Ableton Live is a DAW that has been blowing up the music production scene in recent years. With its powerful ‘in-the-box’ effects processors, built-in Sampler instruments, and MIDI data parameters galore, Live has been the go to workstation for pioneering beat makers and EDM artists around the world. So why can’t us Post-Sound peeps have a little fun too? Using Live’s built-in Drum Rack and Simpler instruments, I’ll share with you a simple technique to build a Game of Thrones type battle scene ambience.
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Here at Boom Box Post, we are lucky enough to work on an exceptionally large variety of animated shows. Each show has it’s own unique style and sound; some of our shows are more on the toony side, while others are incredibly realistic. Because of this, a large number of our shows take place in real places. In one of our newest shows, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, the characters take an adventure to a new place or city in almost every episode, which is what inspired me to write this blog post. Whether it is traveling to a new city in each episode in Mickey and the Roadster Racers, The Lion Guard in the African Savannah, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in New York City, we often have the challenge of making a specific, genuine place sound accurate.
As sound editors and designers, it’s always fun to talk about the techniques and tools we use to create out-of-this-world effects. At Boom Box, we’re often teaching each other new plug-ins to broaden our “sonic toolbox” and take our work to new heights. All of these tools and tricks-of-the-trade are necessary for us to do our job, but it’s important to remember that our job is that of a storyteller. Everything we create (however we choose to create it) must support, and perhaps elevate the storyline. In my personal experience, I have found that the quality of my work shines when I allow the story to guide my decisions specifically when editing “toony” effects, backgrounds, and design.
We have been meeting with a lot of candidates lately, both for our internship program as well as to bulk up our freelance roster. In addition to sitting down for a chat or looking over resumes, Kate and I are reviewing a lot of work. Whether editors are aware of it or not, the work in these sessions speaks a lot to their experience level. I've written previously about how to properly present your work with the mixing endgame in mind. However, I haven't yet touched on a topic that time and again seems to need further discussion; how to properly cut backgrounds. Not so much on a technical level (when it comes to how we like to see backgrounds cut, Jessey Drake has already created a great practical guide right here on this blog). It's more an issue of what constitutes a background, an ambience or simply another sound effect. It seems like such a simple thing, but being able to distinguish these from one another and thus properly laying out these sounds seems to be the dividing line between experience and novice. Here are some tips on how to be sure your backgrounds are an asset rather than a liability.
Backgrounds. Ambiences, the rarely heard but most definitely felt, unsung heroes of the post-production sound world. Without ambiences, scenes and designs feel empty. I could have went with a discussion about the design of some next level insectoid-servo-monster-hybrid-machine, but I feel like in order to get to that level of creativity you need a solid foundation. Not only in your skills as a sound editor or designer but in the overall build of your production. And that foundation, my sound design brethren, are backgrounds or BGs for short.