bookmark_borderWhere Does Your Sound Come From

  • Turbulent Ocean by Noelle Gallant
    Photo By Noelle Gallant

    I get this question every now and then, and it’s a great question to ask.  There are several ways I collect, create, mix, modulate and perform to create the final sound effect or atmosphere for your custom project or sound library that Sinful Audio carries.

Quality

Gathering Information

It all starts with the method by which I record.  At the very foundation of my process, I record at no less than 24bit / 96kHz.  This ensures I get the most audio information from a source signal as possible.  Think of it as gathering all the information you can on a particular subject and then writing an essay about it.  The concept is the same here.  With all the information available, it is possible to transform it into something else, paraphrase, lengthen or shorten, etc.   while always having a robust and complete source of material to pull from.

Analog and Digital

Another important piece of the equation is whether to record analog to digital or digital to digital.  It boils down to recording from a sound source in nature (Analog to Digital) or directly in the studio within my digital audio workstation and outboard gear (Digital to Digital).  Depending on the effect or atmosphere, I will use a combination of both.  But the quality of 24bit / 96kHz remains the same.

 

Sourcing

 

Wild Sound

I really enjoy capturing the sound of everything I can in nature and the environment around us.  From the sounds of coastal storms and waves crashing against the rocks, to thunder emanating from the Rocky Mountains to the sound of a door squeaking inside an old house.  All of these sounds, whether used independently or in combination with others, make up my ever growing library of source material.  From there, I have the ability to create new libraries of sound effects or use them in my sound design for your specific project.  And the best part of it is, I’m always collecting more and refreshing my library.  Indeed, the thunder from the Rocky Mountains sounds different than that of the thunder during a monsoon in Arizona.  Next to quality, I feel like variety is just as important in the sound I record and create.

Studio Recording

In the studio, I use a combination of virtual instrumentation and effects as well as a variety of Foley techniques to create never heard before sounds.  Heck, sometimes combining these two methods ends up giving me a sound I never expected.  And that type of discovery is a wonderful thing.  It’s about knowing what you want to get for an effect AND stumbling upon something new.  Experimentation often leads to some fantastic results.

 

Music and Sound Effects

As a composer, I always enjoyed writing for different instruments and exploring their tonality, range and depth.  A piano and bass player myself, I tend to lean on my background in music theory to create and compose for varied instruments such as violin, cello, flute, oboe, etc.   Whenever possible I really enjoy reaching out to performers of these instruments and learning what I can about their technique and their recommendations for better performances, or actually recording their performances whenever possible.  In addition, I’ve always been inspired by film composers such as Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings, King Kong) and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight, Inception).  Hans Zimmer in particular for his combination of sound effects and music to create interesting performances never heard before.  In fact, take a listen to Hans Zimmer describing the process for the creation of The Joker motif when you have a chance.

 

 

 

Voice-Over and Talent

 

James
James

I have been lucky over the years to work with some great vocal talent.  So much of my work involves the use of human voices to bring a prop to life, or to set a mood for a particular sound library.  And the key is to create with flexibility in mind.  Of course we do screams, cries of anguish and the like.  But to really dive deep and create something original, you really have to work with people who have the creativity and range to alter their voices and push the limits whenever possible.  Shawna and James as well as

Shawna
Shawna

two child voice-actors, Liam and Madeline,  I work with have an intrinsic, second nature ability to perform and alter their voices as needed.  But more so, I encourage them to go off script and do what they feel at the time.  And THAT is when the magic truly happens.  They are so very talented and we have a lot of fun thinking up new ways to scare the bejeesus out of someone, or to enhance a theme using vocalizations wherever possible.

 

Conclusions

Ultimately, all of the above (and then some) allows me to create original pieces that fulfill a project need or inspire a new sound library to be added to the Sinful Audio catalog.   It really comes down to new, fresh ideas and bringing them together for original, quality audio.  That is at the heart of what we do every day.  And I think you’ll notice it in every one of our sounds and atmospheres.

That’s our passion, and where the sound comes from.

bookmark_borderInfrasound, Haunts and Escape Rooms

 

What is Infrasound?

Infrasound is sometimes categorized as low-frequency sound or signals that are lower than 20Hz in frequency.  This also means that it is below the standard threshold of human hearing which is 20Hz – 20kHz.

Infrasound can occur naturally in the environment from such things as avalanches, lightning (thunder), calving of icebergs and earthquakes to name a few.  Animals such as Whales and Elephants use infrasound to communicate over great distances.  In the case of Whales, over hundreds of miles.

At greater sound pressure levels it is possible for humans to perceive infrasound through tactile vibrations throughout the body.

Why is Infrasound important to my Haunt or Escape Room?

As a haunt or escape room owner, Infrasound can be utilized to introduce a fantastic new experience to your guests.  Sound in and of itself, is a medium that lends itself perfectly to the haunted and escape room industry.  It can’t be seen, can be placed in almost any location, is easily manipulated and is one of the primary human senses to be impacted and interpreted by your guests.

When we start thinking of Infrasound, we can immediately open new ways of interacting with our customers.  With Infrasound, it is now possible to add the sensation of touch or feeling to our environment without a physical prop or actor.  In addition, there are studies that have shown that Infrasound can cause a sense of uneasiness and dread in a person as they are exposed to sound at very low frequencies.

So how does this work?

One client that we worked with had been toying with the idea of adding low frequencies to a particular area of their haunt.  Using a bass amplifier, specific measurements of the hallway, and a quick calculation, gave us what we needed to implement the effect.

The setup went something like this.

We had a hallway of approximately 20 ft. in length.

Wavelength (Lambda) = Wave Velocity (v) / Frequency (f)

based on the speed of sound at sea level, and at 20 degrees Celsius or 72 degrees Fahrenheit

We calculated the wavelength at 56.5 Hz, meaning that it would repeat almost exactly over itself from the signal source (bass amp) from the wall 20ft away.

This in and of itself does a couple of different things.

  1. You are likely to get what’s called standing waves.  These can cause sensations of volume level attenuation and amplification as you walk through a room.  This is a very “odd” effect and can cause disorientation and some confusion as you walk through.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_wave

  1. At this low of a frequency (and lower of course) you begin to feel the sound, and at sufficient amplitude, the sense of uneasiness and dread begins to take place in some individuals.  I will caution, however, that sound pressure levels should never exceed 90dB for exposure of 8 Hours or more.  This is especially true for actors and individuals needing to be in proximity of amplified audio of this level for long durations.

https://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/noise/standards_more.html

What other options do I have for tactile audio?

Another great way to get your customers feeling the audio, is to implement what is called a transducer.  Better known as a ButtKicker, these transducers utilize a moving piston that is activated by the input of low frequencies from your sound system.

Generally, the transducer (ButtKicker) is attached to an object (say a chair, wooden floor, desk, prop, etc.) and a sound signal is delivered to the ButtKicker to make it vibrate.  Most often, the signal is 100Hz or lower and the ButtKicker only responds to those frequencies.

The advantage here is that you don’t have any sound waves traveling through a room to make this happen.  This can be very convenient for Thunder, explosions, growls of your favorite creature prop, etc.  By using a ButtKicker to vibrate a floor, you can now enhance, let’s say, Thunder and Lighting in a room and the vibration will flow through your guests giving them a one of a kind experience they won’t forget!

Below I’ve provided a couple of studies on the use of Infrasound and low frequencies and how they can effect people.  As always, make sure to be safe, protect your hearing and that of your customers.

Thanks for reading!

Infrasound Linked to “Spooky” Effects
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3077192/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/infrasound-linked-spooky-effects/#.V5EJXVe77FI

The Ghost in the Machine
http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources/ghost-in-machine.pdf

Investigation of the Paranormal
http://www.eastcoastrip.org/did-you-know/infrasound