Time Capsule


Evaluation
May 19, 2017, 8:55 am
Filed under: Evaluation

Evaluation

This project has been an interesting and fulfilling experience. When first giving the task of providing a soundtrack for the animation Time Capsule, I needed to figure out what the narrative of the feature was and how sound could provide it. I set out both the outcomes of the project as a whole and my own personal learning outcomes that I wanted to focus on specifically. My personal Learning Outcomes were:

  • To further my knowledge in field recording
  • To further my creativity with SFX design
  • How to apply SFX effectively and when to use them
  • Improve my creative skills for sound design for characters

My knowledge in field recording has increased with extensive research in microphone placements and how an environment enhances the audiences auditory experience in cinema. As I was to provide a unique rainforest style track, I unfortunately couldn’t go out and record my own as there isn’t any rainforest in Lincolnshire or the UK for that matter. But, with the knowledge learnt with research, I could still create a unique and diverse landscape. By layering and manipulating animal sounds on top of a master rainforest track, provided a diverse soundscape, giving Time Capsule a unique planet ambiance. SFX design was a massive part in the animation and also my learning outcomes. By recording, creating and sourcing SFX has given Time Capsule’s soundscape life. My skills in manipulating audio ha increased tremendously, by manipulating each sound recorded and sourced, has given me the confidence and skills in sound design. Recording everyday objects and giving them a platform to be heard within the feature, I believe gives Time Capsule a unique world for the audience and the manipulation of audio adds to this. By applying my research in recording SFX, produced what I believe to be high quality pieces of audio and by using the audio in the feature, I have successfully achieved my learning outcome. I have achieved the leaning outcome of character design in three ways. The first being recording an actual animal to give a sense of realism to the character. The second way of using my vocals and manipulating them in a way they sound creature and alien like. The third and last way was recording foley for the character movements and providing claw like sounds for the character. Doing this, has given the character a presence sonically in the feature, making him more relatable to the audience. By sticking to the benchmarks provided by the animation team and creating benchmarks of my own, made sure I stuck to right sound that both the animation team and myself wanted. Each benchmark described in this blog has been stuck too by myself as it provided me with a goal to achieve sonically.

The problems that presented itself throughout this project was the lack of communication between me and the animation team. I believe that by establishing a weekly meeting to show our work would have been a good idea, as it would of shown where we were  at it in terms of work and what elements of our work needed to be improved. Instead, we had very few meeting throughout this process and we left each other to get in with our own work. So, I believe more communication was needed. However, to combat this, we each provided work to our shared google drive folder, which was kept up to date on a frequent basis.

If I were to approach this project knowing what I know now, I would have recording more of my own sound effects, to the point where 90% of the sound effects heard were mine. I would have recorded more animals for the planet ambience because as much as I have learnt with recording animals such as my dog, I believe that I could have had more diversity with different creatures that I had recording in the planet ambience, adding more to my personal learning outcome.

Overall I believe this project has been a success. I have achieved my learning outcomes through extensive research and then applied it to the production of the animation. By providing a unique ambient track, it will give the audience a new experience of the world in Time Capsule. I have recorded and sourced SFX that could then be applied to the animation, providing depth to the narrative. By creating a funny and interesting character sonically, has given an animated character that the audience can understand and relate to.



Production Work
May 17, 2017, 8:46 am
Filed under: Production

Production

I received the final motion picture lock off the animation team, allowing me to start the production. I decided to split the work up into section, allowing me to manage my time well. I would first concentrate on the SFX required for the animation, then the Foley, then the ambience and then finish off with the music.

Within Pro Tools, there is a function where you can create blank clips, creating cues, allowing you to organise your session well, so you can identify what sounds go where. This function proved incredibly useful to me, as it allowed me to manage my time well, in order to achieve the deadline.

 

SFX

When it came to undergoing the sound effects process of my production, it required me to both source sound effects and record them. I used both the sound effects library in Sound Theatre A and online sources. I needed to make sure they had the audio requirements for me to me to import them into my session; requirements being a sample rate of 48Khz and a bit-depth of 24. To meet my learning out comes I made sure that every sourced SFX used was manipulated by me in some way, improving my skills in editing SFX. The main sourced sound effects were sounds that I couldn’t record myself, examples being rocket ships, gun shots, electronic beeps and bloops.  In order to make these sourced SFX individual, I manipulated them so that they had more of an impact on the audience. For example, I layered two gunshot sample together, as one sample gave more of a bass impact and the other had a long tail of reverb; This in effect made a singular gunshot have impact and reverb, reflecting the atmosphere. I used EQ plug-ins on the rocket ship, increasing the low-mid frequencies, giving the sample more of a rumbling feel, so it felt like it was taking off. (see picture below)

Rocket Ship Rumble

Recording SFX was great fun. I focused primarily on creating an opening and closing effect for the Time Capsule in the feature. Relating back to my research on recording sound effects, Ric Viers stated that you need to record every day sounds that use could use and manipulate in some way, so I set that as a benchmark to achieve. For the opening of the time capsule, I recording electronic gadgets that had an opening/closing function. By recording multiple gadgets gave me a variety of options to choose from and use to manipulate. I recorded a PS4, DVD player, CD player and Mac computer. I chose to use the PS4 as it gave more of an electronic/mechanical sound.

To meet my learning outcome of creating a unique character design, I decided to record my dog. Utilizing my research and knowledge of field microphones, I decided the best choice in microphone was a shotgun mic. This provided the clearest recording by rejected sound sources from either side, focusing on my dog. I recorded my dog sniffing, eating and moving. By doing this, gave me a more animalistic characteristic of the alien creature in the animation. After recording this, all that was needed was a simple clear up of external sounds recording for me to then use in the animation. The example below shows the recorded dog. (see picture below)

I have chosen what I believe to be my best and most interesting pieces of work, but the SFX process proved challenging and rewarding and the picture below shows all of the SFX sourced and recorded in my final mix of Time Capsule.

 

Foley

To meet my learning outcomes of sound design for characters, foley was a massive part in achieving this. I needed to figure out what sounds worked well for the footsteps of the alien creature. This required me to experiments on different surfaces using my hands like the paws of the creature, in order to find the right sound that worked. Through a session of experimenting, I created the right surface to achieve the right sound which consisted of grass, leaves and carpet. The grass and the leaves made the surface sound realistic and the carpet generated a heavy thud like sound, resembling the creature walking. This combination achieved a footstep for the alien creature. A job role of a foley artist can also consist of mimicking animal like sounds. I took it upon myself to create the sounds that the alien like creature might sound like using my voice. I had to interpret the sounds based on the facial expressions the character made in the film. After both these processes, it was time to start mixing and editing the foley. I was happy with the quality of the footsteps recorded into my foley session so all that was needed was a quick tidy up and level check to make sure they were all consistent and in time. I manipulated the recorded vocal expressions of the alien by adding reverb to the and pitch shifting them. The reason being that I myself have a low tone voice and the creature needed to have light and uplifting tones. (see picture below that shows this processing)

Pitch Shifting

 

Atmosphere

In my initial meeting, the animation team outlined what they wanted the space ambience to sound like. By giving me the benchmark of Avatar, I was able to identify the key attributes that sound designer Christopher Boyes gave to the planet ambiance of Avatar. Because I don’t have access to a rainforest nearby, I made the decision to source a good quality recorded rainforest track on the sound theatre. From then on I sourced different sounds created by animals to layer of the top of the rainforest track. This gave me the freedom to make my own diverse landscape with a multitude of creatures. I processed the sourced animal sounds to make them sound unique. An example of this being New Zealand orchid bird and the processing I applied to it. I used a variation of techniques which included pitch shifting, delay and reverb. I believe this created atmosphere or Time Capsule is that of a unique and diverse one. By layering each individual animal sound on top of a master rainforest tack, has giving Time Capsule lively environment that adds to the new world narrative that the animation team wanted.

To apply my SFX learning outcome to the atmosphere, I recorded house hold objects that I thought might prove useful in the production stage. To create the atmosphere tack for the space station I used the recording of a kettle. Simple reductive EQ and additive reverb was applied to clean up the recording and to sit with the environment of the space station. This gave a steam/space station feel to the atmosphere and provided a realistic soundscape for the audience.

Music

Music was a new and interesting production process for me. From my research, music within animation adds a lot of depth to the picture and drives the narrative forward. To comply with the animation team’s guidelines, I needed to make Time Capsules musical score not that noticeable. So I needed to found subtle underscores to match with the new world experience of the planet. For the first section of the animation, I decided to set the era of when time capsule is set, and doing so with music. The animation team wanted old swing Jazz to set the film up, giving it a fun and light hearted presence to the audience. I sourced and edited a jazz track that I thought fitted really well for the introduction of the animation.

To match the ambience of the planet, the score needed to provide a futuristic and new feel to the planet. However, it couldn’t be prominent in the mix and was only to provide an underscore to the picture. I believe the chosen track below fitted the provided criteria.

When the alien character is playing with the object found in the time capsule, I decided to provide a music score that would give humour to the creature and its actions. A funny score like the one I chose, gave the creature the characteristic of being playful, funny, charming and intriguing. This complies with my learning outcome of character design.

To finish the animation, I decided to provide an uplifting score. This provides the audience with a good feeling inside about the feature they have just watched. By doing this, it gives the audience a subjective character experience, as they know the main character had left the feature happy. The score also mixes in with the SFX tracks as it provides sparkling like tones which fit in with the stars in the animation.



Tutorials
May 15, 2017, 9:19 am
Filed under: Group Meetings and Tutorials

Tutorial #4

This was the last tutorial with David. We discussed how the production work was coming along and I updated him on what techniques i have been using and the issues that I have come across. The only issue being the music and the tough task of finding free royalty free music to match the animation. We discussed the possibility of finding an external composer but I made the decision to carry on the search for music.

Tutorial #3

Me and David caught up on how I was sticking to my learning outcomes. We went through my research and discussed how was to apply it to the production. We spent a great deal of time talking about how I was to supply the music to for the animation. We discussed the possibility of composing music but quickly dismissed that as i am not a composer. We decided the best idea was to source the best suited music.

Tutorial #2

This meting was all about finalising my personal learning outcomes. We discussed the possibility of adjusting them to be compliant and less broad in terms of topics. I brought David up to date with the ongoing research I have done and discussed how was to go about the production stage of my Animation.

Tutorial #1

This tutorial was to discuss what work and been done so far and what work needed to be done.

We discussed my group meeting and what the animators required me to do and narrowed down my Aims, Objectives and Outcomes. This would then allow me to research more in depth of my personal outcomes of the project.

When discussing the musical score, David heavily suggested sourcing royalty free music or acquiring an external composer. This was due to the fact that I am not being employed to write the musical score as that is an entirely different craft in itself. This is so I could spend more time creating the sound of Time Capsule.



Music Benchmark
April 27, 2017, 10:00 am
Filed under: Benchmarks

In my initial meeting with the animation crew, we discussed the types of music scores that we could use and what would benefit the animation. The crew would like a dated music score at the beginning of the feature, when the rocket ship sets off. This will set the time period of the animation. However, the crew stressed that the animation is not to be heavily musically driven and that the atmosphere and the SFX must have a large presence within the mix. So I need to find a futuristic music score that can play underneath the full sound mix.

Looking at the game Fallout 4, the use of old era music in a futuristic game works incredibly well and is iconic to the franchise. The music resembles a mixture of old-time swing and and big band jazz. Me and the crew discussed the possibility of using a music score much like Fallout’s for the rocket station in Time Capsule. 

To comply with the targets set by the animation crew, I need to look at examples of futuristic underscores for Time Score. This can’t drive the narrative nor cloud any of the ambience or SFX, so I need to be careful when sourcing music scores. I believe an underscore that resembles Native American tradition will be suitable for the new planet in Time Capsule as it has the ability to represent a new world untouched.



SFX Benchmarks
April 25, 2017, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Benchmarks

Whilst undergoing my academic research, I came across multiple techniques of ways to record professional sound effects. It gave me a sense of what microphones I need to use and the kind of objects that I will need when recording my own sound effects. I decided to watch multiple animations, specifically space/future themed features, which could also point me in the right direction in the way me and the animation crew would like Time Capsule to sound. Out of the features that I have watched, I came across an animated short called AZARKANT. 

AZARKANT is a SciFi animation set on a space ship. The reason for exploring and observing the SFX heard within the film is because of the futuristic electronic sounds contained within the surrounding of the space ship. This would be a fantastic benchmark to adhere to when undergoing layering the electronic sound needed for Time Capsule. The SFX heard when doors open in AZARKANT are a great mixture of steam and mechanical churns and I believe this type of sound would be great for the opening of the time capsule in Time Capsule.

Another more well known animation that I would like to focus on is the film WALL-E. The film is about an isolated robot on a barren landscape we know as Earth. Of course I can only ever achieve the professional standards provided by sound designer Ben Burtt by having a career of 20+ years within the industry but I felt that looking and experiencing this film purely sonically would help me in being creative when it comes to designing the sound for Time Capsule. The way in which Ben Burtt applies the sound effects for the rocket are ideal for the sound for the rocket in Time Capsule. When both taking off from earth and when in space are a great benchmark for me to refer to when undoing the post production sound for Time Capsule. The electronically sound found within the ship in WALL-E are perfect examples of what I believe the rocket station in Time Capsule need to emulate.

As there is a character that requires sound within Time Capsule I need to come up with animal like noises that can identifies it. The film Up uses an array of animal sounds for each its non-human characters; Whether that being a dog or a bird. Since the creature in Time Capsule resembles a dog like creature, I would like to focus on the sniffs and scratches that I could apply to the character. The dog/s in Up all have unique sniffs and scratches and with each one carries out a different meaning, such as happy or aggressive. The main dog in Up is a happy and curios one, having close similarities to the character in Time Capsule. Therefore, I would like to use this technique when recording for the alien creature, giving us a light hearted and happy feeling towards the character.