Over the last week, as well as putting some finishing touches on my Warframe sound replacement, I have also been recording and designing sounds for a ten minute short film, a horror called Dead Weight. Sebasthian, who I worked with extensively last trimester, asked me to help him out with this project a couple of weeks ago. The project was already in progress when we got on board, and one of the film students responsible for the project had already recorded sounds with an unnamed shotgun microphone during the shoot. Seb has since been editing and noise-reducing like crazy, so I’ve been working on making more impactful sounds for some key moments in the action scene(s).
The following are some punch/general combat impacts that I have made for the film. I initially had some issues coming up with a sound for this. The prompt I received from Seb was to use some orange smashing samples that I had recorded last trimester to reinforce that this zombie was feeling some serious pain (or maybe not… it’s already undead… do undead creatures feel anything?). I initially tried just using the orange samples, thought it was lacking several textures and some power that I would expect from the scene.
I then recorded several source materials with a Rode M5 to try and get a sound that I was happy with, including celery, peanuts and finally I recorded two phone books slapping together. Unfortunately the former two were relatively weak recordings, and I should have tried some other microphones to see if they gave me a better range of frequencies from the sounds to work with. The phone books slapping together, however, formed a perfect foundational layer for the hits.
The rest of the sounds were a quiet layer of the peanuts to make the sound a little snappier in parts, the orange samples, and a 90hz sine wave that I generated in Pro Tools to add some low-end thump. While this was the general template for my combat sounds, I did use different orange samples and adjusted their levels and equalisation for different desired effects, and changed the balance between sounds for other parts of the film.
The other sounds I was asked to help with by Seb were the sound of a Zombie shaking and banging on a fence, and several gravel impacts/movements. For this, I walked down the road to Des Connor Park in Ashgrove with a large, old pillow and all of my field recording gear. As you can see from the photo, I had two choices of surfaces to record the gravel sounds from. I ended up using the surface from the left, as there were lots more loose stones lying around. As for the performance, I was constantly holding the shotgun microphone in one hand and throwing the massive pillow with the other. This may have impacted the result of the recording, and I wish I had someone to assist me during the recording.
For the sound of the zombie shuffling around and struggling on the ground, I simply performed it with my foot. I also recorded the sound of the zombie banging the fence here, by kicking (this was required for a powerful sound) the fence to the upper right of the picture above. It was quite windy near the fence, as it backs onto a very leafy area above the Enoggera creek, so I had to employ some EQ in Pro Tools to resolve this issue. The wind also played a factor in the gravel recording, as I couldn’t just lean my boom pole up against the rail without it blowing over. I also recorded some footsteps and “foley” running while I was there for my own personal sound library.
I have since handed these assets off to Sebasthian who will be integrating them into the rest of the soundscape for the film, which I hope you’ll enjoy.
For more information regarding Dead Weight, you can check out their Facebook page here, their Youtube channel here, or you can support them on Indiegogo.