Sound Production

As producer one of my tasks was to try and organise someone who would be willing to do the sound for our short, sound has always been an area that has lacked attention and for our final project we decided we wanted it to be done to a higher standard – after all if done correctly it’s only going to improve the final outcome. Finding a willing volunteer wouldn’t prove to be too difficult as my sister is currently studying a bachelors in music and I grew up playing in brass bands.

My first move was to make a google docs list of names of the people who I thought would be capable of and had experience in designing sound, along with people in the music industry who would have possible contacts, just in case no one I knew was free to help.

Plan B was to contact Michael Alcorn, a professor of Sonic Arts at Queen’s to see if he would have any willing students.

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I then shared this list with my sister to get her opinion of who she thought would be a good fit for our project and what we want to achieve. She suggested Simon Howard as he would be the most experienced in working with film sound, Simon is a final year student at Queen’s studying Music Technology and Sonic Arts.

I then got in contact with Simon to see if he, or any of his classmates (if he wasn’t free) would be interested in helping us out. I was pleased to hear that he was very interested in getting involved with the project and that he had previous experience with ambient and atmospheric soundscapes.

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I then arranged for Matt and myself to meet Simon on the 1st of March as by that point we would have an animatic and be able to show what we are aiming to create rather than try to explain – the animatic was due on the 24th of February.

During the meeting we explained the project, although we were very careful to not be too descriptive with how we were explaining it as we wanted to give Simon full experimental control over what he wanted to create – we did’t want to say or explain too much in detail the project as we didn’t want to restrict him, we want to see how he would convey the story we are trying to tell as he could probably create something much different and better than we would, as this is his area of expertise. However we were pretty clear on the fact that when the camera was focused on her or from her P.O.V we wanted to portray her deafness, there would be no other sounds other than the sound he would use to convey her loss of hearing,  but when it was focused on something other than her he was free to add the sounds of the forest and objects lying around.

Something similar to the sound below may work for her deafness:

The link below is a forest soundscape with an interesting, empty atmosphere to it if you ignore the sounds of the animals that play on top, which could be a useful example for our own environment…

We have created a folder within our drive account and added Simon to it, this will allow us to keep him updated with any changes in our animatic and also allows him to keep us updated with how he’s getting on.  Matt then emailed Simon the link to this folder on the 4th of March and we received a reply the next morning, from Simon, to say he’d received the email and would post up some of the ideas he had after which we would then arrange the next meeting. We didn’t want to pressure him for any work as we were aware that he too is in his final year with his own deadlines to meet so instead, we would let him work away at the project, in his own time, he would then send us his work, after this we would arrange a meeting – we did mention that we would like to receive some sort of work every 2-3 weeks just to keep us updated on how he was getting on, which he understood.

On the 15th of March we received the first update on how he was getting on. At this point he was still very much in the stages of gathering sounds and testing source material so it was still a little rough and empty in places, with some rough editing but we liked the direction he was headed in, he had made a good attempt at conveying her deafness with a hollow, empty noise so it wasn’t just silence. There is also a great sense of atmosphere starting to build and come together in terms of the environment, bringing to our attention the emptiness of the environment in this post apocalyptic world . We then arranged a meeting for the 22nd of March to discuss how he was planning to develop this further and answer any questions he may have.

However we on the 20th of March we had a team re-evaluation meeting and ended up changing our story and plot slightly which you can read in more detail on the following link:

This meant that the sound for the overall project would change considerably, as the main character is no longer deaf but it also gives Simon more freedom creatively, as he’s no longer restricted to having to portray her deafness when the camera was focused on her, the genre of this new short also adds to the freedom he has, it’s a straight up thriller with fast paced action and cuts. Again we gave him very little information on what we would be considering for the sound and gave him free reign to create what he felt would suit the story and after that we can reign it in or push it further.

We then met up with Simon on the 7th of April to discuss the work he sent earlier in the week for the new 3D animatic. Matt and I were both surprised by the direction he had taken with the sound, we really weren’t expecting it but we do love it. Below is a copy of his latest file applied to our final animatic that was created for our final presentation.

Matt had suggested that noise acting as the build up to the action in the jeep should sound a little more like a stringed instrument and not quite as metallic, although we did end up using this sound during the opening of our piece. The example Matt gave to Simon for what he was thinking was the opening credit sequence from Insidious, shown below. The velocity of the violins really catches the audience by surprise.

The 26th of April was our last meeting in person with Simon, he had wanted one last meeting with us to discuss a few things that he was concerned about. His biggest concern was what we wanted/ needed for our hand-in, he himself is in his final year of his degree with his own deadlines coming up which we completely understood. Instead he asked that we give him areas of sound that he should focus on for our hand in and then once he has finished his own deadlines he will be happy enough to continue working on the sound for the final year show/ festivals we intend on entering it into.

Below is the most recent sound file which we received on the 16th of May and we are pretty darn pleased with what he’s been able to produce for us:



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