Home Riot Creative Contest 2017 - Sound Design

[Riot Creative Contest 2017] - Andrew Dodds

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Hello Everyone!

I'm a bit late to the contest but looking to have some fun making sound design for the clip! 

Good luck to all taking part!



  • AndrewDodds
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    I spent the end of yesterday and today making a cue sheet of some ideas that I need to record as well as Foley for the main character movements. 

    Some of the ideas for the cue sheet may change as the sound design develops but I'm happy with these ideas as starting points. I have attached the cue sheet below.

    For Foley I was working on Xayah, Rakan and the main shadow enemy. I got the Foley for Rakan by mixing towel movements and a paper mesh. The mesh sounds lighter and move delicate but I removed some of the low end from the towel. 
    For Xayah, I used a bed sheet as I was finding my jacket a little too thin. Plus it had better tonality when getting the more delicate rubbing for her head movements. 
    The shadow enemy was a combination of different metal objects, including a pair of old rusted brackets, steel rulers and spades. Together they combined to make a heavy and dark sounding enemy. 
    I'm happy with the placement, timing and the overall first layer but the paper mesh on Rakan and some of the metal elements will need a little more work. 

    Lastly I did all of the whoosh sounds for punches, kicks and rapid movements of all characters. I used a jack lead from my guitar and swung it at varying lengths past the microphone. I was really happy with the results straight away. For the larger character I pitched some of the whooshes down and for smaller pitched up, just to provide some kind of variety. It's a nice first layer but some of the bigger movements or magical ones will need to be beefed up with extra content.

    Overall it was an enjoyable first day on the animation and I look forward to tomorrows work, which is footsteps.
  • AndrewDodds
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    Today I looked at getting the footstep Foley done for all the characters. I have been using a box of stones and gravel as the ground for the first half of the clip and then a concrete slab for the second half of the clip. 

    I have a range of shoes to try give a little bit of difference in the tonality of the characters. I used a heavier pair of shoes for Rakan and lighter ones for Xayah. For the ninjas I used my bare feet to get what I thought was the right feel. For the shadow ninja I was using the heavier shoes as well, but blending in metal clinking to fit with his visual aesthetic. 

    I took several takes for each of the characters and combined the best performances to get Foley I felt matched the visual movements as accurately as possible. After this I applied EQ to each of the characters and created a tone for each ones footsteps, helping to differentiate them further in the mix.

    I'm going to leave all the mixing and panning until later while I work on filling up the sounds further. 

    I have added a sound for Xayah's feather daggers as they shoot past on screen. I took a match lighting sound and cut of the initial stroke/impact and then took just the ignition sound. From hear I normalised the sounds as it was really quiet to produce a coarse but progressive sound. This sounds like a "thwisp" noise with some crackles. I really like the sounds the way it is as it sounds as the the heat and sizzle from them lingers like the trail left in the animation. 
    I have now layers different pitches of this in for when she releases multiple daggers at once. I will be panning these to get them all sounding like they are flying off in different directions.

    Lastly I recorded low-end impact sounds for the feathers and punches landing on the enemies. I did this using drum synthesiser DrumBrute as it has a nice punchy low kick sound. After I recorded a few different versions I then synced them up with the hits in the animation. I like this as a first idea of the feel of the impact as I've decided that the style and approach I'm taking is to make the animation darker due to the style of the scene artistically. I want to convey how powerful these characters are compared to the ninjas and how the shadow ninja at the end is also a fierce opponent.

    Tomorrow I'm going to work on some more ambient material for the background of each scene.
  • AndrewDodds
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    Footstep Foley with the shoes, metal layers with spades and brackets and matches and ignition for daggers.

  • AndrewDodds
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    So I have been back at my full time job today so didn't have as much time to design as I would have liked. I decided to work on the part where the small blue particle changes red and floats up to the large magical ceiling. 

    To do this I looked up a Pure Data patch I made while at University. This was a multiple procedural generation of ambient sounds including fire, rain, wind and electricity. The electricity and fire patches were the ones I required. I wanted to create a gentle sparking when it started and crackle as it changed red and sparkle for all the small flairs coming off. I recorded this out of Pure Data and into Reaper. You can see the patch below: 

    I then combined the sound of the crackles with a recording glockenspiel style note I made in Ableton. It's just a small mallet with a longer tail but then I cut the tail off and loop it for the desired length. The in Reaper I use the ReaPitch to shift it up slowly in cents in time with the animation. I also added a delay and reverb to get the sustain and ringing tone I wanted to accompany the crackles and sparks. 

    Lastly I needed the impacts for the particles hitting the ceiling. In this circumstance I wanted the to be little explosion with all the setup of these electrical/fire based sounds. Luckily it has been rather frosty in Scotland at the moment, so I went and recorded some icy puddles cracking yesterday. I thought this would sound really good to get a resonating like all the particles and the ceiling are connected by the same powerful magic. I was really happy with the results and with a long reverb it was exactly what I was looking for. Here you can see some of the icy/snowy conditions...

    Tomorrow I want to focus on body drops on the gravel and fleshy impact of daggers and punches. 

  • AndrewDodds
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    Today I continued with my plans to to body's dropping and fleshy impact sounds. I had a lot of fun with both of these as I got to get my hands dirty. 

    First up was all the impacts with a lettuce. I used some tarpaulin sheet and basically punched the thing into mush. Above you can see the original lettuce before the stress relief exercise. I got a nice mix of crunchy and slappy impacts at the start followed by more mushy and splatty ones at the end. This variety I will place through the clip based on where I feel each kind of sound suits. The more slappy ones work really well for dropping bodies and the crunchy ones are good for punches. 

    I also recorded the sound of the bodies falling to the gravel floor. I used on of my girlfriends old leather handbags and filled it up with some books. I experimented with the weight adding until I felt that it as the right size for the dropping bodies on screen. For extra tonality I threw the bag at different angles to get some rolling sounds of the bag on the gravel. After that I synced up the sounds with the body falls and added a bit of EQ. 

    It was a quick session to night but happy with the difference this has made to the clip. Tomorrow I will be looking at making the sounds of the feather dagger impacts more impressive, as I felt the lettuce alone didn't provide exactly what I wanted. Great for the punches but not enough content for the magical piercing qualities of the animation. 
  • underworldguy
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    Andy Farnell's school)
  • AndrewDodds
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    I never managed to get a chance to do any design yesterday with work commitments. But today I decided to do a bit of tidying up and have a listen with some fresh ears. 

    To start I was happy with most of the sound design and enjoyed listening to what I had created so far. Things I noted as needing changed was the Foley for when Rakan's wing trips all the enemy's and shoots them into the sky. The gravel stone mix I have hear is too heavy and EQ just makes it sound thin. I need to find some thinner material to do this with. 

    I also began automating panning and volume for the areas I was already happy with. For the footsteps, clothing Foley, whoosh sounds and transitions of sounds in and out of shot. This really cleared up the mix instead of the muddy centre of gravel footsteps and Foley all layered on top of each other.

    Tomorrow I would like to get back to the final parts of recordings for the clip and will continue with the impact sounds for the daggers as well as creating some layers for other transitions and movements on/off screen.
  • AndrewDodds
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    Over the weekend I had made myself a list of sounds that had to be done. Below you can see what I got through:  Rakan's vocals (x),
    Shadow Ninja vocals (x),
    low end ominous vocals for other ninjas appearing (x),
    screech vocals for shadow form (x),
    boxing glove punches on dust sheets (x),
    add sine tone for sword shings (x),
    carving fork scrapes and shing noise (x),
    add ice smashing and resonance to wing whoosh (x),
    sizzles for end of feather daggers impacts (x)

    I'm happy with the work I put in and even got a little bit of mixing done to ensure I didn't need to account for other layers. I only need a few more sounds required to finish off the clip. This is the final list:
    spade scrapes and knocks, 
    redo gravel wing whoosh,
    ambience for outside start,
    ambience for inside end,
    fruit stab impacts, 
    noise for start distraction,
    female vocals,
    ninja vocals,
    plasterboard break, 
    brick cracks.

    On Sunday I spent most of the day sourcing all the materials for this list of sounds. I now have all of these and should be able to get everything finished recording in the next couple of days. After this I can begin to focus on the final mix. 

    Tomorrow I will be looking at the finalising of all the vocals.
  • AndrewDodds
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    I've been a bit absent with the blogs the last week, but I have been making good progress on the video. 
    I managed to record all of the sounds that we still left to get, from the list in my previous blog post. By this point I was happy with the sounds that were there and spent the rest of my time editing them down to fit the visuals better. 

    After this I have spent some time mixing and worldizing the sounds. Here is a rough mix of the first half I've done so far. 


    Tomorrow I am going to continue with the mix for the rest of the animation. Then I will give it a day and watch again, tweaking what I feel is needed. 
  • AndrewDodds
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    I have been working for the last few days on the final mix, panning and automation. Overall I'm happy with where I got the sound design to for the clip and submitted it last night. I also did some work on reverbs, and other general effects, I felt were needed to get all my sounds fitting into this world. 

    The animation was great fun to work on and a fantastic way to start the year. The Creative Contest was incredibly fun with so many interesting ideas being thrown around and a cool community of people creating amazing work. 

    Below I will post my final video that I submitted. Any feedback on it would be amazing and best of luck to all of the entrants!

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