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Theory creating sounds for 0.A.D

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Sound effects (or audio effects) are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media. In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, dialogue, music, and sound effects recordings are treated as separate elements. Dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, even though the processes applied to such as reverberation or flanging effects, often are called "sound effects


The principles involved with modern video game sound effects (since the introduction of sample playback) are essentially the same as those of motion pictures. Typically a game project requires two jobs to be completed: sounds must be recorded or selected from a library and a sound engine must be programmed so that those sounds can be incorporated into the game's interactive environment.

In earlier computers and video game systems, sound effects were typically produced using sound synthesis. In modern systems, the increases in storage capacity and playback quality has allowed sampled sound to be used. The modern systems also frequently utilize positional audio, often with hardware acceleration, and real-time audio post-processing, which can also be tied to the 3D graphics development. Based on the internal state of the game, multiple different calculations can be made. This will allow for, for example, realistic sound dampening, echoes and doppler effect.

Historically the simplicity of game environments reduced the required number of sounds needed, and thus only one or two people were directly responsible for the sound recording and design. As the video game business has grown and computer sound reproduction quality has increased, however, the team of sound designers dedicated to game projects has likewise grown and the demands placed on them may now approach those of mid-budget motion pictures.





Foley (named after sound-effects artist Jack Foley) is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality.[1] These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best Foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience.[2] It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.

Foley artists recreate the realistic ambient sounds that the film portrays. The props and sets of a film often do not react the same way acoustically as their real life counterparts.[2] Foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming, such as overflying airplanes or passing traffic.[2]

The term "Foley" also means a place, such as Foley-stage or Foley-studio, where the Foley process takes place


n this article, Foley complements or replaces sound recorded on set at the time of the filming (known as field recording). The soundscape of most films uses a combination of both. A Foley artist is the person who creates this sound art. Foley artists use creativity to make viewers believe that the sound effects are actually real. The viewers should not be able to realize that the sound was not actually part of the filming process itself. Foley sounds are added to the film in post production after the film has been shot.[5] The need for replacing or enhancing sounds in a film production arises from the fact that, very often, the original sounds captured during shooting are obstructed by noise or are not convincing enough to underscore the visual effect or action. For example, fist-fighting scenes in an action movie are usually staged by the stunt actors and therefore do not have the actual sounds of blows landing. Crashes and explosions are often added or enhanced at the post-production stage. The desired effect is to add back to the original soundtrack the sounds that were intended to be excluded during recording. By excluding these sounds during field recording, and then adding them back into the soundtrack during post-production, the editors have complete control over how each noise sounds, its quality, and the relative volume.[6] Foley effects add depth and realism to the audio quality for multimedia sources, and simplify the synchronizing of sounds that would otherwise be tedious or downright impossible to manage.[1]

Foley artists review the film as it runs to figure out what sounds like they need to achieve the desired sound and results. Once they gather the material and prepare for use, they practice the sounds. When they accomplish the desired sound, they watch the film and add in the sound effects at the same time. This is similar to the way actors re-record dialogue, lip-syncing to the video or film image.

Scenes where dialogue is replaced using dubbing also feature Foley sounds. Automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) is the process in which voice sounds are recorded in post production. This is done by a machine that runs the voice sounds with the film forward and backward to get the sound to run with the film.[citation needed] The objective of the ADR technique is to add sound effects into the film after filming, so the voice sounds are synchronized. Many sounds are not added at the time of filming, and microphones might not capture a sound the way the audience expects to hear it.[7] The need for Foley rose



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The Foley. Gathering material.


Creating Sound Effects

The sound effects from the 1960s Star Trek TV show are the same as in the latest Trek movie. Why? Because you know them as well as the scent of grandma's cookies.

Have you ever recognized a sound effect in a movie or television show? Close you eyes and imagine the sound of the doors opening on the bridge in Star Trek. Listen for the PING that emanates throughout. Hear that musical tinkling sound as Scotty beams the captain aboard. Sounds we've heard since the '60s are as recognizable as a heartbeat.

Just like seeing a filter Photoshop filter you've used before, every sound effect has a signature that makes it easier to identify. The truth is that, just like you, the big productions grab sound effects as needed from effect libraries. It's entirely possible they're using the same library you have. Our challenge this month is to break free of the sameness of effects libraries and create something uniquely our own. You probably have all the tools already, like an audio editor bundled with your video editing software, and if you don't, there are very cost-effective options we can share.


As every professional filmmaker and videographer knows, even the most gorgeous footage and brilliant camera work can lose power when unaccompanied by sound. For maximum emotional impact, foley sound, like ADR, must match the actions in the video that was filmed. Here are some tips and tricks for recording foley and sound effects.


Why Sound Effects?

On the surface, sound effects may seem unnecessary. Can't we just record the voices and sounds as we shoot and present a completely honest soundtrack? You can do that, but I think you'll be disappointed with the results. In the enhanced reality of Hollywood, it's common to replace almost every sound - from main dialog to the smallest squeak. Your viewers grew up expecting that type of sound as they watch various forms of media. While a completely organic soundtrack is possible, it's the exception rather than the rule. The good news is that you can create big sounds for your productions, too. There is an art to it, but the basics aren't all that hard.


What Gear do I Need?

First, you'll need some recording equipment; specifically, an audio recorder, a microphone or two and a good pair of headphones. Audio recorders take many forms these days. A laptop or netbook computer with an audio interface is a very nice, portable way to gather sound effects. Using an audio editor Adobe Audition, Sony Sound Forge or a number of other software packages, you'll have a fully mobile recording studio. If you're short on software, look for Nero's Wave Editor (the audio editor bundled with their disc-burning package) or download the freeware Audacity. Both work great for basic recording and editing. Assuming your camcorder has an external microphone jack; it also serves as a good, basic audio recorder. Even the tiny Kodak Zi8 has a mic jack and will work well in a pinch. If you'd prefer a more dedicated solution, consider the Zoom H2. For under $200 you get four built-in mic capsules and the ability to record surround sound too.

As for microphones, start with what you have. If you're already using a handheld or shotgun mic for productions, try that first. Even a lapel microphone works for sound effect gathering. Just make sure you use a windscreen if you're going outdoors. Do some test recordings and evaluate the sound quality. If you discover that a microphone upgrade is needed, at least you have a baseline to shop with. As for headphones, any good pair of isolating headphones should work. If you use headphones for video shoots (you do use headphones, right?) they are a great starting place for your sound effects recordings. Just like mics, start with your existing gear and use that as a reference point for any future upgrades.



Get Real With Audio

Many Hollywood sound effects are substitutes for the real thing - often bad substitutes. Car guys hate this. If a little scooter whizzes across the screen, it should be the sound of a scooter, not a Harley Davidson. So, when you're recording sound effects, try to be as authentic as possible. If your production showcases the hero stepping out of a giant Hummer H2 and slamming the door, don't record the door of your Toyota - record the Hummer. You get the point.

As you're recording, there are several things to monitor. That door slam will start with a giant spike in sound level. Make sure you have plenty of recording headroom to eliminate the possibility of signal overload and distortion. If anything, record a little lower than normal - you can always bump the volume in post. Also, listen closely to the sound. Placing the mic close to the source may produce a sound with big impact, but that may not suit the scene. For safety, record several versions. Start with a few takes up close, then move the microphone back a bit and grab a few more takes. Finally, move the mic back even further - maybe somewhere close to the original camera position - and record some more. Later, when you edit, you stand a good chance of finding that one magical take that fits perfectly in your project.


The Sound of Everyday Stuff



Of course, you don't have to go outside for all your sound effects. Common household noises come in handy too. Even if you don't need them today, practice recording some appliances around the house. See if you can master recording the shower or the fireplace crackling. Stick a mic by a soda can and record the process of opening the drink and pouring it into a glass. If you'd like to experiment with Foley sound effects, try punching a couch cushion or a beanbag chair. These sounds can substitute for flying fists in a fight scene. Just record something so you can take it to the computer and experiment.

Out of This World

Legend has it that in his 1938 Halloween radio presentation War of the Worlds, Orson Welles was looking for just the right eerie creaky sound for that one dramatic moment when the metal hatch of the Martian space ship's door opened. Not having a sound FX library at hand, he and his audio engineers went looking to create their own out-of-this-world sound. They finally found just the right fit: a mayonnaise jar being slowly opened while hovering inside a toilet bowl. When you take away the visuals, sometimes the audio can fit just right and the audience has no idea. Some examples include putting cornstarch in a leather pouch for a snow-crunch effect, balling up cellophane for a fire-crackling effect, and a pair of gloves for a bird-flapping-wings effect. Another good idea that artists don't often think of is reversing sounds that you have recorded using an audio-editing program on your computer. Sounds such as piano string hits, crystal glass hits, and human voices can make for interesting effects when played in reverse. They can add emphasis to moving titles and graphics and can even give a sense of foreboding in horror films.


Foley Objects

Foley artists use many objects to achieve accurate depiction of the visual. Depending on the genre of the film, anything and everything is fair game. Before recording however, the first step entails reviewing the film and compiling a list of sound effects in the order they are seen. Next, the foley artist must determine what objects are appropriate for each specific sound effect. There are a few tried-and-true objects and techniques Hollywood foley artists have used for decades including:

  • Thin sticks and dowel rods produce excellent whooshing SFX
  • Old chairs and stools are perfect for controlled creaking
  • Heavy-duty stapleguns serve for excellent gun noises
  • Roll up a large phonebook for realistic body punches
  • Twist and snap sticks of celery for convincing bone breaks
  • Corn starch inside a leather pouch makes the sound of snow crunching
  • Cut a coconut in half and line them with a soft material for a horse walking
  • Ball up and walk over old audio tape for the sound of grass footsteps
  • Locate an old car door or fender to produce metal and car crash sounds
  • Flap a pair of cleaning gloves for the sound of realistic bird wings

Here’s an excellent video featuring Emmy nominated Foley Artist Caoimhe Doyle demonstrating some of these techniques.

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When matching foley for an outdoor scene, you may have better luck using a shotgun microphone similar to what is used on location shoots. There may even be some times where a large-diaphram condenser microphone is the way to go. By all means, use your ears to decide!

mic placementImage from Dare to be Digital

Proximity and placement of the microphone in relation to the source of sound greatly affects how the foley is recorded. Close-up shots may require closer microphone placement, or put distance between the mic and sound source if you desire more room sound. Always remember to experiment with different microphone positions and choose the placement and preamp levels that best represent the visual in the film

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