Project Titan: Sound Design Assets

Today I finished making all my sound design assets for Project Titan. From here we just have to wait for the animators to link us their animation so that we can place the sounds appropriately and do any final minor editing to our assets. At this point they have told us that we will receive the animation in a couple of days. Magic, Seb and I will then arrange a time that suits all of us to do the placements of sounds and to mix the project, though the future of this project seems uncertain, so we have all lessened how we have prioritised this project.

The sounds I was responsible for were:

  • Teleport/Warp in sound
  • Mech walking/running sound
  • Mech limb sound
  • Engine ambience (inside shot)
  • Reload sound (recycled from Starship Troopers)

You can listen to the samples that I’ve created for the project below:



Massive Settings

The teleport sound was created using a digital synthesiser called massive, following Akash Thakkar’s tutorial on Sci-Fi power-up sounds to make my original sound, and then experimenting with the settings in Massive to give it some originality. This included using a bit-crusher effect on the first insert of the plugin to give it a bit of a grainy texture that can be heard in the likes of the Star Trek transporter sound. I also decided that it needed some fluctuation in frequency that wasn’t as linear as the pitch change on the oscillators, so I used a flanger on one of the FX channels to give it a wobbly sound. The reverb on the FX2 channel also gave it some depth that it was previously missing.

I’m fairly happy with this sound given my limited experience with synthesisers, which I plan to remedy in the future. A lot of the struggle I’ve had learning synthesisers has had to do with not having easy 24/7 access to a beginner-friendly synthesiser to learn from. I’ve tried using Massive at home, however my demo ran out before I could learn it fully, and I tried using Vacuum, which comes with Pro Tools, but found its layout unnecessarily confusing.

While I was creating the sound for the teleport in class time, I was assisted by Nick who is in charge of the music for Titan, who proved to be a big help in suggesting minor tweaks. He also showed me around the wavetable synthesiser Serum which I have heard some sound designers talk about, and I’m convinced that I should learn how to use that, as it is a lot more flexible than Massive and has a great payment plan meaning I could access it more easily on a regular basis.

Engine Ambience


For my engine ambience, I decided I would try and utilise another one of Akash’s techniques where he applies a heavy flange to a sustained virtual instrument to create a “woop woop woop woop” kind of sound to use as a layer, with the other layers of the ambience being a couple of the air conditioner unit samples that I recorded from home with the shotgun microphone and the Zoom F8 recorder.

Instead of using a virtual instrument, I decided I would try and use the sound of my playing a single note on my guitar, which I had directly input into my Presonus interface. The only complication with this method was the fact that the note obviously fades out, so I couldn’t hold it for as long as the scene required. I resolved this issue by applying a limiter to a cropped version of the recorded signal (at the strongest post-ambient point of the signal) to retain its volume and copied the region multiple times, applying a crossfade between each.

I was originally troubled by the fact that the cycles of the waveform wouldn’t align exactly, but after some thought, I decided that I could still use this method as this irregularity kind of sounded to me like the engine of the ship turning over. It was a nice happy accident through experimentation. There were a few artifacts in my signal as a result of the heavy processing (as you can hear in the soundcloud playlist), so I had to record it with an iZotope RX plugin called de-click in one of the studios at SAE that had that software installed.

Mech Footstep


For my mech footstep sound, I layered several different field recordings as well asĀ recordings from the Neve session with my team and samples from our previous projects to create the final product. These included but aren’t limited to the metal bin sample from the field recordings, various metal hits from the Neve session, and aluminium and heavy steps that Seb recorded for his Mac N Cheese project. It took a lot of consideration to get the mix of all these elements right, but I am satisfied with the end result. The metal bin was instrumental in creating the sort of “clang” texture that I felt was appropriate. The same could be said for the heavy step, as I used this sample to generate the reverb for my sounds which created the illusion of size of the mechs. I also used the recording of me shaking the cutlery draw from my kitchen and used a recording of a rusty doorknob being moved around in its socket from underneath my house as a small layer to represent the sound of friction between joints as the mech is moving.



Mech Limb


For the sound of the joints of the mech moving (such as head movements, and as a layer for the legs of the mech moving), I wanted to create a sound similar to a hydraulic lift, but with a Sci Fi twist. I got the basic sound which I would then process from a soap dispenser that I recorded at home, which I then warped using the polyphonic mode, and applied a very fast flanger to. The asset that I ended up with may be the right length, or may need lengthening with the warp tool depending on the visual prompts that the animators provide us with, but this is easily fixed if required.


In Summary

I feel like I achieved a suitable texture for all my assets without a completed visual prompt. It will rely on when we receive the completed animation as to when or if this project gets completed, and when we can make improvements to our sounds. Stay tuned for other projects that I am working on, as well as my research on FMOD.