AUD210 Week 12 Final Report
For this multimedia project, I have produced 4 different pieces of work namely the two soundtracks for animations created by Eddy, a jingle remake of a Japanese mobile network Ad, and a trailer remake of a triple A game Fallout 4. I have spent most of my time producing for the jingle and the trailer and I am very satisfied with the quality of the outcome. The jingle and trailer that I have worked on had been something that interest me before I started the project, therefore I had no problem picking materials to work on. Instead of replicating what the production company did in the original videos, I have stepped up to try improving the quality of the sound design and soundtrack to make them fit more to the concept of the product they are selling. Overall, I enjoyed this project a lot and I think I have learnt a lot of new processes, skills and techniques throughout the production. Here under I will detail what I have gone through for each piece of work that I have done for the project.
Animation Soundtrack 1 - Old Chinese Building
When I first looked at the animation, my initial thought of the music is, tradition Chinese music, either going to be a festival tune or a noble, palace-sounding tune. After interacting with the creator Eddy, he said he had Chinese New Year in mind while he was creating the animation and that naturally echoes with my initial festival tune idea.
Having the experience of more than 20 Chinese New Year festival, writing the kind of soundtrack we both have in mind is fairly smooth and easy. I have referenced tracks that are commonly heard in the festival, and I picked up elements such as the crashes and gongs, upbeat heavy drums and the continuous pentatonic melodies. For the sound design and atmospheric ambience part of the track, the main elements are fire crackers, fireworks, crowd noises. Since I happened to have record some sound during this Chinese New Year in Melbourne China Town, these sounds became useful and fall naturally in place. The firework foley is only thing I have to go and sample and they blended nicely in the track.
Overall, Eddy and I are very happy with the result and that is very close to what he had imagine the music would be.
Animation Soundtrack 2 - Memes & Dreams: The Board Game
My initial idea for the music of this project is a medieval tavern sounding tune with a bard playing a zither or guitar. However, Eddy had a different idea on this animation and he imagined the scene to be 4 people hanging around, playing some Dungeons & Dragon board game with 4 beers in hand. Therefore, I went for a more upbeat option with the medieval style of music to compliment the theme of Dungeons & Dragons.
I have referenced tracks from various top notch video game series that have the similar medieval tavern, sword and magic, heroes and dragons theme like Witcher, World of Warcraft and Hearthstones. The common theme for this type of music is the use of Celtic music elements like the use of drones, dorian modes, and instruments like Irish Bodhran, Fiddle and Dulcimer. I was using Logic pro X to produce the track, and it did not come with a midi instrument of Bodhrans. I ended up using the bodhran loops in the Logic sample library and it fitted nicely in the track.
For the sound design and atmospheric ambience part, the main elements are a pub environment, toasting of glass and wooden cups, and various medieval sounds like blacksmithing and domestic animals. I ended up recording some sound in a pub during friday night, and recorded the foleys of glass and wooden cups clashing at each other and banging them on tables. Finally I blended in some ambience recording in a medieval festival in Europe that I have managed to source from freesound.org to give the track a better taste of time.
Overall, Eddy is again very happy with the result and that is very close to what he had imagine the music would be. I have written and produced a fair amount of medieval soundtracks for indie game designers before so creating this soundtrack is not a difficult task for me and I am satisfied with the result
Jingle - Three Second Cooking - Fried Dumpling by NTT DOCOMO
When this ad came out, it was a instant big hit all across Asia because the original music is referenced off old Hong Kong Jackie Chan movies which most East Asians grow up watching. It also had creative and funny lyrics that was some gibberish about dumplings. However, I found this ad to not be sounding realistic, fairly limited in terms of target audience for those who have not heard the music, and unclear of what the ad is selling. Since I like the ad a lot, I have decided to give it a try to improve the jingle and sound design as well as targeting the ad to a more general audience.
There are two pieces of music in the ad, the first one being a generic cooking show tune played with a 8 bit sounding synth. I found the original music a bit too tinny and too upbeat, which do not compliment perfectly with the general relaxed atmosphere of a cooking show. Therefore what I have done instead is go for a duller synth and a slower tempo.
For the main track, I love the contrast of a heavy rock track with the first relaxing cooking show music. However, my opinion on the original track is that it can go further to be faster and more upbeat to create a more dramatic contrast effect. I adopted this contrast as the main gimmick of the ad because I think it do not require any knowledge of the music unlike the original track. I ended up referencing the power metal classic, Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce, because of the lyrics being relatable to the ad while being powerful, heavy and epic enough to create the dramatic contrast. I have written the music with heavy drum beats which features a lot of double kicks and tom rolls to build up the tension, while for the harmony part I have go for the generic power chord shredding patterns of thrash metal. The melody was created referencing from the melody from the Dragonforce track, but I have instead used a minor scale as well as adding in more notes since it is done on a guitar instead of a vocal. Mitch from my project group kindly did the tracking of guitars and also helped me on singing the final hook line lyric.
For the voiceover, since I am going for a broader audience I wanted to go for a English version instead of recreating the Japanese version. I am lucky enough to get one of the trimester 6 students who happened to have half an hour of free time around campus to do that for me. The recording process was rushed and we did not end up referencing the original version. What we have done instead is I translate the lines into English while she do a few different takes with different moods or tones. Half of the lines have mood close to the original but the other half is a bit off partly due to the time limit and partly due to the differences in two languages. I did a fair amount of editing like moving words, vowels and consonant across lines and some pitch shifting to make her sound emotionally closer to the original. Furthermore, I have added two extra voice over lines speaking the product name as well as the company name because I think they are too important to be missed out.
For the sound design and foleys, since the original ad only included sounds that are live recorded at the shooting, they did not sound particularly interesting or realistic. The main elements of sound design in the ad that I picked up are various impact noises in slow motion, the fire, the compressed air explosions and the eating noise. On one hand, I have recorded most of these impact noises back in my own apartment by putting a large condenser to record me beating up cushions, pillows and blankets or dropping heavy objects on the ground. On the other hand, for the fire and the compressed air, I have created these sound with Mitch in the studio. We recorded the sound blowing gently to the capsule of a large diaphragm condenser to resemble fire, and we recorded some deodorant since it is also a type of compressed air. Lastly for the eating noises, I have recorded the snapping of some lettuces and other vegetables, as well as the oral noise of me eating some pretzels. They all ended up sounding what we would expect to hear in any film or tv shows.
To recreate the slow motion effect, these sound are either pitched down, stretched using timeshift and/or mixed with long ambience delays and reverbs to give these sounds the feeling of being in slow motion. The ideas of these treatment are what I have learnt from the YouTube channel “The Slow Mo Guys” in one of their making-of videos talking about the sound design.
I am satisfied with the outcome of this jingle and I think I have fulfilled all the objectives that I set out for it. The ad was made more relatable to the general audience by more dramatically contrasting the two pieces of music as well as replacing the Japanese voiceover with English voiceover. It sounded more “realistic” with the use of more foley sounds and the two voiceover line that I did provides some extra audio cues to better sell the product and the company.
Trailer - Fallout 4 Official Trailer
This cinematic trailer is the official trailer for Fallout 4, an open-world action rpg game produced by business giant Bethesda Games. As a trailer an open-world game, we as a group think that the original trailer is lacking sound effects and environmental ambience to showcase the world that the game studio is creating. That is why we planned on put more focus on the foley and sound design aspect of this video since the music is overpowering these sound effect elements in the original video.
There are two pieces of music in this video, the first being a swing track It's All Over But The Crying by The Ink Spots recorded in the 1947, which is within the era of time that the game is set. The other piece being the dramatic sad-sounding cinematic soundtrack tune with generic sad strings and drum chops. As players of the game, we think these two pieces of music do not represent the general atmosphere and mood of the game since it is not that much of a sad game. Instead, it is a exciting and energetic game with lots of funny dialogues and moments. Therefore, we remade the music into that mood by writing a rockabilly, Elvis Presley style tune which also fit the era of time of the game setting for the first piece and a rock track for the second piece. I am responsible for the writing of the first piece so I referenced popular blues/ rockabilly tunes such as Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog and Bill Haley & His Comets’ Rock Around the Clock. It is written in a 12 bar blues style with standard blues guitar and bass licks. For the melody I chose a trumpet so we can save the effort of writing lyrics and getting a vocalist.
For the sound design and foley aspect, Mitchell was responsible for the voiceover and most outdoor recording including various footsteps, atmospheric ambience, heavy machinery as well as dog sounds. I was responsible for recording the helicopter sounds as well as filling in any sound that can be recreated in a studio environment. For my part of the work, I have recorded the helicopter sounds from Helipad, which is the helicopter pod down at the Yarra river around the Crown Casino. I also helped filled in some extra footsteps such as on the wooden bridge, on sand and on gravel. Other foley sound recordings that I did include the trolley, city ambience, radio hiss and fluorescent light bulb hum etc. A lot of these sounds come from similar objects that appears on the video however there are some sound done with creative approaches and objects that are noteworthy.
1. Recreating the sound for helicopters is maybe the part I enjoyed the most. I have recorded a fidget spinner which sounds like the distant hum of a helicopter engine. Some of the close-up helicopter blade sounds are recreated by recording a noisy exhaust fan in my apartment.
2. The deodorant recording that we have recorded for my jingle come in handy again when we want to recreate droning robot engines.
3. The gun sound at the end is recorded off a door knob.
4. The indoor footsteps of the dog is actually the dog chewing on a bone.
Moreover, I am responsible for mixing most of the foley sounds. I found the process very enjoyable but also time-consuming as this is the first time I have ever done something like this. My major struggle of the process is putting the sounds into the correct relative space, since I do not have a nice convolution reverb. I had to experiment with a lot of different plug-ins and settings and I have decided to slim down my uses of reverbs into only 3, namely a room environment, an outdoor environment and a city environment. Since the rock guitars in our main track take up a lot of space in the middle and high end of the frequency spectrum, reverbs become less important. The other difficulty comes in as I have to make the first Elvis track and the voiceover sound like they are coming from an old radio. I ended up using bold HPF and LPF for EQ as well as heavy bit and sample rate crush with hard clip distortion and noises. One noteworthy point on the mixing of the Elvis track is that in the video, when the screen shifts in time from pre and post nuclear war world, I lowered the extent of distortion and lo-fi to create the mood of a pre-war world.
Overall, I am satisfied with the result as the new video turned out to be much more lively and “realistic” that helps to showcase the in-game world as well as boosting its immersiveness. The sound we have created are close to the original and we have achieved a better balance between sound effects and music than the original ad.
If you want to check out all the work we have created for this project, please go to our production company website HERE.
Embedded below is the YouTube version of my jingle and our trailer.
Special project and Freelance work
Beside required work for the unit, I have also taken up freelance work and a special project in this trimester. Unfortunately the special project was called to an end by our teacher regardless of the amount of discussion and brainstorming we brought in. Our idea was to build an escape room kind of immersive live event with the use of VR/AR technology with the theme of putting normal people into a disabled person's perspective. The idea was to numb or block some of the participants' senses like processing sound to resemble how various degrees of hearing loss would do to them. The project was terminated because of the projected heavy workload and some students leaving the project.
On the other hand, for the freelance project, I have worked for a jazz big band to master some their live recordings from their recent performance. This project is a bit of a challenge to me as this is the first time I have ever done mastering for a client, and also the first time mastering a track not recorded in a studio environment. Beside mastering, I have also helped them arranged a commercially release pop song in a big band Bossa Nova version as well as created the promotional video for this gig. You can check out my full report for the project HERE.