9, 10, 11,
Reverb has two specific uses in sound design: placing a sound in a space
and adding depth and size to a sound. If you have a dry sound and want
to give it the illusion of being in a particular type of room, you can
use fairly short room reverbs with a high wet/dry mix. Ive never
found this to be as convincing as recording the sound in an appropriate
space, but it works well enough. You can also use longer reverb programs,
typically plates and halls, to add weight and drama to sounds such as
gigantic dinosaur footsteps and cannon shots. For this type of approach,
I use the original sound completely dry and add reverb as a separate layer.
I then raise the volume of the reverb at the tail portion of the sound.
Worldizing. Digital reverb units are stocked with enough horsepower and
brilliant programming to sound terrific, but to my ear, the digital version
never sounds quite like the real thing. The most convincing way to make
something sound like it was recorded in a room is to record it in onebut
sometimes thats not possible. In addition, you may have several
sounds recorded under different circumstances that you want to sound as
though they belong together.
The solution to both problems is to worldize the sounds, that is, to play
them back in an appropriate space and record the playback. That means
lugging around a high-quality sound-playback system along with your recording
rig. Place a speaker in a room or location with the desired aural fingerprint
and position a microphone some distance from the speaker. Next, play back
your original sounds through the speaker and rerecord them on another
tape recorder, capturing the sound with all the reverberant characteristics
of the space. That requires much time and effort, but when only the most
authentic reproduction will do, worldizing can get you there.
Other options. You can
find useful processing functions in special-purpose sound-design tools,
such as U & I Softwares MetaSynth (www.uisoftware.com)
and the Kyma System from Symbolic Sound (www.symbolicsound.com;
see Fig. 7). Also available is a seemingly endless supply of plug-ins available
for transforming audio in unusual ways. But dont worry about owning
one of everything; just master the tools you have and try to get the most
out of them.
7: Symbolic Sound’s Kyma System is one of the most powerful sound-design
workstations around. It’s especially easy to load a “default” source
sound into the system and try dozens of different manipulations.
IT ALL TOGETHER
Once youve collected and processed the sounds you like, import them
into a multitrack editor and align them with the visual image. If the visual
material has been rendered in a computer, it is delivered to the sound designer
in QuickTime format; otherwise, it typically comes on a VHS videotape. In
the latter case, I import the picture into the computer as a QuickTime file,
which Pro Tools plays along with the audio. If possible, its nice
to have a dedicated video card, such as the Aurora Fuse, which takes much
of the burden of video playback from the computer CPU.
Sometimes I do the processing and manipulation at this point by letting
the visual imagery tell me what the sound needs. I import the sound into
the Region bin of Pro Tools and drag it into the edit window, roughly where
the sound should be. Then I tweak the timing against the visual and adjust
frame by frame until it is perfect. Synchronization is as much an art as
a mechanical skillyou cant just assume that the closing-door
sound should land exactly on the frame in which the door closes. You have
to watch each motion repeatedly and adjust the timing of the sound until
it feels right.
Magazine, March, 2001
© 2001, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved.