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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Aural Terrains: Spooky Section Development

I was tasked specifically with creating a "Spooky" section to contribute to the final mix.  This would be slightly more atmospheric than some of the other sections and would be paramount in subtly engaging the listener during the troughs of the piece.

Lots of research and development after the jump.  You have been warned.

I had the 'Time vs. Oomph' graph and a Microphone.  It was time to make lemonade.

Spooky Section by Ryan Caddell

Off the bat I immediately thought of the organic sounds of the body -of heartbeats and of heavy breathing.  The heartbeats made it into the final cut and worked really well.  I thought of creaking wooden doors, of crackling fires and of the wind passing through the trees.  All sounds that when conjured brought a feeling of walking through the shadowy forest on a moonlit night.

It was important to me that the sounds I used were as raw and natural as possible.  I felt the more recognizable the sounds in this section were the more immersive and effective they would be. I found some samples whilst out walking.  One of which was a conveniently stacked pile of sticks in the woods, that I trampled whilst recording (apologies to anyone who was preparing a bonfire for later that evening)

stamping on stickpile

Other thoughts regarding how to come up with an effective sound for this section was to emulate some audibly intense movies i had seen prior.  This was slipping into the horror niche which we weren't looking at specifically, but given the dimensions of my track I felt it was warranted.

I looked at the film Silent Hill.  I remember the scare factor of the games were powerfully augmented by the soundtrack.  The film relied on the same approach.  Although the film is classed in the horror genre a lot of it's effectiveness lay in causing feelings of distress and unease -much like our own project.  The sound effects were eerily distorted during the less action orientated scenes, and the score featured disembodied piano keys and eerie moans and groans.  Also 28 Day later, which had a heavier score but had the same approach with its use of dramatic and disturbing sound effects.

Another movie which I looked at for its audible qualities was The Road (slightly more blockbuster but still some good use of sound).

I also listened to some Team Sleep tracks. They are great with sound that is often quite heavy but amazingly lulling at the same time.  Lastly Jakob -a kiwi outfit who follow the same approach.

I was recording several weeks ago now when there was a relatively large southerly carrying a cold front and an arctic storm.  We had several instances of hail and snow, and the weather was generally very chaotic.  I took the opportunity to record a five minute section of hail falling in the woods.  This somehow ended up fitting the graph we built for our combined track perfectly.  It was quite amazing during the recording of this file how at 3 minutes (at which point we had decided to begin building in energy to a climax at 3:45) the hail began to fall harder, to make more intense and destructive noise.

I attempted to find and record the family of possums in the surrounding bush area at my place, but apparently they know and choose to only make noise whilst I'm trying to sleep.  Also we have Morepork's visit the trees occasionally, but I couldn't get any samples of those either.  Both of which would have been great additions to the track.

In post I used a substantial amount of reverb in crafting the track.  Although this would take away from the natural aspect, given the area we would be broadcasting the sound i felt this would make the track more appropriate for the surroundings.  Also a few of the layers were distorted to make them a little scarier, playing with the 'fuzz/wah' effect on Logic i found was a good way to generate a "spookier" sound.  This is most apparent in the 'hail' layer mentioned above which ran the entire duration of the track.

Final mix done and very happy with the track.  Can't enforce how impressed I was after this point also how all our individual tracks meshed together so well (Kudos to Jared for his work on the final combined mix)

Behind Closed Doors -Full Cobra Mix v 01

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