Creativity comes and goes when working constantly on sound effects full time and some days you just have a flash of it, while others, it appears to be hiding in the depths of your mind. Today was a day that the ideas came flushing through like a flood of water, so I’ve been busy recording, creating and uploading the latest free sounds to our library. As usual, I’ve written a brief summary of a few of them and how they were created.
Science fiction transmission errors
My kids have a cheap set of walkie talkies which can often be quite annoying, especially when they’re playing a game in the house and the constant beep, warble and crackle of the devices is echoing around the house. However this gave me an idea. I thought about how the sound of these cheap toys could be used to create some sci fi transmission error sounds and set about trying to create them.
I first recorded the sound of various received tones through one of the devices. I used the other to transmit sounds from other sources around the house, including the microwave and also the output of a synthesizer in Logic, played through some headphones directly into the walkie talkie. Recording the output on the receiver, I captured some truly weird and wonderful sounds.
Next I took the recordings and edited them in Adobe Audition, adding some mid-pass filtering and also some phaser effects. Then simply converting the files to mono (making sure they were mono compatible), I was able to chop the sounds up into small bursts that sound (in my opinion) perfect for science fiction radio static blasts. They could also be used for real-world CB radio static noises too.
We’ve just waved goodbye to some relatives visiting us from the UK and in tidying up the yard, I had 6 pushbikes to lock away in the garage. Whilst moving them, I accidentally pressed the brake on one, which gave off a loud screech. Knowing how little work I do on said bikes, such screeches from the brakes suggest they might need some attention, however before I did that, I couldn’t help but record them. By pushing the bikes around in circles and randomly pressing the brake, I was able to record the screeching of the brakes and some short tire skids close up which will be useful if you’re working on a movie, game or other project and need some sounds of an abruptly stopping bicycle.
Ice or frost forming, time lapse
This one was requested by a member of zapsplat, so I set about creating it today. The sound required was of ice forming on the leaf of a plant, but in high-speed, as if being viewed in time lapse. I’ve worked on such sounds before and they require a little imagination. I tried several ways to recreate this sound, including the crinkling of cellophane and modulating the pitch. However, these sounded a little too synthetic for my liking so I reverted to the real thing… ice.
I opened up my freezer to find some mince meat right at the back of the freezer compartment. It was covered in a deep layer of frost and ice, so perfect for this request. Using my finger to lightly press down on the layer of ice, I recorded it close up and increased the intensity of pressure over about 5 seconds.
Then in Adobe Audition, all that was needed was a little noise reduction (some of the hum of the appliance could be heard in the background as I forgot to switch it of) and some EQ to focus mainly on the upper mid and higher frequencies. I think they worked well. If you need them, they can be found here and here.
Plastic on metal screeches
Justin often tells me some of the sounds I record are quite bizarre, which he also finds useful as source material for sound design work. I would imagine these may fall into the same category here. On a metal shelf in my garage is an old bike light which, I accidentally scraped on the metal surface while moving something else. In doing so, the light generated a high pitched screeching sound which I just had to record. I captured several versions of various lengths and intensities. I also found that playing around with the pitch in my DAW created some interesting variations. For example, raising the pitch significantly generated an almost cartoon-like quality, while lowering the pitch generated some great squeaks, perfect for a heavier object such as a train screeching to a halt. Going even lower in pitch created some weird drones and wind-like textures which might be useful for science fiction planet ambiences.