Creating something from nothing is often required in the work of Post Production. Whether it’s a music bed, ambience, dialogue, a vocal track or instrument or sound effect, there is almost always something that no one accounted for and they are depending on you to have something to fill the gap or fix a mistake.
Today I’m going to focus on a couple things you can do to create unique sound effects for whatever project you’re working on. You’ll be amazed with what a few household or workplace items can sound like when manipulated and/or blended together.
Sound-storm. Ever heard of brainstorming? Sound storming is like that but instead of idea development, the thought is to record audio clips of various things as you go. Grab a handheld recorder if you have one or even your smartphone if you don’t and record the sounds of various objects. For example, doors opening and closing, squeaking floorboards, a light switch, a hairdryer, maybe a cart someone is pushing by. You get the idea. Anything and everything that makes a noise can be used for something. After you’ve collected these things, try and catalogue them so they are there for immediate and future use.
Don’t be afraid to use the tools you have either in plugin or hardware form “improperly.” Trying an extreme setting on a reverb and playing a sound through it may seem un-useful at first but if you slow it down, reverse it and pitch it down it becomes a great low end rush that you could use for a fly-by effect of a word or object. Or you could do something like run a sound through a guitar amp or distortion pedal and create unique sounds that way. Experiment with what you have and you can get some pretty cool things happening.
Stack sounds. Some of the best sound design that helps a video piece really come to life and gives realism to it is often multiple different sound that are seemingly unrelated blended together to create one effect. I remember reading about an award winning sound designer that always includes animal sounds into her effects. Fitting in a lion roaring into the sound of a door closing or opening doesn’t really seem possible but with a little imagination and disguise it can be one of the best sounding, most natural doors you’ve ever heard.
Regardless of the specific project, the tools we have at our disposal today really give us the opportunity to create something from nothing better than has ever been done. And with a little imagination and experimentation you can create really cool effects and transitional elements that pull people into the world we’ve created both visually and through the soundscape.