Disruptive Sounds Experiments

As I’ve almost finished working on the visuals, I’m now experimenting with the audio. A challenging and daunting task ahead of me. After editing and assembling a few selected animated sequences, I tried to imagine the audio first while analyzing the moving image. I made a few notes.

What should start first was the first consideration. I intend the audio to begin before the visuals, though not just a few seconds in this instance. The audio will draw the curtains before the visuals. As the viewer engages, the cognitive process begins.I intend to montage a diversity of sounds. A mash-up of some kind. I considered annoying, penetrative and monotonous sounds, something like pc/phone notification or water dripping from a tap.

There is a wealth of sounds on freesound.org, I’m spoilt for choice, so spoilt it took me ages to choose one. I selected a few and began tweaking the soundbites in Audacity; stretching, amplifying, fading in and out etc. I didn’t want to distort too much from the original audio especially when using the effects. It’s easy to get carried away so made sure to consider any alterations with more thought.      .

The dripping water and notification sounds work well together. I thought about disruption and tuning an old radio came to mind. Don’t know why. Anyway, I found an interesting sound piece called ‘Mental illness’ , which, when clashing with the other sounds, really shapes the audio dramatically forming a brief crescendo which was one of those lucky accidents. I think the next step here is to keep structuring and layering the audio now I’ve got a platform. Sound details from authors:


“Jolly sounding alert for incoming mail or message. Ideal for a notification on modern phones, devices on PC or Mac, Made on Alesis Q49 via Ignite software”

Dripping Water

“Sound of a dripping tap as recorded about 15 cm below the surface of the water directly under the impact point. Hydrophones were resting in the bottom of a metal sink”

Experimental Illness

One of those classic, radio-movie clips. Distorted. Taken from a VERY long recording of some weird channel I found while surfing the AM channels of my radio (they are best to make interference noise).

To listen effectively, crank up the sound.

Sound Experiments and Collaborations(Part 1)

February and  March last year involved a lot of  sound  experimentation mainly using audacity software. Now I use audacity practically all the time now largely due to the simplicity of the interface and the ease of accomplishing something with speed, efficiency and minimal frustration. Despite taking a year out, which really hasn’t seemed like taking a year out, I’ve continued with the same working pattern these past few months. I’ve been experimenting with sound(s) on rotoscope animations  where I had previously  used copyrighted sound material.


While researching techniques used by notable sound designers, I found that the documentaries on the BBC i-player radio have a range of interesting, informative and insightful radio documentaries. Last week I came across this great radio documentary, BBC Radio 4 Bleep Bleep Bloop: Music and Video Games  from 2011 (I think). Paul Bennun (video game sound designer) explores the rise of popularity in video game music/sounds. Bennun interviews  Ivor Novello award winner, Joris de Man the composer of the Kill Zone series. I was inspired by the interview!



Demons of the Mind (2014). A collaboration with Simon Smith (fine artist/musician) who incidentally modelled for the animation. After numerous ambient sounds tried and tested, Simon loops audio resembling a police siren which we thought suited the visuals,  I sampled his original sound in audacity with soundbites such as crushed glass and metallic factory sounds.


Heat, Light & Shadow (2014). A collaboration with Jonathan Chinchen (sound designer) who previously worked on the Psycho project Don’t Have Nightmares 0.1 2015 (Revised) last year which was finalised earlier this year. For Heat, Light & Shadow I re-worked the audio adding cicada and wind sounds.  Jonny uses samples from two films, he comments: “Sampled from Analogies: Study in the Movement of Time (1977) .  As the rhythm of the sample combined well with the visuals to augment the floating movements of the subject. The audio switches to a sample from the movie “Last House on Dead End Street” to emphasise the heat and intensity of the subject’s stare!”  A dramatic comment! 


Colour versions of the above rotoscopes can be seen here


Night Dreamer (2013). A collaboration with Jazz pianist, Jeremy Kuhles. It’s a live recording of Jeremy covering Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer. Amplification and noise removal were the only tweaks so not specially a sound collaboration. The original colour animation is used for promotional purposes in gif form.











Public Information Film Project: Sequence No 1

The animation in my last project, The Tokyo Underground,  Alienation & Conformity involved animation merged with footage. I received mixed opinions regarding the process but overall positive ones so now I’m at the contemplating stage with this project. Here I’ve drawn the first sequence, 46 drawings in total. The drawings have been individually textured. Test 1 Sequence 1 involves 12 drawings and Test 1 Sequence 2, all 46 drawings. In both sequences the drawings have been copied a few times, by doing so the viewer is given enough time to take in the visuals. After continuous viewing I’m still undecided for a number of reasons. Including footage with rendered drawings,  without doubt helps shadow, line and tone. Stronger and bolder by appearance.  However, by not merging the footage the drawings seem more natural though carry less impact. As for the abstract motion tween, mmmm I’m not sure. It’s a bit gimicky to me. Is it necessary?

Test 1 Sequence 1 (without footage)

Test 2 Sequence 1 (including footage)  

Test 3 Sequence 1 (abstract motion tween)





Rotoshop experimenting: Step 3

STEP 3: Designing. Over the past week I had been designing the background and considering colour schemes. Originally, the shower area and figure would be white. However, as I will probably animate white water, I altered the shower area to an ash grey. The figure’s hair will be expressive, gradients of chrome auburn red, cobalt blue or emerald green. The colours are not yet decided.

Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 blue read chrome shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 grey chrome shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 1 grey shower area) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 24 multi-coloured hair) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 24 red hair) Psycho Shower Scene (frame 64 blue hair)

Today I rotoscoped about 5 seconds. Below is a test

Rotoshop experimenting begins (Steps 1 and 2)

STEP 1: After finally deciding that I would choose the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960), I scanned various sites to find a HD version of the footage. A HD version helps me during the rotoscoping process as I can map the outlines of the form with more speed and less difficulty. At this stage, I don’t get bogged down with having to improvise objects and movement. From experience, that part of rotoscoping can really slow down the process and the outcome might not be the desired result. On the other hand, improvisations can create unintentional digital masterpieces! Considerations. Below is an audio version of the Psycho shower scene. Time: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

STEP 2: I will be animating at 1 second per 12 frames so my next aim is to edit the footage down to around 1 minute 20 seconds (960 drawings approx. ). I’ve not done very much in the way of film editing since my university days. It will be interesting to see if I can still maintain the impact of the scene though it’s not a pre-requisite. From analysing the footage, I note framing composition, visually very clear and the manner in which the tension builds; subtle edits from animate objects (woman) to inanimate objects (the shower head). The tension manifests in a series of close-ups and montage. I keep track of times, shots and areas in which I could exploit, distort, exaggerate during the post-edit phase. Time: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Maquette No 1 (Part 3)

Last night I drew a few frames and went through the following procedures: Testing the thickness of brushstrokes, determining the %s to magnify areas of the image, considering colours and gradients. All provisional but it gives me a platform to work on. This morning I set up the polystyrene maquette and used the images to continue with my experiments. Each image is clearly marked; the image number is in the bottom right corner. Details of each image are noted below:

1 Maquette with vinyl window decoration as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image.

2 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, close up, no curtain. Ice blue colouration for image

3 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, and cling film as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image

4 Maquette with cling film as curtain. Ice blue colouration for image.

5 Maquette with just washed PET bottles. Soft grey gradient for image.

6 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles, and cling film as curtain. Mixed hues of browns, nectarine colouration for image. Lighting effect used.

7 Maquette with empty just washed PET bottles. Mixed hues of browns, nectarine colouration for image. Lighting effect used.

From my experiments, I gained many ideas and different possibilities for future maquettes and images. It was obvious from Fig 1 that I needed to consider softer transparent materials in order to project imagery through layers. Also, I found out that the maquette was too wide so I altered the shape to cube and as a result, the maquette looked more compact and structurally balanced. I thought about abandoning the curtain idea altogether and use transparent objects. PET bottles worked fine but looked a bit flat by appearance so after cleaning them, I got some interesting effects with the drops of water (Fig 2). I thought about a transparent material. Rhiannon’s drawing on cling film and tracing paper gave me the idea to use cling film (Fig 3). I think I’ll use tracing paper next time. I removed the PET bottles but the effect wasn’t particularly interesting visually (Fig 4). Next, I experimented with colours and photography effects. I used greys and blacks and continued with using the PET bottles (Figs 5/6/7). Using multiple layers worked well for me. Next time, I’ll consider glass, tracing paper and other materials for the maquette.

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