I sort of debated if this was well suited for my blog or not and then last week I saw an article on Pro Tools Expert discussing the studio lifestyle and it’s impacts on your health. This year I made a real effort to change some things in my life and I decided maybe it would be beneficial to share the changes and some results.
If you’re looking to build up your own personal library of source sounds it can take a little time.. it’s like a plant and it will need to be watered. Generally my approach to creating libraries isn’t so much “hey I’m going to make a metal library and it’s going to contain this this and this”. It comes together in a series of steps.
I started a project where my goal was to spend a short amount of time each night creating different sound design elements/effects. My goal was simply to have fun and free myself from normal project constraints. I'm happy to report that I consider my attempt successful. I wanted to take a moment to share my outcome and feelings on this with you - even if it is a little late.
My main focus was to create a library that had a very organic feel so I used minimal amounts of synthesis or processing. I started a new trello board and began breaking apart spell ideas into different categories and aesthetic layers.
Creating gore sound effects is one of those things that most sound designers automatically get excited to do. I think it’s also something we tend to get hung up on creatively as we see what’s been done before and automatically start thinking along the same lines immediately. Off the top of my head I’ve used fruit, vegetables, leftover mac and cheese and so on… Setting up this type of session is usually more of an endeavor. With this in mind I decided I wanted to see what I could do with the absolute minimal session setup.
Recording this type of material might initially lead you to the grocery store where you end up spending a bunch of money on stuff you’re just going to smash. Oh it’s also going to be messy, so you’ll have to spend time figuring out your workspace and how to prep for it. Then you’ll actually have to clean it up. This is the type of thing you’re not always going to have the budget and time to do. So the question is, what are some inexpensive, clean (mostly) non-time consuming ways to record this stuff?
I decided to do this at home to keep it as basic as possible. I’ve used leftover food in the past but this time I wanted to avoid even that because it still can get messy. While searching I tried to stay focused on things that would be wet and squishy but that I could still get some nice impacts with.
I ended up pulling out a washcloth, hand towel and a large plastic mixing bowl. The idea was to soak the washcloth with water and use the bowl as my sandbox for containing the mess. The large hand towel was used to line the bowl to minimize the sound of the bowl itself and to sponge up excess water.
Micing and Performance
I used my personal Fostex FR-2 LE and a Rode NTG-3 inside the Blimp. I got the mic pretty close to the bowl and the performance to take advantage of the proximity effect. My goal was to get some gore impact sounds, some squishes and some dripping. For the squishes it was just a matter of squeezing the cloth different ways. To get the dripping, I focused more on wringing it out and having the cloth a little bit wetter.
To get impacts I started by dropping the cloth into the bowl, then tried punching it. I got some decent material from trying that but it wasn’t 100 percent there. I grabbed another piece of cloth, soaked it and wrapped it around my hand and punched the cloth inside the bowl. This gave the maximum combination of squish and impact and yielded some genuinely satisfying results.
Getting everything setup and recording what I needed took me under an hour. Virtually no cleanup required. I didn’t even have any water to cleanup as it all stayed in the bowl pretty well. I rinsed the bowl and hung the towels to dry, the end. I can easily see myself doing this quick setup again in the future.
Next time I will try using different types of cloth as an easy variable. It also may be worth trying thicker liquids than just water, milk perhaps? That’s inviting more of a mess but in that case I’d just add some additional towels. I also thought of mixing in some homemade slime using the Borax/Glue/Water recipe.