Week 6 - Starcraft Sound Replacement Complete! A glimpse into the process

Finally finished this sound replacement I've been working on!

It took me a while, but I finally managed to finish this Sci-fi piece. Something to show to potential clients or employers who might be interested in seeing some Sci-fi sound design. One of my main goals with the piece was to make it really unique, by using mostly my own original recordings and synthesis, with only some supplementary library sounds.

One of my biggest timesinks was creating all of the future robot sounds from scratch. I used several separate methods for creating a huge pool of source that I could draw from. Here's a few of those methods:

  • Recordings done with my Sony M10 and my new Sennheiser 8060: A lot of the recordings I did were pretty literal, like using my mouth to create air hissing and compressed air sounds, recording my shower's suction cups for one of the robot arms peeling off from the mech, recording my door's lock mechanism, or my apartment's trash chute. But a lot of other recordings were way more abstract, that after processing sounded nothing like the originals. Examples of these were a recording of my AC's hum/vent, which I processed heavily to create some whirring and robot arm layers, my buzz magnets, which I processed heavily to turn into synthetic sound sparks peppered all throughout the piece as well as some layers for robots arms moving, or a rubber band impacting on ribbed plastic, which after processing I turned into super synthetic robot impacts.
  • Recordings done with electromagnetic induction mics: These were used to create some of the UI sounds on the monitor, and for a few layers of the rising pitched engine thrust at the end of the piece.
  • Image Line's Harmor: I processed a ton of my recordings using this guy, which has some amazing tools to create robot sounds with its resynthesis module. One of my favorite sci-fi sound design tools for sure!
  • S-layer: As a big fan of being able to import my own samples, this guy is also one of my all time favorite sci-fi sound design tools. Just importing a bunch of samples, setting up some preferred parameters and letting it cook up sounds in random mode can yield a lot of happy accidents, great for grabbing some unique layers and textures.
  • Whoosh: Similar to S-layer in that I would import some sounds, turn off the doppler tools, and mess around with the knobs to create some fresh content. Especially using the LFO and delays for that sci-fi feel.
  • WaveWarper: Not as heavily used as the others, I gave it a shot because, well, I own it and haven't ever put it to the test. Turned off the doppler parts of it, imported some samples and performed some stuff that I was able to use for layers and textures.
  • Galactic Assistant: Only used this guy once, for some basic UI scrolling sounds on the monitor at the beginning.
  • Iris: I still own the original Iris even though the hyperlink goes to Iris 2, but it's still a pretty cool tool I use every so often. Lot of samples of toy windups and ratchets were manipulated with Iris, the biggest part being at 1:05 when the spine plates fold down from top to bottom.
  • Crystallizer: Another one for the happy accidents/experimentation column. I ran a lot of my already processed layers through different crystallizer presets until I heard something kind of promising, then proceeded to automate sweeps of its knobs to create crazy sounding textures which I then cut up and peppered as sweeteners throughout the whole piece.
  • Uhbik Bundle: This whole bundle is precious for what I did in this demo. The beauty of the whole bundle is that each tool does something you already know (phasing, flanging, granular pitching) but in a completely unique way with lots of different flavor. They're super creative tools that put out different, unexpected results.

And on top of all of those tools, I used pretty much every basic trick on any sound designer's belt, such as reversing, time stretching (with every possible algorithm in Pro Tools), vari-speeding, pitching, flanging, phasing, granulating, reverb, and so on and so forth.

Put it all together with a lot of meticulous editing, putting it in the space, and careful mixing, and you get the final product!