For my money, the second I get my hands on a new synthesizer app or program, the first thing I gravitate towards is designing laser blasts and steadys. Some of the most diverse and memorable synthesized elements in TV and film are laser sounds. With that in mind, this week I challenged the team to create a distinct and original laser sound effect.
For this sound I wanted to create an environment before the actual laser blast. This sound sequence starts out by us hearing a user turn on their computer system, type in their login credentials, and engage the startup sequence to fire a massive laser shot. I thought this was a really fun way to approach the sound design challenge and make this sound unique by placing us in an environment where you can really start to imagine what sort of vessel you're on. While creating this I imagined that I was on a ginormous space ship traveling deep into space and I was in charge of initiating the boot sequence when getting ready to fire the ships laser cannon (and apparently we use Macs in the future! ;) )
I used a synth within KONTAKT to create the rising parts of the laser "firing" up. The laser blast portion contains a mix of raw and synthesized gun blasts. I found some really cool vintage computer booting up sounds that I placed in the beginning paired with some futuristic modular AI sounds.
Lately, I've been really into designing effects in Native Instruments Reaktor. I have a Reaktor player called Rounds that combines digital and analog synth sounds with a huge array of ways to manipulate the sound. So to start, I just picked a preset to kind of get the ball rolling. The first set of laser shots, are basically the preset modulated an octave higher with some added reverb, an adjustment to the attack of the sound envelope and performed pitch bends. They're your classic laser sounds with a little flare. The second set however, I added a digitized filter, adjusted the attack of the sound envelope in a different direction and changed the shape of the LFO and the pitch at which the LFO oscillates, to get these kind of bubbly laser effects.
This laser sound is that of a laser beam blasting by. I made the sound by combining a military fighter jet by with a bottle rocket by, and processing them both a few different ways. I first used a graphic pitch shift and shifted the pitch from high to low as the sound occurred in time. I then applied heavy delay and flange to the sound which transformed the recognizable sounds into something like that of a laser. To top it off, I added some sci-fi modulation, and voila! A laser beam!
First I used Signal Generator to make some sawtooth signals at different frequencies used the Doppler plugin to create some strange whoosh sounds. I layered three of the different whooshes that were created using this process. Then, to give blast a bit of propulsion, I added an air wrench sound that I ran through Metaflanger, as well as a Tube Television "ON" sound and a Blow Dart I tweaked with Mondomod. I felt like the gun needed a power up element in the beginning so I took a large metal ratchet sound and ran it though Metaflanger and pitched it up over time with SoundShifter. Finally, to add to the laser beam element that would blast from the gun, I used a neon hum that I altered with Metaflanger, a pitched up thunder clap, and a Sound Effect from our library of an "electric spark loop" that I ran through Mondomod and pitched down over time with SoundShifter.
For my laser, I wanted to go for a big cannon like sound. Since a laser has an electrical sound I wanted a build up to make the final blast sound as big as possible. I tried to challenge myself to make the sound exclusively from one sound effects Library in Boom Box’s collection. For the initial build up, I layered two servo sounds with a synth lightning strike. The lightning strike was stretched out so it could fade in with the charging sound that was primarily a steady warble that I pitch shifted to slowly speed up. For the blast itself, I used the same grapple hook sound three times, where one was extended to about double its length, one was pitched down, and the other was sent through an eq to accentuate the the higher frequencies.
I used some metallic whoosh elements and electro tube sounds to create the basis of the initial hit. They were processed through Izotope Trash and Soundtoys Decapitator and Crystallizer. For the larger effect sounds I incorporated a Speaker explosion sound and processed through Trash to give it some heftiness and some cool trail off delay.
featured image American Concept Art Of Soviet Laser. Edward L. Cooper, via Wikimedia Commons