going on in one time, thus layering was very important to ensure that audience can imagine the scenes vividly (e.g. a scene of a beast running – sound of growl to a roar, heavy running on rocks, warrior preparing his sword, swing of the sword and hit on the beast)
Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 7.14.58 pm

Sound 2 working file, focusing on the action sequence

Panning: To suggest positioning of character/object and movement

  • Sound 1: Footsteps coming in from the left then towards the center – suggestion that protagonist comes from the left of the screen + Crackling of leaves from the right
  • Sound 2: Magic sound travels from left to right proceeded by rock breaking sound on the right

Music: Cueing sounds with the music was imperative to create the intended feeling, e.g. when the music rises in tension, the scene is expected to take for a more intense turn and thus the sound effects have to suggest that as well

  • Sound 1: At the last segment of the piece, increasing suspense suggested by the music accompanied with the scary ambience sound, sound effects of scared breathing
  • Sound 2: Uses music a lot to indicate/prompt the next scene and add on to dramatic effect, e.g. violin strings increasing in pitch suggests tension – thus sound of beast growl becomes more ominous/loud, to lead up to an ambush scene

Volume – Background and Foreground: I suggested depth in the sound in terms of softer background noises and louder sounds to show the distance.

  • Sound 1: Rain sounds in the background as ambience (background), sudden loud footsteps and cracking of leaves to show the depth that protagonist is at very close proximity to the screen (foreground)
  • Sound 2: Creature sounds toggled in different volumes (softer to imply further distance) and effects (echo to imply creatures are further away in the cave, their voices reverberating), this is to suggest depth in the piece and positioning of the creatures (some lurking in the background and some charging forward).

Volume – Emphasis: To emphasise certain scenes, I would increase the volume either abruptly (via Touch) or gradually (via Latch) for build up.

  • Sound 1: The sound of the drones coming towards the protagonist was initially soft (heard from a distance) and gradually increases in volume to show how its approaching nearer and nearer
  • Sound 2: The magic casting sound and ending metal clang sound was emphasised with Touch, sudden increase in volume to depict forceful impact

Sound mastering: Overall, toggling the volume of the different sounds was important to create a balanced master mix. Even if some sounds were meant to be louder, I made sure that no particular sound was jarringly loud and all sounds would flow for a cinematic and professional feel.

Experimentation of Sound recording 

I experimented with various sounds through Audacity. I recorded some of creature sounds and loud thuds. Here’s a video of the process of editing of sounds to get intended effect.

Research – References

Sound 1

I mainly looked like survival horror elements from games and films (e.g. The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner) whereby the character is helpless, fearful for something unknown that is to come. The element of suspense would be stronger through the music and sound effects (e.g. ominous sound from a distance) to imply fear.

Prologue scene of a game, ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’, where protagonist wakes up in a hospital that soon turns into a bloody massacre. Sound design is done very well to show immense feeling of helplessness and weakness, along with fear for life.

Suspenseful scene in ‘War of the Worlds’, a Steven Spielberg sci-fi movie where the characters are hiding away from a terrific robot in the basement. Sound design like heavy breathing, light steps and doom suspense music are all used to make the viewers fear for the characters.

Sound 2

Fantasy epic films often make use of music to emphasise certain scenes. Lord of the Rings is the example I will highlight.

A scene whereby the characters walk into a cave and discover enemies hiding in the cave (orcs and cave troll), then proceeds to fight them. It can be seen how the music score is timed very nicely with the sound effects for dramatisation.

Another reference I used was fantasy game trailers, in which this is ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’, because of the great sound design and particularly even with the lack of dialogue. With no speech, the emphasis was purely on the sound effects and music to tell a story.

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