A collaborative post with introduction by
ASSISTANT EDITOR, BOOM BOX POST
For this month's collaborative post, I really wanted to challenge the team. I was inspired by the cooking show Chopped, wherein participants compete to create the best dish for a panel of judges, but are hindered by "mystery ingredients" that you would not normally want to cook with, like gummy worms or instant mashed-potatoes.
For this edition of Mystery Sound, I asked the team to create a magic spell sound effect. The catch is they had to incorporate this recording of a California Sea Lion in a prominent way, and explain how they did it! Let's see what they came up with.
For this magical sea lion effect, I wanted to turn the sea lion sound effect itself into something almost unrecognizable. For something like that, I love Native Instruments' Molekular. So I ran the sea lion through Molekular and got a couple effects that I really liked and started with those. I then added a few gems from my own sound effects library, balanced them all out and realized I wanted to add some more of the original sea lion back into the mix. However, I didn't want it to be too prevalent and decided to throw some reverb on the original sound effect to get this ghostly sea lion. I added that to back end of the entire design in order to create more of a tail to the spell casting. I then added a little LoAir to the more beefy parts of the blast and then finally rendered it all out with a little bit of compression to keep everything tight.
Since we were forced to use the recording of the seal, I started with that. By itself it has a really distinct animal cry sound, so I used some flange and a modulating delay to give it more of a magical feel. Once I got the seal sound how I wanted I realized that it almost had a swirling motion to it, so I added a tornado vortex as a low end start. I then added a fireworks launch as well as a reversed whoosh to add more motion and fill out my frequencies a little more. For the actual impact of the sound, it is a blend of torch whooshes, a flair up, and a flash sweetener to give it more of a magical sense, as opposed to the naturalism of the fire sounds.
There's so many different perspectives of casting a magic spell. From creating a small light source to guide your way to an extreme use of of force to open a gate to another dimension, there's plenty of room for creativity.
For this effect, I used Goku from Dragon Ball Z's "kamehameha's" spell for inspiration. I tried to create a build that reflected an intense concentration of energy and focus, ending with a huge climactic explosion of power that disrupts space and time. I used the sea lion mostly to convey an underlying sense panic and to try and trigger a little bit of empathy and sadness from the listener towards whatever the spell is hitting.
I based this magic spell off of a witch and warlock in one of our shows, and incorporated the seal into their signature magic sound. I pitched the seal up by 2 octaves and sped it up using Vari-Fi, then slowed a copy of it back down again. I combined them to make a high-pitched whirring up and then back down to follow the pattern of the magic spell. it adds a laser-type quality to the magic spell which has many natural aspects to it including lightning. To me, this spell would produce something similar to Storm from X-men, where she can control the weather and the skies.
To make this spell cast sound, I started by manipulating the Sea Lion call with Molekular. I found that if I looped the recording several times and processed using the “Free Jazz” preset, I got pretty interesting (and sort of magical sounding) results. I took a portion of that processed audio and added a swirling wind effect that I pitched up over time with SoundShifter (to emphasize the powerup in the beginning). I also added wind chimes, a helicopter whir, and a low hit to the crescendo of the processed sound, to make it a bit more magical and a bit more powerful.