Thursday, 1 December 2011

Sound Bites..!

'Vegetables were harmed in the making of this animation..!'

In addition to composition of the music, another important task in the pre-production of forthcoming stop-motion animated short, 'The Bone House' is the manufacture of sound effects.

Although compilation of the soundscape is an ongoing process that will only be finalised in post-production, there are two reasons why we've elected to record sound effects at this early stage. The first is their use in animatics (a rough edit of the entire film produced from the storyboards). The second is their use in the percussive section of the music. Inspired in part by Jan Švankmajer's attention to sound, we decided that a nice texture could be added to the music by using sound effects related to the story, in addition to more conventional percussion such as drums.

From left to right: Pat creates digging sounds in improvised sound booth,
Pat hits red cabbage with a hatchet (and is slightly traumatised, being a vegetarian),
Linze manages the sound recording desk (and eats too many biscuits),
Emma worries the butcher with requests for large, clean bones...

We've two methods to harvest sound. The first is 'sound farming' where we set up a sound booth and artificially manufacture sound effects from various objects. The second is 'sound fishing' where we set off on an expedition to capture sound as it naturally occurs. Interestingly, great sounds can originate from sources that you wouldn't expect. For example, a convincing 'body being hit with an spade' sound effect was created by striking a red cabbage with a hatchet.

Conversely some sounds just don't sound 'right' even if the actual objects are used. Striking bones doesn't create the sound you might associate with the action. Rather a dead, uninspiring thud is produced. Still, it was fun to experiment (and also to worry the butcher, who shot us a look of concern when we asked for large, clean bones... for a film!)


  1. This is peculiar and very fascinating to me. I'm loving this info. (So, what DID you end up using for the sound of "striking a bone"?)

  2. Hello Cranky Bird. Many thanks for stopping by, glad this makes an interesting read !!! (Well, we were thinking a wooden xylophone, to give that Saint-Saëns, 'Carnival of the Animals' feel, but instrumentation is changing wildly in the mix at the moment, so things are being revised rapidly... All very exciting though!)