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  • Writer's pictureRyan van Eerde

World Builder Animations Project Reflection

Working on these 4 different animations was a great experience for me and not only did I have to think how to produce sounds in order to tell a story within a short amount of time I also had multiple animators that I had to converse with and work out what exactly they wanted from the project. This was a purely in the box production process working with sample libraries and a few Foley sounds I had recorded previously, I didn't go out and recorded anything new for the purpose of creating sounds within these animations. I received good feedback from the animators and feel like I have made some good industry connections, apart from the couple of animators who didn't end up sending me any content but unfortunately things like this happen inside of an educational environment.

The first important aspect of this project was actually getting in contact with multiple animators and seeing if I could find enough projects to work on to make the whole production process worth while. Luckily I managed to find 6 people who were keen for me to do audio production to their projects but like I have stated previously only 4 of these animators provided me with content which resulted in me doing a little bit less work that what I had intended. There's nothing I can really do about people not providing me with content but in future I could express my interest to more people so that if a couple of them do drop out I will still have others lined up that I could work with instead. This would act as a good safety net making me less worried about having enough stuff to work on, it was a good that the 4 others did pull through and provided me with assets. For the 2 that didn't one of them kept saying that they we're going to send stuff to me and the other one changed their mind about what they were doing as a project which I only found out through a different animator. To make sure I don't potentially fall into a hole again of waiting for people to provide me with assets I should have a cut off date where if I don't receive anything by a certain time I will scrap their project and find something else to work on. As someone who doesn't like letting people down this is something that I find difficult to do but to better protect myself in future I will need to be harsher when it comes to people messing around not doing what they say they are going to do.

Working with the other 4 turned out really well, they provided me with all of the information that I asked for and gave me good feedback when I presented them with rough audio. They all mostly liked what I was producing for them so only minor tweaks and changes were needed to make the audio fit to their creative ideas. Having people who could accurately and precisely describe what they wanted, with the help of my prompting document, made my job creating audio a lot easier because I had a clear idea from the beginning of what was needed for each individual project. The only way that I can replicate this same kind of positive working relationship would be to do what I have stated previously and seek out more people to work with than what I require then cull the ones that are underperforming. This could also be risky as I might potentially burn future collaboration bridges by dropping certain peoples projects for others but I'll cross that bridge when it comes to it.

As for the production process itself everything went relatively smoothly, I had the creative ideas from the 4 animators and I tried to produce audio inline with these ideas as best I could. Producing a document that I got the animators to fill out was a good idea because I meant that they had to think about exactly what they wanted and then convey these ideas in a written form which I could go back to and reference. This allowed me to discuss with each animator aspects of their project in more detail because I had a good idea what they were about and could formulate some more question based on the information they provided me. As I knew what sounds were needed for each project I did some hunting around on the internet for royalty free sample libraries that had specific sounds I knew I could use, like the cinematic hits and footstep sounds. This meant that if the animators wanted to release their project they wouldn't run into any copyright troubles and come back angry at me for their work not being able to be shown on sites like YouTube.

I used the same creative process for all of the animations while producing a different aesthetic for each of them. For The Traveller I wanted to produce a very eerie vibe, I achieved this by utilising a choir instrument that sounds almost angelic if it wasn't for a more minor chord progression. This music track is really the thing that sets the tone and makes the audience know that this is not a happy or casual stroll through the forest. Also producing the deep demonic voice for the Goliath solidifies the fact that the female wizard isn't particularly safe and that this creature is not friendly, I wanted the voice to me deep and menacing but not at the cost of intelligibility. Its low and gruff enough to convey that this is not a nice character but you can still clearly hear what he is saying, which is what I wanted.

For Seraphim Calling I wanted to produce a sound that depicted a magical ancient tribal tomb with some sinister undertones. To do this I produced a Taiko drum pattern that had a somewhat tribal feel to it, most of the time when you think about tribal music big drum sounds usually come to mind so that's why I went with this aesthetic. The brass instruments and choir produce the sinister undertones by using dissonant harmonies to make the audience feel uneasy, this along with the softly spoken dialogue gives the impression that what ever this magical thing is it's not to be messed with. The modulating synth for the magical sound is really just there to help tell the story and fill out the sound.

Atop a Crabs Back was the hardest to conceptualise and produce audio for, I had to not only convey that this a mechanical structure but an evil goblin structure as well. I tried to make the mechanical sound as rough and dirty as possible to portray that this is not a refined piece of machinery, its crudely made on top of a creature be other creatures wanting to exploit its size. I used the music to produce a feeling of doom and dread that people would have at the sight of this creature with big sustain brass notes and quick staccato violins to add some more angst. There are only a couple of major audio elements in this animation but they were some of the most difficult to get right and produce the aesthetic I wanted. I'm not 100% happy with the dialogue but it does help to tell the story and the animation would be lacking without it.

For Absence of the Divine the story is pretty much conveyed through the animation the audio is there to give life to the environment rather than provide information for whats happening as much as the others. As this is a dark animation having a more distorted music track fitted better than the orchestral instrumentation I had used on the previous animations, the music also isn't such a big part of the overall aesthetic either. The main thing I needed to achieve was to produce a sound that would work for the electrical hammer charge/smash, this for me is the main aspect of the animation of which everything else revolves around. I wanted it to be loud and clear in the mix to create a feeling that this alien being and his electric hammer are powerful and that this drone should not have come to explore this fortress. The drone sound was also important but not as much as the electric hammer, the audio for the drone was there to tell people that this is indeed a drone and it has now been damaged by magical electric energy.

I basically stuck to my initial plan for the project but I did receive most the assets from the animators later than expected which pushed back and condensed my timeline a little. Again I could have gotten on to the animators sooner to make sure they provided me with stuff sooner but I didn't get anything too late so I was still able to provide them with audio in time. The only deviation to the plan was that I produced audio for 4 animations and not 6 but that was something mostly out of my control, as I was working on The Arctic sound replacement project along side of this one I was a reluctant to seek out other animators as I didn't want to commit to work I potentially couldn't do. At least with the 4 I did work on I had a bit of time to prep and plan before production but I could have tried to push myself further and bust out a couple more animations in a short amount of time. If I had worked out a last chance date to get assets from the animators that would have left me with more time to look for a couple of other projects provided they deliver content to be quickly.

At the end of the day I'm satisfied with what I produced, it does the job of helping to tell the story of the worlds the animators have created. Working on short clips was harder than I expected but I learnt a lot about making audio work in a very small time frame. I would have liked to produce for content but 4 out of 6 isn't too bad, it could have been worse, next time I will definitely make sure I have a couple of backup projects ready just in case things fall through and I'm left with nothing to do.

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