Hectic Neglectic

Good afternoon my loyal blog readers! I have once again launched myself into the world of foley and sound design. I was tasked with creating the audio assets for a game with the working title of Cope. The designer of the game; Stewart, was tasked with creating a game that would play with emotions, specifically two; Rage and serenity. This gave me a broad idea of what kind of sounds would need to be established for the game. I endeavoured to create soft, light sounds for the serene sections of the game and hard, transient sounds for the rage parts of the game. This sort of worked but definitely could have been developed further. As music composition is not my forte, another student; Josh volunteered to take the reigns of that department. We used the likes of Google Drive and Facebook Messenger to keep track of each others movements and progressions throughout the project. The deadline for this project was Thursday the 2nd of July.


Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.59.19 pm


With this list in hand a session plan was drafted. It is available via the link below.

Session Plan

I am quite comfortable using the post production studio now. That being said it is fairly simple in most regards compared to the other studios available to me. Controlling preamps digitally is still an odd feeling. My foley artist for this session is a friend of mine from when I was studying my diploma, Jeff McKenner. I had the session prepared for when Jeff arrived and we got cracking pretty quickly. I had originally planned on using an NTG2 for the close mic and a C414 for some room sound, but unfortunately there were no C414’s available for hire. I luckily was able to snatch up the last of the NTG2’s and so I went with just the shotgun mic and forwent the room sound.

I only had a rough idea of what was required of the audio and struggled with visualising the sounds that the character would make and how ‘real’ they had to sound. Here is an image of the character in question.


Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.18.41 pm


We started with recording some basic walking and running sounds on different materials with Jeff matching the walking speed of the character. These all sounded fine on their own but did not match with the character. We decided the character looked like a pair of animated pants and recorded the sound of clothes rubbing together. This helped tie in the footsteps to the character. It would come later during the mixing stage that I would layer different elements to create a workable sound. By using the pipe sound of the jump (see below) it related the elements together nicely.

Happy Steps
Angry Steps

Next on the agenda were the jumping and landing sounds. I had spent some time a week earlier trying to synthesise a jump sound that wasn’t completely lame and cheesy. Suffice it to say I failed and resorted to recording my mate jump up and down on cassette tape and rocks. These takes were suitable for a basis of the jump sound. To add a bit of oomph (technical term I know) to the jumping and landing, I had Jeff swing a piece of plastic pipe in front of the microphone to get the whoosh (another technical term) of upward/downward movement.

Another element that added to the effect was the scraping of a spoon down the boom arm of a cymbal stand. It had this bright rising flavour that accentuated the upwards feel of the sound, signifying upwards movement. The final and perhaps most crucial element of the jump sound was a humble steel pipe. With Jeff cupping one end of the pipe and hitting the other it produced a light, bright thump sound. With some positioning of the tracks and a little editing and pitch shifting, the basic jump sound was created. Further fiddling during the mixing stage was necessary to alter the sounds for the rage jump. By changing the pitch again and adding distortion, it was no longer the bright happy sounding jump it once was. Here are the finished jumping and landing sounds for both the serene and rage jumps

Happy Jump/Land
Angry Jump/Land

One of the toughest elements I was tasked to create was to emulate an earthquake with some rocks falling. Now earthquakes aren’t that common in Brisbane so it wasn’t so much a case of wait for one to happen and have a mic recording as it was “How the fuck am I going to make this?”. I created the basis of the rumbling sound at home in ProTools using a signal generator, EQ and a fuzz/wah distortion plugin. It was lacklustre and definitely needed some additional elements.

A few different approaches were used. Firstly we tried dropping a bunch of rocks into the rock pit in studio. This did not work as the rocks were too small and the sound was too transient and sharp. Pitching the sound down helped a little but was not enough. Next we attempted to drop rocks on the empty foley box, this turned out to be hazardous with rocks flying everywhere, and sounded poor anyway. The final attempt was successful, by filling the foley box with some rocks and shaking the entire thing, a suitable tumbling rock sound was achieved, with a little help from pitch shifting. We also used the ever present and useful video cassette tape. By shaking it rapidly and randomly it offered another decent layer of falling rock flavour. Again the use of pitch shift to offer some weight was used. The final element was the cracking sound that occurs when the earth shatters. By scraping a spoon lightly across the diaphragm of the microphone we got our earth cracking sound. Listen to the final mix below.

Earthquake

The final element that was required were the death sounds. There was no planning to this, just messing about with making gross little sounds into the microphone. With a little mixing this was the end result.

Death gurgles

This project snuck up on me. For some reason I thought I had plenty of time to get the assets created but I ended up completing them the night before the due date. How very student of me. I struggled with small things like foot steps and jumping. I overcomplicated them in my head and struggled to untangle the mess that I had created. I do think having more visuals of the running and jumping would have helped immensely but these assets were also created later on in the project. Another issue I ran into was my lack of understanding into how the Unity engine handles audio. If I had a greater knowledge of the platform, my productions could have been at a much higher standard. Altogether I think the project was a success and was in my opinion one of the best performers of all the games created with this brief.

  • LO1: Record and Edit Audio for Narrative
  • LO2: Demonstrate intermediate studio production techniques.
  • LO8: Apply critical theories to interpret and solve creative problems relevant to the area of specialisation.
  • LO16: Plan audio for multimedia projects.
  • LO17: Define and implement the requirements of a session plan.
  • LO22: Deliver audio for multimedia products to industry standards.
  • LO23: Produce work on time and within scope by engaging appropriate project management methodologies.
  • LO26: Interpret a brief and deliver a product to a client’s specification.

Cheers,

Have a good one,

Alex

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